Talk:Richard Dawkins

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Good articleRichard Dawkins has been listed as one of the Natural sciences good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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Current status: Good article

Elevatorgate (battle with feminists) needs to be mentioned in the article[edit]

There are reliable sources related to Richard Dawkins Elevatorgate controversy (his battle with feminists).

Here are a few of them:

The incident is notable and definitely had an effect on Dawkins' public persona. It also had a big effect on the atheist movement and the New Atheism movement. For example, David Allen Green wrote in the New Statesman: "This is all strange stuff indeed from a man professing to be a promoter of rational thinking. He is making connections which do not exist and positing analogies which do not make any sense. From a person with his supposed intellectual reputation, this is surely a disgrace. This is more what one would expect from Richard Littlejohn than Richard Dawkins. But it seems part of a possible trend. Those who merely pose as rationalists and promoters of liberal values are being found out."[1]

Therefore, this incident should be mentioned in the main article.Knox490 (talk) 22:30, 23 December 2018 (UTC)

Personal life edit[edit]

Can I ask why the edit I made in the personal life section about Dawkins’s new girlfriend was removed? I’m new to this whole editing thing so I apologise for any mistake- it was an honest one. But I don’t think it’s trivial as it represents a continuation of the knowledge after the separation from Lalla Ward. I just happened across it in the interview and thought it was of interest. Apologies for ham-handedness if it’s not! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A02:C7D:2E2B:A700:70E0:9EC6:4071:F591 (talk) 23:55, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

It seems trivial to me. If the girl friend was well known it might be interesting. --Bduke (talk) 00:08, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
Agree that the addition was rather trivial. Why would we dwell on his personal life details? His personal living arrangements and "girl friend" are rather irrelevant, absent any reliable source indicating otherwise. This be an encyclopedia, not a tabloid. Vsmith (talk) 00:16, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

Understood! Thanks for the reply. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A02:C7D:2E2B:A700:70E0:9EC6:4071:F591 (talk) 01:17, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

Abrasiveness of Richard Dawkins[edit]

In Conservapedia, there is an article called "Abrasiveness of Richard Dawkins". Since Conservapedia is nicknamed "The Trustworthy Encyclopedia", should there also be an article with this name in Wikipedia?Vorbee (talk) 15:43, 8 March 2019 (UTC)

No. Roxy, the dog. wooF 16:05, 8 March 2019 (UTC)

All right, I shall admit that when I saw Conservapedia had an article with this title, it did make me laugh out loud, and I could hardly type the above question because I was laughing so much.Vorbee (talk) 16:51, 8 March 2019 (UTC)

He rarely abrades anything that's not in need of the treatment. :-) 17:16, 8 March 2019 (UTC)

The Conservapedia "Abrasiveness of Richard Dawkins" article: Atheist author and sociology professor Phil Zuckerman said of Richard Dawkins: "He is smug, condescending and emits an unpleasant disdainfulness. He doesn’t ever seem to acknowledge the good aspects of religion, only the bad. In that sense, I think he doesn’t help atheism in the PR department."[2]

There are numerous "Is Dawkins a liability to the atheist cause?" type articles from reputable sources, fellow atheists, etc. (Washington Post, etc).[3][4][5]

Dawkins can be a cordial and charming man when he agrees with you, but if he disagrees with you, he can be an abrasive and smug man. He also has a tendency to barrel into political minefields in a reckless and ineffective manner (battles with feminists, Islamacists and others).Knox490 (talk) 08:59, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

The whole issue of Dawkins' stridency and lack of diplomacy/tactfulness ("abrasiveness") could easily be handled by incorporating more the Political views of Richard Dawkins article into the main article on Dawkins which should have been done after he published The God Delusion and after he helped found the New Atheism movement (a movement which has recently petered out).Knox490 (talk) 09:37, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
One solution could be to somehow note that Richard Dawkins lives in a time of the Growth of religion in the world and in a Me Too movement/feminist time in much of the developed world so Dawkins's foibles of lack of diplomacy and tactfulness is accentuated because he is swimming against the tide.Knox490 (talk) 09:53, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
Please stop agreeing with yourself agreeing with yourself. --Hob Gadling (talk) 22:24, 11 March 2019 (UTC)

