Monthly Archives: October 2014

Dawkins and Tzu: Different Sides of the Same Coin

Mehran Banaei

The famous Chinese Taoist Master Chuang Tzu once dreamed that he was a butterfly fluttering around colourful flowers. While dreaming, his dream appeared so real to him, void of any awareness of his humanhood and his own individuality. In the dream, the entire world was just a garden and he was a tiny butterfly in that garden. In the middle of the dream, Tzu suddenly woke up and found himself laying in bed, being once again a human. Tzu was perplexed by this dream and questioned his own existence: “Was I before a man who dreamed about being a butterfly, or am I now a butterfly who dreams about being a man?”

This anecdote is the naissance of philosophical skepticism spread from ancient time to modern era, advocated by Western thinkers like David Hume further giving rise to radical skepticism in philosophy and science where it is legitimate to pathologically doubt the most obvious notions.

For an honest thinking individual, the possibility of anyone actually being a butterfly, dreaming to be a human being is so ridiculously absurd, not worthy of serious discussion, let alone up for philosophical analysis. While between a man and a butterfly indisputably, there is a necessary and well-defined distinction, surprisingly for some, between reality and illusion there seems to be no distinction.

Consider skepticism offered by atheists against arguments for the Caused universe and fine-tuning. Lawrence Krauss postulates that the universe was created on its own from “nothing”. Richard Dawkins, argues that in this self-created universe what appears to be complex biological design is only an illusion of design. For ardent Darwinian atheists, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, flies like a duck, and even tastes like a duck, one cannot still accept that that it is a duck. Over three millennium have passed and these two distinguished scientists are so engulfed in pathological skepticism, that are seemingly like Tzu paralyzed to discern between dream and reality. Dawkins severely suffers from Tzu syndrome unable to tell apart an intelligently designed organism with its sustaining orderly system from mere illusion, in determination of which one is really which.

The two have managed to influence a great number of people. Yet, they do not realize, that firstly an explanation of an alternative theory is not a proof to validate the theory. Secondly, pathological skepticism is not a rational argument and cannot refute what it intends to refute. Such proposals are result of a deliberate effort to create confusion and cast doubt on the obvious and self-evident Truth. Radical skeptics in science often promote the existence of farfetched possibilities that are usually hard to define and impossible to verify by observation or empirical experimentation, where the mere postulation of such theories is socio-politically motivated, planned to cast doubt on concrete and ubiquitous facts that have undesirable implications. Multiverse theory and self-directed evolution by natural selection are a few typical cases in point.


Furthermore, pathological skepticism is an exercise in sheer futility. It is a self-refuting proposition, for it can equally be used against pathological skepticism. If one wants to doubt and question everything, one should also be doubtful of doubting, and be skeptical of ones own skeptical initiatives and cognition. Thus, where and how does one begin to walk on a solid path? Seemingly, the whole intention of pathological skeptics along with their relativists counterpart is to undermine the solidity of Reality.

1 Comment

Filed under Philosophy of Science and Religion