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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It Doesn’t Take Much to Destroy Dawkins

Posted by jlwile on October 28, 2009

As The Irrational Atheist shows, it doesn’t take much to destroy the arguments of the New Atheists. The arguments of Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. are simply no match for a computer game designer armed with a few facts. Indeed, Dawkins couldn’t even hold his own against a former political speechwriter.

Well, it turns out that it doesn’t even take a computer game designer or former political speechwriter to make Dawkins look like an idiot. Even a radio talk show host can do it. Hugh Hewitt is an attorney who has a radio talk show that I have never heard. However, someone sent me the transcript of his discussion with Dawkins, and after reading it, I had to admit feeling sorry for poor old Richard. Of course, it’s not his fault. His position is so weak that such embarrassments are inevitable.

Comments

8 Responses to “It Doesn’t Take Much to Destroy Dawkins”
  1. Can you tell me where Dawkins embarrassed himself?

  2. jlwile says:

    I’ll point out the most obvious one. Dawkins claims that science teachers who teach evolution are “harried and stymied, hassled and bullied, even threatened with the loss of their jobs.” The talk show host asks for ONE example of such a situation, and Dawkins can’t provide even ONE.

    For someone who claims to be looking at the evidence, it is rather idiotic that he can’t produce any for such a serious claim. It just shows how little evidence actually means to him.

  3. Oh boy, let’s go to the transcript:

    HH: You see, I’m flabbergasted by that. That would be big news. I’m in the journalism business, and if that had happened even once, especially the idea of someone being fired for teaching evolution, it would have been an international cause celeb, and I’m…

    RD: Oh, well, that’s very interesting then. I mean, I’m interested to hear you say that, because that makes, that suggests to me that what I should do is collect together some of the letters that I received. I thought that was undisputed. I thought it was well known.

    HH: Oh, it’s absolutely disputed. I think actually, you’ve been bamboozled by people claiming your sympathy, when they in fact have never been fired. I don’t know of anyone who’s been fired from the public school system for teaching evolution in the thirty years I’ve been doing this.

    RD: All right. Well, if you’ll send my publisher your address, I will, the next time I get letters along those lines.

    So he doesn’t remember the exact details of even one of the many letters he’s received from teachers bullied over teaching evolution. So that proves what, exactly?

    Dawkins has filled a whole book of evidence for evolution. You’ve read it, right?

  4. jlwile says:

    What it shows is that he doesn’t care about evidence. He CLAIMS to have received all sorts of letters, but he CAN’T REMEMBER even ONE of them. He also CANNOT PRODUCE any. In fact, he makes it clear that he didn’t even SAVE any of these supposed letters, because he says “the next time” he gets one, he will send it on. Thus, he did not even bother to DOCUMENT his supposed evidence.

    If Dawkins cared about evidence, he would remember (or AT LEAST have documented) at least one of those stories. Thus, he either never received such letters, or he doesn’t care enough about the evidence to remember or document them. Remember, the talk show host specifically says that the idea that teachers are harassed for teaching evolution is disputed, and Dawkins cannot produce ONE PIECE OF EVIDENCE to support his side. He CLAIMS to have received the evidence, but ADMITS that he didn’t bother to even document it! That’s about as embarrassing as it gets for someone who claims to be all about the evidence. In fact, it would even be embarrassing to a graduate student, since one of the first things you are taught to do as a scientist is to DOCUMENT your evidence! To this day, if someone asked me to produce evidence for one of the papers I have published (even from when I was a graduate student), I would be able to immediately go to my filing cabinet and get the documentation. That’s part of what being a scientist is all about. Dawkins can’t even do this for his LATEST book.

    You can even tell how embarrassed he is, because he is stumbling all over himself trying to get out of the corner into which he was so easily backed. Like I said, it made me feel sorry for him.

    Of course I have read the book. I have read every one of Dawkins’s books. I seriously doubt that you have read it, however, as you seem to think it is full of evidence. It clearly is not.

  5. Oh me, oh my, all caps. Please settle down, Dr. Wile, you are intimidating me.

    Dawkins’ book is full of evidence, or as you like to say, data. You may disagree with his conclusions or even doubt its accuracy, but it is certainly evidence.

    As to who was the fool of the interview, some more quotes:

    HH: I’m not being very articulate, and I apologize for it, Professor. Maybe after the break, I can come back and we can think about it during this minute. What I was asking you is, if the argument is primarily that you have with young Earth Creationists, you don’t have much of an argument with Divinely-guided evolution, if that’s it, why not lay it out that here’s Lucy, and here’s how we got here, not how we date the genes backwards, but here are the intermediate steps as best we know them, that we know. When we come back, I just think it would make this much easier to get our arms around, at least a public conversation about.

