Dawkins named world’s top thinker

No, it’s not Peter Hitchens or Terry Eagleton.  Nor is it Glenn Greenwald, R. Joseph Hoffmann, or any of the critics of New Atheism who fancy themselves far more sophisticated and, perhaps, influential than the New Atheists.  (We’ve all heard the hounds baying about the declining relevance and clout of all those “militant” athiests.)

No, according to a Prospect Magazine poll, the world’s top thinker, the person who was most intellectually influential over the last 12 months, was—Richard Dawkins.  And #3 was another vociferous atheist, Steven Pinker. In the #8 spot we find another godless person: Peter Higgs.

Here are the top ten, chosen by Prospect readers from a list of 65 people created by an elite panel from the U.S. and U.K. (links go to descriptions of the braniacs as well as the other 55 candidates):

1. Richard Dawkins
2. Ashraf Ghani
3. Steven Pinker
4. Ali Allawi
5. Paul Krugman
6. Slavoj Žižek
7. Amartya Sen
8. Peter Higgs
9. Mohamed ElBaradei
10.Daniel Kahneman

Other atheists known to me in the top 20 are Steven Weinberg (#11) and Oliver Sacks (#13).  That makes at least 25% atheists, twice the proportion of nonbelievers in the world as a whole. Maybe we should resurrect the term “brights.” (Only kidding!)

Prospect‘s analysis goes further:

Among the new entries at the top are Peter Higgs—whose inclusion is a sign of public excitement about the discoveries emerging from the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, Cern—and Slavoj Žižek, whose critique of global capitalism has gained more urgency in the wake of the financial crisis. The appearance of Steven Pinker and Daniel Kahneman, authors of two of the most successful recent “ideas books,” further demonstrates the public appetite for serious, in-depth thinking in the age of the TED talk. The inclusion of Ashraf Ghani, Ali Allawi and Mohamed ElBaradei—from Afghanistan, Iraq and Egypt, respectively—reflects the importance of their work on fostering democracies across the Muslim world in the wake of foreign interventions and the Arab Spring.. .

As always, the absences are as revealing as the familiar names at the top. The failure of environmental thinkers to win many votes may be a sign of the faltering energy of the green movement. Despite the presence of climate scientists lower down the list, the movement seems to lack successors to influential public intellectuals such as Rachel Carson and James Lovelock. Serious thinkers about the internet and technology are also conspicuous by their absence. The highest-placed representative of Silicon Valley is the entrepreneur Elon Musk, but beyond journalist-critics such as Evgeny Morozov and Nicholas Carr, technology still awaits its heavyweight public intellectuals (see Thomas Meaney, £).

Most striking of all is the lack of women at the top of this year’s list. The highest-placed woman in this year’s poll, at number 15, is Arundhati Roy, who has become a prominent left-wing critic of inequalities and injustice in modern India since the publication of her novel The God of Small Things over a decade ago.

The Guardian Books section has its own analysis, including speculations about the lack of women:

To qualify for this year’s world thinkers rankings, it was not enough to have written a seminal book, inspired an intellectual movement or won a Nobel prize several years ago (hence the absence from the 65-strong long list of ageing titans such as Noam Chomsky or Edward O Wilson); the selectors’ remit ruthlessly insisted on “influence over the past 12 months” and “significance to the year’s biggest questions”.

This requirement may have been a factor in the top 10 being all-male (presumably a source of frustration to the five women on the selection panel, including Prospect’s editor Bronwen Maddox), with longlistees such as Hilary Mantel, Martha Nussbaum and Sheryl Sandberg not making it through to the elite of the elite, and the likes of Germaine Greer and Naomi Klein not even making it into the 65. But it may also, of course, simply reflect the gender make-up of the monthly’s readership.

Political engagement was clearly enough for the Middle Eastern trio to meet the criterion of current influence, and others among the cerebral galacticos have been in the news too. The Higgs boson was identified at Cern in July and confirmed there last month, making him an odds-on favourite for a Nobel. Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow became a worldwide bestseller last year. Krugman, a New York Times columnist as well as a Princeton don, has been the leading critic of “the austerity delusion”. Pinker might well have made the chart anyway, but probably owes his high position to his switch from his specialist field of psycholinguistics to history in The Better Angels of Our Nature.

