Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I Think Richard Dawkins is Coming Unhinged

I will be really happy when this election is over, because I’m starting to get a little worried about Richard Dawkins’ mental health. It’s clear, from the tone and volume of the eminent scientist’s public utterances (ie, tweets) over the last several months, that his obsession with Mitt Romney’s Mormonism is taking him to some perplexing places.

Now, I’m a fan; I own and have eagerly read all of Richard Dawkins’ books. I think his ability to put complex scientific concepts into words that the layman can understand and appreciate is phenomenal. With the sad departure of Christopher HItchens (who accomplished the same feat but with more wit and elegance), Professor Dawkins is clearly the world’s leading atheist and freethinker.

But I think this election is making him just a tad unhinged - particularly since his only apparent interest in it (other than the usual academic’s squishy liberalism) is the religious affiliation of the Republican candidate. 

Dawkins obviously disdains Mormonism and all that it represents. Having been raised Mormon, I certainly understand where he’s coming from. The religion’s founding principles and the Book of Mormon itself are goofy and clearly non-scientific.  I too find it odd that people can accept the precepts and premises with such devotion. But, really, I find the same thing odd about believers in all other religions and goofy ideologies. 

And that’s where Dawkins is losing me. He appears to be making the case that Romney’s belief in his Mormon faith singularly disqualifies him from high public office (never mind that, as near as I can tell, he’s made no such judgments about Senate Majority Leader Harry Read, also a Mormon in good standing who, in a divided Senate, wields about as much power over lawmaking as any president).

The most recent example that has me shaking my head is this Twitter exchange between Dawkins and James Taranto, a Wall Street Journal writer:

  • This week, Dawkins tweeted:  "Romney believes a religion which is not only barking mad and utterly unscientific. It is also deeply racist.
  • Taranto: "Who wants to break it to @RichardDawkins that Obama is Christian?"
  • Dawkins: "He SAYS he is but it means nothing. All US politicians have to have a religion. But Romney really IS Mormon--a bishop!"
  • Dawkins, later:  "I don't like it, but a president who lies out of political necessity is a lesser evil than a stupid president."

So it’s better to have a president who actively and consistently lies to the public about his beliefs than one who actually believes in what he professes - because what he believes is somewhat more goofy than what most people believe? 

According to Dawkins, President Obama says what he says about his faith “out of political necessity.” If that's true, doesn't it show an incredible level of disdain for the American people? It's as if President Obama is saying "hey you stupid people, I know you need to think your president believes in God, so I'm gonna say it all the time but," wink wink, (then whispers) "I don't really mean it!"

And it's better to vote for that guy than the one who, however much we may disagree with his faith, clearly believes in it?

Sorry, Professor, I'm not buying it*.

So thank goodness the election is fast approaching. Hopefully, after November 6th, Dr. Dawkins can settle down and focus on making the world safe for evolution again.

*that's not to say that I'm not voting for President Obama. I just thing there are lots of legitimate reasons to do so.