Dawkins for Pope

By Neddie Jingo! This is my ideal messenger:

I’ve banged on about this before, and others have said it as well: in a Breughel landscape of insanity, bad faith, desperately knotted thinking and crazed cupidity, Dawkins shines out of the darkness like a Bodhisattva, a pillar of mental health in a vortex of madness.

In the current climate of deadly foolish nonsense, I don’t know why we consider any kind of religiosity a virtue in any endeavor, let alone science.


  1. says

    Unfortunately, as I discovered, you couldn’t get bait leeches any time except in the summer. I’m planning to get some later and try my hand at raising them for a while.

  2. Mark Paris says

    I assumed you were talking about using IDers as bait for some kind of fishing expedition. Is that not the case?

  3. says

    “I’m living in a Gawwwwdless Univairrrrse!” What a great motto. What a great victory roar. I’m part Scottish, me-self (a wee bit).

    Richard Dawkins, “evangelical atheist,” nevertheless I love him! I can’t help it.

  4. says

    I actually laughed out loud and loudly thumped the table during the bit in his ‘Root of all evil?’ thing when he told the glassy-eyed evangelical his ‘service’ reminded him of the Nuremberg rallies… Nothin’ quite like telling ’em how it is. He da man.

  5. says

    I enjoyed his miniseries, but at that same moment (referring to Nuremberg rallies) I groaned with dismay. Someone has to tell Dawkins the rule: never, ever, ever, ever compare your opponents to Hitler. It never works. Godwin’s law applies in the real world too. Even if the guy is actually a German dictator who has just invaded France and has a small mustache and is in fact named Hitler – do not compare that guy to Hitler. That’s my opinion, anyway.

  6. says

    Dare I say it? Dawkins may be a good science writer, but he is a philosophical hack. I said it, bejjeebus. Now, I fear, I will be pummeled for not worshipping Dawkins like a god. Anything Ned says, however, is right on. But go read your Kierkegaard, Emerson, Nietzsche, James, Dewey, do it carefully, and compare to Dawkins. It is a rich world without supernatural fantasies, and we don’t need the crutch Dawkins decries. But isn’t it, conversely, the crutch of scientific explanation by way of compensation?

    And I agree with Pete’s Hitler comment. That’s sloppy, whoever does it.

  7. says

    Helmut, Pete: the Nuremberg comparison isn’t sloppy. It’s apt. I’m assuming I don’t need to tell you the Nuremberg rallies are infamous in the history of propaganda for their use of ritual and ceremony to enhance the image of a movement and its actors, quite divorced from the substance of what they represented. A mass evangelical service, utterly devoid of coherent content but packed full of music, all spectacle and flash, designed to put the believer in the middle of an enormous, mindless seething mass of one voice, pumped up into an utterly irrational emotional state, in which the leader can pump their arms and decry ‘Do we buhLEEEVE’ is quite the same phenomenon.

    And what’s beautiful isn’t just that he made that very apt comparision. It’s that he made it to the chief manipulator’s face.

    Oh, and Godwin’s Law, incidentally, doesn’t say ‘you lose’ when you make that comparison. It says, specifically, that the comparison becomes increasingly inevitable, as a discussion continues. And what it doesn’t say is wise, as the phenomena the Nazis represent in politics and the techniques they advanced in propaganda are frequently present in the modern world, and the artificial rule that mentioning the presence of such techniques and phenemena must never again be done would be, apart from being a rather bizarre and arbitrary rule, quite crippling to insightful discussion.

    And I’m afraid I find the notion that ‘scientific explanation’ is a ‘crutch’ rather… odd.

    Science isn’t a crutch. It’s a pair of legs.

  8. Spotted Quoll says

    I am not against using the Nuremberg/Nazi/Hitler comparison, but it should definitely be used very, very sparingly. Don’t wear it out.

    “Science isn’t a crutch. It’s a pair of legs.”

    Nice line.

  9. says

    Dawkins frankly isn’t even that good a science writer, as demonstrated by the number of basic facts he couldn’t get right in one his latest books.

    “Of more concern is the quality of his thinking, which is far from impressive. To call it low-grade intellectual poodling would perhaps be too harsh; but it is certainly not high-grade. The first thing to note is Dawkins� carelessness with facts. (This is especially strange in a man who so emphasizes the factuality of science, with its �testability, evidential support, precision, [and] quantifiability�). Here is a small sampler: speaking of neutrinos, he says that �on average one passes through you every second.� Actually many billions of neutrinos pass through you every second, a fact well known to science buffs. In explaining an evolutionary idea he states that a certain quantity �grows as a power function,� though any mathematically minded person would see that it grows exponentially. He attempts an elementary combinatoric calculation and gets it wrong. He discusses a well-known quantum phenomenon in terms that are incorrect. If one reads enough of Dawkins, one gets used to this sort of thing; in a previous book he showed that he did not know the difference between a cosmic ray and a gamma ray.”

  10. outeast says

    I’m with Helmut and (to a degree) Pete on the Argumentum ad Nazium, though it’s true Pete appears to share a common misunderstanding of Godwin’s Law and its application. While there are some points of comparison in this case the analogy remains weak…

    Maybe it’s time to ask: has the Hitler Zombie fallen on the good Dawkins? Alas, it appears so.

  11. mothworm says

    I posted this on Neddie’s site, but I still don’t get it.

    “I was once like you! Yes I was! But that all changed when I realized: I was living in a Gawwwwdless Univairrrrse!”

    So his big rhetorical flourish is, “I used to be an atheist because I believed there was no God, but that all changed when I realized there is no God!”?

  12. Torbjorn Larsson says

    I’m not going to be an all out apologist on an author that I don’t know on a book I haven’t read. But the list of Dawkin’s mistakes isn’t really impressive for a whole book. The reviewer, which is probably non-friendly since it’s in an “interreligious” paper, throw in mistakes from earlier books into a purported “small sample”.

    It may be wrong too, for example gamma rays are certainly a small fraction of cosmic rays. Without any specific locations of all errors some may remain anecdotical.