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All hail Dawkins, high priest of rationality

Natural selection says that if you wait around long enough Richard Dawkins will talk some sense, and on this occasion you may agree with him

Like the monkeys with typewriters, natural selection says that if you wait around long enough, finally Richard Dawkins will talk some sense. His atheist inquisition is an embarrassment to humanists. It’s the behaviour and tone of evangelical belief. When it comes to the spiritual, he denies the central tenet of humanism, which is a relaxed tolerance. But last week the Oliver Cromwell of evolution took his rational fatwa to faith schools, and watching Faith School Menace? I had the odd, not altogether unpleasant experience of agreeing with everything he said. Finally, I could believe in Dawkins.

Faith schools are a blight and a biblical curse. Their rise was the responsibility of new Labour and the closet-Catholic Blair, who took his smiley, happy-clappy, ecumenical multiculturalism and made education relative and secondary to the belief that to know something was less important than to feel it. Dawkins interviewed Charles Clarke, in my mind without doubt the most third-rate prophet of a better tomorrow, and a craven minister who defended faith schools not because they were right, but because to abolish ¬¬¬them would upset a lot of people. And there was an unsurprising but still appalling Northern Ireland minister who accused Dawkins of wishing fascistically to truncate the human rights of parents by not allowing them to inflict any sort of bigotry they chose on their children. There was also the sorry sight of a Muslim headmaster muttering into his beard that evolution, as far as he knew, was simply a theory among theories and that all his pupils and their science teacher, through freedom of choice, had chosen to believe in the Garden of Eden instead. As if knowledge were a matter of taste and preference, like ice-cream flavours. Dawkins presented with admirable restraint, allowing the opposition to say their dim, dark, ignorant pieces, without braining them into extinction with a dinosaur bone or even just laughing in their faces.



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