A lot of people have asked why I focus on Richard Dawkins so often in such a critical way.
To begin my explanation, I'd like to aver that I consider Dawkins one of the principal scientific and philosophic thinkers of the twentieth century. I am convinced that his work prior to nineteen-ninety will help form the bedrock for many generations of thinkers when it comes to the sciences of evolution and psychology and linguistics.
Dawkins' 1976 book "The Selfish Gene" was the presentation of his life's work to that point. In it, he offered the main focus of his research which revolutionized the way we thought about the mechanics and means of evolution.
As if that sort of work wasn't important enough, Dawkins offers a side observation in the same book that thought (broken down into units he calls "memes) spreads from human mind to human mind very much like a virus.
Both elements of the book proved a paradigm shift in both science and philosophy. While the biological world busied themselves digesting his ideas about evolution, the philosophical and linguistic and psychological worlds were just as excited about memes.
Between Dawkins' Memes and Jacques Derrida's ideas on post modernity, the human race now had potent new tools to understand itself.
It was in his discussion of memes that Dawkins planted the seed for what became the second half of his life's work. He used his concept of memes to explain how religion came about and why religion was so persistent.
Although it didn't seem like a big deal at the time, this idea must have made a tremendous impression on Dawkins because he would go on to spend the next 30 years in an increasing battle against religious thought, to the point where he is considered by many, the world's spokesperson on atheism.
While most of his peers were content to leave the war between science and religion to the nineteenth century, Dawkins launched a renewed crusade against the forces of faith.
It was at this point, I began to noticed Dawkins becoming the very thing he fought against. He wasn't advocating science anymore, he was proselytizing atheism, and using many of the same tools and methods missionaries used to spread religion.
If you define religion as a closely held way of thinking and a way of being to spread and strengthened using the meme, then atheism was becoming a religion. It was no longer a unique way of thiking. It was becoming simply another seat at the table of world's religions, and Dawkins was its Paul.
I have no issue with atheism itself. It's a valid way of seeing the world. When atheism becomes another church though, then that's another matter, and if Dawkins now wishes to act as the principal evangelist for this atheism religion, then he's going to come into my criticism from time to time.
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