Monday, August 27, 2012

In Scotland, People of Deeply Religious Faith Don’t Seem to Have Any

Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion Under Attack in Obscure Book Festival

This being the latter days of summer, topics to stir the outrage are becoming somewhat rare.  Apparently true indignation must also take a summer break.  So in an obscure story to stir the passions we report on a controversy in Scotland over the invitation of a scientist/writer to a book festival in the Hebrides.  We don’t know Richard Dawkins, don’t really care who he is, but he seems to be a writer who is also an atheist and under some sort of attack.

But the celebrity atheist is now facing one the most hostile receptions of his career – after an invitation to a Hebridean book festival sparked a battle for the soul of the Highlands

In one corner is Prof Dawkins, evolutionary biologist, best-selling author of The God Delusion and the world's most prominent secularist. In the other is the Free Church of Scotland – a devout and fundamentalist Christian group known locally as the Wee Frees.

It seems the fundamentalists involved, like almost all fundamentalists are so uncertain of their own faith that they cannot stand the presence of someone with a different opinion.  So their position is to try and ban any thought or speech that contradicts them.  In this case Mr. Dawkins has a great response.

Faced with clearly mounting outrage against his proposed visit, Prof Dawkins hit back. Writing in a local newspaper, the atheist and academic retorted: "I always marvel when I come up to the Highlands and encounter this kind of sheer, blind panic at the mere thought of me giving a talk.

"The region has a reputation for solid faith, but if that were really so, you might think it might be able to take a simple talk by an evolutionary scientist in its stride."

And as far as being willing to debate the faithful, Mr. Dawkins had this riposte.

It was at this point that the Wee Free spin machine went into operation and challenged Prof Dawkins to a debate.

His response – a deliberately antagonistic jibe on Twitter – did not go down well.

"As a great president of the Royal Society said, 'That would look great on your CV, not so good on mine,'" he tweeted.

And the festival sponsors, whoever they are apparently are willing to continue to let Mr. Dawkins speak. 

Our message to those who want to suppress thinking and thought, ‘Have a little faith’.

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