As for Dawkins, the continuation of wars of religion and terrorist atrocities informed by it means his atheist crusade remains relevant to the year’s biggest questions, despite the end of the Bible-bashing, war-mongering Bush era in which he first raised his banner – this week his 670,000 Twitter followers could find him (between musings about socks) rejoicing in France’s legalisation of gay marriage, ridiculing a journalist’s Muslim beliefs, and retweeting a story that the older Boston bomber “was angry that the world pictured Islam as a violent religion”. On Monday, no doubt manfully resisting efforts to deify or idolise him, the world No 1 will attend the premiere in Toronto of a documentary about his roadshow (with Lawrence Krauss) promoting science and reason.

Don’t ask me to defend the list, for I haven’t heard of half the candidates! Nor can I vouch for the sapience of Prospect readers. But I do count Richard and Steve as friends, and can testify that they clearly deserve their positions. It’s humbling and an honor to know them—and really good for my education!

90 Comments

  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    My favourite Dawkins quote seems a propos for this honour: “Science – it works, bitches!” 😀 There is hope for the world yet maybe!

    • Occam
      Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      Credit where credit is due: Dawkins was quoting xkcd:
      http://xkcd.com/54/

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        There has been a lot of internet discussion about whether he was quoting xkcd, if he watched an episode of Breaking Bad of if someone told him about a cool new syntax where you say “bitches” after a statement 😀

        It still is funny when you hear him say it: http://youtu.be/IIKfZHPqXYc

        • pacopicopiedra
          Posted April 25, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

          Thank you. That video clip is fantastic. I’d mot seen it before.

  2. Palindromemordnilap
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Jared Diamond (#12) is also an atheist.

    • Christian
      Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      And Slavoj Žižek IIRC

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted April 25, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

        Off topic–how are you getting the hacek (yes, I’m missing one!) on to the letter z? TIA.

        • HaggisForBrains
          Posted April 26, 2013 at 3:52 am | Permalink

          In Windows, click on “Start” (bottom left of screen), then “All Programs”, then “Accessories” then “System Tools”, and in there you can open “Character Map”. This will give you all the special characters you could ever dream of, and a few more besides. I have dragged and dropped it onto my Taskbar for convenience. Some of the more useful ones such as ° ² ³ ¼ ½ ¾ ⅓, or ö é è ê ä ü I keep on a separate notepad on my Taskbar, where I can copy and paste them very quickly.

  3. brdke
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know of the religious affiliations of Krugman, Zizek, Sen and Kahneman? I would love to know now.

    • Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      I’m pretty sure Zizek is an atheist, but I have heard him talk about Dawkins and new atheism as “bullshit”. I think he’s somewhat like the odious Alan Botton in that he considers the truth-claims of religion uninteresting.

      • dongiovanni
        Posted April 25, 2013 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        I can safely say that Zizek is a Stalinist/Maoist, so make of that what you will.

      • Posted April 25, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

        Zizek’s article in the NYT “Atheism is a legacy worth fighting for” summarizes his commitment to atheism:

        http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/13/opinion/13iht-edzizek.html?_r=0

        • godsbuster
          Posted April 26, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

          Zizek is an entertainer whose delivery is reminiscent of the Gish Gallop. His thought can’t be all that deep if his talk is anything to go by.

          1min/30sec into this video:

          you can hear him rubbishing the New Atheists as promulgators of “an extremely vulgar reductionist materialism” who are on the other side of “the same coin” with religious fundamentalism.

    • brdke
      Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Wiki says Sen is a “self-proclaimed” atheist. Good enough for me. Harder to find explicit talk like that about Kahneman. He sticks to his work in interviews, even a short one with Sam Harris. Krugman just seems to be areligious, for all I can tell.

