Intelligent Design

Richard Dawkins – the Protestant Atheist

Spread the love

Thomas Jackson observes that Richard Dawkins’s view of science is really one born out of Protestant principles. Richard Dawkins, the Protestant atheistDawkins does not recognise that experimental science is not value-free but deeply enmeshed with a Protestant myth

There have been a number of other books over recent years by Peter Harrison The Fall and the Foundations of Science & The Bible, Protestantism, and the rise of Natural Science, that have pointed to the Protestant influences in the development of science.

19 Replies to “Richard Dawkins – the Protestant Atheist

  1. 1
    fmarotta says:

    Jackson writes “In the Catholic view nature is a single organic being with a soul.” I never knew that was the Catholic view. To me, it strikes me as rather pantheistic, as does his quote “God is not outside nature but within it, the material world is his body.” Then again, I am a Protestant. Not a Protestant atheist, but rather one that holds to the notion of Intelligent Design and that the Designer is distinct from the design. Jackson’s portrait of reformation Protestantism is but a caricature. He states that the Reformers “would show, by science, that the universe is a collection of machines”. Then he refers to Boyle, Newton and Paley, none of whom were reformers. I would suggest that Reformation Protestant view of nature and sacrament were formed by the Word of God rather than science.

    This article has nothing to do with Intelligent Design. It is a poor jab at atheism and Protestantism. Is Uncommon Descent an anti-Protestant website? I trust not.

  2. 2
    Barb says:

    I have to disagree that science is value-free. On the contrary, the social and “soft” sciences are often called upon to understand, parse, and separate the differences in values. We can in many senses, understand the world of morality and values as something that can be studied and weighed just as the world of inclined planes and attractive forces.

    Really, what the author seems to be saying is that Dawkins’ position doesn’t acknowledge that the author of the article is right about God and the universe, and so he calls him the dirtiest name that he can think of: Protestant.

    This piece says a lot more about Mr. Thomas Jackson than it does about Dawkins, Catholicism, or Protestantism of any form.

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    I don’t think protestantism shaped science investigation but instead Protestantism simply allowed the people to become more intelligent. so investigation into anything became smarter or more careful to avoid error.
    There is no such thing as science but simply more organized control of investigation. A methodology .
    in origin subjects it fails as they are about past and gone processes that lead to present results.
    The modern world is a Protestant one, especially Evangelical/Puritan British, and the others simply moved to this civilization or gained from it.
    ‘Science’ just rose as everything did.
    Its all about getting smarter. Which is founded on new motivations brought by the reformation.

  4. 4
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hello Barb, forgive me if I misunderstand you but I’d be fascinated to know which observations can be made, or experiments performed, that demonstrate that there is an objective rational basis for morality and values that is entirely independent of religion.

    Or are you merely saying that we can analyse religious morality and values scientifically?

  5. 5
    Steno says:

    Fmarotta – I posted this because I think the general thrust of the piece is right, that Dawkins brand of atheism is formed out of Protestant Christianity. Dawkins holds to objective truth in order to do science, and seems to have a similar conception of value to attack the church. The problem for Dawkins is that he has lost the basis on which to do hold to truth and value (but doesn’t know it).

    There are I think many Catholics who would object to a lot of Jackson’s piece because it sounds very pantheistic. Even Behe perhaps would disagree?

    But does the intelligent design movement wish to be Protestant? A Protestant approach to design through Calvin and St Augustine would seek to use Scripture and Christian doctrine as a foundation for the way we approach design in creation. Perhaps creationism is the Protestant form of intelligent design?

  6. 6
    fmarotta says:

    Steno, I don’t think the intelligent design movement wishes to be Proetestant or Catholic. I think the intelligent design community is diverse and will remain so.

    If Dawkins brand of atheism is formed out of Protestant Christianity, why is he an atheist and not a Protestant? I believe he attacks all forms of Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant.

  7. 7
    Barb says:

    Hi Chris – while I don’t know that I completely agree with the findings myself, I would argue that there are moral atheists and agnostics in the world today. There are many philosophies that exist (utilitarianism, for example) that are used in our society today to provide benefits for others, and these came about independently of religion, at least to my knowledge.

    I also agree that the greatest basis for morality comes from the Bible, I think it’s a sweeping generalization to say that the irreligious have no morality to speak of; they just don’t have an objective basis for it.

  8. 8
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi Barb, thanks for your reply. We are pretty much in broad agreement: I agree that atheists and agnostics can (and do) live morally (better than many believers in fact). However, I would suggest that when atheists and agnostics do live morally, even for utilitarian reasons, they are in fact borrowing their moral imperatives, moral sanction and even moral code from religion.

    The irreligious don’t have an objective (nor, ultimately, rational) basis for morality and one of the reasons for this is that no amount of scientific studying and weighing can unearth a morality without reference to religion.

  9. 9
    Collin says:

    Chris,

    Or, rather, they DO have an objective basis (their own soul and its connection to God) but they just don’t realize it.

  10. 10
    Chris Doyle says:

    Absolutely, Collin. I think morality is etched deep into the souls of all human beings… but, thanks to free will, it is the choice of the human being whether we live morally or not.

    Realising that there is an objective rational basis for morality (though not in the atheist worldview) certainly helps! But it isn’t compelling.

    That’s why some atheists still lead moral lives and some believers still lead immoral lives.

  11. 11
    allanius says:

    The Medieval worldview described here, and revived in the Romantic era, is conducive to poetry. Modern materialism is anti-poetic.

