LETTER : Uncritical church aids Dawkins

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The Independent Online
Sir: N J Carr asks rhetorically (letters, 1 January) why the opinions of Richard Dawkins, a zoologist, should be solicited on theological issues. The question is disingenuous. Dawkins has never written - at least not in The Independent - about patristicism, Arianism, or the authorship of the Pauline epistles. He has, however, contrasted the nature of the scientific quest for knowledge with the claims of revelation, and has done so fairly and authoritatively.

There is an essential, not an accidental, conflict between science and religion. It derives not so much from any particular scientific finding, such as the fact of evolution, as from contrasting attitudes to criticism. Science is a process of organised criticism, leading to contingent explanations that are in principle capable of being falsified. Religion, even in its liberal forms, depends on doctrine, not disinterested critical inquiry. The ad hominem attacks on Dawkins carried in your columns underline the point.

OLIVER KAMM

Bath

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