Richard Dawkins’ “Faith” and “Luck”:
From an interview of Richard Dawkins by Jonathan Miller:1
“Um, there’s got to be a series of advantages all the way in the feather. If you can’t think of one then that’s your problem, not natural selection’s problem. Natural selection, um, well, I suppose that is a sort of matter of faith on my, on my part since the theory is so coherent and so powerful. You might mentioned feathers. I mean it’s perfectly possible that feathers began as fluffy, um, extensions of reptilian scales to act as heat insulators. And so the final perfection of the sort of, wing feathers that we see in flying birds might have come very much later. And the earliest feathers might have been a different approach to hairiness among reptiles keeping them warm.”
Richard Dawkins fills the gaps in his knowledge with his faith. Sans evidence, he can appeal to his imagination (in the guise of respectable science). It is “perfectly possible” it “might have” and again, it “might have”—and that is good enough.
Furthermore, Richard Dawkins wrote:
“Human thoughts and emotions emerge from exceedingly complex interconnections of physical entities within the brain. An atheist in this sense of philosophical naturalist is somebody who believes there is nothing beyond the natural, physical world, no supernatural creative intelligence lurking behind the observable universe, no soul that outlasts the body and no miracles – except in the sense of natural phenomena that we don’t yet understand. If there is something that appears to lie beyond the natural world as it is now imperfectly understood, we hope eventually to understand it and embrace it within the natural.”2
Note the presupposition: we know that absolute materialism is true and so the supernatural is disqualified a priori. If we ever encounter a miracle, if we are exposed to evidence of a miracle, we are do disregard it as being the outworking of some materialistic phenomena that “we don’t yet understand.” But we can project and so “we hope” to “eventually” be able to explain all things according to materialism. In other words, he restricts his thinking and denies any evidence which is troublesome to his chosen worldview.
Richard Dawkins noted:
“Chance, luck, coincidence, miracle…events that we commonly call miracles are not supernatural, but are part of a spectrum of more-or-less improbable natural events. A miracle, in other words, if it occurs at all, is a tremendous stroke of luck.”3
This actually plays a part in his views on origins?,
“It is as though, in our theory of how we came to exist, we are allowed to postulate a certain ration of luck.”4
He declares that “we are allowed” but who is doing the allowing and why are they allowing it? He is allowing himself; he is filling the gaps in our knowledge with “luck” as he previously did with “faith.”
He also wrote,
“If I saw a man levitating himself, before rejecting the whole of physics I would suspect that I was the victim of a hallucination or a conjuring trick.”5
Certainly, it could be a trick and one ought to investigate but it is fascinating that his reaction to being an eyewitness to something that violates his worldview, that violates absolute materialism, would be to prefer the explanation of it being a hallucination.
Richard Dawkins wrote:
“My guess is that both bats and birds evolved flight by gliding downwards from the trees. Their ancestors might have looked a little like colugos. Birds could be another matter…. Here’s one guess as to how flying got started in birds….Perhaps birds began by leaping off the ground while bats began gliding out of trees. Or perhaps birds too began by gliding out of trees…
The beauty of this theory is that the same nervous circuits that were used to control the centre of gravity in the jumping ancestor would, rather effortlessly, have lent themselves to controlling the flight surfaces later in the evolutionary story.”6
More of the same, “…guess…might have…could be…guess…Perhaps…perhaps…The beauty of this theory is…the evolutionary story.”
Perhaps he is correct yet, perhaps he is merely concocting tall tales.