Peter Higgs Criticizes Richard Dawkins

imageI tend to notice Richard Dawkins stories since David Rolfe’s challenge to him.

Alok Jha, a science correspondent for The Guardian writes Peter Higgs criticises Richard Dawkins over anti-religious ‘fundamentalism’:

On one side is Richard Dawkins, the celebrated biologist who has made a second career demonstrating his epic disdain for religion. On the other is the theoretical physicist Peter Higgs, who this year became a shoo-in for a future Nobel prize after scientists at Cern in Geneva showed that his theory about how fundamental particles get their mass was correct.

Their argument is over nothing less than the coexistence of religion and science.

Higgs has chosen to cap his remarkable 2012 with another bang by criticising the “fundamentalist” approach taken by Dawkins in dealing with religious believers.

“What Dawkins does too often is to concentrate his attack on fundamentalists. But there are many believers who are just not fundamentalists,” Higgs said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo. “Fundamentalism is another problem. I mean, Dawkins in a way is almost a fundamentalist himself, of another kind.”

He agreed with some of Dawkins’ thoughts on the unfortunate consequences that have resulted from religious belief, but he was unhappy with the evolutionary biologist’s approach to dealing with believers and said he agreed with those who found Dawkins’ approach “embarrassing”.

And there is this:

Dawkins did not respond to a request to comment directly on Higgs’s “fundamentalist” charge.

5 thoughts on “Peter Higgs Criticizes Richard Dawkins”

  1. Assuming that all “scientists” have similar beliefs outside their realm of expertise is much the same as thinking the same of all “artists.” However, the latter would seem to most people to be ridiculous, while somehow “scientists” are seen by the general public to be a more homogeneous bunch. To a certain extent that may be true, but in my experience biologists are much more likely to be strict atheists than physicists – especially physicists of the very small and the very big. I guess this is because evolution and physiology are fairly mechanistic in their descriptions, while sub-atomic physics and cosmology, with its probability functions, multiple dimensions, many worlds, dark matter and energy, and all the rest, intuitively leaves more room for some form of theology.

  2. The filmed Interview with El Mundo as published at the link provided doesn’t mention Dawkins at all, let alone provide all those quotes attributed to Peter Higgs. Curious.

    1. Hugh, EL Mundo’s electronic edition is not freely available and the link provided, takes you to the website (ORBYT) that tells you how you can pay for being granted access to this interview.

  3. DAVID: Why worry? There are big names like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and others writing best sellers attacking religion.

    ELAINE: Many scientists don’t want to be perceived as having any connection with the new atheists. Many regard Dawkins, Harris and the others as having a negative reputation with much of the public, so even atheist scientists aren’t eager to be associated with them. The situation backfires, because the loudest voices then tend to be the most negative and the general public assumes those are representative of all scientists. That cuts down on the dialogue even more.

  4. I think Hugh makes a good point. Your evolutionary biologist seems content to go back no further than primeval slime, and sees a mechanistic process thereafter. On the other hand the physicist can be intrigued by the fundamental properties of matter, and the innate coincidences that make life, particularly life on earth possible.

    Check out: “Parallel Worlds – A journey through creation, higher dimensions, and the future of the cosmos” – Ch8 “A Designer Universe?”, Michio Kaku, Doubleday, 2005; Kaku may be well known to USA TV viewers for presenting his regular science programmes.

    His chapter 8 deals with “Goldilocks Zones” associated with making life on earth possible, but he also considers the innate “Goldilocks” properties of matter. You can find quite a lot about Goldlocks zones on the web as well. Too many coincidences for it to have been a random occurrence. It had to have a designer!

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