Posts Tagged ‘Richard Dawkins’

Richard Dawkins and Abortion

August 23, 2014

It seems that biologist and atheist leader Richard Dawkins has caught a bad case of foot in mouth disease, or perhaps he should think a little more before he tweets. His latest thoughts on abortion and Down’s Syndrome have attracted some measure of controversy which I read about in this article in the Independent.

Budding atheists wondering whether Richard Dawkins is in need of a little time away from Twitter to reflect on the past few weeks are about to have their (lack of) prayers answered.

The philosopher has managed to go one step further than his controversial comments on ‘date rape versus stranger rape’ to voice his opinions on what it would be ethical for a mother who is informed that her unborn child has Down Syndrome to do.

He started off his conversation with followers ethically enough, highlighting the plight of women in Ireland, where abortion is illegal, in light of the recent reports of the country’s refusal toprovide a safe abortion to a suicidal rape victim. She was forced to give birth.

“Ireland is a civilised country except in this 1 area,” he tweeted, adding “You’d think the Roman Church would have lost all influence,” to caption a link to a similar article.

But after engaging in conversation with a number of users, his ethical values appeared to come a little unstuck.

“994 human beings with Down’s Syndrome deliberately killed before birth in England and Wales in 2012. Is that civilised?” @AidanMcCourt asked.

“Yes, it is very civilised. These are fetuses, diagnosed before they have human feelings,” Dawkins responded.

“I honestly don’t know what I would do if I were pregnant with a kid with Down Syndrome. Real ethical dilemma,” @InYourFaceNYer chimed in.

“Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice,” he tweeted back.

Naturally, his reasoning prompted a slew of further comments – and subsequent commentary:

@kerryhood@RichardDawkins It is an interesting dilemma. What about people on the autism spectrum (which I am)? Where would u draw the line?

@InYourFaceNYer People on that spectrum have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. DS not enhanced.

My first thought upon reading this was to quote Dickens.

`Man,’ said the Ghost, `if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die. It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh God. to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust.’

Who does Richard Dawkins think he is to decide who is worthy of life and who is not? There are many reasons why one might be an atheist. I begin to think that Dawkins is an atheist because he covets God’s job. He wouldn’t be the only one who doesn’t worship any divinity because they are too busy worshiping themselves. He thinks that it is immoral not to kill a baby with Down’s Syndrome before it is even born because they do not contribute as much. How would he know? I do not know anyone with Down’s Syndrome, but I have been told that while they do suffer from intellectual disabilities, they are, for the most part amiable people and they can and do contribute to the happiness of the people around them. They can learn skills, hold jobs, and form loving relationships. It may well be that people with Down’s Syndrome, in their simplicity, are closer to the Kingdom of Heaven than those who believe them unfit to live will ever be.

Boy with Down Syndrome using cordless drill to...

Someone was immoral and allowed this boy to live.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wonder if Richard Dawkins has really thought through his comments. If we are going to decide that every human being is not a creature created in the image of God and endowed by that creator with the inalienable right to life, but merely an evolved ape whose right to live depends on how useful he is and how much he can be expected to contribute, than Sarah Palin was right all along and we can expect to see those death panels in the not too distant future. If so, than Dawkins had better be careful. The panels might decide that an aging biologist has contributed all he can expect  to science and society would be better off with him making room for the next generation of scientists.

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Richard Dawkins is Right

August 15, 2013
English: Richard Dawkins giving a lecture base...

Right for once (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I never thought I would write that sentence. Well, I imagine that he is right about many things in his field of expertise, evolutionary biology. It is when he abandons his field to become a spokesman for atheism that I think he is often very wrong. Still, I have to give him credit for courage for his infamous tweet about Muslim scientific accomplishments, and of course, I think he is right. It is easy enough to bash Christians. Bashing Muslims could get you killed. Here is the story as told by the Guardian.

The outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins was involved in an online Twitter row on Thursday after tweeting: “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”

As users piled in to criticise him, the scientist continued: “Why mention Muslim Nobels rather than any other group? Because we so often hear boasts about (a) their total numbers and (b) their science.”

His other posts included: “You can attack someone for his opinion. But for simply stating an intriguing fact? Who would guess that a single Cambridge College” and “Muslims aren’t a race. What they have in common is a religion. Rather than Trinity, would you prefer the comparison with Jews? Google it.”

With the debate escalating, Dawkins, who has more than 777,000 followers, said: “Many are asking how many Nobels have been won by atheists. Needs research. I’d love to know. I suspect the proportion is v high, and growing.”

Owen Jones, the left-leaning commentator and author of Chavs, told Dawkins: “How dare you dress your bigotry up as atheism. You are now beyond an embarrassment.” Legal blogger Jack of Kent added: “Following @RichardDawkins tweet, Trinity Cambridge has presumably also produced more Soviet-supporting traitors to the UK than Islam.”

The row also drew in historian Tom Holland and Channel 4’s economics editor Faisal Islam who commented: “I thought scientists were meant to upbraid journalists for use of spurious data points to ‘prove’ existing prejudgements”.

@jptoc chipped in: “A similar (and infuriating for Dawkins) ‘fact’ is that Islam has more recipients of Nobel Prizes than Dawkins. It’s bad scientific method.”

