“We Are Losing This Battle”— And “Knee-Jerk Atheism” Isn’t Helping Darwinian Meltdown Over Intelligent Design
By Rick Pearcey
Feb. 21, 2006 -- High profile atheists and evolutionists Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins “are absolute disasters in the fight against intelligent design.” So says equally high profile skeptic Michael Ruse, philosophy professor at Florida State University, in a letter published February 20 at Uncommon Descent, the weblog of William Dembski, one of the leaders of the intelligent design movement.
“We are losing this battle,” Ruse flatly asserts in the letter to Dennett, a professor of philosophy at Tufts University.
Why does Ruse say that Dennett and Dawkins, an Oxford professor, are doing more harm than good “in the fight against intelligent design”? Because, in his view, they are atheist reactionaries: “What we need is not knee-jerk atheism,” says Ruse, “but serious grappling with the issues.”
“Neither of you are willing to study Christianity seriously and to engage with the ideas,” Ruse charges.
For example, referring to Dawkins, Ruse writes: “It is just plain silly and grotesquely immoral to claim that Christianity is simply a force for evil, as Richard claims.” The reference is to “The Root of All Evil?”, a two-part television series in which Dawkins appears, which aired last month (January 2006) on the Channel 4 network in the UK. In the second episode, “The Virus of Faith,” Dawkins says teaching children about religion is a form of child abuse: “It’s time to question the abuse of childhood innocence with superstitious ideas of hellfire and damnation.”
Dennett is author of Freedom Evolves and Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. His latest book is titled Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. Dawkins’ books include The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker.
Make no mistake about it, says Ruse, “we [evolutionists] are in a fight.” Drawing attention to the “two new Supreme Court justices,” Ruse predicts that they “are going to let [intelligent design] into the classrooms.” His book Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose? was published in 2003.
Instead of launching offensive attacks on Christianity, Ruse says, Darwinists “need to make allies in the fight” and “not simply alienate everyone of good will.”
For more of this behind-the-scenes and sometimes coarse exchange (s---, f---) between leading advocates of evolutionary theory, see William Dembski’s blog here.
Daniel Dennett’s homepage is here.
Richard Dawkins’ work can be seen here.
The homepage of Michael Ruse is here.