Richard Dawkins has always longed for an opponent worthy of him.

Nigel Farndale is an admitted “Dawkins fan.”  After Peter Higgs calls out Richard Dawkins as a fundamentalist, he decides to write him a love letter:

Montgomery needed his Rommel, Wellington his Napoleon, Jeremy Clarkson his Piers Morgan. In a similar spirit, I suspect Richard Dawkins has always longed for an opponent worthy of him.

In his programmes about atheism, he often finds himself having to argue with a creationist from Ohio or Kentucky, one who thinks that hair should be cut around a pudding bowl and cavemen shared the earth with dinosaurs.

This Dawkins fan sure loves  his Gnu Fantasy Land.  I’m sure Dawkins believes there is no opponent worthy of his great self, but does he “long for one?”  LOL.  And Nigel, Dawkins didn’t “find himself having to argue”  with some creationist from Ohio or Kentucky, one who thinks that hair should be cut around a pudding bowl and cavemen shared the earth with dinosaurs.  Dawkins chose those opponents to be part of his documentary to fool rubes like you into thinking he was a Montgomery without a Rommel or a Wellington without a Napoleon.  It’s called marketing.   And Dawkins has always been best at self-promotion.  And gullible fans just lap it up.

In the face of Higgs’s challenge, Dawkins has so far remained sitting on his stool, refusing even to put in his gumshield.

Of course.  Higgs is a better scientist than Dawkins and Dawkins doesn’t want this story to get more play by commenting on it.  He may have to comment, however, if his fans continue to get restless.

As a public service, then, and because – rather presumptuously – I think I know his writing well enough, I shall answer for him. Atheists can’t be fundamentalists, because they are open to any hypothesis, provided that it can be substantiated by evidence.

First, there is no evidence that atheists “are open to any hypothesis.”  Thus, the attempt to define atheist as being incompatible with fundamentalist fails given it is rooted in faith, not evidence.  In other words, Nigel’s defense is nothing more than wishful thinking.


Second, there is reason to think Dawkins is closed minded:

Wiki also adds: “Dawkins self-identified as a ’6′, though when interviewed by Bill Maher and later by Anthony Kenny, he suggested ’6.9′ to be more accurate.”…. If you ask me, 6.9 is a hilarious number.  It’s the very number that would be chosen by an atheist who is closed minded, but does not want to admit to being closed minded.

Also, consider the fact that Dawkins plays a lead role in the Atheist Movement (and only 6.9 or above qualifies for leadership).  This puts him a very different context as that of a scholar.  As a movement leader, Dawkins must cling to his closed minded convictions, because it is the articulation of those very convictions that make him a leader in the eyes of many of his followers.  If Dawkins were to ever acknowledge the slightest bit of evidence for theism, he knows this would be trumpeted by religionists and used against him and his movement.  And he would be viewed as a sell-out by his followers.

The atheist movement is deeply invested in the belief that “there is no evidence for God.”  It is a non-negotiable position that allows the movement to posture as if it has the higher epistemic ground and it cannot tolerate any doubt about the superiority of the Atheist Position.  When you understand this, you’ll see just how silly it is to think Dawkins is open-minded about religion.

Third, Nigel invokes the Escape Hatch: “provided that it can be substantiated by evidence.”  This is nothing more than trying to bury the whole issue into the murky realm of subjectivity.  Who gets to decide if something is “substantiated by evidence?”  How are we to define “evidence?”  What would count as “evidence?”  These questions never get asked, let alone answered.  To do so would be to shine light on the deeply subjective aspect of atheism.

So in the end, Nigel wants us to believe on faith that atheists can’t be fundamentalists because he has come up with weak excuses that appeal to him and fundamentalist atheists.  Sorry Nigel, but that routine only works on those desperately looking for ways to deny that New Atheists are fundamentalists.

Finally, he adds caps all his wishful thinking with one last fantasy:

And atheism is not a religion. It doesn’t want followers.

But the data say otherwise.  What about Dawkins putting ads on buses?  What about the Clergy Project?  What about all those atheist blogs trumpeting conversion stories?

Let’s make it even more clear.

If you check out the above video at 5:33 – 6:13, you’ll find Gnu atheist Richard Carrier contrasting himself with the NCSE’s Eugenie Scott by saying, “My objective is to make more atheists. I am an evangelist for atheism.”  He even envisions himself working with Scott by adopting the role of the bad cop, saying “The good cop bad cop routine works fine.”


Of course the Gnu atheists want more “followers.”  Or are we supposed to believe than the Atheist Movement is the first movement in history that doesn’t want more followers?

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3 Responses to Richard Dawkins has always longed for an opponent worthy of him.

  1. Justin says:

    “I suspect Richard Dawkins has always longed for an opponent worthy of him.”

    We know this is not true because of Dawkins’ no-show at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre.

    “And atheism is not a religion. It doesn’t want followers.”

    Uh huh, sure.

  2. heddle says:

    Hey— this is Mike Gene’s site? I didn’t know–or I forgot–in any case–cool! (I’m not outing you am I? I have been popping in here since resuming blogging but this time followed a link from Tom Gilson’s blog.)

  3. Michael says:

    Hi David,

    Yeah, that’s me. Good to hear from ya!

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