Monday, December 24, 2012

Dawkins is now a parody of himself

I suppose it had to happen finally. Richard Dawkins has made a career out of saying outrageous things about religion. I think he started out sincerely enough, believing the creed of the militant atheist faith he was one of the founding fathers of. Somewhere along the road he must have become addicted to the spotlight focused on him. Problem is, to keep the light on him, he discovered he needed to say increasingly outrageous things. The danger with that is that if you keep it up, you end up saying the kind of thing that comic impersonators of you say when they are pretending to be you ... crazily outrageous things, exaggerated versions of the things that you might say  ... like what he has just done: saying that being raised Catholic is a worse form of abuse than being sexually abused.

No, really, he said that. Dawkins. I'm not making it up as an example of comic exaggeration  He actually said that. It's in the video* if you want to watch it. 

There are some interesting points about the video. Look at the reaction of the interviewer - it is one of almost disgusted incredulity. He really can not believe that even Dawkins would say this. He gives Dawkins a chance to soften it a little, but how does Dickie respond? With a pretty vile anti-Catholic Straw-man argument, actually. The Hell of the Catholic Church is a place where you roast, your skin peels off, & then it grows back so it can burn off all over again. 

Really? I don't remember ever hearing anything like that from my school teachers during catechism class in Catholic school, the diocesan priests who visited us, the Presentation Brothers who taught me during my first year of secondary school, the OFM Capuchins who had me for the rest of my post-primary education, or indeed ever, ever from the pulpit. But hey, maybe they just forgot to mention it? Maybe a quick peek into the Catechism of the Catholic Church will put me right on that score? Oh no, wait: I read through the relevant parts of that earlier this week, preparing my Advent homily on Hell & there was nothing about skin roasting off and regenerating in order to roast off and regenerate ad infinitum.

While he is spouting his poisonous accusations, the camera cuts to the audience. I don't think they can believe what they are hearing either. There is a reason for that. Unless the room is full of the most ardent admirers of Dickie, militant atheist fellow-travelers, then they are bound to be repulsed by what he is saying. No sane person is going to accept his farcical version of Catholic teaching ... and even those who think that bringing up children in the faith is a bad thing are not going to readily align themselves with a view that it is worse than sexually molesting them to do so. It is a pity the clip ends before we see how they voted on the question.

And notice especially what happens when the interviewer says to him: 'hey! you're an empiricist! you know better than to base a claim like this on what one person says!' Does Dickie look ashamed at his lack of scientific method on this? Nope. He simply takes a moment and then says one knows intuitively that it is worse to tell little kids about hell than to sexually abuse them. Do you see what has happened there? The scientist (although of course he as been operating out of his field for so long he should perhaps really be called a former scientist) who is always calling for empirical evidence when it comes to religion is reduced to talking about intuition and feelings when it comes to trashing the Church. And of course, if he accepts the intuitive argument here, he really hasn't a leg to stand on when he tries to reject it when others use it to justify their faith.

Dickie has really lost the run of himself with this one. This kind of self-parody not only undermines himself, but is quite likely to win the Church a few sympathy votes. To paraphrase the old saying: with enemies like this, who needs friends? OK, that might be a step too far. But certainly enemies like this can do you as much good as a friend.

Merry Christmas to you all (& especially you Dickie ... we are praying for you)!

*Kudos to Fr Michael Gollop of Let nothing you dismay for tipping me off to this


  1. *Thunderous applause*

    And a facepalm for good measure directed at that sadly misled man. Heavens.

  2. Thanks Gina ... 'sadly misled' indeed; a tool of the ancient enemy