The Myth of Dawkins as a Cult Figure II

. . . discussion continued from here . . .

Hi. Thanks for your comments. Allow me to reply to them. Firstly, the papacy and Answers in Genesis clearly are religious organisations. They don’t pretend to be otherwise. The Discovery Institute is a little different, as although very many of its members clearly are religious, David Berlinski is an agnostic, and the scientific arguments for ID were also articulated way back in the 1980s by Chandra Wickramasigne and Fred Hoyle, who were militantly atheist. See their comments about Christianity enchaining minds
in Evolution from Space.

And B's post indicates that Max Weber considered religious organizations to BE cult-like. Certainly, Weber's definition of cult covers religious organizations.

I do wonder about B's definition of religion, which I would define as concerning itself with the supernatural. Dawkins, as a scientist, is not pondering the supernatural (other than to deny it), so I wonder at B's implication that Dawkins is founding a religion while pretending to do otherwise. It’s clearly an interesting little tu quoque twist to accuse a scientist of perpetrating religion.

If I only had a dollar for every time I’ve seen a creationist troup out Chandra Wickramasigne and Fred Hoyle! It is immaterial to the value of Paley’s Blind Watchmaker argument whether or not a couple of atheists advocated the idea at some point. Since creationists love to play at fallacious argumentum ad verecundiam, it is relevant to point out what the true experts think. The ID notion is rejected by thousands of unbiased scientists. The real point is not the religious affiliations of those who have espoused an idea, it is the content of the idea itself. As a piece of philosophy, intelligent design “theory” is as fatally flawed as Descartes’ circular ontological argument for God. ID is essentially a trumped up argument from analogy with overgeneralization thrown into the mix.

Whether atheism results from critical thinking is a moot point. For some people it certainly does, for others critical thinking leads away from atheism. As Francis Bacon says, a little philosophy leads one away from God, a lot to God. And the ancient Greek pioneers of critical thinking, Plato and Aristotle, were theists.
I wonder too about B's conception of critical thinking. Since none of the empirical evidence does, or even could, point incontrovertibly to a supernatural agent, genuine critical thinking would lead away from supernatural “God of the Gaps” explanations. One could, of course hedge one's bets on the “unknowable” aspect and adopt agnosticism.

I find philosophy quite interesting in so far as it teaches critical thinking, but much philosophy is merely the playing around with fanciful ideas, so does not rank as critical thinking and far less relates to the physical world. Of course Plato and Aristotle were theists, they had no good explanation for the natural world 2300 years ago. Besides, if I recall correctly one of the charges leveled at Socrates was that of heresy, and look what happened to poor Socrates.

As for Jung merely demonstrating ‘that pseudo-philosophical mumbo jumbo with interesting content and a veneer of authority appeals to those who do not yet understand the subject matter (human psychology). In the absence of understanding, people gravitate toward the flashiest, most interesting pseudo-explanation’ this could equally apply to evolutionary psychology, which is profoundly flawed. Or even Dawkins’ own philosophical views, which he has never submitted to any peer reviewed journal.
My objections to Jung partly relate to the unscientific and solely philosophic nature of his “references” and to his failure to understand psychopathology. Ethics prevents the study of psychology from being fully scientific, but I shudder to imagine B's objections to evolutionary psychology as compared to Jungian psychology. At a guess, B's alarm flag probably went up at the word “evolution”.

Dawkins does not publish philosophical tracts, he is a biologist and hence peer review would pertain only to his scientific publications. As for lack of peer reviewed publications, creationists ought to keep in mind the total lack of legitimate scientific publication by creation “scientists”.

Lest anyone mistakenly assume that I am a Dawkins groupie, I should clarify that I have only read one of Dawkins books because I find lay science tediously slow to read.

I responded to B's post because I found the summary of Noll’s ideas quite interesting and because I object to illogical attacks on scientific knowledge that have the sole purpose of promoting creationism. B's "Dawkins as a cult figure" caught my eye, though. It took an interestingly different tack (or should I say attack?).

I find the illogic of creationists quite irritating, but they certainly do illustrate fallacies of logic and provide interesting material for analysis of emotion-driven cognitive errors.

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