Recently, on the Last Laugh, blogger Laughing Boy published a short article about the advertisement that some atheists have placed on buses around England. The article, entitled Dick says, "Enjoy your life" showed a photo of a nattily-dressed Mr. Richard Dawkins (obviously enjoying the money he has made from the sales of his books and probably enjoying standing next to Ariane Sherine, the beautiful young lady in the photo who was responsible for starting the bus ad campaign) in front of a London double-decker emblazoned with the slogan, "There's probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
Quite a motto. It's probably the first time that a religious philosophy has been adapted from a satirical magazine. Alfred E. Neumann would be proud.
I begain to wonder where the photo came from, and found that the photo had come as part of a press event about the atheist ad. Guardian.uk had a video taken of Richard Dawkins discussing the bus advertisment with Polly Toynbee of the Guardian. The video is both sad and hilarious at the same time. I mean, consider the following exchange between Dawkins and Toynbee concerning the wording of the atheist ad that "God Probably Doesn't Exist."
Dawkins: It's funny. It gets people to talk about it. And if we said there's definitely no god, you can't say that. You can't say there's definitely no Father Christmas. And so it gets people to think.
Toynbee: You and I get accused a lot of being real haters of religion....
Dawkins: Yeah, we're strident and shrill and (mumbled). Isn't it amazing that you say the mildest thing against religion and it's automatically strident. You ever notice that?
Toynbee: It's strident, it's offensive, people are automatically outraged...
Toynbee: ...they're offended. And what I think is good about this campaign is that nobody could call it offensive.
Dawkins: No, Oh, they will, they will.
Toynbee: I get offended when they acuse us of being soulless spirits, spiritless, emotionless, dry rationalists and brutal haters. I'm very offended. But then I don't expect them to respect my offense. I'm expect my....
Dawkins: You stand up for yourself. Exactly.
Toynbee: Yes. Stand up for myself. Why can't they? Why do they need special....
Dawkins: Because they've got nothing really to stand up for. They've got nothing....they've got no decent arguments. They have to take offense; it's the only weapon they've got.
Never has so short a video been so short on credibility. I can't believe that they even remotely believe what they are saying in the video. "Isn't it amazing that you say the mildest thing against religion and it's automatically strident" C'mon. I mean, listening to Dawkins claim to have said mild things against religion is like listening to Hitler telling Himmler that he had treated the Jews with respect.
By no stretch of the imagination can Dawkins claim to be someone who has said mild things about religion. Consider the following from Dawkins' awful The God Delusion:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
~"The God Hypothesis", The God Delusion, p. 31
This is not an isolated statement by Dawkins. (I certainly hope no one is claiming that the quote is taken out of context -- the context is quite clear from the sentence.) Mr. Dawkins has made outrageous claims about Christians and others who hold religious views, such as:
When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When a million people suffer from a delusion, it is called religion.
So, for Dawkins to posture in the video like he is Clark Kent subjected to the bullying of the evil Christians despite saying nothing offensive, he is simply suffering from a delusion much deeper than the one he claims religious people to be suffering.
But that isn't the only disconnected thing that Dawkins and Toynbee say in this short video. The more egregious statement is the claim that religious people "got nothing really to stand up for. They've got nothing....they've got no decent arguments. They have to take offense; it's the only weapon they've got." Dawkins must have spent a lot of money on his blinders for them to be so incredibly effective.
I encourage Dawkins to read God and the New Atheism: A critical Response to Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens by John F. Haught. In a few short pages (only 124 pages including footnotes), Haught shreds the arguments made by Dawkins (and similar arguments put forward by his equally mild-mannered atheist cohorts). Still, even with this book it doesn't surprise me that Dawkins believes his work has been unanswered -- he is not the least bit interested in looking beyond his shallow understanding of religion. After all, he can't maintain his strawman approach if he is presented with a theology that has substance to it. Haught points this out in the introduction to his book. After indentifying a number of serious Christian thinkers like Paul Tillich, Alfred North Whitehead and Wolfhart Pannenberg, Haught writes,
Clearly the new atheists [which includes Dawkins] are not familiar with any of these religious thinkers, and the hostility to what they call "theology" has almost nothing to do with theology as I use the term. Occasionally our critics come close to suspecting that there may be a whole other world of relevant religious thought out there, but they want to make things easy for themselves and their readers, so they keep theology, at least in my sense of the term, out of their discussion altogether. Their strategy is to suppress in effect any theological voices that might wish to join in conversation with them. As a result of this exclusion, the intellectual quality of their atheism is unnecessarily diminished. Their understanding of religious faith remains consistently at the same unscholarly level as the unreflective, superstitious and literalist theology of those they criticize. * * *
Ideally, the authors of the books I shall be evaluating will also peek into the following pages, but since their own writings so far show no interest in theology, it is probably to much to expect that they would wish to tune in now.
Dawkins may be a mild-mannered man in his personal life. He may carry himself calmly and be an absolute gentleman. But, like so many atheists who populate the Internet, his writings reflect a boisterous, intolerant man who makes his case by first ignoring and then denying true Christian thought and charity.
But don't worry, ignorance is bliss after all.