Letter: Dawkins lets down the case for science

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The Independent Online
Sir: Professor Dawkins believes passionately that rational argument must be allowed to win, hence science must dominate. He forgets that on most scientific topics the vast majority of people, for lack of knowledge, cannot be rational and that all people, including himself, are in part emotional.

The brain does not act rationally using a DNA or any other code, but is a complex organ which generates emotions, some very primitive. Behind many religious attitudes lie such emotions, not to be denied, which science does well to leave alone.

As a fellow scientist, not a believer in Dawkins's sense, I want my colleagues to present clearly scientific positions for, say, cloning. I fear that Professor Dawkins's passion makes him use rational argument emotionally, and he then loses sight of legitimate emotional issues. This leaves the public with the impression that scientists do not understand people and hence are often unfitted for life.

Professor R J P WILLIAMS

Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory

University of Oxford

Sir: The burden of Professor Dawkins's article appears to be that people who speak as representatives of religious traditions are too stupid to be entitled to participate in the debate about cloning. This article crystallised everything that I fear about new genetic technologies.

The problem does not lie with the scientists' dexterity in the laboratory, but with his extraordinary intellectual arrogance. Professor Dawkins's habitual posture of sneering contempt towards those who have not reached his own degree of enlightenment demonstrates the gulf between the technical skill of the scientists he represents, and his own lack of humility and moral sense.


School of Health

University of Hull