Richard Dawkins must have gotten the shit kicked out of him as a kid. Because now, 60 years later, he’s coming out strong and hard against the religious, and he’s not taking bullshit from anybody.
I am an atheist(I’m Jewish now, but certainly not anti-atheist). I can easily understand the frustration he feels at religious people’s reliance on equal parts faith, deliberate suspension of reason, and sheer stupidity to maintain their beliefs. But he’s not winning any converts. I’d suspect most readers of his best-seller, The God Delusion, are already atheists.
And those few bible-beaters who read it (or at least buy it and flip through it) will just read it as an attack on their belief system. Remember, despite comprising about 75% of the country and completely dominating political discourse, Christians absolutely love portraying themselves as victims (martyrdom is such an important part of the Christian belief system). They really don’t need yet another reason to feel like an aggrieved minority when they’re clearly not.
At any rate, I cringed when I saw Dawkins squealing at that smarmy closet case and drug addict, Ted Haggard. HowÂ exactly did he expect Haggard to react? Did he expect an honest response from someone so deeply invested in a long string of myths?
Upton Sinclair said it’s difficult to get someone to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.
Listening to Haggard, it’s obvious within seconds that he’s no intellectual giant. Posing polite but probing questions would have been enough to expose Haggard as a fraud to all but the most gullible.
Instead, Hawkins fell into that common British passive-aggressive trap, and began to snap at him testily after aÂ string of flatteries. Was that really necessary? Do you bother getting in screaming matches with the homeless guy on the street corner that’s convinced you’re the ghost of Elvis?
Similarly, Christopher Hitchens muddles his basic message that Jerry Falwell was a corrupt, completely disingenuousÂ person, by calling Falwell “such a little toad”, “an evil old man”, and basically, an illiterate (among many other things). Saying that he couldn’t care less if Falwell’s family’s feelings were hurt by his harsh critique makes him sound an awful lot like…well, an evil old man. Petulantly steamrolling over Anderson Cooper and Alan Colmes, arguably sympathetic figures, doesn’t help strengthen his arguments either.
“How religion poisons everything”? Assholes poison everything. And yes, a lot of them, from Osama bin Laden to Jerry Falwell, face far less criticism than they deserve because people think they’re offending the religion and all their coreligionists if they call these guys what they are. But the point still is that a religion is just a bunch of stories until an asshole imbues them with hatred, destructive thinking and backwardness.
I mean, I understand these guys have books to sell, and I’m sure they’re worth buying and reading (I’ve read about half of The God Delusion, and found it somewhat well-reasoned and it gave me an occasional chuckle). And I know a little controversy will get youÂ the bookings to engage on news channel talk shows that help drive up book sales.
Call me old-fashioned, though. I still think you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. And there might be far more honey-loving flies out there than either might think.