A Brief Letter to Richard Dawkins Regarding “Religion”

by Tenzan Eaghll

Dear Richard Dawkins,

Would you please, for the love of all things intellectual and academic, read a book on the study of religion, preferably one by Jonathan Z. Smith, and a book from the continental philosophical tradition, in order to inform yourself on how culture, language, and materiality construct human subjectivity. I am sorry to be so confrontational, but I cannot stand another one of your mindless attacks upon “religion,” not to mention another one of your essentializations of cultural difference. When you essentialize religion by referring to it as a particular thing that exists out there in the real world, independent of cultural difference, you not only hypostasize the very thing you wish to challenge, but demonstrate your complete ignorance of the philosophical critique of religion that has been occurring for the past three hundred years, from Kant to Derrida.

For instance, when you, or anyone from the “Dawkins camp”, such as Lawrence Krauss or Timothy Havener, suggest that religion is the cause of slavery, colonialism, and ignorance you merely appropriate the language of fundamentalists as the norm and suggest that religion is a thing that functions in a particular way. If you were to inform yourself of the theoretical developments in the academic study of religion, you would learn that religion is not a thing, but a complex confluence of political, economic, historical, and cultural forces, and that you cannot attack it by blaming it for our modern social ills. Indeed, you would learn that by claiming religion is responsible for our social ills, or cultural ignorance, you merely re-appropriate the essentialism of the “religious,” and validate their rhetoric. This line of attack not only supports the modern misunderstanding of how religion influences society, but sidetracks the analysis of the various political, economic, historical, and cultural forces that are essentialized as religion, and which, if properly analyzed, could help alleviate the societal conflicts that propagate themselves under its name.

Moreover, I believe that if you were to read a book on continental philosophy, you would learn that, by proposing the certainty of sense as the proper alternative to cultural delusion, you are propagating the popular, yet false, dichotomy between nature and culture. Additionally, you would learn that all discourse, even scientific discourse, is caught in a historical context, and that if we want to change a dominant discourse, such as theology, we need to deconstruct its essentialist claims, not reify it as an actual entity that functions in determinant ways. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you would learn that language is the inescapable horizon of all human interaction, and that to increase the amount of justice and free inquiry in society we need to pay attention to the particularity of all language and meaning.

Now, just to be clear, let me state that I, and most of the thinkers in my field, are in agreement with the general aim of The Richard Dawkins Foundation. We too want to challenge the false claims of fundamentalists and are opposed to unscientific narratives such as creationism, the belief in the soul, and any sort of cultural relativism that pretends scripture and science are equivalent. Indeed, for the most part, scholars in the humanities are atheists, or at the very least agnostic. (I could cite numerous studies which demonstrate that “religion” is more prevalent in the sciences than in the humanities, but since these studies are often based upon essentialized definitions, and add little to the conversation, I will avoid the temptation) However, I, as well as many of my colleagues, cannot simply stand by and watch you propagate an unnecessary binary between religion and science, which is overly simplistic, historically false, and contributes nothing to our cultural understanding of how religion operates in society. It is not sufficient to simply attack religion, as if it were a definite thing with definite properties; rather, what we must do is challenge the essentialist claims that are made in the name of religion by pointing out that it is not a thing, but a complex confluence of various social factors.

My hope is that, by reading a little theory, you will learn to use your cultural capital more wisely. You and your peers have a chance to improve the public discourse on religion by bringing some of the complexity that informs your scientific analysis to your analysis of culture. Scientists such as yourself and Lawrence Krauss have published brilliant works based upon years of data analysis and mathematical development; however, your criticism of religion is at a grade five reading level. For instance, in A Universe From Nothing Krauss presents advanced cosmological theories to a lay audience in an accessible format. His analysis of quantum electrodynamics lays out very clearly how the world is infinitely more complex than the “common sense” perspective. However, his critique of religion simultaneously reinforces that common sense perspective and undercuts the intellectual purchase of his scientific analysis. In short, his refined cosmological analysis is undercut by a very crude understanding of culture.  If you and Dr. Krauss would just match, even in the slightest degree, your scientific analysis with an analysis of language and history, you could actually say something of relevance about religion, instead of just reiterating cultural reifications.

