Sunday, February 8, 2009

Aussie Professor Turns Logic on its Head to Criticize Dawkins

Evangelicals and ultra-conservative Christians often vilify atheism by misrepresenting the atheist position, but it's surprising to see a well-educated, apparently thoughtful, professor of theology at a respected university make a glaring error of logic in his blog, and grossly misrepresent the atheist position.

Professor Tom Frame of Charles Sturt University has confused what science predicts with what scientists approve. Professor Frame's writes:
The problem I face is weariness with science-based dialogue partners like Richard Dawkins. ... He won't take his depiction of Darwinism to logical conclusions. A dedicated Darwinian would welcome imperialism, genocide, mass deportation, ethnic cleansing, eugenics, euthanasia, forced sterilisations and infanticide. Publicly, he advocates none of them.
This is a surprising error on Frame's part, a glaring gap of in the logical process. Frame should heed the words of Charles Darwin himself:
A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections, a mere heart of stone.
In other words, the scientist's primary job is to discover how things are in nature, not how he would like them to be. Or, from a Christian perspective, the scientist's job might be seen as discovering the rules that govern the universe that God built, whether we like God's rules or not.

If a scientists discovers a horrifying parasite that bores into your eyeballs, does that mean the scientist advocates eyeball-boring parasitism? Of course not. If the scientist discovers that polygamy is predicted by evoltion science, does that mean the scientist advocates polygamy? No, the scientist's opinion on the matter is irrelevant.

But Professor Frame makes this exact mistake: He claims that if an evolutionary scientist discovers that imperialism, genocide, ethnic cleansing, eugenics, etc., etc., are traits that natural selection would favor, it must mean that the scientist advocates these behaviors. Nothing could be further from the truth. Professor Frame's argument is completely without foundation.

Dawkins is a skillful author and lecturer, one who has done much to educate the public about complex scientific principles. Anyone who reads his books can quickly see that not only does Dawkins not advocate genocide, eugenics and other horrors, but in fact quite the opposite. Dawkins is a man of high morals by any standard.

Professor Frame has wandered far from path of logic with his claims about Dawkins.


  1. Darwin himself was a humanitarian and argued passionately against eugenics etc.

    He argued for the abolition of slavery whilst the christian majority saw it as part of their dominion over the earth.

    200 years since his birth and there are still those who look to blame the worst behaviours on their misguided views of his work.

  2. I don't think he is saying what you think he says. There is nothing wrong with discovering natral selection. What is wrong is when people try to use it to justify a system of ethics.
    Dawkins himself was in an interview when the interviewer asked him about evolutionary ethics. Dawkins readily conceded that there was nothing intrinsically wrong with actions like rape and the fact that Homo Sapiens consider them wrong is as arbitrary as the fact that we evolved with five fingers and not 4.

    "If the universe were just electrons and selfish genes, meaningless tragedies . . . are exactly what we should expect, along with equally meaningless good fortune. Such a universe would be neither evil nor good in intention . . . . The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference."

    Of course this does not mean that Dawkins advocates genocide or eugenics . However itmeans that Dawkins cannot say there is anything objectively wrong with actions like these.


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