Richard Dawkins: It’s illogical to demand scientific evidence for scientific claims

Human evolution
Image Credit: BBC

Many evolutionary transitions are elegantly documented by more or less continuous series of gradually changing intermediate fossils. Some are not, and these are the famous ‘gaps’. Michael Shermer has wittily pointed out that if a new fossil discovery neatly bisects a ‘gap’, the creationist will declare that there are now twice as many gaps! But in any case, note yet again the unwarranted use of a default. If there are no fossils to document a postulated evolutionary transition, the default assumption is that there was no evolutionary transition, therefore God must have intervened.

It is utterly illogical to demand complete documentation of every step of any narrative, whether in evolution or any other science. You might as well demand, before convicting somebody of a murder, a complete cinematic record of the murderer’s every step leading up to the crime, with no missing frames. Only a tiny fraction of corpses fossilize, and we are lucky to have as many intermediate fossils as we do. We could easily have had no fossils at all, and still the evidence for evolution from other sources, such as molecular genetics and geographical distribution, would be overwhelmingly strong. (The God Delusion, page 153)

I’m back to cover more material on Richard Dawkins, as I’m soon to complete my work on the distinguished zoologist that atheists treat as their very own “prophet.” Dawkins has attacked the Gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke, stating in a recent post that the context of registering for an empire tax is “historically complete nonsense,” asking why it is that Christians don’t notice those glaring contradictions that aren’t really contradictions at all.

Dawkins has said that “atheists don’t have faith” (The God Delusion, page 72), that out of the physical stuff of the universe come minds, emotions, and moral values (a claim that argues that the physical world can create people that, with an intellect, are superior to the “creator”).

He has accused Christians of having little evidence and a lot of intellectual laziness, saying that Christians throw out “God” when they can’t scientifically explain how something works. And yet, we’ve also seen Dawkins in this series throw out vague wording and guesses where there is no evidence for his claim that life has a physical origin. He’s even mixed categories by claiming that the Intelligent Designer of the universe is Himself “designed”.

The question by Richard Dawkins, “Who designed the Designer?,” isn’t a testimony to Dawkins’ finest intellectual hour, that’s for certain. If you believe the universe is designed, Dawkins will tell you that there’s merely “the illusion of design” (TGD, pp. 24, 139, 143, 168, 188), that you’re irrational for seeing what you see and living your life based on that information. These intellectual faux pas of Richard Dawkins show us that atheism as a movement isn’t as “enlightened” as its advocates presume it is.

And in the above quote, Dawkins is once again calling out creationists: “If there are no fossils to document a postulated evolutionary transition, the default assumption is that there was no evolutionary transition, therefore God must have intervened.” And yet, Dawkins has a “Gaps” theory of his own: when confronted with the reality that his scientific claim has little scientific evidence to show that humans came from primates such as chimpanzees and gorillas, Dawkins claims that it’s impossible to demand such scientific evidence for scientific claims.

Here’s Dawkins’ quote: “It is utterly illogical to demand complete documentation of every step of any narrative, whether in evolution or any other science. You might as well demand, before convicting somebody of a murder, a complete cinematic record of the murderer’s every step leading up to the crime, with no missing frames. Only a tiny fraction of corpses fossilize, and we are lucky to have as many intermediate fossils as we do.”

Well, I can see why Dawkins would say this: the fossils he claims are present in nature haven’t surfaced, and the optimism he’s had for the physical origin of life hasn’t materialized. As Dawkins himself has said, the chemical solution to the origin of life in the universe “hasn’t happened yet” (TGD, page 163), and the fossils he’d need to prove that humans progressed in evolution from primates (gorillas, primarily) has yet to surface, either. In other words, he’s been clinging to a theory, an unproven theory that has little basis for belief. Darwin had little basis for the theory, and Dawkins has little basis to believe in the theory.

But instead of conceding that there’s few fossils and little evidence, and living with that honesty, Dawkins wants to now set up his view of what nature “could” reveal in the future as unfalsifiable: that is, if you say, “there are no significant fossils to show macroevolution, the transformation of one species into another, Dawkins says, “You’re irrational. It’s illogical to demand complete documentation” of the fossils.

I agree; it’s illogical to demand complete documentation. But I’m too tempted to ask Richard Dawkins, “If it’s illogical to demand all the fossils, isn’t it equally as illogical to demand complete documentation and evidence for everything Jesus said, did, the event of His birth, that He turned water into wine, gave sight to the blind, and raised Lazarus from the dead?”

