Richard Dawkins and the Utility Good of Soul

Wait…wut?  Richard Dawkins, the famous “athorist” (intellectual atheist) believes in souls?  Then I saw the “Passionate Rationalist” part– of course he does!  As long as it helps sell books and win converts for “athorism” the “soul” has utility good.

The book isn’t out yet but it drew my attention by being mentioned in the recent Dawkins no-platforming on a Berkeley radio station, KPFA.

I view Dawkins as a defector from Science Tribe.  After all, he understands full well  the biological basis of behavior, and even co-wrote a chapter in John Maynard-Smith’s book Evolution and the Theory of Games.  JMS credits Dawkins with the invention of the term CSS, Culturally Stable Strategy, an extension of the ESS (Evolutionarily Stable Strategy) to cultures.  And humans are born with an inherited tendency to believe in the supernatural (Tomasello 2006)– athorism is the premise that somehow humans can magically overcome biology with “rationalism” and intellect.

So why has Dawkins switched from attacking Christianity to attacking Islam?  I think Dawkins has just switched from the soft target (ethnic xians–where he still can farm converts) to the hard target (where he gets no converts because Islam is a CSS).

Here is an excerpt from Dawkins letter to the KPFA radio station.

If you had consulted me, or if you had done even rudimentary fact-checking, you would have concluded that I have never used abusive speech against Islam. I have called IslamISM “vile” but surely you, of all people, understand that Islamism is not the same as Islam. I have criticised the ridiculous pseudoscientific claims made by Islamic apologists (“the sun sets in a marsh” etc), and the opposition of Islamic “ scholars” to evolution and other scientific truths. I have criticised the appalling misogyny and homophobia of Islam, I have criticised the murdering of apostates for no crime other than their disbelief. Far from attacking Muslims, I understand – as perhaps you do not – that Muslims themselves are the prime victims of the oppressive cruelties of Islamism, especially Muslim women.

?? What is islamism other than belief in Islam, theory and practice?  This is a riddickulous argument.  Dawkins IS attacking Islam.  All the practices Dawkins bemoans are set out in the theory of the Quran and transformed into islamic law via tafsir and isnad.  No, Dawkins is attacking Islam just as surely as Hirsi Ali is attacking Islam.  Dawkins and Ali are isomorphic– scaremongering.

However, while there is likely some whack rationalist argument why Islamism != Islam, the empirical fact is Islamism = belief in Islam.  Therefore deductively attacking Islamism = attacking Islam.

I’m sure my ex-commentariat at SSC can throw up an induction word salad to prove this only might be true, but watever.   I think social physics is going to be the stake in the heart of the rationalists, passionate or not.  And I can’t wait.