Dozens of British scientists have criticized celebrated atheist Richard Dawkins for misrepresenting science in his full-blown crusade against God.
Taking issue with the bestselling author of The God Delusion, one UK physicist, himself a nonbeliever, said: “As a scientist, you’ve got to be very open, and I’m open to people’s belief in religion. … I don’t think we’re in a position to deny anything unless it’s something which is within the scope of science to deny.”
The statements came out of a study carried out by Rice University concerning “scientists’ perceptions of the role celebrity scientists play in socially contentious public debates.” Though the study never mentioned Richard Dawkins by name, in their replies, 48 biologists and physicists spontaneously remarked on the escapades of the well-known evolutionary biologist, and 80 percent of their comments were negative.
Findings show that Dawkins’ critics, “who include both religious and nonreligious scientists,” argue that “Dawkins misrepresents science and scientists and reject his approach to public engagement,” the study noted.
“Scientists emphasize promotion of science over the scientist, diplomacy over derision, and dialogue over ideological extremism,” it continued.
Many of the scientists seemed to take issue with Dawkins’ misunderstanding of the boundaries of science and its inherent inability to answer questions beyond its scope, a criticism that has often been leveled against the atheist author.
The natural sciences do not equip their practitioners to answer questions of meaning, and nor do they ask—let alone answer—questions about ultimate realities. It is outside the scope and methodology of the sciences to do so.
One of the scientists declared that Dawkins, who often wades into philosophical and theological questions, “takes the evidence way beyond that which other scientists would regard as possible … I think it’s necessary to understand what science does address directly.”
Of the British scientists interviewed, 48 of them mentioned Richard Dawkins without prompting, and nearly 80 percent (38 people) said that he conveys “the wrong impression about the borders of scientific inquiry.”
This wasn’t the first time that Dawkins’ prejudice against religious belief has gotten him into trouble.
A year ago, Dawkins expressed his befuddlement at how the United States can simultaneously be the world leader in the natural sciences while also a strikingly religious nation.
In a video posted on the Business Insider, Dawkins said that America represents “a curious paradox” for him, because while “beyond any doubt it’s the world’s leading scientific power,” it somehow hasn’t sloughed off its religious spirit and still clings to a fundamentally biblical worldview.
“What’s remarkable is that America is the leading scientific nation despite being held back by this incubus, this burden of ignorance and superstition,” Dawkins said. “If there were some way, some educational way perhaps of getting rid of that burden, I imagine that America could bound ahead even further than it already has.”
Dawkins claimed it was the role of enlightened scientists like himself to help Americans break free from the shackles of religious belief.
“So the answer, I think, is education and the responsibility is on scientists like me to go out and explain to people the wonderful things about science which we now know and which so many children are shielded from by educational ignorance.”
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