Does Dawkins Understand Evidence?

Culture Warrior Richard Dawkins claims his side is winning the war:

Professor Dawkins said it was now possible to go to a dinner party and assume no one was religious.
“I think on the whole we are winning,” he told The Times. “We are all moving in the same direction. I get the feeling more and more that religion is being left behind.”
“You do not have to be reticent in what you say. You do not have to look around and say, ‘I hope I am not offending anyone’. You can pretty much speak your mind now in a way that you could not 50 years ago.”

We are now starting to see a pattern. A pattern of Dawkins holding up these anecdotes as evidence. Sorry Richard, but personal experiences with “dinner parties” is not scientific evidence. And whether or not you get the feeling tells us only something about you. Maybe the reason only non-religious people now want to have dinner with a militant atheist has something to do with the militancy of the atheist. Maybe he gets that feeling because of the power of wishful thinking.

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32 Responses to Does Dawkins Understand Evidence?

  1. The original Mr. X says:

    “Professor Dawkins said it was now possible to go to a dinner party and assume no one was religious.”

    Probably because no-one but a gnu atheist would want to go to a party with Richard Dawkins.

  2. Luis says:

    Perhaps it is because more and more people are leaving their faith because they recognize it’s not true. That seems to be the case in christianity anyway. The internet is littered with blogs of people who use to be christians and have become atheists because they decided to look at the evidence rather than being told what to believe. They usually found the evidence lacking to continue in their faith. That’s pretty much what happened to me.

  3. rubbermallet says:

    So the number of blogs is evidence now?

    well then….

    The internet is littered with blogs of people who used to be Atheists and have become Christians because they decided to look at the evidence rather than being told what to believe.

  4. Luis says:

    From what I have seen among the blogs is that christians become atheists for intellectual reasons and atheists become christians for emotional reasons. That’s not like this in all cases, of course, but in most of the blogs that I’ve seen. This may not count as evidence but it does show that people will lose their faith when they start realizing that it does hold up under critical thinking. I think this is what Dawkins is refering to. More and more people are starting to examine their faith, probably because of the new atheist movement, and they are finding that the atheists are right.

  5. Luis says:

    Sorry, I meant to say “it doesn’t hold up under critical thinking.”

  6. rubbermallet says:

    Being already unable to see the emotional reasoning in most atheist blogs as well as the intellectual reasoning in Christian blogs, and by your last sentence “finding that the atheists are right” is telling.

    The new atheists aren’t breaking the mold here intellectually. Critical thinking has been leading intelligent thinkers one way or another for hundreds of years. I generally find people aren’t really “examining their faith”, they are just met with a choice…religion…or…not being chained to moral truth (aka i get to have sex with whoever i want) and gravitating to the easiest of the two. At least guys like Aldous Huxley would readily admit it. Today, they shroud it in “critical thinking”.

  7. Luis says:

    I did mention that the intellectual/emotional reasons isn’t the same in all cases. I admited that there are exceptions but I find that the reasons I mentioned are more prevalent than not.

    Also, what you suggest is a gross mischaracterization. You are saying that people convert to athesim because they want to sin more or to justify their sin. That certainly wasn’t the case with me and I’m sure that isn’t the case with so may others. I want there to be a God but I can’t believe the claims of the bible anymore. Those claims are just too unrealistic. Science and history has proven some of the bible incorrect which means that it can’t be the word of God. If it was written by men but “inspired” by God, anyone can make that claim about any book.

  8. rubbermallet says:

    How has science and history proven the Bible to be incorrect? This will probably be quite a bit of news to literally thousands of Biblical and historical scholars across the world.

  9. Luis says:

    The book of Genesis has been proven wrong by science and the book of Exodus has been proven wrong by history meaning very little to no evidence of it after years of searching. This is just for starters. Of course one can say that Genesis is metaphor but then that can be applied to any creation account of the time. Why is the Jewish creation account true metaphor and not the Egyptians, Greek or Romans? What sets it apart? Science has also shown that there was no global flood. The bible reads as if the creation and flood accounts should be taken literal.

    We also have no eveidence that Jews were ever in Egypt or the plagues happened there either. The Septuagent has shown that the translation should be Reed Sea and not Red Sea. There is also little evidence for the patriachs like David, Abraham, Solomon, Isaac etc.

