Back to Spinoza?

Here are the Conclusions to my latest knol on Richard Dawkins: the God Delusion, as well as the replies by Terry Eagleton and Richard Schröder. Comments on the knol are very welcome.

Link to knol here:


My conclusion is that Dawkins has underestimated the positive contributions of religions to human culture, in the arts, philosophy, literature, music and architecture. Religions may well have the function to bring about social coherence (as stated by Dawkins himself), and what would take over if religions should be abolished? Dawkins’ emphasis on religion might even be dangerous, if it deflects attention from other important issues. Would it be perhaps more useful to concentrate on social and economic inequalities and try to suggest recipes for their amelioration? – He considers the concept of God a scientific hypothesis that can be tested by scientific means. But, as pointed out by theological critics, God is more than that: a source of love. – From a scientific point of view, I believe that the role of natural selection, the very basis of Darwin’s interpretation of evolution, is not as important as he claims it is. According to Kauffman [2], many traits of organisms have evolved not because of natural selection but in spite of it. Stephen Wolfram’s [3] extensive computer simulations of many systems have shown that simple “rules” in programs lead to complex characters. In other words, it may not be necessary to assume lengthy processes of selection leading from simple to complex characters. These findings suggest that evolutionary patterns may fit into certain “molds”, i.e., that outcomes of evolution are to a certain degree predetermined by the laws of nature (see discussion in [9][10][11][12]), which opens the way to a Spinozistic interpretation of nature, in which a primary cause (which everybody is welcome to name God) is at the base of and determines all the rest. Of course, this does not imply the existence of a personal God who takes responsibility and care of us.