[from the New Republic]

The Closed Mind of Richard Dawkins:

His atheism is its own kind of narrow religion

By John Gray

An Appetite for Wonder: The Makings of a Scientist by Richard Dawkins (Ecco Press)


Unless you’re an unrepentant “Dawkinist” you might find this review of interest. For the first part, though you have to go through the DOOR.





   “If an autobiography can ever contain a true reflection of the author, it is nearly always found in a throwaway sentence. When the world’s most celebrated atheist writes of the discovery of evolution, Richard Dawkins unwittingly reveals his sense of his mission in the world. Toward the end of An Appetite for Wonder, the first installment in what is meant to be a two-volume memoir, Dawkins cites the opening lines of the first chapter of the book that made him famous, The Selfish Gene, published in 1976:

   “Intelligent life on a planet comes of an age when it first works out the reason for its own existence. If superior creatures from space ever visit earth, the first question they will ask, in order to assess the level of our civilisation, is: “Have they discovered evolution yet?” Living organisms had existed on earth, without ever knowing why, for over three thousand million years before the truth finally dawned on one of them. His name was Charles Darwin.

   “Several of the traits that Dawkins displays in his campaign against religion are on show here. There is his equation of superiority with cleverness: the visiting aliens are more advanced creatures than humans because they are smarter and know more than humans do. The theory of evolution by natural selection is treated not as a fallible theory—the best account we have so far of how life emerged and developed¹—but as an unalterable truth, which has been revealed to a single individual of transcendent genius. There cannot be much doubt that Dawkins sees himself as a Darwin-like figure, propagating the revelation that came to the Victorian naturalist.

   “Among these traits, it is Dawkins’s identification with Darwin that is most incongruous. No two minds could be less alike than those of the great nineteenth-century scientist and the latter-day evangelist for atheism…..

[For the entire article, paste in what's below.]



   ¹ Our Note: Observe how when this touchy issue is addressed from an “outside” point of view, a writer typically lets his readers know that he’s “all for Darwin’s phenomenal contribution,” and that’s not what he’s writing about, so his club membership in TWKB (Those Who Know Better) won’t be cancelled. Though we wouldn’t say things quite this way, the review makes some excellent points, and, we feel, it is worth the attention of several of you. In fact, this Internet post was brought to our attention by one of our subscribers.