  10. rubbermallet says:

    You hopefully realize that according to top archeologists, there is only so far that the practice can go in order to show evidence of one thing from the next. there are missing parts of histories all over the world but that does not mean they did not happen. Modern archeologists posit that only 2% of the ancient world has actually even been scratched let alone escavated. And i don’t need to point out how archeologists have regularly stumbled upon things that actually have proved the historicity of the Bible.

    To say that Genesis has been proven wrong by science means that one doesn’t actually understand either science or Genesis, or perhaps both.

    I would assume that one who championed “critical thinking” would do a bit more of it.

  11. Luis says:

    “3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”
    The earth was not created in six days, 6000 years ago. Multiple lines of evidence have shown this clearly.
    “6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.”
    There is no vault, firmament or dome in the sky.
    “11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.”
    Seed-bearing plants came long after the dinosaurs, not before. Also, microbial life in the oceans came before plant life.
    “14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.”
    The lights are typically seen as the sun and the moon. The sun was not created after the earth but before. Also, you can’t measure earth days without the sun so the first three days are moot.
    “20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.”

    Birds evolved from dinosaurs and were not created at the same time as the marine animals. No bird fossil has ever been found within that time period. Some translations say the whales were created at this time but science has shown they evolved from land animals.
    “24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”
    Dinosaurs came before livestock and wild animals. Since there was no evidence of dinosaurs when this was written, it is not mentioned in the bible. This could be seen as evidence that man wrote the creation account based on what he could see.
    “29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.”
    We can clearly see in the fossil record that predation took place before the appearance of man. Dinosaurs and other animals weren’t strictly plant eaters. There was animal death long before man came along.
    “10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin[d] and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush.[e] 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.”
    Modern man emerged out of Africa not the Middle East where these rivers are said to have been located.
    Also, population genetics shows we came from a population of 10, 000 not two people. Women weren’t formed from the ribs of men and the second creation account in Genesis 2 contradicts the one in Genesis 1.
    You can deny all this if you want to but it doesn’t change them as facts. You may be able to ignore them and cling to the “evidence” that supports you faith but I couldn’t do it and be honest with myself. This is just the tip of the iceberg of things that made me question my faith.
    BTW, please don’t ask me for links, citations etc. This ploy is used by people who want to keep their knowledge and not to do any work to the contrary. This can all be shown on the internet or you library. That’s how I learned it.

  12. rubbermallet says:

    “BTW, please don’t ask me for links, citations etc. This ploy is used by people who want to keep their knowledge and not to do any work to the contrary. This can all be shown on the internet or you library. That’s how I learned it.”

    …..yeah. critical thinking indeed…..

  13. Justin says:

    That’s great, Louis. You’ve managed to rip Young Earth Creationism to shreds with your insightful analysis of Genesis. I don’t meet too many Christians who defend that reading of Genesis, though…..

  14. Michael says:

    Luis: Perhaps it is because more and more people are leaving their faith because they recognize it’s not true. That seems to be the case in christianity anyway. The internet is littered with blogs of people who use to be christians and have become atheists because they decided to look at the evidence rather than being told what to believe.

    Given that Dawkins confuses anecdotes with evidence, does it surprise anyone that his followers would mimic him? Luis, the internet is littered with lots of things. Cherry-pick to your heart’s content.

    They usually found the evidence lacking to continue in their faith. That’s pretty much what happened to me.

    Are we supposed to accept this on faith? Or do you have any evidence that is what happened to you?

  15. rubbermallet says:

    A request for evidence, per Luis, is only a ploy.

  16. cl says:

    I always get interested when I hear a comment like this from a believer turned non:

    “This may not count as evidence but it does show that people will lose their faith when they start realizing that it does not hold up under critical thinking.”

    …perhaps it’s just the way it’s worded, but, what this person is really saying is more akin to,

    “For me, this doesn’t make sense anymore.”

    …and the appropriate response is, who cares? Seriously. There are millions of people who approach this issue. Many very intelligent people end up on both sides of the divide. Millions decide it makes sense, millions don’t. It’s not so much that Christianity “doesn’t hold up” or “does hold up,” but more along the truth that this blog’s author often preaches: evidence is subjective. I suspect that at the root, we ALL either believe or disbelieve for emotional, subjective, non-rational reasons. Even Luis. I mean, look at his last example that supposed to be an argument or something. Total rubbish. Scientific hearsay and pure logical failures exalted as reason. And yet, if somebody asked Luis why they don’t believe, I can guarantee they’ll get a pseudo-intellectual answer like, “Oh because the evidence blah blah blah…” but he clearly doesn’t understand evidence or logic sufficiently to make an informed decision.

