Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Missing the point

It bugs me that Richard Dawkins now seems known more for his atheism writing than his excellent science writing.

It also bugs me that he always seems to get mis-quoted or quote mined when reported on.

Take the latest from Andrew Brown:

There was a picture of the pope holding a golden swastika, which the organisers apparently took down later, as offensive. I don't know why, since Richard Dawkins later published on his web site the speech he meant to deliver, comparing every Catholic in Britain to Adolf Hitler: "Adolf Hitler was a Roman Catholic. Or at least he was as much a Roman Catholic as the 5 million so-called Roman Catholics in this country today", although in the event he said something less gratuitously provocative: "Adolf Hitler was a Roman Catholic ... If the church wants to claim [5m Britons] as Catholics, then they have to claim Hitler as a Catholic".

Actually, the full quote, in context:

Adolf Hitler was a Roman Catholic. Or at least he was as much a Roman Catholic as the 5 million so-called Roman Catholics in this country today. For Hitler never renounced his baptismal Catholicism, which was doubtless the criterion for counting the 5 million alleged British Catholics today. You cannot have it both ways. Either you have 5 million British Catholics, in which case you have to have Hitler too. Or Hitler was not a Catholic, in which case you have to give us an honest figure for the number of genuine Catholics in Britain today – the number who really believe Jesus turns himself into a wafer, as the former Professor Ratzinger presumably does.
This is quite different, I think you'll agree. If you've the time, read the whole piece, it's worth it.

A lot of people seem turned off by Dawkins, because of how he's reported (it's the impression that I get), which is a shame, as he is a superb writer, and has written some of my favourite books.

If people could read what he has to say, not what people have thought he's said, or, at the very least, take the full context of what he says, then that would be a good start.

Here's his speech at the Protest the Pope rally:

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