For those of you who, like me, were raised on a diet of “Happy Days” back in the seventies you will remember that the Fonz could not say “I was wrong”. Whenever he was expected to he would mumble and stutter and stumble over his admission, much to the delight of the viewing audience.
I thought of that this last day as I have read Beetle’s comments in the blog regarding Richard Dawkins’ terrible advice to his poor child. After I pointed out that Mr. Dawkins’ advice to his daughter was irresponsible, arbitrary and self-refuting, you think that Beetle might come out and say “I was wrong”, but alas he can’t even get as far as the Fonz.
In fact, he’ll apparently say just about anything BUT “I was wrong”. And it would seem the very last thing he’ll say is “Dawkins was wrong.”
Initially Beetle tried just asserting that all we can know is through our five senses. Perhaps he thought that repeating a self-refuting statement would make it true. Or maybe he just wanted to stand in solidarity with his champion.
“Yes, your complaints against well articulated common sense are facile. It is, after all, a letter to child, not a freshman philosophy class.”
Note the shifft here. Beetle has now ceded the ground of the argument itself and has retreated to defending it with respect to the fact that the target audience was a child.
Frankly, I find this an ageist defense for it amounts to saying “False and self-refuting statements are okay if they are presented to a child.” Let me tell you this: if I discovered today that my daughter’s elementary school teacher was telling her things that were false and self-refuting, she’d be out of that class tomorrow. There is only one Doctor who is allowed to say self-refuting things to kids, and his name is Dr. Seuss. Now if Dawkins wants to put his advice into the form of a winsome children’s poem and accompany it with fantastical illustrations I might take a second look.
This may look like a churlish attack on Beetle. But the fact is that such deference to authorities like Dawkins is a plague within the atheist community. They pride themselves on being “free thinkers” and yet so many fall in line to defend the most indefensible statements of their stars. They denounce deference to authority and yet they fall over themselves to defer to their own authorities.
Beetle’s attitude toward Dawkins reminds me of the popular phrase “My country, right or wrong.” So it goes for the free thought authorities as well, apparently.
The problem is that that is only the first part of Carl Schurz’s famous quote, and we are impoverished if we miss the last bit. So here it is:
“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”