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The Questions I wanted to Ask Dawkins

Yesterday I attended the annual conference of the National Secular Society in London. Richard Dawkins was the keynote speaker. Clearly, if you'll forgive my rather inappropriate choice of words, he was preaching to the converted (or unconverted if you get my drift). So his language was rather more vitriolic and 'to the point' than you might have previously witnessed on TV or in a public forum. He was amongst friends - although I didn't particularly like the way people queued to worship at the alter of Dawkins. A touch of ring-kissing seemed ever so slightly ironic.

Anyhow, after every speaker the moderator, an executive from the NSS board, asked for questions. Previously he had attempted to elicit questions from different parts of the auditorium. "We've not had questions from people at the back right".. etc. Odd, I thought, to feel the need to exclude questioners because they had accidentally sat somewhere near another questioner. However, after Dawkins had finished his tirade against Tony Blair (curious choice of target, especially when government minister Eric Pickles had only last week made a statement that "A Christian ethos strengthens our nation: Religion shaped the modern British state, and this Government is proud to 'do God". ), the moderator said "We've had enough questions from men. Put your hands down if you're a man. I'll only take questions from women"....!!! Mutterings of astonishment rippled around the audience. So the question I would have wanted to ask Dawkins was as follows:

"Do you agree that questions from males have equal validity to questions from females, and that social engineering, whether by Mullahs or conference organisers, is at odds with why we are all here?"

I also wanted to ask him another question:

"A week ago, the 'Leader of the Free World', whom you suggested might in fact be an atheist, stated in response to that ridiculous movie and the reaction to it by religious fanatics (who probably hadn't seen it) '...we [the USA] reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others'. Isn't the denigration of faith the duty of all who oppose the teaching of crap like Creationism? Isn't denigration of farcical belief in the supernatural at the heart of secular activism? Has the USA now declared all your work 'rejected' and therefore, if not yet illegal, something his nation is now mandated to 'reject' and thus prevent? Has he just declared secularism to be 'rejected' by America - the land of the free?"

And what an odd choice of word from a black president. To denigrate literally means to 'make black', but of course in this context it means to belittle or disparage. Sadly the antiquated idea that black people are somehow less important than white survives in our language - just like many other outdated ideas perhaps.

Unfortunately, not being female, I was prevented from actually asking these questions. But I predict His Dawkness might have replied that in order to respond to the lunacy of people whose beliefs are capable of being insulted, the mouths of our leaders are being coerced to make statements designed to appease ignorance rather than advance the cause of free speech and reasoned thought.

But he may be right about Obama being atheist. Listen to this recorded in 2006:

So didn't you just hear him denigrate a whole range of beliefs? After 6 years of being battered by the religious right (Muslim, Christian, Jew and all the rest), he finally yields to making statements of appeasement - in the same way that the British government now has to say they "do god".

But just to add a touch of balance to the whole 'is Obama an atheist or not' piece, in fact he's a muslim:

But whatever he is... he's not a Mor(m)on! And if Romney gets into power, I'm hiding behind Eric Pickles.


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