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Why Dawkins's case against religion creaks at every joint - Comments

AD_on_the_road_again's Avatar Comment 1 by AD_on_the_road_again

The "Read more" link is faulty

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 15:37:03 UTC | #848972

ridelo's Avatar Comment 3 by ridelo

Here is it!

Edit: Oops! Too late.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 15:46:41 UTC | #848977

alfonsoarmenta's Avatar Comment 4 by alfonsoarmenta

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 15:48:22 UTC | #848979

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 5 by Mark Jones

This is gibberish. Mackey can't get through a few hundred words without contradicting himself:

Dawkins’s case is built on twin platforms. First, that evolution offers a full and adequate explanation of how the world came to be as we now know it; and this makes creator gods superfluous.


Finally, Dawkins freely admits science still cannot see how life, much less mind, can have emerged from lifeless matter.

So which is it?

Of course, the first remark is a ridiculous strawman. How could evolution offer a full and adequate explanation for the stars and planets?

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 15:52:46 UTC | #848982

AD_on_the_road_again's Avatar Comment 6 by AD_on_the_road_again

Thanks for the link. I now wish I hadn't followed it. Yet another fantasist misrepresenting the non-religious position. There seems to be an endless stream of these people and no end of publications willing to host their lame articles. In the case of this Irish Times article they don't appear to have a place for their readers to pass comment.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 15:56:42 UTC | #848983

Novvy's Avatar Comment 7 by Novvy

When did Dawkins ever say evolution was a full explanation of how the world came to be?! I must have missed that bit when reading his books etc... Instinctively I want to type a definition of evolution now, however, the people who would read it here aren't dumb - unlike guy from the Irish Times. :/

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 15:58:12 UTC | #848985

ridelo's Avatar Comment 8 by ridelo

...holds out the possibility – for some more than a possibility – of innumerable worlds, according to either the multiverse or the many-worlds formula.

Obviously I'm born in a wrong one. Just my bad luck. Or is it hell all the multiverse around. Being sadistic in only this one seems not to be enough for Him. If this world will ever be a good place to live in for most of us, it will be our merit. He could have done a better job in those past billions of years.

Oh, it's from a theologian. Says enough.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 15:58:20 UTC | #848986

beebub's Avatar Comment 9 by beebub

The full article is:


He’s trying to compare a clear and definable aspect of science (quantum physics) with a woolly catch-all (metaphyiscs) when he says

Since a full understanding of it (evolution) requires a broad acquaintance with both physical science (especially quantum physics) and metaphysics and few, possibly including Dawkins (a mere biologist, if not just a zoologist) ,can claim such broad expertise, it is sufficient to note briefly here how those properly endowed do handle it.

While it may sound clever to equate the two, they’re hardly comparable.

He also trots out the tired phrase that because we don’t know how life came to be, that any assumptions made on the subject requires a ‘leap of faith’. Scientists make assumptions as to how life may have begun based on the evidence to hand. If new evidence comes to light, these assumptions may be altered or completely ruled out. A close-minded religious person, such as Mr. Mackey, claims that because we don’t know how life started, it must be because God did it because an ancient book tells him that He did; these two approaches are not remotely comparable.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:02:04 UTC | #848987

takingoffence57's Avatar Comment 10 by takingoffence57

The read more link is faulty but got it anyway through the Irish times website archive section.

First evolution doesn't provide a 'full' explanation of anything.It provides the best explanation we have supported by evidence.Every piece of evidence( yes,that troublesome word again!) points to it being correct but no doubt the fine detail will be refined as more research continues.The basics are hardly in doubt.

Second , yes, religions and their gods have proven to be remarkably reliable sources of immorality,intolerance and cruelty.Read some history...maybe given your location a brief read through the treatment of children by the members of 'religious' orders might be a good starting point?

This is what passes for an acceptable argument from a 'theologian' - -well I suppose it's easy to play fast and loose with the truth when what you indulge in is sophistry without the need to provide testable evidence and predictions which may be used to falsify your ideas.

Oh - and remarkably insulting to readers of the paper as well to present this as a serious article but then again we live in a world where all types of drivel are equally 'valid'.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:02:16 UTC | #848988

Obi wan kolobi's Avatar Comment 11 by Obi wan kolobi

From the law firm of "Piffle, Poo and Woo", you get stuff like I just read. Discredit Dawkins by claiming he says something he's never said. Did someone edit this nonsense before it went to print?

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:06:27 UTC | #848989

danconquer's Avatar Comment 12 by danconquer

Don't newspaper editors ever tire of the weakness of this stuff?

We are all perfectly aware that science is not yet able to explain fully the exact circumstances of the origins of life itself. And so what? What I want to know is why then this author, having identified a gap (one that is shrinking rapidly with time) in our knowledge, he decides to fill that gap with wholly unsubstantiated theories involving zombies and ghost-rapes, which furthermore also involve having to follow a list of part-trivial part-tyrannical arbitrary rules, a list that varies wildly for each brand of supernaturalism.

And of all the man-made 'explanations' for the origin of life, how comes he oh-so-coincidentally happens to subscribe to the same set as almost every other Irishman? Well fancy that! I did get a laugh from the bit where he questioned RD's credentials on the grounds he is a "mere" biologist, rather than a physicist... As if all the world's great physical scientists are all religionists or something!

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:10:58 UTC | #848993

youngdegsy's Avatar Comment 13 by youngdegsy

I followed the link (see also here) but agree that the article is little more than a web of broken syllogisms. Science has not yet produced answers for all natural phenomena, but at least it might; religion has produced answers for many natural phenomena, most of which eventually turn out to be observably false. And no religious doctrine deals with some phenomena, such as dinosaurs, because the humans who devised the religious creeds had (and could have had) no knowledge that they even existed. As the domain of science extends through time, religion has to recede a little more. I would be really impressed if theologians constructed an argument which challenges that depiction of the situation, but I haven't seen it yet.

