Sadly, this lesson may be playing out again in our day, so we may need to do some rethinking about who the real bully in the neighbourhood is.
Namely, Dawkins -- falsely -- accuses Craig of supporting genocide, a word that drips with the implication: Nazi. (ADDED, Nov 3: In case this is needed, this clip documents Dr Craig's actual views on morality, including obviously genocide etc.)
(NB:The particular matter is about a debate over the handling of the invasion of Canaan and some of the troubling issues it raises for Judaeo-Christian theists. Cf. my notes here.)
The utter cynicism and turnabout manipulation behind Dawkins' rhetoric can be seen from his 1995 Scientific American Article, "God's Utility Function" [pp. 80 - 85.]:
Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose.
We humans have purpose on the brain. We find it difficult to look at anything without wondering what it is "for," what the motive for it or the purpose behind it might be. The desire to see purpose everywhere is natural in an animal that lives surrounded by machines, works of art, tools and other designed artifacts - an animal whose waking thoughts are dominated by its own goals and aims . . . .
Somewhere between windscreen wipers and tin openers on the one hand, and rocks and the universe on the other, lie living creatures. Living bodies and their organs are objects that, unlike rocks, seem to have purpose written all over them . . . . The true process that has endowed wings, eyes, beaks, nesting instincts and everything else about life with the strong illusion of purposeful design is now well understood.
It is Darwinian natural selection . . . . The true utility function of life, that which is being maximized in the natural world, is DNA survival. But DNA is not floating free; it is locked up in living bodies, and it has to make the most of the levers of power at its disposal. Genetic sequences that find themselves in cheetah bodies maximize their survival by causing those bodies to kill gazelles. Sequences that find themselves in gazelle bodies increase their chance of survival by promohng opposite ends. But the same utility function-the survival of DNA-explains the "purpose" of both the cheetah [--> i.e. predator] and the gazelle [--> i.e. prey] . . . .
The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored.
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.
[NB: This article raises the issue of the problem of evil, here emphasising the problem of natural evil; probably the strongest argument in the atheists' arsenal, but one that only works by implicitly assuming that good and evil, thus moral obligation, are real; while ducking the implication that the only valid worldview in a world in which OUGHT is real, is one that has a foundational IS that adequately grounds ought. And materialism -- scientific atheism today, has no such is. So, the objecting atheist actually has no grounds to stand on to make the argument; his argument, in the end is self-defeating, and so the proper response is to insist that such an atheist face that issue before proceeding further. (Cf here for a preliminary discussion of the problem of evil from a Christian perspective.)]
Given this additional perspective, we can now see that for Dawkins, appeal to moral sensibilities ends up being little more than a cynical means to persuade by manipulating emotions, for in his more frank and straightforward moments, he admits that, on his materialistic worldview, there is "no evil and no good."
And so, he acts as one who holds power to manipulate to advance his perceived interests: if your feelings can be so twisted by a false but persuasive accusation against one of those "ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked" backward, anti-science "fundamentalists," that you are repelled by the dominant idea of God we see in our civilisation, the Judaeo-Christian, Bible-based view, then that is pulling us away from fairy tales to get us to accept Science as the fount of practically all knowledge and truth. Which to him is as close to good and purpose as he gets.
"The end justifies the means," "might makes right," and "all is fair in love and [culture] war," etc.
If that is his real underlying view (and the evidence we can see points that way), then the willingness to smear, snip out of context and knowingly falsely accuse make a lot of saddening sense.
It is an effective means to a desired end, and one Dawkins expects to get away with in the major media.
Which, he knows, are in his corner.
No wonder, then, we see the amoral cynical heart-numbness that seemingly is unhesitating in smearing and slandering. For, Dawkins knows -- must know -- that neither Craig nor any other serious Christian thinker supports mass murder of a race; i.e. genocide.
But, if you think you can get away with the false accusation, and so get out of a tight spot . . .
I believe the matters raised are of sufficiently broad interest and relevance that I wish to now share them in their own right, here at the KF blog.
I pick up from an exchange of comments by CY and SA:
|88 mm Flak 18 in action against tanks |
in North Africa (note antiaircraft mounting)
|Note the abortive Arras counter-attack, stopped in key part by Rommel's improvised 88 mm gun line|