HuffPo: arrest Richard Dawkins

Rory Fitzgerald’s latest rant piece at The Huffington Post is called “Richard Dawkins should be arrested for covering up atheist crimes.” It is, of course, a response to Dawkins’s and Hitchens’s call for legal action against the Pope if His Holiness sets foot in the UK.  Fitzgerald, an Irish journalist, calls himself a “lapsed atheist.”

The piece is completely devoid of intellectual merit, but is worth looking at for a few reasons:

He doesn’t know who Richard Dawkins is. Until yesterday, Fitzgerald’s column identified Dawkins (twice) as a “microbiologist.”

Richard Dawkins has become a sort of Messiah for atheists. He is a microbiologist. I’m not sure why he feels that expertise in such an arcane field gives him authority to pronounce on spiritual questions. But, if microbiologists hold the keys to heaven, people may wish to consider the thoughts of Nobel Prize winning microbiologist Werner Arber, or eminent geneticist, Francis S. Collins, who led the Human Genome Project. Both are believers in God, and both find evidence for the divine in science itself.

After an alert reader pointed out this error, Fitzgerald changed “microbiologist” to “geneticist.” This is also wrong.  Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist.

Its insistence that the crimes of atheist regimes should be laid at the door of atheism, and that Dawkins, by not criticizing these crimes, is complicit in them.

As recently as 1979, the Cambodian genocide killed 1.7 million people. These were murdered by communist atheists. War crimes tribunals are now being set up in Phnomh Penh. I don’t see Dawkins loudly decrying the actions of his atheist colleagues in Cambodia. Why? Because his agenda is not to rail against evil wherever he sees it and to seek objective truth. His agenda is to mock, pillory and destroy the Judaeo-Christian principles and beliefs upon which Western Civilization is founded. Indeed, his ideology ultimately renders discernment of good and evil impossible, subjective and arbitrary. . .

Dawkins imagines that by promoting his grim angry personal philosophy as ultimate truth, and by viciously attacking ancient moral systems, he will bring about some sort of atheist utopia. In doing so, he seeks to magnify wrongs done by religions, and to breeze over the immense horrors brought about by atheist belief systems. You could even say that he is involved in a cover up that would make a Bishop blush: for we have seen what atheist utopias look like: they look like cattle trains rolling in to Belsen with women and children hudding together in the cold.

I don’t have The God Delusion at hand, but I recall that Dawkins did indeed decry the crimes of “atheist regimes.”  Maybe he wasn’t loud enough?  And do we need to once again say that yes, atheist regimes were responsible for horrible acts of genocide, but it’s doubtful at best whether those crimes were done in the name of atheism.  (And of course you can make a good case that Nazis weren’t atheists.)  Dawkins et al. cover this ground amply and I won’t repeat their arguments here.  Finally, atheist “utopias” don’t all look like the Third Reich. What about Sweden and Denmark?

Its criticism of Dawkins and the New Atheists for “militancy” and hostility while at the same time being even more hostile towards atheists. For example, Fitzgerald characterizes the Pol Pot regime as Dawkins’s “atheist colleagues.”  And here’s more:

His particular bile is reserved for the Judaeo-Christian traditions. You will not see him spouting off so vociferously about Mohammed. He is too cowardly for that. . .

He does not conduct the debate about belief in God in a respectful and sincere way. He is himself a narrow-minded fundamentalist who appears to be lacking in some basic human faculties, beyond intellect. He is increasingly redolent of a man with no sense of smell going around shrieking to everyone that their sense of smell is a delusion. Meanwhile, the rest of us get on with smelling the flowers, and the coffee. . .

As the ape-descended Dawkins struts around imagining that he knows the workings of every dimension of an infinitely complex universe from his tiny perch on this speck of a planet, the gods, in which he disbelieves, must be laughing big time.

“Ape-descended Dawkins”?  That’s pretty damn close to how creationists describe evolutionists! If he’s not a complete idiot—and that’s surely a matter for debate—Fitzgerald should recognize that he too descends from an ape (well, an ancient apelike primate).  That aside, this kind of criticism is no different in shrillness, militancy, and lack of “respect” from that of our most outspoken atheist, Christopher Hitchens. It always amuses me when accommodationists unwittingly demonstrate this double standard.  But by all means let them loose the dogs of sarcasm and invective on us.  I am concerned more with ideas than with outspokenness. I don’t criticize Fitzgerald for his tone. I criticize him for his stupidity.  Oh, and he can’t write, either.

You’ll find more of the usual anti-atheist arguments in the column, too, like the assertion that we have no good foundation for morality (“[Dawkins’s] ideology ultimately renders discernment of good and evil impossible, subjective and arbitrary”) and the claim that atheism is ultimately doomed because religious people are outbreeding us.  All good fun!

