Why Dawkins misses the point

 

The following quote from Richard Dawkins demonstrates why he consistently misses the mark in his effort to counter those who do not accept Darwinism and the theory of evolution.

In refuting those who question the dating techniques used to estimate the age of the earth and of fossils, he says:

“Given that the sole motive for such fiddling is the desire to uphold the origin myth of a particular set of Bronze Age desert tribesmen, it is surprising to say the least, that anyone is fooled by it.” (The Greatest Show on Earth” 2009:107)

Just as Darwkins is rightly critical of those who have a very narrow view of the cosmology contained in the Bible, his own view of the value and role of myth is so narrow as to exclude more from understanding than it contains.

Much of our hard won information about life has been stored, over countless generations and by a process which has involved millions of people, in myth narrative.

Life’s higher messages are stored by these means.

The linear perspective necessary for modern science – combined with an object language and a cultural construction of ‘human’ and ‘animal’ – have provided us with very powerful tools for making sense out of life.

Dawkins latest book seeks to have us accept that evolution is a fact not a theory.  But what is a ‘fact’?

The attempt to privilege the theory of evolution as a modern master narrative in this way must fail.

Good philosophy of science has always accepted that theories can be disproved.

My prediction is that, while the theory of evolution makes extremely good sense to modern minds, it will be replaced by a epistemic shift just as the physics of relativity superseded classical physics.

And part of this process of change will result from embracing the creative dynamism inherent in the mismatch between a scientific cosmology (eg biology, evolution, geology) and the place of life’s high messages as contained in myth-narratives.

A new understanding of life – one which rejects the place of the  post-neolithic category ‘animal’ – could result.

In this challenge life is the only master – not dogma and fundamentalism in any form.

Life itself is the greatest show on earth, and there is much more to it than biologically based theories of evolution, as much as we stand in awe of those insights.

 

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