Thursday, June 05, 2014


Richard Dawkins: a Quick Rant

Richard Dawkins. I think he's an important modern cultural force and yet he infuriates me, sometimes almost as much as his detractors do. Dawkins gets a lot of emotional satisfaction from knowing and spreading the truth -- the truth that God doesn't exist. That's his meaning to life and he gets a full rich life from doing it. But the people he is preaching to get emotional satisfaction from their (wrong) beliefs in God and the Afterlife, etc.

So Dawkins gets his emotional satisfaction from depriving (or trying to deprive) others of their emotional satisfaction. This seems a little bit vampiric to me. Of course he cites the authority of "The Truth" to justify his behaviour. He is just a messenger of "The Truth". But is "The Truth" really such a great ideal? And is living while sincerely mindful of "The Truth" even feasible? Does Dawkins live that way, as if he is a transient speck upon a speck orbiting a speck that's a speck in a small corner of the universe? No, because if he did he would be crushed by the weight of meaninglessness. He's human like everyone else, an emotional creature, just like the people he talks down to. He isn't the pure "rational" being he wants to be seen as. Nobody is. He still wants status, power, success; he still has all the old atavistic urges, even though technically these urges are futile and stupid. He isn't superior to any other human in this regard. And "homo rational" is still a pipedream, thank goodness.

I am just wondering if "The Truth" is really a good excuse for being cruel...

my truth, your truth is always a excuse for evil.
As an atheist myself, I find no conflict between the teaching of science and the fostering of the childish myths Dawkins seems to go against. I fact, this speech of his (against fairytales) is not new: he writes about it all the time. I find it a bit desultory from his part, anyway, that someone like him should behave in this matter against something enriching and quite constructive as fairytales. Sometimes, people just doesn't know when to stop before becoming caricatures of themselves: this really seems to be the case.
I asked a similar question to the one Dawkins asks at a convention a few years back, about whether sf has any responsibility with regard to teaching proper science. The idea that we only use 10% of our brains - and could potentially use 100% - has been used in so many films now (most recently Lucy) that I wouldn't be surprised if most people think it's true.

I've no problem with telling children fairy tales - the issue is whether we tell children that we believe them. It's one thing to tell them a ghost story, another to tell them a ghost story and say that ghosts are real.
But telling people that ghosts are real is FUN! Especially when the following week you disable the fuse box before they come home so the lights don't work and hide in their wardrobe ready to jump out at them when they stumble into their bedrooms... as I did to my sister when I was 10.
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