Richard Dawkins – strident and intolerant?

Today I have a great pointer for you, specifically to an article I found in the Independent (the Irish one). Kevin Myers has done a great job debunking a popular myth regarding Richard Dawkins

Quite often, you hear folks refer to Richard as strident, aggressive, intolerant and arrogant, and it does personally annoy the hell out of me because it is simply not true. I’ve watched folks wander up to him at various meetings and he always stops to chat, and demonstrates not only considerable charm, but also, when button-holed by a kook, exercises great patience and always calmly explains things to them without getting aggressive in any way. He is simply a nice bloke, so why all the flack? I’d like to suggest its because he holds a view that is not the same as theirs, so when he (quite rightly) identifies a wacky insane idea as … well how about “wacky” … then he ends up being plastered with labels such as “Strident” and “Aggressive” for simply pointing out the bleeding obvious.

OK then, on to a few extracts from the article, Kevin recently interviewed Richard and was delighted to discover that he is in fact (as many of us do indeed know, because we have had the privilege of meeting him at one time or another) …

the amiable owner of a brilliant and enquiring mind, who is neither intolerant nor bigoted.

Is this the view after a quick chat by some block who does not really know very much? Nope, he spent the time and did indeed do his homework. In fact, what is cool is that prior to all this he was not too sure about evolution, but having read the books, he has changed his mind …

I spent the two weeks before meeting him immersed in his works, before which I was a great sceptic of Darwinism. I am now largely — but not entirely — persuaded of its essential correctness. But there are too many gaps and even Richard Dawkins — as he admits himself — cannot explain the beginnings of life.

The most vital element of Dawkinian-Darwinism is an acceptance of the extraordinary power of time, which is something I have only recently — and finally — understood.

And so having made this leap in understanding, his view of Dawkins is now more accurate …

Dawkins is simply not the austere and proselytising dogmatist of myth. Such people expect and almost seek confrontation, whereas he merely wishes to make his case.

Moreover, he is quite clearly baffled by the extraordinary vituperation to which has been subjected, usually by the nameless thugs and religious skinheads who stalk the lightless slum-corners of that strange and troubled city, the internet.

The article itself contains lots more detail, but the above is more or less the message behind it all. If interested, then here is a link.

So what should you do when faced with the silly claim about him being strident and intolerant? Well, since it comes from the Christian Creationist Right who loathe him for the power of his advocacy of the idea that Darwinian natural selection is the sole creator of our living world, then perhaps the best idea is to simply suggest reading his books. The science is solid, the data is well presented,  it successfully convinced Kevin that Dawkins is indeed right, and so other open minded folks should indeed experience the same.

1 thought on “Richard Dawkins – strident and intolerant?”

  1. “…perhaps the best idea is to simply suggest reading his books.”

    I couldn’t agree more. If I had the money, I’d put a copy of “The Greatest Show on Earth” in every hotel bedroom.

    Every time I see RD talking to a creationist I am amazed at his patience and courtesy, even when blatantly misquoted or set up as a strawman.

    And as for the title of “Militant Atheist”, applied to any outspoken atheist, that makes my blood boil. When did any of us last use arms or bombs in our cause?


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