Dawkins Gets a Love Letter

Paul Kirkley wrote a love letter to Richard Dawkins in the Cambridge News. I found the article only because Dawkins tweeted about it to his New Atheist faithful, describing it as an “intelligent, balanced, well-written piece.” Once I saw that Dawkins was promoting something about him as “intelligent, balanced, well-written,” I had this odd hunch it would be portraying Dawkins in a manner that serves his endless self-promotion. And I, of course, was right. So let’s have a look. But unlike the New Atheist Faithful, let’s draw upon our critical thinking skills.

Kirkley begins:

“I get a real feeling of déjà vu when I come from Oxford to Cambridge,” says Richard Dawkins. “It seems to be full of the same people. I feel very intimidated coming to a Cambridge audience.”Intimidated is not a word you would normally associate with Richard Dawkins. For a start, it’s difficult to imagine him being intellectually outmanoeuvred in many situations: this is the man, after all, who was recently named ‘the world’s top thinker’ by Prospect magazine.

This is hilarious. First, Kirkley gullibly laps up Dawkins humility act, but then quickly rushes to his rescue, portraying him as someone who cannot be “intellectually outmanoeuvred in many situations.” Look, it is easy to imagine Dawkins being outmaneuvered because it has happened so often. For example, he was outmaneuvered by Muslim journalist once. How so? The journalist merely asked Dawkins to back up his 10-year-old assertion with some evidence. Dawkins was stumped.

Kirkley continues:

And then there’s his reputation as the sort of chap who would pick an argument with his own shadow – a reputation he insists is largely unfounded. “My public appearances are not as combative as you might think,” he says. “They’re usually pretty amicable affairs.”

Here we get to see Dawkins never-ending obsession with his own public image. We’ll see more of that in a bit.

Kirkley:

But then to say Richard Dawkins is a divisive figure is something of an understatement: he divides opinion in much the same way the guillotine divided Marie Antoinette. Even a cursory trawl through Google will yield results in which the 72-year-old evolutionary biologist is described variously as ‘the spawn of Satan’, an ‘arrogant chimp’ and ‘the most evil man alive’ (the latter cited alongside such other monsters as Hitler and, er, Gandhi). On a more positive note, he’s been voted ‘Britain’s top intellectual’, listed by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and was ranked 20th in the Daily Telegraph’s list of the 100 greatest living geniuses.

Here is where we get the illusion of balance. But it is only an illusion. Make no mistake about it – if Dawkins was really called a “spawn of Satan,” he, and many of his faithful fans, would consider that a badge of honor. Because on one hand, supposedly religious nuts are calling him names on the internet, but on the other hand, his Great Mind is being acknowledged by those who matter – the Media.

But Kirkley is sneakier than this. First, note that there is no hint that many atheists do not like Dawkins. For example, Kirkley fails to mention that Dawkins has also been called a sexist and racist by other atheists and secularists. I guess those are the type of attacks that can’t be worn as a badge of honor. 😉

What’s more, just who in the world called Dawkins a “spawn of Satan?” I decided to fact check Kirkley and googled “Richard Dawkins” and “spawn of Satan.” But when I did that, no one on the first page was calling him a spawn of Satan except for this posting. Er, but that’s the Landover Baptist website…..a hoax site where atheists impersonate Christians behaving in ways that conform to the atheists’ most extreme stereotypes.

So what do we have here? The “balanced approach” consists of Kirkley cherry-picking from an atheist hoax site to make it look like the Great Mind of Dawkins is being smeared by those dumb religious people. And we all know that the Atheist Faithful lap up this illusion.

The love letter continues:

The bouquets are largely for Dawkins’ distinguished academic career,

Stop. What “distinguished academic career?” It was little more that writing a series of best-selling popular science books all about the same subject – Darwinian evolution. I don’t see how becoming famous for your pop science books translates as a “distinguished academic career.” Okay, so maybe I am missing something. Let’s let Kirkley continue his line of thought without interruption:

The bouquets are largely for Dawkins’ distinguished academic career, most notably his groundbreaking work on gene-centred evolution, as argued so persuasively in his seminal 1976 bestseller The Selfish Gene and further developed in the likes of The Blind Watchmaker and The Ancestor’s Tale.

LOL. Like I said, his “most notable accomplishments” are his pop science books.

The brickbats, meanwhile, are inevitably a result of Dawkins’ status as atheism’s most ferocious attack dog, dedicated to demolishing religious cant and affronts to evidence-based scientific rigour wherever he finds them. Which seems to be just about everywhere.

Poor Kirkley is so blinded by his love and devotion that he seems to truly think the “brickbats” come only from those nasty, name-calling religious people. I seem to recall that most of the people who accused Dawkins of being a sexist came from within the atheist community. Am I wrong about that one?

The love doesn’t stop:

Born in Africa, where his father worked for the British colonial service, Clinton Richard Dawkins was raised in the Anglican tradition and was, for a short time, a devout Christian, until Jesus was replaced in his affections by a certain Charles Robert Darwin – with whom he would go on to share a lot more than just initials.

This one is just too funny to skip over. Go read this to see what I mean.

Without the electricity required to conduct his research, Dawkins turned his attention to writing, developing Darwin’s theories on natural selection into what would become The Selfish Gene.

