Richard Dawkins on “The why question is just a silly question.”


In one popular debate Richard Dawkins and William Craig lock horns, and in his speech Dawkins argues that “The why question is just a silly question” (1). He then proceeds to mock Christians for believing in the impression of design (teleology) in nature as suggestive of a creative agent. He also berates those who ask the why question by comparing them to children who “apparently haven’t grown up.”

Nevertheless, this is odd due to the fact that Dawkins is a prominent scientist. Science is permeated with why questions, and the very science of biology that Dawkins specialises in being no exception. Scientists ask themselves all sorts of questions, for instance, why do we dream? Why does matter exist? Why do people get sick? Why is it that stars emit light? Why does the Earth rotate around the sun? Why do genes dictate the physical appearances of people? In fact, Dawkins claims that it is the why question that brought him to do science:

“I wanted to know why we’re all here. What is the meaning of life? Why does the universe exist? Why does life exist? That’s what drew me to science” (2).

In hindsight of this it would seem that Dawkins confronts philosophy that he feels is threatening to his naturalistic atheistic worldview. If “why” questions put atheism under the microscope in an uncomfortable way then it becomes a silly question. A question not worthy of being asked or answered. But couldn’t one argue that it is this kind of reaction to scrutiny that hides a timid worldview. Doesn’t a vibrant worldview nurture itself from criticism, and being able to withstand critique? By all appearances Dawkins’ faith appears to be a weak one.


1. Richard Dawkins Vs. William Lane Craig Debate. Available.

2. Richard Dawkins quoted by Adam Mabry in Life and Doctrine (2014). p. 30.

5 responses to “Richard Dawkins on “The why question is just a silly question.”

  1. We are all philosophers. The more important question is why only some people can afford to study.

  2. WHY is the ONLY worthwhile question!!!!

    Bulls-Eye on his rage against truth.

    The Only Question that takes you back to GOD!!!

    Keep asking it about ANYTHING and after not so many iterations….
    And reasonable attempt to answer each time….

    It WILL lead to the Answer…..

    of… GOD!!!

    Yup…even a really stupid question so to speak….
    Take it where the answers lead….it always goes to ONE end.

    WHY is THE Divine Question.

    Nothing but NOTHING matters apart from an answer to the Why Question.

    Why (or why not) live, die, try, does x exist, …..whatever

    and the answer “no reason” is the most imbecilic nonsense and always WRONG..
    Whether answering the why of life or the universe or why eat or anything.

    I have said since I was a teen that WHY is the VERY Question that leads us Directly to the Answer of GOD.

    That I would say is why he avoids/hates/mocks it… a plague!
    Though it be a panacea to all his paranoiac fears thereof.

    His fear of it s parallel to his fear of
    Reason to anything.
    And more over

    Reason To Believe

    As such, it pinpoints the contradictory folly of WHY he spends his life fighting for something that if what he believes is true….is meaningless as a cause.

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