1/26/09

Richard Dawkins, Albert Einstein, God and Atheism

Author Richard Dooling wrote, “Dawkins can't declare Einstein's God somehow not God and thereby free himself from calling the greatest physicist of the twentieth century deluded for believing in him.”[1]
To read/Or not to read


Indeed, for all of Albert Einstein’s references to God Prof. Richard Dawkins still refers to him as an “atheistic scientist.” Since Prof. Richard Dawkins cannot tolerate the thought of a brilliant scientists who believes in God he claims that Einstein’s God was metaphoric and thus referred to an “Einsteinian religion” which is distinct from “supernatural religion.”[2]

While Einstein did not seem to believe in the personal monotheistic God of his fellow Jews he was certainly no atheist:

“I'm not an atheist. I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.”[3]



“God doesn’t play dice with the universe”
—Albert Einstein


“God plays Scrabble!”
—Philip Gold


[1] Jeremy Lott, God, AI, and the rapture of the geeks. Dooling also “calls Richard Dawkins's bestselling book The God Delusion ‘a collection of arguments that most liberal-arts students encounter before their junior year’ and are bored of by graduation.”
[2] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006), p. 11
[3] “What Life Means to Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck,” The Saturday Evening Post, Oct. 26, 1929<\span>

22 comments:

  1. Mariano, off topic, but I noticed the link for the Academic Freedom day thing. Do you really advocate this? Do you realize that this organization encourages the viewing of "Expelled"? I challenge you to re-watch "Expelled" and come back and defend this as a worthy representative of your beliefs. If you can't see any problems in this movie, I fear you are going to have a hard time having any reasonable conversation with anyone concerning evolution. Other than the choir.

    ReplyDelete
  2. While Einstein may have been reluctant to describe his beliefs as atheistic; however, I think that any theist that truly bothered to understand his beliefs in this area WOULD describe his belief as such. What Einstein believed in was the fundamental rationality of the rules that governed the laws of physics. He believed that this rationality was an inherent part of the Universe and that it was ultimately discoverable and understandable by mankind. At no time did Einstein ever attribute this fundamental rationality to an intellect or an agent with intent or volition except as a metaphor. He did not believe that God is a person. He did not believe that God has a mind. He did not believe that God has any wants, needs or desires. There was absolutely no room in Einstein’s Cosmic World Order for any aspect of the supernatural. He believed that all of physics was fundamentally deterministic. This belief was at the core of his opposition to how Quantum Mechanics was being interpreted – he believed that the apparent randomness that is the hallmark of QM was just appearance and that, underneath that randomness, rational deterministic rules would govern.

    Einstein realized that his belief about the ultimate rationality of the Universe was not a scientific belief backed by real evidence but that it was in essence, a mystical belief. It was simply this realization that prevented Einstein from self-labeling himself as an atheist. Today he would certainly be able to label himself a Bright but there is no conceivable way that Einstein would EVER have labeled himself as a Theist. There is no correspondence between what Einstein referred to, metaphorically, as God and what theists refer to, religiously, as God. To confuse the two demonstrates a very superficial understanding of Einstein’s beliefs and possibly a very superficial understanding of the God that people generally believe in.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Scary Jesus;
    Yes, I advocate academic freedom.
    As for the rest of your statement: ad hominem.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Jdhuey;
    Agreed, “did not seem to believe in the personal monotheistic God.”

    aDios,
    Mariano

    ReplyDelete
  4. ad hominem? I disagree. As to academic freedom we already have that, I'll site Ward Churchill and William Ayres. But when you suggest an idea that is untestable, goes against the majority of scientific knowledge you can't cry foul when it just doesn't live up to scientific standards. ad hominem? challenging you to revisit expelled?

    I try not to use these latin canards of postured intellect, they sound pretentious and arrogant.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Do you advocate "academic freedom" to teach geocentrism in astronomy class? Or the idea that the holcaust never happened in history class?

    Some ideas are not taught because they've been debunked and have no evidence for them. For example, Intelligent Design.

    What evidence, other than ad-hom attacks falsely linking "Darwinism" to anti-semitism, was given for the validity of "Intelligent Design"?

