I love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning…

The Thirsty Gargoyle has a rather excellent article about poor old Prof Dawkins’ faux-pas on the BBC on Monday morning.

“Careful with that petard old chap…”

For those of our readers lucky enough to be beyond the reach of the Bolshevik Broadcasting Conspiracy in general and the Today program in particular, Prof Dawkins was on the show to promote the findings of a survey that he had commissioned.

The survey results are claimed to demonstrate that people self-identifying as Christians are not Christians at all.

As the Thirsty Gargoyle points out:

  • Prof Dawkins is rather more interested in his own definition of what makes a Christian than what believers themselves define as Christian (as ever, conceptualising us all as sola scriptura serpent wrestlers);
  • His survey actually hurts his own arguments by demonstration that there is a widespread belief in God in the population at large, while a measily 6% self-identify as atheists (a number in line with other surveys).

The purpose of the survey was to attempt to preemptively discredit the results of the last UK census, which included a question on religious belief.

No doubt a number of atheists will take comfort from the spin that Prof Dawkins has put on his survey results, but for the rest of us, we can thank Prof Dawkins for providing further proof that atheism is still a minority religion in the UK and we can enjoy the spectacle of the foremost proponent of the atheist faith invoking the name of his creator live on the radio.

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37 Responses to I love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning…

  1. He’s not putting a spin on it, nor is he trying to define Christianity as something it is not. If the religion is based on the bible, and a person doesn’t go to church, and hasn’t read the bible, how will s/he know what “Christianity” is? He’s trying to say that a lot of people may believe in god, and even in some of the bible stories, but if they don’t know the whole bible, and don’t get guidance and knowledge from someone else (pastor in church) who does read the bible, then they are “accepting” what the bible says without knowing what it says. This means that they haven’t logically reviewed the full teachings, and are just “checking the box” without reading the full description.


  2. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    To refer to Auntie Beeb as the ‘Bolshevik Broadcasting Corp” is juvenile and disgusting. Auntie’s faults are by omission, not by bolshevism. No mention of Murdoch’s corrupt press or TV stations , I see.

    Criticising Dawkins over a ‘faux pas’ or anything else is justified; to gloat over it is demeaning to the gloater and to those who read it. I feel soiled after this.

    Shame on this embarrassing article.


  3. The Raven says:


    That’s a definition of Christianity that arose with the printing press and tends to be employed by some of the Protestant sects. Catholicism has always seen itself as rooted in the Church: scripture and sacred Tradition are, to some extent, artefacts of the Church.

    If a person describes themselves as a Christian then that is what they are: their views might be schismatic or downright heretical, but they are still a Christian.

    Prof Dawkins also makes reference to people not believing that Jesus is the son of God and uses that as part of his basis for the assertion that they are not really Christian: his knowledge of Christianity seems to have entirely skipped the Christological conflicts of the first Millennium.

    And yes, I do use the term “spin” advisedly: the survey shows that an overwhelming majority of those sampled still profess a belief in God and self identify as Christians; it also shows that a vanishingly small minority self-identify as atheists (a minority, what’s more, that has not grown since the last time this sort of survey was conducted, ten years ago). Prof Dawkins does not allude to this in his presentation of the survey findings.


  4. Toadspittle says:


    “His (Dawkins’) survey actually hurts his own arguments by demonstration that there is a widespread belief in God in the population at large, while a measily 6% self-identify as atheists (a number in line with other surveys).”

    Toad would respectfully suggest that it is possible to draw a very different conclusion here: that there are a great many more stupid people around than sensible ones. (Not that Toad himself would dream of drawing such a conclusion.) Or that Raven would countenance such a notion himself.
    (What % of Agnostics could fairly be described as, “measily” There being, apparently no other bracket available than believers @ 94%,(one assumes) or Atheist – at 6 measliy %))?


  5. The Raven says:


    I referred to it as the Bolshevik Broadcasting Conspiracy as I knew that you would enjoy the epithet.

    I did not mention Fox “News” or the Daily Hate Mail, because the report was on the Beeb.

    As for Dawkins, I am sorry that you thought that I crossed the line between enjoying the discomfiture of a pompous man and “gloating”.


  6. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Raven, I did not refer to you in any way, but to those who put this article together. My apologies if it was thought that I meant you- I did not.

    I do like the idea of a little provocative tickle now and then. I suspect that Msgr Pope’s tosh is posted here for that purpose – and I say that like it’s a GOOD THING!!!!

    You are right to correct me about Fox News etc – I went unreasonably far there, and accept a ticking off. Mea culpa. It was me, sir. I done it.


  7. Toadspittle says:


    Whenever the appalling and pompousDawkins gets a mention on CP&S, the generally turgid and humdrum level of debate is instantly, nay, miraculously, elevated to the level of a playground argument among nine-year olds.

    We should at least thank him for that. Thinks Toad.


  8. Toadspittle says:

    …Not that we will.


  9. The Raven says:

    Whippy, As the disgusting, degenerate author of this disgusting, degenerate article, I’m afraid that I am the guilty man that you are seeking to indict.

    It’s all my fault, Guv.


  10. Gertrude says:

    “Whenever the appalling and pompousDawkins gets a mention on CP&S, the generally turgid and humdrum level of debate is instantly, nay, miraculously, elevated to the level of a playground argument among nine-year olds.”

    Oh Toad – you are an old killjoy. The pleasure of this piece was the discomforture brought about by Rev. Giles Fraser (of ‘Occupy St. Pauls’ fame/notoriety). If Bonkers is unable to remember his titles, especially considering Darwin believed in God, then do allow us our little pleasures. 😉


  11. The Raven says:

    Sorry, should clarify: I’m responsible for the dross written here; the Thirsty Gargoyle is responsible for whatever he has written; some poor intern is probably responsible for whatever is on the Beeb’s website (I think that covers all of the bases).


  12. The Raven says:


    I believe that the agnostics were given their own category, as were the “dunnos” and “none of the aboves”; from recollection, something like four per cent identified themselves as agnostics (but I would not recommend that you rely on my faulty memory).


  13. Toadspittle says:


    Well, Gertrude, Toad doesn’t take over-kindly to being called a “killjoy,” being as he sees it as his mission to find the the absurd and funny side of everything, (excepting the Spanish Civil War, of course) and broadcast the joy.
    But there we are. Your decision is final, no doubt.

    It is also Toad’s keen pleasure to be able to reassure you that Darwin, although originally believing in God, happily ended up an Atheist, (or Agnostic as least.) And the end is where it matters, as we both agree.
    Well, he would, wouldn’t he?

    Much to the sorrow of his wife, who remained a life-long Christian.
    Made Darwin a bit sad to disabuse her, because he loved her. And she loved him.


  14. Toadspittle says:


    If there were a God, we’d surely be able to edit on WordPress, before pulling the trigger, wouldn’t we?
    Well, Aquinas, answer that!


  15. Toadspittle says:



    Out of the mouth of Kathleen’s suckling!


  16. It’s interesitng that Bolshevism/Communism should have floated into both our minds when we typed up our respective posts on this event.

    As you allude to Raven, vague and slippery notions of sola scriptura seem to be all that comes to mind when many atheists think of ‘Christian belief’, which makes rether plain their ignorance of the largest (and best) Christian denomination.

    Read my take on Dawkins’s St Valentines Day generosity at: http://franktalkwithfrank.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/442/


  17. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Frank; You make a fundamental error when commenting on Dawkins. It is that he is not writing with you in mind, but Joe Public – and he has been highly successful. That should matter to you. You may be tilting at windmills….?

    I find much of what you say in your link interesting, but one thing you say is wrong, that Dawkins is a “coward”. Dawkins has repeatedly invited the wrath of millions of Christians and returns for more. Not the act of a coward, I’d say. He has had many blows metaphorically aimed at him, and has not flinched.

    Toad is right when he says that when Dawkins name is mentioned, Christians become infantile. Better to pour yet another large glass of wine and enjoy Beethoven’s ‘Spring Sonata’ on the stereo. Mmmmmmmm….


  18. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Raven, excuse my habitual hyperbole.



  19. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Toad might care to visit Darwin’s house near Biggin Hill when next in that area. It seems that this forbidding looking man was very gentle and one can still see the stairs where his kids slid down on a tray, crashing into his study door as he wrote great thoughts.

