Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dawkins calls out weak-willed atheists

to come out of the closet and take a stand for the atheist cause.

(Why do I feel an altar call coming on? Must be deja vu all over again. Shudder.)

"I'm quite keen on the politics of persuading people of the virtues of atheism," Dawkins says, after we get settled in one of the high-ceilinged, ground-floor rooms. He asks me to keep an eye on his bike, which sits just behind him, on the other side of a window overlooking the street. "The number of nonreligious people in the U.S. is something nearer to 30 million than 20 million," he says. "That's more than all the Jews in the world put together. I think we're in the same position the gay movement was in a few decades ago. There was a need for people to come out. The more people who came out, the more people had the courage to come out. I think that's the case with atheists. They are more numerous than anybody realizes."

Dawkins looks forward to the day when the first U.S. politician is honest about being an atheist. "Highly intelligent people are mostly atheists," he says. "Not a single member of either house of Congress admits to being an atheist. It just doesn't add up. Either they're stupid, or they're lying. And have they got a motive for lying? Of course they've got a motive! Everybody knows that an atheist can't get elected."

Read more here.

Atheism is one of the most despised points of view to admit to in polite company. So I hear Dawkins' righteous indignation and would happily join the fray to stick up for our "no belief in God" or "believe there is no God" human family members. Still, Rich lacks style points in my book—a polemicist whose noisy presentation often obscures his substance. Still, I get a kick out listening to what he says, sort of the same way I enjoy clubbing my eardrums with Hannity and Limbaugh on a bleak afternoon.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps he could speak in a less fundamentalist manner. :-) However, I think if more aetheists and agnostics were free to share openly, it would change the landscape in America. For the record, I don't think it would be for the worse. Maybe if we can accept aetheists and agnostics as normal human beings, some kind and some not so kind-- just like Christians,it would help us accept people of all races and belief systems. I think we (myself included) are so afraid of anyone who looks and thinks differently than we do. I'm hopeful that change is coming and I know it begins with me. So, I'm educating myself on whether people that look different than me are really that different. For the most part, I'm finding we have a lot more in common than I thought. Currently reading the simple book "Oneness" and that is helping.


Anonymous said...

I will only speak up for Dawkins, when he admits atheism is a position of faith arrived at by examining evidence and then taking a leap of, well, faith. You cannot *prove* a negative in the way he insists has been done and it is intellectually dishonest to say otherwise.

OTOH, we all know that where I come from atheists are not by any means a dispised group. Far from it; throw an atheist and an Independent Fundamental Baptist into a UU group and see which one gets despised first ;-)

(who has never speak even an enjoyable 5 minutes listening to ranting so maybe I just can't identify. . .)

Dave said...

Dawkins takes himself and his cause too seriously. I saw some clips of him debating Ted Haggard in the "Jesus Camp" video and thought to myself "here are two guys with a lot of clout and influence, neither of whom really get it."

colleen said...

I like what Joseph Campbell said when asked if he believed in God by Bill Moyers. He answered that he didn't beleive in a "personal God." From what I gathered I think he did admit to believing in the Mystery and something bigger than ourselves.

Matt said...


(This has nothing to do with this post.) You've been tagged for a fun holiday exercise -- details on my blog!

- Matt

Anonymous said...

Are atheists really despised? unelectable? Maybe I'm living in a different time zone (or probably thinking of the one I grew up in), but atheism or at least agnosticism seems the default position or most people -- even some who would call themselves "Christian." As a Christian, I don't see why the position should be any more scary than any other. It's faith position like any other, one that could held with as much humility or arrogance as the one I happen to believe in.

Scott said...

It would help if Dawkins had substance. He is such a philosophical lightweight that Stephen Colbert, joking around, made points Dawkins could not refute. Now, I will be the first to admit that there are some philosophically valid forms of atheism. Dawkins, however, doesn't seem to have discovered any of them.

Furthermore, he doesn't seem to grasp what the issues are, let alone counter them, like those made directly against his clumsy metaphysical assertions by Alistair McGrath, a scientist and theologian and Stephen Barr, a particle physicist. I mean Dawkins fails to recognize the simple distinction between physics and metaphysics and how, even logically, his sweeping metaphysical assertions simply do not and cannot follow from only empirical premises. He doesn't seem to understand that so-called facts are not as value neutral as he thinks.

Since he so clumsy at logic, it is difficult for me to even take him seriously as a scientist.