    They had their chance in the Dover Trial and they couldn't pass the mustard. The ID people have the exact same academic freedom as any one else in the sciences does. No one is stopping them from doing experiments and tests to confirm their "hypotheses", and publishing them for other people to test and confirm.

    Instead, they promise much, but deliver nothing. For years in a row.

    Instead, they write books that completely by-pass any kind of fact-checking and peer review and just market them directly to the public. Of course, when they do that, they wind up using the same old refuted arguments as they have used in the past.

    If one is to have "academic freedom" to look at the "controversy" surrounding evolution, one should make sure that it's not a manufactured controversy by people misquoting scientists, cherry-picking data, and pretending that evolutionary biologists have not solved various problems when in actuality they have. (see the Dover Trial transcripts for those again.

    For example, blood-clotting:

    Third, as a result, the absence of any components of the cascade in any organism is indeed a direct contradiction of Behe’s formulation of ID. And finally, even Luskin’s “irreducible core” has fallen apart as the result of the most recent research findings on the system.

    Casey seems to forget — or to ignore — the fact that Behe has never even attempted to do any scientific research to show that he is right. He ignores the fact that ID’s critics have produced a boatload of research showing Behe to be wrong while Behe himself has done no research on the system that might support Luskin. As a result, his attempts at rehabilitating the clotting cascade as an “icon” of ID are a complete failure. So, for the umpteenth time, let’s go through this again.

    Here are the details, one at a time.

    You can read on in the link above.

    To say that scientists have not figured how blood clotting could have evolved and is thus a "problem" for evolution is not "teaching the controversy", it's lying.


    As an aside, Barbara Forrest points out, the ID people had their chance to cross-examine the "Darwinists" to see just how well evolutionary biology stands up to scrutiny...

    These tactics by DeWolf and Dembski highlight the bankruptcy of ID and the blustering cowardice of its leaders, who must capture support with brazen deceit and sarcastic punditry. The trial was Dembski’s moment to shine, to explain on the legal record why ID is a “full scale scientific revolution,” as he wrote in The Design Revolution (InterVarsity Press, 2004, p. 19). Instead, plaintiffs’ witness Robert Pennock read to Judge Jones Dembski’s statement regarding ID’s revolutionary status— and then dismantled it [67]. Ironically, Dembski had his arch-critics right where he wanted us —on the witness stand and under oath. He could have been there, implementing his strategy, helping to “squeeze the truth” out of us, “as it were.” In November 2005, after the trial ended, Dembski posted on his “Design Inference” website a pdf made from his May 11 and 16, 2005, “vise strategy” blog pages, labeled as a “Document prepared to assist the Thomas More Law Center in interrogating the ACLU’s expert witnesses in the Dover case.” He appended a list of “Suggested Questions,” which, he wrote, “will constitute a steel trap that leave the Darwinists no room to escape.” [68] But when he had an opportunity to witness firsthand how his trap would operate, he was nowhere to be found. He “escaped critical scrutiny” by quitting rather than face cross-examination. He is apparently $20,000 richer for it, however, marking yet another difference between us: whereas I served pro bono, Dembski charged $200 per hour and threatened to sue TMLC for payment for 100 hours of work he claims to have done prior to quitting. In late June 2005, he told Canadian ID supporter Denyse O’Leary that TMLC had agreed to pay him. [69]


    Still want to talk about "academic freedom", Mariano? Would you care to explain where all the people crying for the freedom to "teach the controversy" were in the original Scopes trial. Back then the religious right was calling for the creationist view to be taught, and that was it. What about the "academic freedom" to teach about the evidence for evolution in sunday school or bible colleges?

    Why do the religous right only care about "academic freedom" when it's their ideas that are on the outside looking in?

    ReplyDelete
  6. What evidence, other than ad-hom attacks falsely linking "Darwinism" to anti-semitism, was given for the validity of "Intelligent Design"?

    From my last post, that's referring to the movie "Expelled" which was mentioned.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Reynold: nice work, as usual.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Reynold
    Prof. Miller's strategy at Dover trial was: set up
    strawmans and destroy them. In case of blood clotting it was to pretend that Behe claimed that entire system was IC. The way he distorts things presenting his understanding of Behe's view of blood clotting presented in DBB is sad.

