I’ll tell you how. He makes people feel smarter than they are. And in our world of self-esteem substituting for accomplishment and ability, his villainous power is especially poisonous.
For instance, he recently retweeted with approval these words: “Most abortions are performed on women, so men should not be involved in making laws about it.” Now I confess this made me giggle, and I replied, “Most murders are committed by men, so women shouldn’t be involved making laws about it.”
See what I mean? It is an objective truth that such a simple, sub-Freshman-level fallacy can be refuted by a business major with an SAT of 400 (total) who has spent the week on a bender pledging fraternities at the wrong campus. But I still felt pride in refuting it myself. I know that responding to his tweets is the equivalent of completing the TV Guide crossword clue “___________ in the Family”, sitcom (3), yet still I did it.
Worse, after answering, I felt I had done something, that I gave my intellect a workout, that I was ready to publish a Grand Unified Theory. All false.
But I had not yet reached bottom. Just like the poor student who can only study what he already knows, I couldn’t stop playing with Dawkins. Take this one (which I learnt from Wesley Smith):
With respect to those meanings of "human" that are relevant to the morality of abortion, any fetus is less human than an adult pig
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 13, 2013
I think I actually rubbed my hands together, so happy was I to see this. Where to begin? Pointing out pigs aren’t human but fetuses are? Stating that makin’ bacon and killing a life inside a woman are not equivalent nor comparable? So many possibilities! All trivial.
I was not the only sinner. Many responded to this tweet, which so disconcerted Dawkins that he answered several times.
- “Human” features relevant to the morality of abortion include ability to feel pain, fear etc & to be mourned by others (link)
- Yes, anything can be mourned. If you are going to mourn your fetus, you are free to not have an abortion (link)
- Of course potential to be human is among fetus’ qualities. But my pig comparison was careful to specify “relevant to morality of abortion.” (link)
- My hair and fingernails are human but don’t feel pain when I cut them. Embryo before brain develops doesn’t feel pain. Late fetus? Pig? (link)
- Woman’s right to own body is good but not BEST pro-choice argument. Better argument would be abortus doesn’t feel pain. I’m pro choice. (link)
May the Lord forgive me, but I cackled and told myself how clever I was after thinking such “weighty” thoughts as these: A biologist who says his hair and fingernails are human? What’s next? Marches against the wholesale slaughter at nail salons and barbershops? A biologist who says a fetus only has the “potential” to be human? If it isn’t human, but will be, what is it now? What divine act makes it human? Stop me!
Dawkins (who isn’t alone; Sam Harris and others join him) supposes pain the universal moral standard in a universe without moral standards—a contradiction! Should I tell him? Those without pain can be killed. So it follows patients undergoing general surgery, and therefore in no pain, can be whacked wily nily? That the younger or drunker your victim, or the less likely you are to mourn him, the less culpable you are? Too easy! Too easy!
I became like the alcoholic who thinks one small drink won’t hurt him. I’ll have a sip and stop, I’ll respond to just one more tweet. But Dawkins is like an unlocked liquor store after the zombie apocalypse. He never stops providing opportunities for his opponents to gloat, and therefore darken their souls with pride.
Tweeter says I understand little of theology. But what is there in "theology" TO understand?
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 9, 2013
Oh dear. A restrained man would let this pass. Instead my thoughts were uncharitable and simple, though I thought them wise. Through my fault, my fault, my most grievous fault, I kept reading.
A unique human life begins at the moment of conception. Next time you meet identical twins, ask which one is the zombie, which got the soul
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) February 28, 2013
A biologist who intimates identical twins are the same human being? Enough! If I continue, I’ll start watching The View or listening to NPR so that I can poke holes in their “profundities.” All that will be left to me is a recurring role as a talking head on MSNBC.
For a brief moment I comforted myself with the idea that if I found myself more intelligent than I truly was, Dawkins’s supporters, those poor souls convinced by his arguments, suffered far worse than I. But the comfort turned to grief when I realized the consequences.
Update I am incorrigible, an inveterate backslider. I ask for your prayers.
The world would be a much better place if everybody could do logic and learned statistics.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 16, 2013
Update I’m going to have to cancel my Twitter account. “And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”
People "engineer" their children to be musicians or mathematicians by education. Genetically engineering the same is objectionable. But why?
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 16, 2013