19 March 2010 Main Posts Richard Dawkins is in the country Claire Zorn In case you weren’t aware, the ever charming, frypan-hating Richard Dawkins is in the country. (If you are unfamiliar with Dawkins, he’s the man God created to illustrate irony.) The Dawks has been appearing around the place getting his knickers in a twist about people who think there might be things science just can’t explain, or be applied to. Admittedly, I did not attend his performance at the Sydney Opera House, but am ‘lead to believe’ (sorry, Richard) that it took on the nature of a lecture rather than an operatic aria. (This is fitting as there is no way of scientifically measuring artistic poignancy or recreating it in a static environment, so it probably doesn’t exist.) Nor was I at the Atheist Convention in Melbourne on the weekend, so it is possible that he said nothing at all about his objections to the existence of anything science can’t explain. However if one is to read his books and then apply the law of averages to discover the probability of him mentioning these topics at the convention, one will find the probability very high. Given this scientific application, I doubt Dawkins would object to me making assumptions. (It is also worth noting that he has nothing against picking one-liners from various texts and putting them out of context. There is a low to medium probability that I will do this here, and I will endeavour not use his rather elastic principles on this practice as an excuse.) There are quite a few things that get on my proverbial goat about Richard-all-we-need-is-science-Dawkins. Yes Dawky, science has produced a super-computer, which can perform 60 trillion calculations in a second, but it is yet to write a good novel. And if you can’t imagine anything beyond what you can observe, then I can see how it would be difficult to grasp the idea that human beings aren’t the most intelligent beings in existence. I would like to clarify that I have no objection to someone publicly expressing opinions that vary from mine, but I don’t like it when they are so darn unimaginative about it. Poking fun and picking apart the church is a doddle – to borrow one of his turns of phrase – anyone who has ever seen a high school production of The Crucible can do it, not to mention anyone who has a vague knowledge of Australian history. You can hear most of what he has to say by getting in the back of a taxi and asking the driver what they think of the church. Buckle up, sit back and mind the sticky patch on the armrest. Dawkins likes easy targets. He likes those who are inclined to turn the other cheek and he especially likes to call them names. Indeed, the only thing that riles my poor goat as much as Dawkins’ lack of imagination is his attempt to use nasty, cheap insults to hide the fact he has no sense of humour. Even Jesus had one of those. Now before you get on your high horse (this is quite the menagerie, isn’t it?) and site his one-liners regarding Senator Steve Fielding, I would like to state my case that they were lame insults and not clever in any way. (It’s easy to get nasty and funny mixed up – just look at Wil Anderson.) It’s an unfortunate tactic. Insults don’t make him appear funny or even human (calm down Dawky, that was a metaphor); they only serve to further his resemblance to a class bully. Although, I doubt Dawkins would have a problem with bullying, ‘survival of the fittest’ and all. I would love to watch him debate someone who isn’t such an easy target: Dawkins vs. Desmond Tutu perhaps, or maybe some sort of event can be organised where he calls Nelson Mandela a religious wing nut to his face. Watching him debate Senator Fielding on the ABC’s Q and A was like watching Mundine fight a sack of tomatoes: it just wasn’t a fair fight. Dawkins is good at what he does – when he’s not hurling witticisms about earthworms – and to further the boxing analogy, he thinks on his feet, he’s quick and he’s calm. So why not line up an opponent who’s up to the task? Feel free to comment that there aren’t any and I will happily furnish you with a list. In the meantime I will placate my poor goat by coming up with fun names for Richard Dawkins, keeping with his schoolyard preferences by playing on the very name God was so thoughtful to provide for him. No wonder he doesn’t have a sense of humour. PS. Richard, if you’re reading this I just want to explain that I do not own a goat. Again, this was a metaphor, and I know, they can be difficult to understand. Claire Zorn Claire Zorn is a Sydney-based writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Her work has been published in various literary journals and she has a particular passion for writing young adult fiction. More by Claire Zorn Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 24 February 202317 March 2023 Main Posts Final Results of the 2022 Judith Wright Poetry Prize Editorial Team Overland, the judges and the Malcolm Robertson Foundation are thrilled to announce the final results of the 2022 Judith Wright Poetry Prize. First published in Overland Issue 228 24 February 202317 March 2023 Main Posts Final Results of the 2022 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize Editorial Team Overland, the judges and the Malcolm Robertson Foundation are thrilled to announce the final results of the 2022 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize.