Dawkins on Darwin, Part 3

Good programme. (Channel 4, UK. I should hope some socially conscious pirate has put it on You-tube by now. Or you could buy the DVD.) Dawkins and Dennet made a generally superb job of pointing out how the joys of the real natural universe piss all over the imaginary comforts of religion.

It was a difficult to decide which anti-evolutionist – the American woman or the British chemistry teacher – would be my first choice if I ever win a “Free kick the stupidest creationist who’s ever been on tv” competition. In the end, it has to be the British teacher. National pride requires it.

However, the American woman managed to combine a patronising manner with a studied and deliberate social “charm”. She smiled continuously – in what she must have been misinformed was a disarming way. She fixed Dawkins with steady (albeit slightly cross-eyed) eye contact and mouthed utter bullshit about “teaching the controversy.” So, it is with a heavy heart that I have to relegate her to second choice.

I was baffled by the English science teachers who declared themselves a bit scared about teaching evolution. Imagine a group of geography teachers worrying about teaching their subject, in case some student had a parent who was in the Flat Earth society. What’s the difference?

The Archbishop of Canterbury managed to tie himself in knots trying to square complete acceptance of the science with his concept of a god who set up evolution but kept out of it – while, at the same time, claiming to believe in the New Testament miracles. There was an entertaining moment where he more or less admitted his position was a fudge to deal with awkward questions.

4 thoughts on “Dawkins on Darwin, Part 3

  1. Personally I thought this was the best episode of the series.

    I agree that deciding which creationist was the most annoying is a difficult task and also bow to national pride issues. The man was a combination of stupid and dishonest.

    The teachers were scary. The weasel wording they were using to justify not challenging the children’s mad upbringing was mind boggling. Why are they teachers? What about all the teacher recruitment adverts…(which imply children havent already “made up their minds” and say the teacher is there to develop their understanding of the world – some one call the Advertising Standards Agency!)

    Overall, like all these things, it wont de-convert the faithful and I doubt it will sway any wavering fools. But for the rational, it is interesting and educational – even if it makes you worry as to how our society has managed to turn the clock back to the 18th century…

  2. Dawkins is such an embarassment – he is for atheists what Paley is for creationists. He has absolutely no grasp of either religious belief or philosophical debate – he should stick to being a lab technician instead of evangelising on issues on which his grasp of subject matter is truly amateurih.

  3. Y’know Dave I think you’re being unfair to Paley. If you look at Paley’s Natural Theology it is a magesterial overview of the argument from design. It was slightly dated when it came out, but still I really cannot think of anyone who does it better. That’s why creationists keep coming back to it. It’s also why Dawkins took it as his point of departure for his book The Blind Watchmaker. Dawkins in contrast is a good writer, but if Thor decided to smite him and all his books there are plenty of other authors we could read. For instance I like Steve Jones on biology and Bertrand Russell was very stylish on religion and the great thing about reading is that it’s possible to read books by more than one author.

    …but from your comment I suspect you’ve read neither Natural Theology nor the God Delusion. You may also wish to read the manual which came with your petard.

    (I haven’t had a chance to watch the recordings yet, so I’ll be a bit embarassed if it turns out Dawkins makes the point that Paley was not an idiot)

  4. Dave, throwing around a few ad hominems and an appeal to ridicule is not a good way of convincing people that Dawkins has no grasp of philosophical debate.

    Generally speaking, his grasp on evolutionary biology is pretty much up there with the best of them. His grasp of theology and contemporary religions is, on the whole, better and broader than most of the creationists who debate against him.

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