Given the discussion last week over whether Richard Dawkins is softening his message, I was really struck by a recent post by Jean Kazez, who is reading his new book and finds Dawkins yet again sounding very “accommodating.” From Dawkins’ page 6:
The Archbishop of Canterbury has no problem with evolution, nor does the Pope (give or take the odd wobble over the precise palaeontological juncture when the human soul was injected), nor do educated priests and professors of theology. This is a book about the positive evidence that evolution is a fact. It is not intended as an antireligious book. I’ve done that, it’s another T-shirt, this is not the place to wear it again. Bishops and theologians who have attended to the evidence for evolution have given up the struggle against it. Some may do so reluctantly, some, like Richard Harries, enthusiastically, but all except the woefully uninformed are forced to accept the fact of evolution. They may think God had a hand in starting the process off, and perhaps didn’t stay his hand in guiding its future progress. They probably think God cranked the Universe up in the first place, and solemnized its birth with a harmonious set of laws and physical constants calculated to fulfil some inscrutable purpose in which we were eventually to play a role. But, grudgingly in some cases, happily in others, thoughtful and rational churchmen and women accept the evidence for evolution. [Italics added.]
All this from the guy who previously denounced the “Neville Chamberlain School of Evolutionists.”
Dawkins may not accept the label “accommodationist.” His definition of the word may be different than mine or Kazez’s, and an unwelcome handle shouldn’t be forced upon him. Nevertheless, in the passage above he appears to be taking a cue from the very line of thinking that informs Unscientific America: When you want to promote evolution, it’s just plain counterproductive to attack faith; rather, you want and desperately need religious allies.
Indeed, while there are very many things in The God Delusion that I object to and disagree with, on many levels–I discussed these over at Huffington Post last week, drawing a staggering 689 comments thus far–The Greatest Show on Earth sounds like a book very much after my own heart. I’m planning on going out and getting a copy.
Yet this also leaves me wondering: Has Dawkins made any intellectual movement that he himself would recognize, or would he just call this a difference of emphasis or message (wearing a new “T-shirt”)?