Dawkins and the Transgenders

Back in October 2015, Richard Dawkins tweeted about transgenders:

 

It’s a fascinating tweet, as Dawkins is trying to bridge the incompatibility of the scientism promoted by New Atheism and the postmodern view of reality promoted by the transgender community.

I think we can accurately translate what Dawkins is trying to say without the character limits imposed by twitter:

‘Is trans woman a woman? Purely semantic. From a scientific/objective perspective, no. From a subjective perspective, yes. I call her “she” out of courtesy.’

Note how Dawkins is backing away from the hardcore empiricism he demands religious people to adhere to.  For the same Richard Dawkins has also insisted:

Yet scientists are required to back up their claims not with private feelings but with publicly checkable evidence”

and

“evidence is the only good reason to believe anything.”  

and

And, next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: ‘What kind of evidence is there for that?’ And if they can’t give you a good answer, I hope you’ll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.

and

The patient typically finds himself impelled by some deep, inner conviction that something is true, or right, or virtuous: a conviction that doesn’t seem to owe anything to evidence or reason, but which, nevertheless, he feels as totally compelling and convincing. We doctors refer to such a belief as “faith”.

 When it comes to the issue of a trans woman, Dawkins abandons all of this for the sole reason of “courtesy.”  He still pays lip service to his extreme empiricism by putting quote marks around “she,” but he’s happy to play along for the sake of being polite.

So if an XY male self-indentifies as a woman, Dawkins is willing to be polite and defer to the other person’s subjective reality and treat it as objective reality.

But if an XY male self-identifies as someone who was made in the image of God, Dawkins responds, “Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Mock them! Ridicule them! In public! Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits. Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be  substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be  ridiculed with contempt.”

What this striking contrast clearly illustrates is that Dawkins’ desire to publicly challenge and mock religion (and have others do the same) is NOT rooted in some principle that prioritizes Truth above all else.  It is NOT about a commitment to truth/evidence being more important than courtesy.  We can know this because of his behavior/position with regard to trans women.  He adheres to no such principles.  In that context, courtesy is the most important thing.

Since we cannot explain Dawkins’ desire to challenge and mock religion as a function of some deeply held conviction that we must always speak the truth, what does explain his desire to challenge and mock?  I would propose the explanation is quite simple – this is a textbook example of bigotry.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in New Atheism, Richard Dawkins and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Dawkins and the Transgenders

  1. Regual Llegna says:

    “The patient typically finds himself impelled by some deep, inner conviction that something is true, or right, or virtuous: a conviction that doesn’t seem to owe anything to evidence or reason, but which, nevertheless, he feels as totally compelling and convincing. We doctors refer to such a belief as “faith”.”

    So faith is categorized as it own belief? Weird most gnus atheists claim that faith is the belief, that faith is belief without evidence, but then what are belief with evidence for the gnus atheists?

    “Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Mock them! Ridicule them! In public! Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits. Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.”

    I want to know if science is not off limits, because most gnus atheist (still a minory inside a minory, most atheists in the world are socialists-communists) say that the advantage of science is that change over time, then what happen to the untested and/or untesteable sciences like most of what is it quantum mechanics?
    ————————————————————————————————————————–
    From OP: “What this striking contrast clearly illustrates is that Dawkins’ desire to publicly challenge and mock religion (and have others do the same) is NOT rooted in some principle that prioritizes Truth above all else. It is NOT about a commitment to truth/evidence being more important than courtesy. We can know this because of his behavior/position with regard to trans women. He adheres to no such principles. In that context, courtesy is the most important thing.”

    You say the answer the one day of the past year: “Is politics”, Dawkins make claims about power, that if the mayority believed should give gnus atheists and/or scientists (no matter their true apportations to science) a monolitic power over the world if were implemented, but they still bend over emotions, so at the end the final result of their implemetation is the same old socialists and/or communists. You anly need to ask gnus atheists what to do with people with religious belief? and most of all: how? (“objetivism or/and utilitarianism kill the humanism facade of the branch of atheist that gnus like to put as a truth, then fall to be a weightless relativist whishful thiking”).

  2. Dhay says:

    > The patient typically finds himself impelled by some deep, inner conviction that something is true, or right, or virtuous: a conviction that doesn’t seem to owe anything to evidence or reason, but which, nevertheless, he feels as totally compelling and convincing. We doctors refer to such a belief as “faith”.

    Need I mention Jerry Coyne’s conversion experience for the umpteenth time?

  3. Allallt says:

    Except it’s a question about how to define ‘gender’. Is it synonymous with ‘sex’? Are we going to define these new gender pronouns?
    ‘Sex’ certainly is an objective question.

  4. mechanar says:

    “The patient typically finds himself impelled by some deep, inner conviction that something is true, or right, or virtuous: a conviction that doesn’t seem to owe anything to evidence or reason, but which, nevertheless, he feels as totally compelling and convincing. We doctors refer to such a belief as “faith”.

    of course HE sees religious people as “patients” but why does he think he can make a diagnose he is not that kind of doctor.

  5. unclesporkums says:

    Because he knows they’ll be sympathetic to the cause.

  6. James Parliament says:

    Well laid out, Michael. Good ammo to have.

  7. TFBW says:

    @Allallt:

    Except it’s a question about how to define ‘gender’.

    In this particular context, that’s not the problem at all. Suppose we assume that Dawkins is making the same sex/gender distinction that you are making here. That is, suppose we can paraphrase his tweet as follows.

    Is trans woman a woman? Purely semantic. If you define by sex, no. If by gender, yes. I call her “she” out of courtesy.

    Note that I’ve replaced “chromosomes” with “sex”, and “self-identification” with “gender”. Now go back over the remaining Dawkins quotations mentioned in the OP, and see if his deference to “gender” is defensible in light of what he has said on other occasions. I think the answer is clearly, “no”: gender (as we have agreed to define it here) is precisely a personal report of private feelings, containing no publicly-checkable evidence other than the fact that the person in question claimed to identify with one gender or the other.

    The problem is that Dawkins raises a high epistemic bar against claims which might be supportive of the existence of God, but then casually strolls underneath that bar when he wants to accommodate a politically correct posture like transgenderism. He should either reject transgenderism on the basis that it fails to meet his requirements for evidence, or admit that his requirements for evidence aren’t as universally applicable as he has implied.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s