- (Photo: considerhumanism.org via The Christian Post)
Outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins has stirred controversy via Twitter by saying that fewer Muslims have won Nobel Prizes than members of Trinity College in Cambridge, and questioned if they have done anything worthwhile since the Dark Ages.
A selection of Dawkin's Twitter comments over the past couple of days include: "Indeed, where would we be without alchemy? Dark Age achievements undoubted. But since then?" and "All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though."
The posts have drawn the ire of commentators on social media, who sought to point out several misleading notions in the biologist's statements.
"To wearily engage with his logic briefly: yes, it is technically true that fewer Muslims (10) than Trinity College Cambridge members (32) have won Nobel prizes," wrote Nesrine Malik, a Sudanese-born writer of The Guardian.
"But insert pretty much any other group of people instead of "Muslims", and the statement would be true. You are comparing a specialized academic institution to an arbitrarily chosen group of people. Go on. Try it. All the world's Chinese, all the world's Indians, all the world's lefthanded people, all the world's cyclists."
Malik said that the comment represented a "new low" for the atheist professor.
Independent columnist Owen Jones added that Dawkins, who has heavily targeted both Christianity and Islam throughout his career, is dressing up "bigotry as atheism."
"You are now beyond an embarrassment," Jones wrote.
Dawkins tried to defend himself on Twitter by posting: "You can attack someone for his opinion. But for simply stating an intriguing fact?" though that did not stop the flood of criticism coming his way.
Back in January, The God Delusion author once again found himself in hot water for what many said were comments insulting Muslims. Following an attack in Mali that destroyed documents in a sacred library in Timbuktu, the atheist professor wrote: "Like Alexandria, like Bamiyan, Timbuktu's priceless manuscript heritage destroyed by Islamic barbarians."
Dawkins later said that he wasn't trying to imply that all Muslims are barbarians, however.
Earlier this week, Dawkins criticized the Police and Crime Commissioner in Northamptonshire in Britain for establishing a new office aimed at interacting with the country's faith based communities, asking why religious groups deserve a special liaison officer.