When evolution is used wrong:
Evolution, it must be said, is fairly reasonable. The evidence is overwhelming; fossil records, contemporary examples of natural selection (see the black and white spotted moths of post-industrial England), similar structures across species, and gene analysis all add to what seems to be a rational explanation of the origin of species.
HOWEVER, what evolution does not do is devalue every element of religion, or even go any particular way to “disproving god” (obviously an irrational approach, given that God is inherently un-refutable).
This leads me to a whole-hearted criticism of Richard Dawkins latest speech given in Vancouver at the Chan center, and more generally his approach toward religion in the world today.
Dawkins organized the speech, and yet decided, instead of bringing in a debate partner, or some opposition, had another famous internet atheist interview him. The conversation was full of self-congratulatory nonsense, like explaining how great his books were, and that they had impacted so many previously stupid religious people who had converted to “humanism”. Let me be very clear; the speech was anti-intellectual at its very base. They laughed at the straw man arguments they would present on behalf of the religious, then fail to adequately respond to those ideas even in their deliberately weakened state.
One question was on the nature of islamophobia, where Dawkins responded with this:
“Islamophobia doesn’t exist. It is a ridiculous claim. Firstly, Islam is not a race, and secondly, if the fundamentals of a religion are completely evil and the effect is ISIS and terrorism, then we can be entirely critical of it”.
Well Mr Dawkins, let’s not jump to conclusions. Islamophobia is a word describing a phenomenon where people feel a deep antipathy to people who associate, or even simply seem Islamic. It isn’t controversial to say that anti-Semitism exists, and thus neither is it reasonable to claim that islamophobia can’t exist. It indicates a certain approach toward the religion which is reductive and focuses on the violent and awful aspects, as opposed to the large majority of individuals who practice in a similar way to moderate Christians of the developed world. Where there is a genuine link between the religion and violence, I would postulate instead that this is a product of social and economic climates as opposed to vehement religiosity. Given Islam not existing, I think the middle east would likely be still in turmoil based on a lack of redistributive economic policies, corrupt governments, and rather hot weather (only sort of joking when I say that last one).
Also, at a human level, it’s never nice or useful to figurate spit in someone’s face, denying any value in what they find an important aspect of their life. If my roommate wants to go about believing in a God as an invisible means of support, and it stops him doing too many drugs or stealing things, then that sounds great to me. It would be counterproductive and absurd for me to tell him he is an idiot, and I would lose a friend. So, Dawkins, here is my contention; I can have a conversation with my roommate about God- an argument, even- and end it without him hating me. You, Sir, cannot. You are deliberately inflammatory, to the same level as a religious zealot. You create divisions and delineations amongst people, you deny people the ability to govern their own beliefs, and you take away an element of hope and love in their life.
So, evolution is not, indeed, any particular proof against God, and even if it is, let’s try not to be so rude when we use it to debate.