I think we can help each other out as we move forward. The existing antagonism between philosophy and science is unnecessary. Both scientific analysis and continental philosophy contribute to the deconstruction of cultural hypostatization. But we should not deceive ourselves into believing that we can wipe clear the mirror of cultural reflections that inculcate our symbolic world. The reformation of cultural forms and paradigms that limit free inquiry is an infinite task, and not simply a matter of overcoming religion. At some points, it is even necessary to overcome certain forms and paradigms of “science”… perhaps even yours.

Tenzan Eaghll is Ph.D candidate in the department of religious studies at the University of Toronto. His dissertation analyzes Jean-Luc Nancy’s work on the Deconstruction of Christianity.

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50 Responses to A Brief Letter to Richard Dawkins Regarding “Religion”

  1. Yewtree says:

    I agree wholeheartedly about the reification of religion, but I suspect Dawkins would be lost and confused by words like “essentialised” and “discourse” as he isn’t a very subtle thinker, and has shown a considerable lack of patience with things like context, discourse, non-realist theology, postmodernism, and the like.

    • Pseudonym says:

      For someone who is married to an actor, Dawkins seems to hate on the humanities.

      But for what it’s worth, Dawkins isn’t the only atheist biologist writing about religion, and many of the others actually get it. David Sloan Wilson is a good place to start.

  2. Fred Maus says:

    This is a nice message. However, I wish people would stop essentializing “continental philosophy” (and its presumed and less-favored opposite, non-continental philosophy or, I suspect, “analytic philosophy”).

  3. Amir says:

    What we should also bear in mind is the underlying political attitude that is always inherent in the so-called New Wave of Atheism. Dawkins, Harris, or the late Hitchens were all using their supposedly scientific criticism of religion in a manner that was politically parallel to Western neoliberalism and New Imperialism. We simply need to look closely at how their attack on religion suddenly becomes harsher when it comes to Islam.

  4. Happydog says:

    Good luck with talking sense to the guy who invented the “meme” out of thin air and conned the entire world into thinking it exists. Dawkins is a scam artist par excellence and far from anything resembling a deep thinker. He is to atheism what Justin Bieber is to music.

    • Theodoros says:

      You realise that a meme doesn’t exist don’t you – it’s an idea of an idea.

      • Roderick says:

        The “meme” doesn’t exist? You can’t be serious. Religious people find what Dawkins says uncomfortable.

        • Luís Henrique says:

          “Memes” exist as an egregiously false theory on how culture is passed down to subsequent generation.

          I suppose religious people find what Dawkins says/writes uncomfortable for their own reasons, and I am all for making them uncomfortable. But not everything that makes religious people uncomfortable is of any value.

          Not being religious at all, however, I must say that Dawkins pseudo-scientific takes at sociology do make me uncomfortable too. In a face-palm kind of uncomfortableness. Maybe it is the price one pays for having college education in human sciences.

  5. Kim Dunn says:

    I think you are being somewhat disingenuous. Professor Dawkins, on several occasions, has accepted the study of religion as philosophy, history, sociology, politics and psychology on different occasions. Rather, he attacks the basic premise of religion upon which these others constructs are layered: that there is a supreme creator being who is responsible for the known universe. If one does not agree to the premise of an argument, then to what lengths is one compelled to discuss and embrace its multitude of layers. One may discuss the ramifications of one of the myriad poisons used to dispatch emperors and popes and kings, but one must first acknowledge that the pivotal, if not seminal, moment was the actual poison taking effect.

    I enjoyed your essay/letter very much.

    Thank you.

    • Roderick says:

      Absolutely correct, the premise of the argument that a supreme creator is responsible for the known universe is absurd. There is not one shred of evidence that this supreme creator exists.

  6. Kim Dunn says:

    Please accept my apologies as I was called away before I had a chance to edit.

