Exactly thirteen decades ago, in Down House Cottage, Kent, a coughing Charles Darwin bravely told his wife and children, “I am not the least afraid to die.”
Later that day, the world said goodbye to its most important biologist. The world’s thinkers are still surfing the ripples in his wake.
Not least, Professor Richard Dawkins. Like his hero, Dawkins is disproportionately influential because he enjoys speaking about things well outside his discipline.
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Dawkins was snooty. Pell was outwitted. The questions were predictable, as were the mentions of Hitler and Stalin. There were titters at Pell’s reference to ‘preparing’ boys and sniggers when he clumsily criticised Jews as intellectually inferior shepherds.
Last night’s Q and A starring Cardinal George Pell and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins went pretty much exactly as expected.
But then, an epiphany. According to Pell, the highest Catholic authority in the land, a man with a direct line to God, ATHEISTS CAN GO TO HEAVEN.
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I love it when Richard Dawkins comes to town. It’s like Christmas for people who don’t believe in Christmas.
Even though he’s since departed our fair shores, Dawkins’ wake of influence still ripples like the aftermath of an intellectual tsunami, and if anything you have to give him credit for almost single-handedly putting religious debate back on the map.
The debate that follows Dawkins across the globe is largely confined to the mission of getting rid of this pesky notion of a creator once and for all, by using the atheist mantra “celebrate reason” to expose all who entertain the divine as delusional, idiotic disciples of fairies or flying spaghetti monsters or whatever convenient and patronising analogy fits best. Needless to say, there’s a lot of love in the room.
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If there is a God, he’d be rubbing his hands with glee at the rise of radical atheism.
The pompous pronoucements of Professor Richard Dawkins reinforce the image of atheists as intellectual snobs who look down on those who believe.
Now – I, too, view the Bible as a fantastical fairy tale. But to denigrate those who gain succour from their faith is, at best, patronising and, at worst, counter productive.
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