As usual, we close off our religion coverage for the week with inspirational messages from the new atheists. As many new atheists appear to have gone to relationship counselling (possibly why they are no longer threatening to sue each other or creating scenes in elevators for a global public?), we are once again proud to serve our house product (; ) Richard Dawkins.
We understand that the lost messiah portrait of Dawkins has been found:
Hallelujah, the lost painting is found! I am so delighted. https://t.co/9aHaASQuNA
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 7, 2015
Meanwhile, the second Volume of his autobiography is virtually in hand, https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/635868366679359493
Today arrived my first advance copy of the 2nd volume of my autobiography, UK Edition. Publication date 12 Sept. pic.twitter.com/8Yo2EEDAIr
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 24, 2015
And the hagiography continues apace, as here from the Guardian:
Where once the humanists and philosophers were cocks of the cultural walk, now Dawkins can claim without argument that there are “deep philosophical questions that only science can answer”. There are no mysteries, just as-yet-unsolved scientific problems: “Life is just bytes and bytes and bytes of digital information.” The culture wars are over; science has won and Dawkins is confident that he has played a non-trivial role in that victory. Surveying the enormous change in the public prestige of science since CP Snow’s The Two Cultures (1959), he takes satisfaction that his books have been “among those that changed the cultural landscape”. Snow complained that, for some unfathomable reason, scientists were not counted as “intellectuals”. That has all changed. In 2013, readers of Prospect magazine voted Dawkins the world’s “top thinker”.
The enemies Dawkins has made are, in the main, the enemies he anticipated. As an atheist, he is a vigorous critic of the creationists, their religious fellow-travellers, the postmodernists, relativists and assorted “enemies of reason”. And as a participant in the scientific cage-fighting that is modern evolutionary theory, Dawkins has one of the sharpest tongues in modern culture. Take this assessment of religious people, for example: “faith seems … to qualify as a kind of mental illness” and “what has ‘theology’ ever said that is of the smallest use to anybody?”. Or this criticism of a book by his scientific opponent, Harvard’s EO Wilson: “an act of wanton arrogance” and, with a nod to Dorothy Parker, “this is not a book to be tossed lightly aside. It should be thrown with great force.” As has been said of the traditional English gentleman, Dawkins has never been unintentionally rude; and his snarling is unremitting. Writing in the Observer some years ago, Robin McKie described him as “the Dirty Harry of science”, and a Spectator review defined what it means to be “Dawkinised”: “Not just to be dressed down or duffed up, it is to be squelched, pulverised, annihilated, rendered into suitably primordial paste.” More
Okay, so he’s still the big Darwin hero. Oh, by the way:
1. Sorry, Darwin, it’s not your evolution any more. Innumerable other changes, big and small, are burying Dawkins’s “pop science as real science” under a load of evidence before our eyes.
2. Reviewer Chapin has got the sequence of events exactly backwards: Abuse and misuse has made even the term creationists nearly meaningless unless it means “people who see through the BS” on all kinds of topics. And they are hardly terrified by apparatchiks fronting wornout Dawkins-style claims. That’s on its way to becoming a trend.
One rather feels sorry for people who cannot allow themselves to wonder what is changing, the way one feels sorry for people who espouse “modern psychology,” oblivious to the fact that only one-third of published papers have turned up replicable results.
3. As an elder statesman,Dawkins has hardly been a force for good. See his approach to that much-misunderstood and persecuted group, people who suffer from Down syndrome:
Richard Dawkins on Down syndrome: Immoral that such a person should live
Priceless: A mother’s plea to son with Down syndrome to be tolerant of Dawkins
Why should Richard Dawkins even live?
And he’s no good on other issues around vulnerable children.
But the new atheists need a hero and we must honourably grant them their choice. As before: Overall, holy kaziddle.
Usual science coverage begins shortly.
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