Richard Dawkins' Shameful Attack
The famous atheist accused me of speaking like Hitler. Has he lost his mind?
I served as the head of the Oxford L’Chaim society and rabbi at Oxford University for 11 years from 1988 until 1999. In that time with my organization, I staged large discussions and debates featuring world personalities arguing the great issues of our time in front of hundreds of students. One of the most popular series were debates on science and religion that took place on approximately five occasions, all of which involved leading scientists and religious thinkers, and which Oxford’s noted evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins participated in. Dawkins and I became friends through these debates. He was always cordial, accessible, and friendly. I grew to like him a great deal--my wife and I even hosted him and his wife at our home for Shabbat lunch.
After returning to the United States with my family, I did not see Dr. Dawkins for a number of years and therefore welcomed the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion with him on science and religion at the IdeaCity Convention in Toronto in the Summer of 2007. IdeaCity is a prestigious media convention that takes place annually. When I arrived I was surprised by Dr. Dawkin's cool reception of me and his informing me that he could not stay to hear my rebuttal of his remarks, which immediately followed his own. I attributed his coldness towards me to a shift in his perception of people of faith following the publication of his book, “The G-d Delusion,” and many subsequent interviews in which he slams religious people as “know-nothings,” “fundamentalist hypocrites,” “hillbillies,” “vulnerable to subversion,” and “suffering from a delusion.”
I had tried to make some overtures to Dr. Dawkins in the interim years and had not received a response, so I decided to just accept that we had drifted apart. Fast forward to about a month ago when for, no reason, Dawkins attacked me on his website and denied that he and I had ever debated. My office quickly posted the full footage of a two hour debate which took place on October 23, 1996, a debate which Dawkins actually lost after a vote taken by the students as to which side, science or religion, caused more students to change their minds. In my article on the subject responding to his attack I was extremely respectful of Dr. Dawkins and was therefore shocked to receive a letter in return in which heaccused me of speaking like Hitler