UPDATE:  Alert reader Barney (see comment #23 below) points out that since this morning Fitzgerald’s piece has undergone some severe pruning.  Barney gives a link to a copy of the original piece, which is here.  And Miranda Hale (comment #27) notes that HuffPo has also changed the title. It used to be “Richard Dawkins Should be Arrested for Covering Up Atheist Crimes,” but the new version is “Should Richard Dawkins be Arrested for Covering Up Atheist Crimes?”


89 Comments

  1. Sili
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Well, at least he got the ape/monkey issue correct.

    • MadScientist
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, accidents do happen. R. Dawkins is an ape – and yet these idiots think that the fact should be some sort of insult.

  2. Posted April 17, 2010 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    That was some of the most inane crap ever. My question is: how did that ridiculous shit find its way into Huff Po in the first place? Is HP now saving a little space for the absurd?
    ~Rev. El

    • Sili
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      “now”?

      little space”?

      • Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:21 am | Permalink

        Exactly. Any time people at HuffPo start expressing opinions about science or faith there’s a 95% chance that they’re going to say something mind-wrenchingly stupid.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      The Huffington Post has always been a cesspool of idiotic ideas. It has never been worth reading.

    • JD
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      The Huffington Post has a terrible track record with religion and science and it’s horrible. Just yesterday I was reading an article on why design was needed for evolution.

      They use to often publish anti-vaccine propaganda, and they still often publish articles on why homeopathy is great.

      • Posted April 17, 2010 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        I had no idea the HP publishes this kind of tripe; I don’t visit the site. Thanks for filling me in.

        I think the respect I thought was due HP came from the fact that I constantly see A. Huffingston being asked for her insight on various issues on programs like Olbermann’s and Maddow’s, programs for which I have much respect.

        Thanks for the reality check.
        ~Rev. El

        • Badger3k
          Posted April 17, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink

          Which is probably why the Texas Freedom Network asked her to speak at some function, and people have been reaming the for inviting an anti-science, anti-critical thinking partisan to their event.

        • MadScientist
          Posted April 17, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

          Arianna is one socialite you have to keep on your list; she can help you get in touch with a hell of a lot of other people – you don’t piss her off.

        • Herbert
          Posted April 18, 2010 at 9:39 am | Permalink

          Rev. El Mundo, please do not disparage tripe in this manner. Tripe is a delicacy in many Asian, Latin American, and southern European cuisines. Thank you.

          • Dave J L
            Posted April 18, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

            And here in the North of England, though god knows why; the stuff is ghastly.

            • Posted April 19, 2010 at 6:36 am | Permalink

              If I may, I think it tastes like sh*t!

              Which it literally does!

              Cheers,
              Norm.

        • Posted April 19, 2010 at 5:41 am | Permalink

          Myabe the fact that Maddow and Olbermensch love Arianna should be cause for thinking twice about them too?

          I loved them when they were going after the Shrub. But they have both gone downhill.

          A lot.

    • Myk
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      Because the HuffPo have very lax editorial standards, and will basically publish anything that seems about the right length and is written in mostly coherent English.

    • revjimbob
      Posted April 18, 2010 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      “That was some of the most inane crap ever.”
      Read anything in HuffPo by Robert Lanza or good old Deepak Chopra to bathe in the stupid.

  3. jose
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    “You will not see him spouting off so vociferously about Mohammed. He is too cowardly for that. . .”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHRkMcVrt2w

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fae3jz_QbXc

    You wish he was so cowardly, pal.

    • jose
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      I spent like 15 seconds looking for Dawkins arguing with muslims on youtube. It’s too easy to find that kind of stuff, so my guess is that he’s deliberately lying about Dawkins.

      On the other hand, he could have read in Wikipedia that Dawkins is “a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and popular science author.” Not a microbiologist, nor a geneticist. Didn’t he even take a look at Wikipedia?! Well, maybe he’s not deliberately lying after all. Maybe he’s just that incompetent.

    • Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      Exactly. Fitzgerald must also have missed the whole Harun Yahya controversy, or the fact that Dawkins made a point, when promoting his latest book The Greatest Show on Earth, to link the rise of creationism in the UK to Muslim influence. And of course, Dawkins is vocal in his support of such critics of Islam as Salman Rushdie or Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    • gruebait
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      Fatwah Envy! Christians are just so defenseless in the face of criticsm.

    • MadScientist
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      The thing about not criticizing mohammedanism is not even Fitgerald’s idea – he’s plagiarizing. I suspect something of the Jehovah’s Witless “Lighthouse” being widely read (or listened to) by religious dolts. I don’t care to use ‘google’ to try to find out when that exact phrase first appeared, but Fitzgerald is a witless plagiarist.

