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Communications & Media
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Critique of “Is Science a Religion?” by Richard Dawkins (Other (Not Listed) Sample)

this was a critical essay and not format was required for this. source..
Critique of "Is Science a Religion?" by Richard Dawkins From being a Christian to a rigid atheist, Richard Dawkins manifests the ideology of ‘Humanism’ to the core. His rejection of religious beliefs and explicit focus on evolutionary biology as a more realistic explanation of our existence has earned him international recognition. An instance of such acclaim shapes the context of the article being examined, as Dawkins is being honoured for his dissemination of humanistic education. In this text, the author draws on his ideological metamorphosis as he aims to highlight the incompatibility between evolution and creationism, and simultaneously propagate the merits of a scientific outlook over a religious one. Since the purpose and definition of human life is a controversial topic of discussion, it is evident that the author faces a diverse audience, comprising of people who agree, disagree or hold an undecided opinion with regard to his stance. Therefore, Dawkins compliments his effective employment of rhetorical questions with a synthesis of sarcasm and wit in his tone in order to appeal to his polarized readers. However his strongly biased choice of words, along with his use of fallacious supporting evidence weakens the content of his article, thus preventing him from fully doing justice to his thesis. By drawing a parallel between religion and science in terms of faith, explanation, consolation and uplift, Dawkins attempts to draw attention to the general principles of creationism versus evolution as a means of defining life. Through a comparison of elements common to both belief systems, he highlights how science answers the same questions religion does, but deserves more credibility since it is free from "vices" and based solely on verifiable evidence. In order to compliment his logical progression of ideas, Dawkins makes use of rhetorical questions that highlight his firm conviction in science as a better theory of existence than religion. Through this ingenious manifestation of pathos, the author attains a twofold purpose. First, he succeeds in appealing to the vulnerability of his audience’s emotions by using "children" as the key subject of his rhetorical questions. As he asks, "How can you possibly describe a child of four as a Muslim or a Christian or a Hindu or a Jew?" he strategically links the pure innocence of youth to the harshness of discrimination. This gives the reader insight on a debilitating aspect of religion one would usually overlook, and concurrently instigate an acknowledgement of the value of science. Through a masterstroke the author compounds this impact and drives his point home by questioning, "Do you see what I mean about mental child abuse?”. The second advantage Dawkins obtains from his use of rhetorical questions is an in-depth exploration of his thesis, for he is able to tackle possible opposition points before the audience gets a chance to voice them. As he quotes a question he commonly faces, "Fundamentally, science just comes down to faith, doesn’t it?" he cleverly places himself into the mindset a proponent of creationism, hence countering a primary criticism he would have faced. This technique develops the validity of his argument, and allows him to discuss his stance comprehensively. Therefore, through his effective incorporation of pathos, Dawkins accentuates the structure of his speech and remains a step ahead of the reader. In line with the author’s use of synchronized persuasive appeals to convey his message is the creative interplay of sarcasm and wit in his tone. As the published article is a speech, Dawkins’ rapport with the listener, and consequently the reader, is built through his strategic follow-up of irony after every block of factual information. Not only does this method keep the audience’s attention captivated, it also serves the dual purpose of allowing him to develop his stance by mocking the follies of religion. An example of this approach appears as he points out the futile global application of the tradition of the "three wise men" who were led to the cradle of Jesus by a star. Dawkins sarcastically derides, "We might ask the children by what physical route do they imagine the alleged stellar influence on human affairs could travel”. Since he is dealing with a sensitive subject matter, the author’s use of such effective language compliments his purpose, as it elevates the article from being a mere imposition of his opinion, to an interactive appeal to the reader’s psyche. Dawkins harmonizes his incorporation of sarcasm with his wit, such as through his artful deflection of the "accusation of zealotry and bigotry in scientists”. Using a sharp aphorism, he states, "We’re content to argue with those who disagree with us. We don’t kill them”. Correspondingly, he humorously alludes "faith" to "smallpox virus”, but calls it "harder to eradicate”. This clever manipulation of language by the author underscores his technical expertise, and is inescapably bound to appeal to the reader, even if one does not approve of the article’s propagation of science over religion. Even though the article succeeds in capturing the reader’s interest through its coherent structure, Dawkins’ content is critically weakened by his overriding bias against the notion of religion. This inherent prejudice prevents him from fairly representing both dimensions of the argument, and simultaneously affects his choice of words, for he deliberately shapes his text to lean heavily in favour of his opinion. For example, he verges on sounding pompous as he hyperbolically depicts how the glory of evolution ranges "beyond the wildest dreams of saints and mystics”. Similarly, he exaggerates science by calling it "one of the most moral, one of the most honest disciplines around”. Such tall claims are faulty, since Dawkins stoops to sweeping generalizations that lower his credibility. In contrast to this excessively positive account of evolution, the author’s discussion of creationism is deliberately patronizing. An example of caricature in his article is his depiction of the "brain virus" of faith as "one of the world’s greatest evils”. His obvious partiality presents an unfair account of both sides, hence generating objection from readers who are proponents of creationism. Moreover, Dawkins’ over-zealous mockery of religion borders on disrespectful debasement, as his choice of language denounces a belief system people tend to treat with utmost sanctity. For instance, he commits the logical fallacy of name-calling as he accuses Biblical prophecies of "charlatanry" meant to deceive people behind a "smokescreen of vagueness”. Similarly he deceives the audience by claiming to talk about the "virtues" of religion, when he is actually demeaning the creed by calling its explanations "bad science" and its consolation "hollow”. This discriminatory indictment of divinity as opposed to his aggrandized depiction of science fails to convince his audience to support his point of view. In conjunction with Dawkins’ biased terminology is his use of faulty supporting evidence that debases his credibility. Firstly, his prejudice instigates him to deliberately choose examples that highlight his overriding condemnation of religion by presenting such beliefs in a negative light. Thus, the author chooses to resort to unethical tactics such as intentional distortion of facts just to present his opinion as the better choice. For instance, he disparages creationist theories of existentialism by discussing how Hindus believe the "world was created in a cosmic butter churn”. In contrast, he chooses to describe the intricate "theory of special relativity" to underscore how science "far outclasses any of the mutually contradictory faiths and disappointingly recent traditions of the world’s religions”. Through such manipulation, the evidence provided for evolution ends up having a greater impression on the audience than that provided for creationism. Secondly, Dawkins’ unfamiliarity with the wide expanse of religion makes his provided support incorrect and reductionist, thus weakening the validity of his argument. An example of his misinterpretation is his claim that "faith was enough" for the apostles who believed in Jesus’ resurrection, unlike Thomas who "required evidence”. However, Les Kinsolving verifies that Jesus had provided explicit support of his resurrection by miraculously appearing before these disciples and showing them his wounds, so Dawkins is wrong when he assumes faith was enough ("Doubting Thomas and the Resurrection”). Furthermore, the author unfairly generalizes all religions on account of their mutual component of "faith" without taking into account the individual differences in each belief system. He also tends to deviate from his thesis by proving unnecessary information, such as his detailed, over-dramatic description of "the age of the universe" and the dangers of "astronomy”. Such superfluous support makes his speech verbose by distracting the audience’s attention from the author’s purpose. Overall, Dawkins’ poor use of evidence weakens the structure of his article, and prevents him from doing justice to his readers by depicting both science and religion with equal objectivity. While a reader s...
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