In a way I think atheism is just bad science. We know that the human imagination has enormous untapped potential because of things like hypnosis, lucid dreaming, psychedelics, meditation, spontaneous savantism, etc. I could keep going. So to cling to the atheist worldview is to insist that these things we haven’t really studied extensively are closed mysteries. It’s not rational at all, yet we all sort of behave as if we’ve figured this stuff out for the most part, so it has a lot more to do with conformity than it does any sort of logic. It’s just science caving to religious peer pressure. Stay off our turf you pesky scientists or we’ll excommunicate the shit out of you. This goes way back and still permeates our culture in a very occluded manner.
That all being said, I’ve never really known what Richard Dawkins did as a scientist other than that since he was an evolutionary biologist, I had zero clue why he was talking about spirituality in the first place. Not his area of expertise. Which is why it was fun reading this article. First off, I had no clue how respected he was in academia which is a bit creepy, but it also seems like most of his theories have already been largely disproven, just like his atheism eventually will be:
“In my book, The Patterning Instinct, I explored the underlying misconceptions that have led to our current crisis of civilization, and realized that Dawkins has been popularizing two of the most pernicious. One is the idea that all living organisms are controlled by selfish genes, and that humans, by implication, are innately selfish. Another is the notion that nature is nothing more than a very complicated machine. Both of these core ideas have been shown by countless scientists to be fundamentally wrong. Yet, partly because of the popularity of Dawkins’s own writing, they are widely taken on faith by the same intelligentsia that reject the fallacies of monotheism—and are used to justify some of our civilization’s most destructive behaviors.
The ‘Selfish Gene’ Is Bad Science and Bad Economics
Since Dawkins’s 1976 publication of The Selfish Gene, millions of people have come to understand evolution as the result of genes competing against other in a remorseless drive to replicate themselves. Ruthless competition is seen as the force that separates evolution’s winners from losers. Even altruism is interpreted as a sophisticated form of selfish behavior used by an organism to propagate its own genes more effectively. “Let us try to teach generosity and altruism,” Dawkins suggests, “because we are born selfish.”
It’s a harsh story, and one that has become a bedrock of modern economics, which argues that human beings are motivated by their own self-interest, and their collective self-serving actions result in the best outcome for society. This has led to a commonly accepted pseudo-scientific rationalization for laissez-faire capitalism, using the misappropriated term “survival of the fittest” to justify ruthless exploitation of the poor by wealthy corporations.
It is, however, a story that has been shown in recent decades to be erroneous at each level of its narration. Dawkins’s idea of the “selfish gene,” while still holding currency in the popular imagination, has been extensively discredited as a simplistic interpretation of evolution. In its place, biologists have developed a far more sophisticated view of evolution as a series of complex, interlocking systems, where the gene, organism, community, species, and environment all interact with each other intricately over different time frames.”