I have said on many occasions that while we live in a postmodern society that is absolutely committed to the idea that there is no absolute truth, no one actually lives by that idea. Indeed, it is not possible to do so. Everyone lives on a daily basis making choices and taking actions founded on the reality that some things are true and some things are not. Education, the thing so many in our culture view as the pinnacle of good (even though “good” has no meaning in a postmodern world), does not exist unless there is absolute truth. What sense does it make to try to teach children something if there is no truth? Is not whatever students happen to believe just as valid as what the teacher believes? Our justice system is founded on the search for what really happened. Did a person truly commit a crime or not? In fact, the very idea of punishing people for “wrongs” they commit require that we admit that some things are, in fact, morally wrong.
Upon what basis can Dawkins make the evaluation that the Pope’s life is wasted? That presumes that there is some sort of standard by which one may measure the utility and meaningfulness of an individual’s life. Yet science has no way of making or measuring such a value judgment. Professor Dawkins tipped his hand. He believes that life does and should have meaning. He knows in his heart that there is good and bad. Even he does not think in accord with his stated belief, nor does he live in accord with it. Francis Beckwith, professor at Baylor University, humorously commented about Dawkins’ gaff, “on Dawkins’ own account of reason, his verdict on the pope’s life is the cerebral equivalent of covert flatulence gone terribly wrong: not silent and not deadly.” This misstep by Professor Dawkins is just one more reminder that inside, no matter what one may claim to believe, we all know there is more to life than the material, that there is good and bad, there is some truth out there somewhere that cannot be measured in a test tube and that life does indeed have meaning.