Friendly Atheists Lashes Out At Richard Dawkins and Ends Up Getting Spanked by Jerry Coyne

Hemant Mehta pubicly attacked Richard Dawkins in a posting, “Richard Dawkins is Still Denying the Basic Humanity of Trans People.” The title is obviously absurd to those of us who value reason. As DHay noted, “Dawkins nowhere in the tweet, nor has he elsewhere so far as I know, claimed or suggested that trans-people are not human.”

Anyway, the meanspirited attack posting caught the attention of Dawkins’ ally, Professor Jerry Coyne. Coyne then delivers a public spanking to Hemant:

The Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta, isn’t being very friendly, nor charitable, to Richard Dawkins. This is based on a tweet that Dawkins made comparing “trans-racialism”—as in the case of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who pretended she was black—with transsexualism. Hemant has thus deemed Richard “transphobic” and implicitly demanded that he be removed from the board of directors of the Center For Inquiry (CFI; the Richard Dawkins Foundation is now part of CFI).

Hemant’s headline is misleading and clickbaity, and, more important, he doesn’t reproduce or correct Dawkins’s own explanation issued yesterday. 

Coyne then continues to dismantle Hemant’s rant. And he is actually gentle with Hemant. For example, Coyne writes:

This is uncharacteristically unempathic of Hemant, toward both Dawkins and Dolezal.

There is nothing uncharacteristic about Mehta being unempathetic. Most of his postings are unempathetic. Coyne only notices this now because someone dear to him has been attacked by the “Friendly Atheist.”

Anyway, there are interesting comments on Coyne’s blog. For example:

This is not a surprise to me. It’s probably more than 5 years now that I’ve had my own unpleasant interaction with Hemant Mehta in his comment section (or in the best case scenario someone that pretended to be him). He is prone to personal attacks instead of attacking your arguments and he’ll go as far as stalking you online and scouring the internet until he finds something “damning” to attack you with.

Even if the person I interacted with was not the real Hemant Mehta, this individual was a regular in his comment section, making numerous claims of being Hemant Mehta. So at the very least, they must have had some approval to behave like this from “The Friendly Atheist”.

As far as I’m concerned, Hemant Mehta is nothing more than a snake in sheep’s clothing. He’s a toxic element that I imagine is a remnant of the Atheism+ disaster.

And I’m still noticing that while both Coyne and Mehta claim an allegiances to reason and evidence, such allegiance fails to deliver agreement and consensus.

BTW, I don’t expect Mehta to reply to Coyne. When you have been publicly humiliated by Coyne’s reasoning, the activist will deem it prudent to “move on.”

This entry was posted in atheist wars, Friendly Atheist, Jerry Coyne, Social Justice and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Friendly Atheists Lashes Out At Richard Dawkins and Ends Up Getting Spanked by Jerry Coyne

  1. apollyon911 says:

    Mehta probably felt that Dawkins was an easy target as he seeks to increase his visibility.

  2. Dhay says:

    > Anyway, there are interesting comments on Coyne’s blog. For example:

    There are indeed, and an example which has come in since (and which is long and interesting) includes:

    The Woke aren’t effective advocates with their performative hate and their narcisstic moral prancing….

    The trouble with irresponsible hate preachers like Hemant Mehta or the other notable American atheists and humanists who echoed his sentiment like Matt Dillahunty, is that they are too ignorant to see the hate they keep injecting. They tell their audience that Dawkins was coming for “basic human rights” even when it’s them who keep injecting that into the conversation (much like Fox News fear mongers, who turn topics into “they are coming for your guns/jobs”). …

    But that’s not all Mehta et al are saying. It gets worse. …
    [My emphases — Dhay]

    I love it! “Hate-Preacher” is one of Mehta’s favourite blogger tropes for vilifying those who preach those mainstream Christian values and teachings that he personally disagrees with and dislikes:

    It’s good to see it turned back against Mehta himself, and that reversal of target and reversed accusation gains extra force from being made by a fellow atheist rather than by such as myself.


    > … (much like Fox News fear mongers, who turn topics into “they are coming for your guns/jobs”).

    Yes, I guess that “it’s fear-mongering” nicely sums up much of the Friendly Atheist Unfriendly Wokeist blog output.

  3. Dhay says:

    > Friendly Atheists Lashes Out At Richard Dawkins and Ends Up Getting Spanked by Jerry Coyne

    It’s lashings and spankings all round. In his 14 April 2021 blog post entitled “Who’s afraid of the big bad Woke Mob? Not me.” PZ Myers has a go at Jerry Coyne:

    Jolly good fun!

  4. Dhay says:

    A good illustration of how Woke the Friendly Atheist blog has become is provided by Beth Stoneburner, “the resident Christian blogger at Friendly Atheist”, in her 14 April 2021 “Critic: Beth Moore’s Mild Critique of Complementarianism Didn’t Go Far Enough”

    Said critic is Dana Trent, writing in Religion Dispatches (which tells us in its ‘About’ that “Our editorial aim is to create a new way of thinking about religion in American culture and politics, one that challenges last century’s media dominance by an ultra-conservative fringe” — that is, it’s openly anti-evangelical.) And the parts of Trent’s critique which Stoneburner quotes include:

    For Trent, the weak dismissal [of complementarianism — Dhay] is parallel to how some people have handled racism.

    Then Stoneburner quotes most of Trent’s alleged racism parallels:

    You benefit from maintaining a neutral posture on complementarianism the way white women benefit from not denouncing racism. If the white men lose another inch of privilege, status, power, and authority, their white women will as well. By association, you have historically derived your power and authority from white men …

    When you fail to denounce complementarianism explicitly but assure your readers that it’s not a litmus test for Biblical inerrancy, it’s analogous to saying, “I definitely don’t think the Bible says you have to believe white people are more beloved by God than Black people …

    Perhaps you’re reluctant to reject complementarianism in totality because you have too much to lose: namely, supporters who still find the construct useful. In this way, as I noted earlier, you’re much like white women who refuse to do the work of anti-racism because they derive power and authority from their white men.

