Has Dawkins Changed His View on the Darwin Lobby?
Back in 2008, taping an interview with Ben Stein for the documentary Expelled, Richard Dawkins was scathing on what we called the "evolution lobby." He has considerably softened his view since then, or at least decided it was useful to appear to have done so.
The other day, he paid to tribute to the country's foremost Darwin lobbyist, Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education who received this year's Dawkins Award from the Atheist Alliance of America and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.
Here's Dawkins in 2008:
There's a kind of science defense lobby or an evolution defense lobby, in particular. They are mostly atheists, but they are wanting to -- desperately wanting -- to be friendly to mainstream, sensible religious people. And the way you do that is to tell them that there's no incompatibility between science and religion.He continued:
If they called me as a witness, and a lawyer said, "Dr. Dawkins, has your belief in evolution, has your study of evolution turned you toward (atheism)?" I would have to say yes. And that is the worst possible thing I could say for winning you that court case. So people like me are bad news for...the science lobby, the evolution lobby.Dawkins added this remark:
By the way, I'm being a helluva lot more frank and honest in this interview than many people in this field would be.He was, plainly, directing a criticism at Dr. Scott's National Center for Science Education, dismissing the NCSE for being dishonest with the public about the group's true feelings about religion and its compatibility with Darwinian evolutionary belief. In Dawkins's presentation, the NCSE sways the gullible religious community by deliberately fooling them into thinking Darwin poses no threat to their faith.
Yet now, in a video tribute to Dr. Scott, Dawkins mentions only a tiny polite disagreement with Scott who he says is "soft on religion," while not being religious herself:
She respects religion in a way that I do not. I can imagine good tactical reasons for pretending to respect religion.... But to pretend to respect religion is different from really respecting religion, which is the one place I cannot go with Dr. Scott.As an example of such a hypocritical pretense, he mentions the 534 out of 535 members of Congress who claim a religious devotion, "a statistical implausibility if not impossibility."
What changed? In 2008 the NCSE was insincere, now it's sincere. Did Dawkins really soften on Eugenie Scott and the National Center for Science Education, or did he find, in his own words, "a good tactical reason" to pretend to take the group's proclaimed respect for religion at face value, as a sincerely held position as opposed to a hypocritical stance adopted for basically political reasons?