Dawkins Satirized in New Book

Dan Rhodes is an award-winning writer, one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists of 2003 and author of the painfully funny Little White Car. But when it came to getting his latest book into print, every publisher balked for fear of being sued.

The problem is the central character of When the Professor Got Stuck in the Snow. He is a pompous atheist academic who is taking a train to Upper Bottom to deliver a lecture entitled Science and the Non-Existence of God. He is then stranded in a snowdrift and forced to stay at the local vicarage. His name? Professor Richard Dawkins.

Publishers all over town, including his usual home Canongate, turned it down, scared that the lampooning of Dawkins would result in legal action. Rhodes resorted to self-publishing 400 copies — some now trade on eBay for more than £100 — and Dawkins never responded to his letter requesting permission to publish.

Finally, one plucky publisher has taken on the challenge of the book hailed by Michael Holroyd as a satire “as devastating as Candide”. Scott Pack, at new imprint Aardvark Bureau, will be putting out a full run in the autumn.


Will Dawkins sue?

After all, Dawkins never envisioned this happening when he wrote:

I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven’t really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt.

You might say that two can play at that game. Suppose the religious start treating us with naked contempt, how would we like it? I think the answer is that there is a real asymmetry here. We have so much more to be contemptuous about! And we are so much better at it. We have scathingly witty spokesmen of the calibre of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. Who have the faith-heads got, by comparison? Ann Coulter is about as good as it gets. We can’t lose!

However, if he sues, he will bring more attention and publicity to this book. What’s more, Rhodes’ book sounds like the verbal version of a cartoon. Won’t it be difficult to argue that it’s okay to make funny cartoons of Mohammed, but not Dawkins? Will Dawkins really oppose free speech?

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3 Responses to Dawkins Satirized in New Book

  1. Dhay says:

    Satirical free speech — Jerry Coyne will be sure to give enthusiastic support for that.

    Here’s a short extract from the book, in an article by the ‘The Independent’ newspaper.


  2. UpstateIslandersFan says:

    It sounds like Rhodes has some admiration for Dawkins’s belief in freedom of expression and doesn’t believe there will be any litigation. We’ll see. I doubt Dawkins will sue. I think he’d have to be totally self-unaware to realize the irony of it. I probably shouldn’t be making a joke out of this given the recent violence carried out against cartoonists and artists over Muhammed depictions, but I wonder if any of Dawkins’s acolytes who seem to hang on his every word will seek out Rhodes or attempt to intellectually intimidate him. Who knows. After all, these people are supposed to be rational and above all that, except of course the ones who threaten rape to atheist feminists…On a side note – you guys probably want to kill me for my long comments – I find it ironic that the crude materialist, deterministic closed system view of reality Dawkins espouses, that unintended forces culminated in his less than flattering depiction on South Park. I wonder if Dawkins every curses the singularity or genesis of his closed system universe – with its quantum foam and physical laws and all of the things modern cosmology has revealed – that it created a widely disseminated image of him in an intimate act with Ms. Garrison. Unless I misunderstand his views, uncaring, cold hearted arrangements of matter and energy created that depiction.

  3. UpstateIslandersFan says:

    Dawkins: “We have so much more to be contemptuous about! And we are so much better at it. We have scathingly witty spokesmen of the calibre of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. Who have the faith-heads got, by comparison? Ann Coulter is about as good as it gets. We can’t lose!”

    I think some of you faith heads might beg to disagree with the nutty professor’s statement. Yes, Ann Coulter is shameless, but she’s also a media creation like Sam Harris, good for sound bytes and controversy. Not so big on substance. I don’t think people are looking for a theological argument from Ann Coulter. She’s not exactly Thomas Aquinas or Augustine of Hippo.

    On the other hand, I think there are some theistic spokespersons who would probably present quite a challenge to the New Atheists in these worthless debates because they don’t seem unthinking, brazen or glib. I think of David Bentley Hart and Ed Feser to name a few (though I understand they are quite different from each other), who if nothing else could at least demonstrate the absolute sanctimony, historical and factual errors of the New Atheists. I remember one old school atheist bemoaning the idiocy of many of his new comrades in disbelief because of their intellectual laziness, nastiness and inability to attempt to understand classic theological arguments. He said he relished reading these newbies being trounced by less sophisticated creationist types because it was their comeuppance for unexamined beliefs.

    These debates are pretty stupid though, even when you get a kind seemingly good natured theist such as John Lennox – who if nothing else reminds me a lot of my devout, charitable Methodist grandfather. Lennox makes interesting points and is cordial. But he tries to use science sometimes to make his arguments, which doesn’t seem necessary. If theists want to make an argument, don’t use science, which is provisional. If you believe in an uncreated creator, it’s sufficient to say you believe that creator established the universe as it is. Logically that creator wouldn’t be subject to physical laws. Personally, the debates seem like overrated dog and pony shows. Perhaps its better for theists to simply share their testimonies in a way that is respectful of science but not centered around a one up of science.

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