Richard Ingrams: Atheism could do without Dawkins as its advocate

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

The motley gang of people writing to protest about the Pope's visit are not protesting just about the Pope. Even if they don't say so, they are protesting about religion in general. And many of them are not merely anti-religion, they are anti anything to do with the supernatural. They passionately want to believe that there is absolutely nothing in the world that cannot be scientifically explained.

This can become a bit of an obsession with some of them, as I have observed in the case of one of the anti-Pope protestors, Dr Jonathan Miller, whom I have listened to on the subject on more than one occasion.

But it applies in particular to the chief spokesman of the anti-Pope faction, Professor Richard Dawkins, who made a series of TV programmes recently not just to attack Christianity but to discredit all paranormal phenomena – telepathy, faith healing, even such ancient practices as water divining.

Rather than attacking Dawkins, the Pope and all his followers ought to encourage him, because his attacks are so intemperate, so ill-informed, that he gives atheism a bad name whilst reinforcing the faith of doubters and possibly even making converts to the church.

If the atheists hope to progress, they will have to silence Dawkins and find a more rational spokesman. And it will have to be someone other than Stephen Fry.







The baffling mistakes of the pathologist who examined David Kelly



The strange case of Dr Patel, the pathologist called in to perform the autopsy on Ian Tomlinson, continues to remain a bit of a mystery. How was it that this incompetent practitioner was appointed by the coroner with the apparent approval of the police?

Equally baffling is the case of Dr Nicholas Hunt. He was the pathologist in the David Kelly case, the man who recently described Kelly's death as "a textbook suicide". It has yet to be explained why a relatively inexperienced pathologist was given this job when Kelly's death was headline news all over the world. As it happens, Dr Hunt has been in the news recently in connection with another death, that of senior aircraft man Christopher Bridge, a serviceman killed in Afghanistan.

After Dr Hunt carried out the post-mortem examination at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, Bridge's mother complained that his report was riddled with mistakes. It said that he had three tattoos (when he had none). Height, weight, hair and eye colour were all wrong – leading her to believe that she might even have buried the wrong man. The mistakes, she said, had made her suicidal. Hunt had to issue three reports before he eventually got it right.







Balding has been vindicated but Gill's words will live on



"Few attacks either of ridicule or invective make much noise but by the help of those that they provoke." Dr Johnson's wise words have not been heeded by Clare Balding, the television horse-racing commentator who reported the television critic A.A. Gill to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) for referring to her as "the dyke on a bike" after she made a series about cycling.

I have to confess that I was unaware of the existence of Ms Balding and I was only dimly aware of the existence of A.A. Gill. But now, thanks to the Radio 4 news programme, I know that Balding is a lesbian and makes no bones of the fact, that Gill made a joke about this in his review, that Balding made an official complaint and that the PCC has reprimanded Gill and his paper, saying they had breached the Editors' Code of Practice (whatever that is) and had perpetrated "a pejorative synonym relating to the complainant's sexuality".

Balding may feel vindicated for all I know, but she must face up to the fact that for many millions of listeners, the only thing they will in future remember about her is Gill's pejorative joke.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS2 Teacher required from October

£90 - £120 per annum: Randstad Education Hull: Key Stage 2 Supply Teacher requ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures (an SThree br...

Maths Teacher

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education require a ...

SEN Teacher - Hull

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are recruiting for spe...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Underground, Overground, over the Irish Sea and clever pigs

John Rentoul
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor