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A hero for the 21st century.
June 25, 2001 12:54 PM   Subscribe

A hero for the 21st century. Brilliant or just possessed of plain ol' common sense? In today's world, perhaps having the latter qualifies someone for the former adjective. One has to admire a relatively high profile person who doesn't shy away from telling the truth despite the pressures to hedge and equivocate.
posted by rushmc (13 comments total)

 
Dawkins claims that people who disbelieve evolution are "ignorant".

Well, that's the basic problem, innit? School boards desperately trying to be "politically correct" (and this is one case where that DEFINITELY means exactly what it is assumed to mean, except that the end-product is favored by right-wingers ... imagine that) have completely excised evolution from science curricula in the interest of avoiding controversy, and as a result people actually don't know anything about it.
posted by dhartung at 2:04 PM on June 25, 2001


Dawkins claims that people who disbelieve evolution are "ignorant".

Once upon a time, scientists said that people who didn't believe the world was flat were 'ignorant'.

However, I can agree with Dawkins. People who disagree with evolution are extremely ignorant.. of modern science.
posted by wackybrit at 2:10 PM on June 25, 2001


If only it weren't Dawkins saying it: a man whose personal crusade against organised religion has turned him into a media ideologue, sacrificing the subtlety of his own discipline for cheap debating points at the Oxford Union or on the Today programme.
posted by holgate at 2:15 PM on June 25, 2001


If only it weren't Dawkins saying it: a man whose personal crusade against organised religion has turned him into a media ideologue, sacrificing the subtlety of his own discipline for cheap debating points at the Oxford Union or on the Today programme.

He is a bit evangelical, isn't he?
posted by iceberg273 at 2:16 PM on June 25, 2001


You'd mean a media *whore*, wouldn't you holgate?
posted by raysmj at 2:20 PM on June 25, 2001


I'm just a little confused by the lead in here. Though this is an outstanding editorial (for that really is all it is), I'm wondering why we should uphold a man who writes what many of us have thought, written and spoken before. I think Dawkins is brilliant, but I don't really see how this post significantly shows that fact.
I took an honors course a bit back in time, and had a wonderful discussion with a young man who devoutly argued Creationism. My evidence to the contrary was biological and geological, mostly the latter. When I finally posed the question " Can you really believe, in the face of all this evidence that world is only 6 some thousand years old?" his response was not ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked. He said "yes, because I have to". I'm sure that many reading this are right now saying "AHA, a tortured coerced soul that follows the evil of religion into insanity". Nope. He was a man who spent great effort to help and heal others, because of his founded faith in the present. His world view was held cohesively together because he could believe in the Divine and rather doubt the (sometimes dubious) efforts of science.
I sure as hell don't believe that young man was right about the beginnings of planet Earth and the life upon it. But my efforts to educate him add absolutely nothing to who he is, what he will do, or his moral standing. If I hold up Dawkins as the champion of common sence based on what he wrote here, then I'm being ignorant. I'm ignoring (willfully) those who just don't buy that evidence shows us what is necessarilly true, or even what is necessary.
So here's my confusion: the lead in by rushmc would have us believe that Dawkins was lead from the trial with a cry of "nevertheless, it moves". No way. He is speaking to a willing and pliant audience and he knows it. (Aren't we so clever cause we know the truth. Hint: the we is the majority). A defense of a popular opinion does not make one rightious or heroic or brilliant.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:36 PM on June 25, 2001


A defense of a popular opinion does not make one rightious or heroic or brilliant.

I think this gets at the core of it. Is it a popular opinion? Since each side desperately craves the moral and rhetorical high ground, each wants to portray itself as the embattled victim of a cultural onslaught. This is exactly analogous to the "right-wing media/left-wing media" battle. In neither case it is possible to prove either position to the other side, because there are no facts that aren't open to reanalysis. And the point is not to convince anyone, but to win the admiration of your claque, by establishing that you, not them, are the heroic warriors standing up for truth against the barbarian hordes.

We'd all be better off if this whole rhetoric of "heroes" and "battles" and "champions" just went away and we could discuss the facts and what is at stake in a neutral way. If the media needs their whores, so be it, but we don't have to be their johns.

I personally feel about Dawkins roughly the same as I feel about Kevorkian: good message, bad messenger.
posted by rodii at 3:03 PM on June 25, 2001


You'd mean a media *whore*, wouldn't you holgate?

In this case, no: scientific media whores are good at insinuating their arguments into every facet of "chattering class" life, naming no Susan Greenfields. Dawkins has just the one message, and he's going to damn well shout it from every pulpit offered to him. He's to evolutionary science what Ian Paisley is to Protestantism.
posted by holgate at 4:19 AM on June 26, 2001


Dawkins has just the one message, and he's going to damn well shout it from every pulpit offered to him.

So what's wrong with that? It's an important message, and it's not getting through.
posted by rushmc at 2:58 PM on June 26, 2001


Sorry, Wulfgar, but an ignorant git is an ignorant git, and I don't see the point of your example...

I think you vastly overrate the "popularity" of this "opinion." Which says a lot about our society and its sick ideals. THAT was my point in posting this.
posted by rushmc at 3:00 PM on June 26, 2001


I think you vastly overrate the "popularity" of this "opinion." Which says a lot about our society and its sick ideals. THAT was my point in posting this.

As I say, each side has a major stake in claiming the underdog status. That's more important than any of the particular issues at stake. IT'S THE [your enemy here] MENACE!
posted by rodii at 7:20 PM on June 26, 2001


I'm sure many people do operate from that perspective, rodii...but that doesn't affect the underlying issue one whit.
posted by rushmc at 10:17 AM on June 27, 2001


What is the underlying issue?
posted by rodii at 10:38 AM on June 27, 2001


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