YOUR VIEWS: Richard Dawkins disregarded science in Friday talk
Richard Dawkins disregarded science in Friday talk
As a scientist, I was excited to attend Friday’s lecture by Richard Dawkins, expecting to hear a coherent scientific discussion by one of the world’s most well known biologists. Unfortunately, the lecture given in the name of science violated almost every principle used in both science and logic.
Dawkins started his talk by using a straw man argument, one of the first fallacies of logic one learns in any introductory logic or philosophy class. Instead of discussing why he doesn’t agree with those who promote intelligent design or a God hypothesis he simply ridiculed the ideas of “intelligent gravity” and the “stork theory of reproduction,” two ideas which are not really held by anyone.
Dawkins went on to make sweeping statements about purpose, human flexibility, and religion. As a scientist I kept waiting to see the data, facts, and evidence that supported these conclusions. However, none was presented. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t hear any data that supported his ideas about two types of purpose. I assume that something from his biological research has led him to such a conclusion, but no connection was made, and no evidence was given.
At times in his talk Dawkins made patently false statements. For instance, he said something to the effect that those who derive their morality from the Koran or the Bible should actually read those books, apparently ignoring the millions, perhaps billions, of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the world who actually do read those books and still claim to derive morality from them.
If Dawkins meant that he didn’t think those books were a good source of morality or if he meant that he didn’t think the followers of those religions actually lived by the morality of their “holy” book, then he should have stated such. It would have been interesting to hear Dawkins’ ideas about the morality presented in the Bible, for instance, using good rules of exegesis, hermeneutics, and systematic theology to back up his claims, but that would have taken a level of research, logic, and thought that I found lacking in most of his statements.
If Dawkins’ lecture had been presented in my physics class, I would have given him a failing grade for lack of actual data to support the majority of his conclusions. Maybe in the future, if we want to celebrate scientific achievement, we could invite a speaker who would actually use the scientific method with good data, good rules of logic, good error analysis, and good facts to support his or her conclusions.
That would be a lecture worthy of celebrating a great scientist.
— Mike Strauss, associate professor of physics