    The first sentence should read:

    I think you are being somewhat disingenuous. Professor Dawkins has accepted the study of religion as philosophy, history, sociology, politics and psychology on different occasions.

  7. jc says:

    Yewtree, Do you really think that if Dawkins used words like essentialised or discourse or if he referred to non-realist theology, postmodernism, and the like he would make more progress keeping creationism out of the science classroom?

    Tenzan, Where in this letter is there a genuine suggestion for Dawkins? Would you happily accept a letter such as yours from Dawkins? A letter that consisted mostly of “you should know more science” or “you should read more science (especially this author)” or “you should be more subtle ” … You claim to be on Dawkins side on many issues why not start with “Here is the argument I would like to see Dawkins advance.” Or Dawkins would be better served by saying _____. When Dawkins attacks others for misunderstanding science, he explains the science, you’re attacking Dawkins for misunderstanding religion, explain it.

    • Marvin says:

      Exactly what I thought after reading this article. Tenzan, you claim that Dawkin’s “criticism of religion is at a grade five level”, but you provide no clear explanation of how you got to that conclusion. That statement just proves to be an “attack” on Dawkin’s credibility as a scientist speaking on religion, making it seem as though scientists have an inability to speak on religion in anyway whatsoever. If you feel like Dawkins should address some of your points, please express them clearly other than recommending suggested readings.

  8. Bronwen Jones says:

    Kimm Dunn, it’s not at all the case that it’s a “basic premise” of religion that there’s a supreme creator, responsible for the known universe. That’s a simplistic, Westernised, Christocentric view of religion of exactly the type that is problematic in Dawkins’ own thinking

    • Beau Quilter says:

      Bronwen Jones

      If you don’t believe in a supreme creator, responsible for the known universe, then Dawkins is not addressing you. He is addressing the far more numerous hordes of religious believers who do.

      • Kim Dunn says:

        And you, Ms. Jones, are engaging in that age-old delight of the “philosopher” to look into a deep, lightless abyss and see a thousand shades of grey in the utter blackness.

        It is not only the west that has divine creation myths and omnipotent beings, notwithstanding the unholy Abrahamic trinity which seems to have a stranglehold on a plurality of humanity.

  9. CassandraToday says:

    No, jc, pointing out someone’s apparent lack of familiarity with entire fields of study, and encouraging them to explore it, does not obligate one to correct their educational shortcomings on the spot.

    • josh says:

      What you and the author haven’t done is show that unfamiliarity with a particular field of jargon is an educational shortcoming. It’s rather obvious that Dawkins makes far better use of his ‘cultural capital’ than Eaghll, perhaps the latter should bother to learn a thing or two from the former.

  10. Brian Carwana says:

    The post is interesting but taps into something I am seeing more widely. At this past year’s AAR, I heard a very good paper on atheism but the presenter ended by doing an imitation of Christopher Hitchens, accent and all (it was well done btw). Intriguingly, this is the second time I have seen someone somewhat mockingly imitated at the AAR – both times one of these prominent atheists. No one does this to Falwell – and if you did, no one would laugh. I have similarly noted derisive dismissals of these same figures in scholarly blogs. They are just treated, it seems to me, differently. More dismissal, more mockery.
    In fairness, this post is not derisive at all and is quite thoughtful. But I wonder why no one writes a letter to James Dobson or the Dalai Lama. And I wonder if what I witnessed at the AAR and in other writings indicates something about a disciplinary sensitivity to dismissive atheists. Do they not only dismiss our subjects but in so doing dismiss us? Again, I am no Dawkins fan – I am more just intrigued about how our discipline responds to these guys (seemingly all guys) in very unusual ways.

    • Avery Morrow says:

      It’s because academic religionists feel they have some responsibility for their subjects of study, but they do not feel any responsibility for New Atheists who make slipshod generalizations. Maybe if religious scholars collectively agreed to analyze New Atheism as a sociological phenomenon there would be less mockery — but then things would get very confusing. If you have access to it, read R. McCutcheon’s essay “It’s a Lie. There’s No Truth in It! It’s a Sin!”

