Having given the first word to Richard Dawkins this morning (Why is Richard Dawkins a “passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to politics”) and the second to Catholic David Warren on the smallness of the large (In the numbers we’ve been able to compile, our position is rather spookily at the intersection of all roads. Is this an argument for fine-tuning?), we now turn over the mike to another new atheist honcho, Sam Harris.
He recently attacked NIH genome mapper Francis Collins for being a Christian, and seems to be taking dead aim at his job:
“I think we should be even more critical, in some sense, of people like Francis Collins, the so-called nuanced religious person.”
Harris also argued that while Collins is “obviously a very smart guy who has made real contributions to science,” his religious convictions are a point of intellectual concern.
“[Collins], I think, is sensitive to how unseemly it is for the head of the NIH to talk about these things. So when you ask him for details, he says, ‘Well, this is all very complicated and you should consult the work of John Polkinghorne and N.T. Wright,'” Harris asserted.
“And when you consult their work, you get just pure madness. It is just a word salad, which is foisted on scientifically illiterate people by scientifically literate people for reasons that are patently emotional.”
This is not the first time that Harris has been critical of Collins. Back in 2009, Collins had a column published in The New York Times expressing concern over President Barack Obama’s appointment of Collins as head of the NIH.
🙂 Then, in response, Collins turned around and eviscerated Harris for being an atheist and implied he shouldn’t have whatever job he is currently doing. No, no, wait, lemme check my notes here. That didn’t happen… funny thing… you know, it almost seems as if the rise of new atheism would be a sort of sunset for civil liberties…
And to think new atheists wonder why they are least liked! Is it just barely possible that it’s not about being an atheist after all but about, um, behaviour issues… (here, here, and here, just for example)?
Actually, last we heard from Harris, he was looking for examples of political correctness run amok.
Good idea, Sam. Keep looking. Just watch you don’t get drowned in the flood tide though. (Surprised, we are here, that you even have any time left to trash Collins.)
Note: We aren’t necessarily big fans of Francis Collins, but that is hardly the point.
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