In one popular debate Richard Dawkins and William Craig lock horns, and in his speech Dawkins argues that “The why question is just a silly question” (1). He then proceeds to mock Christians for believing in the impression of design (teleology) in nature as suggestive of a creative agent. He also berates those who ask the why question by comparing them to children who “apparently haven’t grown up.”
Nevertheless, this is odd due to the fact that Dawkins is a prominent scientist. Science is permeated with why questions, and the very science of biology that Dawkins specialises in being no exception. Scientists ask themselves all sorts of questions, for instance, why do we dream? Why does matter exist? Why do people get sick? Why is it that stars emit light? Why does the Earth rotate around the sun? Why do genes dictate the physical appearances of people? In fact, Dawkins claims that it is the why question that brought him to do science:
“I wanted to know why we’re all here. What is the meaning of life? Why does the universe exist? Why does life exist? That’s what drew me to science” (2).
In hindsight of this it would seem that Dawkins confronts philosophy that he feels is threatening to his naturalistic atheistic worldview. If “why” questions put atheism under the microscope in an uncomfortable way then it becomes a silly question. A question not worthy of being asked or answered. But couldn’t one argue that it is this kind of reaction to scrutiny that hides a timid worldview. Doesn’t a vibrant worldview nurture itself from criticism, and being able to withstand critique? By all appearances Dawkins’ faith appears to be a weak one.
1. Richard Dawkins Vs. William Lane Craig Debate. Available.
2. Richard Dawkins quoted by Adam Mabry in Life and Doctrine (2014). p. 30.