Will this be the first atheist ziggurat?
The New Republic has allowed Coyne to repackage his attack from his blog on John Gray’s attack on Richard Dawkins.
Here’s John Gray on Dawkins at The New Republic:
Among these traits, it is Dawkins’s identification with Darwin that is most incongruous. No two minds could be less alike than those of the great nineteenth-century scientist and the latter-day evangelist for atheism. Hesitant, doubtful, and often painfully perplexed, Darwin understood science as an empirical investigation in which truth is never self-evident and theories are always provisional. If science, for Darwin, was a method of inquiry that enabled him to edge tentatively and humbly toward the truth, for Dawkins, science is an unquestioned view of the world. The Victorians are often mocked for their supposed certainties, when in fact many of them (Darwin not least) were beset by anxieties and uncertainties. Dawkins, by contrast, seems never to doubt for a moment the capacity of the human mind—his own, at any rate—to resolve questions that previous generations have found insoluble.
It is “hard to resist the thought that a knighthood is Dawkins’s secret dream” only if you’re constantly carrying a burden of dislike for the man (I’m reminded of the story of the two monks). This is pure and invidious speculation on Gray’s part. And yes, it’s unconscionable that Darwin was never knighted, but I’ve never seen any signs that Dawkins thinks himself deserving of a knighthood. If you told him that he thought he should be as eminent as Darwin, Dawkins would just laugh at you, for he regards Darwin as the greatest biologist of the last two centuries, if not of all time. If one is psychologizing, one might as well speculate that Gray simply has an overwhelming hatred for atheists (in fact, one could say he has a self-hatred because he seems to be an atheist who wants to believe but can’t), and takes that out on Dawkins.
See also: This time, it’s PZ Myers and Sam Harris facing off at Twitter.
Is new atheism imploding? A friend wants to know if the News desk has scorecards handy. Says he can’t keep up.
Sorry, no, we prefer Saturday night hockey. It is faster, cleaner, more honest, and much safer:
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