I pit Richard Dawkins, Victor Davis Hanson and people like them

Why do people think that persons who are experts in one field are somehow experts in all other fields? The two below are just for illustration.

Richard Dawkins may be (for all I know) an excellent biological scientist, first rate even, but when he is placed as some sort of expert on religion and mythology and worse, people lap up his every word when he talks because he is a professor? As if that makes him an expert in any area he wishes to give an opinion about.

Victor Davis Hanson may be the best classicist author in recent memory. I enjoyed his account of the Peloponnesian War (except his attempts to link it to Iraq), but frankly anytime he opens his mouth (or his notebook) and speaks/writes on any other topic, I get the feeling that I am dealing with an autistic five year old. What is worse is that his ideas on war,politics and the middle east are seriously listened to by policy makers.

Why do people feel the need sprout wisdom about totally unrelated fields, and worse why do people listen to them with such reverence.

Dawkins got into writing about religion because of the large number of screeds he got from creationist crazies doubting evolution. He does not pretend to be a theologian, but only someone pointing out that the evidence for the existence of any god is a bit weak, to put it mildly. That kind of thing usually has to be done from outside religion, since those devoting their life to it are less likely to see this - though it has happened.

There are plenty of examples of experts going outside their fields and making fools of themselves, but Dawkins isn’t one of them.

Would you feel better if he was an expert in ancient fiction?

Why shouldn’t individuals be allowed to opine on any topic they want to?

Strikes me that these are the actual targets of your ire.

I disapprove of this pitting.

You don’t have to be an expert on theology to know that religion is stupid, that the arguments for it are stupid and that the people who follow it are doing something stupid.

Heck, I’m no theologian and I can argue for that well enough.

Yes, I think that Dawkins should stop talking about religion when the fundamentalist religionists stop talking about evolution.

Ding ding ding we have a winnah!

You mean, like, a historian or an anthropologist?

I disbelieve it, myself.

“For all I know”…So you don’t know what he has written?

He quite clearly states that he is not an expert on several subjects. Certainly he claims no expertise on religion. He can however be considered an expert on what makes an evidential claim valid and put under scrutiny such claims as are made by religion. Using the most primitive analysis (which is all that is required…and a great feature of his writing) the claims don’t stack up.
That is what annoys the religious. They build up a wall of complicated closed-reasoning and circular thinking and don’t like it when a layperson points out the obvious flaws.

What he does is use the religious claims against them, that is all. He needs no other expertise other than what the religious say themselves and an understanding of what we mean by “evidence”

As said, you don’t need to be an expert on religion to shoot it full of holes. And he gets attention partly because he’s one of the few semi-prominent figures willing to point out the Emperor has no clothes, and partly because the religious believers have latched onto an image of him as some sort of atheist prophet.

AK84 is a lawyer, not a biologist. He knows Dawkins has written a lot, but their fields of expertise don’t meet: he’s no more qualified to tell whether Dawkins is a good and famous biologist or only a famous one than I am (I’m a Chemical Engineer).

I mention it because if AK84 hasn’t read much of Dawkins’ work, then it will be difficult to judge if claims of his expertise in any area are valid.

I don’t need a 4 year degree in Invisible Fashion Design to recognize when the emperor has no clothes. If theology ever becomes a real field of study rather than so much navel-gazing, your criticism would be relevant.

I don’t know or care who the other guy is.

I though I made it quite clear that I was speaking about his credential as a biological scientist, of which I have no ability to comment on, and will presume he is reasonably competent and well regarded in his field. it is his writings and opinions and claims to expertise on other fields that I protest.
In any case, I vehemently disagree that he has not claimed any particular knowledge of religion as some posters have written above, he has written a whole book on the subject.

Now, the Greatest show on earth was one of the better books I have read, precisely because he stays within his expertise (for the most part).
I will note that no one seems to have any objection with respect to my comments on Mr Hanson.

You don’t think theology is a legitimate area of study? It’s a lot more involved than navel-gazing; it also involves a thorough knowledge of world history, the study of religious practices, and learning the reasons behind them. Theologians are trying to glean a better understanding of past and present beliefs & practices of religion. Is theology any less legitimate than the study of secular fiction or more-generalized anthropology? I say no.

Now, if you’re just talking about a Christian yokel, they’re good for a couple of minutes of naysaying and navel-gazing before throwing the Bible at you (I myself wear a Bible-proof vest on Sundays, in preparation for just such an occasion). But an actual degree in theology is fairly rigorous. I don’t have one, but an old college friend of mine does. I know for a fact that he worked his ass off, although we lost contact after he converted from atheism to Eastern Orthodoxy (more my doing than his).

Just because you don’t follow a particular religion or believe in the supernatural (I certainly don’t) doesn’t mean theology is an easy or worthless area of study. In fact, if we have any hope to evolve past humanity’s predilection toward religion, it NEEDS to be studied! Without understanding why religion has had a stranglehold on humanity for the vast majority of people for all of recorded history, we have no hope of overcoming it.

Frankly, your refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of theology indicates a high degree of short-sightedness and immaturity.

Honestly, even though he doesn’t claim to be an expert at religion (whatever that would mean), he sure seems to know the details of it better than most believers. It’s not like he’s unaware of the rules/contents of various holy scriptures or what’s being taught/how people argue/etc. He knows them quite well.

Besides, do I really need to know TimeCubeinside and out before I can call utter bollocks upon it?

Yeah and I probably know more about the US Constitution than probably 99 percent of Americans. Still does not make me an expert and if I write a book about it, it will rightly be considered inferior, even though it relates directly to my area of expertise (law). Being well read on something might improve a person’s ability in dinner conversations p, it doesn’t entitle them to hold themselves out as experts as the gentlemen (and others) in thOP have done nor should their opinions be treated as such.

And if you know anything about him you will know he claims no expertise in religion itself.

In any case, I vehemently disagree that he has not claimed any particular knowledge of religion as some posters have written above, he has written a whole book on the subject.

Yes, and he merely challenges the claims made by the religious themselves. He has enough knowledge to do that…as do you…as do I.
At heart, the book is not theological. It is casting a sceptical and scientific eye over the claims of religions. He is capable of doing that.

don’t know him, don’t care.