Anglican Samizdat

May 1, 2010

Richard Dawkins doesn’t understand morality

Filed under: Richard Dawkins — David Jenkins @ 1:19 pm
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In this clip Richard Dawkins dodges the question of how atheists can lay claim to morality while undermining the basis for its objectivity:

Dawkins regales the audience with examples of what he views as stupid religiously inspired morality.

He then goes on to list what he believes are “good”, “acceptable” or “reasonable” examples of morality, implying a he has reference by which he is judging them. If his reference is little more than a personal preference seasoned with a pinch of contemporary middle-class pseudo-reasoned tendentiousness, why would he think he has the right to impose his version morality on the rest of us; if it is an absolute reference, he has denied his own premise.


April 28, 2010

The Anglican Church of Canada is dafter than Richard Dawkins

Filed under: Anglican Church of Canada — David Jenkins @ 1:31 pm
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Here is the Anglican Church of Canada’s answer to the anti-theists: Jesus was the equivalent of  an evolutionary misfit; far from God being infinite, he’s not even big; let’s try pantheism and worship the cosmos for a change.

That should appeal to Dawkins and Hitchens; I am expecting an imminent conversion.

[T]he bigger we try to make God, the more silly such a God sounds. If we want people to take God seriously, they are telling us, forget the idea of God as a very big person out there.

Like Charles Darwin, author of Origin of the Species, Dawkins is telling us that new kinds of animals are created when large numbers of normal animals die off. Misfits suddenly fit well and become the ancestors of a new normal. If life has arisen on other planets or anywhere in the universe, that process of death leading to new forms of life will be the way it happens.

But that sounds strangely like Christ. He was a misfit who insisted on fairness and dignity for all, including women, the diseased and social outcasts of all kinds. That sort of equality would never fit into the violent hierarchy of human empires, yet through his death, Christ became the ancestor of a whole new kind of human–the community founded in God’s kingdom of justice, the community that is a follower of The Way.

Rather than asking people to imagine a great Being in the sky, maybe we should be focusing on faith in Christ as a way to grasp the deepest mystery of life. What if our worship spoke to the realities of the cosmos, of life, that skeptics already know to be true?

Then, would our worship elicit hysterics or awe?

I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to feel the onset of a bout of hysterics; hysterical laughter, that is.

April 26, 2010

Richard Dawkins explains how the gay gene was preserved

Filed under: homosexuality,Richard Dawkins — David Jenkins @ 7:00 pm
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Richard Dawkins, in keeping with the contemporary liberal credendum, assumes that there must be a gay gene. In this brief video he struggles valiantly to explain why the gay gene was not selected out of his Darwinian universe; it should have been, since homosexuals would not have reproduced.

His suggested answers are below and appear to have been extracted from the Beano Comic Book of Weird Science:

  1. The gay uncle theory: a prehistoric gay equivalent of the eunuch who looks after the females and their offspring while the butch males are out hunting. They passed on gay genes to the children by protecting their relatives’ children who would have carried the gay gene, demonstrating – albeit tenuously -the Darwinian advantage of the protective gay uncle for cavemen; it doesn’t explain the last 6000 years.
  2. The gay gene was passed on by homosexuals who had sex with the dominant males’ females on the side; homosexuality was used merely as a cunning ploy to steal other men’s’ women.
  3. The gay gene only produces homosexual behaviour given the right social stimulation – such as today. Dawkins almost slips into blasphemy on this one by saying there is no gay gene; he quickly recovers by sputtering that there is a gay gene now even if it once used to be an animal tracking gene which wasn’t allowed to express itself properly. Of course, this leaves the original problem: once the gay gene expresses itself in gay behaviour, homosexuals would be selected out – they don’t seem to have been.

So there you have it: the great high priest of Darwinian Dogma has spoken; all nonsense perhaps, but atheists, please genuflect.

April 20, 2010

Homosexuality a major cause of priestly paedophilia in the church

From Lifesite News:

A must-read paper produced by Human Life International Research Director Brian Clowes has closed the book on the question of whether homosexuality in the priesthood is a root cause of the clerical sexual abuse crisis.  Citing numerous research studies, Clowes demonstrates that homosexuality is strongly linked to sexual abuse of minors, and that celibacy is definitely not a cause of pedophilia.

Clowes cites studies, including:

– Homosexual Alfred Kinsey, the USA’s preeminent sexual researcher, found in 1948 that 37 percent of all male homosexuals admitted to having sex with children under 17 years old.