Not quite. Dawkins did not “develop Darwin’s theories.” He popularized the theories of someone else – W. D. Hamilton. Dawkins was better at communication, even coming up with catchy metaphors that helped to sell his book. Like I said, his accomplishments are those of a pop science writer, not a great scientist.

The love just won’t stop:

It is these early years, up to the point where The Selfish Gene made him a global superstar of the scientific community, that Dawkins details in his new memoir, An Appetitie For Wonder: The Making of a Scientist

LOL. Now we know why Dawkins promoted this essay as “intelligent, balanced, and well-written.” The question is now whether or not Dawkins has had his wife read him this essay at bedtime. Dawkins: “Read that part again where he calls me a global superstar.”

Anyone looking for the salty, bellicose Dawkins caricature so often portrayed in the media is going to be disappointed by the book in which, I observe, he is nice about pretty much everyone. “I’m glad you think that,” he says. “That’s rather what I thought. I think it’s a pretty amiable book, really.”

Er, yeah. It’s a book. It was mostly likely designed and edited to be like that as part of Dawkins’ self-promotion. We find the salty, bellicose Dawkins outside the contrived setting of his highly edited book – the man who, in real life, routinely refers to religious people as “faith-heads” and stands before crowds, urging them to mock and ridicule religious people.

Time to groom Dawkins’ public image:

But you do have a reputation, I feel compelled to add, for – shall we say – not suffering fools gladly. “I suffer gladly somebody who’s genuinely anxious to know and anxious to learn,”, he says.

Translation – Dawkins will suffer gladly someone who learns that he is always right.

“I’d like to think I’m not ever impatient with a genuine quest for knowledge. I suppose I am a bit impatient with people who are pretentious – but I probably wouldn’t call them fools either.” So you’re cuddlier than your public image suggests? “Yes, I’m sure I am.”

There he goes again – the strident, narcissistic Dawkins badly wants to be loved by the masses.

The “balanced” Kirkly decides to defend his hero:

Even when reviewing this enjoyable, perfectly inoffensive memoir, however, many critics seem unable to get beyond their personal prejudices towards its subject. “The champion one for me,” laughs Dawkins, “was, I think, the Telegraph, who said ‘the trouble with this autobiography is it seems to be all about the author’!”

It’s true: the Telegraph’s Charles Moore does indeed accuse Dawkins of being ‘self-centred’ in the course of relating his own life story. In The Spectator, meanwhile, Christopher Booker writes: “It is peculiarly apt that the author of this autobiography should be the man who coined that now fashionable term ‘meme’ — so long as it is written ‘me me’. His name is shown so large on the cover that one might miss the title printed below it.” Fancy that – an autobiography with the subject’s name in large letters on the cover. (Also, memo to Christopher Booker: writers don’t tend to design their own book jackets.)

First of all, that line from Booker is spot on. As for Kirkley, he doesn’t seem to get it. Dawkins, whose big accomplishment was to write pop sci books, has decided he was so important the world needed not just one volume, but two volumes to explain his life. As for the book cover, memo to Kirkley – let’s just say that a best-selling author and “global superstar” probably has some say when it comes to the book cover design of a book about his favorite subject.

Kirkley goes into full “protect my idol” mode:

Moore, for his part, even dredges up that laziest of journalistic clichés by claiming Dawkins’ passion is analogous to “the religious zeal he so detests”. It’s become commonplace to accuse Dawkins of being as much of a fundamentalist as the people he criticises. It is, of course, nonsense. “Fundamentalism means following what’s in a Holy book and then not deviating from it,” Dawkins protests, “whereas with science you go by the facts and the evidence, and if the evidence is sufficient to change your mind, you bloomin’ well change your mind. And you do so gladly. I love to change my mind!”

Paul Kirkley and his idol are the ones spouting nonsense here. The critics are correct in noting Dawkins’ zeal and fundamentalism, for it is displayed in his constant proselytizing for his God-of-the-Gaps atheism and his extremist, black-and-white view of the world that paints all religion as evil. As for going by the facts, Dawkins lies (either to himself or us) when he insists he loves to change his mind. This is the man who still insists a religious upbringing is a form of child abuse even after being forced to acknowledge he has no evidence for his belief.

Okay, the love letter is getting boring, so let’s just cut to the moments will Dawkins will once again cry out to be loved by the masses:

Is he happy, then, to embrace his role of valiant defender of the faithless? Or are there elements that make him uneasy? “Aspects of it make me uneasy, if people think that I’m more aggressive than I actually am, more strident than I actually am,” he admits.

And

He thinks for a moment, then says: “Well you’ve already touched on the thing about being gentler than I am sometimes portrayed. I care passionately about the truth, so if I occasionally come across as angry it’s because I seem to detect somebody who is not interested in the truth, or is actively distorting it. That is infuriating. But anyone who is an honest seeker after truth is my friend.”

