Some well respected atheists give me a headache.
It's not that they challenge my faith. It that their assumptions are so flawed to be laughable. I am not saying that ALL atheists are hackneyed in their approach, and I have written before how Scotty Atran is one of my favorite atheists that can actually challenge my faith.
However, two of my biggest and most popular atheists, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, are often quoted and often admired by the lay person. Unfortunately, the core logic of both are fatally flawed.
Now, of the two, Sam Harris can and should simply be ignored. Sam is the type of person that dropped out of Stanford because of a big dose of ecstasy (I kid you not), and spent 11 years trying to find himself before he returned to Stanford to finish a degree in philosophy. He is trying to get a PhD in the neural sciences. Good luck Sam. Give us a call once you've actually done something other than be given a book award by a liberal institution.
Richard Dawkins can not and should not be dismissed. For all of logical faults, Dawkins is extremely bright and has added much to the world of science. Dawkins, for example, has coined ideas like the Blind Watch Maker and the idea of memes. Most of his work centers around the idea of the gene as the central focal point of Darwinist evolution. Many of his ideas may be wrong, but many may be right. He is truly very creative and smart. It is well worth reading many of his concepts and works.
So, why do I lump the drop-out and the professor into the same category? It is simply that they both defend an idea that is outrageous in its structure. Interestingly enough, because they both support the same logic, the two are in a mutual admiration society.
Both Harris and Dawkins have a very simple proposition:
a. There are problems in this world
b. There is faith in this world
c. Therefore, if we remove faith, then we will remove the problems
If you have a book on logic, look up fallacies. You will find a picture of Dawkins and Harris.
Let us, for a moment, say that all religion is absolutely false. Let us take two societies:
1. The religious society (which has an absolutely wrong belief)
2. The non-religions society (which has an absolutely right belief)
Which society do you think is going to be happier, healthier, and more forward progressive. To Dawkins and Harris, the answer is obvious. The non-religious society.
And my question to this is "what proof do you have of this?"
Scotty Atran, one of my favorite atheists, recently pointed this out at a conference specifically with Dawkins and Harris. In the 20th century, there has arisen at least two experiments where God was stricken from the page. Atran addresses these examples.
To quote Atran:
Two of these "isms" - communism and fascism - were explicitly based on what were once seriously thought to be scientific theories and philosophies. These particular variants led to the greatest mass murders in human history. Although, this is only a N of 2, and a poor base of evidence for generalizing to the role of science in politics in general, it is still 100% more informed than most other views heard at the conference
Atran further reflected on the words of his peers:
I find it fascinating that brilliant scientists and philosophers have no clue how to deal with the basic irrationality of human life and society other than to insist against all reason and evidence that things ought to be rational and evidence based. It makes me embarrassed to be a scientist and atheist.
In other words, it is very unclear if society without religious thought is a society that can survive long term. This is even if religion is proven as false.
I have heard Dawkins and Harris talk. They believe that the reason that certain people groups are so violent is because of their religion. Obviously they don't understand the godless communist systems under Stalin or Mao.
Now, the closest we have to a non-religious society in Europe. However, they are not anti-religious. They are pro-tolerant. This is a very big difference to what Dawkins and Harris are suggesting.
The problem with both Dawkins and Harris is that they simply have never studied the social sciences. I'm not talking about pop psychology. I am talking about the hard core sociology science work that has been done. There is no debate that man has a God-Shaped hole in their psyche. Now this God-Shape hole may be a left over structure of the way we are cognitively wired (coined as a spandrel by the brilliant Scientist Stephen Jay Gould). It doesn't matter how religion got into our society.
What matters is that it is here, and it seems to be irreplaceable.
You don't have to look hard at the data to determine several things:
1. Religious people have less stress
2. Religious people have more financial success
3. Religious people have more children
Sounds like a pretty good evolutionary advantage. To any atheists that stumble across this blog, maybe you should believe in something also if you want your genes to live on.