Dawkins finds a defender

James Bloodworth has posted a particularly stupid piece on his Spectator blog, entitled “It’s fine to be a ‘new’ atheist, so long as you don’t object to Islam”. He takes issue with Glenn Greenwald’s accusation that Richard Dawkins and other militant atheists are responsible for “fuelling the sustained anti-Muslim demonization campaign of the west”, and with Owen Jones’s statement that there is a “rising tide of anti-Muslim prejudice which dresses itself up as secularism”.

Bloodworth writes: “A closer examination of the polemics, however, reveals why Dawkins and co have so upset the left. They have fallen foul of an important unspoken code: while Christianity may be cursed to the skies, criticism of Islam must be bookended with ‘religion of peace’ disclaimers or refrained from entirely. The problem is not that the new atheists exult rationality at the expense of a deeper understanding of human affairs; it is that they are too consistent in their denunciations of religion.”

As we have pointed out numerous times, one of the distinguishing features of Dawkins’ approach to faith is precisely that he is not consistent in his denunciations of religion. While he takes the view that Islam is arguably “the greatest man-made force for evil in the world today”, he happily describes himself as a “cultural Christian”. (By this Dawkins evidently means a cultural Anglican, as he describes Roman Catholicism as “the world’s second most evil religion”.) He has also toyed with the idea of forming an alliance with right-wing evangelical Christians in order to block the spread of Islam.

Not much consistency there, I would suggest. What we get from Dawkins is rather an obsessive demonisation of Islam combined with a sympathetic attitude towards certain forms of Christianity.