  12. 12
    DonaldM says:

    The fundamental view of Dawkins, and those of his ilk (ie, staunch Darwinians who are also staunch atheists, such as Dennett, Hitchens etc) is that science must be protected from being polluted with religious worldviews of any sort. Thus ID must be eradicated from the science classroom else it taint the purity of science with it nefarious religious overtones and worldviews. The underlying, and completely erroneous premise behind this view is that science and the science classroom are worldview-free zones. But of course, that’s ludicrous on its face. As Dawkins et.al. demonstrate nearly every time they open their mouths or tap on their laptops, there is no such thing as a “worldview-free” science. Some worldview or other is going to influence and determine the very heart of science and scientific practice. Period! There is no getting around it. And because that is so, the [pipe]dream of some sort of “value-free” science is equally ludicrous. Where there are worldviews in play, there are also values in play, as values flow naturally from worldviews.

    The problem is that Dawkins et.al., have a real blind spot where this is concerned, and they have [nearly] successfully tricked themselves and many of their devotees into believing that a science built on naturalism is both worldview and value free.

  13. 13
    DonaldM says:

    Collin in #9 and Chris inn #10 [blockquote]Absolutely, Collin. I think morality is etched deep into the souls of all human beings… but, thanks to free will, it is the choice of the human being whether we live morally or not.[/blockquote]

    You might be interested in some of the works of Dr. Jay Budziszewski (pronounced ‘budge-ji-chev-ski’) a strong proponent of natural law. One book is called [url=http://www.amazon.com/Line-Through-Heart-Natural-Contradiction/dp/1935191179/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1297279736&sr=1-3]The Line Through the Heart: Natural Law as Fact, Theory, and Sign of Contradiction[/url] and the other is [url=http://www.amazon.com/Written-Heart-Case-Natural-Law/dp/083081891X/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1297279736&sr=1-4]Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law[/url] Both books make a pretty compelling case to support what you’re both trying say here.

  14. 14
    Collin says:

    DonaldM,
    thanks, I’ll look those up.

  15. 15
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Steno,

    While I think there may be some truth to what Jackson writes about the link between Protestantism and the Scientific Revolution, I have to say that what he writes about Aquinas is rubbish. See here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/comm.....telligence . Jackson claims without a scintilla of evidence that Aquinas was accused of atheism. Nonsense.

    Jackson also misinterprets his quote from Aquinas: “God is within the universe, and that innermostly.” This is no different from what the Bible says in Acts 17:28: “In Him we live and move and have our being.” Aquinas had no time for pantheism – indeed he regarded it as rank heresy.

    Finally, Jackson misinterprets Aquinas’ thought in much the same way that Professor Michael Tkacz did. Readers might like to see here for why he is wrong: http://www.angelfire.com/linux.....html#flaws .

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    OT; Dr. Torley, I think this is the winning video submission for the Manhattan Declaration Video Contest

    Ryan Brooks
    http://manhattandeclaration.or.....x?lbVal=65

    youtube link
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfOT_LPiFUE

  17. 17
    Barb says:

    Chris writes –
    “Hi Barb, thanks for your reply. We are pretty much in broad agreement: I agree that atheists and agnostics can (and do) live morally (better than many believers in fact).”

    They also tend to argue that evolution has somehow hardwired morality into our genes; at least that’s the premise of Sam Harris’ newest book.

    “However, I would suggest that when atheists and agnostics do live morally, even for utilitarian reasons, they are in fact borrowing their moral imperatives, moral sanction and even moral code from religion.”

    I would agree. They can obey the Golden Rule without believing in the divinity of Christ, but they can’t separate him from that particular ethical principle. See also Confucious, who taught something similar.

    “The irreligious don’t have an objective (nor, ultimately, rational) basis for morality and one of the reasons for this is that no amount of scientific studying and weighing can unearth a morality without reference to religion.”

    “Or, rather, they DO have an objective basis (their own soul and its connection to God) but they just don’t realize it.”

    “Absolutely, Collin. I think morality is etched deep into the souls of all human beings… but, thanks to free will, it is the choice of the human being whether we live morally or not.”

    Out of curiosity, have you read Harris’ latest? I’m wondering how these findings stack up against Dean Hamer’s findings that religion (or God) is hardwired into humanity. Hamer wrote “The God Gene”.

    “Realising that there is an objective rational basis for morality (though not in the atheist worldview) certainly helps! But it isn’t compelling.”

    The problem is that most atheists don’t subscribe to there being an objective rational basis for morality. Tolerance is the word of the day, and situational ethics are how problems are dealt with.

  18. 18
    Chris Doyle says:

    Hi Barb,

    ‘Hard-wired’ morality is something that evolutionists try to sell, but I’m not buying it. First of all, if morality was ‘hard-wired’ in our genes, then why do people commit immoral acts? Secondly, there is no observational or experimental data to support the notion that a gene or genes can determine any kind of human behaviour, let alone moral behaviour.

  19. 19
    DonaldM says:

    Barb writes:

    The problem is that most atheists don’t subscribe to there being an objective rational basis for morality. Tolerance is the word of the day, and situational ethics are how problems are dealt with.,

    Exactly, Barb, and therein lies the real problem for the atheist. There’s a real cognitive disconnect between the position that there is no objective basis for morality and then complaining that “religion” makes people do evil things. If morality has no objective foundation that is universal and applicable to all, then neither does any notion of evil. At best all they can say is “I personally don’t like what some people do”. That’s nice…neither do I…so where does that leave us? Unless there really is an objective grounding for morality that is applicable to all, then its pretty tough to have any sort of meaningful discussion about right and wrong beyond statements of personal preference.

Leave a Reply