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Richard Dawkins is more than a 'militant atheist': he's a magnificent writer who changed my life

Thanks to Tony Newberry for the link.
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The saintly (so to speak) Richard Dawkins has got his blood up again, this time attacking the US National Academy of Sciences, in typically trenchant style, for hosting this year’s Templeton Prize.

The prize is a sort of religious quasi-Nobel, originally given “for progress in religion”, although that has since been expanded to the considerably more fatuous “progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities”. In fact, as Dawkins has pointed out before, it is usually given “to a scientist who is prepared to say something nice about religion”.

He’s always entertaining to read when he’s irked, is the good professor; note his delightfully offhand dismissal of the President of London’s Royal Society, the astronomer Martin Rees, as a “Quisling”, for considering hosting an earlier award.

Part of me wishes Dawkins wouldn’t rail so much against religion, though. Not because I necessarily think he’s wrong, but because it has become the only thing many people know about him. He gets a lot of stick for being a “militant atheist”, which is a little ridiculous. Until you behead someone, or blow them up on a bus, or at the very least tell them they’re going to hell for sleeping with the wrong people or eating the wrong food, you’re hardly being militant, at least as far as theological positions go.

But nonetheless every time someone describes him as an “atheist” instead of a “scientist”, or better yet a “zoologist” or “neo-Darwinist”, it distracts attention from what I would call his real work – advancing science, and explaining it in lucid prose.
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TAGGED: ATHEISM, RICHARD DAWKINS, SCIENCE


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