Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The science delusion

I am a sometimes admirer of Nobel Laureate Richard Dawkin's work (see "The Ancestor's Tale, a very good piece of science writing) , but he has certainly overstepped his bounds with his new book "The God Delusion." This book is an irresponsibly blunt, if not downright arrogant, dismissal of God.

If a minister or a yogi were to approach Mr. Dawkins and state that they had plumbed the depths of, say, physics, and answered its most essential questions without a proper and accredited education on the subject, and with no experimentation whatsoever, he would rightly dismiss them. He does not seem to understand that, in any discipline, just as in science, proper investigation of any serious set of questions requires many years of study. In the study of the question of God, it requires rigorous inner discipline, prayer, and meditation.

Surprise! Mr. Dawkins would have us believe he knows what the results of this study are without ever having acquired the education or performed the experiments himself. Then again, perhaps that is not really so surprising. Men who are stuffed full of facts and consequently believe they know everything are a dime a dozen, as Plato so deftly pointed out in his Apology. What is interesting here is that Mr. Dawkins-- a "scientist"with credentials-- so blindly presumes to have a kind of knowledge he has done no work whatsoever of his own to acquire.

Perhaps the the bliss of ignorance makes a fair substitute for that of saints and yogis, but I sincerely doubt it.

Despite the standard arguments- we've heard them all, thank you-, blaming religion for mankind's woes is sheer foolishness. Practice demonstrates a surpassing ability on the part of mankind to exercise stupidity all by itself, without any heavenly assistance. Countless historical misdeeds have been initiated without ever once invoking the name of God- in other words, the world's scientists, aetheists and agnostics have been just as guilty of moral outrage as those who profess religious leanings. We could cite Hitler or Stalin, or Ghengis Khan-- or, for that matter, Edward Teller.

Sadly, the vast preponderance of what scientists and their technologies have so generously given us as they wax is an exponentially accelerating ability to destroy not only men, but the ecosphere of the planet itself. All this from an enterprise that claims to be driven by "intelligence." Measured against this, the concept of a God seems a relatively innocent and minor delusion by comparison. Once again, this problem stems from knowing far too many facts and having far too little wisdom, a disease Mr. Dawkins and his kind are far more prone to to spread than to find cures for.

To add to all this, I try to picture to myself a world where we build gothic cathedrals, compose hymns of praise, and paint great artworks to celebrate- what? Molecular biology? Quantum physics? It takes a special kind of idiot to believe in such a world. Frankly I find it far easier to believe in God as a bearded man on a cloud in a white gown.

If Mr. Dawkins properly understood the magnificent question of God, he would understand that it lies at the root of consciousness, the physical universe, entropy, biology, and properties of emergence. He would further understand that investigating this question can form a completely new inner relationship between a man's organism and his mind.

He doesn't, and because he has already made up his mind, he will not. As his education, attitudes and opinions so eloquently demonstrate-- and as anyone with any common sense knows-

Watchmakers aren't blind, but watches certainly are.