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dawkins showing the strain

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Oct 28, 2009

Professional atheist Richard Dawkins is told about the Personal Ordinariate for Anglican converts and blows a gasket:

What major institution most deserves the title of greatest force for evil in the world? In a field of stiff competition, the Roman Catholic Church is surely up there among the leaders. The Anglican church has at least a few shreds of decency, traces of kindness and humanity with which Jesus himself might have connected, however tenuously: a generosity of spirit, of respect for women, and of Christ-like compassion for the less fortunate. The Anglican church does not cleave to the dotty idea that a priest, by blessing bread and wine, can transform it literally into a cannibal feast; nor to the nastier idea that possession of testicles is an essential qualification to perform the rite. It does not send its missionaries out to tell deliberate lies to AIDS-weakened Africans, about the alleged ineffectiveness of condoms in protecting against HIV. Whether one agrees with him or not, there is a saintly quality in the Archbishop of Canterbury, a benignity of countenance, a well-meaning sincerity. How does Pope Ratzinger measure up? The comparison is almost embarrassing.

Some years ago a British reviewer of Dawkins, lamenting his decline from conventional academic to anti-Christian polemicist, likened him to a "scientific bag lady screaming at the traffic." The screed above does nothing to weaken that estimate.

Yet I don't think it's the whole story. When a seventh-grade boy brings up three times in twenty minutes his detestation of a particular seventh-grade girl, we can be pretty sure he has a crush on her. By the same token, Dawkins' fulminations are pitched at the emotional level of an overwrought twelve-year old, and seem chosen more to say "notice me!" to the Church than to convince those still unconvinced of her villainy. Note that Dawkins disparages the Catholic Church by denying her "Christ-like compassion." Yet that implies "Christ-like" is a term of approval -- an interesting slip. A true atheist would use the phrase to damn rather than to flatter.

Dawkins is a very confused man. His white-knuckle grip on his hatred suggests that he's in terror of seeing it get away from him. Could it be that he's losing faith in his faithlessness?

(tip to Damian Thompson)

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