I’ve always had a love of physics and mathematics. In 1983 I won a scholarship to read physics at Trinity College, Oxford, and graduated in 1986 (I tell you this not to brag but to demonstrate my comments are not out of ignorance). It seems like a lifetime ago. Since then I have worked entirely in the field of IT but have kept up my interest in physics and also have read widely in the field of human development, the history of science, and other subjects that you will find in the pop science section of good bookshops.
As an agnostic at the time (in terms of both religion and hard-core atheists) I took what is well established from these books and left the hand-waving for what it was. In some subjects there is much to learn, in others and with some particular authors, there is far too much hand-waving for someone used to the scientific rigours of physics. Evolutionary psychology and language development seem to be subjects that are polluted with far too much hand-waving combined with a paucity of evidence.
Some time later I became a muslim (that’s a story for another day) and now, still keeping an eye on the pop science section, I engage in debate at work in these subjects. Why, I ask my colleagues at work, do you care about people’s actions? Richard Dawkins, who seems to be the main protagonist in terms of driving my colleagues’ lines of thought, says that ‘there is no such thing as good and evil’, and yet he claims that raising a child in a religion is ‘child-abuse’. Surely, I ask them, these propositions are contradictory? In a world where good and evil do not exist, is it really meaningful to accuse anyone of any sin at all?
I asked one colleague where he thought his morals derived from. After a couple of weeks he said that they had evolved, which seems to be a common opinion for protagonists of his persuasion. So, I said, they have developed through a random process in a random world in the strata of self-organising complex systems called animals and human beings. Surely this means that your morals have no underlying authority; there is no, as Dawkins says, real good or evil?
Hence these worldviews are often not self-consistent, a basic flaw in any proposed theory. For many atheists of Dawkins’ ilk seem to be offended by muslims and our beliefs. And yet, if they really believed their own theories, they would not have any feelings that one system of morals was ultimately, in the great scheme of things, ‘superior’ to any other.