Three items appear below:

1 Is Dawkins Bright but Afraid?
2 D'Souza: "Flawlessly Perfectly Wrong"
3 D'Souza's Nickname


IS DAWKINS BRIGHT BUT AFRAID?

(Investigator 119, 2008 March)


Homosexuals improved their image by switching to a positive name – they called themselves "Gay". Richard Dawkins advocates using the same strategy to improve the image of Atheists. No, he does not want to label Atheists "Gay" but "Brights". Dawkins got the idea after signing up to "The-Brights.net" which advocates using this strategy. (The God Delusion 2006, p.380)

He and like-minded philosopher, Daniel Dennet, have both promoted the idea. With such a positive description, Dawkins hopes the atheist – or rather the bright – majority will come out of their closet.

Dinish D'Souza, member of a think-tank at Stanford University and author of What's So Great About Christianity, writes:

Basically Dawkins is saying [in his book The God Delusion] if you are religious, then science is your enemy… No wonder that so many Americans say they are opposed to evolution. They believe that evolution is atheism masquerading as science… Indeed Dawkins takes the same position as the most ignorant fundamentalist: you can have Darwin or you can have the Bible but you can't have both. (Catalyst, Volume 1, 2007 December, p6) 
D'Souza has debated Christopher Hitchens and now wants to debate with Dawkins "on a secular campus like Berkeley". But Dawkins declined without saying why.

D'Souza says: "Dawkins presents atheism as the side of reason and evidence, and religion as the side of 'blind faith'. So what's he afraid of?"

Note that D'Souza conjoined "ignorant" and "Fundamentalist" – which is often done. Clearly, this is another group that needs an upgraded image. Perhaps Fundamentalists could relabel themselves "Intellectuals"!

(BS)



 

D'SOUZA: "FLAWLESSLY PERFECTLY WRONG"

John H Williams

(Investigator 120, 2008 May)


No, Richard Dawkins isn't "afraid" but he's assuredly bright (B Stett Investigator #119). The idea of "Brights" was to avoid the pejorative connotation of "atheist", and I agree with Hitchens (p5 God Is Not Great) that it's "cringe-making", and should be let go.

Having looked Dinesh D'Souza up at length, and read transcripts of his public debates, I understand Dawkins keeping him at barge-pole length. In my opinion he's a clever self-promoter with a big, profitable right-wing market to mine, and in Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, Harris et al he has juicy targets for his promotional mill.

IDealogues Phillip E Johnson and Michael Behe have trawled the same apologist/fidei defensor route, and written best-selling books. D'Souza's What's So Great About Christianity? (2007) is an American best-seller.

Some refer to him as the next Billy Graham, a "poster boy for defenders of Christianity". Others, including conservatives, see him as a snake-oil salesman, a deluded and dishonest ‘celebrity debater'.

D'Souza was born in India, and he's now an American. He attended Ivy League Dartmouth College (degree in English) and converted to Roman Catholicism from Hinduism. In 1988 he was a policy adviser in President Reagan's White House. He's currently Rushwain Fellow in the Hoover Institute at Stanford University.

To summarise his political philosophy, he's anti-welfare, challenges affirmative action, and believes that Americans are too critical of America. His scorn is directed at the "Cultural Left" who he believes are the cause of America's problems, arguing that they have contributed to the conditions which enabled 9/11 (The Enemy At Home, 2007, and The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility For 9/11). He also targets the media, Hollywood, Congress and the non-profit sector.

D'Souza's a lightning rod for criticism, eliciting a storm of protest from conservatives, one of whom cited him as a "national disgrace". Of course, the more negative attention, and the juicier his quotes ("9/11 happened because of Britney Spears and MTV", or "There's never been a history of Sunni-Shia strife in Iraq before 2003") the more he's noticed, and the more books he sells.

Theologically he's liable to produce "nonsense masquerading as valid argument", a biblical literalist who believes in miracles and a divine creator. He portrays the New Atheism as a threat to Christianity, and will offer the hoary anthropogenic argument for his sky-god as the "state of perfection" in the universe!

His exaggerated rhetoric on the benefits of Christianity includes reference to America's "Christian founder", Thomas Jefferson, who was not a Christian. One critic has dismissed his claims as "bona fide pathology"; "he is flawlessly perfectly wrong: it is like art", says another.

Given the above, why would Richard Dawkins bother?




D'Souza's NICKNAME

(Investigator 121, 2008 July)

In my critical piece on Dinesh D'Souza (#120) you wielded the editorial razor in both my title and text, perhaps concerned that his well-known nickname of ‘Distort D'Newza' might be perceived as pejorative, or that you might receive a letter from his lawyer suggesting a retraction.

Ordinarily I might agree, but in the interview piece I read on him it mentioned that he "revelled" in his unfortunate monicker, and claimed to have thought it up himself! This may or may not be true, but if it were, it would cast significant doubt on his credibility.

If you type in "Distort D'Newza" you'll find what I found in Wikipedia and other sites. He may have scored it at Dartmouth in the late 1980s and it does say that he's "proud" of it and may have come up with it himself.

I thought that this eye-catching name added weight to my critique and was a good one to use in my headline, "Distort D'Newza: Flawlessly perfectly wrong" (this latter phrase also 'hit the spot' with me, but I was unable to find the source).

I'm a little disappointed that a much used nickname of this successful self-promoting celebrity debater should be excised by you.

John H Williams


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