Again and again and again, Dawkins seems to be obsessed with his public image. In his deluded mind, he is nice, he is cuddly, he is just a seeker of truth who gets a tad upset with people who do not seek truth. In reality, he is an extremist, an anti-religious bigot, and an activist who routinely mocks religious people as “faith-heads” and has been trying desperately to demonize them as child abusers. You can tell that I am right because his critics come from all sorts of metaphysical backgrounds – conservative and liberal theists, agnostics, and atheists. You can tell that I am right because he is desperately trying to engage in some damage control because of his previous comments and antics, wanting us to believe instead he is a nice, friendly, misunderstood seeker of truth. And that’s why he promoted this propagandistic love letter as something that was balanced and intelligent.

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24 Responses to Dawkins Gets a Love Letter

  1. TFBW says:

    I have to admit a degree of surprise that Dawkins has chosen to portray himself as a defender of truth, even to the extent of inviting the nickname “truth-head” (as mentioned previously on this blog). I’m surprised, because that’s exactly what the stereotypical religion aligns itself with. It’s a curious tactic for a man so keen on distinguishing his zeal from the religious variety. I’m reminded of the words of Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade: “Archaeology is the search for fact — not truth. If it’s truth you’re interested in, Dr Tyree’s philosophy class is right down the hall.” Dawkins, in contrast, draws no such distinction: he’s just as happy to accept the label “reality-head” as “truth-head”.

    Perhaps this marks the passing of a transition point: Dawkins is now so convinced of his own “science is not a religion, and I am a scientist, not a religious zealot” message, that he’s no longer taking care to ensure that superficial appearances support it. It’s the transition beyond evidence, where the fact is so well established that evidence is subordinate to it, and can no longer be accepted as contradicting it.

  2. It’s slightly amusing to see that someone thinks a huge ad hominem attack is actually worth that much space. I am not a fan of Dawkins – he said some good things and some bad things, like most people – but that you feel the need to attack the person only shows something about yourself… And sorry, it’s not a pretty picture.

  3. Crude says:

    It’s slightly amusing to see that someone thinks a huge ad hominem attack is actually worth that much space.

    Not so much an ad hominem as the truth. Mike’s analyzing a ‘balanced’ portrayal of Dawkins and pointing out the absurdities.

    Dawkins is not even a scientist at this point. When he gets lauded as one of the most brilliant minds still living, it – as you may say – says a lot more about the people who would say that than about Dawkins.

  4. Michael says:

    It’s slightly amusing to see someone who claims he is not a Dawkins fan respond just like a Dawkins fan: rather than deal with the points I laid on the table, try to turn the eevil me into the subject. I think AM wanted us all to lap up that “balanced” article. 😀

  5. Wow, impressive. You manage to answer to my comment with ANOTHER ad hominem, completely ignoring what I said.
    Honestly, I don’t really care about the other article. Why should I? You seem to invest much more emotion into it than me (which is easy: Me? Almost zero emotion there, perhaps a slight amusement about such a fanboyisch article, but I didn’t feel any inclination to actually finish reading it, so I wouldn’t expect anyone to “lap [it] up”. ).
    To me, Dawkins is a famous atheist, but that doesn’t make him important. I agree with some stuff and disagree with others. And no, I don’t feel any wish to search for the needle in the haystack and pick out the little good points in your posting from all the ad hominem crap.
    Write an article without any personal attacks about the points and perhaps I’ll even agree with you on some of them.

  6. Michael says:

    Wow. Your hypocrisy is impressive. You originally responded by ignoring every point I laid on the table while launching an ad hominem attack against me. Yes, I know you want to turn me into the topic. This is the favorite tactic of Dawkins Fans. Sorry, but some of us don’t buy into the illusion that Dawkins is some Great Scientist and the Smartest Man in the World whose simple Love For Truth causes those weak-minded religious people to call him names. The evidence does not back up those perceptions.

    As for you being a Dawkins Fan, given your response was that of a Dawkins Fan, it was only natural for me to infer that. Look, I could be wrong, but I see no evidence that you disagree with Dawkins’ activism and views about religion. And Dawkins Fans often deny being fans when not surrounded by a supporting cast of Dawkins Fans. And if you are not a fan, why does my posting upset you so much? In your mind, I am engaging in personal attacks, where in reality I am poking holes in media illusions. But if Dawkins is not important, why is it so important for you that I stop these “personal attacks?”

    Let’s try it this way. Richard Dawkins routinely refers to religious people as “faith-heads.” Is this an example of bigotry?

  7. First of all: I told you, that you made a huge ad hominem attack and how that shows something about yourself. As strange as it may sound to you, but it is NOT my duty to scan your text carefully for hidden good arguments. It’s YOUR duty to present your good arguments in a good way and not to hide them in a pile of ad hominem. Otherwise, as you now have experiences, your arguments will not be noticed. That’s the problem with fallacies like ad hominem, they easily lead to people not taking your seriously anymore (which doesn’t get better by then attacking the people who point out that an ad hominem leads nowhere most of the time).

    And honestly, to upset me, you would have to do a little bit more than talk bad about some atheist, no matter how famous he may be. I simply noticed that you did not much else than an ad hominem and wanted to point that out. That’s all I said. I did not come to the rescue of Dawkins, because, quite honestly, for all I care you can call him whatever you want – and he probably doesn’t give a shit about what you think of him.

    And yes, of course, you are only engaging in personal attacks in my mind… Sure. Ok, now we have established that you don’t realize what you write. Is this your defense? That in your mind, such a posting is “normal”? Honestly? I don’t know if you actually have good arguments, because it’s tedious to search for them between the whole personal attacks on Dawkins.

