By Jonathon Van Maren
Richard Dawkins still is, in many ways, the God-hating atheist that he always was. He thinks religion is largely stupid; he believes in eugenics; he once told a woman who asked him what to do if she discovered her unborn child had Down syndrome to “abort it and try again.” All of which is to say that Dawkins is an enemy of the pro-life and pro-family movement and would be offended to be described otherwise.
But Dawkins is also a highly intelligent and literate man, and one gets the sense that he has been watching the censorious destruction of both the liberal and the Enlightenment projects by the fanatical progressives to his Left with growing nervousness. Despite once musing that children needed to be protected from their religious parents, he has since warned that what replaces Christianity might be worse.
In fact, he told The Times some years ago that ending religion — once his fervent goal — would be a terrible idea, because it would “give people a license to do really bad things.” Despite the fact that Dawkins has long argued that the very idea of the God of the Bible being necessary as a basis for morality is both ridiculous and offensive, he appears to be backtracking. “People may feel free to do bad things because they feel God is no longer watching them,” he said, citing the example of security cameras as a deterrent to shoplifting.
Dawkins is also coming to the realization that the dogmatists on his side of the fence are much fiercer heretic-hunters than the Christians he used to mock. Last April, for example, he sent out a thoughtful tweet on identity and reality: “In 2015, 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. Discuss.”