    In spring there are the most magnificent blossom trees outside.


  20. I take your advice on board Mr Whippy. When I call Dawkins a coward on my blog I am thinking of his long drawn out evasion of William Lane Craig, who he is happy enough to slander but not brave enough to go toe to toe with.


  21. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Yes Frank, Dawkins badly blew it there.

    That incidentally, is the kind of retort (about the title of Darwin’s book) I meant when I said that Christians should welcome Dawkins etc.


  22. toadspittle says:


    “Read my take on Dawkins’s St Valentines Day generosity at: http://franktalkwithfrank.wordpress

    Well, “Frank,” Toad took you up on that offer. (Doubts if he’ll bother doing it again, though. We live and learn.)

    Laughed till the tears ran down his legs.
    But, sadly, he still believes that Dawkins, pitiful as he no doubt seems to devout Christians, is also several times more intelligent, thoughtful, influential and generally nicer than you or I, or practically any of us, will ever be.
    And when we two are mouldering and spinning, long-forgotten in our respective graves, he will still be remembered and accorded a considerable degree of respect by thoughtful people for his scolarship.

    Unfair, to be sure, but there we are. Life’s unfair, innit? Raven agrees 100% with Toad on this.


  23. The Raven says:


    I rather hope that Dawkins is remembered: his books on science are fine introductions to his subject.

    I fear, however, that he is more likely to be remembered for his rabid and rather silly pronouncements on religion.

    I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Prof Dawkins, so I am unable to comment on whether he is “nice” or not; he comes over to me as pompous, self-aggrandising and somewhat rude when I’ve heard him on the radio or read his articles.


  24. Toadspittle,

    It’s nice you found the humour in my post although I’d have preferred if you’d have engaged with the substantive points therein.

    What’s unfair? That Dawkins is famous and will be famous after he dies and I won’t? I can’t see how, he’s sold millions of books and I haven’t. This thought causes me no discomfort whatsoever.

    As to his intelligence I’m doubtful if he is much above average IQ-wise, nothing to be ashamed of there, but I’m confident there are many anonymous non-bestseller writing commenters on blogs like this one whose intelligence exceeds Dawkins’s. His thoughtfulness deserts him any time he approaches the topic of religion and if he’s so nice why is he so often chided by fellow atheists for his asperity?


  25. toadspittle says:


    God help Raven if he ever meets Toad in the green flesh.

    To be honest, Toad has no more idea if Dawkins is “nice” or not, than Raven.
    He just said it to annoy people.
    But the “secular saint” is indisputably extremely handsome, and if Toad were “gay,” Dawkins, would certainly feature largely in his unbridled sexual fantasies.

    As things are, Toad will have to settle for Madame Sarkosy.


  26. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Frank, if you read Dickie Dawkins books on biology you’ll see a very fine mind at work, and one of the best exponents of biological science ever for the general public.

    And if you read of how he allows his daughter the freedom of whether she will be a Christian or not, you will acknowledge his adherence to tolerance.

    The view that RD is some kind of nut is gravely mistaken – you really should “know thine enemy”.


  27. toadspittle says:

    “Toadspittle, It’s nice you found the humour in my post although I’d have preferred if you’d have engaged with the substantive points therein. “

    Well thanks, “Frank,” but Toad will make his own decisions upon the “substantive” points with which he engages.
    And he tends to prefer the funny ones. Who wouldn’t?

    Kind of you not to mention he spelled “scholarship” (of all things) wrongly, though.*
    Not that even that collosal balls-up, or anything else, would have been rated “unfair” by Toad.
    His point is that it’s unfair that Dawkins not only sells millions more books than “Frank” and Toad combined, but – on top of that – he’s also far better looking than “Frank” and Toad combined. (Which, on reflection, would not be difficult.).

    *Wordpress 698 – Toad 1, Own goal, from penalty, in injury time.

    “I rather hope that Dawkins is remembered: his books on science are fine introductions to his subject. “ Nobly spoken, Raven. Wouldn’t do for us grown-ups though, would they?.


  28. The Raven says:

    Which grown ups do you have in mind, Toad?

