Richard Dawkins is more than a 'militant atheist': he's a magnificent writer who changed my life
By TOM CHIVERS - TELEGRAPH.CO.UK
Added: Wed, 24 Mar 2010 00:00:00 UTC
Thanks to Tony Newberry for the link.
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 yearâs Templeton Prize.
The prize is a sort of religious quasi-Nobel, originally given âfor progress in religionâ, although that has since been expanded to the considerably more fatuous âprogress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realitiesâ. In fact, as Dawkins has pointed out before, it is usually given âto a scientist who is prepared to say something nice about religionâ.
Heâs always entertaining to read when heâs irked, is the good professor; note his delightfully offhand dismissal of the President of Londonâs Royal Society, the astronomer Martin Rees, as a âQuislingâ, for considering hosting an earlier award.
Part of me wishes Dawkins wouldnât rail so much against religion, though. Not because I necessarily think heâs wrong, but because it has become the only thing many people know about him. He gets a lot of stick for being a âmilitant atheistâ, which is a little ridiculous. Until you behead someone, or blow them up on a bus, or at the very least tell them theyâre going to hell for sleeping with the wrong people or eating the wrong food, youâre hardly being militant, at least as far as theological positions go.
But nonetheless every time someone describes him as an âatheistâ instead of a âscientistâ, or better yet a âzoologistâ or âneo-Darwinistâ, it distracts attention from what I would call his real work – advancing science, and explaining it in lucid prose.
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