Saturday, November 15, 2014

Justin on the rise, and Dawkins on the wane

Justin - courtesy Wikipedia
Delighted to see a full page editorial in The Spectator called "Thank heavens for Justin Welby!"  We must not get carried away and it is very unwise to expect Christian leaders to be popular in the media for very long. But it's very encouraging how well things seem to be going for Justin.

His campaign to compete against Wonga and the others has been extraordinarily successful. But the extent to which has has restored the morale and influence of the Church of England more generally is remarkable. I remember shortly after he became Archbishop hearing him say that he had never been more optimistic about the future of the CofE and I think this makes good sense.

Although he comes from the evangelical "wing" of the CofE he seems to have the strong support of Catholics and Liberals and I think the CofE is more united now than at any time in the recent past.

In addition Justin has become a very influential figure on the world stage. The fact that he was invited by Mark Carney to be on the IMF/World Bank panel on Ethics and Finance along with Mark, Christine Lagarde, Philipp Hildebrand and Kok Song Ng is pretty significant. His contributions were of course excellent (from 47mins on) and indeed the whole discussion was well worth watching.

The contrast with Dawkins is of course striking.  No-one now takes him seriously on anything outside his narrow expertise - although I don't think most people understand how narrow that expertise is.

When EO Wilson on his recent tour stated that "Dawkins is not a scientist, he's a journalist" people were a bit surprised, but they shouldn't have been. And here is one interview in which Wilson explains:
“What else is he? I mean journalism is a high and influential profession. But he’s not a scientist, he’s never done scientific research. My definition of a scientist is that you can complete the following sentence: ‘he or she has shown that…’,” Wilson says. “I don’t want to go on about this because he and I were friends. There is no debate between us because he’s not in the arena. I’m sorry he’s so upset. He could have distinguished himself by looking at the evidence, that’s what most science journalists do. When a journalist named Dawkins wrote a review in Prospect urging people not to read my book, I thought the last time I heard something like that I think it came from an 18th-century bishop.” 
Headlines like "The Atheist Movement Needs to Disown Richard Dawkins" (from the highly influential "Vice") calling him an "outdated idol" are pretty self-explanatory. Google trends shows one aspect of his decline fairly graphically - and the number of searches doesn't show how many are from those who approve and how many from those who disapprove.

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