    Sad. Why I don’t really blog anymore. Only the power of prayer can take down these strongholds.

  17. cl says:

    Luis,

    Just for fun, I’m going to poke some holes in your “argument” and ask you a follow-up question… ready?

    The earth was not created in six days, 6000 years ago. Multiple lines of evidence have shown this clearly.

    False. Multiple lines of evidence show that if we ASSUME things have always been proceeding naturally as they are now, and extrapolate back in time, we get numbers much higher than 6/6000. But the second you make that assumption, you’re in circular argument land.

    There is no vault, firmament or dome in the sky.

    Possible reply #1: for all we know there could have been;

    Possible reply #2: we have water in oceans and water in clouds and sky in between.

    Seed-bearing plants came long after the dinosaurs, not before. Also, microbial life in the oceans came before plant life.

    Sure, according to the current evolutionary consensus of today, but how often are they rewriting the geologic time scale? What about the fossils being found with soft tissue, or even grass in some cases? (Study Prosblogion and respond intelligently)

    …okay, totally bored. Will never get through to you anyway, so done wasting my time. Cheers. In case you were wondering about the question, it was going to be something like, “Since you’re not really relying on evidence and solid logic in your atheism, what ARE you relying on?”

  18. Luis says:

    So after a month, there are no serious takers of my challenge? The only one to try quit after a feeble attempt.

    “Possible reply #1: for all we know there could have been;”

    If this is the best Christians have to offer, they are more wrong than I thought.

  19. TFBW says:

    Luis: I, for one, had no intention of addressing your “challenge”, because it would involve addressing multiple layers of presupposition, dogma, and awful Biblical exegesis, none of which particularly seems to be open to negotiation (e.g. “you can deny all this if you want to but it doesn’t change them as facts”). And all that for the sake of someone who appears to be more interested in asserting his intellectual superiority than actually learning anything. So go ahead and bask in the warm glow of your smugness: I’m not going to challenge you. I don’t engage unless there’s some small hope of a productive outcome. Goodness knows I waste enough of my time on futile arguments without engaging in the obviously futile ones.

  20. Crude says:

    Really, there’s something ‘mentally challenged’ about, in essence, coming to a site where (to my knowledge) not a single person is a YEC, and then demanding these people defend a YEC view – stipulating that denying it isn’t allowed.

    He may as well be arguing that ‘obviously Joseph Smith is a prophet of God’, and then giving his arguments against Joseph Smith, treating the fact that there are apparently no mormons here as some minor footnote at best.

    And to top it off, this gem:

    “BTW, please don’t ask me for links, citations etc. This ploy is used by people who want to keep their knowledge and not to do any work to the contrary. ”

    Those clever, sneaky bastards! You make a claim and they’ll ask for *evidence* and *citations*. How dare they!

    Luis, a tip: you’re not a very good apologist, or a good counter-apologist. No doubt you were absurdly confident in your abilities in your Christian days, got schooled, and now you’re absurdly confident in your atheist days. The problem plaguing you is not your beliefs, but your unwarranted self-confidence. Start doubting yourself, hold your beliefs hesitantly, and quit trying to be an authority. By any measure – you simply don’t have what it takes.

  21. Luis says:

    How can you call me a bad apologist when we haven’t even seriously discussed the issues yet? All I have received from this forum is dismissals and insults. Why? Because I failed to provide links to the most basic science that even a high school teenager knows. Anyone can see that. Even if I did provide the links, no one here would accept it anyway. They would all just be written off and I would have just wasted my time. You guys know that this mainstream settled science. Why use this as a debate tactic? I concede that you guys are OEC and not YEC but the rest of the Genesis refutations still apply to the OEC view too. The birds still evolved from dinosaurs even if you are an OEC. So please quit with the dismissals/insults and engage in the issues or admit that you don’t have any answers. Don’t pull a Kent Hovind where you fail to engage and walk away thinking you won the debate by insulting.

  22. cl says:

    Luis,

    How can you call me a bad apologist when we haven’t even seriously discussed the issues yet?

    I think you answered your own question: discuss the issues seriously and listen to what Crude just said, especially the last two sentences.

    BTW, I didn’t “quit” either, I checked back and saw no response from you. Now I’m back. I don’t live at blogs so don’t assume I “quit” okay? If you have anything intelligent to say or add then maybe I’ll continue but so far you don’t so… ball’s in your court.

