I don’t know if I’m supposed to like Ed Buckner, my atheist opponent in debate next month.
But I can’t help myself. Obviously, he’s at least as much a smart-aleck as I am.
When I mentioned in a phone conversation that I owned a copy of The Greatest Show on Earth: the Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins, Dr. Buckner immediately quipped, “Yes--but have you read it?”
Some people might have been offended such an insinuation, but I thought it was quick-witted and pretty funny.
I now realize that I’m going to have to bring my “A” game if this debate is going to be conducted on a level playing field.
Less than a month away from our big debate (or at least, my big debate), it occurs to me that it might be wise to figure out what I’m going to say.
So I looked at Dawkins’ book again for some inspiration. It didn’t take long to find something to write about.
The question posed in the title of this article was rhetorical, by the way. Dawkins really can’t be too stupid, not with his degree of education and the extensive vocabulary he possesses.
On the other hand, he makes the occasional statement that approaches sheer lunacy, leaving me to scratch my head in bemused amazement.
I get the fact that Dawkins doesn’t believe in God.
What I find so amusing is the desperate lengths to which he’s willing to go to convince us that he’s right about his atheism.
For example, on page 220 he wrote something so utterly moronic it cannot escape criticism:
Order, organization, structure -- these all emerge as byproducts of rules which are obeyed locally and many times over, not globally. And that is how embryology works. It is all done by local rules, at various levels but especially the level of the single cell. No choreographer. No conductor of the orchestra. No central planning. No architect. In the field of development, or manufacture, the equivalent of this kind of programming is self assembly.
The body of a human, an eagle, a mole, a dolphin, a cheetah, a leopard frog, a swallow: these are so beautifully put together, it seems impossible to believe that the genes that program their development don't function as a blueprint, a design, a master plan. But no: as with the computer starlings, it is all done by individual cells obeying local rules. The beautifully designed body emerges as a consequence of rules being locally owned they need by individual cells, with no reference to anything that could be called an overall global plan.
On the surface, his argument seems so ridiculous it makes one wonder how this highly credentialed former professor taught classes when it seems he knows considerably less about rudimentary biology than a lowly layperson such as me.
Dawkins is desperately trying to refute the notion that DNA is literally a blueprint of a living organism because of its implications -- the existence of a plan means by extrapolation, there exists a planner.
I also know that it’s fairly routine for someone of Dawkins’ stature to condescend, or “talk down” to people like me, assuming we’re too stupid to understand what they really mean.
The argument “go back to school and learn some more” is often offered by the cosmologist, chemist, biologist, etc. when their argument doesn’t hold water and they can't defend it with logic and reason.
During its embryonic journey toward birth, a single human cell formed from the combination of male sperm and female egg “evolves” into arms, legs, brain, central nervous system, etc.
If we observe a child born without arms, do we consider it an interesting variation on the evolutionary plan for our species?
Of course not. We easily recognize when the biological “rules” for the global design of a human have been violated by nature.
We call it a birth defect.
How else could we understand that anencephaly is a fatal condition at birth?
The “blueprint” of a leopard frog is not very different from a “generic” frog, but it’s a heck of a lot different than the blueprint of a sperm whale.
Are we seriously being led to believe that renegade cells make the rules as they go along and that explains the vast difference in morphology between these two living organisms, as disparate as they are?
By the way, from where do any rules come?
In a word, intelligence.
The organization of order from chaos does indeed emerge according to rules, by design. The entire argument put forth by Dawkins was patently absurd.
However, I don’t really think Mr. Dawkins is stupid.
Stubborn seems a better word to describe him. Obstinate, certainly. Arrogant, no question.
Even pig-headed, perhaps. Maybe even delusional.
But not an imbecile.
Dawkins clearly has an agenda. He desperately doesn’t want anyone to believe in the existence of a supernatural God.
I can only guess why. Honestly, his motives do not matter. All that matters is, what is true?
Quid est veritas?
There is indeed a blueprint, or design for life.
If DNA does exist, then what else can it be?
If there is a plan, then there is a God -- and a reason we exist.
It seems reasonable to assume that we’re just all too stupid to understand why.