Richard Dawkins keeps digging on ‘mild’ date rape and pedophilia

Print More
Richard Dawkins

RNS photo by Brian Pellot

Richard Dawkins addressing the World Humanist Congress on Sunday, Aug. 11 in Oxford, England.

Active RNS subscribers and members can view this content by logging-in here.

Richard Dawkins told the World Humanist Congress in Oxford that “mild pedophilia” is not as bad as “something that would scar you for life.” Attempting to use logic and reason to rank others’ emotional scars --- now that’s irrational.

  • Lles Nats

    Oh wow. Stand back and watch as the conditioned, emotional “thinkers” start to consume one of their leaders who was a little too early in coming to be likewise conditioned. Emotional decision making is unstable and cannot be modeled as repeatable. These people’s live are the definition of deviation…and now that grand failure in teaching critical thinking skills is turning on itself.

  • Lles Nats

    “A purely rational discussion that attempts to rank the emotional scars of sexual violence is purely irrational?


    I guess you really dislike the whole edifice of western societies legal/justice systems then? If your statement were true they would be fundamentally and terminally flawed.

  • Lles Nats

    “This isn’t about self censorship, its about thinking before you speak”.

    Bullcrap. This is only about censoring the thoughts of others via groupthink and collective shame when you don’t like their thoughts at an emotional level. Its the root behind emotional buzzword usage an author will “spew” when the author feels offended enough to go activist but lacks concrete arguements to counter. Thus bigot, hater, racist, x-phobe, and yes spew are all conjured up. Please note “spew” is exclusively used to desribe the speech of one whose view you do not agree with when you are a liberal “thinker”. Meaning emotional thinker.

    Someday these verbage tricks will be used to pointlessness. But today, its good to be able to spot them and realize the motivating forces behind it. It makes for more informed reading.

  • Larry

    Apropos of nothing in particular, Lles you are an incoherent babbling fool.

    That being said, Dawkins is also an incoherent babbling fool, but one who we expect to know better. By now he should be aware that no matter what he says on such subjects;

    1. He WILL be taken out of context.
    2. Nobody is really going to pay attention while he explains his statements
    3. It is not going to sound good for him.
    4. His detractors will never let him live it down
    5. Many of his detractors do not care for honest rational arguments.
    6. It will always come off as rude and insensitive.

    if Dawkins had an ounce of savvy for media and public relations, he would loot be in this situation.

  • Melody

    He’s an idiot. If he has never been raped then he has no business commenting. A horrific experience can not be measured against someone else’s. You can measure your level of empathy but you can NOT measure someone else’s pain. Otherwise you have to qualify it with a “if it happened to me” because you do not know what tortures each person and what their limits are.

  • For anyone who doesn’t understand how completely awful acquaintance rape can be, please read the story at this link:
    balkanist. net / first-night-kyiv / (remove the spaces)

    How do you compare that story with sexual assault by a stranger using a weapon? I haven’t the foggiest notion and I certainly wouldn’t want to rank the woman’s experience as somehow “easier” than stranger rape. I’d be an insensitive jerk to try and do so. Trying to turn her experiences into the subject of a philosophical musing in 140 characters would also be rather awful.

  • Pingback: Why oh why would rape be a sensitive subject?()

  • Paula

    “If he has never been raped then he has no business commenting.”

    Forgetting yours or my views on WHAT he said (and please note you don’t know my views on the subject matter), do you sincerely believe that “If he has never been raped then he has no business commenting.”

    So if you or I have never been tortured, or crucified, or experienced a war or had a loved one die, or suffered in any way, we can’t comment on it? Think about how silly your comment is, not least because at best it stifles debate and at worst it justifies complete ignorance. In your world, most of cannot have a view on war, famine, or anything unless we have suffered it.

    Maybe you are happy with that, just as you are happy to call someone an idiot because you don’t agree with them. But I really worry if you feel that we cannot have views or discuss important issues without first-hand experience.

  • S. Dana Johnson

    It seems to me that Dick Dawkins is trying to lay the groundwork to support the idea that atheists can use logic to construct an objective moral and ethical framework for judging sin. Relatively speaking.