    What Stoneburner omitted to quote from Trent — why? it’s along the same lines — Is:

    Your apology also reeks of white privilege: your boasting that you are “not going to be pushed into either category right now because that’s not my point,” is indicative of a woman who can have a toe in both worlds: a woman with the power to leave the SBC and LifeWay while continuing to uphold complementarianism and pay the bills. You know who doesn’t have this same privilege? Abused SBC women, BIPOC women, trans-women, and any female-identified person who’s been trapped in toxic social and faith constructs.

    Let’s see: “white women … racism …white men … white people … Black people … white women … anti-racism … white men … white privilege … SBC women … BIPOC women … trans-women … any female-identified person…” What’s the saying, “To someone with a hammer everything looks like a nail.”

    Trent is, says the footnote blurb, “an ordained Baptist clergywoman”, so I would have expected something more relevant to the theology and practice of complementarianism in her critique, and that the critique would critique complementarianism; well, there is that in some part of the critique, it’s not totally absent, though it’s swamped by her repeatedly framing the issue in terms of ‘it’s like — or it is (white privilege, remember) — racism.’

    And Stoneburner selectively quotes and owns Trent’s racially-framed Woke criticism, essentially skipping almost all else. “To someone with a hammer everything looks like a nail.”


    I see that Hemant Mehta has taken steps ** to prevent critics from quoting his blog posts’ titles and passages. In this post of Stoneburner’s and all subsequent posts, attempts to swipe, copy and paste now have the effect only of showing a box declaring “ALERT: CONTENT IS PROTECTED!!” ( ** Inadequate steps — that protection can be worked around.)

    Why protect against copying and quoting? And why start now, after many years, and contrary to normal blogger practice? I doubt I, myself, am such a thorn in Mehta’s side that he has reacted to me; on the other hand one commenter commented that an atheist blogger was reproducing whole chunks of Mehta’s FA material as his own — naughty, naughty, not fair use! — so maybe that’s it; or there’s an off-chance it’s an angry reaction to Jerry Coyne’s fair use for criticism (see OP.)

  5. Dhay says:

    Hemant Mehta, in his 19 April 2021 “Richard Dawkins Stripped of “Humanist of the Year” Honor After Anti-Trans Tweets” tells us that the American Humanist Association has now joined in:

    In 1996, Richard Dawkins was awarded the American Humanist Association’s highest honor: Humanist of the Year. Tonight, the AHA took it back. The group just announced that it would retroactively withdraw his award due in large part to his recent statements questioning the humanity of transgender people.

    (No, Dawkins didn’t question the humanity of transgender people.)


    And that American Atheists got their boot denunciation in first:

    [I]t follows a separate denunciation from American Atheists’ Alison Gill, a trans woman and the group’s Vice President for Legal and Policy

    We’ve seen Gill before, they’re a very vocal trans-activist, so no surprises there. Excepting, of course, that someone so senior in a major atheist organisation — and presumably espousing the ‘Science and Reason’ or variant ‘Evidence and Reason’ mantra which AA’s David Silverman strongly promoted for the 2012 Reason Rally — should lack basic reading comprehension.


    Mehta is evidently still angling for the CFI to condemn or discipline Dawkins:

    Meanwhile, the Center for Inquiry, where Dawkins serves on the Board of Directors and which merged with his foundation years ago, has not said anything publicly yet.

    It’s all jolly good fun!


    Mehta adds that:

    The AHA has revoked the same honor from one other Humanist of the Year: Lawrence Krauss. In 2018, several months after sexual misconduct allegations first came out against the physicist, and shortly after his university confirmed reports that he had violated their harassment policy by groping someone at a conference, the AHA said it would withdraw the award they gave him in 2015.

    I’ll not disagree with the appropriateness of that, sexual harassment is hardly a humanist value, neither in Christian humanism nor in the atheist — I detest the arrogation of humanism to atheism — nor in the atheist variety.

    What I will note is that in John Richards’ Atty Awards (and the talks which serve as a thin excuse for the Attys) Krauss is a prominent guest and also a likely candidate for Richards to acclaim as honorary successor to Christopher Hitchens’ mantle of alleged greatness. It will be interesting to see whether — if the Attys ever go ahead, which with Coronavirus and incompetence is doubtful — Dawkins will now get his Lifetime Achievement Atty; and if he does, what the reaction of atheist groups and individuals will be.

  6. TFBW says:

    Excepting, of course, that someone so senior in a major atheist organisation … should lack basic reading comprehension.

    This is far worse than a mere lack of comprehension: it’s a product of ideological possession, which renders the victim incapable of seeing anything except binary black-or-white concepts within the sphere of the ideology. What Dawkins said was clearly not praise of transgender people or Transgenderism, and is therefore an expression of the only other possibility: a hateful denial of their humanity. Do not mistakenly attribute their position with any more depth or nuance than this, at least not without evidence.

  7. Dhay says:

    @ TFBW

    Nicely put.

  8. nsr says:

    The irony is that Mehta and his ilk probably wouldn’t be able to care less if a trans person was bleeding out on the floor in front of him, begging him to call an ambulance. There is something so utterly screwed up with the Western world that these vile narcissists are allowed to portray themselves as shining pillars of morality.

  9. TFBW says:

    At some point the West lost sight of actual virtue and started to accept demonstrations of adherence to fashionable opinion in its stead.

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