  23. Luis says:

    If the arguments are so bad, they should be easily countered. So far, not a single one has been except for

    “Possible reply #1: for all we know there could have been;

    Possible reply #2: we have water in oceans and water in clouds and sky in between.”

    So, cl, in order to have a serious debate, I should doubt my self-confidence and consider the possibility that maybe there was a vault around the sky at one time? I suppose you would say it would be wrong of me to ask for a citation on this “science” if I haven’t provided one for the accepted science.

    So far no debate because I’m a bad apologist for the following reasons

    1) I’m confident in accepted science and should have some doubt in it, possibly be open to creation science.
    2) I haven’t provided any links for the accepted science
    3) I mistook the people her for YEC whne you really are OEC.

    Is that right?

  24. Crude says:

    If the arguments are so bad, they should be easily countered.

    And so they were. We are, by and large, not YECs here. Your arguments take aim at YECs. Ergo, why should most of us care? Your arguments that a YEC interpretation is the only reasonable one, much less the only correct one, has been pathetic to non-existent. So what exactly do you want out of any of us? What’s more, you say ‘OECs’ as if we all deny evolution. Again – I don’t. Mike doesn’t. Most of the regulars don’t. Do you even know who you’re talking to? Or do you just have enough emptiness in your life to fill that you go to random websites and argue with people you merely *hope* are there?

    Attention? You won’t get much more than this. Be relevant, be interesting, and don’t be surprised when you walk in and say ‘You’re all wrong, it’s so obvious, YEC is the only interpretation, don’t ask me to justify that, and don’t ask me for links to explanations of my most central claims because only dirty people ask for such things.’ that most of us just move on to the next topic.

    Go find some creationists to fight. So far, your claims go from ‘irrelevant’ to ‘easily refuted’.

  25. Luis says:

    OK. So you are theistic evolutionists, I assume. If that is the case then I also assume that you read Genesis as prose, metaphor, poetry, analogy etc. This should be a safe assumption considering that you don’t seem to read Genesis literally. If that is the case then what separates the Jewish creation account from any other creation account? Why can’t one believe in the Greek account and say it’s metaphor for what really happened? Why yours and none else? What makes this metaphor so real and special?

    Also, why would a purposeful God use a purposeless process like evolution to bring about the creation of man especially when the text seems to indicate that He intended to create us? If you think that evolution is guided, I would like to see the evidence for that. Or do you believe that creation was free to create itself like some at Biologos believe? This would indicate that God had no idea what creation was going to do which would undermine his omnipotence or that humanity wasn’t intended outcome in which case what makes us special?

    Do you believe in a historical Adam & Eve even though genetics and fossils have refuted that? If so, how? If not, doesn’t this undermine the whole Fall and salvation story of the gospels?

  26. Crude says:

    OK. So you are theistic evolutionists, I assume. If that is the case then I also assume that you read Genesis as prose, metaphor, poetry, analogy etc. This should be a safe assumption considering that you don’t seem to read Genesis literally. If that is the case then what separates the Jewish creation account from any other creation account? Why can’t one believe in the Greek account and say it’s metaphor for what really happened? Why yours and none else? What makes this metaphor so real and special?

    Who says they can’t? Let them advance their arguments and claims. Are you under the mistaken impression that I have to dispute each and every claim a non-Christian makes about God? If so, bad news – you are mistaken.

    I do think the jewish creation account differs largely in that said account is ridiculously vague and non-amazing. It just is one long ‘All these natural things? God made them somehow, and they are under His purview.’ Not much on the dancing dragons and so on. It’s the most bland creation account possible, practically.

    Also, why would a purposeful God use a purposeless process like evolution to bring about the creation of man especially when the text seems to indicate that He intended to create us? If you think that evolution is guided, I would like to see the evidence for that.

    If you’re claiming that evolution is not guided, I’d like to see *your* evidence. What is the evidence that evolution is a ‘purposeless process’? How do you go about testing such a claim?

    My views for God guiding evolution largely, but not exclusively, fall from my acceptance of various arguments for God’s existence and His attributes. The Five Ways, etc. So what are your arguments? ‘You don’t like some of the results’?

    Do you believe in a historical Adam & Eve even though genetics and fossils have refuted that?

    They haven’t refuted that. I believe in a historical Adam and Eve. I think they were two members of a larger, non-ensouled population a long, long time ago. Entirely compatible with the scientific evidence we have.

