Richard Dawkins and His Genocide of Faith

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  • Topic: Richard Dawkins, Alister McGrath, Faith
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Richard Dawkins and His Genocide of Faith
The prominent evolutionist Richard Dawkins has emerged as the leading spokesperson for the point of view that a belief in evolution demands atheism. Dawkins is a brilliant author and speaker. He teaches at Oxford University and in 2006 published a book titled The God Delusion, where Dawkins argues that a God most certainly does not exist and so therefore faith, qualifies as a delusion.

In 1996 Dawkins was named "Humanist of The Year" and in his acceptance speech, (which was later published in The Humanist) Dawkins called for the eradication of what he regarded as one of the greatest evil of our time. He states that, “It is fashionable to wax apocalyptic about the threat to humanity posed by the AIDS virus, ‘mad cow’ disease, and many others, but I think a case can be made that faith is one of the world's great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate. Faith being belief that isn't based on evidence is the principal vice of any religion” (Dawkins).

Then, Dawkins continues in his speech to illustrate what he views as the dangers of faith. He draws many examples from world events, such as the turmoil in the Middle East and Northern Ireland. Dawkins considers these conflicts to be a direct result of the religious beliefs held by these opposing cultures infected with the “brain virus” of faith (Dawkins).

I hesitate in taking on an argument against such a respected and accomplished scholar such as Dawkins, however I can’t help disagreeing with his statements. There is so much I think he is missing or at least not addressing. To begin with, I disagree with Dawkins’ idea that faith is evil, because he sees it as a belief that isn’t based on evidence. I would argue that everyone believes some things to be true without evidence. For example, when I was a kid my dad explained to me that the earth was round and it revolved around the sun, and I believed him without any evidence. I still believe him, along with others who have said the same thing. I will most certainly never stand in a position where I am able to witness this with my own eyes (outer space), but I have faith in the authority of those that have told me. I would also argue that all of mankind goes through their daily life believing things about themselves, and about the world that they cannot prove through evidence.

One really good example, I think, of belief without evidence can be found in some modern theories in astrophysics about the universe and its apparent accelerating expansion. Prior to a discovery by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1998 it was believed that the universe’s expansion was slowing due to Einstein’s theory of gravity. However, this recent discovery about the universe’s expansion revealed it to be accelerating, not slowing. “Theorists still don't know what the correct explanation is,” according to NASA’s Science and Astrophysics webpage, “but they have given the solution a name. It is called dark energy” (NASA). “What is dark energy? More is unknown than is known. We know how much dark energy there is because we know how it affects the Universe's expansion. Other than that, it is a complete mystery. But it is an important mystery. It turns out that roughly 70% of the Universe is dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 25%” (NASA).

So, according to NASA 95% of the universe is made up of dark energy and dark matter although they have no verifiable evidence that it exists. Astrophysicists simply see the universe behaving in a certain way and in order for them to explain it (and still hold on to their other theories, i.e. gravity, big bang) there has to be this stuff they call dark matter and dark energy. Without the existence of dark energy and dark matter, all of the currently accepted cosmological models of the universe fall apart, in light of this recent discovery by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Ninety-five percent is a big number when you are discussing the makeup of the...
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