Richard Dawkins: Atheist, Evolutionist, Sexist?

In Richard Dawkins’s recent editing of an anthology of modern science writing, a female scientist notices something:

Got myself an early yule present today; “The Oxford book of modern science writing” . . . Of 83 texts Professor D has selected 3 written by women. That’s about 3.6 %. How hard could it be to find a handful more? Like 10 %? It would still be a wiener fest.

This seems a rather timely question, as I also noticed another New Atheist, Daniel Dennett, getting a similar question—not with regards to science, but religion—and giving what seemed to me an old school chauvinist response (“biology is destiny”). Is it just me, or do you get the impression that Dennett senses his answer failing with the audience? Anyway, Dennett’s response is within the first two minutes of this clip:

While it might at first seem a bit odd to see Dawkins and Dennett coming up against some feminist resistance, in retrospect it makes sense: both men, being strict materialists, are going to have problems with contra-causal free will being more than an illusion, and so are going to accept certain human institutions as being, ultimately, “biology based” and “natural” (including the dominance of alpha males in the realms of science and religion).

A bit of Marina and the Diamonds seems apt here:

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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9 Responses to Richard Dawkins: Atheist, Evolutionist, Sexist?

  1. Santi

    You are so anti-atheist that you ignore the fact that D’Souza simply did’nt give any answer to both of the questions! He didn’t! He spend his time atacking Evolution, and making a straw man on Dawkins position, quote mining Gould, who at the time (1980’s) have a strong scientific desagreement with Dawkins.
    Maybe Dennet is wrong but he didn’t said that “biology is destiny”, he didn’t said biology is the single and only explanation.
    I think both Dennet and Dawkins (and not only them) seem to be unaware of how History, Sociology, Anthropology, and so on, as scientific disciplines can help to give a broad understanding of religion as a human social fenomena. Even, and specially, if you think religion is a bad thing that have to be fighted against, which I tend to agreee.
    However I don’t think this is due to deliberate dismissal on their part, than to the fact that they’re not trained in those disciplines. Besides, as they all reject post-modernism (peace be with them on this), and human sciences were plagued by post-modernism, maybe this also explain their attitude.
    Anyway I haven’t seen in their texts, and speeches, any claim that Evolution, or Biology should be extended to policy making. Dennet don’t do that in this clip. It’s unfair to say otherwise.

  2. santitafarella says:

    I didn’t say anything about D’Souza because I take it for granted that he’s a misogynist. As for being “anti-atheist”, I think that you mistake criticism for being against something in its entirety. I agree with atheists about far more things than I disagree, and in a forced choice between, say, William Lane Craig and Daniel Dennett, I am with Dennett. At my blog I’m pressing the weaker points in atheist arguments, not to undermine secularism—I want a secular world—but to bring the problematics of atheism to the surface (so they can be talked about). For example, I want free will back. Unreconstructed, contra-causal free will. And I mean to show that Dennett and Dawkins, in their strict naturalism, can lapse into the language of biological determinism and the idea that human institutions and hierarchies are, therefore, “natural”.

    I want the balance of feminism, when it declares that “biology is not destiny.” Remove human free will from the equation of how you think about the world, and you remove the human.

    —Santi

  3. I want free will back

    I did’nt realize he have left. Where he went? :-)
    Now seriously, I am a naturalist and materialist I think. What these have to do with the “end of free will”?
    I agree 100% that biological determinism is a risk, I just don’t see Dawkins falling for it. Dennet I haven’t read yet so I can’t say anything.
    “Biology is not destiny”? In a sense yes, however, there are some things were bilological factors have a wheight. Abortion for instance. If men could get pregnant we problably won’t have any argument about the right of choice. It would be canonical.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Gato,

    Free will is a concept that evolved out of the Western religious traditions, but as science triumphs, and strict naturalism insists ever more vocally that all that happens in the world can be understood in terms of the determinate causal relations of atoms interacting in the void, you’re seeing a resurgence of behaviorism in psychology and the rejection of free will generally. Relish in strict materialism, but it will (if you are intellectually consistent) pose ever more serious problems for ethics (in terms of human responsibility) and choice (in terms of human freedom). I’m not ready to give these things up until strict naturalism shows itself to be empirically (as opposed to only philosophically) true.

    —Santi

  5. Ok, this is new to me. I’ll have to take a look. Deep.

    bye

    Precambrian

  6. Otherwise this is something worth reading.

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  8. Pingback: » Atheism Has a Women Problem - Kractivism

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