Dawkins Responds to Critics

The paperback edition of The God Delusion is published next week. This edition has a new preface which Dawkins uses to respond to some of the common criticisms that have been leveled at the book. Normally I’d find it far too tempting to by the paperback just to read this. But happily, the article was published in Saturday’s Times. Here’s an extract where he makes a veiled reference to Terry Eagleton’s review:

You can’t criticise religion without detailed study of learned books on theology.

If, as one self-consciously intellectual critic wished, I had expounded the epistemological differences between Aquinas and Duns Scotus, Eriugena on subjectivity, Rahner on grace or Moltmann on hope (as he vainly hoped I would), my book would have been more than a surprise bestseller, it would have been a miracle. I would happily have forgone bestsellerdom had there been the slightest hope of Duns Scotus illuminating my central question: does God exist? But I need engage only those few theologians who at least acknowledge the question, rather than blithely assuming God as a premise. For the rest, I cannot better the “Courtier’s Reply” on P. Z. Myers’s splendid Pharyngula website, where he takes me to task for outing the Emperor’s nudity while ignoring learned tomes on ruffled pantaloons and silken underwear. Most Christians happily disavow Baal and the Flying Spaghetti Monster without reference to monographs of Baalian exegesis or Pastafarian theology.

And one where he reiterates one of the book’s basic premises:

You’re preaching to the choir. What’s the point?

The nonbelieving choir is much bigger than people think, and it desperately needs encouragement to come out. Judging by the thanks that showered my North American book tour, my articulation of hitherto closeted thoughts is heard as a kind of liberation. The atheist choir, moreover, is too ready to observe society’s convention of according special respect to faith, and it goes along with society’s lamentable habit of labelling small children with the religion of their parents. You’d never speak of a “Marxist child” or a “monetarist child”. So why give religion a free pass to indoctrinate helpless children? There is no such thing as a Christian child: only a child of Christian parents.

2 thoughts on “Dawkins Responds to Critics

  1. So Dawkins maybe addresses one or two of Eagleton’s points. Does he address the other major strands of criticism that Eagleton makes? Does he address the criticisms made in “The Dawkins Delusion”?I still think that this book is poorly-argued and frankly just boring. Atheists, and I include myself in this, should hold Dawkins to a much higher standard than they do.

  2. Eagleton does not have any major criticisms of Dawkins’ book other than to beat a straw man version of it. And I have to laugh at many self declared “atheists”, that really aren’t, that want to hold Dawkins to a “much higher standard” and yet let Eagleton’s infantile comments slide by so easily.

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