On this date exactly one year ago I posted an article called Stuck in the Matrix. Don’t worry, I don’t remember it either. Here’s my Wednesday Rewind reword for this year.
A blessing from Richard Dawkins:
Basil Fawlty, British television’s hotelier from hell created by the immortal John Cleese, was at the end of his tether when his car broke down and wouldn’t start. He gave it fair warning, counted to three, gave it one more chance, and then acted. “Right! I warned you. You’ve had this coming to you!” He got out of the car, seized a tree branch and set about thrashing the car within an inch of its life. Of course we laugh at his irrationality. Instead of beating the car, we would investigate the problem. Is the carburetor flooded? Are the sparking plugs or distributor points damp? Has it simply run out of gas? Why do we not react in the same way to a defective man: a murderer, say, or a rapist? Why don’t we laugh at a judge who punishes a criminal, just as heartily as we laugh at Basil Fawlty?… Isn’t the murderer or the rapist just a machine with a defective component?… [D]oesn’t a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility…?
Why is it that we humans find it almost impossible to accept such conclusions?… Presumably because mental constructs like blame and responsibility, indeed evil and good, are built into our brains by millennia of Darwinian evolution…. My dangerous idea is that we shall eventually grow out of all this and even learn to laugh at it, just as we laugh at Basil Fawlty when he beats his car. But I fear it is unlikely that I shall ever reach that level of enlightenment.
Yep, I know you know it’s ridiculous, but he is really claiming that rationally speaking, when it comes to belief in evolution, we should treat evil the same way we treat Basil’s response to his car breaking down; admit there’s a problem and try to fix it, but certainly not punish it! As Dawkins says elsewhere, people doing evil is just them ‘dancing to their DNA’; morality is a social construct, as if we’re actually living in the Matrix and simply don’t know that this whole idea of good and evil is all a lie.
According to Dawkins we should be laughing about 9/11 where terrorists attempt to punish America. We should laugh at how silly the concept of prison is. We should be laughing about Jimmy Savile. We should be laughing about the many people who go hungry every day. We should be laughing about the gang rape and murder in India.
I clearly disagree with him. I expect you do too. But…if humanity has come about as a result of evolution, then morality definitely is our own social construct. In fact, we should look forward to the day that we lose it through the process of evolution. Dawkins is being consistent, so should be applauded for it (although why he should be applauded is a problem because if there’s no evil to be punished, surely there’s no good to be applauded. Discuss).
I can tell you with 100% certainty that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that morality is true. And if that’s the case, then clearly Dawkins’ theory must be incorrect; in other words, logic dictates that we need God.
The irony of it all is that Dawkins doesn’t believe himself. Dawkins has a daughter and if she were raped I don’t think for a second that he would ever simply say: ‘Don’t worry, you have a defective component. Let’s get that looked at.’ I fully expect that he would want that rapist tortured for eternity for what he did.