  11. jc says:

    CassandraToday How often has “pointing out someone’s apparent lack of familiarity with entire fields of study” without giving useful or intriguing ideas worked for you? I thought this was an attempt, in part, to correct Dawkin’s “educational shortcomings.” Why not make it one likely to succeed? Or was this just red meat for the base?

  12. Kate says:

    Brian… I do a great ‘Falwell’. :) Intriguing insights though…

  13. Beau Quilter says:

    Tenzen Eaghll,

    Richard Dawkins isn’t calling for the abolishment of religion. You complain that his conception of religion does not engage the full spectrum of religious ideologies that are available. I would contend that his conception of religion engages the vast (and I mean VAST) majority of religious ideologies in the world.

    • Itsie says:

      “Richard Dawkins isn’t calling for the abolishment of religion.”

      He’s not? These guys use radical, eliminationist rhetoric all the time. When called on it, they will sometimes retreat to saying that they don’t want LEGAL repression of religion — but even there, sometimes they waffle and make noises about how it’s a shame they can’t stop kids from getting indoctrinated by their parents.

      Dawkins’ attempt to put teaching of religion to one’s children with sexual abuse of children is one of the more famous instances of this. Comparing activity A to criminal activity B is not a neutral thing to do, it says that at least on some level you would like activity A to be treated as criminal.

      How the New Atheists don’t get the obvious point that, if governments were ever given this power, they’d probably be the first ones thrown in jail, I’ll never understand.

      • Kim Dunn says:

        Dawkins never once compared religious instruction with child sexual abuse. He called the indoctrination of children abuse – you may infer from that emotional abuse, intellectual abuse, but it was never likened to sexual abuse. You are skirting around libel here and if I were Professor Dawkins, you would be receiving a letter from my lawyer.

        How pathetic that, in an attempt to refute the man’s arguments, you accuse him of such unfounded and base statements. But this is the type of repines the world has come to expect from the religious community.

        • Nick Gotts says:

          Actually, you’re wrong here. In the TGD chapter “Childhood, Abuse and Religion” Dawkins does compare aspects of childhood religious indoctrination, and specifically frightening children with stories of Hell, to sexual abuse, and quotes a Catholic victim of both thus:

          Being fondled by a priest simply left the impression (from the mind of a 7 year old) as “yucky” while the memory of my friend going to hell was one of cold, immeasurable fear. I never lost sleep because of the priest – but I spent many a night being terrified that the people I loved would go to Hell. It gave me nightmares.

          The friend was a Protestant girl who died; the writer of this extract was told her friend had gone to Hell because she was not a Catholic. Dawkins notes that the example of sexual abuse concerned is “relatively mild”. The comparison seems to me entirely justified: severe psychological child abuse is recognised as being comparable to physical and sexual abuse in its effects, and psychological abuse such as this girl suffered should not be given a pass simply because it is religiously motivated.

          • Kim Dunn says:

            That is not suggesting that religious abuse is akin to sexual abuse; only that one victim found the religious form of abuse greater than the sexual form. You, like the author of the paper, are being wilfully disingenuous.

            There is the matter of intent. The sexual abuser knows that what he is doing is wrong. The religious abuser believes what he is doing is right. Dawkins doesn’t suggest that the religious indoctrinator is acting from evil; only that the results can have extremely detrimental effects on the human brain and psyche.

          • Nick Gotts says:

            No, I am not being disingenuous at all. You would do better not to hurl such accusations about without evidence. Immediately before the quote I gave, Dawkins says, of the woman he then quotes:

            Her view as a mature adult was that, of these two examples of Roman Catholic child abuse, the one physical and the other mental, the second was by far the worse.

            Earlier in the same paragraph, he says:

            Once, in the question time after a lecture in Dublin, I was asked what I thought about the widely publicized cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Ireland. I replied that, horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was, the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place.

            So Dawkins explicitly does compare religious and sexual abuse, directly contrary to what you say in the comment to which I responded. That is the point on which I corrected you. If anyone is being disingenuous on this point, it’s not me.

