Adam Lee has a post on the “suppression” of Richard Dawkins, based on that interview with Kimberly Winston a few weeks ago. There’s a comment on it that is surprisingly oblivious to something that seems completely obvious to me. (Which just goes to show – what’s obvious to me is not obvious to thee. That’s what all this is about, in the end.)
Adam, your points are as always well thought through and equally well written.
What I don’t understand is the obsession that some in the atheist community have in following Richard Dawkins every word and then proceeding to perform an autopsy on the perceived flaws in his character. He is after all human like the rest of us, albeit extremely talented and skilled in areas I am only just able to understand as a layman.
I can understand the religious zealots picking him apart, as they see him as a threat to the truth behind their fairy tales and the power and control that their false beliefs gives them over their flock. However it seems though there is a desire for the atheist community to have a messiah to rival god in the religious world and to many, Dawkins excellent works on the subject have elevated him to this perceived status.
I am a proud atheist and have no need to look for any idol in my life to replace a non existent god. I idolise the true outstanding behaviours in human kind; love caring, compassion and putting others needs above your own. As humans we all have character flaws, look hard enough and you will find them in all of us. Why this obsession with Dawkins,? Brilliant scientist and great orator aside he is after all a non believer like me with his human character flaws like me and the rest of us.
So why this obsession?
Because he’s immensely popular and influential.
He’s immensely popular, so people take their cues from him, they pay attention to what he says, he shapes some of their thinking.
He’s influential: he has a foundation, he gives money to organizations, his presence at a conference draws paying customers. The press goes to him for thoughts on atheism and secularism. He can promote people he likes, and he can draw harassment and threats down on people he dislikes.
This popularity and influence naturally shape the way others deal with him and with his critics. People who run organizations have every reason to want to avoid annoying him, and almost no reason to want to annoy him apart from whatever substantive disagreements they may have. Substantive disagreement is as milkweed in the face of all the motives they have to stay on his good side.
All that means, among other things, that every damn time he issues some Twitter taunt against what he takes to be the wrong kind of feminism, he makes things worse for atheist feminists in general. He apparently still doesn’t grasp that simple fact, but he ought to – it’s not as if he’s unaware of his sales figures or his popularity. (I’ve seen him using his sales figures as a weapon against interlocutors on Twitter.)
So, all that is why. There’s more; I could go on about it for thousands of words; but you get the drift. That’s why.