‘What’s Up, Dawk?’

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Chalcedon published this essay by Anthony Rogers in 2007, discussing the flawed logic and self-delusion of atheists like Richard Dawkins.


It reminds me of how J.R.R. Tolkien once used a scholar’s own standards, procedures, and line of argument to “prove” that the scholar himself did not exist, but was only a legendary personification of an ancient Celtic sun god.

Fun Fact: Richard Dawkins’ first name is actually “Clinton.” How fitting.

29 comments on “‘What’s Up, Dawk?’

  1. When he says: “Our eyes don’t present to our brains a faithful photograph of what is out there, or an accurate movie of what is going on through time. Our brains construct a continuously updated model: updated by coded pulses chattering along the optic nerve, but constructed nevertheless.“ there is a measure of truth, but he’s twisting that information to his own ends.

    We don’t sense everything around us, I can’t sense radio waves or infrared light, for example, but that doesn’t mean that my senses are not reliable. At some level, our sense of color could be seen as an illusion, but they are not a delusion. Even within the limitations of my senses, I can discern the difference between a deadly coral snake and a harmless king snake reliably. Yes, our brain interprets signals from our optic nerve and creates an illusion that we interpret as sight, but it’s a very reliable illusion.

    Beyond that, it’s no more a MERE illusion than watching television. If you see Dawkins on a TV show, you aren’t seeing Dawkins, but an illusion created by the television camera and all of the components between that camera and your TV screen. Nonetheless, it is faithful to Dawkins’ appearance, movements and utterances.

    So in one limited sense, I agree with Dawkins; when I look across the room I don’t see the chair, but instead see an illusion created in my brain as my eye senses the light reflected by the chair. That doesn’t make the chair itself any less real. If I decide that it’s just an illusion, a trick of reflected light, I will collide with that chair if I try to walk through it. Yes, in one sense it is a sensory trick which allows me to see it, but it’s an exceptionally reliable “trick” and if that weren’t true I would not be alive today. That same sensory “trick” allows me to drive a car down the Interstate and avoid other traffic. Not challenging enough? Well, that same sensory trick has allowed me to land an airplane and I can tell you from experience, you have to have an accurate picture of where the ground is in order to accomplish a safe landing.

    That same “trick” is used for any learning involving the sense of sight and is even employed to read Dawkins’ books, if you wish to spend your time that way. 🙂

    1. He doesn’t go quite as far as The Greatest Philosopher Ever, John Dewey, who insisted that no one can ever really know anything–but did not address the question of why, then, should we listen to him, since he doesn’t know anything either.

    2. It seems to me that not believing anything is real, and everything is relative is a recipe for insanity. Nietzsche believed God was dead, and it literally drove him insane.

    3. Reminds me of the age-old questions – if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to witness it, does it still make a sound? and, if there is no one here to see the table, is it still there?

      This morning there seems to be an issue accessing the article, Lee. I keep getting an error message that Chalcedon is offline. It may be a problem at my end, although so far that’s the only one I haven’t been able to access. I’ll try again later.

    4. 1 Cor 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.” 21 So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, 23 and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.

    5. I just checked, and had no trouble getting the link to work.
      Please cut us some slack, remembering that the revamped Chalcedon website still has a few bugs in it.

    6. That’s the first thing I thought of. I’ll try again in a bit. It could be at my end and I wouldn’t know it or even know how to fix it – the extent of my technical expertise is what you see 🙂

    7. In hexadecimal, 17 is written “0x11”, in binary it’s “00010001”. This information will come in handy. Welcome to the dark side of the force 🙂

  2. I’ve never been impressed by Dawkins. He presents statements as though they were facts. God is a delusion… okay, how do you prove that? You can’t. All he has is a philosophy… a “belief”.

    I have wondered. Theism can survive without atheism, but can atheism survive without theism? It seems that atheism’s whole reason for being is to counter theism. Beyond that, it has nothing else to offer.

