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← A note about the 'Richard Dawkins Award' being presented to Bill Maher this weekend

Sam's Avatar Jump to comment 254 by Sam

As someone who has supported the RDF with a monthly pledge for the last few years I am not at all happy with this award and even less happy with your defensive response to the concerns expressed by a large portion of the skeptical community. It seems to me that the critics in this case are representing the very values that I thought the RDF was trying to promote. If that is a waste of your time, then perhaps that's not the only thing we are wasting...

While Religulous contained some good bits, I don't see Maher as representative of the kind of values that I for one have always associated with Richard Dawkins. It is not enough to just reject belief in god(s). What's more important is the method of thought that lead a person to such a conclusion in the first place. As I see it, the conflict we're in is not limited to evolution vs. creationism or even naturalism vs. supernaturalism; the real battle is between good and bad reasons for believing. By that criterion Maher clearly belongs to the opposing team.

I still think that critical thinking - if applied concistently - can't help but make you a non-theist (as well as a non-"toothfairyist, a non-"trollist" etc.), but that doesn't mean that non-theism also makes you a critical thinker. The best thing that can be said about "atheists" in general is that they lack one particular delusion that theists don't lack. It is clearly possible to be an atheist for the wrong reasons and I certainly think that Maher (but not Dawkins!) fits that description. His hostility to religion seems to have nothing to do with logic and evidence and everything to do with ideology.

I would not expect Prof. Dawkins, whom I respect and admire enormously, to speak out against Maher's views without having first looked into the matter. However, in light of everything that has since been pointed out regarding Maher's antiscientific views this is no longer an excuse, and it breaks my heart to see the good professor's name associated with this disgraceful award.

Thu, 01 Oct 2009 09:48:00 UTC | #402496