Tuesday, 19 August 2008


It is hard not to agree with Bertrand Russell, who once said that no one would proclaim with fervour that 5 + 5 equals 10. Except, of course,
Richard Dawkins. Nothing restrains him in the passion of his crusade. Or as Basil Fawlty might have suggested - why not go on Mastermind:

Special Subject: The Bleedin’ Obvious...

Many fruitful attempts have been made to reason against the unreasonable. But last night wasn’t one of them. In truth, watching the third and last instalment on Channel 4, I was mortified to find that Dawkins the advocate of The Genius of Charles Darwin found himself constantly and embarrassingly on the defensive. His
blue eyes were charming, even though I did not see the persuasive power they were meant to possess. A trace of breathlessness in his voice, perhaps. Occasionally it occurred to me that the worthy man was completely outfoxed.
Still, one has to admire him for his combination of courage and foolhardiness.
Outscored by a couple of creationists who allege to believe in a God
that created the earth and all its creatures in six days some 5,000 years ago,
he had some considerable trouble legitimising himself.

I add but one word: bollocks!

To be Dawkins is to be very dull indeed. It is hard to see him as
anything other than an intellectual adolescent. Quite obviously, the Oxford
professor of the public understanding of science, and author of The Selfish
neither understands the role of science nor that of Creationism.
Albeit that something of its true nature shines through all the myth-making to
which this religion is subjected. Action begets reaction. And creationists may
well have calculated on that. They made little effort to be agreeable. Surely The God Delusion has to be the greatest recruitment drive for Creationism since Noah peopled his Arc with monkeys. It’s Grandmother Moses’s idea of God, but there is no doubting the scale of the lady’s objective. The bigger the lie, the more self-righteous she is in defending it. And the kids, in
fact, are thrilled. Facts and fossils mean little to school-children who love to
be enshrined in the glow of myth. Meanwhile, the state looks on approvingly: The
world has been corrupted by philosophies of revolutionary enlightenment for
centuries. And this new-fangled religion of reason and scientific elucidation
may well be considered its primary evil.

Wake up Dawkins!

This is not about God. In fact, no one has even half an inkling about
the nature of this debate. This is about religious partisanship and cultural
divisiveness. Fundamentalism in general plays an important, community-forming
role in social ecology, and this Biblical farce amounts to a hectoring
triumphalism of the most potently political and divisive kind. For the fact of
the matter is, that nothing with the word religion in its name can ever be truly

God is a metaphor. A synonym for the imagination. People are forever
fashioning God in forms He never takes! To some, indeed, the idea of a personal
God is to win the lottery. Others pray for a miracle. Some even bargain with
Him. Elsewhere penitential and pietistic cults flourish. America is becoming a
collection of weird cults and sects. And yet, relics and fossils of the
Darwinian evolution remain visible for millennia to come...

But can he disprove the existence of God?

Certainly, he can disprove the existence of something created by the
human imagination. But clearly, there is nothing obscure about the nature of
God, or what Spinoza called the “effecting cause of the existence of things.”
For if God and man are self-evidently the cause and effect of one another, then
why make a crusade, let alone a fantasy, out of a plain, physical fact?



percy stilton said...

Ah yes ..Spinoza...another arrogant intellectual type who wrote reams of rubbish to try to explain the bleeding obvious....that nature is its own creation & creator. Give me a one line poem over all this philosophy anyday.

Selena Dreamy said...

A one-line-poem?

With respect, Percy, what you have here is the prose equivalent of an entire collection of poems...

percy stilton said...

just wait till Jonathan turns up and collectively we might have enough bullshit to write a whole fucking bible.

percy stilton said...

...or maybe we should let Jonathan have a crack at re-writing the Koran seeing he is based in Kuwait...then again maybe not I'd hate to see anyone who loves Pink Floyd get decapitated over a lousy piece of literature.

Selena Dreamy said...

Language, my dear Percy, language!

You certainly have an earthy way of putting things, though I fancy that neither the collective assertion nor the bullshit premise need to be taken too seriously.

As for Jonathan getting decapitated - it could not possibly fail to make him understand immediately the importance of what has happened...:)

percy stilton said...

Which language would you like me to sodding speak Selena? I am not a bloody polygot but many have compared me to a Bartok so I will do my best to please you.

Richard Havers said...

Dreamy, "It's not about God", it's about money....great use of the 'bollocks' word...10 points.

All Shook Up said...

I think you ought to give him a sliver of credit for his interview in the crypt with Rowan Williams, though. The old Archbish looked ready to cave in and admit he didn't believe a word of the Bible, especially the Virgin Birth... Dawkins let him off the hook with that unfathomable waffle about poetry.

Can't help thinking that Dawkins could have found a juicier target in Bradford rather than the obvious and overdone ones in the States. The M word hung unspoken but ominously hinted at throughout.

Jonathan said...

