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Back to the ancients to find the future of science

The Dawkins Ignorance Hypothesis


Richard Dawkins’ polemic, The God Delusion, is an excellent example of left side reasoning and so it is not surprising that he presents a worldview that is totally at odds with the main thrust of our project. His polemic has been widely contested on many fronts but one of his core assumptions seems to have escaped criticism. His assumption can be paraphrased as the declaration:

You can’t get knowledge out of ignorance.  Everybody knows that!

From there he goes on to claim that God is nothing more than a placeholder for ignorance. He claims that we get nowhere by labelling our ignorance God. Once again, we could add the implied comment, “…and everybody knows that.”

Dawkins has descended down to the philosophical level of the ranting radio Shock Jock where what is wrong with the world is all so bleeding obvious. Dawkins claims that he is presenting the bleeding obvious and gets quite irate when people can’t seem to understand something that is as plain as the nose on your face. You simply can’t get knowledge out of ignorance, can’t you see that?

In his polemic, he is committed to the street language of the rant that has become so prevalent over recent times. This populist discursive style does not lend itself to considering the more measured and considered aspects of the problematic. However, someone of Dawkins’ education and statue would have come across Kant. In the Critique Kant addressed precisely Dawkins’ question:

How can you get knowledge starting without any a priori knowledge or experience whatsoever?

In other words, how can you get knowledge out of ignorance? For Kant, metaphysics was the science that was supposed to find answers to this question. Many philosophers argue that such a science is impossible. You simple cannot get knowledge out of ignorance. Towards the end, Kant might even have ended up with this view. If these philosophers are right then any notion of metaphysics or God must indeed be quite vacuous.

The key part of the riddle is that everyone knows that you can’t get knowledge out of ignorance. The ignorance at first glance becomes, on closer inspection, a kind of knowledge, particularly if everyone knows it. We find ourselves right in the middle of the Socratic Confession of Ignorance. It is this very paradigm that we use to construct the most awe-inspiring knowledge of all. However, to Dawkins this kind of awe is “silly,” declaring

I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.

Hawkins claims that you can’t get anywhere by labelling ignorance God. He particularly riles to the God label, but presumably his claim goes for any label. You won’t get anywhere by labelling ignorance, full stop.

Dawkins is providing a good service for us. He is providing a formal declaration  about ignorance and knowledge. We will call it the Dawkins Ignorance  Hypothesis. It simply states:

It is impossible to obtain knowledge by labelling ignorance.

This statement is meant to be obvious to the audience that Dawkins is addressing, namely the mythical god fearing, banjo plucking, pig farmers of the Appalachian mountains.  However, on closer inspection we see that not only is Dawkins a vehement hater of the Gods, he is also a hater of mathematics. For instance, the core notion of elementary algebra is to obtain knowledge by precsisely “labelling ignorance.” Let x be the unknown in the equation. The value of x is unknown. Solve for x. Presto, knowledge from labelling ignorance.

Now it might seem that we are just being disingenuous here. In fact, we are deadly serious because, in our work, we use this vary technique of labelling ignorance of the most profound kind, in order to reverse engineer the Code. This is exactly the same Code that Dawkins has spent so much of his professional energy on analysing from the bottom up. Our approach is top down. From pure ignorance we can obtain the algebra of knowledge, just as Kant called out for in the Critique.

As developed in our forthcoming book, there are two ways of labelling ignorance, one is with the feminine F and one with the masculine M. F labels the ignorance of the wildcard and M labels this ignorance as being the only singular bit of knowledge capable of dragging us out of this morass. Armed with these two ignorance labels, the four letters of the generic cum genetic code can be constructed.

This gender calculus takes us back to the time of Empedocles and his theory of the four roots or letters. The Stoics interpreted them as the four elements in their physics. For us, this leads to a generic algebra that can be interpreted as the reverse engineering of the genetic code. This genetic code, we call the generic code as it codes more than just the biological. It can code virtually anything. We find this literally awesome. Knowledge can be obtained out of ignorance. Also, whenever and wherever there is an M in the equation, there is the possibility of interpreting it as the finger of God.

The enigmatic key to it all is the Socratic confession of ignorance.

All I know with absolute certainty is that I know nothing with absolute certainty.

Who would think that this provides the ontological building block for the science of the generic? Nature is a little wilier than indicated by the Dawkins Ignorance Hypothesis.