Richard Dawkins Gets Canceled by the ‘Freethinkers’

By CHARLES C. W. COOK – April 20, 2021 – for National Review

The American Humanist Association proves the point that transgenderism will brook no dissent.

My cmnt: Oxford professor Richard Dawkins is best known as a popularizer of Darwinism and a vocal opponent of Biblical Christianity. He is an oft-quoted darling of the Left and is the first person they run to for a quick slam against conservative Christians and politicians who have the temerity of pointing out the absurdities of Darwinist claims and Leftist politically correct propaganda.

My cmnt: Dawkin’s description of the God of the Old Testament is worth repeating here:

― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

My cmnt: Yet here he is being cancelled by the AHA for daring to state the obvious fact that males are still males even if they want to be called female. Pointing out transgenderism’s penchant for nonsense is the unforgivable sin of the moment.

Demonstrating adroitly that nobody is safe from our current bout of gladiatorial Calvinball, the American Humanist Association has decided to retroactively cancel Richard Dawkins on the grounds that he is insufficiently devoted to transgenderism’s creed.

Dawkins’s crime was to have suggested on Twitter that transgender people are not, in a scientific sense, members of the sex with which they identify. “In 2015,” Dawkins wrote recently, “Rachel Dolezal, a white chapter president of NAACP, was vilified for identifying as Black. Some men choose to identify as women, and some women choose to identify as men. You will be vilified if you deny that they literally are what they identify as.” In response, the AHA said that Dawkins was “making statements that use the guise of scientific discourse to demean marginalized groups, an approach antithetical to humanist values,” and took away an award that it had given Dawkins in 1996, thereby confirming his initial hypothesis.

Further justifying its decision, the AHA said that it was “aware that cis-white heteronormative patriarchal institutions, power structures, and social attitudes harm Indigenous, Black, Brown, LGBTQ+, disabled individuals, women and other communities — especially those at the intersections of marginalized identities.” Is there any institution left in America that doesn’t talk like this at the drop of a hat? Richard Dawkins, a renowned evolutionary biologist, says that men aren’t actually women, and immediately we hear incantations. It’s liturgical in nature and in habit: Our father, who could absolutely be our mother . . .

Dawkins, the AHA said, was implying “that the identities of transgender individuals are fraudulent.” Which, of course, is exactly what he was doing. And why? Well, because he’s Richard Dawkins, and because this is what Richard Dawkins does. Back in 2015, Dawkins suggested that trans women were not actually women, but that he’d be happy to use the pronouns anyhow as a mark of respect. “Is trans woman a woman?” he asked. “Purely semantic. If you define by chromosomes, no. If by self-identification, yes. I call her ‘she’ out of courtesy.” As it happens, this is almost identical to Dawkins’ view of religious belief, which he is willing to accept might be socially useful (despite his sometimes-caustic tone, he calls himself a “cultural Christian”), but which he does not believe is reflective of objective truth. “I could easily believe that religion could enhance health and hence survival,” Dawkins has said, “and that therefore there could be indeed be literally Darwinian survival value, Darwinian selection in favor of religion.” But, he was keen to add: “None of that of course bears at all upon the truth value of the claims made by religions.”

Which raises a couple of questions. First, why is it fine for Dawkins to say “that’s not scientifically true, but believe it if you must” about one set of deeply held beliefs, but not about the other? And, second: Why is the American Humanist Association so determined that its former honorees must affirm the truth of a claim that, until a few years ago, had been made by almost nobody in the world?

The difference here cannot be that trans people sincerely believe their claims whereas religious people do not. A quick glance at history will tell us that much. It cannot be that the AHA is committed to accepting everyone’s truth as its own, because the AHA was explicitly set up to push back against such ideas. And it cannot be that this is suddenly about “marginalized identities,” given that 15 years ago, in his most famous book, The God Delusion, Dawkins took blunt aim at the beliefs of Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, and even remote African tribes. So what is it? And how does it intersect with the AHA’s purpose? One can safely presume that the AHA would demur if America’s Mormons insisted that their metaphysical postulates were so crucial to them and to society in general that to deny them should be seen as beyond the pale. Likewise, one can assume that the AHA will remain deaf to the cosmic claims of organizations ranging from the African Methodist Episcopal Church to the Flat Earth Society. But the trans lobby? Well, then every word must be accepted at face value, and if that means throwing its friends and members under the bus, so be it.

This cannot last. Ours is a pluralist culture, and it contains no special carve-out for people who wish to live as members of the opposite sex. The American Humanist Association is a private institution, and it can, of course, do as it wishes. But it might consider how downright peculiar it is for an organization whose strapline lionizes “freethinkers” to start taking awards away from people who have the temerity to . . . well, to think freely. On its website, the AHA explains that it “advocates progressive values and equality for humanists, atheists, freethinkers, and the non-religious across the country.” Given its present disavowal of one of the most famous of those very “atheists,” it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the “progressive” part of the equation is winning out — and, by extension, that “progressive values” no longer include dissent.

Properly understood, the AHA’s rescission represents a rewriting of history. A quarter of a century ago, it named Dawkins as its man of the year — an intrinsically temporal designation that is rich in context and specificity. Now, in another year, during a different debate, a different leadership team has rescinded that award. The irony of this development should be lost on nobody — least of all on Richard Dawkins, who, in his quieter moments, has presumably noticed how much the AHA’s statement sounds like a missive from a medieval pope, who, having altered the catechism on the fly, has declared that all skeptics are heretics and shall henceforth be excommunicated. Fiat! Fiat! Fiat!

CHARLES C. W. COOKE is a senior writer for National Review. @charlescwcooke

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