    Bigot is not a good word, simply because there isn’t one perfect good definition for when you are and when you are not. But yes, it’s probably reasonable that some people will consider Dawkins bigot and it would be quite hard to absolutely counter that claim, because of course his pretty extreme way obviously can be interpreted in that direction. Personally, I wouldn’t use the word for him, because quite simply, it devalues it for other purposes. If Dawkins is already a bigot, then we would need a new word for people who feel much stronger (for example, a member of the KKK). But if you have no problem with that, then you surely can call him that.

  8. Michael says:

    First of all: I told you, that you made a huge ad hominem attack and how that shows something about yourself.

    You are confused. Here is how Wiki defines ad hominem: An ad hominem (Latin for “to the man” or “to the person”), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument.
    That love letter was not some well-developed argument. It was a propaganda piece designed to flatter Dawkins, the person, as much as possible. Poking holes in the illusion is not an example of ad hominem, for my points/arguments are not irrelevant facts considering the objective/claims of the fanboy article. I did not ignore the claims of that article – I responded to those claims. Point by point.

    Look, the only one engaging in ad hominem attacks is you. You are the one who ignored every point I laid on the table in order to make me, an irrelevant fact, the issue. You even rationalize your decision to ignore, then attack.

    Yes, it is quite clear you are upset by my posting. When Dawkins is portrayed as a Great Scientist and Great Thinker, and I point out the Emperor has no clothes, you start attacking me. Clearly, it is very important for you that I stop offering up my observations. Being unable to show where I am wrong, you would rather try to silence me by trying to make me feel bad for making “personal attacks.” Like I said, this is the standard New Atheist tactic for defending their leaders.

    Speaking of that, I asked about Dawkins’ use of the term “faith-head.” You responded with much equivocation: “Bigot is not a good word, simply because there isn’t one perfect good definition for when you are and when you are not.” And then following with all sorts of smokescreens.

    Compare your answer to the one Nick Matzke offered (Matzke is not a Dawkins Fan):

    The behavior you describe is bigotry (whether or not Dawkins applies it to all religious people and does it routinely, I don’t know).

    Notice a difference?

    The evidence is piling up to indicate that you are indeed a Dawkins Fan.

  9. I skip the point where I mention again, that you should really, really stop with the ad hominem (mainly because calling me a Dawkins fan, is not really much of an insult, it’s simply untrue and stamps you as a liar, so, please go on).

    Anyway, your whole point was an attack on Dawkins, where the so called love letter was the occasion, but in the end result, you only wanted to attack Dawkins, not more and not less. If you wanted to argue against the points he made, you hid those arguments to well behind personal attacks. This is, what I told you again and again. You may not believe me, but that’s how your article appeared to me.

    The world must be really black and white to you, when everyone who points out problems with your articles must be a Dawkins fan. A little bit “if you are not with me, you are the enemy” thinking at work here? I really, really don’t care what you call Dawkins. I will perhaps notice and mention that attacking him is not a good way to argument against Dawkins (because then don’t hide your arguments against his points between attacks on the person), but that’s about YOU, not about Dawkins. If someone attacked the pope the same way, I could say the same thing – “It’s ok, if you don’t like him, but if you don’t agree, then lose the personal attacks and concentrate on the arguments.”. And this also wouldn’t make me a pope fan.

    And you can try to use the fact that I tend to think about the definition of words more than other people who simply throw them around against me, but really, what does it say about you? My answer stays the same: Yes, it’s quite possible to call Dawkins a bigot without risking being proven wrong instantly (because “bigot” is not a black/white word, there’s too much grey involved), but I wouldn’t do so, because I reserve the word for darker shades on the spectrum. Sorry if that’s to hard for your nice little black/white world to understand.

    Lose the personal attacks. Lose the black and white thinking. That’s my advice to you. As I already told you, then I may even notice your arguments and perhaps even agree to some of them (it’s quite probable, as I disagree with Dawkins on some points myself – we are both atheists, which means, we share a lack of faith – about everything else, we can disagree, if we feel like it).

  10. TFBW says:

    Anyway, your whole point was an attack on Dawkins, where the so called love letter was the occasion, but in the end result, you only wanted to attack Dawkins, not more and not less. If you wanted to argue against the points he made, you hid those arguments to well behind personal attacks. This is, what I told you again and again. You may not believe me, but that’s how your article appeared to me.

    AM: It seems to me that you are expecting this article to be about some argument Dawkins makes, but the article is actually an analysis of propaganda written by Paul Kirkley, not an attempt to argue against any particular point that Dawkins might have mentioned. If the article had been a response to a Dawkins argument, then your accusation of “ad hominem” might have some valid grounds, but, as it stands, it just looks like you glanced at the article, saw some unflattering remarks about Dawkins, and reflexively shouted “ad hominem” to dismiss it wholesale without further analysis. What, exactly, is the Dawkins argument that you think Michael is ignoring and ought to be addressing?

  11. Michael says:

    I skip the point where I mention again, that you should really, really stop with the ad hominem (mainly because calling me a Dawkins fan, is not really much of an insult, it’s simply untrue and stamps you as a liar, so, please go on).