OK I think it is time to close all this. I see there are dozens of articles and essays in Conservapedia which have the name "Richard Dawkins" in them. My reason for typing the above question was simply to see how people would react to an implicit suggestion that Wikipedia should be a mirror of Conservapedia - which I know we are not. There are some pretty trivial subjects covered in Conservapedia concerning Richard Dawkins - there is even an essay entitled "Richard Dawkins and peanut butter". I do not think Conservapedia has a section "Articles for deletion" as Wikipedia has - please correct me if I am wrong. Vorbee (talk) 16:13, 11 March 2019 (UTC)

Theo Hobson wrote at The Spectator: "The atheist spring that began just over a decade ago is over, thank God. Richard Dawkins is now seen by many, even many non-believers, as a joke figure...".[6]
Dawkins mocks the religious. Dawkins publicly stated about the religious: "I lately started to think that we need to go further: go beyond humorous ridicule, sharpen our barbs to a point where they really hurt."[7] There are plenty of notable instances where the religious have mocked Dawkins. The Wikipedia article should reflect these two matters.
As an aside, it's fairly obvious that the author of the article "Abrasiveness of Richard Dawkins" and the essay "Richard Dawkins and peanut butter" considers Dawkins to be a joke figure. There is a clear underlying vein of mockery in the article "Abrasiveness of Richard Dawkins" and the essay "Richard Dawkins and peanut butter" openly mocks Dawkins.Knox490 (talk) 21:54, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
We already know that imaginary-friend-in-the-sky-ologists are unhappy with what Dawkins says. There is no need to quote another one parroting the party line. Those people deserve all the mockery they can think of, and the article already has their opinion on that. --Hob Gadling (talk) 22:24, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
Vorbee, you opened Pandora's box and now the evils are abroad. --Hob Gadling (talk) 22:24, 11 March 2019 (UTC)
It is not largely a matter of theists being unhappy with Dawkins says. Post Dawkins's having a dispute with the feminist Rebecca Watson his prominence in the public sphere has dramatic plunged. Dawkins is largely off the theists' radar now. Wikipedia's New Atheism article notes individuals saying that the New Atheism movement is dead (Dawkins was one of the founders of this movement). The Richard Dawkins article should note Watson related dispute given how it affected Dawkins and the New Atheism movement.Knox490 (talk) 02:12, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
I have no problem with Watson, if you can find good sources. I think it belongs in the article, and I am surprised it isn't.
But I think you will have difficulties finding any good sources for the claim that "New Atheism is dead" or that Elevatorgate contributed to that. --Hob Gadling (talk) 05:17, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
Wikipedia's New Atheism articles currently reads (and it cites good sources): "On 6 November 2015, the New Republic published an article entitled, Is the New Atheism dead?[17] The atheist and evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson wrote, "The world appears to be tiring of the New Atheism movement.."[18] In 2017, PZ Myers who formerly considered himself a new atheist, publicly renounced the New Atheism movement.[19]"
Second, Dawkins' had a cult of personality around him[8] and I am guessing a remnant of this cult of personality will keep on reverting any references to Rebecca Watson in the article. And if the sources for Elevatorgate and Dawkins/Watson are good enough to be used in the Rebecca Watson article, there is no reason why they are not good enough to be used in the Dawkins article.Knox490 (talk) 08:57, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
  • All right, I may have opened a Pandora's Box, but I hope that Hope is still in the box - Hope, along with Faith and Charity, is one of the three Christian virtues mentioned by Saint Paul of Tarsus in one of his epistles to the Corinthians.Vorbee (talk) 16:04, 13 March 2019 (UTC)

Richard Dawkins and Twitter/social media damaging his reputation[edit]

Much has been written in the mainstream press and leading political and social commentary websites about Richard Dawkins' poor use of Twitter and how it is damaging his reputation.[9][10][11][12]

The atheist philosopher and friend of Richard Dawkins Daniel Dennett said of Dawkins's tweets that Dawkins “could be seriously damaging his long-term legacy”.[13] Dawkins said about his tweets and people first coming to know about him through his tweets: “That is a worry. I’d rather they read my books.”[14]

And of course, the whole Elevatorgate controversy involving Dawkins was the result of a social media post of Dawkins at PZ Myers' blog.

