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6/2/09

Is Richard Dawkins Still Alive?

Do not ask me why but a lot of people are asking that question. Perhaps Richard Dawkins will have to repeat Mark Twain’s quip upon learning that his obituary had been published, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

So, is Richard Dawkins still alive? Indeed, Richard Dawkins is alive and well. Well, well is a relative term; sure his militant activist atheist celebrity status has gained him quite a bit of notoriety or as John Cornwell put it,

Where would Dawkins be without Jesus's extraordinary impact on the Western world?
Quite a bit poorer, for one thing.[1]


Yes, Richard Dawkins is still alive but it is somewhat hard to tell. He quickly became so comfortable in his, now former, role as the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Atheism that he has virtually reclused himself in his white washed imitation ivory tower.


Is Richard Dawkins still alive? Various people, such as William Lane Craig and Dinesh D'Souza, virtually have to perform a séance in order to reach him in order to beg him to grace them with his presence in the debate circuit. Time and time again he simply refuses instead; preferring preaching to the atheist choir and indoctrinating children. This is one of various reasons why the New Atheist movement is dead.

Dinesh D'Souza wrote:
To be honest, I find your behavior extremely bizarre. You go halfway around the world to chase down televangelists to outsmart them in an interview format that you control, but given several opportunities to engage the issues you profess to care about in a true spirit of open debate and inquiry, you duck and dodge and run away...
When he is confronted with history, philosophy, and logic, Dawkins seems to have very little to say [see here and here].


The reference to televangelists appears to be the “The Root of All Evil” interview wherein Richard Dawkins likened Pastor Ted Haggard’s church service to a Nazi rally.

Part of the interview format that Richard Dawkins controls is in view in the following comments by Alister McGrath who was interviewed for “The Root Of All Evil”,

But when I debated these points with him, Dawkins seemed uncomfortable. I was not surprised to be told that my contribution was to be cut.
The Root Of All Evil? was subsequently panned for its blatant unfairness. Where, the critics asked, was a responsible, informed Christian response to Dawkins? The answer: on the cutting-room floor.
Video now available here.


Also note that there is now an online petition encouraging Richard Dawkins to debate William Lane Craig (interesting YouTube video on the subject here).

Richard Dawkins also thinks so highly of himself that he flatly refuses to debate creationists even while preaching that one must never cut off dissent. He specifically refused to debate Rabbi Shumley Boteach whom he likened to Hitler (note that “Creationist” is a label under which he also places Intelligent Design proponents).

Some have simply come to consider Richard Dawkins cowardly; such as Conservapedia (see here, here, here and here) who liken him to a little bunny cowering in his little hole in the ground, an “‘intellectual’ bunny hole!!!”



Conservapedia further reports of a letter written by Victor Reppert (author of C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason) in which he wrote:

Bill Craig sent me a newsletter in which he will be debating twice in the UK on "Is God a Delusion" but will not be debating Dawkins himself. Now that would be the debate to see!
Having seen this, I wrote him saying "Oh drat! no debate with Dawkins!" He responded:
The coward! He said, "I've never heard of William Craig. A debate with him might look good on his resume, but it wouldn't look good on mine!"

No wonder Richard Dawkins does not want to debate a philosopher such as William Lane Craig consider his logic: I never heard of him but a debate with him will not look good on my resume?!?! No, it would not since he would school you in several disciplines.


Is Richard Dawkins still alive? Yes, but he is rarely seen in the field of battle as he certainly prefers the comfort of his stomping grounds to the challenges of the real world where ideas are actually debated. Does he take on the militant Islam which fanned the flames of his militant activist atheism? No. Rather, he besmirches moderate Christianity from the UK and USA, from the safety, comfort and lucrative countries which were established upon Christian principles.

Is Richard Dawkins still alive? Yes, but he does recognize that his evangelism is really only gaining converts from the apathetic camp as Bill Maher asked him about “The God Delusion”:
MAHER:Now, you write in your book, “If this book works as I intend, readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down.” How is that going for you, the rate of conversion? [laughter] Do you have people come up to you and say, “You know, I used to be a believer, and I read your book, and now I’m not”?
DAWKINS:…people who maybe where sort of vaguely sitting on the fence, and who didn’t feel very strongly about it one way or the other…they realize that they’ve been atheists all along; they just didn’t know it.[2]

Is Richard Dawkins still alive? Yes, but he presents a typical concoction of atheist propaganda and science to children. Three such instances come readily to mind:
His “Royal Institution Christmas Lectures” (aka “The Royal Institution Lectures for Children” and sold as Episode 1, “Waking up in the Universe” transcript / video).
Christmas Lectures, you know: baby Jesus, peace on Earth, angels, shepherds, Joseph and Mary, all that stuff right? No. This Christmas Lecture had a slightly different message as Richard Dawkins actually stated the following to young, undiscerning and impressionable little children:
We are machines built by DNA whose purpose is to make more copies of the same DNA…It is every living object's sole reason for living…that the purpose of all life is to pass on their DNA means that all living things are descended from a long line of successful ancestors…which can best be understood as fulfilling a purpose of propagating DNA…There is no purpose other than that.[3]


Keep in mind that the following was reported by the National Secular Society Newsline:
Dawkins met a class of schoolchildren and asked them what they knew about evolution. Most said they had the rudiments, but also stated that they preferred to stick with their religion's explanation.
Dawkins took them to a beach in Dorset to hunt for fossils. He gave them a quick lesson on how these ancient relics illustrated clearly that life on earth was tens, if not hundreds, of millions of years old. Not six thousand, which is what their religion told them.
Some of the children, though, were impervious to this knowledge, and Dawkins was disappointed. But he did not challenge them or demand that they change their mind.[4]

What a model of restraint; he actually did not tear into little children—mazel tov!

