Supper with Richard Dawkins last night, after a discussion I had chaired for the British Humanist Association on creationism and what to do about it. I said in my opening remarks that there should be far more Christians in the hall, since the only way to deal with the real menace of creationist teaching is to get the mainstream churches onside. This was partly in order to perk the audience up. There were 54 people scattered around a room that could have held about 300, and the atmosphere was positively Methodist in its decorous gloom.
Afterwards, we went off to supper: the very nice women who run the BHA, Stephen Law, a philosopher who had been one of the speakers, Richard Dawkins, and I.
I said that he had really wounded large numbers of decent and thoughtful Christians with his remarks about them. “I know”, he said, with glee.
Then he said that he was always having this argument with Eugenie Scott, who runs the American resistance to creationism: whether we should attack bad science, or all religion. “Why do you always attack religon in this context?” someone asked. “Because I care about truth!” he replied, tipping forward his head so that his spectacles dipped and his blue eyes were as bright as stained glass in high windows. “Theism makes factual claims about the world. Even the most moderate bishoppy theism claims there is a supernatural being, and this just isn’t true. So it shouldn’t be taught in schools.”
Later, he said, “It’s very wrong to take the view that it’s all right for intellectuals like us to be atheists, but we should leave the rest of the world to their delusions. That seems really arrogant. Everyone should be taught the truth.”
I can’t swear to the verbatim accuracy of these quotes, though I remember “bishoppy” and “intellectuals like us” with delight. But they are a very close representation of his views.
I wonder if William Tyndale had eyes like that.