Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Prayer v trolling, and waspish wit

I found out yesterday that a few days after my last post, Richard Dawkins had a stroke and this news caused the Church of England to post a tweet requesting prayer for him, which in turn caused a hoohaa in the Twittersphere, as if such a call to prayer were somehow the equivalent of trolling the dear Prof - as if asking people to call Godly blessing on this man was the same as grotesquely revelling in his plight and wishing him harm. Really? Is that where religious illiteracy has led us at last, to rank ignorance of what Christian prayer is for? Ironically, the people misinterpreting the C of E's request would probably defend to the death the right of Islamic calls to prayer, maybe even of having them broadcast across English cities.And would those prayers include a fervent wish for good to come to unbelievers, let alone those who vocally hate God and His Word? Doubtful, isn't it. Praying for 'enemies' of the faith and of the faithful is a Christian thing, people, and a good one. The allegation of trolling was still almost fresh when poor Stephen Fry apparently got lambasted on Twitter for his joke about the top costume designer who collected a Bafta award dressed, as he quipped at the time, like a bag lady. Except when this was reported, Fry was the victim of bone-headed users who failed to see the joke, and his impatience with such ignorance something to be commiserated with. In contrast, where the C of E was concerned, it was the bone-headed 'trolling' charge that was affirmed and the Church put on the back foot, having to somehow prove it was no such thing. See the difference? For the secularly-sainted ('national treasure') Fry, the knee-jerk, unthinking reactions are seen as precisely that; for the beleaguered National Church, the ignorant reactions are seen as potentially genuine.In a further irony, Fry's off-the-cuff, bitchy wit - and it was funny, I was watching - is exactly the kind of thing he was hired to deliver. That his target in this instance was an unprepossing older woman (even if a friend of his), was entirely in keeping with the gay-influenced culture that rates women primarily on glam and grooming. Anyone paying him to MC their gig will know this. Job done.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Richard Dawkins, Entertainer

Richard Dawkins ought to be on the stage as a solo comedy act. Seriously, I am so grateful to him for his entertainment value. Take a recent two-page interview in The Times, for example (Saturday January 30 2016). It was headlined with what was no doubt deemed to be his most provocative statement ('It's time feeble feminists started to condemn the misogyny in Islam') but contained some pure Dawkins gems.The best of these, in my opinion, was the summation of his brief disussion on how everything, including evolution, is a 'continuum': "If you go back, take your great great great grandfather and add a couple of hundred greats you've got a fish." Did his two interviewers keep a straight face? I laughed out loud as I was reading this in a public place. Earlier in the piece, the dear Professor trashed Adam and Eve as one of the 'idiotic non-facts' allegedly taught to children in faith schools. Well, the story of Adam and Eve makes complete sense in terms of understanding the fissures of the human predicament, whereas a seemless line to a fish ancestry really, you know, does not. What makes the story of the Fish more probable that the story of the Fall? It does have the advantage of not requiring us to grapple with the awkward question of why we human beings are beautiful and complex yet so false and vile, I suppose. Another Dawkins gem is his lament for the decline of Christianity and Christian education in Britain - very proper, well done - almost in the same breath as his fierce denunciation of Christian education as something 'wicked'. His dogmatic insistence on the completeness of science is also comic. Why does no one call him up on this when he spends so much energy denouncing dogmatism elsewhere? Why does no one also point out that, by the way, he's wrong? Science cannot explain everything. Even where it does a good job at addressing 'how' it cannot explain 'why'. This Dawkins is blind to: "It's staggering that we can understand why life exists, why we have plants and animals, carnivores and herbivores", he says. It would be staggering indeed if it were true, but it isn't. Dawkins fudges this issue so he can express his sense of wonder at the marvel of Creation without having to refer to a Creator, let alone bow to Him. Moreover he complains that children - those alleged victims of faith schools - are denied this wonder by not being taught the absoluteness of evolution. Leaving aside that Dawkins's view of what gets taught in schools seems more supposition than reality, Christianity (and Judaism) are precisely the go-to educations to foster wonder at the world, and therefore poetry, music etc, which he himself ackowledges as influences for good in his life. Yet another Dawkins gem is his assumption that children should learn things dispassionately, scientifically, multi-laterally, and then make up their own minds about what they want to believe. On the one hand, that is simply not how children learn. Their minds feed on values. They will have values of one sort or another, they must have them, they ascribe value to everything that goes on around them, whether they're consciously aware of it or not at the time. That is the rationale for teaching them those values we think are good, and proven by long usage to be good (like Christian ones). Later on, of course they can choose for themselves, and indeed they will - as Dawkins himself did. To think they are not taught how to think, while they are being encouraged as to what to think, is nonsense. After all, did religious education blight Dawkins's mind? He is still praising it , even though he wants to deprive others of the same advantage. On the other hand, is the dear Professor himself dispassionate and scientific? Not a bit of it! Especiallly not when engaged in his war against religion. Altogether, I'd say that Dawkins's sloppiness in language and intent makes him the most unscientific of prominent scientists. But he is funny.