    I am told (I have no means of knowing the truth of this) that Prof Dawkins’ books are considered rather dated by biologists and not much use to the academic reader, which is fair enough, considering that he is writing for the general reader and not for specialists: as such his books can only be introductory works.

    Needless to say, I consider his books more than adequate for a thickie like me. Although I like Bakker better, as he writes about dinosaurs.


  29. toadspittle says:


    “I am told (I have no means of knowing the truth of this) “
    Fie, Raven!

    Count up all the wonderful and impossible things you are daily told by God, or The Pope, or The Gospels – that you have no means of “knowing the truth of,” save through revelation, Raven.
    No need to equivocate here! Experts regard Dawkins with thinly-disguised contempt, all right!

    But, a bit of good news for all us thickies! Dawkins has written about dinosaurs as well! Probably inexpertly, outdatedly, unspecifically, and simplistically – but still!


  30. The Raven says:


    As ever you are right: God tells us to love our fellow man and tells us that we can be saved if we so choose to accept the grace that He offers to us.

    Despite the seeming impossibility of these two positions I do hold them to be the truth.

    I am afraid that I am unwilling to take at face value anything purporting to do down Prof Dawkins, as there are rather too many people out there willing to judge his scientific works by the yardstick of his theological ramblings.

    I still prefer Bakker on dinosaurs: his vision of the “Cretacious Dining Table” keeps me amused in my darker moments to this day.


  31. toadspittle says:


    Toad will consult Bakker. Since Raven brings the topic up, maybe he, (or someone other than D*wk*ns,) can explain what is, or was, the point of dinosaurs?
    Maybe Bakker knows? Maybe “Frank” can help?

    (Lucky God doen’t tell us to love our fellow toad. That would be asking too much. Or to love our fellow dinosaur, come to that)


  32. The Raven says:


    Do dinosaurs have to have a point beyond being rather fun?


  33. toadspittle says:


    “Do dinosaurs have to have a point beyond being rather fun?”

    Point well taken, Raven. Toad agrees that we could say that about anything – Carnival, Catholicism, Cardiac Complications, Cats, Car Crashes, Cancer,etc.
    He certainly does so himself, regarding life as an absurd, amusing and pointless farce:
    Nasty and brutal to be sure, but mercifully short.
    Fun, though.
    However, he somehow formed the notion that religious-minded folk took a rather less frivolous view of “God’s Plan.”
    Which presumably included dinosaurs at some point. Also presumably, they lived before “The Fall,” and so were sinless, and in no way responsible for their somewhat brusque obliteration, some time ago. Msgr Pope (“The whole universe shouts Order! Consistency! Intelligibility!”) is the johnny to untangle this!
    Suggests Toad. Off you go, Msgr!


  34. toadspittle says:


    Toad has only just played the bit of BBC above.

    He is shamefacedly forced to admit that, as Dawkins struggled to remember the sub-titles of what is generally known as, “The Origin of Species,” that unquestioningly proves the book can’t be true, and that everything Dar and Dawk say about evolution is, as Jabba would put it, bollocks.
    Especially about dinosaurs.


  35. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Dinosaurs, gentlemen, do have a point, a place in the Great Plan, beyond being fun creatures which you may sometimes find replicated in your breakfast cereal packet.

    It is this; they were placed here to thrive and sinlessly ‘stalk the earth’ – and then DISAPPEAR AS A TERRIBLE WARNING TO US ALL.


  36. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Umm, I wasn’t actually addressing ‘dinosaurs, gentlemen’ in the fashion of ‘ladies and gentlemen’.

    But WordPress, like locusts and pestilence, is an affliction it is impossible to avoid.


  37. toadspittle says:

    If we needed further “proof” (which we don’t) that the theory of Natural Selection is, as Jabba would say, bollocks – it comes in the from of a story in yesterday’s Telegraph.
    It appears that an ancestor of Richard Dawkins’ made his pile in the slave trade before he died in 1701.
    Despite this he (Dawkins, that is not the ancestor) has the brass neck, the infernal gall, the confounded nerve, to lecture the rest of us about how silly religion is. Can you credit it?
    Over to you, Jabba: “Cripes!!!”


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