      • Yi
        Posted April 25, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        I’ve read Sen’s writings before. He is definitely an atheist, and the reason has a lot to do with the assorted religious conflicts in India during his childhood. Not sure about Krugman, but from his NY columns where he mocks (religious) republicans all the time, we can reasonably conclude that he is in our camp.

      • Kevin
        Posted April 26, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        Is there any other kind of atheist than a “self-proclaimed” atheist?

        Seems odd that one needs to qualify that word in that way.

    • DV
      Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      If you’re religious I’d would think that would make you not sufficiently a thinker.

    • Tumara Baap
      Posted April 25, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

      Sen is an atheist. But he does not disavow Hinduism either. Various schools of hindu thought (nastik, charvaka) lean godless. But I’m not sure of Sen’s exact convictions.

  4. Max
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Aw crap, I was sure I’d make the to 10 this year.

    • brdke
      Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      I voted for you. Have no idea who you are, but Max is clearly the name of a smart person.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted April 25, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        Or at least the person, bar trickery, that ought to get the max votes.

        • jwthomas
          Posted April 26, 2013 at 6:33 am | Permalink

          My cat Max accepts your nomination and thanks you for your support.

  5. Occam
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Good for Dawkins and Pinker, but any list featuring Slavoj Žižek as a serious thinker, let alone an influential one, ranking him just below Krugman and above Higgs and Kahneman, must be deeply flawed.

    • Buzz
      Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Any list like this is likely to be fairly absurd, but this one has some pretty egregious problems. Just in terms of the theoretical physicists, ranking Higgs above Weinberg is simply bizarre.

      • Occam
        Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        Nolo contendere.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted April 25, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        But remember that this is not a lifetime achievement award, but a measure of one’s relevance to current events.

  6. Douglas Struthers
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    No need to resurrect the ‘bright’ meme, it is very much alive: listen to Dennett interview on BBC’s Hardtalk. All it needs is propagation.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted April 25, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Personally I think it has the right balance between a needed and even smart reference to history (the Enlightenment) and arrogance.

      Alas.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted April 25, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        I knew it was doomed from the outset. Might as well call themselves the Smugs and be done with it.

        • Posted April 26, 2013 at 3:37 am | Permalink

          Always thought ‘Birghts’ was awful, as if an assumed arrogance from ignorance.

          ‘Smugs’ on the other hand I could really go with for its knowing irony in that through science we can actually enjoy smugness when compared to religionists, while at the same time the very basis for that is the far from smug but incontrovertibly contingent nature of science that we know and love.

        • Douglas Struthers
          Posted April 26, 2013 at 11:32 am | Permalink

          What is indisputable is that ‘we’ need a label. The best meme available is ‘brights’. ‘We’ need something to provoke debate about what it is to be a Bright. At the moment folks just replace theology with equally delusional ideology! Where is the progress?

          • Gregory Kusnick
            Posted April 26, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

            “New Atheism” has been a far more successful meme than “Brights” ever was.

            • Douglas Struthers
              Posted April 26, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

              ‘New Atheism’ has been very successful.But what is the next stage in resuming the Enlightenment? Getting ‘brights’ to investigate what it is to be a Bright or fall back into complacent ideological delusions?

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted April 26, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

                Obviously those aren’t the only two options. We can investigate what it means to be an enlightened human being without committing to your particular choice of cool slogan (which has already been rejected by most of the people you want to apply it to).

              • Douglas Struthers
                Posted April 26, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

                Evidence for my case. A disturbing number of ‘brights’ are followers of Ayn Rand. How do we get them to be Brights as their primary identity?

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted April 26, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

                I give up. Clearly you’re more concerned with how people self-label than with what they actually think.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted April 26, 2013 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

                I don’t think I’d want to share a category with followers of Ayn Rand 😦

                They’re welcome to it.

          • Posted April 26, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

            You are wrong.

            “What is indisputable is that ‘we’ need a label.”

            I dispute that!

            QED

            /@

            • Douglas Struthers
              Posted April 26, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

              Giving up on ‘supernaturalism’ needs some marker surely. Once you take this momentous step almost all ideological assumptions are undermined. e.g. free will, consciousness, the self, truth, rationality, morality, belief, agency……..

