Trading on borrowed capital
|August 28, 2012||Posted by David Anderson under Atheism|
[Rohan] Pethiyagoda, an ichthyologist and internationally acclaimed conservationist, said extensive studies in India and Sri Lanka showed that the level of diversity among such fish was “much greater than previously suspected”.
This was partly the reason that the study group had chosen to name the new genus after the 71-year-old Dawkins, the British author of the anti-religion polemic, “The God Delusion”.
Is this irony? Having been trumpeted as the masterpiece of the new atheist movement, most readers of “The God Delusion” found vastly less evidence of developed thought than they had expected.
“Richard Dawkins has through his writings helped us understand that the universe is far more beautiful and awe-inspiring than any religion has imagined,” Pethiyagoda told AFP on Monday.
Has this guy read any of Dawkins? Dawkins position is that beauty and awe are merely subjective chemical processes inside the human brain. They have no external reality or value – they are worth only what other human brains prefer to assign to them. “No meaning, no purpose, just pitiless indifference”, etc.
“That is awe-inspiring” means the same as “Mmmm, nice flow of chemicals”. “Wow, that’s beautiful” is reducible to “personally, I prefer it, though that’s just the way my DNA was set up”. Richard Dawkins’ final position is collapsible into “awe and beauty have no substantial existence”.
The “the universe is beautiful and awe-inspiring” stuff is vacuous marketing fluff, trading off capital that was built up within a theistic view of reality, where such values are grounded in something.
“We hope that Dawkinsia will serve as a reminder of the elegance and simplicity of evolution, the only rational explanation there is for the unimaginable diversity of life on Earth,” he said.
Hope on! But what, we ask again, is the purpose of spending one’s time remembering about virtues of elegance and simplicity? Those are abstract virtues that, in the atheist world-view, have no value outside of the lumps of meat between human ears. Appeals to such things as if they were intrinsically valuable is again trading on borrowed capital from the theistic world-view.
The blog has the by-line: “Friendly Atheist – You can be skeptical and friendly at the same time.” It’s plenty revealing that that needed clarifying, is it not? I suggest that Dawkinsian marketing fluff could itself do with a more genuinely skeptical examination.