Shouldn't Dawkins' Twitter and social media activities and the influence they have had on his reputation be included in the article? I know the Donald Trump Wikipedia article mentions his Twitter activities. In addition, Wikipedia has a Donald Trump on social media article.Knox490 (talk) 17:42, 30 March 2019 (UTC)

Refusing to debate William Lane Craig[edit]

Something should be on here about Richard Dawkins chickening out of a debate with William Lane Craig. It was put on billboards right throughout the UK! Richard himself even wrote a detailed response trying to give reasons for why he wanted to avoid this debate in The Guardian newspaper ( (talk) 14:41, 18 April 2019 (UTC)

William Lane Craig's clownish spectacle of debating an empty chair (and in my opinion, losing) might deserve a mention in his article. But it's more of noteworthy moment in Craig's career than Dawkins'. "Chickening out" would be misleading language. That makes it sound like Dawkins backed out, but Dawkins never agreed to debate Craig in the first place. ~ Röbin Liönheart (talk) 21:25, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
Renaming section more neutrally. ~ Röbin Liönheart (talk) 16:28, 14 May 2019 (UTC)
Richard Dawkins has a terrible track record when it comes to debate. For example, when Dawkins debated Rabbi Shmuley Boteach the student audience ruled that Boteach won the debate and then subsequently Dawkins tried to deny the videotaped debate ever occurred. [15][16][17]Knox490 (talk) 15:37, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
That site also has Dawkins's response to Boteach's "Shameful Attack" article: "I remembered many other Oxford debates in which Rabbi Boteach was the chairman, and I am sorry that the one debate in which he was a protagonist seems to have made no impression at all upon my memory (it was twelve years ago). My (apparently) unforgivable lapse was exacerbated by the fact that Shmuley himself stated, in the Jerusalem Post (April 13th 2008) that the debate occurred in St Catherine's College, Oxford, when in fact it was in Oxford's Law Library: a trivial lapse of memory on his part which abetted mine, but it is in any case ludicrous to describe any lapse of memory, on either side, as an 'attack.'"[18]
This error doesn't seem significant enough to warrant mention here. ~ Röbin Liönheart (talk) 16:00, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
You cut the quote of Dawkins short. This was the "attack" on Boteach: Dawkins said, "Which brings me to his main cry-baby complaint – that I compared his style of speaking to Hitler’s."[19]
Regardless, Dawkins' debate history and his lack of willingness to debate certain others should certainly be mentioned in the article. The Oxford professor and atheist Daniel Came wrote to Dawkins about his refusal to William Lane Craig: "The absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part."[20]Knox490 (talk) 17:07, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
Dawkins' debate history is mentioned in the article. Daniel Came isn't considered notable, so why do you think his personal opinion merits inclusion? ~ Röbin Liönheart (talk) 04:15, 5 June 2019 (UTC)

Richard Dawkins debate history is merely partially mentioned. It doesn't mention the embarrassing facts related to Rabbi Boteach for example. Second, Dr. Came's observation regarding the Dawkins/Craig matter has been published in notable sources such The Guardian and The Telegraph.[21][22] After all is said and done, the article is not NPOV and practices biased/selective reporting.Knox490 (talk) 16:21, 11 July 2019 (UTC)