              • Posted April 26, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

                Atheist, freethinker, rationalist, (philosophical) naturalist, ontological realist, …

                There’s no shortage of labels without coining a cheesy alternative.

                /@

              • Douglas Struthers
                Posted April 26, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

                None of these labels is going to preserve the progress made by the ‘New’ Atheism.

              • Douglas Struthers
                Posted April 26, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

                I’m pretty sure Richard Dawkins will return to promoting the Bright meme when he is publicising his autobiography this September. Then ‘we’ can get secularism and the Enlightenment back on track!

              • Posted April 26, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

                Are you suggesting that “new” atheism wouldn’t have made such progress if it hadn’t attracted that epithet?

                Re Dawkins, is that an evidence-based belief? Or a faith-based belief (wishful thinking)? 😀

                It’s hard to understand why you’re so invested in Bright-ness?

                /@

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted April 26, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

                Proof, if it were needed, that even Richard Dawkins is not infallible.

                (I’m a great fan of Dawkins, but I think that was one of his most notable mistakes).

  7. Sunny
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    “informed by it means his atheist crusade remains relevant to the year’s biggest questions”

    Atheist crusade. Really?

    • JohnnieCanuck
      Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      You caught that, did you? Dugdale and his editors seem amazingly unaware.

      With a healthy dose of irony, I give you a verse from Onward FSM Soldiers:

      Like a mighty army moves the church of FSM;
      brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
      We are not divided, all one body we,
      one in hope and doctrine, one in charity.

  8. Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I miss Stephen Hawking. Maybe he is lower down, but to my thinking he should be in the top ten. And Weinberg should also be higher up, as well as Victor Stenger?

    And what is ElBaradei doing there among the top 10? The man is a fraud and a typical Middle East con artist.

  9. Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Naturally, with any public poll like this there’s selection bias amongst the readers, and although I greatly appreciate Dawkins’s writings and public engagement, in the very, very busy world of public discourse, I don’t think he’s produced anything particularly original or insightful in the past few years.

  10. Rebecca Harbison
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    … Not a single woman in the top ten? I am disappointed.

    • brdke
      Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      I agree, Rebecca, but on there criteria, who would you have put? That’s not to be critical of the idea. Just wondering.

      • brdke
        Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        I mean ‘their’ of course.

      • ildi
        Posted April 26, 2013 at 6:44 am | Permalink

        Rachel Maddow?

    • Posted April 26, 2013 at 5:02 am | Permalink

      I don’t agree with her views at all but surely Karen Armstrong should have been on the long list. At least he stuff is readable and well-researched.

    • DV
      Posted April 26, 2013 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      Disappointed with the women or with the editors of Prospect?

  11. nickswearsky
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I’m assuming they didn’t have my correct email address.

  12. Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    §

  13. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    [Possible doublet:]

    Accommodate that!

    But seriously, I’m both amazed and heartened about the telling outcome of an extensive world wide poll.

    More personal positives is that the local Rosling squeezed in before Venter.

  14. Posted April 25, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    It’s a sham… a conspiracy! There are no women in the top ten! It’s sexist. Dawkins and Pinker can’t be moral and these people can’t possibly represent our best thinking. Most of them don’t even believe in God. The contest was rigged by educati elites. This is clearly an attempt by the elitist left to thwart common sense in education and government’s rule of law. There should be a law against this kind of subversion of public disinterest!

  15. Posted April 25, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    I think any list of “top thinkers”, specially one adjudged by an online poll, is by definition absurd: it should more appropriately be titled “thinkers with the most fans” (or in some cases “thinkers with fans who can write bots”). While have the utmost respect for Prof Dawkins’s writings, I can bet even he must feel a bit embarrassed at being put on top in a list comprising so many other luminaries. Perhaps the people who commission such polls must recognize that like most good things in life, “thinkers” can’t be put in a linear order*. Such bracketing only served to devalue the value of their “thinking”.