  4. Posted April 17, 2010 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    This guy is new on the scene. Even a blathering moron like Bill Donohue could do better in the non-sequitur department.

  5. Pilchard
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    “Dawkins imagines that by promoting his grim angry personal philosophy as ultimate truth”

    I’m not sure these people even notice their use of inane overreaching relativism anymore.

  6. Juha Savolainen
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    We must make a distinction between – to coin an apt expression – the “faith-based atheism” of many Communist states (and some Nazis and other followers of extreme right) and the very different atheism based on “public use of reason” (to hijack Kant´s very useful expression.

    The necessity of the distinction is obvious as many Communist states, such as Soviet Union during Stalin´s dictatorship, PRC during Mao´s dictatorship, Cambodia under Khmer Rouge. North Korea under Kim Il Sung and Kim Kong Il etc. simply
    transferred all ideas about divine power to earthly authority: the Party and/or its Leader were divine and all criticism directed towards it heresy punishable by death. They did not try to eradicate religious mentality from public life; rather, they were intolerant of any rivals to their own particular brand of faith, dogma and mystique.

    The situation vis-a-vis Nazis and many extreme right movements is even clearer as their anti-Enlightenment origins are obvious. (One might say that many Communist movements had Enlightenment roots, but they gradually degenerated to religious movements while preserving some Enlightenment elements. In contrast, many Nazis and Fascists were vehemently against Enlightenment from the very beginning, although often borrowed half-baked “biological” ideas to their ideological positions.)

    This all is very different from the sort of atheism Dawkins (and most of us!) represent. We are talking about atheism that is based on comprehensive “public use of reason”, i.e. the self-correcting authority of scientific and philosophical reason. That cannot take place except in conditions of freedom of thought and discussion. This institutionalized criticism of all beliefs and valuations is completely antithetical to the sort of religiosity that joins together the “secular religions” of faith-based atheism to their more obviously religious brethren, whether Pharaonic religion of ancient Egypt, Islam, Catholic Church etc. etc.

    • Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      Eloquently put.

    • Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      Yes, very eloquently put. I’ve recently finished reading “The Science of Liberty” by Timothy Ferris, who quite thoroughly discusses how totalitarian regimes actually constitute a *betrayal* of science, reason, and Enlightenment ideals. Well worth reading.

  7. Insightful Ape
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    This bull is on Huffington Post?
    I am as disguested at the left as the right.
    Incidentally if you can find a letter signed by Dawkins trying to support a Khmer Rouge official I’ll say arrest him, too.

  8. articulett
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    What about all those non-Scientologist regimes and Non-believers in astrology regimes Mr. Fitzgerald forgot to mention?

    (My atheist dog would just like to point out that she has more morals and greater intelligence than Rory Fitzgerald–and SHE is descended from a wolf!)

    • MadScientist
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      Lies, lies! Your dog did not descend from a wolf – she was created that way!

      • articulett
        Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

        Oh no– her ancestors of the lupine “kind” got off of Noah’s boat and started bumping uglies like there was no tomorrow so their descendants could microevolve all the dogs of today super fast– including my soulless (but moral) beast.

        The original lupine kind was CREATED– mine got here through copulation. Just like me!

        • okami
          Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

          I was found in the cabbage patch, myself.

  9. Jeff D
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    The mix of ideas (some deceptively utopian, some pernicious) that Saloth Sar (Pol Pot) and his pals used to devise and justify their murderous policies has a complicated provenance, and includes not only “sacred land / sacred peasantry” B.S., Euro-style atheism, but also French Marxism, Buddhism (Pol Pot had a Buddhist upbringing in his childhood), and (briefly, in France) exposure to evangelical Christianity.

    The motivations behind or beneath the Cambodian genocide were complex and cannot be legitimately laid at the feet of “atheism” or “secularism.” Priests and missionaries were targeted for the same reason as other identified enemy minority groups such as the Chan Muslims and the much larger group of ethnically heterogenous victims who were educated, who wore glasses, or who exhibited a sense of humor: They were threats to the regime because they either represented bourgeois economic forces (landlords, non-agricultural workers and owners, etc.) or were capable of motivating the populace to engage in counter-revolutionary activities.

    My favorite authoritative source on the Cambodian genocide (and on genocide in general) is historian Ben Kiernan’s massive book “Blood and Soil.” Kiernan was extremely thorough in his research, and if there had been a significant “atheist” or “god-hating” undercurrent of the Cambodian genocide, I think Kiernan would not have hesitated to explain it in detail.

  10. Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Re Cambodia and “atheist” crimes, I know this article was an attack on Dawkins, but his comrade-in-arms in the pope case, Christopher Hitchens, has never been anything but forthright in attacking and criticising those responsible for war crimes and crimes of humanity, whatever their religious affiliation.