    It’s clear you do not understand what the ad hominem fallacy is. I’ve explained your error, but you ignored that just as you ignored all my points in the blog entry. Now it turns out that you do not understand what a liar is. I can only be a liar in calling you a Dawkins fan if I knew you were not a Dawkins fan. And I do not know that. Thus, the most I can be a mistaken. But I don’t think that I am given the evidence supports my contention. Consider the evidence.

    AM is a Dawkins Fan:

    1. He responds to my blog entry by ignoring all my points and instead wants to attack me.
    2. He comes across as someone who is upset that Dawkins is being “attacked” and posts over 1000 words trying to get me to stop.
    3. He can’t bring himself to agree with a single criticism of Dawkins.
    4. He is unwilling/unable to acknowledge that Dawkins’s name-calling (“faith-heads”) is bigotry.

    AM is not a Dawkins Fan:

    1. He denies being a Dawkins Fan

    AM, maybe you don’t want to see yourself as a Dawkins Fan because you have a few minor disagreements with him, but you need to consider the EVIDENCE. I realize that for many atheists, evidence is a magic word that is supposed to be used only against eevil religious people, but you might want to consider the word has substance and applies to you also.

    Anyway, your whole point was an attack on Dawkins, where the so called love letter was the occasion, but in the end result, you only wanted to attack Dawkins, not more and not less.

    Ah….it’s a “so called” love letter. Anyway, what I wanted to do AM was to provide some balance to an article that even you admit as being fanboyish.

    If you wanted to argue against the points he made, you hid those arguments to well behind personal attacks.

    LOL. What points? The point of that fanboy article was to promote Dawkins as a Great Scientist, a Great Mind, and one simple Seeker of Truth who has been smeared by those dumb, evil religious people and others with “personal prejudice.” You claim you don’t want us to lap it up, then complain when we don’t lap it up.


    This is, what I told you again and again. You may not believe me, but that’s how your article appeared to me.

    Of course it appeared to you that way. You don’t like it when someone points out the illusions about your hero.

    The world must be really black and white to you, when everyone who points out problems with your articles must be a Dawkins fan.

    You are projecting and misrepresenting. It is the New Atheists who have the black and white view of reality (as I have demonstrated on this blog). And nowhere did I claim you “must” be a Dawkins fan (I even admitted I could be wrong). I am just following the evidence that leads to the best hypothesis.

    A little bit “if you are not with me, you are the enemy” thinking at work here?

    More projection. No, what is at work here is the evidence.

    I really, really don’t care what you call Dawkins.

    Now you are lying. You have posted over 1000 words this morning alone trying to manipulate me into stopping those “personal attacks.” That’s not evidence of someone who really, really doesn’t care.

    I will perhaps notice and mention that attacking him is not a good way to argument against Dawkins (because then don’t hide your arguments against his points between attacks on the person), but that’s about YOU, not about Dawkins.

    I know. When Dawkins is sold as a Great Mind and Great Scientist, only interested in Following the Truth, any attempt to set the record straight is “attacking him.” You seem to think there was some great argument in that article that deserved a thoughtful reply. What was it?

    Lose the personal attacks. Lose the black and white thinking. That’s my advice to you.

    Practice what you preach. That’s my advice to you. Oh, and lose the hypocrisy and deception while you are at it.

    As I already told you, then I may even notice your arguments and perhaps even agree to some of them (it’s quite probable, as I disagree with Dawkins on some points myself – we are both atheists, which means, we share a lack of faith – about everything else, we can disagree, if we feel like it).

    So you expect me to accept this on faith? Let me see. If I would only stop providing some balance to the New Atheist rhetoric and propaganda, AM might just actually agree with me on something. Where’s the evidence this is true?

    Look, AM, the world does not revolve around you. And if you don’t like seeing your hero in less than a glowing light, then by all means, stop reading this blog.

  12. Michael says:

    It seems to me that you are expecting this article to be about some argument Dawkins makes, but the article is actually an analysis of propaganda written by Paul Kirkley, not an attempt to argue against any particular point that Dawkins might have mentioned. If the article had been a response to a Dawkins argument, then your accusation of “ad hominem” might have some valid grounds, but, as it stands, it just looks like you glanced at the article, saw some unflattering remarks about Dawkins, and reflexively shouted “ad hominem” to dismiss it wholesale without further analysis. What, exactly, is the Dawkins argument that you think Michael is ignoring and ought to be addressing?

    Exactly. Anyone who bothers to read the blog entry will immediately notice that I cut-n-paste claims from the article and immediately address those claims. Sometimes my response is substantive, sometimes it is snarky. Welcome to the internet.

  13. 1) I did not want to attack you, just point out, that attacking the person Dawkins is not something that will help your arguments against his points (may they be good or bad) to be taken seriously.

    2) Same point as 1). I wanted to show YOU, how YOU can improve. Dawkins was the occasion but not the problem. As I already told you, if your posting was against the pope, the same things would apply. But as you refuse to aknowledge the fact that I already told you so, I can only conclude that you know it and are now deliberately lying, sorry.

