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A Writer in The Guardian Laments, "Remember When Dawkins Was Widely Respected?"

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Read this from Eleanor Robertson in The Guardian, a very funny lament, "Richard Dawkins, what on earth happened to you?" She takes off from Dawkins's recent, how shall we put it, philosophizing on Twitter.

Another day, another tweet from Richard Dawkins proving that if non-conscious material is given enough time, it is capable of evolving into an obstreperous crackpot who should have retired from public speech when he had the chance to bow out before embarrassing himself.

She means this:

She continues:

"Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse," huffs Dawkins. Seeming to have anticipated, although not understood, the feminist reaction this kind of sentiment generally evokes, he finishes the tweet: "If you think that's an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think."

You can almost imagine him tweeting this, his fingers jabbing away at the keyboard as his glasses slide down a face contorted with disappointment at how irrational everyone is being. This is Dawkins in 2014: a figure of mockery, a man so convinced that he possesses God-like powers of omniscience that he can't understand why everyone's getting angry at him for pointing out the obvious. Why won't we all just learn how to think, damn it! Then we could all live together in a peaceful society where nobody wears "bin liners", and women shut up about sexual harassment.

Remember when Dawkins was widely respected? When his biggest detractor was late evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould? I don't. Having grown up after Dawkins made the transition from lauded science communicator to old man who shouts at clouds, it's hard for me to understand why anyone continues to listen to him about anything.

... If you need an atheist, there are many philosophers, scholars of religion, and public intellectuals available who don't refuse to acknowledge the existence of theology.

Miss Robertson is amusing, hilarious -- read the whole thing -- but also leaves me feeling a little sad. I remember when Dawkins was taken seriously, and that was actually preferable. God, please give us a worthy interlocutor on the other side of the evolution question, who knows the science, follows the relevant research, tracks the argument, writes seriously and engagingly, all these things Dawkins used to do. There's no shortage of jokers and buffoons. Give us another Dawkins as he once was.

It's easy to chortle at a celebrity atheist whose fame has gone to his head and now sits around tweeting malarkey because there's a segment of his fan base who love it and he can't be bothered with science anymore. Rather than laughing at Dr. Dawkins, I'd much rather read or listen to a substantive debate about evolution.

We're still here. It's the Darwinist heroes who have decamped in favor of trivial pursuits.

I'm on Twitter. Follow me @d_klinghoffer.

Photo credit: Kanaka Menehune/Flickr.