My point in my Washington Post column was that the New Atheists have a poor track record in practicing reasoned discourse. Our team of authors said the same thing in the ebook True Reason: Christian Responses to the Challenge of Atheism.
In his article, currently sitting next to mine there at On Faith, Dawkins does it again.
1. The Self-Defeating Statement
How have we come to the point where reason needs a rally to defend it? To base your life on reason means to base it on evidence and logic. Evidence is the only way we know to discover what’s true about the real world. Logic is how we deduce the consequences that follow from evidence.
He doesn’t define “evidence” in this article, but generally the term refers to observable indicators leading toward knowledge. Based on his other writings I am quite sure that Dawkins means physically observable indicators. So he is saying that the only way we know to discover what’s true about the real world is through such physically observable signs. I wonder if he thinks that very statement is true about the world. And I wonder where the observable physically observable sign is that shows that statement to be true.
The fact is, that statement is not an evidence-based statement. There is no physical observation that one can make to show its truth. Therefore it is self-defeating: it can’t be known to be true unless it’s false, for if it’s true that all knowledge comes by way of evidence, then that principle could never be known.
2. The Straw Man (Misrepresentation of the Position He Opposes); The Stereotype
2. “Rather than have them learn modern science, I’d prefer my children to study a book written in 800 BC by unidentifed authors whose knowledge and qualifications were of their time. If I can’t trust the school to shield them from science, I’ll home-school them instead.”
Such a parent will not enjoy the Reason Rally.
I don’t know of any Christian anywhere at any time who has said “I don’t want my children to learn modern science.” That’s a gross overstatement. Now, with respect to the origins of biological diversity there is controversy on this. But I’ll stand up as one who doubts the truth of evolution and has yet repeatedly told my children, “Learn it. Understand it. Understand evolution at least as well as anyone else in your school.” I don’t fit his stereotype. Most Christians don’t fit most atheists’ stereotypes.
3. The Straw Man Again, and the Self-Contradiction
This one becomes more comical the more you look at it:
3. “When I am faced with a mystery, with something I don’t understand, I don’t interrogate science for a solution, but jump to the conclusion that it must be supernatural and has no solution.”
Recall that he thinks that “evidence is the only way we know to discover what’s true about the real world.” You would think that even though that’s not possibly true for all knowledge, he would at least take it to heart in situations where it is. The fact is that modern science was born out of a culture that understood the world to be supernatural and interrogated science for a solution. He would be hard-pressed to show real evidence that this stereotyped conception of his has any significant representation in the real world.
So thank you again, Dr. Dawkins, for providing these further illustrations of your general incompetence in applying reason and logic.
4. The Real Point
Speaking of demonstrated points, though, why bother with any of this? What’s the point of it? It’s that Richard Dawkins is trying very hard to lead people away from truth, with his claim that his way is more reasonable. The effect of that is that he is also leading them away from life—the life offered to them by their good, loving, and just Creator. I do get bothered by his errors, and I would love to see them defeated, but not for the sake of winning. I would give my own life for the truth I am defending, so why would I care about who “wins” an argument between me and some British professor I’ll likely never meet? No, I want to see them defeated for the sake of what’s real, what’s true, what’s good, what gives genuine hope, and what brings eternal life.