I’ve finally started reading Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. From everything I’ve read by Dawkins so far, and from the reviews I’ve read of his book, I really shouldn’t be surprised by the book, but I have to confess that I still am. I am only in Chapter 3, but from what I’ve read so far, I have to conclude that Richard Dawkins is either incredibly foolish, or incredibly dishonest. As I am prone to think the best of people, I will voluntarily toss out the dishonest option. I am, therefore, inclined to think that Dawkins may turn out to be one of the most incredibly foolish people of the 21st Century.
As I’ve mentioned before, I also started reading Victor Stenger’s God: The Failed Hypothesis, but have become too frustrated with him to read any more at the moment. There’s obviously a reason why his book is nearly universally omitted in any of the recent New Atheist or Anti-God books. So, why would I choose Dawkins as “most foolish” rather than Stenger? The reason is simply popularity; he’s pushed himself to the front of the line of New (Angry) Atheists with his arrogant rhetoric, and may be remembered when Stenger won’t.
So far, Dawkins’ book is mainly a rant against all things religious. He lashes out at everyone he can think of, going back and forth between generalized raving and somewhat more specific lambasts. While he tries to argue against any deity of any definition, he seems particularly annoyed with what he characterizes as the God of the Bible. He makes it clear that he actually knows very little about the Bible or theology, and doesn’t seem embarrassed at all about having definite opinions about things he knows nothing about.
He also seems particularly annoyed (or obsessed) with the United States, which I find interesting. What gives the British any frickin’ right to complain about America? It seems to me that any country who maintains a facade of royalty and whose population has seemingly adopted Diana-worship should provide enough ranting material. But, I digress.
A short example of more Dawkins-foolishness is his seeming review of Behe’s latest book, The Edge of Evolution. Dawkins obviously is quite taken with his own rhetoric, and lays it on pretty thick here. He starts with an ad hominem attack, then goes downhill from there, ignoring the real issues of Behe’s book and mis-characterizing what he does discuss. He even has the gall to plead, “Don’t evade the point by protesting that dog breeding is a form of intelligent design. It is (kind of) …” It’s embarrassing, or at least should be. For a good explanation of how Dawkins’ “review” misleads, jump over to Uncommon Descent.
It has been my experience with bullies (whether on the school ground or in the business world) that those who carry on this kind of rhetoric are compensating. Bullies as children are usually covering up a lack of self-confidence. In the business world (especially with attorneys, who often resort to this type of rhetoric), it’s usually a sign that they are arguing from a very weak position. For years, I have hung a small wooden plaque above my desk that says, “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” Those who rely on the facts, truth or sound logic do not need to scream to be heard.
So why is Dawkins screaming? Is it a cover-up (i.e. dishonesty), or just the ranting of the irreducibly foolish?