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Richard Dawkins and Alvin Plantinga, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 945

Essay

Dawkin’s argument

Darwin was of the opinion that evolution did not follow any pre-determined goals as a result of natural selection. Rather it was more a chance of random actions. Where variations exist their chances of survival were slim unless they could adapt to their environmental conditions. It was in 1942 that Darwin produced his paper on the theory of evolution and in 1944 this became a 230 page manuscript. Natural selection was stated to be one of the basic aspects of evolution. Dawkins is passionately anti-religious and firmly believes that no god or deity exists. His book the god delusion sets out to prove this but equally attacks religions for their attempt to marginalise science, the crass idiocy of creationism and how children have been abused on religious grounds. Most of his evidential explanations are based upon the theories of Darwin and supporting sciences of biology, zoology and natural selection.

Dawkins arguments are very much founded on scientific analysis and approval of theorems. As such a theory can either be proven or dismissed. For example the argument of improbability if correctly interpreted proves that most certainly a god does not exist in the context that we define it. This argument is based upon the theory that something as complex as god could not have come about by chance. He captures our attention by stating metaphors create more controversy in the evolutionary biology and other expressions.  This leads us to examine Dawkins motives and use of these in his other academic works.  He’s really challenging the reader to re-examine his thought process and not merely accept conventional wisdom.  Dawkins claimed genes, not individuals, were the fundamental unit of selection.  Whilst agreeing with a number of Darwinian points, Dawkins offered a radical revision of the Orthodox Darwinian view of nature.

Gunther Stent talks about the controversy and attacks made on leading academics in the socio-biology field.  His main point being that you cannot judge a field of study shortly by the attacks that are raised upon it.  He makes it clear that the attacks upon Richard Dawkins are often ill founded and leave a lot to be desired from those people who carry this out.  He also states that a lot of critics do so at the expense of having any real scientific substance in their arguments. He was quoted as saying, the selfish Gene, could be the kiss of death for the socio-biology field’. Gunther considers that Dawkins is deliberately provocative in the delivery and deliberation of his messages. Dawkins puts forward wholly unconventional, value free and mischievous definitions etc. .Certain Academics  maintain that Dawkins often uses words in the conventional sense, and not often in the scientific context.People say that Dawkins vastly oversimplifies things.  He’s not wrong, but just too optimistic sometimes.  He states that Dawkins represents the analytic tradition in the modern Academy.  It is considered that Dawkins needs to cultivate the need for richer explanation and perhaps less provocative in his scientific explanation of terms and  particular the use of metaphors.

Plantinga response

Alan Plantinga takes an emotive response to Dawkins and states that Dawkins has chosen god as his sworn enemy. He views Dawkins as a committed atheist that has no respect or belief for religions and as such takes the typical stance of most scientists. Dawkins is not a philosopher but a biologist and as such considers Dawkins journeys into philosophy as being sophomoric. He also considers that the tone of Dawkins lacks any humility but adopts an arrogant supremacy stance to religious beliefs. The main argument Dawkins puts forward i.e. complexity – if there were a god he would be incredibly complex and the more complex you get, the more improbable it is likely to be.  He refers to this as the ultimate Boeing 747. This really boils down to the question of definitions and in particular the acceptance of Dawkins definitions. Dawkins proposes that creation looks like being a random event, as opposed to any specific design concept.  This being further evidence that no intelligent or supreme being exists. The religious argument states that science deal with the materialistic world because within science it is easier to define and quantify. Religions deal mainly with the spiritual world which as yet we do not understand neither does it neatly fit into any scientific reasoning.

Best response

This is extremely difficult in terms of taking a definitive position as to who is right and wrong between Dawkins and Plantinga. Dawkins adequately reflects the scientific viewpoint but to accept the findings you must accept two basic premises (i) Science has all the answers – considering the size of the Cosmos we are at a very infantile stage of development and our current knowledge of science is relatively small.  We have a long journey to follow before we can understand the nature of creation and the cosmos. (ii) Science is mainly theoretical based whereas religion deals with metaphysical concepts. The two are not naturally good companions. We have extremely little knowledge of other dimensions or concepts of spirituality.

What Science possibly can disprove over time is Man’s interpretation of religion as set down by old manuscripts like the Quran and Bible. There is scope for these being no more than historical fantasy stories that have influenced the masses over a time. In some regards sort of a crutch that we have invented to deal with our current worldly problems i.e. put up with the problems in this world because the afterlife will be much better. When looking at the cosmos more stars than grains of sand on the beaches. We are at the very genesis of our understanding of the nature of origin and the multi-dimensional aspect of our existence.

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