    The same is true of Geoffrey Robertson who is one of the lawyers involved.

    These people are emphatically not hypocrites.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Christopher Hitchens, has never been anything but forthright in attacking and criticizing those responsible for war crimes and crimes of humanity, whatever their religious affiliation.

      Except for George “Dumbya” Bush, who Hitchens supported.

  11. XXL
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    I tried to post a response to a comment to Fitzgerald’s piece, but by the time I had logged in, the comment had disappeared. Apparently, Fitzgerald’s defenders are too embarrassing even for him to countenance.

    And as another commenter pointed out, Dawkins’ piece was posted without moderation of the comments, while, once again, religion gets the benefit of censorship of its critics.

    • Posted April 17, 2010 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      The Huffington Post has one of the most ridiculously heavy-handed moderation policies I’ve ever encountered. My first two attempts at commenting on this article didn’t make it through moderation (I have no idea why, as they weren’t vitriolic in the least, unlike the idiotic article) and I’ve experienced the same thing before. And now they’ve shut down comments. Must protect poor, fragile Rory Fitzgerald! SIGH.

  12. Jonn Mero
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    In some regards the incoherent, incompetent nitwit is doing atheists a favour, because the ‘article’ is so puerile, so ignorant, so off-the-mark, so lacking in even basic comprehension that it shows up our adversaries as the depraved clowns they often are.
    So really, – thanks Rory!

  13. Dave B.
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    On the point about them out-breeding us, Fitzgerald should consider how the proportion of atheists in the West has increased in the last two hundred years, from a starting point of virtually zero to a very large minority today. And the trend is still going our way.

    Which means either that atheists are breeding faster than theists, or that people like Fitzgerald should derive little comfort from breeding rates.

    • articulett
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, the majority of atheists I know came from religious parents.

      Information cannot be controlled as religions have managed to do for years.

      Atheists welcome de-converters from all religions.

  14. godskesen
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Do morons like this Fitzgerald really think that they’ll earn credibility by claiming to be “lapsed atheists” or the like? It’s so transparently not the case that they were ever reasoned atheists. At most they may have been disenfranchised, depressed youths who were angry at their community and god, perhaps because of their own lack of status, though not disbelieving in its values. Do they not see that even in such a state they would have had very little in common with us?

    • articulett
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      I doubted that comment myself. I think he was trying to be coy– I’ve certainly heard of “lapsed Catholics”. I’ve also heard of “collapsed Catholics” for those who are now atheists–a term I find amusing. I don’t think the term “lapsed atheist” makes sense. Is he planning to rejoin the rational crowd someday? Is he also a lapsed believer in unicorns? Is this “Templeton talk”? –Or, my guess is that it’s probably the usually , “I used to be an atheist, but…” charade we’ve come to know and expect from theists (particular those of the creationist “kind”). I think they must think such a comment makes them sound more persuasive, since in their head their spiel worked so well.

  15. Posted April 17, 2010 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    It’s like he has never listened to a single word Dawkins has ever said. Fitzgerald has made an atheist strawman and painted the word “Dawkins” on the front.

    And he completely missed the point on why Hitchens and Dawkins want to arrest the pope. It’s not because Ratzinger is the most powerful Catholic. It’s because there is a paper trail showing that he helped to cover up sexual abuse.

    • Dave J L
      Posted April 18, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. Critics seem to be missing the point that the case for arrest isn’t actually being made on the basis of religion. Change the names and locations and the exact same case could be made against the head of any secular organisation, and it is the Pope as the head of an organisation/state who Dawkins and Hitchens suggest should be arrested, not as a religious leader.

      That’s not to say religion isn’t relevant of course: the fact that they are having to actively put this suggestion forward (when it would already be happening with a secular organisation) highlights that it isn’t already happening precisely because of the religious element, but the argument for arrest is itself an entirely secular one.

  16. Matt Penfold
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Dawkins started his academic career studying zoology, specialising in ethology. His mentor was Niko Tinbergen.

  17. Posted April 17, 2010 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Isn’t this person the perfect example of what is called a nincompoop?

  18. raven
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    “(And of course you can make a good case that Nazis weren’t atheists.)” They weren’t. They were Fitzgerald’s people and the xians own the Nazis lock stock and barrel.

    crosspost from Pharyngula:
    WTH!!! The usual fundie creationist lies.

    Hitler was a Catholic and a creationist. His millions of willing followers who did all the work and killing were Catholics and Lutherans.

    Hitler again. “We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.”
    Adolf Hitler, in a speech delivered in Berlin, October 24, 1933; from Norman H. Baynes, ed., The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939. Vol. 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1942, p. 378.

    Oh gee. Hitler didn’t much like atheists either. He stamped them out. Fitzgerald would have agreed with Hitler.