    3) Again, I told you more than once, that, once you present your arguments in a better way (which means, that I don’t have to sort through attacks on the person to find them), it is very likely that I WILL agree to at least some of them, simply because I also disagree with some of the points Dawkins makes (and also with the way he makes them). You can delude yourself into believing that you know that these will be minor points, but as you really know exactly nothing about me, your opinion about that is quite worthless, sorry.

    4) I told you, that I would not call it that, I gave you my reason and I also told you, that I couldn’t reasonably disagree with someone who called him that. Pardon me for having an opinion that is not your own. I know, your world is black and white, so everyone who doesn’t agree 100% with you must be a Dawkins fan.

    You also missed some other points, but as you already decided that I am a Dawkins fan (which is, unfortunately, quite typical, people like you always know better how other people feel than these people themselves).

    Ignoring the facts (aka “lying”) is NOT evidence. Again: I am neither a Dawkins fan nor a Dawkins hater. He’s just some atheist guy who is famous. I don’t agree with everything he says and I don’t disagree with everything. Read his book and was underwhelmed. Yes, some points there that I will agree to but not really a mind-shattering new experience. I do not have a strong opinion about Dawkins, neither in one direction or the other. Sometimes I think “Dawkins again. *sigh* Why do so many people think he’s some kind of atheist pope when he is just another atheist who wrote some books?”

    And yes, the original article was extremely fanboyish. I didn’t even read it completely because the content was so tedious that way. Of course you can answer to that by an attack on Dawkins, but where do you think that leads to? The whole point I way trying to make (perhaps poorly), was, that by doing that, you risk not being taken serious as someone who same something substantial to say about Dawkins arguments, but just someone who “hates” Dawkins. My whole point was against your style of writing and not a defense of Dawkins.

    The problem is, that you have made up your mind and now try everything to confirm that. You ignore everything else. Exactly like a creationist. They also try to use words like “evidence” but don’t get that they didn’t even come from the right direction.

    And please leave my hero out of this. Spongebob does not deserve that treatment. I somehow missed that you attacked him, but you claim doing so and I have to trust you on this.

  14. Michael says:

    1) I did not want to attack you, just point out, that attacking the person Dawkins is not something that will help your arguments against his points (may they be good or bad) to be taken seriously.

    So you were just concern trolling? Look, you did attack me. Here, let me bold the part where you attacked me rather than address a single point I brought up:

    It’s slightly amusing to see that someone thinks a huge ad hominem attack is actually worth that much space. I am not a fan of Dawkins – he said some good things and some bad things, like most people – but that you feel the need to attack the person only shows something about yourself… And sorry, it’s not a pretty picture.

    Ignoring my points while trying to turn me into the topic is the favorite tactic of Dawkins Fans.

    2) Same point as 1). I wanted to show YOU, how YOU can improve.

    I see. So an atheist is oh so concerned and just wants to help me improve my arguments. Nothing but a helping hand there, right? I find it much more likely that you don’t like to see Dawkins criticized, especially when you recognize, at some level, that my criticisms are spot on accurate.

    Dawkins was the occasion but not the problem. As I already told you, if your posting was against the pope, the same things would apply. But as you refuse to aknowledge the fact that I already told you so, I can only conclude that you know it and are now deliberately lying, sorry.

    I can acknowledge that you told me that. I just don’t believe you. We’re back to EVIDENCE again. I see no evidence that of your even-handed approach to things. Perhaps you can provide a link to where you visited an atheist blog to tell that person to stop attacking some Christian.

    Sorry, but you definitely come across as someone who was upset to see Kirkley’s love letter being criticized.

    3) Again, I told you more than once, that, once you present your arguments in a better way (which means, that I don’t have to sort through attacks on the person to find them), it is very likely that I WILL agree to at least some of them, simply because I also disagree with some of the points Dawkins makes (and also with the way he makes them). You can delude yourself into believing that you know that these will be minor points, but as you really know exactly nothing about me, your opinion about that is quite worthless, sorry.

    Yes, you told me this before. But you have no EVIDENCE to back up such claims. As an atheist, I expect you to live by the standards you impose on others. You claim you have some significant disagreements with Dawkins. Really? Then please post the link to the place where you explain your disagreements. Don’t’ expect me to accept it on faith when atheists insist faith is worthless and dangerous.

    4) I told you, that I would not call it that, I gave you my reason and I also told you, that I couldn’t reasonably disagree with someone who called him that.

    If you cannot reasonably disagree with Dawkins being a bigot, why is it so important to you that the bigot not be attacked?
    Sorry, but your reasoning comes across as pure equivocation. No one believes, for example, that the KKK will come to be perceived as less bigoted if AM agrees that Dawkins anti-religious name-calling is bigoted.

    Pardon me for having an opinion that is not your own. I know, your world is black and white, so everyone who doesn’t agree 100% with you must be a Dawkins fan.

    You keep misrepresenting me. I never claimed you must be a Dawkins fan. I pointed to the evidence that leads me to suspect you are a Dawkins fan. You, yourself, might not like to think of yourself like that. But the fact remains that you act like a Dawkins fan. After all, how do you think Dawkins Fan would have responded to my blog entry?

    Here’s some advice. If you are not a Dawkins fan, then stop acting like one. If you see Dawkins, and his fans, being skewered, then don’t be so upset.

