Peter Higgs, who will likely win a future Nobel prize for his prediction about bosons, has noticed that popular science author Richard Dawkins is a fundamentalist:
Higgs has chosen to cap his remarkable 2012 with another bang by criticising the “fundamentalist” approach taken by Dawkins in dealing with religious believers.
“What Dawkins does too often is to concentrate his attack on fundamentalists. But there are many believers who are just not fundamentalists,” Higgs said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo. “Fundamentalism is another problem. I mean, Dawkins in a way is almost a fundamentalist himself, of another kind.”
He agreed with some of Dawkins’ thoughts on the unfortunate consequences that have resulted from religious belief, but he was unhappy with the evolutionary biologist’s approach to dealing with believers and said he agreed with those who found Dawkins’ approach “embarrassing”.
Not surprisingly, this has upset Jerry Coyne, who tries to defend Dawkins:
And exactly what kind of “fundamentalism” is that? Can you really equate blind adherence to ancient, man-made texts with doubt that those texts prove anything about a divine being? Why is it “fundamentalist” to ask for evidence, and decry those who adhere to dogma in the face of evidence? Why is it “fundamentalist” to have a scientific, evidence-based attitude toward the claims of religion, but not to the claims of ancient goatherds?
Note how Coyne flails away at a straw man.
No where did Higgs imply that Dawkins was a fundamentalist because he demands evidence. Higgs views Dawkins as an embarrassing fundamentalist because of his militancy and his advocacy of the incompatibility claim:
In the El Mundo interview, Higgs argued that although he was not a believer, he thought science and religion were not incompatible.
And let’s face it, the incompatibility claim is, by definition, a fringe claim given that it is rejected by mainstream scientific organizations (like the AAAS) and embraced only by religious fundamentalists and Gnu atheists.
Note also that Coyne expects us to buy into the carefully crafted illusion that Dawkins is a Man Who Demands Evidence. How could someone like that be a fundamentalist?! Dawkins himself tried to make the same point:
Dawkins, author of the best-selling book The God Delusion, has been accused many times in the past of adopting fundamentalist positions.. In a 2007 post on his website titled “How dare you call me a fundamentalist”, Dawkins wrote: “No, please, do not mistake passion, which can change its mind, for fundamentalism, which never will. Passion for passion, an evangelical Christian and I may be evenly matched. But we are not equally fundamentalist. The true scientist, however passionately he may ‘believe’, in evolution for example, knows exactly what would change his mind: evidence! The fundamentalist knows that nothing will.”
It’s laughable to see Dawkins posture like this given that we have just learned he doesn’t really care about evidence when it comes to his atheist advocacy.
What’s more, he seems oblivious to the fact that his notion that religion is the root of all evil, along with the belief that the world would be a better place without religion, do not exist as a consequence of evidence. Dawkins believes such things on a form of faith that is propped up with confirmation bias. In other words, he holds extreme views and thinks like a fundamentalist.
How dare we call Dawkins a fundamentalist?
Er, that’s what the evidence tells Higgs and the rest of us. After all, ever notice that the only people who disagree with the label are Dawkins and his fellow Gnu atheists?