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Dawkins cleaning off his shoe

December 30, 2006

On the surface it appeared Richard Dawkins signed an online petition to the Prime Minister of England, calling for restrictions on religious teaching of children.  In fact, that was a sub-clause of the petition and when Dawkins learned of it, he withdrew his signature and disavowed the petition.  Meanwhile, a fascinating discussion of the tension between civil liberty and the protection of children from religious dogma sprang up over on Dispatches, including explanatory responses from Dawkins himself.  Very interesting and thought-provoking stuff: Dawkins and the religion petition

(The thread is about an hour’s worth of reading at this time, with Dawkins’ entries toward the end.  It will probably get longer. Update links below the fold.)

Updates: not a shining example of professional disagreement…
PZ Meyers (no fan of Ed Brayton, he) weighs in on his own blog with Never let facts get in the way of condemning Dawkins

  • And Brayton tries to see if he can piss farther; Dawkins repudiates signature, PZ still lying.

    And over on Panda’s Thumb is Richard Dawkins’ official statement on the matter (along with some other commentary from Nick Matzke).  The whole post “Divided by a common language: Richard Dawkins clarifies his position” is definitely worth reading.  I think this sums it up nicely:

    “…Bloody hell! All that storm in a teacup for nothing! If only the petition had been worded properly in the first place … And if only I had read it more carefully … And if only Brayton had read it more charitably … No wonder lawyers and diplomats need special training. I’m out of my depth here.”
    - Richard Dawkins

    And Ed Brayton responds to Richard Dawkins: My letter to Richard Dawkins (beginning to sweep up some of the rubble now)


  • Categories: Religion
    1. December 31, 2006 at 00:13 | #1

      Brayton pushed a “one strike and you’re out” button of mine on a completely unrelated topic. I’m stopping by Pharyngula once in a while to see if the pissing matches are finally over. Apparently not.

    2. December 31, 2006 at 10:32 | #2

      Someone on PZ’s blog left a really telling comment; coming from a religious family he said the spat “looked suspiciously like a doctrinal scism.”  There’s a reason the US has 4,000+ Protestant denominations – lack of tolerance for differences.

      I left comments on both blogs inviting them to at least pretend to be grown-ups for a while.  Both men are obviously voracious readers, someone should slip a copy of Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People into the stack.

      (dusts hands off) Yep!  That’ll fix everything!

    3. December 31, 2006 at 10:48 | #3

      I wouldn’t know a doctrinal schism if it bit my ass, but the combatants are obviously out to get each other. At this point, the question of to what degree I agree with whom is moot – it’s not worth my time wading through the mess and since both sides tick me off, they’ve each lost a regular reader. But I repeat myself…

    4. January 1, 2007 at 02:36 | #4

      Thing is, while no fundies are likely to be convinced at either blog, school administrators and board members looking for input on policy decisions might visit there.

      The first comments I left didn’t really seem to register as the crapfest deepened. Maybe I am a glutton for punishment but I again left comments at both blogs entreating them to look for common purpose instead of calling each other every name in the book. 

      No response on Dispatches (which is OK) and a tidal wave of acid reflux from PZ and the chorus at Pharyngula.  They couldn’t see any distinction between vigorous defense of science and vile infighting among themselves.

      Well, I tried.

    5. January 1, 2007 at 08:53 | #5

      I noticed the response you got on Pharyngula. While I’m used to the echo chamber of commenters, Myers calling you a hypocrite was the last straw for me.

      Happy new year, DOF.

    6. January 1, 2007 at 10:33 | #6

      Thanks!  You too.  :-)

    7. OB
      January 1, 2007 at 13:19 | #7

      While I’m used to the echo chamber of commenters, Myers calling you a hypocrite was the last straw for me.

      That floored me, truth be told. I’m definitely a PZ fan (and one of the few who supports the notion that at least SOME of us have to be loud and aggressive, and that “demented fuckwits” should be put in their place, publicly if possible), and I’d NEVER have expected him to call DOF, of all people, a hypocrite. *Sigh* I suppose I’m delusional to think that somehow a man who’s a professor is less prone to pissy-ass tantrums and lashing out than, say, my husband, my 20-year-old nephew, or George W. Bush. ;-)

      From me & mine to you and yours, a very Happy New Year.  Stay warm & safe!

    8. January 1, 2007 at 17:44 | #8

      Thanks, OB! 

      PZ and Ed were busy measuring their yellow lines in the snow, so it was a bit audacious for some joker to step in and say “hey, why not change your approach?” To be honest I wasn’t expecting a warm reception and clearly there’s something going on beneath the surface there that I don’t understand. 

      He seems satisfied with the results of his approach, though.  Who am I to argue with success? :smirk:

    9. January 1, 2007 at 18:39 | #9

      OB, there’s nothing wrong with being a vocal unbeliever and calling them as you see them. I do believe that atheists should let themselves be known. Of course, if you want to achieve an objective other than simply mouth off, you have to consider if being vocal about what is conducive to the larger cause.

      Like DOF, I suspect there’s more to the appeasement blog wars than meets the eye; chances are PZM and Brayton sniffed each other’s butts, didn’t like what they found, and now can’t resist the temptation to get into one more pissing match. Whatever.

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