Pharyngula

Why, what a vile little man

I speak of Dinesh D’Souza, who seems to have noticed that his creepy and dishonest tirade against atheists won him some attention, so now he has upped the ante, and gotten even creepier and more dishonest.

Start with the title: “Dawkins’ Message to Mourners–Get Over It!”. That sounds as if he is reporting that Dawkins has said something horribly callous directly to the grieving families, doesn’t it? Well, no … all we actually have in this article from Richard Dawkins is a quote from his book, River Out of Eden(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll), published in the mid-90s.

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.

Which is all quite true; I don’t see the universe rising up to offer consolation to the families who have lost people they loved, or even better, magically blocking the bullets that have caused so much pain. I also don’t see Dawkins offering this unpleasant fact of reality as funeral oratory, much less telling the families to “get over it.”

So D’Souza has concocted an article entirely out of a lie. Is anyone surprised?

This also won’t be a surprise. D’Souza thinks atheists believe tragedies are occasions to say “c’est la vie“, and that he has the answer.

Only God seems to have the power to heal hearts in such circumstances.

God will do nothing. He did nothing during the killings, he will not be at the funeral, he won’t come to parents weeping home alone. People will come together and cope, but those are wounds that will never really heal. There are no magic words that will make the loss of someone we cared about go away, and if there were, if there were something that would make us forget or become indifferent to such grief, would we want it?

After bumbling his way through more hateful stereotypes, D’Souza closes with a question.

I really want to hear what the atheist would tell the grieving mothers.

Hmmm. Something like, “I’m sorry. I wish I could help you bear your loss. Is there anything I can do to help?”

You know, some expression of regret and commisseration, and an offer of a shoulder to lean on. Like any other decent human being would.

Something D’Souza would find unfamiliar.

Or perhaps, if someone like Dawkins were asked to speak at the funeral of a friend, we could actually look at what he said in those circumstances. It doesn’t seem to have been “c’est la vie” or “get over it!” or anything quite so brusque and unfeeling.


Andy finds another example of D’Souza’s idiocy. Why would a loving god allow such horrors?

But perhaps God’s purpose in the world (I am only thinking aloud here) is to draw his creatures to him. And you have to admit that tragedies like this one at Virginia Tech help to do that!

Brilliant! I’m going to draw my family together in unity and shared awe by taking a ball-peen hammer to the cats. A bloody tragedy is just the thing to get us all joining hands in love.

Comments

  1. #1 raiko
    April 20, 2007

    Vile is too nice a word to describe D’Souza.

    I’m quite willing to let the the attack on atheists slide. Being an atheist myself, I find his quote-mining of Richard Dawkins childish, and quite frankly, not worth the effort to get angry over. A straight rebuttal such as Prof. Myers’ is the proper response, I think.

    The fact that pisses me off is that D’Souza is exploiting this tragedy, and as an extension, exploiting the families involved, to push his agenda. The man is beyond having no class.

  2. #2 Alison
    April 20, 2007

    The last time I went to a funeral, it was a Catholic Mass. It went on for well over an hour, and there was less than 15 minutes of that devoted to remembrance of the deceased. Most of that 15 minutes was taken up by the priest, who did not know her and couldn’t even pronounce her name properly. Why anyone would insist that this religious send-off, filled with a laundry list of bible quotes and meaningless rituals involving wine and crackers and incense is somehow more of a tribute and more supportive to the survivors than the eloquent praise and personal memories of Richard Dawkins for Douglas Adams, is beyond the scope of my imagination. Could D’Souza or any of his compatriots honestly say they’d rather hear a bunch of religious strangers repeating meaningless phrases about God’s plan or their loved ones being in heaven than the heartfelt sympathy of an single atheist telling him “I loved him, too, and I will miss him as well”?

  3. #3 Rienk
    April 20, 2007

    If this idiot, who actually dated Coulter and that should say enough, would read some of Dawkins’ books for once he might have come upon the beautiful passage in The Ancestors Tale in which professor Dawkins personally addresses Douglas Adams, though passed away a long time ago. Did Dawkins say “get over it”? Not at all. It was a very moving paragraph in a very moving celebration of evolutionary science.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    April 20, 2007

    This might be kind of obvious, but …

    I think various yahoos going out of their way to point out how Richard Dawkins somehow has something to do with, or nothing to do with, or whatever, the post-massacre reaction is an excellent example of waving the monkey.

