Richard Dawkins Wears Out His Welcome Among Atheists

Pretty funny stuff:

I write as one who became a devout atheist at the age of nine, and has encountered nothing since – with the two exceptions of the globe artichoke and the mango – that hints at the work of an intelligent super-being. And yet whenever I hear Dawkins on the car radio, spluttering lividly at the stupidity of those who cannot see the truth as clearly as he does, the instinct is to do a handbrake turn and drive like a maniac to the nearest church, synagogue, temple or mosque. He preaches so conceitedly, and with such poisonously illiberal scorn for those who follow the great faiths, that I want to worship alongside every one of them. While the new Pope seems a genuinely holy kinda guy, and the new Archbishop of Canterbury an absolute sweetheart, Dawkins is more repressively dogmatic than the Ayatollahs. Give him such comedy props as a milky eye and a hook, and he’d come across as crazier than Abu Hamza.

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  • Jordan

    Hey look at that, he publicly insulted Muslims. I figured he couldn’t hide his scorn even for them for too long.

  • Jim PV

    “I would now rather spend a
    year in a Cistercian monastery or a madrassa than a minute listening to
    Richard Dawkins.” Hah!

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    I write as one who became a devout atheist at the age of nine

    Funny about that. Dawkins (or was it Hitchens) said he became an atheist at nine, when he “just knew” there was no God. One wonders how many atheists are clinging to beloved childhood epiphanies.

    • Yeah. I became an atheist at 13. I put it behind me in my late 20’s. I think that’s demographically common enough that it contributes to the “adolescent” tenor of much atheist discourse, as the angry teens drown out the rarer (and presumably more courteous and thoughtful) older atheists.

      It’s good to see more and more atheists distancing themselves from Dawkins. I do wonder how long it will be before using Dawkins as an example of atheism will be regularly met with a charge of strawmanning and the complaint, “But he’s like our Westboro Baptist!” I’m already seeing that occasionally online, but the “teen tenor” of atheist fandom (er, apologetics) will probably limit it.

      • Catholic seminarian

        Irenist, it seems to me that indeed you may have hit upon one of the key traits of the New Atheism here. The level of discourse among so many of the public class of New Atheists is positively adolescent. Even the need to “ban together in packs” as many of them seem wont to do is a reflection of this immature trait. The reasoning behind this trait had never occurred to me before, but I think you’ve nailed it. Pray for them, for how often do teenagers mature (somewhat) and have intellectual and even spiritual revelations? All things are possible for God.

      • Shane

        Considering the vast majority of atheist arguments I see circulating around the web/people I know are rehashes of something Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, or Sagan said, I doubt you will see a wholesale rejection of the New Atheist crowd. It’s discourse has shaped the secular movement for too long, and grown it too much, for it be cast aside too easily.

    • chezami

      It was Hitchens. And yeah, one does marvel at how so many grownups spend their lives defending the metaphysical judgements of their nine year old selves.

    • Stu

      Some prodigal sons just don’t come home.

  • LeticiaVelasquez

    The legacy of the atheists is hatred and bitterness. Not very attractive when juxtaposed against the Holy Father’s ebullience.

  • In Dakota

    Whether one person is an atheist or everyone is does not mean there is or is not a deity. More important to spend your time trying to decide if you want to spend your life on something that very well could not be true. Go ahead, but stop with the persecution complex and leave your beliefs in your church. Thanks.

    • TheRealAaron

      stop with the persecution complex
      I don’t think I have one personally, but ok.

      and leave your beliefs in your church.
      Golly, I wonder where those persecution complexes are coming from?

      • enness

        This just made my day!

    • ivan_the_mad

      That’s tantamount to an incitement to religious intolerance. I have just as much right to demand that you check your convictions at the door; i.e., none whatsoever.

    • enness

      Music could be an entirely random series of frequencies, a mere psychological construct with no significance at all. So as far as spending my life on something risky — too late.

  • LFM

    Hmm. All right, but I do think that Mr Norman, the author of this opinion piece, is a bit disingenuous. First, in targeting Muslim believers, Mr Dawkins is taking more of a risk than many of his fellows in academia and the media. The latter habitually bellow about the awfulness of “The Christian Right” but fail to mention Muslims, or insist that all believers are equally stupid – again, often without mentioning Muslims. As Muslims are not known for taking insults with quiet resignation, it may require a little more courage to attack them.

    Second, Dawkins’s remark about Muslims and Nobel prizes in fact seems more ambiguous to me than it does to Mr Norman. He compares the number of Muslim Nobel laureates to the number of Trinity Nobel laureates, not the number of atheist Nobel laureates, which is interesting. It’s as if Dawkins thinks atheism is less important to encouraging intellectual development than the nature of the society in which people live…

    • enness

      “it may require a little more courage to attack them”
      Or brash foolhardiness. That’s also a possibility.

  • “While the new Pope seems a genuinely holy kinda guy, and the new Archbishop of Canterbury an absolute sweetheart, Dawkins is more repressively dogmatic than the Ayatollahs.”

    Heh, I suppose that is sort of funny, in a “What color is the sky on Matthew’s planet?” kind of way.