Richard Dawkins has a very great deal in common with Don Quixote, tilting at windmills in a tragic but comical way. Dawkins, who pretends to hate religion but clearly hates God himself, loves to find silly Christians and knock them over. (Sadly, there are plenty of thoughtless Christians who make easy targets for him.)
His latest book is the first of a projected two-part autobiography, called “An Appetite for Wonder.” It is reviewed by fellow-atheist John Gray in the New Republic for October 4, 2014. (accessed online at aldaily.com). Gray praises Dawkins considerably less than Dawkins himself is disposed to do.
Dawkins writes of his childhood in Africa, where his family had many servants. He tells us, Gray point out, what fine servants they were but, in a curious provincialism, shows”no interest in the cultures of the African countries where he lived as a boy. It is the obedient devotion of those who served his family that has remained in his memory.” He writes with a “tone of indulgent superiority,” observes Gray.
Dawkins is not indulgent, however, of any among his inferiors who do not humbly serve his way and submit to his superior views, especially religious people who reject Darwinism. These people he simply bullies, reflecting a time when he watched without sympathy as his mates bullied a fellow student.
Dawkins tells a bit about his movement from believing in a Creator to believing in no God at all. He seems to think he is telling some heroic tale about himself without realizing that thousands of adolescents experience the same development every year. “If there is anything remarkable in his adolescent rebellion,” says Gray, “it is that he has remained stuck in it.” Dawkins is a perpetual adolescent.
One of Gray’s best lines is a stinging put-down. “One might wager a decent sum of money that it has never occurred to Dawkins that to many people he appears as a comic figure.” Gray is right. Dawkins clearly thinks highly of himself and assumes that all intelligent people agree with his self-assessment. He seems to have no idea how sophomoric he is.
Marked by a ridiculous self-confidence that Don Quixote (and Donald Trump) would admire, Dawkins “is a monument to unthinking certitude.” His adolescent crusade against God may sell books, but it does not help him break out of his tiny little self-centered world. What a waste of IQ points!