Insulting Dawkins with Religious Metaphor

Insulting Dawkins with Religious Metaphor

Another logically depraved and self-defeating opinion piece from the Dawkins-bashers, this time from Ron Ferguson of the UK Herald. If you can stomach it, I think you’ll agree this is just about the lowest example of the ‘art form’ thus far:

It’s not often one has a ringside seat for the second coming of the messiah. It was a thrilling event, well worth the entry price. Oh, yes, and I’m worried about the mental health of a Scottish columnist and broadcaster who seems to have become unhinged in these apocalyptic times. Let me explain.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival has been exhibiting its usual vibrancy, spilling controversy about matters such as Princess Diana’s foibles and Ian Rankin’s views on women crime writers. My favourite turns have been Richard Ford, Marista Leishman, growling McIlvanney back at his best, Nicola Barry, Terry Eagleton, Marina Warner and John Gray. And, of course, the return of the big guy.

The joint was jumping as he walked in, once again turning the RBS main theatre into a revivalist tent. When Richard Dawkins made his entrance, we were privileged to witness a miracle: Muriel Gray’s normally sharp and lively brain mysteriously turned to mush. Yes, in the presence of the sun god, the spiky columnist’s critical faculties went into instantaneous meltdown. She became cheerleader rather than chairperson, groupie rather than griller, in a toe-curling display of sycophancy. Oh dear.

To be fair, Ferguson has a few good things to say about Hitchens and Dennett–and even damns Dawkins with a little faint praise. He echoes some of the weaker points from Terry Eagleton’s review of The God Delusion. (previous post) But once again, the utter absence of any factual rebuttal of Dawkins work forms a deafening silence. The thrust of Ferguson’s ‘argument’ consists of a ponderous series of faith-based slurs:

the second coming of the messiah…apocalyptic times…revivalist tent…in the presence of the sun god…the scientific Bhagwan…awed silence…the cultish mood…it would have been no surprise if Sister Gray had invited the congregation to rise and sing “How Great Thou Art” to the smiling demigod seated on the platform…extreme evangelical Christianity…Have a look at his website ( and you’ll see that it’s a mirror image of some rather zealous and dogmatic religious sites…Richard Dawkins is an obsessed evangelistic atheist autodidact, a dogmatist whose extremism…triumphalist Christian cult leader…his own blessed assumptions…

So, Ron, notwithstanding your claims to the mantle of ‘sophisticated religious moderate’ (oxymoron though that may be), let’s get one thing straight: When you use the terminology of religion to defend religion against a scientist, aside from flaunting your lack of any rejoinder, all you do is concede that you know religion is bunk.

If you thought tent revivals, the second coming, Bhagwans and cult leaders were so great, you’d be paying Professor Dawkins a compliment.

Nice way to fall on your rhetorical sword there, mate!

Comments (4 comments)

heather / August 27th, 2007, 11:42 am / #1

Good post.
Funny that most articles complaining about Dawkins never challenge anything he says – it being well nigh unanswerable – so they fall back on calling what he says dogma or saying he’s the pope of atheism and so on.
As you point out, how can religious-believing people use quasi-religious characterisations as insults?

Black Sun Journal » Archives » Ron Ferguson: Just admit you have no substantive response / September 3rd, 2007, 10:03 am / #2

[…] Ron Ferguson is at it again. Last week he fell into the rhetorical trap of using the metaphor of religion to insult Dawkins (previous post). Now, with “The rapid response squad’s rhetoric of hatred” he’s lecturing us about “internet incivility.” […]

Gold: Insulting Dawkins with Religious Metaphor « The Thinkers’ Podium / September 5th, 2007, 8:31 pm / #3

[…] (Black Sun, 2007) […]

Antony / November 7th, 2007, 1:57 am / #4

It seems to be a given these days, that any counter to Dawkins superbly logical arguments, will consist of a comparison to which he opposes. This might have been considered an intellectualists strategy at one point, but the repititions show it is the only frame of reference these people can comprehend. Once they can begin to fight out of their box they will lose immediately, but at least they will gain a modicum of respect.

They who look for an answer in religion are unwilling to search for the truth in themselves.

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