As I have said before, I have wondered, reading The God Delusion, whether Richard Dawkins is ignorant, delusional, or intentionally deceptive. I am presuming that he is not unintelligent and that he understands basic logic, which is what has confused me as I’ve read through the book. I would have expected something more polished and well-argued, something to actually make people think, and perhaps doubt. This, however, is not the case.
Today I followed a Telic Thoughts link to a May 12 article by Dawkins on TimesOnline entitled “How dare you call me a fundamentalist” where he, in that winning way that he has, attempts to rebut some critics of his book. It is an interesting read, and if you haven’t read any Dawkins in the past, this is perhaps all the Dawkins you will ever need.
He starts by responding to criticism by other atheists that he uses “shrill, strident, intemperate, intolerant, ranting language,” then moves on to criticism that he is ignorant of the religions he criticizes. As in the book itself, his response to this 2nd question is nothing but rhetoric, and then he avoids having to make any real response by sending folks to read “‘Courtier’s Reply’ on P. Z. Myers’s splendid Pharyngula website” which he says “he cannot better.” If he cannot do better than “Courtier’s Reply,” then he should probably just give up; it is nothing but an attempt to justify Dawkins’ repeated straw man arguments, and it’s just ridiculous. Of course, Dawkins has no valid rebuttal and no excuse for failing to understand things he attacks. Saying things like “[t]here is no such thing as a Christian child: only a child of Christian parents” and “[m]ost believers echo Robertson, Falwell or Haggard, Osama bin Laden or Ayatollah Khomeini” can only be attributed to either ignorance or lying (and these quotes are from his rebuttal!).
He also objects to being called a fundamentalist, and tries to draw a distinction between passion and fundamentalism (fundamentalists apparently don’t change their minds). As a scientist, of course, he will change his mind if confronted with evidence. Of course, he doesn’t mention that fundamentally he believes that only evidence that can be scientifically verified can be considered.
Last week I was leaning toward the conclusion that Dawkins’ use of bad logic, mis-characterization and outright fiction was intentional. However, after reading this rebuttal, I’m starting to believe that he is, after all, simply delusional.