    Look, we would never have had to waste time exploring the level of devotion you have to Dawkins if you had just focused on the points I laid on the table.

  15. Thank you. You couldn’t have admitted more openly that you refuse to read what I wrote. As you seem to live in some strange black and white dream world, where you talk to some strange fictional version of me that exists only in your head (and probably carries Dawkins love child or something like that), I don’t see much sense in continuing this, as you seem quite capable of doing the whole “discussion” with yourself.

    Please, go on ignoring what other people write. You are quite good at it and one should always work with one’s strengths.

  16. Michael says:

    Thank you. You couldn’t have admitted more openly that you refuse to read what I wrote.

    This is hypocritical nonsense. Hypocritical in the sense that you have refused to read what I wrote in my blog. Nonsense in the sense that I clearly read what you wrote, even to the point of cutting and pasting and directly replying to what you wrote.

    As you seem to live in some strange black and white dream world, where you talk to some strange fictional version of me that exists only in your head (and probably carries Dawkins love child or something like that), I don’t see much sense in continuing this, as you seem quite capable of doing the whole “discussion” with yourself. Please, go on ignoring what other people write. You are quite good at it and one should always work with one’s strengths.

    More nonsense. You are just upset because not only will I not stop criticizing your idol, but because I won’t accept your claims on faith. I told you I need evidence, AM. You insist you are not a Dawkins fan, but the evidence says otherwise. You claim that you take an even-handed approach, where you would have complained about “ad hominems” if I had been writing about the Pope. But when I asked you to provide a link of you criticizing a fellow atheist for making personal attacks against a Christian, you cannot. You ignored what I wrote. You claim that you have these significant disagreements with Dawkins. But when I ask you to provide a link where you explain these disagreements, you cannot. You ignored what I wrote.
    Just another example of the New Atheist Faithful being unable to practice what they preach.

  17. TFBW says:

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think that AM is a Dawkins fan. To me, his actions are more suggestive of someone who simply holds atheists and atheism in relatively high esteem, and theists and theism in relatively low esteem, so naturally springs to the defence of any atheist who he perceives as being under attack from a theist. Thus, not so much a Dawkins fan, specifically, as a bit of a bigot regarding theists and atheists, generally. I gather that’s why he can feel justified in ignoring the entire content of the article (written by a theist) except the bits which are snarky towards Dawkins (an atheist), and issue the reflexive boilerplate response (paraphrased), “that’s ad hominem, and I’m not obliged to sift through your personal attacks to see if you actually had a point.”

    I’ll stand by this assessment unless AM can provide counter-examples showing that his targeting of such criticism is not biased towards theists. I acknowledge that AM has claimed, “if someone attacked the pope the same way, I could say the same thing,” but, as Michael has pointed out, we have no evidence to suggest that he would actually do so. I don’t want to imply that AM is lying — I think he’s sincere, but totally kidding himself about his neutrality.

    In the final analysis, however, this bickering with AM is a sideshow. Whether AM is guilty of favouritism or not is largely irrelevant to his actual criticism: his criticism is invalid on its own merits. Here’s AM’s precis of his criticism (verbatim, no attempt to correct grammar, etc.).

    Of course you can answer to that by an attack on Dawkins, but where do you think that leads to? The whole point I way trying to make (perhaps poorly), was, that by doing that, you risk not being taken serious as someone who same something substantial to say about Dawkins arguments, but just someone who “hates” Dawkins. My whole point was against your style of writing and not a defense of Dawkins.

    As I’ve pointed out before, if this were an article which makes a counter-argument to some argument that Dawkins has made, then an accusation of “ad hominem” would potentially be justified. To the extent that this article could possibly qualify as a counter-argument to something Dawkins said, it addresses his claim that Paul Kirkley’s article in Cambridge News is an “intelligent, balanced, well-written piece.” Given that the article in question is about Dawkins, and portrays him in an exceedingly flattering light (even AM doesn’t dispute this), any counter-argument is almost certainly going to draw attention to the ugly aspects of Dawkins that the article carefully conceals or omits. This is exactly how one goes about refuting the claim that the article is “balanced”. But what is the substance of AM’s criticism? It is that the response is an attack on Dawkins. Why? Because it does what it must necessarily do in order to make a counter-argument: draw attention to the ugly aspects of Dawkins that the article carefully conceals or omits.

    Could Michael have been less snarky in his presentation? Certainly. Could he have avoided saying anything that could be construed as an attack on Dawkins, when taken out of context? No: negative comments about Dawkins are an essential part of showing that the article lacked balance. AM’s insistence that the article not “attack” Dawkins (which seems to mean “not say anything negative about Dawkins”) is effectively a blanket ban on counter-arguments in this case.

    When the subject of debate is Dawkins’ character, it’s not argumentum ad hominem to point out, with supporting evidence, that he’s actually a bit of a douche.

  18. Continuing to lie will not change anything.

  19. Michael says:

    Exactly. So why do you continue to lie?

    Are you under the impression that I am lying because I do not buy your denial of being a Dawkins fan?

    Simple question for ya, AM: WHY am I supposed to believe your denial of being a Dawkins Fan? Why?