    * For the math nerds out there: after all, there is precisely one set of any mathematical interest comes equipped with any natural linear order. 🙂

    • peter
      Posted April 26, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      “* For the math nerds out there: after all, there is precisely one set of any mathematical interest comes equipped with any natural linear order.”

      For which set of non-standard real numbers would you claim most of the others are of no “mathematical interest”?

      • Posted April 26, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        I was counting “R and cousins” as basically one set. I am rather rusty on my model theory, but it seems the hyperreals are just one member of the larger class of real closed fields, which are all indistinguishable from R in first order logic.

        • peter
          Posted April 27, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

          Sets of ordinals tend to be rather natural in their linear order. I realize you can do some kind of ‘surreals’ to stretch this into conformity with what you said! Anyway, it’s not a big deal.

  16. Tumara Baap
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    Economists: In a list that deservedly include Sen, Rajan, Shiller, Picketty, Saez and Krugman, the economist Joseph Stiglitz is a glaring omission.

    • Posted April 26, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      I also find it puzzling that Arundhati Roy seem to be the highest ranked woman in the list. I am not sure she would rank that high even in a poll about Indian “thinkers”, certainly not above, say, Medha Patkar.

  17. Dominic
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    Higgs has been very critical of RD
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/dec/26/peter-higgs-richard-dawkins-fundamentalism

  18. neil
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Stridency rocks!

  19. peter
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    In 1905 or even 1915 (remember, not 1921), would Einstein have made the list? In 1925, Heisenberg? In 1936, Turing? In 1948 or whenever he invented the transistor, Shockley (his later IQ-based racism quite apart!)? Etc…

    Having professed atheists on the list who are idiots (not Dawkins of course, but Zizsek?) would make too much gaga over this list a 2-edged sword, it seems to me.

    And talking about which of them is “on our side” sounds too much like Dubya and his vice from 2003 to me!

    I’m a “nattering nabob of negativity” I guess, to quote another idiot vice-pres of the USians, but so it goes.

  20. Phoenix
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Is this the same Richard Dawkins who has said or implied:
    •Hitler was a Christian
    •There is little difference between Osama Bin Laden and Mother Teresa [both being religious fanatics].
    •Re, “loving your neighbor:” Jesus’ “neighbor” was his fellow Jew [Dawkins being totally ignorant of Jesus’ most famous parable, “The Good Samaritan”]
    •The greatest act of child abuse is a parent instilling into his child his own values, presumably leaving him without values until, instead, Dawkins can instill into the child HIS values through the school systems he attempts to own and control.

    All in all, this poll tells us a whole lot more about Prospect Magazine, than is does Richard Dawkins.

    • Posted April 26, 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      1. He was. “Gott mit uns!”
      2. They differ in the way their faith made others suffer.
      3. Samaritans were “a people … adhering to a form of Judaism” (NOAD); i.e., Jews.
      4. You presume wrongly.

      All in all, your comment tells us a whole lot more about you than it does about either Prospect Magazine or Richard Dawkins.

      /@

      • Kevin
        Posted April 26, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        +1. I was going to reply, but you took care of it. Thanks.

        • Kevin
          Posted April 26, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

          …and then I couldn’t help myself. Oh well, piling onto moronic god-botherers is not really a waste of time…sharpens my knife for the next one.

      • Phoenix
        Posted April 26, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        Nice try at defending the indefensible. So you are saying that Hitler was Christian. Tell that to all the Christians he martyred. “Gott mit uns,” does in no way define Christianity, nor does any part of Hitler’s lived life. You might find it valuable to be a little leery in accepting the stated positions of a politician running for office. I would be interested in your specific definition of the “little differences” in damages done between bin Laden and Teresa
        You are entirely correct in noting the Semitic kinship of the Samaritans, but it is essential to put the discussion in context. The Samaritans were so hated by the Jews that it was typical for them to walk 50 miles out of the way to keep from crossing their land, and the teaching is crystal clear that the Samaritan was neighbor by his act of kindness, not by any kinship.
        Dawkins is clear about what he considers “child abuse.”
        You are clear as to who I am, just as Dawkins admirably makes no pretense as to what he thinks, and so will each be judged.

