Peter Forbes, a writer, musician, and biology fan complains tells us in “Pitfalls of a Secular Preacher” (11/04/2011) that militant atheist Richard Dawkins’ view in his children’s book The Magic of Reality is “the truth about reality” and can be safely given to a child, except that,
as with the preachers he reviles, there is a whiff of “putting the fear of Dawks” into them. On p74-5 he describes all animals as “survival machines[s]. for genes and then: “Next time you look in the mirror, just think that is what you are too.”
It’s not much of a match for fire and brimstone but it left me feeling very queasy. I wouldn’t be telling young people that they’re nothing but survival machines for their genes. It’s not true, for a start. We are not merely puppets of the genes – they take orders too.
Forbes is a good demonstration of “useful idiot.” He believes what Dawkins believes, but doesn’t want the kids to know what he and Dawkins really believe. Whereas Dawkins not only spells it out but acts it out, as he did in his recent spiteful attack against the New York Times’ obituary for Lynn Margulis.
Covering his position, Forbes claims “We are not merely puppets of the genes – they take orders too.” Fine, but from whom? God? Forbes? Nature? In no case does his position even need to make sense. That’s not its function. He merelyfeels the urge to express disapproval of the direction in which the ideas he supports inevitably head. And they head there all the same.
Plus, he pads his chair by really objecting most to traditional preachers – that’s a safe form of contempt because, of course, they don’t even exist. Unless we count anti-Semitic Islamo-fascist imams. But talking about them wouldn’t be “culturally sensitive.” So he doesn’t.