    ReplyDelete
  9. tremor: there were several reasons the defendants lost at Dover, but strawmen were not one of them. Besides the admission by Behe, that under his definition of "science", astrology counted as a science too, there was the perjury (from Judge Jones' conclusion):

    "Witnesses either testified inconsistently, or lied outright under oath on several occasions," Jones wrote. "The inescapable truth is that both [Alan] Bonsell and [William] Buckingham lied at their January 3, 2005 depositions. … Bonsell repeatedly failed to testify in a truthful manner. … Defendants have unceasingly attempted in vain to distance themselves from their own actions and statements, which culminated in repetitious, untruthful testimony."

    Not a very good day for Creationism, all in all.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @zilch
    I'm not commenting on entire case, I'm familiar only with Behe vs Miller part. Second Miller's strawman was setting up the caricature of IC and "refutation" of flagellum's IC by showing that it's not IC according to this caricature.

    ReplyDelete
  11. tremor: if you have time, read the entire transcript. It is an education.

    The trial was not about whether or not ID was true, but whether or not ID was science, and it was shown convincingly that it's not.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  13. tremor:
    Why don't you tell us exactly how Miller was setting up "straw men" in the trial please? While you're at it, you can explain just how it was, under cross-examination, Miller's "strawman" of ID was not exposed.

    Miller discusses your (and the DI people's false charge) in the link I gave previously:

    Casey’s still spinning, and now he’s doing his manful best to resurrect one of Behe’s favorite arguments for “irreducible complexity” (IC), the vertebrate blood clotting cascade. The culprit in its demise at the Dover trial, of course, was me. But according to Casey, my testimony was nothing more than “Smoke-and-Mirrors.”

    Miller goes on to shoot down that charge. Why would he make a false charge against ID anyway? Miller himself is religious as they are...the only motive left that I can see is that maybe the ID people are actually wrong? After all, how much lab research did Behe actually put into this?

    According to the trial transcripts, not much. The man didn't even bother to try to keep up with current research on blood clotting in the first place.

    ReplyDelete
  14. To further add: in what way was Miller's representation of the bacterial flagellum a "strawman" please?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sorry, tremor, I find Behe's answers underwhelming. All that Behe says here, basically, is that ID has no problem with common descent (in which case, the Bible does- why do you guys support ID then?), except when things come up that we can't explain (yet). Yep- it's the venerable God of the Gaps argument: everything which can be demonstrated to have evolved, evolved; that which is not yet explained means the Designer tweaked the molecules to make it work. Here it is from the horse's mouth:

    Intelligent design is wholly compatible with common descent — including descent by gene duplication/rearrangement. Rather, ID argues against the Darwinian claim that complex, functional molecular systems could be built by a random, unguided process.

    But "descent by gene duplication and rearrangement" is the source of "complex, functional molecular systems"- demonstrably. Behe seems to have forgotten that natural selection is not a "random, unguided process".

    In any case, Reynold's criticism stands: Behe has done no research whatsoever. In fact, I honestly can't see why anyone, including Christians, can take ID seriously: they don't do any research, but just look for ill-explained phenomena in evolution and say "that's Design". Of course, the ID'ers get lots of money to do this, so I can understand their motivation. But why do intelligent Christians get sucked in by their act, which predicates a Hacker God who only sticks His fingers in to tweak the molecules when things get sticky- and what a coincidence!- only where we don't understand the evolution well. A rather demeaning picture of God, in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I hope to find you all well. Thank you for your comments and general participation on this blog—your presence is appreciated.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Scary Jesus;
    Sounds are deceiving and based on your interpretation “ad hominem” is succinct which is a virtue considering how many comments I am constantly responding.

    Perfectly legitimate scientists who function perfectly well within their fields are being black listed and that is not something that anyone should support.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Reynold;
    No I do not advocate "academic freedom" to teach atheism in our public school classrooms (I will soon post giving some examples of this).

    As stated above, perfectly legitimate scientists who function perfectly well within their fields are being black listed and that is not something that anyone should support.

