This is an older article (Dec 2012) and at the time people figured Higgs was a contender for the Nobel. Now we know he got it. In any case, one of the greatest minds in theoretical physics points out what I’ve been saying for years: that the New Atheists (or at least Dawkins, one of their examplars) are the mirror image of the fundamentalists that they choose to focus their criticisms on. This remark came not long after Dawkins dropped another gem, saying that “Horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was, the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place.”
I imagine his fans will continue to post his quotes and parrot his arguments for quite some time, but I think his credibility with most fair-minded people is pretty well shot at this point. It should be, at any rate.
Edit: In the first version of this post, I mistakenly attributed a summary of Dawkins comment to Dawkins. The summary read: “Raising a child in the Catholic church was worse than sex abuse dished out to youngsters by priests.” The actual quote is now included in the body above. HIggs’ statement is also more qualified than the headline suggest. He actually said “Dawkins in a way is almost a kind of fundamen- talist himself.”
4 thoughts on “Higgs Calls Dawkins “A Fundamentalist””
Actually, Higgs said “Dawkins in a way is almost a kind of fundamentalist himself.”
And the second quote in your post is what the Daily Mail claimed Dawkins said, not what Dawkins said. The paraphrased quote was “Horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was, the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place.” It was an off-the-cuff remark that he clarifies extensively on his blog:
Keeping in mind that he was himself abused by a priest as a child.
I expect the Daily Mail to take a man’s words out of context and interpret them in the worst possible way, not this blog. In this case, the quoted words were not spoken by who you claimed in either case. Please learn about how quotes work.
1. I did accidentally attributed a paraphrase of Dawkins’ words as a verbatim quote. I know that you know that I’m not actually ignorant of how quotes work, so I’m not sure what you think the point of the insult was, but in any case I’ve clarified the post.
2. The paraphrase was completely accurate and in no way actually changes the meaning of Dawkins claim. He proposed that being raised as a Catholic is a worse form of abuse than being sexually molested. That is the clear and direct intent of his statement, and going from the accidental paraphrase to the verbatim quote doesn’t change that.
3. The qualification of Higgs’ statement is more substantial, but still leaves the fundamental point. Higgs’ may have said “almost” and “kind of”, but this point was that the kind of dogmatic ideology espoused by Dawkins is of the same basic nature as that espoused by fundamentalists. Higgs is correct.
The two broader points I hoped to make were:
1) Don’t trust a news story when all the information you have is from a hostile source. I don’t ask Jon Stewart about what Glenn Beck said; I don’t trust the Daily Mail’s stories on leftist leaders.
2) I thought Dawkins would qualify his statements on sexual abuse by confining it to certain terrible abuse compared to specific demonic aspects of Catholocism, but no he went wrapped it all in together. The fact that Dawkins occasionally says something boneheaded or in the worst possible way doesn’t negate the factual, positive majority of what he’s said and written over the years (especially his early biology-focused works). Dawkins seems to be taking the Orson Scott Card / Ralph Nader path of saying increasingly ridiculous things as he gets older. I think fans of all three of those men should “continue to post his quotes and parrot his arguments for quite some time” while taking all their words with a grain of salt. No need to dismiss the whole canon.
That’s legit. I just have a hard time keeping track of which outlet is biased in which direction, to be honest.
I have no idea what he has done in his career as a scientist. My interest is with his career as a spokesperson for the New Atheists. And in that regard, I absolutely do not believe that the majority of his statements are factual or positive. Going back to God Delusion at least, his arguments consist primarily of cherry-picking and his tone is condescending at best, despite the fact that his opponents consist of men and women at least as smart and principled as he believes himself to be.
This isn’t some random aberration. This is the modus operandi for the New Atheists, which is why–increasingly–fewer and fewer people take them seriously.
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