The God Delusion: One Way Peer Pressure

I’m reading Dawkins’ God Delusion and, while parts are interesting, parts are unintentionally hilarious. My favorite example today is when he’s talking about religious scientists. Apparently:

1) Any scientist born before the 19th century was probably an atheist who concealed his beliefs because of peer pressure. Even Gregor Mendel was a monk only so that he could do research. Dawkins’ ability to read the minds of those long dead is indeed astonishing. Especially as Isaac Newton, in particular, left an enormous amount of evidence that he was, in fact, very religious.

2) The lack of religion among modern scientists, however, is absolutely genuine. No scientists conceal their religious beliefs because of atheistic peer pressure from their colleagues. Because we all know that atheists never badger people for their beliefs. My wife must have imagined that awkward lunch.

To be sure, the fact that Brilliant Person X believed in God means little. But that argument works both ways. That so many distinguished scientists don’t believe in God doesn’t mean anything either. The vast majority of scientists used to believe in ether, too. The vast majority believed the cosmological constant was zero. The vast majority thought it perfectly acceptable to tend birthing women after dissecting corpses without washing your hands.

Sorry. Channelled Michael Chrichton there for a second.

Anyway, the nature of existence is not up for a vote. And if it were, the votes of Einstein and Newton wouldn’t count any more than Cletus Spunckler from East Bumblefuck. Being brilliant in one field does not make you omniscient.

This argument is typical of what I’m finding in the book. I’ll be sure to post more.