Professor Richard Dawkins, known as the world's most famous atheist, has risen to rock star status for his attacks on God and religion, in particular, his attacks on the God of the Bible. But when he recently criticized Muslims, he was in for a surprise.
Before looking at Dawkins' rather mild criticism of Muslims, let's remember the depth of his vitriol against Christians and the Bible, most of which has only enhanced Dawkins' reputation.
In an April interview aired on the Qatar-based TV network Al Jazeera, Dawkins railed on the Catholic Church, saying that, as "Horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was [suffered by some children at the hands of deviant priests], the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place."
Was Dawkins really serious? The interviewer, Mehdi Hasan asked: "You believe that being bought up as a Catholic is worse than being abused by a priest?"
Dawkins replied: "There are shades of being abused by a priest, and I quoted an example of a woman in America who wrote to me saying that when she was seven years old she was sexually abused by a priest in his car.
"At the same time a friend of hers, also seven, who was of a Protestant family, died, and she was told that because her friend was Protestant she had gone to Hell and will be roasting in Hell forever.
"She told me of those two abuses, she got over the physical abuse; it was yucky but she got over it. But the mental abuse of being told about Hell, she took years to get over."
Did non-Christians take offense at these outrageous comments about Catholics and Protestants? Hardly. This was considered vintage Dawkins.
In his bestselling book The God Delusion, Dawkins famously mocked the God of the Old Testament, claiming that, "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."
This quote quickly became an atheist favorite, kind of an instant classic and part of Dawkins' legacy. What about attacks on Allah? Did Dawkins attack him the same way?
According to a February 24, 2013 article by Douglas Murray published in The Jewish Chronicle Online, "In a recent Al-Jazeerah interview, Richard Dawkins was asked his views on God. He argued that the god of 'the Old Testament' is 'hideous' and 'a monster', and reiterated his claim from The God Delusion that the God of the Torah is the most unpleasant character 'in fiction'. Asked if he thought the same of the God of the Koran, Dawkins ducked the question, saying: 'Well, um, the God of the Koran I don't know so much about.'"
Or could it be that Dawkins wants to keep his head on his shoulders a little longer? Can you imagine how Muslims would react if he attacked Allah as a hideous monster?
In another context, Dawkins said, "I need to learn not to bend over backwards to be nice to faith-heads. Give these people an inch and they take a league. I think, as I did when I wrote The God Delusion, that the Roman Catholic Church is a disgusting institution, the second most evil religion in the world."
So, Dawkins was being "nice" when he wrote The God Delusion and not being as harsh as he should have been towards "the Roman Catholic Church," which he calls "a disgusting institution and "the second most evil religion in the world." What, then, would be the most evil religion? Islam, we presume?
In a November 2012 speech, Dawkins referred to Islam as "one of the great evils of the world," although it appears this was not widely reported. But his recent tweets, combating Islamic claims to scientific prowess, have sparked a firestorm of controversy. Dawkins tweeted to his 777,000 twitter followers, "All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though."
In response to a flood of hostile tweets, Dawkins replied, "Why mention Muslim Nobles rather than any other group? Because we so often hear boasts about (a) their total numbers and (b) their science."
And, "You can attack someone for his opinion. But for simply stating an intriguing fact? Who would guess that a single Cambridge College . . ."
Ah yes, but the mild criticism is against Muslims, in comparison with his scathing criticisms of Christians.
As noted on JihadWatch.org, "Richard Dawkins can criticize Christianity all he wants, but when he dares simply to note an "intriguing fact" about Muslims and Islam, he incurs the wrath of the gods of political correctness. This controversy illustrates yet again that it doesn't matter who you are or what you have done or accomplished: if you stand against jihad violence and Islamic supremacism, or criticize Islam in any way, you will be targeted, vilified, smeared, and defamed, and every attempt will be made to destroy you."
Put another way, bashing Christians is commendable; criticizing Muslims is contemptible. Let's see where Dawkins goes from here.