Apparently, Sir David Attenborough is going to tell Kirsty Young that there is no inconsistency between evolution and belief in God. He may, perhaps, already have done so, since there is often a time lag between my picking up on the news and the events or anticipated events it records. He’s not confident enough to be an atheist, says Sir David, opening the floodgates of prediction that the shrill, strident new atheism is being replaced by a more genial, accommodating form of unbelief. But, of course, this is sheer nonsense. Those of us who are convinced, on good grounds, that there is no basis for belief in a god of any sort that would be religiously meaningful, have no intention of building atheist temples and listening to atheist sermons, even if, it seems, there are some atheists, like Alain de Botton, who think this is a good idea, and some theists, like George Pitcher, that particularly rebarbative Anglican priest, who begins his piece of Daily Mail pap with words of terrible banality:
There’s something divine in the air. Agnostics and atheists are beginning to nod respectfully in the direction of the Almighty, while still, of course, maintaining that He’s not there.
And he ends with something equally trite:
The shrill voice of Dawkins is gradually being marginalised by those of no more faith than him, but who nevertheless perceive mystery in humanity and, while not accepting the presence of God in the world, are prepared to face in the same direction as the rest of us and stand in awe and wonder.
Has Pitcher really heard Dawkins speak. Shrill?! Come! Come! As for awe and wonder, Dawkins has all along said that there is so much in the natural world to prompt awe and wonder. This he has never denied, and adding belief in a god doesn’t add to the wonder, or precipitate more awe. Just as a swallow does make a summer, a couple of accommodating agnostics do not actually serve to marginalise Dawkins, and Pitcher’s “arguments” are about as lame as ever, though this time he’s gone a bit downmarket and is writing for the Mail. Before his short stint as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s public relations officer (or equivalent), Pitcher was writing for the Telegraph, admittedly a conservative paper, but one of some quality. The Daily Mail, however, is in another class altogether, and given Pitcher’s completely scurrilous attack on Evan Harris, a well deserved demotion for this dislikeable hack. Long may it last!