A commenter, at the bottom of this collection of news posts on the ID controversy, asks me whether I think that long-running atheist bore Richard Dawkins really exists. Well, I’ve given some thought to how to respond to such a sensitive question, because I do so dislike hurting anyone’s feelings. So, here’s the straight dope:
It makes me feel more intellectually fulfilled to assume that Dawkins does exist. But, unlike some people, I will not assume that a correct answer to this question will necessarily make me feel intellectually fulfilled, or you either. We must have better evidence than that.
The strongest argument for the existence of Richard Dawkins has been the books published by reputable houses under his name. But on reflection, I now see how foolish an argument that is, and am appropriately ashamed of myself. The books themselves attempt to demonstrate that mind comes from mud, in which case – if the thesis of the books has any merit at all – they could easily have written themselves.
Slightly stronger evidence is the fact that my co-blogger Bill Dembski claims to have received correspondence (and still more correspondence) from the fellow.
Oh, but, you know, Dembski is a relentless kidder, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he is just testing my gullibility level. It’s quite possible that, at this very moment, Bill is chortling, “Whaddayaknow? I even got O’Leary believing that Dawkins exists! Hey, making that guy up was one of my better moves.”
As if I needed confirmation of my pretty-good hunch that Dembski created Dawkins in order to put ID books on the science shelves (because if Dawkins’ New Age rubbish about “memes”, of all things, can be on the science shelves, it is a scandal if responsible ID books aren’t!) – lo and behold, it turns out that Dawkins won’t debate Alister McGrath, whose book Dawkins’ God pretty much ripped the whole anti-God schtick to teeny shreds. (See also this.)
“Won’t” debate indeed. I’m sure Dembski’s a mean hand with sock puppets, but that’s not going to, like, work on national TV.
Well, there you have it. It’s all very well for Bill to create a Dawkins persona (Freud could explain) and write those silly books under its name, but I do think that this particular joke – like Bill’s notorious head-in-a-vise Charlie doll and the “fartfest”, may have gotten a trifle out of hand at this point.
It is time for Bill to acknowledge that Dawkins is his alter ego or, if the Dawkster really does exist somewhere, to make sure he has a clean shirt and a shave, and produce him stone cold sober for a debate with Alister McGrath.