    “Watch the monkey” …

    The evidence strongly suggests that the VT massacre was linked to religion. Maybe not a “good” example of religion but not an entirely uncommon one.

    Religion is not simply a delusion. Religious rhetoric and iconography, allegory and metaphor, provide the raw material for delusion as well. There is cultural and linguistic coevolutoin between delusional (phyco-neural) behavior and delusional symboling.

    Societal and cultural forces favoring religiosity and spirituality SELECT FOR delusional tendencies and capacities. Some of this is cultural evolution but some of it is starting to look like genetic evolution…

    …Our species carries a widespread balanced polymorphism that underlies both psychotic behavior and religiosity. The positive selection comes from the religiosity … from the value religiosity has in our theistic society.

    Theistic society breeds psychotic behavior. The theistic aspect of our society is the reason this man killed these people. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the ultimate social and cultural cause of this event is religion.

    The bullets killed the people, the killer pulled the trigger, but our religious society mad this happen. If this was an atheistic society this would not have happened.

    (Yea, I know, I just said the same exact thing nine times, but that helped to develop the thought)

  5. #5 Blake Stacey
    April 20, 2007

    Greg Laden:

    Oh, I dunno. He could have been a rabid Objectivist who pulled out his guns screaming, “Leeches! Leeches! Sucking the blood from the arteries of capitalism!”

  6. #6 Blake Stacey
    April 20, 2007

    God could easily “draw his creatures to him” in a much kinder way than killing them like extras in Total Recall. For example, he could make his son’s body manifest in chocolate-chip cookies instead of unleavened bread.

  7. #7 David Marjanovi?
    April 20, 2007

    If this idiot, who actually dated Coulter

    Am I glad I’m capable of laughing without opening my mouth!

    “Watch the monkey” …

    Do you mean the Chewbacca Defense? “Look at the monkey. Look at the silly monkey!”

  8. #8 David Marjanovi?
    April 20, 2007

    If this idiot, who actually dated Coulter

    Am I glad I’m capable of laughing without opening my mouth!

    “Watch the monkey” …

    Do you mean the Chewbacca Defense? “Look at the monkey. Look at the silly monkey!”

  9. #9 Blake Stacey
    April 20, 2007

    Molly, NYC:

    But that would negate free will and the beauty of faith! A god who would do that might just as well part the waters, feed a multitude on a handful of fish and bread, keep a man alive inside a fish for three days. . . Er, wait a second. . . .

  10. #10 Brian Gyss
    April 20, 2007

    Perhaps he’s just creating instant attack fodder for Dawkins’ upcoming appearance on the Billo show at the behest of his puppet masters? This just seems like an incredibly odd card to pull unless it was actually going somewhere.

  11. #11 Steve_C (Secular Elitist) FCD
    April 20, 2007

    Dawkins is on such a higher intellectual plane, I can’t even imagine what’s going to go down.

  12. #12 Willo the Wisp
    April 20, 2007

    I hope Dawkins never responds to this hateful, bigoted attention-monger.

  13. #13 coz
    April 20, 2007

    I never heard of this tool before this week, I wish I was still in ignorance. Makes my skin crawl.

    Ohh yeah and thanks making me cry all over again by rereading Dawkins Tribute to Douglas Adams….sigh.

  14. #14 tinisoli
    April 20, 2007

    Here’s what D’Souza just emailed me in response to my post on his blog:

    How do you know Cho was even religious? He might be an atheist like you and have lost any sense of purpose in life. And do you subscribe to the idea that if Cho was reading Dawkins, that discredits Dawkins? Atheist logic, I suppose.

    best, DD

    Unreal. I suppose we atheists will have to start doing things in public, good deeds and whatnot, while carrying banners and wearing t-shirts that say “I’m an Atheist AND a nice guy, too!” Otherwise D’Souza and others will continue to imagine us slithering around in dark caves, eating embryonic stem cells, and muttering “molecules bouncing off of molecules bouncing off molecules.”

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