For this month’s repost, I selected an article I wrote in 2008. Considering how old this is, I don’t necessarily stand by what I said, nor do I vouch for the writing quality. There were a couple parts that I thought were unclear, so I added footnotes. But this is interesting from a historical perspective, because it shows a slice of the problems with Richard Dawkins even before “Dear Muslima”.
Richard Dawkins has an irritating habit of using the wrong word, or otherwise saying some very silly things.
Example 1: “Delusion” The number one sign that you’re dealing with an uncareful skeptic is when the skeptic chalks everything up to insanity. People believe weird things not because they’re clinically insane, but because they’re normal. They have normal cognitive biases. Everyone does. Religious beliefs are no different except that they’re even more commonplace than other weird beliefs. Calling it all a delusion is simply sloppy.
Dawkins fans will come to his defense, saying that he carefully defines “delusion” as “a false belief or impression”, eschewing any psychiatric connotations. But that’s not the case. Dawkins is surprisingly ambiguous. He endorses a quote by Robert M. Pirsig: “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.” It’s as if Dawkins wants to satisfy both parties. Well, I am not satisfied, because I see too many people claiming that religion really is a delusion, and Dawkins is at least partly to blame for it.