– A recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that “The best epidemiological evidence indicates that only 2.4% of men attracted to adults prefer men.  In contrast, around 25-40% of men attracted to children prefer boys.  Thus, the rate of homosexual attraction is 6-20 times higher among pedophiles.”

– A study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that, “Pedophilia appears to have a greater than chance association with two other statistically infrequent phenomena.  The first of these is homosexuality … Recent surveys estimate the prevalence of homosexuality, among men attracted to adults, in the neighborhood of 2%.  In contrast, the prevalence of homosexuality among pedophiles may be as high as 30-40%.”

– A study in the Journal of Sex Research noted that “… the proportion of sex offenders against male children among homosexual men is substantially larger than the proportion of sex offenders against female children among heterosexual men … the development of pedophilia is more closely linked with homosexuality than with heterosexuality.”

– A study of 229 convicted child molesters published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that “eighty-six percent of [sexual] offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisexual.”

If the Roman Catholic church does weed out homosexual priests to protect children, will those howling for blood – the dripping with sanctimony Hitchens-Dawkins conglomerate – applaud or shriek “homophobia”. Let me guess.

April 16, 2010

Richard Dawkins’ morality

Filed under: Richard Dawkins — David Jenkins @ 5:58 pm
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Is Richard Dawkins trying to protect children in his current efforts to arrest the Pope? Probably not; in this talk with Peter Singer, Dawkins declares that, in the right circumstances, he favours infanticide:

In another section he nods happily as Peter Singer expresses his approval of eating human roadkill – as long as the unfortunate’s relatives agree:

For those who might complain that I have extracted these comments and placed them out of context, go here to subject yourself to the whole bizarre exchange.

Dawkins’ rather primitive concept of morality seems to hinge on a few assumptions: suffering is bad; humans are mere animals. Consequently, depending on the degree of sentience of the animal, killing animals can be as bad as killing humans; animal suffering can be as bad as human suffering; killing someone – including a child – to end their suffering is good; cannibalism is equivalent to eating animals.

This is the man who is attempting to assert himself as a moral authority over the Catholic Church.

April 13, 2010

Another anti-Pope diatribe from Dawkins

Filed under: Richard Dawkins — David Jenkins @ 11:38 am
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Richard Dawkins is still at it:

The pope should stand trial.

Why is anyone surprised, much less shocked, when Christopher Hitchens and I call for the prosecution of the pope, if he goes ahead with his proposed visit to Britain? The only strange thing about our proposal is that it had to come from us: where have the world’s governments been all this time? Where is their moral fibre? Where is their commitment to treating everyone equally under the law? The UK government, far from standing up for justice for the innocent victims of the Roman Catholic church, is preparing to welcome this grotesquely tainted man on an official visit to the UK so that he can “dispense moral guidance”. Read that again: dispense moral guidance!

A few obvious questions:

  • What law is the Pope supposed to have broken?
  • Assuming he has broken an international law, where is the presumption of innocence for the accused?
  • Much of what Dawkins writes in this article is based on the Kiesle letter which appeared to imply that the Pope favoured the Church’s reputation over exposing an abusive priest. This contention has been refuted convincingly enough to introduce at least a reasonable doubt here. Where is Dawkins’ scientific detachment in all this?
  • If, as some claim, the predominant problem turns out to have been one of homosexual priests in the Catholic Church, would Dawkins approve of a ban on homosexual priests before or after admitting that the sun revolves around the earth?

Dawkins and Hitchens, for all their moralistic posturing, have no basis for their self-appointed positions as ethical arbiters of how the Roman Catholic Church should cope with the child abuse scandal. As atheists, not only can they not appeal to moral absolutes, but the principles that fire their affected indignation are not even their own: they were derived from the very institution they are out to destroy, the Christian Church.

April 10, 2010

Dawkins wants to arrest the Pope

Filed under: Roman Catholic child abuse — David Jenkins @ 7:04 pm
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From here:

RICHARD DAWKINS, the atheist campaigner, is planning a legal ambush to have the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain “for crimes against humanity”.

Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.

The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.

The Pope was embroiled in new controversy this weekend over a letter he signed arguing that the “good of the universal church” should be considered against the defrocking of an American priest who committed sex offences against two boys. It was dated 1985, when he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which deals with sex abuse cases.

The letter in question is here, along with a rebuttal by the Vatican.

The Roman Catholic Church is one of the few remaining bastions against rampant nihilistic secularism; the horrible scandal that has beset it now is not only sad because of the children who have suffered, but also because it undermines the good that the Catholic Church does.