    If lying was a crime, Fitzgerald would have already been arrested. But it is really just a common fundie xian practice. They must think the commandment says, “thou shalt lie (a lot)”.

    • Posted April 17, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      It was Pope Pius XII that endorsed Hitlers candidacy in 1933. With out it Hitler might not of ever risen to power!

      “The Catholic Church considered the Jews pestilent for fifteen hundred years, put them in ghettos, etc, because it recognized the Jews for what they were”…. I recognize the representatives of this race as pestilent for the state and for the church and perhaps I am thereby doing Christianity a great service by pushing them out of schools and public functions.”

      -Adolf Hitler, 26 April 1933,

  19. ereador
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    “the gods, in which he [Dawkins] disbelieves”

    That has to be one of the screwiest constructions I have ever heard. Is there such a behavior as active disbelief? I guess it’s possible. It reminds me of the religious woman who said “I don’t believe in not believing.” I wish I remembered where I read that, or maybe not.

    • articulett
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      It’s a “deepity”.

    • Janet Holmes
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      The irony is that the god’s Dawkins disbelieves in are all the same gods
      Fitzgerald disbelieves in, minus one.

  20. steve
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    The comment section more than makes up for article itself:

    And as always, religion gets the censorship. Ever realized how hypocritical of you religious folks? The Dawkins article that was posted here was moderation-free. This one is guarded tighter than a Saudi virgin’s hoo hoo. With this sort of double standard, good luck NOT pissing people off.

    and

    This article reads like a list of logical fallacies. Every single one I can think of is well represented. Thanks for the laughs.

  21. Posted April 17, 2010 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    and the claim that atheism is ultimately doomed because religious people are outbreeding us

    As an atheist daughter of Christian parents, I am not impressed.

  22. ambulocetacean
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Sad, wittering idiocy.

    Let’s not forget that it was the evil atheist Vietnamese who got rid of Pot Pot while the good Christian leaders of the world sat on their asses doing nothing other than vetoing UN resolutions against the Khmer Rouge.

    • Posted April 17, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      And the Christian US resumed full support of Pol Pot when he was hostile towards Vietnam.

  23. Barney
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Looks like the Huff Post has done some major editing as a result of the comments. They’ve removed “His agenda is to mock, pillory and destroy the Judaeo-Christian principles”, and “we have seen what atheist utopias look like: they look like cattle trains rolling in to Belsen”; “You will not see him spouting off so vociferously about Mohammed. He is too cowardly for that. . .”; “lacking in some basic human faculties, beyond intellect”; and perhaps more.

    The original is still here if anyone want to read it: http://politics.ifoday.com/?p=9091

  24. Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    The vacuous cowards at HuffPo have closed comments on the article after two pages. Two measly pages! I’ve seen threads about Oscar gowns that went on for seven! Could it have been the overwhelmingly critical tone of the commenters toward the HuffPo?

    • Midnight Rambler
      Posted April 18, 2010 at 3:50 am | Permalink

      As of right now, the article “Kate Hudson breast implants” has 1,071 comments. Shows you where their priorities are.

  25. Stonyground
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    He also accused Dawkins of mis-quoting Einstein while selectively quoting Einstein himself, I tried to locate the relevant quote but couldn’t find it so I am quoting from memory:

    “It is of course a lie what you have heard about my religious beliefs and a lie that is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal god and have never denied this but have stated it clearly…”

    I can’t remember the last part but it basically states that his spirituality consists of his admiration for the universe.

    • Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

      Huzzah for Wikiquote!

  26. raven
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    “and the claim that atheism is ultimately doomed because religious people are outbreeding us”

    And their kids are dropping their parents toxic religion by the millions.

    According to the southern baptists, 70% of their kids stop going to church when they can, usually after age 18.

    According to the ARIS survey, the three fastest growing religions in the USA are Wicca, Islam, and the Nones.

  27. Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Oh wow, I just realized that the Huffington Post changed the title! Last night it was “Richard Dawkins Should be Arrested for Covering Up Atheist Crimes” and now it’s “Should Richard Dawkins be Arrested for Covering Up Atheist Crimes?”

    !!!!!!

    • phantomreader42
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      And they not only changed the title, they refused to admit to it, and closed comments to prevent anyone from pointing it out! What lying sacks of shit!

    • Posted April 17, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      HuffPo: JAQing off since 2005!

  28. Olivia
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    This is like a Greatest Hits chart of religious cliches. Science is arrogant! Richard Dawkins is the atheists’ pope! Secular governments commit genocide! You’re just another kind of fundamentalist! Religion provides society with a moral compass! You wouldn’t say that about Islam! Einstein thinks you’re a dick and I’ve found a quote to prove it!

