Apparently Professor Peter Higgs has described Richard Dawkins as concentrating "his attacks on fundamentalists. But there are many believers who are just not fundamentalists" (Source). 

I've seen this accusation before regarding, well, really any atheist who fervently lays out his or her reasons for disbelief. It's not a new accusation, and it most likely won't go away in the forseeable future. The implication seems, to me, to be: by picking on fundamentalists, Dawkins et al. are purposefully taking aim on the weaker expressions of religious belief. That if the popular atheists and non-believers of today would go after theologians who have been rarified by more liberal indoctrination, the case against supernaturalism, on the whole, wouldn't be so easy to pick apart.

The main difficulty I see with such reasoning is that it is centering-out public intellectuals like Dawkins on the same premise it is disparaging them. That is, Dawkins is accused of being a 'fundamentalist' in his own right, therefore picking at him is taking aim on an easy target. Is the irony lost on people who lob such thinly-reasoned accusations? One fundamentalist picks on another set of fundamentalists, therefore the one who garners the most attention is the one who is wrong for doing so? Hardly.

Dawkins is well within his freedoms to examine the underlying assumptions of Christianity and other religious beliefs. There's nothing inherently 'weaker' or 'lesser' or 'unrefined' about fundamentalist doctrines. They're 'fundamental' because they provide the foundation for all the attenuation that happens after them. For example, the notion of Christ as the perfect saviour for human kind (whatever one thinks of such a brutish doctrine) forms the basis for other aspects of Christ's alleged nature; e.g., his hypostatic union.

By picking at the fundamentals, and by attacking the religious class known as 'fundamentalists', Dawkins is bypassing the airy-fairy debate circles where angels dance on needle heads, and systematically degrading the very props that hold religious beliefs up. Once the foundations are disintegrated, the house of cards that stands on top will fall down. Dawkins, by picking on fundamentalists, is actually doing a good turn by taking out the superstructure that holds the rest of religiosity up. I say, "keep picking, Richard! You're doing well, and everyone, in some way or another is benefiting."

One further reflection: it may seem as if I'm conflating fundamentalists with fundamentalism. And to some degree, I am. But the madness behind the method is simply that fundamentalism is lived out by fundamentalists, so the two are not so much conflated as concomitant.

What are your thoughts about this issue?

Views: 90

Tags: Atheism, Criticism, Dawkins, Fundamentalism

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Comment by Dyslexic's DOG on December 31, 2012 at 12:22am

Of course "Affirmative Evidence" is evidence that cannot point to any alternatives, it must be affirmative of the concept or action/property stated.  Many religious dead heads point to the Bible as evidence for Jesus's deeds.  No, these are purely anecdotal and are part of the assertion, not the evidence.  If a well experienced doctor or better two such doctors had examined the people that Jesus supposedly healed and affirmed that they were indeed seriously ill or even dead, then wrote their reports at the time stating that in fact they had indeed re-examined these people and confirmed by their medical knowledge that they were healed.

Then, this would count as affirmative evidence of such deeds by expert witnesses.

Jesus had no expert witnesses, not even for his walking on water, which is a prank we used to pull on unsuspecting tourists who didn't know our river.   We often completely fooled them into believing we could walk on water, with the old sand bar into the middle of the river trick.

We would hop out of our boat and walk to the shore on top of a sandbar that was only around 4cm under the surface of the water, but invisible from where the tourists camp.  We would take an oar and sink it into a hole we had already made to make it look as if the water was over 1 meter deep there.  LOL, yes, we would take turns to sit amongst the tourists and hear the gasps.  It was such fun!     :D  

Comment by Dyslexic's DOG on December 30, 2012 at 11:57pm

I agree with Dawkins and disagree with Higgs.  There is no such thing as useful or passive non-threatening, moderate religious beliefs.  All religious beliefs are based on superstition ("MAGIC IS REAL") which in itself, indoctrinates and breeds idiots, such as creationists and fundamentalists.

Religion and all superstitions need to be denigrated and completely taken out of society.

Superstition is never harmless, nor in any way good for society!

I like Christopher Hitchen's quote:  "What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.”

Though I elaborate on it with my own statement: What can be asserted without affirmative evidence, can be entirely dismissed without requirement of any further reason.

Since there is no affirmative evidence for Jesus Christ's existence nor his deeds,  nor God, Allah, Numerology, Astrology,  we require no further reason than the lack of affirmative evidence to dismiss them all entirely.

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