I suspect that most atheists do not realize how fortunate we all are to have lived at a time when atheism has found spokesmen as admirable and as articulate as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Krauss, Harris and Dennett. Hitch, whose devastating, off-the-cuff repartee made him the Wunderkind of the circuit stage and video screen, overshadowed Dawkins perhaps as a performer. But Dawkins is not only a brilliant scientist but also a first-rate speaker, with a remarkable record of quotable quotes to his credit, as well as a number of notable notches on his shotgun, marking his memorable oratorical, scientific and philosophical victories in duels with opponents claiming the title of “Defensor Fidei” from George Pell to Wendy Wright.
A Dawkins “must-see” is his hour-long YouTube video, “The God Delusion”, which is not at all a rehash of his book but a hard-hitting attack on the three monotheisms. Here’s a sample :
- He introduces his video by saying that he is going to examine “the process of non-thinking called faith” – a broadside we should exploit mercilessly.
- “Christian fascism, fundamentalist Christianity”, he says, “is attacking science, offering instead a mirror-image of Islamist extremism.”
- “Since 9/11”, he says, “people have been encouraging unreason as a positive virtue.”
- He describes us all, believers included, as “teapot atheists”. In answer to the theist argument that we cannot disprove the existence of God, Dawkins points out that we cannot disprove, either, the existence of Bertrand Russell’s hypothetical celestial teapot, invisible – because so small – to our most powerful telescopes.
- “We are all atheists about most of the gods we have ever invented . . . Some of us”, he concludes magisterally, “go just one god further”.
Richard Dawkins, still with us, is a pearl of great price (I am not referring to his well-deserved honoraria). His books, his interviews, his lectures have marked him as the most effective “Destructor Fidei” of our life-times.