Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Poor Dawkins!

Another kind of nonbeliever in the popular imagination is the arrogant professor, exemplified Richard Dawkins. Too smart for his own good, this kind of atheist talks down you, and nobody likes a smarty pants.

-- MoHoHawaii

I don't want to pick on my friend MoHoHawaii for writing the above -- he wasn't giving his personal judgment of Richard Dawkins, he was merely reporting on a popular view of Prof. Dawkins.

But what did Dawkins ever do to get this reputation?

Well, I've developed a new crazy theory about it!

It came to me while watching these Symphony of Science videos with my kids:

See that part around 2:44? Where he says "Science replaces private prejudice with public verifiable evidence"? That's a great quote, but (is this just my imagination?) it looks like he's sneering when he says it.

You should be jumping for joy when you say that!! Evaluating your own biases is one of the most difficult problems that humans face on a daily basis. That we have an effective tool to help us work on that problem -- that's fantastic!

Of course, maybe I'm just being too hard on Richard Dawkins. After all, Jill Tarter also had a great quote in that song ("The story of humans is the story of ideas that shine light into dark corners"), and she didn't smile either.

But now compare to my favorite of the Symphony of Science songs:

Of course I'm huge fan of David Attenborough. How could anybody not like that guy?

The kids say their favorite song in the series is still the first one, the "galaxy rise" song:

That one is my second-favorite. :D


The Sinister Porpoise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Sinister Porpoise said...

I didn't find Dawkins to be arrogant. Some of his theories wouldn't hold up to scientific scrutiny and were merely statements of his personal opinion. The major problem with Dawkins, and the one that ruined the God Delusion for me is that he redefined words and ideas to make the words fit his argument.

If you are going to write a book opposing Cretionists, it's not a good idea to resort to their tactics.

I've seen several Christian Science textbooks lump in the Big Bang Theory with the Theory of Natural Selection and dismiss both as being against the story of creation in the Bible. They simply do not care that the theories come from different fields of science and do not overlap.

Dawkins wrote a book trying to convince people of his viewpoint. Had he not made this error, he might have had a compelling argument, but sadly, he did. Carl Sagan's Demon-Haunted World makes a stronger case for disbelief.

And as a Fundamentalist Agnostic, the only reasonable viewpoint is "I don't know and neither do you."

Anonymous said...

Dawkins is British. Forgive him if he doesn't get all riled up like an American with flagrant waving of arms and big grins all the time ;)

MoHoHawaii said...

Personally, I love Richard Dawkins. I'm completely swept off my little homo feet by brilliant, articulate men with Oxbridge accents. Put on an ascot and pronounce "figure" as "figger," and I'm yours. (Everyone has a fetish or two lying around the attic. I'm not too proud to admit it.)

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Sinister Porpoise!!!

I haven't read Dawkins' books myself, so I can't judge.

Hey Xuxana!!!

Yeah, I know. You're right that I should hardly be expecting him to jump for joy.

On the other hand Sir David Attenborough is also a Brit, and I feel like he really gives a sense of the joy of science (without grinning like an American ;^) ).

On the other other hand, I've seen about a million Attenborough videos, and none of Dawkins, so it's probably not a fair comparison.

Hey MoHoHawaii!!!

I know how you feel! That said, I like French accents even better. ;^)

Hypatia said...

Love these vids. Just started reading Dawkins' the blind watchmaker.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Hypatia!!!

Cool -- I'll be curious to read your reaction to it! :D