Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Scientist and the Preacher: Disintegration v. Misintegration

I think this short clip of evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and recently disgraced evangelical preacher Ted Haggard is quite revealing. It shows the conflict between a philosophically disintegrated advocate of science ("we live in a world of subtle shades and not sharp black and white") and a philosophically misintegrated advocate of mysticism ("we believe the Bible is the word of God") and in my mind, makes it clear which argument is the worse cultural force.

In the clip, Haggard claims that evangelicals embrace the scientific method as a means of explaining how God created the Earth. Dawkins confronts Haggard with the claim that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old. Haggard responds saying that Dawkins’ claim is just one view of many that people hold. Haggard then states that "intellectual arrogance" is the reason why those who dispute creationism have issues with people of faith.

In analyzing the material presented in the clip, I came to the conclusion that Dawkins is weak, but Haggard is vicious. Dawkins respects science (albeit with heavy dose of Humeian skepticism), but Haggard rejects science outright by reducing it to little more than the handmaiden of his faith. Haggard is the deeper philosophic threat, because he attacks the very means by which a person would crawl out of skepticism and irrationality—he attacks reason itself (and with some irony, even tries to employ skepticism to do it).

And lest we forget—it is Haggard and not Dawkins who has our President's ear.

1 comment:

Gideon said...

I actually saw the whole program. Religion: The Root of Evil? Dawkins called it, I think. It had some interesting portrayals of the absurdities and dangers of faith but as you put it, in the end, it was an incredibly weak defense of reason. In its last part it attempts to argue that we don't need religion because can get morality out of the fact that we are born with innate empathy. Absurd! That's supposed to be a secular justification for morality? But then again, he believes, along with everybody else, that morality consists of altruism, so I suppose one shouldn't expect too much. I agree with you that the religious, in today's context, are a lot more dangerous