  • Pingback: Blow up that one frame for a closer look()


    All of his talk about logical thinking misses the point entirely of how ILLOGICAL it is too attempt such a discussion on a 140 word medium like Twitter. His points are logical and valid but are they necessary? Maybe. ..maybe not.

  • @Larry,

    “if Dawkins had an ounce of savvy for media and public relations, he would not [sic] be in this situation.”

    Unless what he is saying happens to be what he really thinks is true.
    in which case he should damn the torpedoes and explore this further.

    It is ugly, but consider what he is asking.
    Are there degrees of difference in these abusive acts:

    1. unwanted touching of an ass cheek.
    2. unwanted groping of a breast.
    3. Unwanted groping of penis and testicles.
    4. unwanted sexual penetration.

    To say #1 is bad but #4 is worse
    does not seem like a wild thing to say.

    To say #4 is truly the worst
    is not to say #1 is okay.

    Am I missing something? Isn’t that what Dawkins is driving at?

    Perhaps he is concerned that we will miss the horror of #4
    if we imagine all of these are the same. When they are not.

  • I must immediately add:
    All unwanted sexual behavior is outrageous, offensive and deserves the sharpest rebuke and punishment under the law.
    I do not know if all sexual abuse fits the definition of ‘rape’ – but I am happy to consider that it DOES – but I wonder if that isn’t where the problem is in this debate?

  • Secular morality is superior to Religious morality.
    There are exceptional books on this subject.

    Secular Morality is based on avoiding ‘needless harm’.
    It is very easy to grasp and to teach to children.

  • Neon Genesis

    I’m just concerned about why Dawkins is so obsessed with this subject that he has to keep on and on about it. It makes me concerned about leaving people alone with this disturbed man.

  • Diogenes

    Though always philosophically opposed to Dawkins, in this instance I would agree that he merely “lacks media savvy;” which probably concerns him not at all.

  • larry

    Unlike Dawkins, you explained the position in a clear and necessarily detailed manner. Had Dawkins said something like your follow up post, this whole controversy would not exist.

  • Athywren

    Hey, should I tell my aunt that having your husband die of cancer is bad, but that having your children killed in a missile strike is worse, then, when she inevitably responds poorly, smugly tell her to go away and learn how to think if she thinks I’m endorsing cancer? I mean, it seems entirely logical, but maybe I’m missing some important part of human interaction here…. Sure, I’ve never had my spouse of 20 years die of cancer, but it is quite clear that it is worse for your children to die of a missile strike, so surely no problems can come of expressing that to my grieving and deeply sensitive aunt.

  • Lauren

    He HAS been a victim of paedophilia. That’s was his point. You clearly did not read his remarks in context. Not surprising since religious adherents swallow whatever their leaders put in front of them. Here is something else – my sister was brutally raped at knife-point. I, like many women, was very nearly date-raped. My sister’s situation was FAR WORSE! What in the world is difficult for you people to understand? Dawkins is a true hero of reason in the modern world.

  • Lauren

    First let me say that I am a female who has had more than one near-miss with date-rapists.
    Second, in America and virtually all civilised countries, there is within the law of the land, graded degrees of sexual assault with corresponding punishments attached.
    Third, Dawkins IS a victim of mild paedophilia.
    Fourth, Dawkins is one of the most important and influential figure in science and secular philosophy.
    If you can believe the stuff these Daddy-God religions tell you, you will believe anything. Fortunately, there are counter-balances in Dawkins, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the late, great Christopher Hitchens.

  • Pingback: Asociación para la Defensa de la Libertad Religiosa » Titulares Internacionales de Libertad Religiosa del 11 Agosto 2014()

  • Dave

    Your comments were sensible till you tried to cover up for your ‘controversial’ post by claiming that all unwanted sexual attention is the worst thing ever and should be punished severely – so what, if someone pats someone’s ass they should get ten years in jail ? My female acting teacher went round patting guy’s asses in the dressing room before a show and just said ‘don’t mind me, I’m tactile’. I found it a bit inappropriate but it didn’t traumatise me for life and I don’t want her to go to jail…