Perhaps your curiosity was aroused by Richard Dawkins’ apology:
I am distressed to find myself reported as participating in a “literary spat”, and as “pouring scorn” on an individual, comedian Peter Kay, for whom I actually feel nothing but goodwill (Heard the one about the atheist who scorned a comedian for his belief in a comforting God? March 8). The explanation is as follows. I am one of those whom reporters regularly telephone for a soundbite. Last week, I was fed a quotation from somebody, previously unknown to me, who said he believed in God because he found it comforting. Assuming I was one of a panel of usual suspects being asked to comment on this rather common sentiment, I gave my usual response.
Now it seems that I was being set up by a hired publicity machine, so that I would appear to be mounting a personal attack upon a particular individual who is my rival for a literary prize. And I also learn that the quotation they selected is an unrepresentative one from a book I haven’t read (I look forward to doing so), which is competing with my own for the same prize. I hope you will allow me publicly to apologise to Peter Kay and wish him well in the competition.
Perhaps you are also wondering what horrendous torrent of abuse he must have spewed to require that he apologize. Here it is, in full:
How can you take seriously someone who likes to believe something because he finds it “comforting”? If evidence for a Supreme Being were found, I would change my mind instantly—with pride and great surprise. Would I find it comforting? What matters is what is true and we discover the truth by evidence and not by what we would like.
That’s it? He said he finds it difficult to take someone seriously who believes in some elaborate my because it is “comforting”? That doesn’t sound like it warrants any kind of apology at all.
What demands an apology are the extravagant, indignant histrionics that A.N. Wilson spins into a half-page article of shrill denunciations in the Daily Mail. You can get an idea of the tone from the title alone, but do read the whole thing: Why, in God’s name, do we take this silly, shallow scientist seriously?. Ouch. A.N. Wilson stands exposed as a silly, dishonest, and patently sleazy journalist.
Ooops, the link to the Daily Mail scan didn’t hold up under the load: try this copy instead.