MUSE: THOUGHTS OF A DYING ATHEIST
Posted Jul 18th 2008 1:10AM by Dinesh D'Souza
My Las Vegas debate with Christopher Hitchens continues to attract attention and comment.
If you'd like to read an account of the debate, you can do so here.
(I posted it below~ bz)
Also on Monday July 21, at 4.30 pm Eastern time, I'll be debating Richard Dawkins (yes, Richard Dawkins!) on Al-Jazeera (yes, that Al-Jazeera). This is a noteworthy development because Dawkins has so far refused to debate me. But now we're appearing together on the Riz Khan television show, which I understand has some 25 million viewers worldwide. If you want to watch Monday's debate live you can watch it here. The segment will also be posed on the web and I will link to it on this blog.
I also hope that, upon seeing for himself that I am not a Hitlerite kind of speaker, Dawkins will summon up the courage to step into the public arena with me. Like one of the atheist commenters recently said on Dawkins's own website: all the best spokesmen for unbelief have gotten a whipping from this D'Souza guy and it's now up to Dawkins to try and redeem the reputation of atheism.
Given that my thoughts are currently focused on how to deal with Dawkins, I'm going to post here on a question that seems to mystify him and many other scientific atheists. These fellows wonder: if there is reasonably good evidence for evolution--as, by the way, both Dawkins and I believe there is--why do around 50 percent of Americans refuse to accept it? The conventional wisdom among Dawkins and others is that Americans oppose evolution because they are religiously committed to a literal reading of the Book of Genesis.
But there is a much better explanation of why Americans reject evolution: the idiotic claims of leading champions of evolution who are promoting an atheist agenda. Consider Dawkins himself, rebutting the claim that there are significant "gaps" in the fossil record. Dawkins concedes that there are such gaps, but then writes this: "The gaps, far from being anoying imperfections or awkward embarrassments, turn out to be exactly what we should positively expect."
In other words, the absence of evidence for evolution is itself proof that the theory is correct! This is so bizarre that it makes one wonder what the presence of evidence might do to this theory. Would a complete fossil record without gaps be evidence against Darwinian evolution, as we hear that Dawkins and his fellow biologists "exactly" and "positively" expect that such evidence should not be present?
Dawkins finally puts his cards on the table by saying of evolution: "Even if the evidence did not favor it, it would still be the best theory available." And if Dawkins is dismissed as a crank, here is Harvard cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker making the same point. "Because there are no alternatives, we would almost have to accept natural selection as the explanation of life on this planet even if there were no evidence for it."
We have here the weird spectacle of so-called scientists who are so wedded to a theory that they cannot even imagine it not to be true. This is a level of dogmatism that would embarrass any theist. Even the strongest religious believer can imagine the possibility that there is no God. So how can these self-styled champions of reason adopt so closed-minded an approach?
The short answer is given by Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin, who in a 1997 essay in the New York Review of Books makes a revealing admission: "We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant proises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment--a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation for the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori commitment to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, the materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."
And you thought I was making this stuff up! No wonder Americans are skeptical of these apostles of skepticism. They are peddling their own metaphysical dogmas in the name of science, even though few are as honest as Lewontin in admitting it.
"The 20th Century was really an attempt to create the secular utopia," D'Souza said. "It's failed miserably. So the one great experiment of creating secularism, of creating the religion-free society, has been a terrible failure."
At the end of debate, the conference host asked the audience – through an informal show of hands – who they thought won. Surveying the hands, the host named D'Souza the champ.
Later that night, the comment about the debate igniting sparks proved eerily prophetic as thunderous lightning bolts lit up the skies above Bally's Las Vegas, the rumbling sound reverberating throughout the Strip.
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