Is Richard Dawkins still alive? Yes, but he puts forth a front of bravery yet, behind the scenes he is like the Wizard of Oz; a much lesser character, more like a caricature or the cowardly lion (who stagnates at the cowardly stage).

In a way it is difficult to blame him as he has gathered quite the cult of personality about him and his amen chorus of adherents are willing to not only excuse, but defend his stunning lack of knowledge about that which he seek to criticize. Indeed, who can blame a man whose wealth comes from expressing personal prejudice for preaching to those who produce his bread and butter?

Consider, for example, this professor of biology’s truly pathetic attempt to critique a creationist book. I encountered the critique in a forum and had to check the original at his website since I thought that there is no way that a professor of biology would offer such a sadly inadequate performance. Yet, his adherents even defend his at this point: both at his own website (read as far as the very first comment) to Atheism is Dead (read as far as the very first comment). Do any atheists have the courage to actually engage in true skepticism and take him to task for failing at that which he is supposed to be a genius?

Is Richard Dawkins still alive? No one would have to ask if he acted more like he was.

[1] John Cornwell, “Darwin's Angel: An Angelic Response to the God Delusion,” The Times, September 1, 2007
[2] Bill Maher, HBO Broadcast Transcript, Episode #613, April 11, 2008
[3] Nick Pollard talks to Dr. Richard Dawkins (interviewed February 28th, 1995 published in Third Way in the April 1995 edition [vol 18 no. 3])
[4] National Secular Society Newsline, “Why Dawkins is right and his critics are wrong.”

10 comments:

  1. Why are you so obsessed with Richard Dawkins? Your rather desperate post suggests that he's a bit too alive for your comfort.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous,

    It's truly sad that your (I assume) naturalistic bias is so strong that you read this entire post without taking a single thing away from it.

    Allow me to help:
    1)This blog is called atheism is dead.
    2)As such, the topic of discussion here more often than not is atheism.
    3)Dawkins is the current atheist darling.
    4)Therefore, Mariano and other contributors have to touch on Dawkins a lot.

    I know logic is a foreign concept to many of you infidels, but this is basic. C'mon.

    What this particular post shows, is that far from Dawkins, "being too alive for our comfort", he is rather a pathetic example of just how poor contemporary popular (and even scholarly) atheist critiques of theism in general, and Christianity in particular are.

    It shows Dawkins has no desire to find truth, simply to bully those who believe differently than he does.

    He has no desire to place his ideas side-by-side those of men who disagree (D'Souza, Craig, McGrath), because it will:

    1) Show that these men have a much greater grasp on the realities of the issues being debated and

    2) Show that Dawkins main point that theists have no reason(s) to believe in God is simply the result of: poor logic, misrepresentations and inadequate representations of evidence, arguments from outrage or ignorance (this esp. makes up the bulk of the new atheist literature), and a horrible desire to act and talk tough when he has nothing to back it all up with.

    So there you go. Although I suspect if you had actually read the post rather than just the title and then rushed to defend this atheist hero, you wouldn't have needed this explanation of the explanation.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think it suggests things are getting a little boring. We need Dawkins and his entertaining bigotry then hopefully see him used as William Lane Craigs whipping post just to mix thing up a little

    ReplyDelete
  4. Do you guys think public debates are a reliable way of determining the merits of contrasting positions? Of course not!

    Public debates are show business.

    Derek,

    For scholarly critiques of theism I recommend:

    Graham OppyMichael Martinor J.L. MackieFor popular, this is the best.

    ReplyDelete
  5. No but they do raise interesting points from which one can take, look into further and make up their own mind about.
    They can also entertaining

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well, one test for life is to see if subject in question is still producing mass amounts of fecal matter.

    Hmmm... yup, that's a positive.

    "Public debates are show business."


    Well I wouldn't have guessed that after seeing your various hyperlinks to authors/speakers who apparently make a career off the atheism/rationalist circuit. No doubt, they have no worries about comparing or contrasting their scholarly critiques during their lectures/sermons on the power of the Holy Non-Spirit. For them, it's much easier to determine the merits of contrasting positions with a strawman rather than a speaking individual.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi derek.All good stuff.Dawkins must have seen the demolition of his rottweiler Hitchens so dont hold your breath that he will ever debate Dr Craig

    ReplyDelete
  8. a stupid man , use his book for toliet paper
    its full of crap

    ReplyDelete
  9. a complete asshole ,human toliet paper

    ReplyDelete