But Percy, how do you write about complicated, ideational things in an uncomplicated way -without just making lists or using an impersonal idiom such as the scientific one (which Im not against, but which has its limits)?

If I could write more simply, without effluent of male cow, I would. But I don't want to sacrifice my content on the altar of style. The point is to say what I mean as best as I can, not to be controlled by a notion of how I must speak.

Anyway, how do we define 'bullshit'? Saying 'what you write' won't really help, alas.

They don't decapitate you in Kuwait, that's Saudi Arabia. They may, however, lock you up or deport you, preferably the latter.

You like Pink Floyd too?

Yes, Fundies and Dawkinistas feed each other and eat each other in a dysfuctional marriage of dependency.

I don't believe in the God Dawkins doesn't believe in. Does that make me an Atheist? If so, that's news to me.

Percy said...

Jonathan , everything you write is all right with me.

Selena Dreamy said...

“...so I will do my best to please you.”

Ok, Percy, lets run with that...

Selena Dreamy said...

Hey, Richard, thanks for 10 points.

Did you notice my new, narrow columns? I cracked it - just for you...

Selena Dreamy said...

"I don't believe in the God Dawkins doesn't believe in."

Who does, really? I think Richard is right. It seems a fair bet that the near-apocalyptic upsurge in religious mania is at least partly due to Christ The Moneymaker...

Selena Dreamy said...

“I think you ought to give him a sliver of credit for his interview in the crypt with Rowan Williams, though.”

Ahh, ASU, one thing I admire about you - wherever I use hyperbole you employ balanced reflection. Admirable!

...regrettably no doubt, I never saw that part of the programme. I simply couldn’t bear to watch it all....as I have found many times in my life, I was,temperamentally speaking, about to explode...

Jonathan said...

Selena, do you think life is ONLY about money and sex? I have twice been instructed most poignantly that this is indeed the case.

I ask in connection to what you say re what Richard said about 'it' being about money.

Are we right to reduce life all the time to these denominators? If so, how do we know this, that we are right to do this?

Selena Dreamy said...

I assume Richard was referring to the hype behind it, rather than life itself.

And yes, as I have said before, greed subserves a profound necessity in the political economy of human affairs, albeit that some of us ought to lighten up and recognise that there is also considerable purpose in non-utilitarian pleasures such as reading, thinking and conversing perhaps...

Anonymous said...

I think Ark as in Noahs Ark is spelt 'Ark' not 'Arc' unless you were describing a perfect parabola of some sort?

Selena Dreamy said...


Richard Havers said...

I did...I think a narrow column suits you well....

Bob said...

Ah yes. "I believe in God, but not the one in the Bible naturally." MY God is "--- fill in the blanks --". And you can not proof that MY God does not exist.

Why do people have to make up stories for things they don't understand and then violently try to persuade other people of their dreams?

On Dawkins:
Ninety percent of american people are religious, and a good deal of them do take the Bible literally; (I don't recall the exact number but I read it in wikipedia about 40%) so I suppose Dawkins is talking mainly to them.

(Is it just me or does everyone have to read your texts twice to understand them? Good reading though.)


Selena Dreamy said...

“Is it just me or does everyone have to read your texts twice to understand them?”

Not just you, Bob. Absolutely not. That complaint appears to be universal. According to one censor, I have brought imperfect writing to the greatest height of perfection. Which in itself is a perfect analogy of my own attempts at frivolity, eccentricity, hyperbole and sarcasm...

May I say though that your replies, by contradistinction, are invariably accessible and very much to the point. Thank you for you perseverance.


Jonathan said...

'Why do people have to make up stories for things they don't understand and then violently try to persuade other people of their dreams?'

Do not some atheists do this themselves when they try to understand religious and spiritual phenonema?

The problem about the idea of a literal reading of the Bible is that there are a multiplicity of such literal readings depending on your hermeneutical vantage point, presuppositions and personal agenda. People choose particular aspects to emphasise above others, and then interpret the rest in its light, through it as a lense, creating an entire system of thought out of the book. A system of thought that is not the book but yet is considered to be the book.

Unfortunately the people who wrote the Bible are dead (here at least, even if not elsewhere) and we can't very well ask them what they meant. So we make choices regarding meaning and reveal ourselves in those choices.

Jonathan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonathan said...

I tend to read everything pretty slowly anyway. This is especially the case with Selena, since she is always wanting to say something important in all her words and phrases. I want to understand every sentence before going onto the next. I don't want to skim read or get a general overview.

I get the impression she wants to be read slowly, though I don't know...? Perhaps she doesn't care...?

In any case my jury is definitely still out on whether or not speed reading is all its cracked up to be (though maybe I only say this because I can't read very fast).

Apparently, before Ambrose's era readers always tended to mouth the words as they read, so they couldn't have read very fast. Surely much of the musicality and texture, and deeper resonance, of words is lost if we read words, if we process them, like a computer?