Saturday 31 January 2015
Richard Dawkins wants to fight Islamism with erotica. Celebrity atheism has lost it
A tweet from Richard Dawkins’ account suggests beaming porn all over the Middle East. And Stephen Fry is angry with God. Who cares anymore?
By Tim Stanley12:15PM GMT 31 Jan 2015
Richard Dawkins’ insanity has now become an English institution – like warm beer and rain. On Saturday morning, a tweet from his account asked why we don’t send lots of “erotic videos” to theocracies, adding that it should be “loving, gentle, woman-respecting” (I guess this involves the pizza delivery boy calling the next day). If we’re going down this road, I also hear that Islamists aren’t very keen on bacon, so perhaps we should bombard the Iranian countryside with pig carcasses? Also, miniature bottles of gin. And photos of hot guys making out – in a “men-respecting” and “gentle” sort of way.
After a few minutes of mockery, the tweet was deleted. Perhaps even he realised how utterly mad it was. Which suggests a degree of self-awareness that I didn’t think possible in Britain’s nuttiest professor. Time was when it looked like Dawkins was about to go the full “nut-job 180” and declare that, upon reflection, there actually is a God and it’s Richard Dawkins – and have himself blasted into space on the back of a dolphin singing Onward Christian Soldiers.
As you can tell, I’ve come to regard Dick with a great deal of affection. He’s just a mad uncle – a genius academic with monomania who probably isn’t a bad person just a rather naïve one. And his capacity for dreaming up new ways to irritate the religious is, at least, not boring.
The same, alas, cannot be said of Stephen Fry. When asked by the great Gay Byrne on Irish telly what he would say to God if he met him, super atheist Fry had this response: “I’ll say: bone cancer in children, what’s that about? How dare you how dare you create a world where there is such misery that’s not our fault? It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”
He went on to say that he much prefers the Greek gods.
Saying that you prefer the Greek gods to the Christian one is akin to screaming “I did classics at school!” and is really just showing off. It’s also morally corrupt, because the Greek gods rather liked raping and murdering – and were often immune to human pleas for compassion. Moreover, Fry’s central point, that a God who is all-powerful yet does nothing about suffering must be cruel, is – sigh – rather passé.
Not only has theology dedicated itself for thousands of years to unpicking that problem but the answer to it is there in the very Bible itself. Since Adam and Eve ate the apple, we’ve been living in a fallen world full of pain. God granted us free will not only to do bad things but also good things – like finding a cure for cancer or caring for those dying from it.
Terrible things happen because of a) random acts of nature, b) the intervention of the Devil or c) the corruption of man. I’m not saying anyone has to believe what I write, but please don’t act like it’s never been said before or that the answer to Fry’s facile question doesn’t exist. Dear Stephen imagines that he’s the first person in history to wonder why folks suffer. He’s not. He is, however, strangely upset about something that he doesn’t even believe in. Who gets angry about an imaginary conversation?
Ultimately, I don’t care that Fry doesn’t believe in God or that he spouts off about it at every given opportunity like a crazy man on a bus. What irritates me is that his remarks are reported as though they are important. He’s not Oscar Wilde (who died a Catholic). He’s not even Benny Hill (who was funny). Celebrity atheism was a big thing ten years ago but now is old hat and rather tiresome. Oh, there are atheist thinkers out there whose opinions are worth hearing and there are eloquent people of faith ready to respond. But why must it always be the same old bores boring on about the subject? This yawnfest has to stop.
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