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Richard Dawkins and 'The God Delusion'

September 3rd, 2006 · No Comments · Eduspaces

Dawkins has just published another book in his attempt to purge us all of religion and unscientific error. While I have some sympathy for his position I wonder if it has ever occurred to him that his ardent and single minded proselytising could be counter-productive. Max Weber pointed out at the turn of the 20th century that the development of a rational scientific world view would lead us to live in a rationally organised rule-governed ‘iron cage’ under the control of the technocrats and that, with the ‘disenchantment of the world’ we would enter, culturally speaking, a ‘polar night of icy darkness’. He was a bit of a laugh, our Max.

Cosmologically speaking, scientific rationality implies the essential meaningless of existence. Generally speaking this is not what people want to hear. Add to this the growing disillusionment with science and technology as the universal panacea capable, in principle at least, of solving all our problems, Dawkin’s advocacy of science as the one true world view (religion?) is often greeted with a fair degree of cynicism. People are beginning to realise that scientific knowledge is constantly changing, is always provisional and, in all likelihood, will never be a complete and final truth. Science is the original ‘always beta’. In addition people are increasingly becoming aware that science and technology are implicated in many of the problems we seek to understand and find answers to.  A loss of a naive faith in science, for instance some aspects of medical science, a concern with the environmental, political and health aspects of science based industries, etc., means that science is no longer such a strong contender for the role of a meta-narrative, to replace religion and other forms of discourse that offer meaning, solace, purpose, validity, identity and spirituality.  The arrogant and patronising promotion of science and the scientific world view, the not infrequent references to the deluded beliefs of ‘ordinary’ people, i.e. non-scientists, does not make Dawkin’s position particularly attractive to many.


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