Sunday 27th of May 2018

the tunnel visions...



The article on Richard Dawkins and the Free Church (20 August) is, I am afraid, based upon a false premise. The Free Church did not "take exception" to Dawkins appearing at the Faclan Book Festival in Lewis, nor are we furious at his coming to Lewis. Indeed, we have welcomed him to the island and thank him for raising issues which we consider to be of vital importance.

The article caters to the prejudices of some of your readers by describing us as "fundamentalist" and "hard line". Can you imagine the fury you would have aroused if you had shown some balance and described Dawkins as a hard-line fundamentalist atheist? We are the ones who welcome him and are offering him the chance to put us right where he thinks we are wrong.

He, on the other hand, refuses to discuss, exchange dialogue or debate with us, perhaps because he is so certain of his beliefs and intolerant of anyone who would dare to question them. But just who is the fundamentalist?

The Rev David A Robertson

St Peters Free Church, Dundee


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."

At this point, the Free Church (known locally as the Wee Frees) got involved, challenging 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.

In response, Reverend David Robertson of St Peter's Free Church in Dundee, who is also due to appear at the festival, accused Prof Dawkins of "astounding arrogance", adding: "I suspect that Richard Dawkins problem is that he's not a good debater. His sound-bite atheism does not stand up to rigorous scrutiny."

As of last night, Prof Dawkins insisted he will attend the festival but still refuses to debate.

Why is he being criticised? He is strongly opposed to creationists and said this week that arguing with them was like playing chess with a pigeon: "It knocks the pieces over, craps over the board and flies back to its flock to claim victory."


Gus: one cannot have a reasoned logical argument with creationists. This is why when I used to have arguments in the 1970s against these complete (and I guess, deliberate) ignoramuses, I only argued that their bible was a piece of shit and pointed out at random some of the idiosyncrasies within... I did not have to look far. 

Beyond this, trying to point out the evolutionary lines of species, and the rigourous scientific methods such as isotopic atomic decay, registered nil in their pea brains. For them the world was created 6,000 years a go — end of story. For them the only reference they used was the bible — nothing else ever happened. Thus they were not happy with me... I was "blasphemous" for using the word shit aligned with their sacred book... Those were the days...

Then some of them became cleverer as their ignorant stubbornness was being overtaken by more scientific reality and they could not hold anymore to their crap... So they invented the intelligent design concept... Clever really... A new way to look at the system, in which one has to admit that things are far too complex and organised to have been the result of accidental evolution... Thus there was an "intelligent" purposeful designer who created all this — god...

Here again one can argue till one gets blue in the face that this does not make sense either.  The "intent" is crap in itself. I won't go into why it does not make sense that some super absolute being would bother create angels — some of which would turn against "Him"... to become the devil and his acolytes... Nor will I go into the idiotic concept that this god then created an imperfect place we call earth upon which became the redemption holding pond, after a couple of naked idiots did something they should not have done in a place that was perfect, some people call heaven. The said idiots then multiplied like rabbits but carried this black mark against their "soul" — a black mark for which they had to defeat the devil in order to regain the favour of god... But at one stage, of course god had to send His son to the rescue because, humans did not fare too well and started to worship golden cows instead of "their" maker... If this makes sense to you, good for you... I find the whole story beyond unbelievable, just plain ridiculous... So I won't go into it...

So yes, dawkins is somewhat arrogant... But the biggest arrogance of all is to believe that we're the sons (no daughters — except by associative default) of god and He created us in his image... Poop. I say poop again. If this is not a million time more arrogant than Dawkins' little smarty quip, what is?

To some extend, the fundamentalist religious pooping pigeons win hands down — because one cannot argue against the irrational and the ingrained silly wrongs... But at least Dawkins is having some relative fun... Nothing fundamentalist about his ideas, just a correction of observation of this planet versus an old fanciful story that does not make sense  — and that never made sense, except to naive gullible poor people. And there are plenty of them out there. A few of them are simply idiots and want to rule our lives... Go away...

Tony Abbott is an idiot...


of love and broken bones...


Labelling is a strategy that seems necessary if we are to "work for" the disadvantaged. Much that needs to be done is made possible by the labels that legitimate interventions meant to aid those in need. But working for can make us forget that we must know how to work and be with those whom we would aid.

I suspect we are tempted to take the stance of working for the disadvantaged because too often those we would help both frighten and frustrate us. They frighten us because we fear the acknowledgment of a common humanity. They frustrate us because too often there does not seem to be anything that can be done to "make things better." But that is to fail to see that there is always something that can be done. What can be done, as Stump suggests, is to love and be loved, thus making possible a common story. Such a love may be difficult, but that is how we know it is of God.

Sider is right to wish that Martin was not autistic. Dollar was right to wish her daughter had not been born with brittle bone disease. Dollar was right to rejoice that her other children did not suffer from her disease. But let us rejoice that Sider and Martin have one another, that the Dollar family exists, for without stories like theirs we would not know what love looks like.


I find this kind of statement a bit rich... "Such a love may be difficult, but that is how we know it is of God."...


I can tell you now that such love is not exclusive to a godly framework.

To some extend the "love" given by a non believer in such circumstances is far more "valuable" and richer... It's a human on human relationship with its foibles, its doubts and strengths but all without having to recourse to a superior being telling us what we should do or not do...


I know some "cripples", many are very good friends... I have known some "vegetables"... Labelling should not be seen as demeaning but in a society in which we catalogue happily anything that moves or does not, we need to find defining words for our less-able, physically or mentally... or our poors or our gays... We do. In all circumstances we should care... care is actually stronger than love as love often demands something in return to be fulfilled... Care is often altruistically simply generous.