    A bit muddled, yes? It doesn’t get any better:

    RD: You mean that God deliberately made mistakes so as to deceive us?

    HH: Not mistakes, that God created a world in which faith was possible by an order of its complexity, to allow for the Richard Dawkins of the world to exist, and be completely, absolutely convinced that He did not, that that’s the only situation in which faith is real.

    RD: So in order to make that the case, God said well, now let’s make the eye look like a botched up job so that…are you saying…

    HH: I think you understand what I’m saying, and you’re saying no, you don’t believe that, that it would not in fact fit that, a giant…for example, have you read the Harry Potter novels?

    RD: No.

    HH: Do you read any fiction at all?

    RD: Of course.

    HH: What’s the most complicated bit of fiction you’ve read? Like War and Peace?

    RD: Yeah, what’s your point? What point are you making?

    HH: That complexity in design, and counterintuitive steps, et cetera, don’t disprove the idea of genius at work. Genius at work often works through complexity and through misdirection.

    RD: I think that what you’re kind of saying is that God made the world look as though it had evolved in order to test our faith, when it didn’t evolve.

    HH: No, not test our faith. 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.

    RD: That would be a pretty unpleasant sort of God. I think, I would say you’re welcome to believe in a kind of God who would do that, but it’s not the kind of God that would appeal to me.

    HH: Well, it’s not about what appeals to us, it’s about what is. And you also write that a beneficent designer might, you’d idealistically think, minimize suffering. But not if the soul was infinite, and suffering was necessary for its wisdom.

    RD: No, that’s true. I, once again, you’re welcome to that belief, if that’s what you want to believe. There’s a far more parsimonious explanation for suffering, which is natural selection.

  6. jlwile says:

    There is no need to use caps to intimidate you. You are too easily intimidated by FACTS. Of course, when the facts get too overwhelming, you can just move on to another subject. That’s what most atheists do.

    If you actually read Dawkins’s latest book, you would know it is not full of evidence. In fact, it is one of his worst books when it comes to evidence. He does present some evidence in some of his books. Probably the best one is “The Blind Watchmaker.” However, “The Greatest Show on Earth” is severely lacking in evidence, as shown by the exchange we have been discussing. You would know that if you bothered to read it.

    Actually, the fact that the talk show host is muddled is just another embarrassment for Dawkins. After all, an admittedly inarticulate talk show host can make Dawkins really squirm when he can’t produce evidence to support his nonsensical view that teachers are harassed for teaching evolution, as your previous quotes show so well. As the title indicates, it doesn’t take much to destroy Dawkins. Even an inarticulate talk show host can do it.

    Thanks for giving such a long quote from the exchange, as it proves my point that Dawkins looks like an idiot. First, Dawkins can’t even understand what this simple talk show host is saying. Then, when he realizes he can’t answer such a simple argument, he falls back on the tired old idea that such a view of God is unpleasant.

    Of course, as the talk show host points out, it’s not about what is pleasant or unpleasant, it is about what IS. A scientist should be worried about what IS, not what is pleasant or unpleasant. All it takes is an inarticulate talk show host to demonstrate that Dawkins isn’t even much of a scientist.

    I am sure Dawkins would love for this transcript to go away, so I appreciate you keeping it alive!

  7. Thanks!!! On the first point we talked about, Hewitt smartly focuses on any case of public school teachers being fired for teaching evolution. I’ll admit that probably hasn’t happened in a long time. It would be like firing a teacher for teaching calculus.

    But Dawkins’ original claim was that teaching evolution has resulted in teachers being “harried and stymied, hassled and bullied, even threatened with the loss of their jobs.” This most certainly has happened.

    Teacher survey: When asked if they feel pushed to de-emphasize or omit evolution or evolution-related topics from their curriculum, 30% agreed

    Shirley you’ve heard of Chris Comer in Texas.

    Like finding fossils of soft-bodied organisms, it’s very hard to document instances of teacher harassment over evolution. The vast majority of cases never reach the newspaper. But I did find a pretty impressive list of college professors who have been hassled over teaching evolution. Dig in!

  8. jlwile says:

    Thanks for finding those stories. I hadn’t heard of Chris Comer or of any of the professors whose academic freedom had been taken away from them. They definitely were wronged in a major way.

    While the poll means nothing to me (who cares whether teachers “feel pushed” to do something – what matters is what they actually do and what happens as a result), the individual cases you found definitely show that academic freedom is in short supply in many of the schools of the U.S. It is a sad testament to the fact that in many cases, science is NOT an academic subject anymore. It is filled with politics and nonsense.

    I might point out that this is even a further embarrassment to Dawkins. After all, even a blog-poster can come up with evidence that he can’t seem to find. It just further illustrates how little he cares about evidence. Nice job!

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