Dawkins' Materialism

Hugh Hewitt interviewed Richard Dawkins last week.  I thought that this answer was perfectly illustrative of Dawkins' materialism and scientism - the way he limits the evidence he'll consider to only physical facts that science provides.

HH:  So when you consider before the big bang, what does Richard Dawkins think was there?

RD:  I don't consider the question, because I recognize that it's an intuitively appealing question.  I recognize that I, along with everybody else, wants to ask that question.  Then I talk to physicists who say you can no more ask what came before the big bang than you can ask what's north of the North Pole.

Well, certainly if you reach the North Pole and never think to look up, you'd think there was no other direction to go.  Dawkins doesn't seem to consider that when you've reached the North Pole, that line of investigation might be exhausted, but there could be another way to discover what lies beyond the North Pole (i.e., the solar system and galaxy).  Certainly, if you never considered another mode of investigation, he would think he's exhausted what there is to discover rather than realizing the inherent limits of his chosen area of study.  When the geographer takes you to the North Pole and can take you no further, the astronomer or astronaut can give you another way to find out what else there is to investigate.  The North Pole is the last stop only if you limit the method of study.

Dawkins is a materialist and believes that physical facts are all there are to know, the physical facts of this universe.  He believes that science is the only valid area of knowledge about the universe.  That is the presupposition that handicaps his investigation. 

Note what he says about talking to physicists who say you can't ask what came before the Big Bang.  Well, they've got it wrong.  Physics may not be able to tell us what came before the Big Bang because this world and its laws is all physics can study.  But there are other areas of study the give us facts about the world that can be turned to when science reaches its limits.  Philosophy and theology are also valid areas of study - unless of course, they've been dismissed a priority by a materialist presupposition. 

Hugh Hewitt does a good job of pressing Dawkins on the historical evidence for Jesus, and Dawkins betrays his limited familiarity with this area of study.  Certainly, we all have specialties and have to focus our expertise, but that should lead Dawkins to offer up his thoughts on the historical evidence for Jesus in a much more tentative tone.  This epistemic confidence without justification betrays one of Dawkins' most serious intellectual failures.  He dismisses things he's disagrees with out of his presuppositions and doesn't seriously study the justification.

Hugh makes one serious error at the end of the interview and unwittingly concedes Dawkins' own view of "faith" as contrary to reason and fact.  He describes faith as belief against or without evidence.  He concedes the lack of conclusive evidence for God's existence and creation as an opportunity for faith.  

HH:  ...I'm saying that the world has been made as it is to allow for faith, because if it was made too easy for the simple-minded, it would simply be routine, and everyone would believe, and then there would be no faith.

In other words, faith only exists when evidence, facts, and justification cannot guide us.  This is not the biblical definition of faith.  Faith isn't faith because it's rare and unusual.  Biblical faith would still be just that if every single person had faith in God and His revelation.  People don't believe because of lack of evidence, as Romans 1 explains, but because of their sin and rebellion.

Greg explains the difference between the common misconception of faith and Biblical faith.

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Melinda Penner

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