God is spring cleaning in the Catholic Church; it would be ironic if he used Dawkins and Hitchens as his broom.

March 28, 2010

Richard Dawkins spouts empty rhetoric at the Catholic Church

Filed under: Richard Dawkins — David Jenkins @ 4:20 pm
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In the Washington Post

No, Pope Ratzinger should not resign. He should remain in charge of the whole rotten edifice – the whole profiteering, woman-fearing, guilt-gorging, truth-hating, child-raping institution – while it tumbles, amid a stench of incense and a rain of tourist-kitsch sacred hearts and preposterously crowned virgins, about his ears.

This is just a snippet from the article, whose author is obviously the antithesis of the sober, detached scientist that Dawkins has erected as a front to conceal a cantankerous, illogical old theophobe.

The article uses the word “should” eleven times which is eleven times too many, since to claim something should happen, presupposes a moral standard by which it can be measured. When Dawkins rejected God, he renounced belief in objective moral standards and abrogated the right to pontificate on them.

Damian Thompson’s opinion of the article is here.

March 17, 2010

How arrogant is Dawkins? Let me count the ways

Filed under: Atheism — David Jenkins @ 11:08 am
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Well, one way.

Bertrand Russell, mathematician, philosopher and atheist, when asked what he would say to God if he met him after death, answered “Not enough evidence, God!  Not enough evidence!” Although he continued to call himself an atheist, Russell acknowledged that, technically, he was an agnostic, since he didn’t believe in the non-existence of God.

Richard Dawkins, when asked the same question, not only didn’t answer it, but mocked the questioner. Today’s coterie of atheists really do give atheism a bad name and would undoubtedly make atheists of the past wince; even though I still disagreed with them, at least they had a modicum of wit, finesse, decency and understood the philosophical difficulties that hard atheism presents.

March 15, 2010

Atheist insecurity

Filed under: Atheism — David Jenkins @ 12:47 pm
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Melanie Phillips has an excellent article on the recent Australian atheist convention:

Dawkins preaches to the deluded against the divine.

LIKE revivalists from an alternative universe, 2500 hardcore believers in the absence of religion packed into the Global Atheists Convention in Melbourne last weekend to give a hero’s welcome to the high priest of belief in unbelief, Richard Dawkins.

The bestselling author of The God Delusion was similarly fawned over by the Australian media, which uncritically lapped up everything he said.

This was even after (or perhaps because) he referred to the Pope as a Nazi, which managed to combine defamation of the pontiff with implicit Holocaust denial.

By comparison, Family First senator Steve Fielding may feel he got off lightly when Dawkins described him merely as more stupid than an earthworm.

For someone who has made a career out of telling everyone how much more tolerant the world would be if only religion were obliterated from the human psyche, Dawkins manages to appear remarkably intolerant towards anyone who disagrees with him.

Today’s anti-theists resort to insulting their opponents, are sanctimoniously self-righteous about atheistic morality, are irrational, fundamentalist, angry, untruthful, bigoted, arrogant and intolerant. And, according to Melanie Phillips, insecure.

Other than that they are a lovely bunch.

March 13, 2010

Atheists sawing through the branch they are sitting on

Filed under: Atheism — David Jenkins @ 11:01 am
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As they meet in Melbourne to celebrate their lack of faith:

More than 2,000 atheists from around the world are gathering in Melbourne, Australia, to celebrate their lack of religious belief.

It is thought to be the world’s largest gathering of atheist thinkers. There is a determination to avoid what one session calls Atheistic Fundamentalism, says our correspondent.

Participants will be urged to avoid “missionary zeal” in their determination to promote their non-religious message to the world.

As this article notes, Dawkins’ brand of neo logical positivist scientism rests as much on faith as Christianity, Judaism or the foam-flecked ravings of a benighted pagan animism  – also known as Anglican-nouveau:

The truth is that science, like religion, starts off beyond reason and then becomes rational. Science is based on faith that the universe is rational. No scientist would begin to do science if they presupposed the universe is beyond understanding. The scientific search for the most simple and elegant theory is motivated by faith that such a theory exists. Charles Townes, a Nobel Prize winner for physics, said: “Science is so successful we are enthralled. Many people don’t realize that science basically involves assumptions and faith . . . nothing is absolutely proved.”

