A brutal price still paid for daring to challenge faith
By AMOL RAJAN - THE INDEPENDENT
Added: Wed, 22 Feb 2012 22:04:33 UTC
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.
Ben Child - Guardian 37 Comments
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Richard Dawkins - RichardDawkins.net 174 Comments
[Journalists] seem to feel let down when they discover that the real people aren't anything like the way they so relentlessly portray us; as if, since they've gone to the trouble of inventing extravagant caricatures of us, we should at least have the decency to live up to them in real life.
Also in Polish
David Knox - TV tonight - Australia 141 Comments
On Easter Monday night Q & A will host a two-man debate between Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell and outspoken, British atheist Richard Dawkins.
- - BBC Comments
An advertising campaign backed by a Christian group which has been described as anti-gay has been pulled from London buses.
Paula Kirby - Washington Post On Faith 108 Comments
[The God Delusion is] absolutely chock-full of things Richard Dawkins really does believe. Which is handy, because it saves everyone the trouble of making them up.
Michael Hanlon - The Telegraph 33 Comments
At one point, governments in Europe, including ours, were offering to fly expats home from places where the radiation levels were lower than the natural background count in Aberdeen or Cornwall.