In Defence of Dawkins

Richard Dawkins isn’t always right about everything. I’ve criticised his handling of the RDF forum meltdown and, in this very blog, I wasn’t too kind about his comments about “elevatorgate“.

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.

For example:

“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.


5 responses to “In Defence of Dawkins

  1. Pingback: What Is a Christian? | DaveD's Blog

  2. Pingback: A Study in Desperation – A Concocted Dawkins Scandal | DaveD's Blog

  3. Thanks for the comments!
    Yes, I think Dawkins can be a bit of a jerk sometimes, but we all can. The problem with “elevatorgate” was, I think, that he forgot just how public his comments would be. I gather, from what I’ve read, that Rebecca Watson annoyed him earlier, and if his remarks had been private they would have been appropriate.
    I’m quite prepared to call him out if I think he’s wrong, or if he’s worded something stupidly, as he most certainly isn’t the “Pope of Atheism”, but these current attacks are not only grossly unfair, they are an attack on all secularists, humanists, atheists etc., whether they realise it or not (e.g. Alain de Botton!)


  4. Dawkins may be a jerk, but surely doesn’t deserve all this on account of his jerkiness.
    He deserves it on account of his being a celebrity. 🙂
    I hope he gathers the resources to handle it properly soon. That’s why I keep my head down mostly.


  5. Great post Dave, I think dawkins is a genuinely kind fellow. He’s also a scapegoat for the religious to ramble on about!


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