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted April 27, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

          Hitler was indeed a lifelong Catholic, and the Pope loved his work.
          How many people did Mother Teresa deny medical care while piling up the donations and honours? (More or less than died in the WTC bombing and bin Laden’s other actions?)
          Dopes the Bible say that Jesus encouraged Jews to love Samaritans? I think not.
          You are judged to be someone who won’t be appearing on a list of great thinkers any time soon.

    • josh
      Posted April 26, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      “Said or implied” is a pretty wide swath for you isn’t it?

      1)Hitler was a Christian. Arguably with an idiosyncratic view but it’s how he viewed and presented himself. Certainly German society at large was Christian and anti-Semitism had deep Christian roots.

      2)Bin Laden and Teresa were similarly fanatical (Teresa being the less faithful of the two, she had grave personal doubts). This does not imply that there are no differences.

      3)The Samaritans were descended from the ancient Israelites and kept the ‘true’ Abrahamic faith as they saw it. The Jews were remnants of the kingdom of Judah who had returned from Babylonian exile with their own version of the faith. The two groups did not get along but Jesus, if he said it at all, was emphasizing reconciliation within the Abrahamic tradition. Also, read directly, the story in Luke (the only gospel where it appears) has Jesus saying that your “neighbor” is someone who helps you. Rather quid pro quo.

      4)No. Just no. Dawkins said that instilling divisive values such as religious identity was tantamount to child abuse. He didn’t say anything about it being ‘the greatest act’ or that it applied to all values.

      I don’t know if Dawkins should be at the top of a list like this, but you should work harder to avoid being at the bottom.

      • Phoenix
        Posted April 26, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        There are implications in what people say. What Dawkins has said or implied about the subjects at hand are voluminous, and I doubt that you can find that I have not faithfully reflected his words nor his implications.

        You are now on record as agreeing Hitler was Christian. This is indefensible, period. Christianity has deep roots in defending the Jews and their land. You can find no anti-Semitism in Christian scripture, quite the opposite.

        We agree that Dawkins has “thinking” problems in his comparing bin Laden to Teresa.

        Samaritans: see earlier response.

        You will find in Dawkins’ voluminous remarks concerning “child abuse,’’ that he has often put it into the superlative, and although he may not have intended “all values,” he has made little effort to hide that those of faith [which for most people define their value system], should refrain from passing such a value system along, and while he may not have said in so many words: “Let me at ’em!!” you can see it plainly in his eyes, nor would he deny it.

        I will work as hard as I possibly can to be at the bottom of Dawkins’ list of thinkers, just as he is close to the bottom of mine.

        • Larry Gay
          Posted April 26, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

          They’re out there folks, They really are that dumb.

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted April 26, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

          You are now on record as agreeing Hitler was Christian.

          Hitler is on record as agreeing Hitler was Christian. You may not like having him as a member of your club, but as a matter of historical fact he self-identified as Christian and invoked Christian themes in his rhetoric.

          • neil
            Posted April 26, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

            Come on, now, you do not think that 80+ public declarations over nearly a quarter century means he was really a Christian do you?

            • Mark Joseph
              Posted April 26, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

              Or 130 or so references in Mein Kampf to doing the work of the Lord?

              • Posted April 27, 2013 at 1:19 am | Permalink

                And the Pope at the time (whatever his name was) regarded Hitler as a great christian.

          • Phoenix
            Posted April 27, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

            Creation Science claims to be Science. You may not like to have them in your club, but as a matter of historical fact they are self-identified Scientists and incessantly invoke scientific themes to justify 7/24 hour creation days in their rhetoric.

            One look at “Acts and Facts” show you that they are no more scientists than are the Moonies. One look at Hitler and his activities show you instantly that he is no more Christian than Stalin. “By their fruits you shall know them” Christian is as Christian does; Science is as Science does. There is no statement more easily falsified than: “Hitler was a Christian.” Get over it, you wouldn’t last five minutes in a debate with a knowledgeable historian. Dawkins obviously should know better, but having been publicly embarrassed so many times by being forced to face the FACT that so many atheists have been responsible for so many millions of murders, that he can’t resist attempting to even the score. A top thinker, he isn’t.

