Friday, October 14, 2011

Magic of Reality Part 2 –Why are You so Insensitive About my Real Myths?

By Gary Berg-Cross

As I mentioned in my earlier blog not everyone is happy with Dawkin’s Magic of Reality book and its gentle debunking of myths. When Sally Quinn published a favorable review and profile on Richard Dawkins in the Post’s Oct. 4 Style (“Outspoken atheist explains magic of science to the young”) it was met by an angry Letter to the Editor by Jim Fowler, Ashburn. Jim largely ignores the science-centric nature of the book and started down the religious path arguing that Dawkins is no expert on religion:

“Mr. Dawkins himself is quite a contradiction. His understanding of science is truly profound, and his ability to communicate its truths is quite enthralling. Yet when it comes to the topic of religion, he exhibits a far less sophisticated comprehension, and his rants can come across mean-spirited. If he would only stick to science instead of veering into a domain where he is apparently not well-trained, his considerable gifts could be far more broadly appreciated.”

What rants he may be alluding to are unclear and how he veered into religion, at least in this book, is also unclear. Perhaps it is that not all myths are created equal. It may be OK to critique other people’s myths and knock Scandinavian Thorists but the story of Genesis, elevated by Hebrew tribes in the Middle East and enshrined in a claim of one true God is not to be treated this way.

Or it could be that the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is not being criticized, but Richard Dawkins, the outspoken atheist and bestselling author of “The God Delusion” is. With this book he may have made permanent, vocal enemies who want to shout down anything he says. It’s analogous to what happened to Michael Moore and Al Gore when they exposed certain inconvenient mass beliefs as erroneous. that It doesn’t matter that he’s written what Sally Quinn called:

“a book for 12-year-olds, although with its entertaining clarity and beautiful illustrations, it’s also appropriate for adults who lack a strong science background.”

Perhaps it is that Richard can be wonderfully direct in interviews that accompany the book. For example creationists, as Dawkins acknowledged in a recent interview, “might have trouble with it.” Talking about believers in the Adam and Eve myth, Dawkins was expressed himself clearly:

“What baffles me about people like that,” he says, “is how they can get in a car, fill out tax forms, go to the grocery store or run a life, harbor these delusions and still be so ignorant and stupid? How do they navigate their way home without driving over a cliff?”

All of this directness can be seen and read in an exchange with Bill O’REILLY on his Fox show. A portion is reproduced below and you can decide who is playing “semantic games” and who is being clear thinking:

O’REILLY – You may remember about two years ago we had an atheist, Richard Dawkins, on The Factor. He was on a crusade to convince believers they’re idiots. Well now, Mr. Dawkins’ new book, partially aimed at children, called The Magic of Reality – I talked to him earlier this week.

Now, you wrote this book, and this book, you know, is marketed somewhat toward children, adolescents, correct?

DAWKINS – It is, yes.

O’REILLY – And you want them to not only believe in science – which I think is a good thing – but reject God and religion.

DAWKINS – No, this is a book about science. It doesn’t talk about God.

O’REILLY – It mocks God. I looked at it.

DAWKINS – No it doesn’t.

O’REILLY – Come on!

DAWKINS – Which page have you looked at?

O’REILLY – I mean I went through that book and basically you’re saying that everything can be explained by science. Correct?

DAWKINS – Well, everything about the natural world can be explained by science. But where does it mock God?

O’REILLY – It basically says that these things are myths. They’re not really true…

DAWKINS – Every chapter has myths at the beginning of it.


DAWKINS – Some of them are Aztec myths, there are ancient Egyptian myths, the … {inaudible}.

O’REILLY – You're playing semantic games. You know what you’re doing. You’re trying to get to the kids and say you’re an idiot if you believe in God.

DAWKINS – It has nothing to do with God. I am talking about myths from all over the world. The Judeo-Christian myth is thrown in occasionally, as one of many myths that come from around the world.

O’REILLY – The Judeo-Christian philosophy isn’t a myth. It’s reality. This country is based on it.

DAWKINS – Whew! That’s not true.

O’REILLY – Yes it is. Throughout history, some of the worst regimes ever have been atheistic. You know that. Communists, under Stalin, Mao Tse Tung …

DAWKINS – That’s nothing to do with atheism……


And the story doesn’t end there. After the interview and later on his book tour Dawkins was scheduled to speak at a $95-a-plate dinner event at Wyndgate Country Club organized by the Center for Inquiry Michigan, along with the Richard Dawkins Foundation.

But the country club of cancelling his appearance after the interview on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” where he discussed his new book, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True.

Why? In a phone interview Assistant Director Jennifer Beahan of the Club said simply that the club owner did not wish to associate with individuals such as Dawkins or his philosophies.

Dawkins told the Detroit Free Press.

"This is sheer bigotry. If the country club had said, 'I'm not having Dawkins speak because he's a Jew, or because he's black, or because he's gay,' they would never get away with it,"

CFI is pursuing legal remedies against Wyndgate Country Club.

1 comment:

Don Wharton said...

The lunatic nonsense never ceases on Fox. There is a good You Tube video of the exchange between Dawkins and Bill O'Reilly.