Have you ever noticed that when you’re driving, anyone going slower than you is an idiot? And anyone going faster than you is a maniac? Why, I tell ya, folks, it’s a wonder we ever get anywhere at all these days, what with all the idiots and maniacs out there. Because no one ever drives at my speed.

– George Carlin

Religious people have no real interest in Dawkins, whom they find extreme, clinical, mechanical, and monolithic.

I’ve noticed this a lot lately, this apparent unspoken agreement to make Richard Dawkins the official representative of Atheist Fundamentalism®. From Boteach and other religious believers to Matt Taibbi to random blog commenters, I keep hearing about how Dawkins is humorless, ignorant, strident and intolerant. But I read The God Delusion, something I suspect many of his critics did not, and I didn’t see evidence of anything like that. The only real attempt I can recall from recent memory to actually engage in measured criticism of something he’s said, as opposed to just repeating the same declarative insults, was this recent column from Gary Gutting, and even that, well
I’d really love it if we could arrive at a common understanding that this sort of thing is not an argument. It’s a psychological balancing mechanism, a way to position yourself as the voice of sensible, moderate reason, by drawing false equivalences between the fanatics on both sides of you (who are frequently invented if they don’t already exist).