  20. Simple answer: Why am I supposed to believe that you will read what I write this time instead of simply continuing to listen to your strange version of me inside your own head? I don’t have the feeling that anything I write has any influence on what you read, so why bother?

  21. Michael says:

    Your problem is not with me not reading your words, AM. I obviously do read and respond, as anyone else can see for themselves. Your problem is with EVIDENCE. Let’s say you are not lying (either to us or yourself) and you truly are not a Dawkins fan. But according to atheists, all truth claims about the world must be supported by scientific evidence. You are part of the world, are you not? Typing words that are supposed to be your inner thoughts do not qualify as evidence, since they could easily be lies. Why should a special exemption be granted to you and your truths?

    You have a dilemma. You can either A) acknowledge that not all truths can be supported by scientific evidence or B) come up with the scientific evidence that supports your truth.

    A) Is the rational route to take, but in acknowledging it, you undercut a core principle of modern atheism. Oh, oh. So you are left with B), find yourself flustered because you have no evidence, and thus strike out at me.

    It’s either A) or B). Provide the EVIDENCE or acknowledge that some truths don’t come with scientific evidence. Crybaby routines are not a substitute.

  22. richardjwalker@hotmail.co.uk says:

    This is happens when someone with a pc and an internet connection creates an amalgam of all of the religious quote mining, half truths and outright lies and confects them into an “article”.

    Really, you reveal too much about the fragility of your “faith”, and the lengths you will go to to keep it ascendant, to be taken even a little bit seriously. You are not going to live forever, some misogynist father figure isn’t going to wipe out all the bad guys and dry all tears. This, down here, is up to us.
    Dawkins, as you well know deep down (unless your eyes and ears really are lost) is not “worshipped” by atheists. We are not bound to him in any other way than he has become convinced by the same evidence we have. Atheism is a single position on a single issue, nothing more. Namely the god claims of others are, rather obviously, false. We disbelieve – or rather are simply not convinced – in exactly the same way you are about Islam or Hiduism. It really is not that hard.
    Those of us accepting reality on it’s own terms, majestic and awe inspiring as it is, and even mysterious as it is, really wish that we could count on you for help. It’s high time.

  23. Michael says:

    This is happens when someone with a pc and an internet connection creates an amalgam of all of the religious quote mining, half truths and outright lies and confects them into an “article”.

    How predictable. Notice that this Dawkins fan lashes out with mean-spirited accusations without the slightest shred of evidence to support his attack.

    Really, you reveal too much about the fragility of your “faith”, and the lengths you will go to to keep it ascendant, to be taken even a little bit seriously.

    Another attack. Richard, you reveal too much about the fragility of your “faith” given a) you apparently closed your eyes to my blog entry and b) feel the need to lash out at me.

    You are not going to live forever, some misogynist father figure isn’t going to wipe out all the bad guys and dry all tears.

    Ok, so you come to the table with the smug sense of certainty.

    This, down here, is up to us.

    Indeed. It was up to you to read what I wrote. You failed.

    Dawkins, as you well know deep down (unless your eyes and ears really are lost) is not “worshipped” by atheists.

    Anyone with a pc and internet connection should be able to use the “Find” function on this page to see for themselves that I never claimed Dawkins was “worshipped.” Richard does something worse than quote-mining – he makes up quotes and puts them in my mouth.

    We are not bound to him in any other way than he has become convinced by the same evidence we have.

    Evidence? You mean your God-of-the-Gaps approach, coupled to your distress about not living in Paradise?

    Atheism is a single position on a single issue, nothing more. Namely the god claims of others are, rather obviously, false.

    That’s your opinion. PZ Myers, a leader in the atheist movement, tells us otherwise:

    Now you see, that’s just stupid. There are lots of atheists who take this blinkered stance that atheism is just one specific idea about rejecting god-belief, and it has absolutely no philosophical foundation and should have no political or social consequences. And that’s nonsense. This commenter is deluding himself as thoroughly as any god-walloper.

    If there is no god, if religion is a sham, that has significant consequences for how we should structure our society. You could argue over how we should shape our culture — a libertarian atheist would lean much more towards a Darwinian view, for instance, than I would — but to pretend that atheism is just an abstraction floating in the academic ether is silly.

    So who is right? And how am I supposed to tell?

    We disbelieve – or rather are simply not convinced – in exactly the same way you are about Islam or Hiduism. It really is not that hard.

    Not quite. I don’t believe people are child abusers for raising their children as Muslim or Hindus. And I am not part of a hate movement that encourages people to mock and ridicule Muslims and Hindus.

    Those of us accepting reality on it’s own terms, majestic and awe inspiring as it is, and even mysterious as it is, really wish that we could count on you for help. It’s high time.

    If you accept reality on its own terms, why do you get so upset when someone rejects the illusions of a fanboy letter written to Dawkins?

  24. TFBW says:

    Dawkins, as you well know deep down (unless your eyes and ears really are lost) is not “worshipped” by atheists.

    That’s a strikingly brazen denial of solid facts. My eyes and ears saw and heard a bunch of atheists cheering, clapping, and chanting, “Richard! Richard! Richard!” for an extended period when Dawkins came on stage at the 2012 “reason rally”. That would seem to qualify as some kind of “worship”, don’t you think? Or do you want to plead a semantic technicality of some sort?

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