This posting is actually a response to another blogger – The Friendly Humanist- who wrote a response to a posting of mine of entitled ‘Creationism, Evolution…’ which was mainly a rant about why I dislike Richard Dawkins.
Firstly, I would like to point out that I am not a creationist. Much of the post I am responding to seemed to focus on my apparent denial of evolution. I do not deny evolution can or has taken place. What I do deny is that I am a scientist and can do anymore than broadly agree or disagree with what scientists say. I am told to read popular science books in order to understand the theory. However, although the reading of popular science books is interesting, it doesn’t qualify me as a scientist, and my point stands. In fact I would guard against listening to anyone who claims they are an expert on something just because they have a few ladybird guides on their shelf.
To add to this, it was suggested I had no interest in this subject. That is not what I said. I said I had no interest in buying any of Dawkins’ works. This is something different. I don’t want to contribute to his growing fortune: I don’t like him. That doesn’t mean I have no interest in the topic – or indeed of buying any books by other scientists. I would even read some of Dawkins books, I just would not buy them.
The Friendly Humanist also asserts that Richard Dawkins does not have an obsession with religion. This claim is based upon the fact that of the ten popular books he has written, only one is about religion. I stand by my claim. Richard Dawkins is probably Britain’s most famous athiest and much of his output in terms of media relations is related to this. From (my apologies) his wikipedia entry:
Dawkins is an outspoken atheist, secular humanist, sceptic, scientific rationalist, and supporter of the Brights movement and has involved himself with the corresponding organizations. As early as a 1996 Oxford debate including Shmuley Boteach, he was introduced as “The World’s most famous atheist”. He is a prominent critic of religion, and has been described as a militant atheist. He is an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society, a vice-president of the British Humanist Association (since 1996), a Distinguished Supporter of the Humanist Society of Scotland, a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism, and a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. In 2003, he signed Humanism and Its Aspirations, published by the American Humanist Association. … Dawkins has said that the publication of The God Delusion is “probably the culmination” of his campaign against religion. (grr – font gone crazy, curse my lack of computer skills!)
He was also one of the prime supporters of the ‘athiest’ bus campaign (‘probably no God’ sounds more agnostic to me) and, as well as ‘The God Delusion’ book he was also responsible for the television series ‘The Root of All Evil’ about the malign influence of religion on society. If you go to www.richarddawkins.net you will notice as much room is made for religious discussion as for discussions upon evolution on the forum.
The next point deals with Dawkins comparison of creationists to Holocaust deniers. The Friendly Humanist says this accurate, but says he would not use this analogy himself. Why not? Could it be that comparing creationists to Holocaust deniers is grossly offensive?
This really gets to the core of my problem with Dawkins, which was overlooked by the Friendly Humanist. It is my worry about the whole creationism vs evolution debate. Much of it is not undertaken in reasonable discourse, but through mudslinging and insults. This comes from both sides, but I do strongly feel that much of the tone coming from certain segments of evolutionists lies comes in the form of irritantly smug assumptions which lurk not too far from the surface: ‘we are smart, they are not’ followed by ‘we are European and sophisticated, they are American and primitive’ or ‘we are Western and progressive, they are Middle Eastern or Oriental, and barbaric’. The fact the most prominently athiest evolutionary scientist not only encourages this, but engages in it himself is outrageous.
One of the things I find most annoying about dawkins is his claim that as an athiest he is an open minded person. I doubt very much he is. Indeed, when questioned if he would mind if his daughter became religious he suggested she wa s’too intelligent’ for that. I doubt a conversion would be welcolmed by him. I think I’d rather take my chances coming out as gay to Dick Cheney than coming out as a Christian to Dawkins.
Dawkins comes across as the playground bully: if you don’t agree with me you are stupid and I will ridicule you and get all my friends to do the same. For Dawkins, it isn’t just about whether evolution is true or not – it IS about the fact that he is anti-religious. Evolution is a means by which he can criticise the religious, they are his ‘other’.
This was the point of the post I had written. I do not intend to engage in a debate about whether or not evolution can be proven or whether or not creationism is ridiculous. My point was that Richard dawkins, who claims to want to educate people about evolution, alienates vast swathes of people with his derogatory rhetoric. I don’t think he is a great ambassador for science. Just the opposite. Generally, I have found that if I want to change someone’s opinion on something it is not productive to start calling that person ‘stupid’ or ‘ignorant’ or ‘insane’. If I have no intention of changing their mind, but merely want a fight, then by all that is the way to go. I don’t believe Dawkin’s tactics of ‘debate’ are likely to make any creationist think ‘well, I really must get into this evolution then! I don’t want to look stupid!’
In my opinion he is an egomaniac. Dawkins seems to view himself as somekind of messiah of knowledge and if you don’t follow him (and mean him specifically) you are an apostate. I think he loves it when creationists flock to denounce him: it helps him sell books and make money and boosts his profile. And I maintain that is his point.