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Richard Dawkins (the vilifier) jumps the shark

March 16, 2010

Richard Dawkins (the vilifier) jumps the shark

In the past week, or was it two weeks, Melbourne was host to the “2010 Global Atheists Convention.” A convention that was so important that no one in Melbourne would have noticed was on. Despite the fact I myself live in Melbourne it was almost as if it never took place. Never mind that the odd media outlet ran their editorials either praising the speakers intellectual merits and then stipulation how they can now safely come out of the closet. Never mind that the usual suspects sing the supposed virtues that they all seem to share just by being a member of the atheist club. Never mind that for the rest of the nation it was ignored and only manage to attract a grand total of 3 protesters. (Note to would be hell raisers: If you can only attract 3 protesters then you not even considered an annoyance.) Despite every indication that this would be another elitist yawnfest of like minded people, practicing group think, it did have one draw card. That draw card was Professor Richard Dawkins. (The grand master and unofficial leader of the New Atheists.) With Dawkins at their lead it would surely send a powerful message to the world.

If a powerful intellectual message was meant to the result of this conference then I am still waiting for it to hit. Somewhere between not being interested and having something better to do that powerful message was lost. The only truly intended point was a misnomer about how Dawkins had debunked Noahs Ark. In actually all that happened was Dawkins had reiterated his love of rationalism over an untestable story (What would we expect him to say?). However for a conference that was meant to show the leading light of how the world would be a better place under the rational and peaceful without the irrationality of religion then it failed. The cause of this failure was Dawkins himself who descended his line argument into cheap shots and ad hominem attacks.

In his keynote speech Dawkins described Senator Fielding was described as being “less intelligent than an earthworm.” In the same speech he referred to pope Benedict and the “Nazi Pope”.

For some of his most loyal fans this would be seen as Dawkins’ telling it like it is, with a spice of humour. Those who are not Dawkins groupies may actually see these as personal attacks rather than any rational argument. The so called ‘great’ Richard Dawkins cannot even make a point with insulting he opponents. People who do not agree with Dawkins, like Senator Fielding, are called stupid for not agreeing. Yet if he really does not like you then he will call you a Nazi. A kind cheap smear used by cheap people who are devoid of any rational line argument. Vilify and insult.

Few of the Dawkins’ groupies may have noticed what has occurred with their bestselling author. He has shown the rest of the world that even without faith he can be nasty, cheap and devoid of a logical argument. The real Dawkins may not be the image he would like the world to see but a short tempered who uses insults when he has run out of arguments. In politics this is called a gaff. But in the New Atheist Movement it is called a resounding victory. Only time will tell how it will be remember. (I am laying bets on the later)

The side show of the ‘Global Atheist Convention’ has moved on with barely a flutter of attention to indicate that it took place. (Your average football game gets more people turning up.) Yet there is a strange new view of Dawkins as he flies back home and commences to blog about how successful he was. That is a view of a Richard Dawkins that has finally ‘Jumped the Shark’.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. ionzone permalink
    March 18, 2010 8:29 am

    He is quite the hight of nastiness is he not? You would never catch the Pope or anyone like him pouring bile like this.

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    • March 18, 2010 11:01 am

      ionzone

      Thanks for your comments.

      If the Pope or anyone is pouring out bile at the same velocity as Richard Dawkins then I would be interested to find out.

      Like

      • ionzone permalink
        March 19, 2010 7:57 am

        I certainly wouldn’t! Just tell me where they live so I can book plane tickets to the opposite side of the planet!

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  2. March 19, 2010 3:44 pm

    ionzone

    I also try to avaoid nasty people but for reason they seem to pop up like mushrooms.

    Like

  3. ehead permalink
    March 23, 2010 7:04 am

    I think the thing you are missing about Dawkins and Hitchens and all of these “New Atheist” writers is that they are effectively writers and leaders of a disenfranchised minority group, much like blacks in America, women, and gays. I think this goes a long way in explaining the psychological perspective they are coming from, and why their rhetoric is a touch provocative and nasty. It is the rhetoric of a group that is much maligned and prejudiced against. In short, it is the rhetoric of anger.

    I know all about this firsthand, being an atheist in the American south. I can’t even tell people I’m an atheist the prejudice is so bad (I think I read somewhere that Americans would be more likely to vote for a gay president than an atheist president, and you know how we love gays over here!). With my friends I have to use the less accurate but far more acceptable term agnostic, though even that raises eyebrows and be a bit contentious. For my work mates, or my girlfriends parents, its best to stick with either Christian or Jewish, because anything else would be strongly condemned. Muslim may be approaching atheism in just how poorly it’s received, but I honestly think atheists are hated and trusted even less.

