Channel 4 has recently screened a two-part documentary by Professor Richard Dawkins vigorously making his case for the irrational and pernicious nature of religion. Judging by the reviews in UK national newspapers (e.g., Guardian) even sympathetic critics considered Dawkins’ style and argument to be over the top.
Dawkins is a fascinating man. I admire his creative and imaginative communication of scientific ideas, particularly that of evolution. He writes in his own field with a clarity and energy that is inspiring. On the subject of religion his evangelical fervour mightily undermines his credibility.
I had the interesting experience a few Mondays ago of watching, on DVD, a programme from Jacob Bronowski’s Ascent of Man, entitled ‘Knowledge and Certainty’, immediately followed by Richard Dawkins’ first programme. In his essay, Bronowski attacks many of the same targets Dawkins aims at — fanaticism, irrationality, intolerance, and certainty that goes beyond the evidence — but where Dawkins annoyed and alienated, Bronowski moved me to tears.