    1. It comes down to pointless arguing. “What is real, what is not?” All of this is nonsense. At some level, everything could be said to be an illusion, but last winter, I walked into an illusion while barefooted and that spawned the illusion that I had a broken toe. Of course it wasn’t real, the purple bruises on my toe were just an illusion of light and the “pain” I felt for months afterward were just tiny trickles of electrical energy in my nerves, but I’d wager a month’s pay that my toe was broken . . . unless Dawkins wants to argue that my toe is an illusion.

      The true illusion here comes in the form of the arguments these people make. They are filled with assumptions and carefully divided points which are crafted to serve the person making the arguments. Anything, from the simplest crude manmade device, to a spacecraft, to the human body, absolutely requires intelligence and evolutionists don’t like to talk about that subject.

      If you want to add some feature which increases the capabilities of a living thing, you have to have intelligence. Anyone that has ever managed even a simple project can tell you that keeping a project on track can be like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. If it’s that hard to keep a simple construction project on track, how hard would it be to keep a project, such as the creation of the eye, on track? Good things don’t come of random events. I wonder if Dawkins, et al, ever take their hands off the steering wheel and let natural selection guide them to their destination.

    2. When Samuel Johnson was asked how he would refute Bishop Berkeley’s theory that all we see around us is the fabrication of the mind, Johnson kicked a rock and said “I refute it-THUS!” There’s nothing like a good dose of reality to refute such nonsense. Much of this thinking comes from the writings of Rene Descartes who believed we should doubt everything that exists. Reality had the last laugh and he ended up dying of a cold.

      But let’s say everything is an illusion. What we see is merely light reflected off an object, and what we feel is merely electrical signals and chemicals interpreted by the brain, etc.. It only affirms this reality is but a shadow of a much larger reality. One that we would call the super-natural realm.

    3. From “All we see is illusion” is but a small step to “I self-identify as a woman of color with two left legs who’s here illegally.”

    4. “But let’s say everything is an illusion. What we see is merely light reflected off an object, and what we feel is merely electrical signals and chemicals interpreted by the brain, etc.. It only affirms this reality is but a shadow of a much larger reality. One that we would call the super-natural realm.”

      Exactly. They are setting the boundaries of reality and illusion to suit their arguments using carefully selected examples. The fact that I can’t actually see the chair but merely see light reflected off of the chair doesn’t make the chair less real. Vision, all vision, takes place as the brain processes light sensed by the eyes. I don’t argue against that for a moment. But that doesn’t make what we sense less real.

      Vision is highly reliable. I may be only seeing light reflected off the objects in the room, but the objects are real and the “illusion” of vision is trustworthy.

    5. Yeah, well, that there chair it is only mollycules floating around with lotsa space between them so like it isn’t really there and you should ought to be able to walk right through it ya know…
      (tuning up for Joe Collidge)

    6. The electromagnetic force might have a thing or two to say about walking through solid objects. Like I say, they are selective in their examples.

    7. The only thing that impresses me about Dawkins is the depth of his hubris and inanity.

  3. most, if not all religions, make the same claim “my god created the universe”. Each religion also has no evidence to support this any different from the other religions. If you think your version of your god created the universe, and not some other god, please show the evidence.

    1. “Schadenfreude” means pleasure derived from someone else’s pain, sorrow, or misfortune. It seems a very apt name for atheists.

    2. And if you read my blog and my introduction you would see how I treat that term. Why is it that you would make a false accusation about atheists when atheism is nothing more than not believing in god/s?

      Atheists do not generally take pleasure from anyone’s pain, sorry, or misfortune. I take pleasure in the misfortune people cause themselves by lying. It seems that you may be one of those theists who lie about atheists and who mistake atheism for nihilism. Is this the case?

      Now, can you answer my questions? Why should I believe in your version of your religion rather than someone else’s, when none of you have any evidence?

    3. I was a Christian so I do know that believers should know that their god hates lies and liars, and people who bear false witness against others. That’s one of the few good things that is shared in the bible.

  4. Dawkins is a good example of how a depraved mind can be very intelligent in math and physics while still living in darkness. May God have mercy on his soul and grant him grace to believe like Martis received in Bell Mountain.

  5. Wow Dawkins’ first name is Clinton? How crazy. Like the president, he’s a liar. Like the Clinton during the War of Independence, he’s on the losing side…

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