    If not, doesn’t this undermine the whole Fall and salvation story of the gospels?

    Even people who reject a historical, singular first couple wouldn’t accept that, nor would they be forced to. You act as if a strict biblical account from Genesis is the only logically possible way there could have been a fall. Why in the world should I believe that?

  27. Michael says:

    Luis,

    I am an evolutionist, so your taunting means nothing to me. Now, the guy who ignored my response, and who changes the topic of this thread, demands responses for his “new” challenges? Why would I waste my time on a closed-minded, militant atheist who does not know the difference between anecdotes and evidence? If you seriously want replies, I need evidence that you can process this topic in an open- and fair-minded manner.

  28. cl says:

    Luis,

    So, cl, in order to have a serious debate, I should doubt my self-confidence and consider the possibility that maybe there was a vault around the sky at one time?

    No, you should keep an open mind and quit acting like what paltry bits of science we correctly understand today are some sort of be-all end-all for anything. Bring some nuance at least. Partition some brain cells for the idea that maybe, just maybe, not everybody throws their chips in with Ussher or believes in 6 literal 24 hour days. I personally don’t see much actual contradiction between young Earth claims and modern science. There’s no reason the first 99% of cosmic evolution couldn’t have taken place in a microsecond.

    I suppose you would say it would be wrong of me to ask for a citation on this “science” if I haven’t provided one for the accepted science.

    Your argument is already done. #2 suffices. You don’t need any science to understand the hydrologic cycle and it’s similarity to the verse at hand.

    So far no debate because I’m a bad apologist for the following reasons

    1) I’m confident in accepted science and should have some doubt in it, possibly be open to creation science.
    2) I haven’t provided any links for the accepted science
    3) I mistook the people her for YEC whne you really are OEC.

    Yeah, but we can add:

    4) Seemingly oblivious to the fact that not everybody is a biblical literalist;
    5) Offers arguments that are easily refuted and/or irrelevant to interlocutors (i.e. straw)
    6) Offer arguments that are literally as bad as the worst of John Loftus’, including:

    The book of Genesis has been proven wrong by science

    That, my friend, is just straight-up dishonest and/or irresponsible. Science, in particular archaeology, has validated much of Genesis. And we can have a discussion about Exodus.

    Now, either you honor Mike’s request and provide some evidence that you can process this topic in an open- and fair-minded manner, or, I guess we’re done.

  29. TFBW says:

    Luis,

    I’m just the kind of person you’re looking for: a YEC. However, I’m not going to argue with you for two reasons. First, you’re hijacking the thread (topic: “Does Dawkins Understand Evidence?”), and I’m not going to cooperate with that. You could solve that by suggesting an alternate venue for the argument.

    More problematically, however, you’ve said, “you can deny all this if you want to but it doesn’t change them as facts.” That statement pretty much precludes the possibility of any kind of argument. Ya can’t argue with facts, so if the facts are all on your side, then there’s no argument to be had, is there? You’ve already “won” the argument pre-emptively, because my first line of argument would be, “much of what you consider to be fact is actually false.” In other words, yes, I would “deny them as facts.” You’ve already told me not to bother with that line of argument, and, well, what’s my motivation for engaging in an obviously futile argument with a random dogmatic atheist? Nothing that I can see.

    So enjoy your victory, dude! Nobody dares argue with you!

  30. Shizzle-d says:

    Just like TFBW, i’m a YEC as i read the Bible literally.
    Luis, are you a evolutionary biologist?

  31. Dhay says:

    Luis > “From what I have seen among the blogs is that christians become atheists for intellectual reasons and atheists become christians for emotional reasons. That’s not like this in all cases, of course, but in most of the blogs that I’ve seen.”

    Certainly not “all cases”; here’s a link to a certain Professor Jerry Coyne’s story of de-conversion from ‘casual Judaism’ to atheist: at age 17 he went through a suddenly starting 30 minute crisis of shaking and sweating, in the starting moment of which it dawned on him that there was no God, and by the end of which his casual Judaism had washed away.
    http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/2139-the-new-theology

    Sounds like New Atheist ‘Horseman’ Jerry Coyne became an atheist for what Luis would presumably class as emotional reasons. I certainly would not class them as intellectual reasons — his conversion to atheism was as irrational as you get.

  32. Michael says:

    Dhay,

    Nice find! I really enjoy your contributions.

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