A few days ago, Walker Morrow had a fun, humorous bit : Is there evidence for the existence of Richard Dawkins?
In it is embeded this link to a video (scroll down a little) which, in what I am told is a humorous manner, mocks Dawkins’s way of questioning the existence of God to question the existence of Richard Dawkins himself!
The flippant answer would be, of course, that I’ve seen a YouTube video where Thunderf00t interviews Richard Dawkins, and, when I see a video of Thunderf00t interviewing ‘God’, I’ll believe in ‘God’, too!
But, of course, my real answer is a little wordier….and weirder!
I do not know that Richard Dawkins exists!
And, making that realization is essential!
OK – perhaps this is the Aspie in me, or perhaps it is the scientist in me – or, some combination thereof. But, by the time I was 13 (I grew up behind the Iron Curtain, so I had no access to philosophical or theological writing of any kind – this was just my simple, peasant-brain reasoning), I realized that I could not objectively prove that I myself exist!
My original formulation was very clumsy and I have not really refined the wording much, just shortened it a bit (OK – a lot) :
- The only way we learn about/observe/get data from our surroundings is via our senses.
- Our senses are demonstrably subjective (I could demonstrate this to myself, as my right eye perceives colours quite differently than my left eye does…but only just before the onset of a migraine headache. So, I concluded that our senses necessarily colour (pun intended) our perceptions, making them definitely ‘not objective’.)
- Since the only information reaching ‘us’ about our surroundings is subjective (through the senses), it can be manipulated and we cannot make any objective conclusions based on it…like, say, to assert that any self-awareness we think we perceive is ‘our own’.
OK – so the argument is a bit ‘rough-around-the-edges’, but, you get the gist of it.
Some people think this is pointless prattle – nothing but what Scott Adams would have called ‘mental masturbation’…
I beg to disagree!
Before a scientists makes any observation, she/he calibrates the instruments to be used. This is important, because it sets the ‘baseline’ against which any results can be evaluated: how good were the instruments, the accuracy of any measurements, the error margins, and all that. If, for example, a thermometer measures temperature to the nearest degree, it will not reliably show variations of one-thousandth of a degree, and so on.
Similarly, if we are aware that all our perceptions are subjective and that we cannot even prove that ‘we’ are the bit we think of as our ‘self’, that we cannot objectively prove anything ‘absolutely’, not even our own existence as we perceive ourselves to be, it ‘calibrates’ our credulousness of what we perceive – so to speak!
Thus, if we are ‘objective’ in our reasoning, we are forced to admit that we lack the capacity to ‘accept anything as absolute truth’ – or, if you will, as a tenet of faith. To do so regardless would be irresponsible, to say the least.
Therefore, I ‘do not believe that Richard Dawkins exists’, any more than I ‘believe that I exist’!
It is essential that we understand that this ‘calibration’ does not mean that I can assume any such foolish thing as ‘I do not exist’ or ‘I do not need to behave as if I exist’ – not in the least. The absence of belief in something does not imply the belief in the non-existence of it! That is an important distinction – one too often lost on people not trained in logic.
It simply alerts me that everything has an ‘error margin’ and that nothing ought to be accepted ‘absolutely’, without reservations, without an implied error-margin.
Perhaps this is the manifesto of the ever-questioning skeptic…. Still, it prevents me (and many others like me) from being able to just ‘believe’ things, to have ‘religious faith’ – of any kind.