As Richard Dawkins (the famous antitheist) tours down under to evangelise the masses he seems to have been taken completely by surprise by the uprising of many of his own disciples who are refering to him and people central to his Foundation as [language alert]
“utter twat” a “suppurating rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum inside a dead skunk that’s been shoved up a week-old dead rhino’s twat.” …[expressing a] “sudden urge to ram a fistful of nails” down your throat. Also to “trip you up and kick you in the guts.” …[describing his face] as “a slack jawed turd in the mouth mug if ever I saw one.”
Dawkins responds to his followers with astonishment. Remember this comes from the man who claims religion is the source of so much of the world’s problems [**], who describes his website as “a clear-thinking oasis”. The details of the antitheism schism, like all schisms in belief systems, are complex for outsiders, but suffice to say that there are a lot of atheists wondering, “Authoritarianism, censorship, and the destruction of a body of knowledge – this is the alternative to religion?”
Preparing for his NZ tour, the Newspaper Magazine your weekend, has a thoughtful article about Richard Dawkins. I concur with the point well-made that Dawkins is an expert in biology but “an amateur in the area of religion and philosophy.” Unfortunately, this point is regularly lost on many of his disciples who are not experts in biology, religion, or philosophy. Or might be agile in biology and assume that Dawkins’ agility with biological concepts translates into an agility in theology and philosophy – it does not.
The article explains Dawkins’ theory of evolution “misfiring”. According to Dawkins religious belief is a “misfiring” of the evolutionary advantageous trend to believe and obey your parents. “If you see footage from Haiti on the news and want to donate to charity, that’s a misfiring of a natural tendency to be generous towards your family and immediate community from whom you might benefit in the future.” Dawkins says, “Just like adopting a child is a misfiring of the parental instinct.”
The article was clearly written prior to the fiasco around his website and Foundation, as Dawkins enthuses about the “750 people who have lost their faith and share their stories” there, and his hopes to see a large number of new atheists writing in from the Middle East.
At [**] above, one is tempted to write “Mao Tse Tung, Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, and Pol Pot notwithstanding”, but the mention of Dawkins’ response as rolling his eyes in the article prevented me. Dawkins’ naivety in the way he is baffled by the vitriol and ire amongst his disciples does show that he misunderstands human nature – even for an experienced biologist. Religious extremists as well as antitheist extremists use rhetoric and aggressive overly-simplistic apologetic that incites their followers. Many religious people may be irrational and immoral. Dawkins is now surprised to discover that many atheistic people are also irrational and immoral. It will be interesting if he has the humility to acknowledge the latter and acknowledge that the issues are far more complex than his oversimplified rhetoric has thus far admitted.
ps. NZ Bus Company, the largest bus company approached to run the advertisements, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” has decided it will not run the advertisements. It is a private company, so IMO can put whatever they like (within limits) and decline whatever they like on their own buses. In this case, I do not think they have made the right decision and do not concur with their justification.