Dawkins has been the center of attention for decades and naturally a lot of people have commented about him over the years. Articles do not record every factoid, and particularly do not record what a bunch of non-notable people think. If someone has an interesting opinion, write an article about them and include their opinions in it. Johnuniq (talk) 22:50, 11 July 2019 (UTC)
Indeed. While Dawkins participated to such debates at times, he also made it clear that this often was useless and served to promote apologetics (happy to use this in attempt to increase their legitimacy) and that he stopped as a result. We don't really need to include rants of people who did not have this privilege. —PaleoNeonate – 00:15, 12 July 2019 (UTC)
Also, commentisfree is Guardian's blog/opinion section (not reliable). —PaleoNeonate – 00:17, 12 July 2019 (UTC)
According to Wikipedia's Demographics of atheism article about 7% of the world's population are agnostics/atheists and the percentage of the world that are atheists is dropping. Pew Research indicates that 31% of the world's population is Christian.[23]
More importantly, the atheist Luke Muehlhauser admits that Craig wins nearly all his debates with atheists and the atheist Sam Harris said about Craig that he was "The one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists". [24][25]
Craig and his fellow Christian apologists don't need to debate Dawkins to gain legitimacy. That is especially true since the college student audience who watched the Rabbi Boteach vs. Dawkins debate voted that Boteach won the debate.[26] Dawkins is not known for his debate prowess.Knox490 (talk) 06:23, 15 July 2019 (UTC)
That proves nothing about whether he is right or not. HiLo48 (talk) 08:06, 15 July 2019 (UTC)
Irrelevant in relation to the proposed text. —PaleoNeonate – 10:15, 16 July 2019 (UTC)

Just came across this proposal. The biggest problem with it is demonstrated by the first word in the section's title. "Refusal" or "refused" is pure tabloid language used to denigrate someone. Nobody ever actually says "I refuse to debate...." This is a non-neutral POV proposal purely designed to say nasty things about the subject. It should be instantly dismissed. HiLo48 (talk) 08:06, 15 July 2019 (UTC)

Also, debate as a conflict format notoriously favours bullshitters. Winning a debate can mean that you are a quick liar, not necessarily that your reasoning ís better. Proper reasoning takes time, therefore writing is the better medium. That is the main reason smart scientists like Dawkins do not debate well-spoken enemies of science. --Hob Gadling (talk) 18:37, 15 July 2019 (UTC)
Agree with HiLo48 and Hob Gadling: this proposal has been floated with language evincing a strong anti-Dawkins agenda. It is no coincidence then that the proposed text would add little of encyclopedic value to Dawkins' biography, but could very easily contribute to cheap and misleading attacks against him. -Darouet (talk) 22:28, 16 July 2019 (UTC)

Category:British critics of Islam[edit]

I believe that this categorisation is not appropriate. Dawkins is a critic of religious belief and particularly of religious dogma and its consequences. As a scientist, he will be well aware of the major contribution that Arab countries made to astronomy, mathematics and medicine while Europe festered for over 500 years in Christian dogmatic ignorance. He is not Islamophobic. If this category is to stay, then category:critics of Christianity, critics of Judaism, critics of Hinduism, critics of Shinto, etc etc all need to be added. For this reason, I am removing the category. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 10:03, 22 August 2019 (UTC)

>As a scientist, he will be well aware of the major contribution that Arab countries made to astronomy, mathematics and medicine while Europe festered for over 500 years in Christian dogmatic ignorance.
>He is not Islamophobic.
I don't see what either of these points have to do with criticism of Islam. A person can have all the respect in the world for centuries of Arab culture and hold no prejudice against Muslims as people and still yet be critical of their basic religious beliefs, whether or not as part of a critique of all such belief systems. A person can be a critic of Islam even while practicing some form of it (case in point Irshad Manji.) (talk) 12:56, 27 August 2019 (UTC)
Fair comment, these points are make-weight and I need not have made them. Back to the main point. The article says (with citations) that he is a critic of religion in general but there is nothing to support the view that he has picked out Islam for particular criticism. (There is a citation where he clearly denies Islamophobia.[1]) Consequently there is no basis other than editorial POV for that category to be remain. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 23:14, 27 August 2019 (UTC)
I would still caution that there is a difference between being a (non-abusive) critic of a specific religion and being prejudiced against its body of adherents and related civilzation/culture, which is what the tern Islamophobia implies in the case of Islam. A person can be unprejudiced against a religion, even practice it themselves, while being critical of aspects of its belief and application. (talk) 15:54, 28 August 2019 (UTC)
I left category:critics of Islamism because that is a different question and (IMO) is probably true is cited. I also left category:critics of the Catholic Church, which seems likely to be true (but is there I haven't searched for anything in the body to support it). --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 10:12, 22 August 2019 (UTC)


  1. ^ "Richard Dawkins hits back at allegations he is Islamophobic after Berkeley event is cancelled".