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Richard Dawkins and evidence

May 17, 2010

Richard Dawkins is one of the leading atheist thinkers of the modern era. His book ‘The God Delusion’ has sold in excess of 2 million copies and is warmly endorsed by many modern atheists. So it was only a matter of time before we examine Richard Dawkins and his ideas on this blog.

Richard Dawkins’ approach to epistemology (the study of knowledge) is important. In an important essay ‘Good and Bad Reasons for Believing’ published in ‘A Devil’s Chaplain’ Dawkins writes a letter to his 10 year old daughter and in this he describes his epistemic position. He asks his daughter Juliet a very sensible question, ‘Have you ever wondered how we know the things we know?’

Dawkins then answers his question with one word:  ‘evidence’. Dawkins suggests this as the foundation for all knowledge – all knowledge must be evidence based. There must be reasons for believing something.

In general (there are some potential philosophical objections to this) this position is eminently sensible. To believe something one must produce good reasons for believing it. An assertion must be ‘evidence-based’. This is particularly the case for religion. If a religion is to be determined as true and worth following then there must be some kind of ‘evidence’ or reasons for it to be true and to be followed. Hence Dawkins’ epistemic stance is sensible and reasonable and it is the position adopted by this blog.

Utilising this position we will analyse some of Dawkins’ own claims about the Christian belief. Does Richard Dawkins live by his epistemic convictions? Are Dawkins’ claims about Christianity based on reasonable ‘evidence’?

This is something we will explore in the coming weeks. I’m looking forward to our voyage of discovery as we adopt a rigorous evidence based approach for Dawkins’ claims on religion.

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From → New atheism

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