You’ve got to wonder what the staffers at the NCSE are thinking when they go to such lengths to assure the public that there’s no problem reconciling evolution and religious faith, only to have Richard Dawkins come along and utter the following (taken from his BBC program “The Root of All Evil?”):
The suicide bomber is convinced that in killing for his God he will be fast tracked to a special martyr’s heaven. This isn’t just a problem of Islam. In this program I want to examine that dangerous thing that’s common to Judaism and Christianity as well. The process of non-thinking called faith. I’m a scientist [well, actually, I just talk about science these days] and I believe there is a profound contradiction between science and religious belief. There is no well demonstrated reason to believe in God. And I think the idea of a divine creator belittles the elegant reality of the universe. The 21st Century should be an age of reason, yet irrational militant faith is back on the march. Religious extremism is implicated in the world’s most bitter and unending conflicts. America too has its own fundamentalists. And in Britain, even as we live in the shadow of Holy Terror, our government wants to restrict our freedom to criticize religion. Science we are told should not tread on the toes of theology. But why should scientists tip toe respectfully away? The time has come for people of reason should say enough is enough. Religious faith discourages independent thought, it’s divisive and it’s dangerous. . . .
People like to say that faith and science can live together side by side, but I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think they can. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re deeply opposed. Science is a discipline of investigation and constructive doubt, questioning with logic, evidence, and reason to draw conclusions. Faith, by stark contrast, demands a positive suspension of critical faculties. Science proceeds by setting up hypotheses, ideas, or models, and then attempts to disprove them. So a scientist is constantly asking questions, being skeptical. Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakeable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time.
Dawkins refers to religious faith as a Ã¢â‚¬Å“delusion,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“superstition,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“backward belief system,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“shallow pretense,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“parasite,Ã¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“supporting Bronze Age myths.Ã¢â‚¬Â He refers to evangelicalism as Ã¢â‚¬Å“an American Taliban.Ã¢â‚¬Â He contends that Ã¢â‚¬Å“the abundance and variety of life on earth may seem improbable, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s self-evidently futile to invent an improbable god to explain that very improbability.Ã¢â‚¬Â Later, when contrasting evolution with creationism, he announces, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Evolution by natural selection is supported by mountains of evidence, while creation contradicts the evidence and is only backed by some ancient scribblings.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Anyone who hasn’t seen this two-part program by Dawkins needs to see it. I understand it is not available in this country (and for good reason — given the sensibilities of Americans, it would be a public relations disaster for evolution this side of the Atlantic). I’ve got the two-part program as two 260Mbyte wmv files. If someone has unlimited bandwidth and is willing to upload the files (perhaps at lower resolution) on, say, a Cayman server (where there may be fewer worries about copyrights), let me know.