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A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

Announcement: I decided to do these reports every other Tuesday because I don’t find too many things to write about.

This week, I decided to do my report on Richard Dawkins. That decision was inspired by Joe’s recent entry on Atheist Watch:

Atheist Watch: Atheist Brown Shirt Tactics

At a Reason Rally in 2012 (an ironic name), Dawkins was rambling on ignorantly about things he doesn’t try to understand:

 “Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all ‘too polite’ to talk about religion”, Dawkins said, before urging rally attendees to ridicule Catholics’ faith in the Eucharist.
“Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated, and need to be challenged - and if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt, “ he told the cheering crowd on the National Mall.
“For example, if they say they are Catholic: Do you really believe, that when a priest blesses a wafer, it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns to blood?
If the answer is yes, Dawkins suggested atheists should show contempt for believers instead of ignoring the issue or feigning respect.
“Mock them,” he told the crowd. “Ridicule them! In public!”
Dawkins’ diatribe reminds me of another ignoramus, Marshall “Why Won’t God Heal Amputees” Brain.

Rupert Sheldrake (a researcher of telepathy and PSI) fell victim to Dawkins’ prejudice against non-materialism about nine years ago:

Internet Archive: Subversive Thinking post from May 2009 about Richard Dawkins

Sheldrake was told that Dawkins wanted to visit him about his research on unexplained abilities of animals and people. Channel 4 in England told him that it would be a balanced affair. However, that’s not what happened. Here is an excerpt from that blog entry:

 Richard seemed uneasy and said, “I’m don’t want to discuss evidence”. “Why not?” I (Rupert Sheldrake) asked. “There isn’t time. It’s too complicated. And that’s not what this programme is about.” The camera stopped.

(Rupert)If telepathy occurs, it’s not irrational to believe in it. I thought that’s what we were going to talk about. I made it clear from the outset that I wasn’t interested in taking part in another low grade debunking exercise”

Richard said, “It’s not a low grade debunking exercise; it’s a high grade debunking exercise.”
 Dawkins isn’t about truth. He is about a materialistic agenda. And, according to this article, his type of atheism is creating more division:

Salon Article (October 21, 2012): Toxic Atheism Drives People Apart

 Here is an excerpt:

With divisive religious fundamentalism on the rise, reactionary atheism that fixates on making antireligious proclamations is creating even more division. I believe that this so-called New Atheism --- the kind that singles out the religious lives of others as it’s No. 1 target --- is toxic, misdirected, and wasteful. Disengaged or antagonistic atheism weakens our community’s claim that an ethical life is possible without a belief in God, supplanting this with an alienating narrative that both distracts us from investing in community-building efforts of our own and prevents us from accomplishing anything outside of our small community. In addition, this militant, uncompromising antitheism inhibits people who do not believe in God from ever moving beyond articulating how they differ from the religious into the kinds of efforts that engender community building within and cooperation without. I do not believe it represents most atheists, but this perspective is currently the loudest and most visible one, speaking on behalf of atheists to the wider world and dictating the direction of the organized atheist community.


















4 comments:

thanks JB I appreciate your reports.

It's widely known, even among atheists, that despite his scientific expertise, Dawkins is a terrible philosopher and incompetent theologian. As you noted, he routinely pontificates on things "he doesn't try to understand." Yet he remains a premier spokesman for atheism. That suggests to me that (in many quarters at least) atheism is a sociopolitical movement driven by ideology rather than a passive worldview choice inspired by intellectualism.

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There's another perspective to consider: Dawkins is not a terrible philosopher - he's not a philosopher at all, and doesn't claim to be one. Nor does anyone think he's the chief spokesman for atheism. He's just another atheist voice that is convincing to many who are sitting on the fence, and who theists who are not on the fence find threatening.

Take the last quote from Salon and reverse the roles of theist and atheist, and the whole thing is no less true, except for one significant detail. The New Atheists haven't been raising their voices for too long, but the Old Theists have been at it for quite a long time.

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