“He’s a brilliant man,” one of my colleagues once said of Richard Dawkins, “but so impolite.” I agree, but think he chose the wrong conjunction: If I had to identify Dawkins’ cardinal virtues, I would say that he is brilliant, articulate, impassioned and impolite. As Emerson famously said, “Your goodness must have some edge to it — else it is none.” “The God Delusion” is a fine and significant book, and this is largely due to Dawkins’ willingness to employ the sharp edges of his intellect to cut through a paralyzing propriety whose main effect is to stifle conversations — about religion, about intellectual responsibility, about politics — that we very much need, at this particular moment in our history, to be having.
Some will accuse Dawkins of being not just impolite but also intolerant. He is indeed a kind of crusading atheist, and makes no bones about his opposition not just to religious extremism but also to all species of religious faith — a phenomenon he regards as fundamentally irrational and deeply dangerous.
more from SF Chroncile Review here.