Sunday, May 23, 2010

Time to kick Dawkins' ass

I find Richard Dawkins extremely...irksome. Whilst he raises a few salient points about religion and fundamentalism, it’s ironic that he is the flip-side of the coin: a scientific fundamentalist, who dogmatically follows a belief system which is just as antiquated in some ways as the narratives of orthodox religion - and in some ways just as dangerous, if not more so. The most dangerous thing about this man is that his theories and paradigms are held as absolute fact. In my view, he’s a scientific dinosaur who is sadly being portrayed in the media being a cutting edge, modern-day scientific prophet for our time, a fountain of knowledge and an oracle of information that can tell us exactly what’s ‘true’ and what’s ‘false’.

In these days when orthodox religion isn’t taken seriously by anyone but its adherents, it almost seems as though the establishment wants to propagate a new paradigm, a new belief system or hegemonic consensus that it wants the general public indoctrinated with. That maybe sounds a bit paranoid but I can’t help but feel it explains why the media is so intent on foisting this man upon us - for he gets his own documentary series, has become a celebrity and even had an appearance on Doctor Who for crying out loud. This in spite of the fact that he’s one very least charismatic individuals I’ve ever seen in the public eye (and that includes many politicians). It worries me that his theories and paradigms are presented as being absolute and irrefutable fact. This is dangerous and it’s simply untrue. Dawkins is pedalling an antiquated belief system, a model rooted in an arguably outmoded paradigm that ought to have long-since been superseded given the advances made during the 20th century with regard to our understanding of the quantum world.

I can't help but feel that Dawkins' worldview is extremely deadening and erroneous. And it’s all just conceptualisation, taking us farther away from a direct and pure experience of reality, keeping us trapped in concepts and beliefs - and in that way is little better than religious dogma. At least in mainstream society religious dogma is treated with the derision it usually deserves. But not so here. I feel this has to change.

There, I’ve had my little rant and feel much better for it. I guess the main point I wanted to make was to highlight that ‘scientific’ fundamentalism is every bit as dangerous as religious fundamentalism. Science and religion share a surprising amount in common - both seek to create paradigms for understanding reality. The tendency toward fundamentalism seems to be a characteristic of the human ego and can rear its ugly head regardless of the context or content.

I’m starting to believe that perhaps it might be best to let go of our need to explain and create narratives about life and to simply LIVE LIFE. Sure, science has brought us innumerable benefits, but to rely on it to find ‘truth’ and meaning is, in my view, misguided and insufficient. The truth is in the living of life, in simple, direct experience. This tendency to need to get lost in mind and to try and explain and answer is getting us waylaid. We’re so busy trying to explain life and gets answers to life, that life passes us by. I do believe that the key to our future as a species is not in seeking answers with the mind (because thoughts are by their very nature limited - they are second-hand and intrinsically limited representations of reality), but in consciousness itself. Space is not the final frontier: perhaps consciousness is. But thats’s another discussion entirely.

Here’s a great article by Steve Taylor entitled "Deconstructing Dawkins", which makes numerous excellent points in its analysis of Dawkins' philosophy and the whole paradigm of materialistic, mechanistic science. It was this article, in fact, that inspired me to engage in a little bit of much-needed Dawkins-bashing! Enjoy!

(PS I haven't actually gone that deeply into arguing points or why I take issue with Dawkins' philosophy, mainly because I don't have the time, but also because Taylor's article does it so expertly. I agree with pretty much all of what he says.)


The Crow said...

Well that article took a while to read!
But very interesting and provocative.
we are all part of a single system. Not just "us" but everything "outside" us, too.
I concur with that view.
I look into the eyes of the "you" on your video-blog posting, and see myself, reflected.
Mysterious. And exciting.
Pat explanations to everything don't do it, really.
Wonder, awe, passion...
These are the things that make one's life a life.

Rory said...

Absolutely - I feel Dawkins is a last remnant of the 'old science'. There is a new science forming, based on interconnectedness. It will be interesting to see where it takes us - if the old guard can let go of the old ideologies and move with the times.

Funny you should say that - I look at even insects now and see myself somehow, just experiencing itself in a different way.

When I open my mind to possibilities of oneness, I feel alive and tingly. When I confine my mind to assumptions of materialistic science I die inside just a little.

My genes and the rest of me doesn't do what it does because of selfishness, as Dawkins would have me believe, but I think out of love.