  29. Ambidexter
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    If Fitzgerald was really a “lapsed atheist” then why didn’t he turn himself over to the police for “covering up atheist crimes” when he was a practicing atheist?

  30. MadmanMundt
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Great take down of another idiotic HP piece of garbage. I only have one issue. Sweden is by no means an atheist country as you seem to imply. The Church of Sweden is the largest Lutheran church in the world, with about 70% of the population as members. Although not particularly devout or fanatical, most Swedes are at least vaguely deist.

    Sweden does happen to be a bad ass county, but it is not, in any way, an “atheist utopia.”

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      According to this site, only 23% of Swedes believe in God: http://www.vexen.co.uk/countries/scandinavia.html

      It was my impression that many Swedes belong to the church for ceremonial and family reasons, not because they believe in God. That was my take from reading Society Without God, by Phil Zuckerman, about religion in Denmark and Sweden:
      http://www.amazon.com/Society-without-God-Religious-Contentment/dp/0814797148

      • MadmanMundt
        Posted April 17, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        I’ll check out that book. I know a few Swedes and get a lot of my facts from them. They say that most people fall into the “I believe in some sort of higher power but I don’t know what it is” form of belief. From what I can tell, it’s about 25% that believe in God, 25% that are atheist, and 50% somewhere in between.

        • Insightful Ape
          Posted April 17, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

          Quoting from “a few people I know” falls into “personal anecdotes” category.

        • Sigmund
          Posted April 17, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

          I live in Sweden and can assure you that belief in the Christian God is very much a minority hobby. There are still plenty of churches and church services even get regularly shown on state TV but that is more out of tradition than the need to demonstrate worship to a God. It is incredibly rare to hear famous Swedes publicly praising God or if they are religious, speaking as if it is natural that those listening also believe in God. This is in distinct contrast to my native land, Ireland where belief in God and being a Catholic are taken for granted by almost every TV or radio presenter. Even the most liberal newspaper in Ireland, the ‘Irish Times’ acts in this way.
          Religion is not suppressed in Sweden but public promotion of any religion is regarded by most as somewhat loopy.

          • articulett
            Posted April 17, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

            I’d like to see that in America.

            • MARK
              Posted April 18, 2010 at 11:23 am | Permalink

              The Church of Sweden was the “Established” church of Sweden, but the Churches of England, Denmark and Iceland are still today official churches of their countries. It’s ironic that in the USA, which has a constitution that forbids the establishment of any religion, most politicians have to make a show of their religion to stay in office.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted April 17, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        It was my impression that many Swedes belong to the church for ceremonial and family reasons,

        Eh? What in the concept of “state church” is confusing to you?

        *Everyone* was born a member of the church before 1996, if your parents were members. You had to opt out, and you still do.

        So even though the Church of Sweden since 2000 is no longer a state church, and you have to be baptized into it (and pay a now separate tax for members), 2008 72.9 % of the population was still members. The opt out rate is 1 % every year, so make that 70 % today.

        Regarding the statistics, it depends on the poll and criteria used. The same EU statistics that Vexen used gives 23 % [yes, same percentage] atheists in Sweden 2005. Apparently Zuckerman gets 46-85 % 2007 by polling of surveys and, if possible, making a “personal God” (theism) the set characteristic.

        Statistics is sometimes “fool’s gold” (re Zuckerman). Most Swedes can probably be qualified as mysticists or pantheists: according to that EU poll, 63 % answer “I believe there is some sort of spirit or life force”). MadmanMundt is no madman on this.

        [Disclaimer: This Swede hasn’t been a church member for many years, so the details are a bit foggy. I had to refresh my memory with the Swedish Wikipedia…]

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted April 17, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

          Oops. Zuckerman is of course making theism the set exclusion characteristic of his “atheists”.

  31. Posted April 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    You know, there was another crime in that region it seems to me. What was it? Oh yeah. Vietnam. 4 million or so dead throughout all of Indochina, maybe 2 million in Vietnam itself. I don’t see anybody attributing it to Christianity. It was for control and done with no regard for the civilian toll. Why is it that every atheist is responsible for Pol Pot and yet Christianity isn’t responsible for Vietnam?

    The pope was a leader in an institution that turned a blind eye to child rape. Dawkins was never part of the Khmer Rouge. And today’s Christians were not part of a government that knowingly slaughtered so many civilians in Vietnam and lied about it at every opportunity.

  32. Posted April 17, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    It’s totally freaking me out how Fundamentalists and Charismatics plus Born againers not to mention ever one reads and worships great jeesus almightily and his papa mister God and the spirit essence and all…sigh, they think us secular folk, temporal to a fault(we like reality and people and kitty cats) actually believe in God damn Jesus as the pathway to the great juvenile. WTF!!
    How frickin obtuse here I’ll make my son to die and take credit to all your sins so then you just believe he did die for us(jesus) and worship the freak that died even though he new he was going to heaven where you regularily get 29 in your crib I digress.
    Ahem. Amen.

