Critique of Dawkins’ scientism

Melanie Phillips writes that there are fundamental flaws in Richard Dawkins’ atheistic perspective, including ‘scientism’, intolerance towards those who disagree with him, unfounded assertions (‘hubristic over-reach’) and unscholarly disdain in refusing to engage in a scholarly way with academics who hold different views. What fuels the zealot Dawkins? 

(Dawkins) became the apostle of scientism, the ideology that says everything in the universe has a materialist explanation and must answer to the rules of empirical scientific evidence; to believe anything else is irrational.

A second’s thought tells one this is absurd. Love, law and philosophy are not scientific yet they are not irrational. So it is scientism that seems to be irrational.

As for Dawkins’s claim that religion is responsible for the ills of the world, this is demonstrably a wild distortion. Some of the worst horrors in human history – the French revolutionary terror, Nazism, communism – have been atheist creeds. And although terrible things indeed have been done in the name of religion, the fact remains that Christianity and the Hebrew Bible form the foundation stone of Western civilisation and its great cause of human equality and freedom.

Phillips speculates on the reasons for Dawkins’ anger, gross intolerance and hatred of religion. Could it be that he is actually terrified that God is the alternative answer to his belief that there is no intelligence that gives rise to life. 

To stamp out the terrifying possibility of even a divine toe peeping over the threshold, all opposition has to be shut down. And so the great paradox is that the arch-hater of religious intolerance himself behaves with the zeal of a religious fundamentalist and, despite excoriating religion for stifling debate, does this in spades.

Full article by Melanie Phillips in The Australian at Dawkins preaches to the deluded against the divine.

See further comment:  Dawkins at atheist convention  and  Atheist bus in Melbourne  and  Atheism bus sighted – Hobart  and remember The Melbourne Anglican resource The Case for God.


Critique of Dawkins’ scientism — 4 Comments

  1. I have little time for any write who says the following:
    “Some of the worst horrors in human history – the French revolutionary terror, Nazism, communism – have been atheist creeds.”

    Nazism – Gott mit uns – was not an atheistic creed. Atheists went to the concentration camps just as the Jews, gypsies, blacks, homosexuals, boy scouts (no joke – they were considered paramilitary for the enemy), and other “undesirables”.

    French revolutionary terror and communism have more to do with unequal distribution of wealth aided and abetted by the church. Marx said that if life were better for the masses, religion would disappear of its own accord. He may have been right there – this has more or less happened in Sweden.

    The church was associated with all sorts of abuse of power – these two revolutions were backlashes by the poor on the obscenely wealthy, including the Church.

    Melanie is spouting nonsense.

  2. Hi Echidna,

    I assume the point Melanie Phillips is making (her soon to be published book will have details: The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth and Power, will be published by Encounter, New York, on April 20) is that ideologies that make no appeal to a god or gods, ie non-religious beliefs, have inflicted suffering throughout history. This is in response to the new atheists’ claim that religion is the cause of wars and its horrors.

    Certainly Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin were not motivated by religious belief but a clear ideology that opposed belief in God. Chinese communism of Mao was atheistic as was that of the Kymer Rouge which brought such horrors to Cambodia. North Korea is atheistc, etc.

    Re Nazi Germany, undoubtedly atheists died in that nightmare but the intent was to destroy particular races and religion. Himmler for example was to form a new creed to replace Christianity giving Hitler pride of place with the rewording of the Lord Jesus’ prayer.

    My reading of the article is that Melanie’s attempt is not to excuse the horrors perpetrated by religion but to look carefully at what religions and atheism teach and to seek understanding of the consequences of belief in an historically alert and wise way and to apply this to our life today.

    The enormous good that Christianity has done in health, welfare, linguistics, education and advocay is too often completely ignored. This saddens me and runs the risk of marginalising a vital contributor to our common life.

    The blame game paralyses.

    To build on what can be held in common while respecting difference is our challenge.

  3. Love your site, since I am an agnostic horrified by the Stalinist totalitarianism of Dawkins and his extremist fanatics tiresome crusades against free thought and free religion.

    Have to point out that Echidna is exemplary of the militant atheist overconfidence in their supposed intelligence. Atheism (the intolerant militant brand) seems to be an especial block to debate skills, probably a side effect of their closed echo chamber preaching to the choir slap on the back forums. The atheist gene seems to prevent them from honestly applying logical fallacies toward evaluating their own arguments.

    Notice the immediate ad hominem: She doesn’t seem able to counter argue your ideas, so she makes a snooty ad hominem er ad “write.” She is of a virulent politically correct strain, which thinks itself too good to respond to non-conventional non pc ideas, no matter how well argued. Check out the dawkinite wit on Youtube comments sometime: Gems of clear fair thinking such as “you’re stupid”! Or if the woman proposing the unquestionable, like questioning evolution, is attaractive, the response is sexual harrassment. What a better world indeed Dawkins and his zealots have planned for us. You know you’re on to something, because you’ve gotten under her skin.

    I might also point out the atheist conformists special pleading for the evil atheists have done, while of course blanketly condemning Christians.

  4. That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.

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