Isn’t it just as illogical to presume that, because there is little historical documentation for the life of Jesus, that it’s all a hoax and a scam? It’s illogical, in my view, to expect complete historical evidence of everything Jesus said and did. If nature eliminates fossils in the way Dawkins tells us, then how can he get away with demanding that those of us who demand fossils “be more reasonable” while he himself remains unreasonable with regard to Jesus, Christianity, and supernaturalism? If time could’ve erased the fossils needed to prove macroevolution (the transformations from one species to another), then could the historical and scientific evidence for Jesus and the events surrounding His life have also faded with time as well?

In a court of law, one cannot make claims without evidential linkage. If a lawyer says that someone was murdered, then the lawyer has to dig up some evidence. You can’t claim someone died if there’s no body and no evidence. You can’t claim the person has gone missing in such a case, unless there’s evidence.

When it comes to fossils, no one is asking Richard Dawkins to uncover every fossil link that ever existed — but Christians are demanding that Dawkins uncover a primary fossil link between primates and human beings. Lucy has been said to be that link forever now, but, despite the fact that Lucy may look like us, there’s no proof that “she” ever had an intellect and could write, build, or create, as humans do.

The chances of a “fossilized intellect” are of lower probability than our thriving on planet earth

 

Richard Dawkins believes that there’s a low probability that God exists, and that there’s a low probability for the creation of the universe (though we’re here as proof it happened), but there’s an even lower probability in my view for what Dawkins would need to solidify his case of a physical origin of life.

What would Dawkins need to make his case? A “fossilized intellect.” The problem with having fossils of “Lucy” and other gorillas, chimpanzees, and primates is that their similarities to humans aren’t the same as equivalencies to humans. They can be “like us” without being “100% like us.” They may have similar facial features, and may even protect their young as we humans protect our children, but that doesn’t mean they were intelligent beings who could write a play, build a house, read a novel, and so on.

The future will yield more fossils — of that I’m sure — but there’s one thing it won’t yield: a physical intellect available for observation under the microscope. The reason? Contrary to Dawkins’s view that the physical world created moral values, emotions, and minds, it didn’t. Science cannot test these non-physical things under a visible microscope. Even if there are more “Lucy-like” fossils, the coveted, yearned-for fossilized intellect will forever remain missing.

Why is this the case? Because there’s no evidence that the animal kingdom consisted of “intermediates” that had one foot in one species and the second foot in another (that gorillas were ever half-human, for example). Christians believe that God made fixed animal species and a fixed human species, and that neither transitions or crosses over from the other. And one thing that Christians have always believed is that gorillas, apes, chimpanzees, and other such animals have never had an intellect.

Science has proven this before our eyes, but it is that very same science, that very same physical proof, that Dawkins is now denying. If Christians posit a God of the Gaps, Dawkins is positing a Fossil of the Gaps. The day that scientists uncover a fossilized intellect is the day that unicorns arrive on our planet.

Conclusion

Dawkins has hope that the fossils point to a world where anything but an Intelligent Designer is responsible for it, but I’m afraid his claims don’t come anywhere as close as he’d like them to. He says that it’s illogical to demand such scientific evidence as lots of fossils when not every animal form fossilizes as easily, but he’s making his claims in a scientific field where claims without tangible, observable evidence aren’t good enough. There have got to be life forms, particularly a gorilla-human fossil, to make his case. Remember the Scientific Method?

And yet, Lucy is as close as he comes — and even then, there’s no proof Lucy ever had an intellect or a soul, or the state of consciousness that humans possess. Since Dawkins is a naturalist, he has to abide by scientific naturalism and cannot tell us to “believe” in imaginary fossils. His profession and his commitment to it have set his theory up for failure. Darwin saw how vulnerable his origin of species theory was, but Dawkins is quite blind to the idea.

He’s quite understanding of the lack of fossils, but can’t seem to understand the lack of documents and other such evidence with regard to events mentioned in the Gospels. His desire to let science’s fossils that supposedly confirm our “primateness” go under the radar while demanding that the Bible provide every little link in the historical chain for the life of Jesus is hypocritical, to say the least.

I’m sure in 50 years, when there is no fossilized intellect on display, Dawkins will still cry “it’s impossible for every fossil to materialize.” When science is proven wrong, he’ll say that “it’s impossible to have” the evidence, but that, when Christianity can’t prove everything, “historically it is complete nonsense” (TGD, pg. 118). I think it’s time Dawkins admit that his theory on the origin of life is historical and scientific nonsense.

It takes a leap of faith to believe in a mammal transition from gorilla to human that doesn’t bear the weight of science after all these years. And yet, contrary to reason, our so-called “reasonable” zoologist (Dawkins) continues to believe in it. The one who has said that Christians claim “God did it” when they can’t explain something is now unable to explain why the necessary link fossils are missing. And when you’re in an intellectual glass house, you can’t throw stones without your own glass house getting cracked.