    I suppose that by “the evidence for evolution” you mean something like “biology equals there is no God.” Everyone learns and believes in “evolution.”

    During the Scopes trail the people crying for the freedom to "teach the controversy" were not even born. But do not forget that the Scopes trial centered around a science textbook that taught eugenics, do you want the academic freedom to teach eugenics?

    Lastly, the contention within the context of this discussion is the Discovery Institute who are the very same people who did not consider those whom you would think where on their side during the Dover trial to be making a legitimate case and thus, did not get involved.

    aDios,
    Mariano

    ReplyDelete
  17. @zilch
    ID has no problem with common descent
    Ie it's not incompatible, nothing more.
    everything which can be demonstrated to have evolved, evolved; that which is not yet explained means the Designer tweaked the molecules to make it work.
    Not necessarly. I guess the most popular amongst IDists if front loading theory.

    But "descent by gene duplication and rearrangement" is the source of "complex, functional molecular systems"- demonstrably.
    How much complexity was demonstrably introduced?

    Behe seems to have forgotten that natural selection is not a "random, unguided process".
    Selection is guiding process. IDists claim that survival of the fittest actually doesn't help neodarwinian case.

    In fact, I honestly can't see why anyone, including Christians, can take ID seriously: they don't do any research, but just look for ill-explained phenomena in evolution and say "that's Design".
    They say they do. But from what I've read so far they like to adapt other's publications to their framework, eg. they were delighted to read that bacterial flagellum's clutch.

    ReplyDelete
  18. "How much complexity was demonstrably introduced?"

    Lol.

    This is like a tone-deaf person asking Beethoven: "So, exactly how much music was there in your so-called Ninth Symphony?"

    For sure, there are quantitative measures of complexity, like e.g. Kolmogorov complexity, or any number of ad hoc complexity measures relating only to a very specific model – but I have a sneaking suspicion that you actually don't have the faintest idea what it is that you're asking about.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Mariano replying to me:
    Reynold;
    No I do not advocate "academic freedom" to teach atheism in our public school classrooms (I will soon post giving some examples of this).

    Uh, where did I say that "atheism" should be taught please? I was talking about evolution.

    As stated above, perfectly legitimate scientists who function perfectly well within their fields are being black listed and that is not something that anyone should support.
    You should do some reading as to why those "perfectly legitimate scientists" are being "blacklisted"...
    Let's see:

    Guillermo Gonzalez

    According to ISU, Gonzalez’s tenure decision was based on “refereed publications, his level of success in attracting research funding and grants, the amount of telescope observing time he had been granted, the number of graduate students he had supervised, and most importantly, the overall evidence of future career promise in the field of astronomy.” As documented below, the university had grounds to conclude that the early promise of Gonzalez’s career was not being met.

    Ah, just check out the rest here.

    I like this one: Richard Sternberg
    Expelled claims that Sternberg was “terrorized” and that “his life was nearly ruined” when, in 2004, as editor of Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, he published a pro-intelligent design article by Stephen C. Meyer. However, there is no evidence of either terrorism or ruination. Before publishing the paper, Sternberg worked for the National Institutes of Health at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (GenBank) and was an unpaid Research Associate – not an employee – at the Smithsonian. He was the voluntary, unpaid editor of PBSW (small academic journals rarely pay editors), and had given notice of his resignation as editor six months before the Meyer article was published. After the Meyer incident, he remained an employee of NIH and his unpaid position at the Smithsonian was extended in 2006, although he has not shown up there in years. At no time was any aspect of his pay or working conditions at NIH affected. It is difficult to see how his life “was nearly ruined” when nothing serious happened to him. He was never even disciplined for legitimate violations of policy of PBSW or Smithsonian policy.

    If you want to see the huge amount of research those "perfectly legitimate scientists" have put forward to provide evidence for ID...

    Guess what? If you don't do any research for the theory that you yourself are advocating, what makes you think that anyone will or should listen to you? Without evidence you've got nothing to say now, have you?

    That's also why there's no "academic freedom" for geocentrism either. It's been debunked, and there's no evidence for it.

    Since you claim to support academic freedom, would you then support the academic freedom of people like Chris Comer?