            • Posted April 27, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

              On the contrary, Hitler is no less Christian than those others who carried our pogroms in the Middle Ages and later:

              Massive violent attacks against Jews date back at least to the Crusades such as the Pogrom of 1096 in France and Germany (the first “Christian” pogroms to be officially recorded), as well as the massacres of Jews at London and York in 1189–1190.

              In Europe in 1348, because of the hysteria surrounding the Black Plague, Jews were massacred by Christians in Chillon, Basle, Stuttgart, Ulm, Speyer, Dresden, and Mainz. By 1351, 60 major and 150 smaller Jewish communities had been destroyed.[26] A large number of the surviving Jews fled to Poland, which was very welcoming to Jews at the time.[27]

              In 1506, after an episode of famine and bad harvests, a pogrom happened in Lisbon, Portugal,[28] in which more than 500 “New Christian” (forcibly converted Jews) people were slaughtered and/or burnt by an angry Christian mob, in the first night of what became known as the “Lisbon Massacre”. The killing occurred from 19 to 21 April, almost eliminating the entire Jewish or Jewish-descendant community residing in that city. Even the Portuguese military and the king himself had difficulty stopping it. The event is today remembered with a monument in S. Domingos’ church.

              Christian is as Christian does, indeed!

              Hitler was simply carrying on a long Christian tradition …

              /@

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted April 27, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

                Another way to look at it is that if only virtuous people can be considered Christians, then there are very few Christians in the world, since (as Jesus himself supposedly said) we are all sinners.

                There’s ample evidence that Mother Teresa was no true Christian by that definition.

                Of course if the definition of “Christian” is “whoever Phoenix says is a Christian”, then we need waste no more time on the issue.

              • Phoenix
                Posted April 28, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

                Yes, as you say, much has been done in the name of Christianity that is not Christian, just as much has been done in the name of Science that is not Science. But all that you speak of is foundationally opposed to the basic tenants of Christianity and so are most assuredly NOT Christian. Jesus said [paraphrased for brevity]: Many will call me Lord [who do not follow my teaching], but I say depart from me, I never knew you. All that you accurately catalog that was done in the name of Christianity [or even the Church] is diametrically opposite to Jesus’ teaching. The Jewish people and nation are particularly lifted up within Christian teaching as being God’s original people and are to be treated with deference, and you see that today in the Middle East, much to Islam’s fury. So, much as you want to believe that Hitler was just “carrying on in a long Christian tradition,” it is simply not true, and you do yourself no credit by promoting such a lie.

              • Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:19 am | Permalink

                Ah, the very predictable “no true Scotsman” defense.

                /@

    • Kevin
      Posted April 26, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      1. Hitler tried to establish a German church, much like the Church of England. He declared in Mein Kampf that he was doing the “Lord’s work” in persecuting the Jews. Sounds pretty Christian to me.

      2. Arguable, Mother Theresa created more human suffering by her own hands than bin Laden ever did. Do you not know just how odious she was? Read “Missionary Position” by Christopher Hitchens.

      3. Matthew 15:22-24. The money quote: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” At least, that’s in one of the books of myths. Jesus most likely never existed, and the tales attributed to him are as fanciful as those attributed to Hercules.

      4. A lie. Which those of us who have actually read Dawkins know quite well.

      0 for 4. Not looking too good for you to make the next list, I suspect.

  21. marcusa1971
    Posted April 27, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Kudos to Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker. Shame Sam Harris or AC Grayling didn’t make it.

  22. marcusa1971
    Posted April 27, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Presumably readers of Prospect don’t read The Spectator, and don’t realise that Richard Dawkins is considered a joke figure by “serious” and “nuanced” thinkers like Andrew Brown and Theo Hobson (who?):

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/the-misnomer-of-islamophobia/


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