Monday, October 30, 2006


Dawkins and Ann Coulter

It is shameful that atheist Richard Dawkins can quote best-selling American writer Ann Coulter saying: ‘I defy any of my coreligionists to tell me they do not laugh at the idea of Dawkins burning in hell.’(Ann Coulter, Godless, 2006, p. 286, quoted by Dawkins, The God Delusion, p. 321.) I for one do not laugh at the idea of Dawkins burning in hell (not that I think hell involves literal burning, and not that I would presume to forecast Dawkins’ eternal destination). Coulter should attend to the following verses of scripture: James 3:9-10, 1 Peter 3:15-16 and Luke 5:27-36. This said, Coulter does have some sensible things to say about the subjects of evolution and intelligent design:

'if evolution were true, it wouldn't disprove God.' (p. 199.)

'Although believers don't need evolution to be false, atheists need evolution to be true.' (p. 199-200.)

'God can do anything, including evolution.' (p. 262.)

There is an asymetry between the theists' take-it-or-leave-it-depending-upon-the-evidence view of evolution and some atheist's take-it-irrespective-of-what-the-evidence-is view of evolution.

'there is a mass panic on the left whenever someone mentions the vast an accumulating evidence against evolution.' (p. 200.)

'one can believe evolution is not true without also believeing that the Earth was created in six days by a man with a long white beard who lives in the clouds and looks eerily like Charlton Heston.' (p. 202.) Quite.

'The less you know about the physical world, the more plausible Darwinian evolution seems... Similarly, the more we know about molecules, cells, and DNA, the less plausible Darwin's theory of natural selection becomes.' (p. 212.)

It has been the growth of knowledge that has led scientists to infer design, not ignorance of the facts. Evolution looked far more plausible in Darwin's day than it does in ours.

'Design in the universe may well be explained by something other than God, but we'll never know as long as everyone is required to pretend it's not there.' (p. 245.)

The design inference is not a God inference. It is the starting point of an argument about the specific nature of the designer.

Of Liberals, Coulter writes:

'The fundamental difference between our religion and their is that theirs always tells them whatever they want to hear. Like the "living Constitution," Darwinism never disapoints liberals. They never say, "Well, I'd like to have cheap, meaningless sex tonight, but that would violate Darwinism." If you have an instinct to do it, it must be an evolved adaptation. Liberals subscribe to Darwinism not because it's "science," which they hate, but out of wishful thinking. Darwinism lets you off the hook morally...'

This may be overstated, but at the very least, two can play the 'you only believe that because of some non-rational, psychological reason' game.

Richard Dawkins is always saying that since there is no move from 'is' to 'ought' being a Darwnist does not mean one is inconsistent unless one endorses social Darwinism. However, Dawkins fails to notice that if there is no move from 'is' to 'ought' then the Darwinist is being inconsistent if they condemn social Darwinism. Dawkins denial of objective moral values does not mean that he has to act badly, but it does mean that he can;t condemn Ann Coulter for being gleeful over the thouhgt of Dawkins burngin in hell. A related problem comes from his discomfort over the question of free will, which is required for moral responsibility but ruled out by a naturalistic worldview. On the other hand, since I believe in objective value and free will, I can coherently give Coulter a ticking off...

On the topic of Dawkins and free will, you might like to listen to a 15 minute debate between Richard Dawkins (about his new book ‘The God Delusion’) and David Quinn – an Irish catholic journalist. It is on Irish radio and can be heard (about half way through the programme) via the following link: There is a transcript of this debate @

Also well worth a read is the transcript of Dawkins answering a qestion about free will in a Q&A session recently @

The question of free will is far from being a 'seperate' question from the question of God - it goes to the worldview commitments that distinguish naturalists from theists. Enjoy!

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