Richard Dawkins: Lying for Jesus?

Clinton Richard Dawkins describes his personal experience of not being ‘expelled’

It’s quite a blistering response to a PR fumble.

Richard Dawkins wrote:

The blogs are ringing with ridicule. Mark Mathis, duplicitous producer of the much hyped film Expelled, shot himself in the foot so spectacularly that the phrase might have been invented for him. Goals don’t come more own than this. How is it possible that a man who makes his living from partisan propaganda could hand so stunning a propaganda coup to his opponents? Hand it to them on a plate, so ignominiously and so UNNECESSARILY.

Richard Dawkins wrote:

In a desperate effort to scrape some of the egg off their faces, the creationist wingnuts are spinning the story to make it look as though PZ and I were ‘gatecrashers’. The ill-named ‘Discovery’ Institute heads its web article, “Richard Dawkins, World Famous Darwinist, Stoops to Gate-crashing Expelled.” The article says that I “apparently acknowledged that I was not invited”. Mark Mathis himself said something similar about PZ in the Q & A after the showing, when I publicly challenged him to explain why he had expelled him, claiming that this performance was by invitation only, and PZ had not been invited. But, as many commentators have pointed out, this was most certainly not an invitation-only affair.

I find it similarly fascinating that the Discovery Institute found it necessary to release a press release accusing Dawkins of ‘gate crashing’. However the facts clearly show that the RSVP site for these showings gave little indication that one needed to have been invited. In fact, quite a few sites provided links and what appeared to be an ‘open invitation’ to attend.

Richard Dawkins wrote:

The way to get into this showing of the film was simply to go on the Internet and apply. This was exactly what PZ did. He went on the Web and put his name down for a place at the showing, just like everybody else, including several others from the American Atheists annual conference in Minneapolis. Not a man to hide behind a false name or false beard, PZ openly sported his own. Like many other people, including his daughter and Kristine Harley (see her Amused Muse website), PZ took advantage of the generous offer to let him book guests in as well, and then kindly invited me to be one of them. There was no request to give the names of guests, and no machinery to do so, which was why my name did not appear on the list.

Now about the tone of the movie and its narrator, who is apparently little known outside the US.

Richard Dawkins wrote:

The whole tone of the film is whiny, paranoid – pathetic really. The narrator is somebody called Ben Stein. I had not heard of him, but apparently he is well known to Americans, for it is hard to see why else he would have been chosen to front the film. He certainly can’t have been chosen for his knowledge of science, nor his powers of logical reasoning, nor his box office appeal (heavens, no), and his speaking voice is an irritating, nasal drawl, innocent of charm and of consonants. I suppose that makes it a good voice for conveying the whingeing paranoia that I referred to, so maybe that was qualification enough.

about the movie itself

Now, to the film itself. What a shoddy, second-rate piece of work.

and perhaps anticipating John “Discovery Insitute Fellow” West’s leap in logic that “Dawkins Flip-Flops on Link between Darwinism and Fascism”, Dawkins writes:

My own view, frequently expressed (for example in the The Selfish Gene and especially in the title chapter of A Devil’s Chaplain) is that there are two reasons why we need to take Darwinian natural selection seriously. Firstly, it is the most important element in the explanation for our own existence and that of all life. Secondly, natural selection is a good object lesson in how NOT to organize a society. As I have often said before, as a scientist I am a passionate Darwinian. But as a citizen and a human being, I want to construct a society which is about as un-Darwinian as we can make it. I approve of looking after the poor (very un-Darwinian). I approve of universal medical care (very un-Darwinian). It is one of the classic philosophical fallacies to derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. Stein (or whoever wrote his script for him) is implying that Hitler committed that fallacy with respect to Darwinism. If we look at more recent history, the closest representatives you’ll find to Darwinian politics are uncompassionate conservatives like Margaret Thatcher, George W Bush, or Ben Stein’s own hero, Richard Nixon. Maybe all these people, along with the Social Darwinists from Herbert Spencer to John D Rockefeller, committed the is/ought fallacy and justified their unpleasant social views by invoking garbled Darwinism. Anyone who thinks that has any bearing whatsoever on the truth or falsity of Darwin’s theory of evolution is either an unreasoning fool or a cynical manipulator of unreasoning fools. I will not speculate as to which category includes Ben Stein and Mark Mathis.