04 May, 2008

Darwin's Angel

Darwin's Angel: An Angelic Riposte to The God Delusion
John Cornwell

Another of the many responses to Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion. This one has the conceit that it is written by a guardian angel, specifically that of Charles Darwin and Dawkins himself. Cornwell has not written at all angrily but, as one would expect from an angel, rather he writes with affection and concern for Dawkins and his complete misunderstanding of the situation. In this, it is much like most of the other reviews of Dawkins i have read, which have approached the issue as one of logic and thought rather than emotion, which it seems to me it is, at heart, for Dawkins himself. He is, for whatever reason, so repelled by religion, the revulsion is so deep, that an unthinking emotion is at the root, as it is at the root of so many of our most deeply held positions, and all his logic and thought has been bent to the task of justifying that emotional response. If this is the case, i wonder if it isn’t so much wasted energy to write books such as this ~ at least if one truly writes with the hope of engaging Dawkins in dialogue, which Cornwell probably doesn’t ~ because the past has clearly shown that Dawkins doesn’t participate in dialogue in his books (no matter what he may do in personal sessions), perhaps because he doesn’t wish his audience to become confused, perhaps because it is easier to set up straw men and beat them down to great applause than to actually engage in legitimate argument. Be that as it may, this little book is quick, easy, and clear though ultimately, i fear, unsuccessful.

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