    So, just remember you are listening to a speaker for a group that is much hated and maligned all around the world (with a few exceptions, of course, like China, and areas of Western Europe), and in this context the anger and controversy will probably make more sense.

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    • March 23, 2010 1:39 pm

      ehead

      Thanks for your comments.

      My interpretation of your first paragraph is that you are that disinfranchised minorities have a right to be provocative and nasty. It may seem like a very rationalism for unsavory behaviour but it does not make an illogical argument magically logical. Nor does is help to dispell any negative stereotypes that people may have about the so called minority. Instead it reinforces the negative image by providing examples of nastiness. Such behaviour only adds more nastiness to the world, not less.

      You second paragraph does indicate that you yourself feel that you are part of an untrusted minority. Aside from making the point that everyone belongs to some kind of minority, how does name calling and cheap shots ever help? Such tactics belong to those that have no interest in peace and social inclusion.

      I am also just a little concerned that both Hitchens and Dawkins are being addressed as if they speak for all atheists (which they clearly do not). This kind of self appointed “defenders of the cause” is nothing new and in many cases has turned out to be purely selfserving. More to the point neither Dawkins or Hitchens are trying to claim special consideration for oppressed atheists. Rather they are attacking a line of ideological enemies using gutter tactics and cheap political smears. I can see the targets of this kind of designed vitriol seeing it as nothing more than an attack upon them.

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  4. ehead permalink
    March 24, 2010 3:12 am

    Well, I think “rights” talk often conceals a lot of non-sense behind the scenes, but I meant my comments to be more a persuasive attempt at elucidating understanding rather than a rigorous defense of the New Atheists tone. However, I don’t shy away from challenges, so let me take another stab at trying to explain why their tone is welcome by many.

    As I was trying to say in my previous comment, the so called “social inclusion” you mention is a myth with regards to atheism, at least in America. Further, history has shown us (as my feminist girlfriend is quick to point out), that social inclusion doesn’t come about by simply accepting the status quo and being passive. I think it’s a little naive of you to think that social change can come about without any conflict. Believe me, that approach wouldn’t have brought about change in America during the civil rights movement, nor in apartheid South Africa, or have won women the right to vote. And it’s not going to work in the gay rights movement either.

    I won’t pretend that the social injustices against atheists are on the same par as these other examples (though there are several states where not believing in “almighty God” disqualifies you from holding public office), but the cultural and social climate towards atheists is palpably hostile.

    So, unfortunately, it seems you have to stir things up in the short run in order to effect change in the long run. Due to social inertia, and peoples predilection for being judgmental, a temporary period of increased hostility is necessary.

    I for one am trying to work on at least being personally honest about my atheism (instead of hiding it, like I have all my life), but it can be tough in certain situations. Where I work it more or less means you can forget about advancement (these good ole boys I work with would probably find a reason to fire me if they ever found out). It’s certainly taboo to bring it up with my family, and my girlfriends Aunt more or less stopped talking to her after she found out my girlfriend wasn’t a devout Catholic.

    Yes, the hatred of atheism is spread far and wide in the American South (and most of the rest of America). And while stirring things up and making a nuisance may not always work, sitting around being passive and pretending their isn’t a problem certainly hasn’t worked. So, while Dawkins and Co. tactics may seem harsh at times, their very popularity just shows you how many closet atheists like me are out there, and how sick and tired they are of being judged.

    Like

    • March 24, 2010 1:05 pm

      ehead

      I often try to work out where people are coming from before I respond to their pronouncements. I also have to draw upon my knowledge and experience to temper what I write.

      Here I am reading that you see are viewing yourself as a disadvantaged minority living in fear of stipulating your ideological beliefs to those closest to you. However a long as you have someone like Hitchens or Dawkins raging against your ideologcal enemies it somehow compensates.

      However from my experience what I have see is that all ideologies are subjected to harsh examination and criticism regardless of whether they are loved by someone or not. My critcism of Dawkins is not that he has a difference of opinion. He is quite welcome to it. My criticism s with the underhanded tactics he uses to defend that opinion and double standard he applies to other whether makes rash judgements.

      The end reult of reading Dawkins raging on about religion is not a better informed choice but instead more misinformation and some cases direct lies. As such he undoes any reason to support his argument.

      Truth does matter.

      Like

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