    Grown up people see nothing out of the ordinary when god set all this melodrama even though he knows everthing in advance.
    Grown ups, they vote, they pay bills, they do taxes but they evidentally see no holes in the bible even though it starts out on the very first page!!! getting mixed up about animals or people first and WTF!!!! God knows whats gonna happen already so why the f go through the motions with a snake with four legs tricks Eve to eat the apple and then get Adam in trouble

    I MEAN!!! God already knows whats gonna happen so tell me…… what is he so bored he just watches it – the scenario wit snake: Hey Eve, knowledges is gutt! Learn evil it’s a surprise to god you are going to partake in a plump Macintosh and then get Adam as well to eat from the tree of Good and evil.
    God already knows this will happen, so please, please!!! please

    Why the eff, why!?! He makes it happen that Eve does this with snake and then Adam they take a bite of apple (Bill gates is god you know)

    Why. Why. Why does god do this shaet when he knows what will happen. He knows everthing already.

    But stunned loopholes the christians they eat this stuff up!! and get wisdom? from the gospels according ti Matthew and John and others.

    It is all a big charrade!! Dada knows already, he made everything and he knows whats gonna happen in advance yet what, he just watches and GET THIS FFS, HE SEES IF PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BELIEVE AND HAVE FAITH THEN PUNISHES THEM IF THEY DON’T!!!

    He already knows what will happen, he MADE IT HAPPEN!!!

    tHIS IS ONLY THE TINIEST TIP OF THE ICEBERG it is so incredibley obtuse this charade.

    But thy will die for this setup?????

    People actually don’t think anything is amiss?!??!!

    Yeah. Please tell me something, anyone, please!!!!!!!!

    Does the whole setup make sense??

    Why do you even get up in the morning?? Why???!!! God already made reality and he knows what you will do already and if you believe so WHY WHY WHY DO YOU PRAY AND TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE

    AND love Jesus more than your own parents and kids

    AND love Jesus more than your own parents and kids He is an evil freak so is dad and it’s all so bloody contrived.

    But you sit there and pray and worship some loser that tells you to hate your parents and kids and love him first

    what the fuck is your basic problem.

    I mean it.

  33. Posted April 17, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Here’s an image of the original title, taken from a cached version of his contributor page: http://twitpic.com/1gd3vl

  34. Ray
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    As an Irishman I’m embarrassed to see such a steaming pile of unmitigated crap being spewed by a fellow Irishman, especially one claiming to be a journalist.

  35. Juha Savolainen
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    A small clarification on my take on Nazism vis-a-vis Christianity and Christian Churches:

    I think Doris L. Bergen gets it right in her illuminating “Nazism and Christianity: Partners and
    Rivals? A Response to Richard
    Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich. Nazi
    Conceptions of Christianity, 1919–1945”
    (Journal of Contemporary History Copyright © 2007 SAGE Publications, London, Thousand Oaks, CA and
    New Delhi, Vol 42(1), 25–33. ISSN 0022–0094.DOI: 10.1177/0022009407071629)

    Richard Steigmann-Gall has vigorously argued (following here some other scholars) that ‘the insistence that Nazism was an anti-Christian movement has been one of the most enduring truisms of the past fifty years’.

    Bergen mostly agrees but identifies certain weaknesses both in the analytical framework and the empirical
    adequacy of Steigmann-Gall´ work. In effect, Bergen argues that Steigmann-Gall both overplays and underplays his case. I cannot make any justice to the insights of either Steigmann-Gall or Bergen, but I think that the following crucial point stressed by Bergen should be widely known:

    “The overwhelming majority of Germans remained baptized, tax-paying
    members of the official Christian Churches throughout the 12 years of nazi rule. In hindsight, it may seem impossible to reconcile the vicious hatreds of nazism with Christianity’s injunction to ‘turn the other cheek’ or to square the circle of nazi antisemitism with Christianity’s obvious origins in Judaism. But
    the vast majority of Germans — over 95 per cent by the last count in 1939 —
    evidently had no problem doing so.”

    Indeed. The Nazis could never have overrun Germany except by appealing to interests, beliefs, hopes and fears of Germans who viewed themselves as good Christians. The Nazis did not come to power thanks to some imagined ideological void following the acceptance of “God is dead”. They came to power on the shoulders of German Christianity.

    • Juha Savolainen
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Yet another small addition: of course, Steigmann-Gall views the above mentioned “truism” false and misleading:‘The discovery that so
      many Nazis considered themselves or their movement to be Christian makesus . . . uncomfortable. But the very unpleasantness of this fact makes it all the more important to look it squarely in the face.’

