Rabbi David Wolpe writes about it on the liberal Huffington Post.
Prospect magazine just named the 65 leading intellectuals in the world.
First on the list was Richard Dawkins, known for his work in biology and for his polemics against religion. Dawkins on biology is an elegant, lucid and even enchanting explicator of science. Dawkins on religion is historically uninformed, outrageously partisan and morally obtuse. If Dawkins is indeed our best, the life of the mind is in a precarious state.
He breaks his criticisms into 3 sections:
- Historical Ignorance
- Intellectual Narrowness
- Moral Obtuseness
Here’s my favorite:
To write, as Dawkins has, not only that religion is a form of child abuse but indeed may be more damaging than actual sexual abuse, is closer to raving than to reason: “Priestly groping of child bodies is disgusting. But it may be less harmful in the long run than priestly subversion of child minds.” Puerile swipes at the religion of a billion people are beneath any intellectual, much less a “leading” one.
That religions, for all their many and frequently noted faults, do great good in the world (the largest aid organization in the USA is World Vision, a Seattle-based Christian group), and are integral to the art, culture and even scientific development of both the east and west is all germane, but not central. Central to the evaluation of an intellectual’s integrity is whether they are arguing with the best in the opposing position. Dawkins grabs every depredation of religion as though it were a central tenet and everything noble as though it were an accidental, replaceable byproduct. This is a sophist’s strategy, unserious and unworthy.
Thoughtful atheism is an important contribution to the debate. Far more credible is the conclusion of an ideological confederate of Dawkins, editor of Skeptic magazine, Michael Shermer: “However for every one of these grand tragedies there are a thousand acts of personal kindness that go unreported. … Religion, like all social institutions of such historical depth and cultural impact, cannot be reduced to an unambiguous good or evil.”
Such vapid reductionism would never be undertaken, of course, by anyone with genuine intellectual integrity. The idea that this simplification would be assayed by the world’s leading intellectual is a mockery — like the list that enshrines him.
Jonathan M. posed this link to the scientific publications of the greatest thinker in the world. I’m not impressed.