Richard Dawkins and Meaning of Life

Do you have worldview? The term worldview was used in the sense described by prominent German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911). Dilthey affirmed that philosophy must be defined as a comprehensiveness vision of reality that involves the social and historical reality of humankind, including religion. A worldview is thus the nature and structure of the body of convictions of a group or individual. (1) Worldview includes a sense of meaning and value and principles of action. It is much more than merely an “outlook” or an “attitude.” Each person’s worldview is based on a key category, an organizing principle, a guiding image, a clue, or an insight selected from the complexity of his or her multidimensional experience. (2) Believe it or not, a worldview will impact our view of our vocation, our family, government, education, the environment, etc. A worldview also impacts ethical issues in our culture such as homosexuality, abortion, stem cell research etc. Remember, the issues of competing worldviews shape the past, present, and future of a nation.

Some of the fundamental questions that make up a worldview are the following:
Creation: How did it all begin? Where did we come from?
Fall: What went wrong? What is the source of evil and suffering?
Redemption: What can we do about it? How can the world be set right again?
Morality: What is the basis for morality? In other words, how do we know what is right and wrong?
History: What is the meaning of history? Where is history going?
Death: What happens to a person at death?
Epistemology: Why is it possible to know anything at all?
Ontology: What is reality? What is the nature of the external reality around us?
Purpose: What is man’s purpose in the world?

In regards to this topic there is one thing I have thought about a lot. Theism has a clear teleology which is the belief in or the perception of purposeful development toward an end.  Even agnostic physicist Paul Davies says, “”The laws [of physics] … seem to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design… The universe must have a purpose.”- Superforce: The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Nature. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984), p. 243.

Many atheists adhere to a naturalistic worldview which has no teleology.  So even is nature clearly exhibits a clear teleology, they will try to stay clear of it. When we observe the effects in the world, we can infer there are two kinds of causes—natural and intelligent. In other words, there are really two general kinds of explanations for events: intentional accounts (which demonstrate signs of value, design, and purpose) and non-intentional accounts (which lack values, design, and purpose).

On Richard Dawkin’s view,  humans are a blind cosmic accident who came from a process that has no meaning, no purpose, no goal, and no direction. As Dawkins says:

Humans have always wondered about the meaning of life…life has no higher purpose than to perpetuate the survival of DNA…life has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference-Scheff, Liam. 2007. The Dawkins Delusion. Salvo, 2:94.

Now here’s the kicker: Back in 2006, when Dawkins wrote The God Delusion, he said in the preface the following:

“If  this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down.”- pg 28.

So  this is where it gets tricky: Here Dawkins says life has no purpose, no design, etc… In other words, in his worldview, there is no intentionality, or purpose. We are all just dancing to our DNA.  But here in his book The God Delusion, it is clear that his intention or purpose is to convert religious people to atheism. In the end, this seems a bit inconsistent. But then, always remember:

Sources:

1. Newport. J.P. Life’s Ultimate Questions: A Contemporary Philosophy of Religion. Dallas: Word Publishing. 1989, 4.
2. Ibid.

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