      As said, Bergen accepts this but wants to correct what she sees as defects in Steigmann-Gall´s work.

      • Aaron Baker
        Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        I’ll have to look up the Bergen article. I’ve seen, on a number of freethought blogs that I frequent, the reverse truism: that Hitler and Nazism were, quite simply, a Christian leader & a Christian movement (e.g. as one poster here put it: “the xians own the Nazis lock stock and barrel”). I’ve argued with some heat that this is wildly wrong, and that Nazism was a secular, rather than a Christian phenomenon (though not an atheistic one; Hitler was no atheist).

        If, however, I have to modify my position, I should find out sooner rather than later.

  36. Posted April 17, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    When I saw this, all I could think was “got false equivalence?”

    Seriously, it’s one thing to put criticism up. But to not grasp the argument at all? That’s entirely pathetic. It’s really not hard to see what Dawkins et al. have in their complaint, yet why can’t this author attack the argument for what it is instead of missing the point by a long long way?

    • MadScientist
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      Any lolcats to illustrate it?

  37. MadScientist
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t realize microbiology was arcane. If anything is arcane it would have to be religion – mumble incantations to your sky fairy to do you favors – tell me how that’s not arcane. In fact, doesn’t it fit the religious’ own definition of witchcraft?

    Now I don’t see anyone blaming Pope Ratzinger for Hitler (since he was too young) or for the Spanish and Italian inquisitions or the Crusades (since he didn’t exist yet). And yet it’s fair to condemn Dawkins over things which he never presided over? I bet Bill Donohue is kicking himself for not coming up with that load of stupid.

    • Posted April 17, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

      Donohue earns his paychecks, so probably relishes the assistant fanning the flames.

  38. Louis14
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    It’s interesting that the HuffPo edited the headline. That’s what the Times Online did a week ago.

    The headline originally read ‘Dawkins: I will Arrest Pope Benedict XVI’. The impression this gave was entirely wrong – he neither said nor intended any such thing. Dawkins submitted a post to that effect which never got through the moderators filter, as did none of the eight or nine of my submissions that referred to the lie.

    Instead, after several days (presumably after they felt the article had had all the hits they wanted) they quietly and without explanation changed the headline to the slightly more accurate, ‘Richard Dawkins calls for arrest of Pope Benedict XVI’.

  39. Theron
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I left a comment on the HuffPo piece noting that the we had good evidence that the Pope had both protected pedophiles and facilitated their access to children, and that very least an investigation was warranted, something we could not say about Dawkins. Oddly, my comment was not approved.

  40. Posted April 18, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    The HuffPo has already closed the comments section on that article. In fact, you can’t even read the comments already made. Maybe religion’s stranglehold on the US is starting to weaken.

  41. Posted April 18, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m not going to defend the author of that article; I read through it and it’s complete garbage, as Dr. Coyne and others have amply demonstrated. Which, unfortunately, can be quite common on HuffPo (I spend far too much time arguing with anti-vaxers on there). But I do feel compelled to point out that this is often largely due to the manner in which HuffPo solicits stories – that is to say, in which it doesn’t. Writers are invited to host their own column and write on whichever topic they choose. It’s an open-source newspaper of sorts. This produces some gold and a lot of dross.

    Please note that, yes, I am a HuffPo blogger, and weigh my opinion accordingly.


4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] take on” Richard Dawkins…but this journalist didn’t do his homework. Jerry Coyne had some fun with him: Rory Fitzgerald’s latest rant piece at The Huffington Post is called “Richard Dawkins should […]

  2. […] Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers have already given their share as well as countless commenters in the Richard Dawkins Foundation’s website. Yet, I can’t help to add my own amusement since it is one of my favorite online sports to take pieces apart that – for refutation – can simply be answered by knowing The God Delusion. I enjoy fellows like Rory Fitzgerald who display their bad journalism, inability to research on what they’re talking about (or, if he actually HAS read TGD: their utter lack of reading OR comprehension skills) in public places. His case is indeed very special – he has a whole new set of gross fallacies, false information and he was not even able to get Dawkins’ JOB right. Not once – twice. For he changed Dawkins from a “microbiologist” in a secret edit to “geneticist” over night – both of which are wrong. Dawkins, who wrote several public science books on evolution is – surprise, surprise – an evolutionary biologist (though he was actually trained in ethology). The title of the piece was also changed from a statement to a question. […]

  3. […] HuffPo: arrest Richard Dawkins Rory Fitzgerald’s latest rant piece at The Huffington Post is called “Richard Dawkins should be arrested […] […]

  4. […] out Jerry Coyne’s take on Rory Fitzgerald’s original attack on Dawkins, and the now heavily edited (without acknowledgement), but still heavily error ridden piece, where […]

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