February 28, 2010

Richard Dawkins apologises

Filed under: Richard Dawkins — David Jenkins @ 8:42 pm

For his prior emotional outburst. The apology is here:

The controversy caused by our decision to close the forums on has greatly upset me. It has been raging for several days now and I have spent that time – frustratingly hampered by long haul flights, jet lag and the need to consult people in several different time zones – talking to colleagues and trustees, and reading a multitude of emails as well as open letters, blogs, internet comments and even newspaper articles, and I am now finally in a position to respond publicly. Please forgive me for replying collectively rather than individually. I am engaged in a strenuous book promotion tour of Australia and it would take too long to write separately to everybody who has written to me.

I would like to start by apologising for our handling of this situation. We have not communicated well with our forum volunteers and users (for example in my insensitive ‘Outrage’ post, which was written in the heat of the moment). In the process we have caused unintended hurt and offence, and I am very sorry about that. In a classic case of a vicious circle, some of the responses to our announcement also caused considerable hurt and distress to us, and in the atmosphere of heightened emotion that followed, some of our subsequent actions went too far. I hope you will understand the human impulses that led to this, and accept my apology for them. I take full personal responsibility.

Someone in the comments to this post in Dawkins’ forum pointed out that Dawkins Deniers have been making hay with the Dawkins Debacle; and I confess to having experienced a satisfying sense of schadenfreude. The rest of the comments are devoted to expressing a strange sycophantic gratitude – reminiscent of the Stockholm syndrome – to the One who has revealed to his disciples that life is entirely pointless.

There are but few dissenters. Here is one:

What a hypocrite. At first he called the whole thing a ‘storm in a teapot’, now he’s changed his tune? And everyone here wants to drink the kool-aid that he did this for noble reasons?

Of course he didn’t. It’s because he stood to lose money, pure and simple, because the most offended where his hardcore fans that contribute to his living. He didn’t want to damage his marketable brand name.

He’s the equivalent of politician who gets caught with his pants down. Like Harold Ford, all of a sudden changing his tune about gay marriage, for the sake of winning votes in a place where the gay vote matters.

It’s all a pathetic show.

Yes, I’m well aware that this comment is going to be deleted, but I have no shame in speaking the truth.

It couldn’t really be all about the cash, could it?

February 24, 2010

Richard Dawkins keeps attracting the wrong sorts of people

Filed under: Atheism,Richard Dawkins — David Jenkins @ 9:28 pm
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Richard Dawkins is re-vamping his forum – which he modestly calls “a clear thinking oasis” – and, because of that, people have been calling him names.

Dawkins puts this down to there being something rotten in the Internet culture. He might have a point to a degree, but, comically, the rather obvious thing he has overlooked is that a forum devoted to atheism attracts a lot of people who are more interested in irrationally venting their spleen than in calm reasoned argument.

From the exchanges with atheists on this blog, I have noticed that most atheists – all who have commented here – are emotional atheists: their belief system is based mainly on feeling. When a visiting atheists is asked to explain himself, one is confronted by a torrent of chaotic, emotive, unexamined aphorisms and clichés.

Just as he overlooks the obvious reason for Creation, Dawkins overlooks the obvious reason for the name-calling. Here is some of Dawkins’ response:

A Message from Richard Dawkins about the website updates

Imagine that you, as a greatly liked and respected person, found yourself overnight subjected to personal vilification on an unprecedented scale, from anonymous commenters on a website. Suppose you found yourself described as an “utter twat” a “suppurating rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum inside a dead skunk that’s been shoved up a week-old dead rhino’s twat.” Or suppose that somebody on the same website expressed a “sudden urge to ram a fistful of nails” down your throat. Also to “trip you up and kick you in the guts.” And imagine seeing your face described, again by an anonymous poster, as “a slack jawed turd in the mouth mug if ever I saw one.”

What do you have to do to earn vitriol like that? Eat a baby? Gas a trainload of harmless and defenceless people? Rape an altar boy? Tip an old lady out of her wheel chair and kick her in the teeth before running off with her handbag?

None of the above. What you have to do is write a letter like this:

Dear forum members,

We wanted you all to know at the earliest opportunity about our new website currently in development. will have a new look and feel, improved security, and much more. Visits to the site have really grown over the past 3 1/2 years, and this update gives us an opportunity to address several issues. Over the years we’ve become one of the world’s leading resources for breaking rational and scientific news from all over the net and creating original content. We are focusing on quality content distribution, and will be bringing more original articles, video and other content as we grow.

The new will have a fully-integrated discussion section. This will be a new feature for the site, similar to the current forum, but not identical. We feel the new system will be much cleaner and easier to use, and hopefully this will encourage participation from a wider variety of users.