      • Kim Dunn says:

        Thank you for the clarification. If your interpretation is correct, I would disagree with Professor Dawkins on this point. However, that does not negate the validity of the preponderance of his argument.

        • Nick Gotts says:

          I agree. As a whole, the chapter is quite clear: Dawkins argues that the religious (or anti-religious) indoctrination of children is wrong, and calls for cultural change on the issue (“consciousness raising” is the term he uses). He does not advocate making such indoctrination illegal, but does say the state should in no way encourage it – as it does in the UK, by funding religious schools.

  14. John says:

    Will I’m happy to read something of substance! You know that there are many in the religous camps that need a letter like this one ofcourse formatted appropriatly. Keep up the good work!

  15. J- says:

    Me upon reading this: Hey I know some of these words!

  16. I think you’re right, Tenzan, to call out Dawkins’ ignorance of philosophy and the major problems this raises for his critique of religion and theology; it’s clear that he doesn’t really understand what he claims to be critiquing.

    This becomes perhaps most clear in his confusion about what theology actually claims–and for those above, esp. Kim and Beau, this also applies to your response–traditional (notice the lowercase ‘o’) orthodox Christian theology (which is what Dawkins addresses primarily, at least in The God Delusion) *does not* claim belief in a “supreme creator being.” The Christian understanding of God, for one thing, is triune (so God, though understood as unified, is never really one thing), and Christian theology has never treated God as a being, or a thing. Indeed, going back through Aquinas to at least Augustine and indeed further, God has been understood as being-itself, not a given being or object in the world.

    This is a crucial distinction, because Dawkins acts as if God is some object that one could compare or contrast to other objects and then disprove for lack of evidence, but theologians have always admitted, right out front, that God is “insensible”, that is, not perceivable via our sensory organs. But of course, the same is true of space, time, and pure mathematics–so this is hardly an argument against God as real. And indeed, theologians saw God’s insensibility as a mark of God’s greater reality, not less. Whatever modern and post-modern critics think of this approach, it’s important to actually meet your opponent on the ground they actually stand upon–instead, Dawkins actually debates a *Deist* conception of God–so that Christian theologians should actually be able to agree heartily with Dawkins’ takedown–we don’t believe in Deism, either!

    God as being-itself, as Tillich’s “ground of being”, as Meister Eckhardt’s immanent Godhead, as the hesychasts’ infinitely deep reality, is not some supreme being–in fact, to speak of God this way is itself a horrific blasphemy, because it treats God as a creature. Of course, it has to be admitted that many modern fundamentalists *do* talk about God this way, and this is a serious problem of Christian theology. But it is not a valid academic technique to cherry pick the absolute worst thinkers of a given group in debating them. Imagine someone attempted to disprove evolution by invoking Lamarck.

    However, I have to also say that I was frustrated by your repeated denigrating use of the term “essentialization”, Tenzan. Though I think that post-modern existentialist critiques of essentialism, esp. Platonist-influenced approaches, are important and valid, I think they can also be taken too far. You critique Dawkins for “essentializing” the cultural, economic, and social forces that underlie religion–but couldn’t one critique you for essentializing the psychological and biological forces underlying culture, society, and economics? And couldn’t these themselves be critiqued as just emergent properties of organic chemistry–itself just a complex of atomic interactions, which themselves are essentializations of quantum interactions, which themselves are just the interactions of probability fields, which themselves–well, here, I guess the game is up. This anti-essentialism, taken to its logical conclusion, results in a complete nominalism, a solipsistic subjective idealism along Fichtean lines, unless one proposes an Aristotelian substance, which I think both essentialist and existentialist camps have long-since abandoned.

    It seems to me we need to value both existential and essentialist lines of thought, because it’s only in the dialectical tension of them both, together, that we can really apprehend and grapple with reality. Regardless of my criticisms of some of your specific lines of thought, I’m glad to see New Atheism getting some robust criticism academically.