    I suppose that by “the evidence for evolution” you mean something like “biology equals there is no God.”
    You suppose wrong.

    In schools evolution is supposed to be taught since that's what the evidence supports. Teachers are not supposed to say one way or the other whether any god exists. That's what neutrality means. That's what a secular education means. You stay away from religion altogether.

    Please stop lying about what I'm trying to say please. How can you pretend to talk about "academic freedom" when you yourself are twisting my words into something that I'm not even saying?


    During the Scopes trail the people crying for the freedom to "teach the controversy" were not even born.
    Duh...I'm referring to the predecessors of the modern religious right movement. I notice though that there's not one word of censure from you or any of the other so-called supporters of "academic freedom" about how those guys acted back then.

    I also notice that the only thing you supporters of "academic freedom" seem to care about is evolutionary biology. Why focus on that area? Would it have anything to do with the fact that evolutionary biology contradicts your religious beliefs? Remember the Wedge Document when you answer that question.


    But do not forget that the Scopes trial centered around a science textbook that taught eugenics, do you want the academic freedom to teach eugenics?
    Oh boy! Let's talk about eugenics please!

    ID fellow Dr. West tried to link "Darwinism" to eugenics too, and as that link shows, he gets slapped down pretty good:

    In fact, eugenics is pretty much as old as human society, and pervasive throughout its history. Most cultures of course have prohibitions against incest, and several US States still ban marriage even between third-degree relatives (first cousins). The Talmud explicitly endorses negative eugenics when it forbids marriage for individuals coming from families with perceived hereditary defects (e.g. lepers and epileptics), and positive eugenics by encouraging marriages with members of scholarly families (a bit self-serving from the highly educated Talmudic authors, for sure!). Greeks (not just the notorious Spartans, see also Plato and Aristotle) and Romans routinely and swiftly got rid of their “undesirables”, as many other cultures did (and still do) less officially and openly. More close to home, the decrease in the incidence of certain genetic diseases in high-risk populations (e.g. thalassemia in Sardinia and Cyprus, Tay-Sachs disease among Ashkenazi Jews) through voluntary screening and genetic counseling has been one of the most significant success stories of medical genetics, and enjoys wide public support and participation in the affected communities.

    Would you support the "academic freedom", Mariano to teach that beside the fact that eugenics is thousands of years old, that even creationists supported it:

    Even more problematic for the claim that “Darwinism” was critical and instrumental in the development of eugenics is the uncomfortable fact that eugenics was also openly embraced by opponents of evolution (the first eugenics sterilization laws in the world were passed in 1907 Indiana, hardly a hotbed of “Darwinists”). The most notable of these anti-evolution eugenics supporters was probably William J. Tinkle, geneticist and prominent Creationist. Tinkle taught at religious LaVerne College and Taylor University, and participated in the activities of the Deluge Society, the first “Creation Science” organization. He then joined forces with the “young lions” of Creationism, Henry Morris, Duane Gish and Walter Lammerts, and with them he was one of the 10 Founding Fathers of the Creation Research Society, which later became the Institute for Creation Research.

    Tinkle opposed evolution and Darwinian theory, but was an enthusiastic proponent of eugenics, and published several articles on the subject. In his 1939 textbook “Fundamentals of Zoology” he devotes a section to “The Need of Human Betterment”, where he laments the existence of “defective families” who “give birth to offspring like themselves” , producing “persons of low mentality, paupers and criminals in much greater ratio than the general population” [8, p. 1


    Or would you just rather teach that it was those nasty "Darwinists" who went for eugenics?

    By the way: Nice bait and switch, Mariano.

    You do realize right, that eugenics was around for thousands of years before Darwin came around, right? It's an offshoot of animal husbandry.

    Lastly, the contention within the context of this discussion is the Discovery Institute who are the very same people who did not consider those whom you would think where on their side during the Dover trial to be making a legitimate case and thus, did not get involved.
    Ah yes, about that: Read Trouble Behind the Scenes.


    Of course the fact that the DI people were "not involved" corresponds perfectly to the fact that the DI people are still going on and on about the Dover trial, and slamming the judge at every opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Adonais, are you Sam Harris in disguise?

    ReplyDelete