Sunday, April 23, 2017

Talk.Origins on Richard Dawkins' "Intellectually Fulfilled Atheist" Quote

The pro-evolution website talk.origins has an interesting section on Richard Dawkins's famous quote that evolution "has made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." And I quote:
Claim: By providing a naturalistic explanation of biological origins, evolution promotes atheism. Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Charles Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. [Dawkins, 1986, p. 6] 
Source: Berlinski, David. 1996. The Deniable Darwin. Commentary 101(6) (Jun).
I decided to double-check the source given on whether or not David Berlinski claims that "evolution promotes atheism." He never did: I used "ctrl-f" to search for the verb phrases "promotes atheism," "promote atheism," "promoting atheism," and "promoted atheism," even replacing the verb with "support" or any number of synonyms, and failed to find any textual evidence of him claiming that "evolution promotes atheism." Now what the source provided actually says is that atheists are as emotionally invested in evolution as fundamentalists are in Genesis (using the Dawkins quote as evidence), and I quote from Berlinski:
"Darwin," Richard Dawkins has remarked with evident gratitude, "made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." This is an exaggeration, of course, but one containing a portion of the truth. That Darwin's theory of evolution and biblical accounts of creation play similar roles in the human economy of belief is an irony appreciated by altogether too few biologists.
There is no way to possibly confuse this with an assertion that evolution promotes atheism unless the person reading it is inherently confused. As long as Talk.Origins keeps this misleading citation up, Talk.Origins is spreading false data. Berlinski does not even claim that all atheists need evolution to support their atheism, as he then goes on to clearly state that Dawkins's quote is "an exaggeration, of course."