  17. Dawkins and his allies do two things that harm their own goals;
    1) Create conflict and alienate his “opponents” as Dr. Eaghll states. Science isn’t the enemy of religion unless you make it so, and vice versa. Of course there are plenty on the religious side who want to make science an “opponent” as it serves their own ends, just like the conflict serves Mr. Dawkins and his allies. However, by not just attacking, but actually insulting those who hold religious beliefs – as if they were defective in some way – serves to prevent them from hearing what he is trying to say. He shoots himself in the foot.
    2) Paint himself as a “Militant Atheist”. I choose those words specifically because that is how he is viewed by many religious people. He is seen as leading a violent crusade bent on nothing short of the murder of ancient religious institutions. If you felt someone was coming personally to destroy those things you hold dear, you wouldn’t really care to listen to what he had to say, would you?
    I have no idea what Mr. Dawkins and his friends might say about any of this; I’m sure he’ll never read a single word I’ve ever written. Nevertheless, if he really wants people to listen, he needs to come to a middle ground with them. There can be no conversation when everyone is screaming.
    Peace

    • Gwynn says:

      Science may not be the “enemy” of religion, but it is a contrasting opposite. At a base level, Science is a method of making deductions about how the universe works based on evidence obtained through repeatable experimentation, evidence and observation. Religion is a method of making deductions about how the universe works that does not require repeatable experimentation, evidence and observation.

      The net result is that as science gives us a better understanding of how the universe works, the place of religion does so shrink in comparison. Of course the point of science isn’t to destroy religion, yet by its continued progress it does chip away at the pillars of belief.

      As to why some atheists choose to attack religion, while I can’t speak for Dawkins, for me it’s about challenging the idea that holding a religious viewpoint is a valid way of viewing the world and about challenging the idea that it is taboo to criticise religion, this is all irrespective of what religion we’re talking about.

  18. John Caruso says:

    Tenzan,

    Having read Dawkins at length, I know that you’re thrashing a straw man. Your critique would benefit greatly from actual examples–not because they’d help to make your point, but because by searching for them you’d find they don’t exist, which might lead you to put more thought into what you’re saying.

    (Or not; most Dawkins critics are happy to attack him for things he’s never said or written, and sometimes for the opposite of things he’s said or written.)

  19. Steven Carr says:

    I think Richard Dawkins could spend his time far more profitably asking why Bishops in the Church of England are guaranteed seats in the House of Lords.

    Why are people granted political power just because they give themselves fancy titles like ‘Father’ and ‘Reverend’ and ‘Holiness’ and ‘His Grace’?

  20. Pingback: Should We Be Talking to Our Data? A Response to Tenzan Eaghll’s “Brief Letter to Richard Dawkins Regarding ‘Religion’” | Bulletin for the Study of Religion

  21. chika raphael christian says:

    science sells reason. Religion sells both reason and faith as one commodity. If dawkin wants to eradicate religion’s predominance from public life, he should institutionalise a faith with reason that beats the enduring and multicomplex legacies of religion- which would mean for him to create a new pattern and philosophy of religion. Impossible.

  22. I agree with Doctor Eaghll that Dawkins’s intellectual resources could be put to more productive use. Deriding religion and its followers is a futile exercise and only creates hostility. It may bring temporary delight to the Dawkins camp, but such an approach continues to fuel the apparent great divide between science and religion. Dawkins, however has a valid argument – if religion promotes ideas that are contradictory to reality and nature (by definition a falsehood), it becomes a duty to raise awareness of such a falsehood in the interest of Truth. This should be done in a manner that is best, and gracious.

    The other serious problem I have with Dawkins, in fact with most atheists, is their unfair criticism of scripture, and I will briefly elaborate on this from a Quranic perspective. They quote selectively from the Quran which creates the impression that the Book, for example, promotes unprovoked aggression against “infidels”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Clearly, Dawkins did not study the Quran. The Book invites examination, it is provable and testable, i.e.it adopts the scientific approach. My experience is that critics invariably base their opinion on translations which are often outdated and impoverished instead of seeking enlightenment from the original Arabic Quran. I have studied the Arabic Quran and the result of my research was astonishing. (This does not necessitate learning a new language. It cost me a mere few dollars to employ an Arabic linguist to assist, but choosing the meaning of the words was entirely my department). The Book reveals the secrets of the Universe, lays down the fundamental principles of evolution, rejects the soul hypothesis (to use Eaghll’s own examples) and refers to key principles of the various scientific disciplines. Allow me to quote a few verses to demonstrate the point:

    On the origin of the Universe, the Quran states:
    1. “ With power , skill and energy did We lay the foundation of the Universe according to specified conditions and certainly We are steadily expanding it ( Chapter 51 Verse 41) .
    2. “Do not those who deny the existence of God reflect that the Heavens and Earth were (once) a closed up single unit of creation devoid of space which We then parted (creating) space (and time).

    On Evolution:
    1. “He evolved man in gradual stages, forms and appearances and different environments” (71-14).
    2. “God has raised you up from the Earth in the form of a (genealogical ) tree “ (71-17).
    3. “There is not animal that walks on the Earth nor a bird that flies on its wings that does not resemble yourselves in structure, behaviour and evolutionary origin”.
    (6-38).
    Note: the bracketed words are derived from other relevant verses.

    There are a few hundred of these modern scientific truths in the Quran. There is no manipulation of words- the Arabic meanings are comprehensive yet precise; the inexhaustible meanings allow scope for new interpretations as scientific knowledge advances, so that the Book is never outdated, let alone incorrect. Moreover, the Quran spells out the guidelines how it should be interpreted and is constructed in such a way that it does not allow erroneous translation. Dawkins and critics have violated all these rules. (More than 95% of Muslims are guilty of the same basic mistake- there are reasons for this phenomenon, but that is another issue). Eaghll, similarly has not conducted a scholarly investigation of the Quran and hence his misguided opposition to “ cultural relativism that pretends scripture and science are equivalent “ .

    Since the numerous scientific accuracies were completely non-existent in the 7th century when the Quran appeared (most of them have only been established in the past 2 centuries, some as recent as a few decades ago), they cry out for an explanation.

    My reasonable plea is that sceptics should study the Quran before levelling criticism. I challenge any scholar to provide a rational alternative explanation for the Book’s ultra progressive scientific message if a superior mind was not involved. I realise that this is an exceptional claim but the Quran provides the exceptional evidence.

    • Kagan Strongblood says:

      “Do not those who deny the existence of God reflect that the Heavens and Earth were (once) a closed up single unit of creation devoid of space which We then parted (creating) space (and time).” This sounds like the “universe from a ball”-theory and although this is a theory about the universe’s creation its not the leading one afaik. You should ask a physicist.

      It is fascinating how the book seems to predate modern ideas by centuries, but i’d say this is the case with all great works… And if that is the case, youd have to claim divine providence to all great authors. Perhaps it is so, but your “perfect book” wouldnt be so perfect anymore… Another problem with your theory about the book being perfect is to imagine a society in which we only read the Quran.. It has everything we need right? So why even engage in scientific discourse and method when everything we need is in that book? I know atleast myself, that that is not a society id want.

  23. Damon says:

    i agree with you’re argument, but you use too much postmodern jargon! if you ever want to be taken seriously by the dawkins camp and actually persuade people, you should try breaking down terms like “essentialize,” “subjectivity,” and “materiality” into layman’s terms. it might not be appealing to you, but it will help your voice be heard. simple matter of rhetoric.

    • Damon says:

      PS: i say this because dawkins openly hates derrida and postmodernism. he and any of his camp will stop reading reading with the first paragraph, having written you off already.

  24. Josh says:

    Richard Dawkins has read books on Continental Philosophy, he has referred to the likes of Jacques Derrida and the premises of this school of thinking several times. Perhaps you should read a book on Richard Dawkins.

    • Tenzan says:

      Here is an actual tweet from Dawkins:
      “”Continental Philosophy”. What kind of a Search for Truth is region-specific? Continental Chemistry? Continental Algebra? What nonsense!”

      I dare you to provide me with a single quote from Dawkins work which actually engages with Continental thought in a thoughtful manner, and actively reflects on the limits of language.

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