But some of the abuse he has received lately would be comical, if it weren’t so nasty.
There was a mildly embarrassing moment in an interview for the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, when Dawkins “blanked” while trying to remember the full title of Darwin’s “Origin of Species. Somehow, this was deemed comparable to many Christians not being able to say what the first book of the New Testament is, despite it being a multiple choice question, with two of the other choices being Old Testament books!
How the poor, martyred Christians crowed! How they shouted that this proved that Britain is a Christian country, especially when Dawkins muttered “Oh god”! (It should be noted that Dawkins has frequently said that he is a cultural Christian, so unconscious mutterings like that shouldn’t be surprising, nor are they significant.)
Far nastier is the attempt to smear Dawkins name, not because of his own words or actions, but because of the actions of his ancestors.
“We’ve been researching the history of the Dawkins family, and have discovered that your ancestors owned slaves in Jamaica in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. What have you got to say about that?”
“Darwinian natural selection has a lot to do with genes, do you agree? Well, some people might suggest that you could have inherited a gene for supporting slavery from Henry Dawkins.”
The Telegraph, though politically biased, is still regarded by many as a respectable newspaper, yet its reporter behaved like a particularly slimy tabloid hack. Will the story be printed? Has the Telegraph really sunk so low?
We’ll have to see tomorrow.