Enemy of rational thought Richard Dawkins has been at it again, spouting off about how “religion is accustomed to getting a free ride – automatic tax breaks, unearned respect and the right not to be offended, the right to brainwash children”. And don’t get me wrong – he has a point about entrenchment of religion in society. However when he pledges money to a humanist group that wants to plaster buses with the slogan:
“There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”
he’s just using the same unsophisticated brainwashing he’s accusing organised religion of sneaking upon us. It’s like one of those terrible Wikipedia jokes: needs references. Dawkins is supposed to be a scientist (I personally think he should have to hand his gown and fluffy hood back), and scientists are automatically suspicious of blanket statements like that. Probably no God? So you’ve run the figures on that, I take it? You’re not just foisting your beliefs on people who don’t know better? To use his own word, isn’t that brainwashing?
He manages to make it worse by rounding off, “this campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think – and thinking is anathema to religion”. Really, Richard? Anathema, you say? Anathema is generally taken to mean someone or something detested. But religions have for millennia welcomed thinking people; is Dawkins arrogant enough to seriously think that (say) Thomas More, humanist (that word cuts both ways) scholar, statesman, and actual bloody saint was detested by the Catholic Church? Or perhaps that he wasn’t a thinker – that the word ‘utopia’ was stolen by him from a heretic boy in Southwark? One of the premises of Utopia is that a man without religion cannot be trusted by society, so I can understand why Dawkins might like to ignore More; I just can’t see how he can claim he wasn’t one of the most important thinkers of his day.
Honestly, it makes me embarrassed to be an atheist.