This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

A brutal price still paid for daring to challenge faith

Proof, if proof were needed, that "militant secularism" isn't having such a great time of it in modern Britain has been in plentiful supply over the past week, during which there has been a sustained and vicious assault in our media on one of our most distinguished academics. Professor Richard Dawkins (FRS, FRSL) presumably personifies militant secularism, and has been made to suffer for it.

In the Daily Mail last week, A N Wilson launched a nasty attack on him, comparing him, among other things, to a "spotty adolescent". The lead interview in The Sunday Times was one long personal attack on his character, rather than an examination of his ideas. My distinguished colleague Mary Ann Sieghart, who at least has met him, described Dawkins yesterday as "puffed-up, self-regarding, vain, prickly and militant". Rod Liddle wrote a blog for The Spectator with the ludicrous title "Dawkins exposed".

But the pièce de résistance was in The Sunday Telegraph, with an unimprovable exhibition of specious logic. Professor Dawkins, it gushed, "is descended from slave owners and his family estate was bought with a fortune partly created by forced labour. One of his direct ancestors, Henry Dawkins, amassed such wealth that his family owned 1,013 slaves in Jamaica by the time of his death in 1744".

Ah yes, of course. Professor Dawkins must be wrong about God because of what his forefathers got up to 260 years ago.

Most of his critics have never met him, of course, or read any of his books (bestsellers or otherwise). I have never met him either, but, regardless, here are some things I know about him. As the first Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford between 1995 and 2008, he did an extraordinary amount to advance the knowledge and position of science in our country, in fields far beyond his specialism of evolutionary biology.

Read on

See also: Amol Rajan: The Baroness, the comment and the unholy trinity

TAGGED: COMMENTARY, MEDIA, RICHARD DAWKINS, SECULARISM


RELATED CONTENT

Challenging Religious Privilege

- - National Secular Society Comments

Atheist group targets presidential...

Dan Merica - CNN Comments

A prominent atheist group is using next month's Democratic National Convention to take aim at the presidential candidates' religion, putting up billboards targeting Mormonism and Christianity in Charlotte, North Carolina.

An 'atheistic, rationalist, secular...

Sheryl White - NZ Herald Comments

Sheryl White speaks out against a planned Christian teaching program in New Zealand schools

Atheist Chaplain’s Assistant delivers...

Justin Griffith - - Comments

Atheist Chaplain’s Assistant delivers powerful speech

Nones” climb to 19%

- - Freedom From Religion foundation Comments

Nones” climb to 19%

Letter to Trevor Phillips, Chair of...

- - Maryam Namazie Comments

Letter to Trevor Phillips, Chair of Equality and Human Rights Commission

MORE

MORE BY AMOL RAJAN

MORE

Comments

Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment