Wednesday, 15 February 2012

St Valentine's massacre in religion wars

A somewhat desperate article entitled "St Valentine's massacre in religion wars as Dawkins forgets full name of seminal Darwin book" can be found at this link.  Just glance at the original to get the context before you read this parody.

Originally written by someone called Tim Edwards, it was full of irrelevant claims.  A new corrected version is featured here on Something Surprising.


In a typical act of clutching at straws, Christian apologists today claimed that RICHARD DAWKINS suffered 'a rare skewering' at the hands of the clergy after taking to the airwaves to argue that people who call themselves Christians are often using the term in an unexpected way.  At one point the so-called 'high priest of atheism' even cursed under his breath as he struggled to remember the exact title of Charles Darwin's monumental treatise on evolution.

Dawkins - the facts of the UK census, 2011

Dawkins went on BBC Radio 4's Today programme yesterday morning to explain a survey he had published, showing that half of the people who described themselves as Christian on the 2011 census do not consider themselves religious.

The object of the poll, carried out by Ipsos Mori for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, was to show that census data could not, in all honesty, be used to justify the UK's habitual favoritism for Christian practices such as government funding for faith schools and bishops having seats in the House of Lords.

Struggling to get a word in edgeways, against a 'gish gallop' from Rev Giles Fraser, the former canon of St Paul's Cathedral who was forced to resign last year, Dawkins was  able to squeeze in the fact that 64 per cent of people who said they were Christians in the census were not able to identify Matthew as the first book of the New Testament.

For some surprising reason Fraser asked him if he could tell him the full title of On the Origin of Species, the book by Charles Darwin.  Why this might be relevant to the actual facts of the survey were not exactly clear.  Perhaps Fraser was indulging in the common Christian tactic of rhetorical distraction to avoid admitting the unpleasant facts.  Dawkins, was able to provide "On the Origin of Species, er, with... oh god [N.B - small g!] ... On the Origin of Species, um... There is a subtitle... er, um, with respect to the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life."

Not bad, under pressure, with an audience numbered in the millions, to give almost exactly the full title of a text book written a century and a half ago.  On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life is of course the proper answer, as I'm sure you know.

It has to be said that it is a bit easier to recite the complete title of "The Holy Bible".  It was not revealed whether Fraser was able to remember the sub-title.

A jubilant Fraser then claimed - as if it actually mattered: "You are the High Pope of Darwinism. If you asked people who believe in evolution that question and only two per cent got it right it would be terribly easy for me to say they don't really believe it after all."

I suppose that shows the difference between discredited clerics and respected scientists.  Clerics think that everything comes down to belief and scientists think that the evidence is more important.  Someone should remind Fraser that the official doctrines of both the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches accept evolution.

Meanwhile evolutionary biologists tend not to refer to themselves as Darwinists, as the term is often used pejoratively.  They rarely find any need for a pope - neither ordinary nor high.

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