Theoretical Physicist Peter Higgs
In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Mundo, theoretical physicist Peter Higgs says of Richard, "What Dawkins does too often is to concentrate his attack on fundamentalists. But there are many believers who are just not fundamentalists"
Yes, there are many believers who are not fundamentalists. I feel we must respectfully reply with: So, what? There's no avoiding it, love him or loathe him, Dawkins has earned his somewhat memetic (apropos) title of Darwin's Rottweiler. His academic, internet, and pop culture fame are due largely to his refreshingly straightforward and unafraid take on faith. Many of you can probably recall the first time you picked up The Selfish Gene, or perhaps the first time you overheard a coffee shop chat about this "God Delusion" thing, or indeed the first YouTube link emailed to you slightly timidly by an old college friend with the subject line of, "Damn. This dude is hardcore!"
Peter Higgs is certainly an incredible scientist, thinker, and for all I know, person. Yet, his problem with Dawkins is that of a perceived fundamentalism. He doesn't argue with Dawkins on the facts, the evidence, or even the arguments themselves. If we're frank about it, Higgs is put off by Dawkins' apparent inability to tenderly coax his audience with kindness and caring. Higgs flat-out calls the Dawkins approach "embarrassing." In 2007, Richard addressed so-called atheist fundamentalism by writing:
"Passion for passion, an evangelical Christian and I may be evenly matched. But we are not equally fundamentalist. The true scientist, however passionately he may 'believe', in evolution for example, knows exactly what would change his mind: evidence! The fundamentalist knows that nothing will."
As an ex-Mormon who was once-upon-a-time fully indoctrinated into a sea of criminally stupid lies, I would ask Professor Higgs why he considers it embarrassing to showcase fact without regard for how it may be perceived. Why he considers it embarrassing to tell someone they're wrong, using as many words, when they claim that the earth is 5,000 years old. Why he considers it embarrassing to not shy away from terms like "child abuse" when referring to the psychological impact that promises of eternal hellfire might have on a toddler.
My views about the natural world were once very, wildly incorrect, but it wasn't the role of the scientist to try to manipulate me into seeing particles of truth which I may or may not have agreed with just as it wouldn't be the role of the accountant to tell me that my savings account is doing "pretty ok, kind of" when I'm really $300 in the shit! The role of my friends, my family, my mentors, and especially myself is to sympathize with my thoughts and question why I believe what I believe. Can we not agree that the role of the scientist is to tell, show, and demonstrate the truth as it has been revealed to them by evidence? Please let's not have them waste time by wondering how the truth might affect our emotional sensibilities. That, my fine Professor Higgs, would be embarrassing.
Please let me know if you disagree, below. Meanwhile, please permit me to humbly plug our very relevant shirt, the "Militant" Atheist!