I accept that there may be comfort to be had for some in having answers, however unlikely they are; as learning and education spreads (which Mackey seems - outrageously - to decry, in his implication that faith matters because reason will remain accessible for all but those who can claim expertise in cosmology, physics, biology and all the other physical sciences) there is hope that more and more ordinary people will embrace the lessons of science rather than regarding them with fear and distrust. However much comfort is important, truth is also important, and society and the human experience only progress through truth.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:12:39 UTC | #848995

educationsaves's Avatar Comment 14 by educationsaves

If someone makes up lies about you and publicly damages your reputation by claiming you believe things you don't, is there not a legal solution? RD should at least get a retraction printed and equal time and space to print a clarification in their paper. Any lawyers that can weigh in on this?

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:14:44 UTC | #848998

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 15 by AtheistEgbert

It looks like he builds a false strawman position of what Richard Dawkins claims, only to then refute that position by the actual position that we all take--that evolution is a change in genes over time.

I guess it's okay to deliberately misread your readers to win your argument in the case of James Mackey and The Irish Times, because I guess the people can't be told the truth.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:22:07 UTC | #849001

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 16 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:26:56 UTC | #849004

Tintern's Avatar Comment 17 by Tintern

"In the case of this Irish Times article they don't appear to have a place for their readers to pass comment." There frequently isn't in the Irish Times when they're being haughty and dismissive.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:27:14 UTC | #849005

danconquer's Avatar Comment 18 by danconquer

James Mackey's latest and doubtless unputdownable book is now available via Amazon, for the bargain RRP of £37.99 (paperback, 424 pages).

That's four times the RRP of the 464-page The God Delusion.

Good to see that James Mackey's grip of commercial matters is as sound as his grasp of scientific ones.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:27:17 UTC | #849006

Marc Country's Avatar Comment 19 by Marc Country

The piffle you can get away with when "theology" is your area of expertise... astonishing!

The study of nothing produces a lot more nothing, I see. These theology folks are the last of a dying breed, like cuckoos, in more than one way.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:27:26 UTC | #849007

jel's Avatar Comment 20 by jel

Lots of deepity but nothing else. Just what you expect from a professor emeritus of nothingness.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:27:29 UTC | #849008

Raiko's Avatar Comment 21 by Raiko

I'll sum up the article for everyone who wants to enjoy the next few minutes doing something less pointless than reading a lot of hogwash: My strawman version of Dawkins' aeguments doe not add up, therefore Dawkins is wrong.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:28:39 UTC | #849009

Geoff 21's Avatar Comment 22 by Geoff 21

The usual idiot. Strawkins-Dawkins! A fine example of irrational argument augmented by appalling syntax and distilled as 99% proof Obscurantism. This man does not want to be understood. As Peter Cook might have said 'not enough to keep the mind alive'.

Obvious to see why Comments is closed!

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:31:09 UTC | #849010

vjohn82's Avatar Comment 23 by vjohn82

It would be nice to read an article which doesn't resort to straw-man arguments... just for once.

Also, when theologians start speaking about quantum mechanics to support their ideas I know that my time has been wasted.

Richard Feynman said, "If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics".

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:31:11 UTC | #849011

justaperson's Avatar Comment 24 by justaperson

This article is complete pants. I don't know of any reputable physicists who would agree with what this guy says about what they think.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:31:32 UTC | #849012

Missus Gumby's Avatar Comment 25 by Missus Gumby

Hah hah! It's the ever handy god of the gaps argument - writ large mostly in one and two sentence straw-man paragraphs. And I suspect he has no real knowledge of quantum physics at all.

I see James P Mackey, the writer of the article in question, is a theology professor. How impressive. Not.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:31:46 UTC | #849013

Moderator's Avatar Comment 26 by Moderator

Apologies - link now corrected.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:32:38 UTC | #849014

vjohn82's Avatar Comment 27 by vjohn82

I like that Geoff21.

From now on any argument which misrepresents Richard we can simply say:

"Looks like they've written an article on Richard Strawkins again... that guy sure has a lot to answer for"

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:32:40 UTC | #849015

Geoff 21's Avatar Comment 28 by Geoff 21

ps - Is Richard going to take this guy out?

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:34:33 UTC | #849017

mjwemdee's Avatar Comment 29 by mjwemdee

Well, that's three minutes of my life I won't get back.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:37:39 UTC | #849020

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 30 by Tyler Durden

The first platform for Dawkins’s case against religion – that evolution theory makes creator gods obsolete – creaks at every joint

What a pile of nonsense, and strawmen.

Finally, Dawkins freely admits science still cannot see how life, much less mind, can have emerged from lifeless matter. But that leaves his totally evolutionary explanation of the coming to be of the cosmos still looking at a yawning gap in the evidence offered for his theory.

Darwinian evolution by natural selection does not deal with abiogenesis.

And MacKey seems quite ignorant of what evolutionary biololgy actually explains... but then, he is "professor emeritus of theology at the University of Edinburgh" which explains that.

quantum physics

Therfore god (and Jesus). Yawn.

Since a full understanding of it (evolution theory) requires a broad acquaintance with both physical science (especially quantum physics)...

Since when?

Yet more "god of the gaps" from a theologian, nothing to see here folks, move along.

Tue, 12 Jul 2011 16:52:24 UTC | #849024