Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and author, has come under strong criticism from the Twitter community for posting content largely perceived as Islamophobic.
Mr. Dawkins, 77, posted a photo of himself sitting near Winchester Cathedral, with the following caption:
“Listening to the lovely bells of Winchester, one of our great mediaeval cathedrals. So much nicer than the aggressive-sounding “Allahu Akhbar.” Or is that just my cultural upbringing?”
Listening to the lovely bells of Winchester, one of our great mediaeval cathedrals. So much nicer than the aggressive-sounding “Allahu Akhbar.” Or is that just my cultural upbringing? pic.twitter.com/TpCkq9EGpw
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) July 16, 2018
It wasn’t long before Twitter did what it does best, providing genuine and eye-watering responses.
One Twitter user said: “As a Christian from a mixed Christian-Muslim country, it *is* your cultural upbringing. And it only sounds aggressive because you never bothered to learn more than English in your life.”
Another one tweeted: “It’s definitely your xenophobia and bigotry. Maybe you even dip your humus with ignoranance [sic] and wrap your falafel sandwich with your 50 cents of knowledge. A real atheist would not care about church bells, azan or any of that. But your comments say a lot about who you’re really!”
Another one simply asked: “Please could you explain why you thought this feeling needed sharing so widely?”
Despite attempting to clarify his rather controversial point of view – adding a second tweet that reads: “The call to prayer can be hauntingly beautiful, especially if the muezzin has a musical voice. My point is that “Allahu Akhbar” is anything but beautiful when it is heard just before a suicide bomb goes off. That is when Islam is tragically hijacked by violence” – Mr Dawkins saw his Twitter post hit over 9 thousand comments, mostly against his bigotry.
This is probably due to the fact that his attempt to placate the Twitter community’s angry reaction did not feel sincere after all.
It is worth remembering that KPFA Radio in Berkeley, California, cancelled an invitation for Dawkins to partake in an event about science due to his Islamophobia. The organisers later released an email to those who had purchased the tickets, which read: “We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science, when we didn’t know he had offended and hurt – in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people. KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech. While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech. We apologise for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins views much earlier”.
By means of example, among the many Islamophobic tweets dating as far back as 2013, one reads: “Islam is the greatest force for evil in the world today”.
Despite unquestionable success in the field of evolutionary biology, Dawkins’s views on Islam a indeed problematic. While it is unclear what drives the author to take such a controversial stance in relation to Islam specifically, his entire work on theology and religions has been questioned by many experts in the field.
Alvin Plantinga, a philosopher who reviewed Dawkins’s most famous book on religion, The God Delusion, writes:
“The God Delusion is full of bluster and bombast, but it really doesn’t give even the slightest reason for thinking belief in God mistaken, let alone a ‘delusion’.”
That said the book has sold more than 3.3 million copies worldwide since being released and has been commended by numerous individuals including David Nicholls, writer and president of the Atheist Foundation of Australia.
However, to Professor Alister McGrath, The God Delusion is little more than an “incurious, dogmatic, rambling, and self-contradictory” book, “which refuses to allow its ideas to be examined or challenged”. As part of his reply, Professor McGrath produced the book, ‘The Dawkins Delusion?’, in which he notes that “Dawkins simply offers the atheist equivalent of slick hellfire preaching, substituting turbocharged rhetoric and highly selective manipulation of facts for careful, evidence-based thinking”.
Sticking to evolutionary biology might indeed be Dawkins’s safest bet.
This article was originally published here over on MEND.