Will the real Atheists please stand up?
This post is a summary of a talk given by Richard Dawkins at TED in 2002. You have to watch the entire thing to grasp a coherent case for Militant Atheism (Or non-theism, bright!). (Kindly take this only as rough notes, several connecting links are not noted here)
" ... the opportunity to understand something about why I was here in the first place before not being here?"
He starts with stating his staunch belief in Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. He attacks the non-professional circles in North America opposing Darwinism. He labels ID (Intelligent Design) as simply a renaming of Creationism.
He clearly is not pleased by "Atheist" phobia either. He states that evolution is fundamentally hostile to religion. He believes that true understanding of Darwinism is corrosive to religious faith. It inspires and enthralls. He fails to understand the inhibition of atheists to come out in the open.
The difficult problem for any theory of biological design is the Massive statistical improbability in the direction of good design (complexity). The standard creationist argument - Living creatures are too complex to have come about by chance, therefore the need of the designer. This argument he points out is totally hollow, because designing a complex being would require an even more complex being.
Complexity is the problem that any theory of biology has to solve. He states that postulating an agent that is even more complex (God) is only compounding the problem. He then states that Darwinian theory of natural selection solves this through elegance and simplicity. This elegance is corrosive to religion. The God theory for him is a bad theory and in principle incapable for progress.
His approach to attacking creationism is to attack religion as a whole. He points to the taboo of attacking religion. He shows that religion is in fact corrosive to science. Creationism simply plants trivial-super-natural non-explanations. It teaches to accept authority, revelation and faith instead of insisting on evidence.
"We are all atheists about most of the Gods humanity has ever believed in, some of us just go one God further".
Owning up to be an atheist, leads to be sidelined as a minority. He shows data of several studies showing a negative co-relation of Intelligence to the religious beliefs.
He then goes on to the need for Atheists to come out in public. He suspects atheist word as stumbling word. He compares this to following alternatives
- Agnostic - Edward Aveling A Militant Atheist. Agnostic - Atheist writ respectable. Atheist - Agnostic writ aggressive.
- Tooth-fairy/teapot Agnostic - "You cannot disprove God, So atheism is exactly as irrational as theism".
- Humanist - Its anthropocentric
- Naturalist - Confusion with other categories
- Nontheist - Best alternative according to him
God he says is simply as seen referred by Einstein or Hawking's works is -
Metaphorical shorthand for mysterious parts of physics which we don't yet understand.
He sees world's religion imagination as a poverty stricken arsenal, versus the enormous possibilities/exciting/poetic nature of science. He quotes Carl Segan that hardly any religion has looked at science and the possibility of a grander universe than their initial estimates.
He closes with -
"Let's all stop being so damned respectful."