But some users appeared more forgiving. @Chriss_m, said: “Dawkins spent the best part of 10 years attacking Christianity and not raising an eyebrow. He now turns that same eye on Islam and uproar.”

Trinity College, Cambridge, has 32 Nobel laureates, as against 10 Muslims listed in Wikipedia. When the Guardian contacted Dawkins by email to ask whether he was surprised by the uproar, he replied: “Prompted by exasperation at hearing boasts of (a) how numerous Muslims are in the world and (b) how great is their science.

“This prompted the thought that if they are all THAT numerous, shouldn’t they have more to show for it in terms of achievement? The comparison with Trinity Cambridge I judged less offensive to Muslims than the even more dramatic comparison with Jews (who have garnered an ASTOUNDINGLY large number of Nobel Prizes).”

He continued: “Am I surprised? Only at the number of people who seem to think Islam is a race, rather than a religion. I regard that view as racist. Anything you can convert to, or convert from, is NOT a race.

Dawkins has previously been involved in acrimonious Twitter exchanges over Muslim journalist Mehdi Hasan, prompting Owen Jones to comment “If atheism means being bigoted about Muslims or wanting to drive people of faith from public life, then I am not an atheist.”

Dawkins is obviously thinking more clearly than his detractors. Of course Muslims do not constitute a race. These people are panicking and throwing whatever they can at Dawkins and hoping it sticks.

Actually, I am not sure whether I would give the Muslims, as such, much credit for any scientific accomplishments during the middle ages. When the armies of Islam burst forth from the Arabian peninsula, their first waves of conquest included most of what we now call the Middle East. This region includes Egypt and Mesopotamia, the sites of two of the oldest civilizations in the world and both prosperous and advanced regions. It should be no surprise that the momentum continued for several centuries. Also, many of the scholars and scientists of the Arab Empire were Christians, Jews, or heterodox Muslims, including the sect of the Mutazilites. As the people ruled by the Arabs converted more and more to Islam and the societies became more Islamized, scientific progress slowed and then stopped. These days, the Middle East is one of the poorest and most backward regions in the world. This is a testimony of the influence of 1300 years of Islamic rule.

The thing that bothers me about people like Dawkins, though, is that they are determined to erase the influence of Christianity in the West. You can’t fight something with nothing and thoroughly secularized societies, like Western Europe seem to be increasingly unable to defend themselves against their enemies. They don’t even seem to want to reproduce. If Dawkins is concerned about the growing influence of Islam in Britain and the West, perhaps he ought to encourage belief in Christianity, or something. As it is, I fear he is unwittingly helping the enemies of civilization.

 

An April Fool

April 1, 2012

Last Saturday, March 24, there was a “Reason Rally” in Washington DC. One of the featured speakers was Richard Dawkins. It might have been more appropriate to have this event today.

1 The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.” (Psalms 14:1)

I hope any atheist reader will forgive my little joke and I’m sure they have heard some variant before. Yet, Dawkins is a fool. Consider his remarks at the rally.

But even the laughs turned into malaise as the event drew to a close. Famed atheist headliner Richard Dawkins labored through a speech that quickly grew bitter.

“Do you really believe that when a priest blesses a wafer, it turns into the body of Christ?” he said, ridiculing Catholics. “Are you seriously telling me you believe that?  Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?”

Hawkins challenged his fellow atheists to expose people who still cling to their faith in spite of their doubts.

“Mock them, ridicule them in public, don’t fall for the convention that we’re far to polite to talk about religion,” a frustrated Dawkins continued, “Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits. Religion makes specific claims about the universe, which need to be substantiated.  They should be challenged and ridiculed with contempt.”

Does he really believe that he will get people to come around to his ideas by mocking their deeply held beliefs? Does he really imagine that treating people with contempt will improve their perceptions of atheists? This is, after all, the man who coined the term “bright” to describe non believers and couldn’t understand why believers might find the term offensive. Because it implies that they are “dim” perhaps?

He wasn’t the only obnoxious person at that rally.

But as gloomy rain clouds hung low over the Washington Monument, the rally quickly degenerated into open mockery of religion and people of faith.

“F— the motherf—-, f— the mother—- pope,” sang Musician Tim Minchin as he played profane songs on the piano for a laughing and cheering crowd.

Few religions remained unscathed while cruel spokesmen of reason roundly ridiculed Mormons, Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims.

As the event continued, it became clear that the leaders of the movement were not clamoring for equality, but rather superiority.

“When it comes to religion, we’re not two sides of the same coin and you don’t get to put your unreason on the same shelf as my reason,”  HBO’s Liberal comedian Bill Maher said to the crowd via a video monitor. “Your stuff has to go over there on the shelf with Zeus and Thor and the Kracken.”

I can tell they are on the side of reason by their calm and rational discussion. Actually, they sound like intolerant bigots. I suppose if their kind ever got into power, they would start building the coliseums to feed the Christians to the lions again.

I don’t believe that the attendants at this “Rally for Reason” really represent the majority of people who happen not to believe in the Deity. Rather, this is a subset of people who relish controversy for its own sake and who enjoy offending as many of their fellows as possible, rather like the Atheist equivalent of the Westboro Baptist Church.

 


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