We will leave the current forum up for 30 days, giving regular users an opportunity to locally archive any content they value. When the new website goes live, you are welcome to submit these posts as new discussions. The forum will then be taken down from the web. You will not loose your username on the new system.

The new discussion area will not be a new forum. It will be different. We will be using a system of tags to categorize items, instead of sub-forums. Discussions can have multiple tags, such as “Education”, “Children”, and “Critical Thinking”. Starting a new discussion will require approval, so we ask that you only submit new discussions that are truly relevant to reason and science. Subsequent responses on the thread will not need approval—however anything off topic or violating the new terms of service will be removed. The approval process will be there to ensure the quality of posts on the site. This is purely an editorial exercise to help new visitors find quality content quickly. We hope this discussion area will reflect the foundation’s goals and values.

We know that this is a big decision. We know some of you will be against this change. We ask that you respect our decision and help make this transition as smooth as possible.

We’re confident that these changes will improve the site experience and we look forward to seeing what you do with the new system.

Many thanks again.


Surely there has to be something wrong with people who can resort to such over-the-top language, over-reacting so spectacularly to something so trivial. Even some of those with more temperate language are responding to the proposed changes in a way that is little short of hysterical. Was there ever such conservatism, such reactionary aversion to change, such vicious language in defence of a comfortable status quo? What is the underlying agenda of these people? How can anybody feel that strongly about something so small? Have we stumbled on some dark, territorial atavism? Have private fiefdoms been unwittingly trampled?

Be that as it may, what this remarkable bile suggests to me is that there is something rotten in the Internet culture that can vent it. If I ever had any doubts that needs to change, and rid itself of this particular aspect of Internet culture, they are dispelled by this episode.

If you are one of those who have dealt out such ludicrously hyperbolic animosity, you know who should receive your private apology. And if you are one of those who are as disgusted by it as I am, you know where to send your warm letter of support.


Update: Ruth Gledhill has more on this here and here.

February 23, 2010

Richard Dawkins likes the King James Bible

Filed under: Atheism,Richard Dawkins — David Jenkins @ 1:23 pm
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In speaking of the King James Bible, Richard Dawkins makes the extraordinary claim that “religion must not be allowed to hijack this cultural resource”.

Evidently it hasn’t occurred to him that he is the one doing the hijacking.

To rob the Bible of “religion” is to expunge its meaning and make it merely aesthetic. Someone should tell Richard that he is too late: this has already been tried by the Anglican Church.

October 27, 2009

Dawkins Delirium

Filed under: Richard Dawkins — David Jenkins @ 5:56 pm
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h/t Damian Thompson

Richard Dawkins, has made buckets of money saying things like “The universe we observe has … no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference”. Yet, when it suits him,  this champion of reason has no qualms in using the concepts – good and evil – that he claims don’t exist:

What major institution most deserves the title of greatest force for evil in the world? In a field of stiff competition, the Roman Catholic Church is surely up there among the leaders. The Anglican church has at least a few shreds of decency, traces of kindness and humanity with which Jesus himself might have connected, however tenuously: a generosity of spirit, of respect for women, and of Christ-like compassion for the less fortunate. The Anglican church does not cleave to the dotty idea that a priest, by blessing bread and wine, can transform it literally into a cannibal feast; nor to the nastier idea that possession of testicles is an essential qualification to perform the rite. It does not send its missionaries out to tell deliberate lies to AIDS-weakened Africans, about the alleged ineffectiveness of condoms in protecting against HIV. Whether one agrees with him or not, there is a saintly quality in the Archbishop of Canterbury, a benignity of countenance, a well-meaning sincerity. How does Pope Ratzinger measure up? The comparison is almost embarrassing.

In a bleak Dawkins universe of “blind pitiless indifference” the above ravings don’t have to make sense: they are merely the random firing of neurons in Dawkins’ fevered – I was going to say imagination, but in a materialist universe, that doesn’t exist – brain. In the real universe where good and evil do exist, a brief search of Catholic charities is all that is needed to see what a fool Dawkins makes of himself when he pontificates outside of his field.

The most disturbing part of this incoherence is the fact that Dawkins thinks Rowan is saintly. It’s hard to know what Dawkins means by that since a saint is a Christian – a person whom Dawkins enjoys hurling inane schoolboy insults at; whatever he means, Rowan Williams doesn’t need a friend like Richard Dawkins.

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