Obliging one of my critics! The Dawkins Award Speech Message!
- I got another compelling, personal request today regarding a couple of references to a person by name. That person did not want the name being publicly displayed here.
So, I am reposting the message below without the objectionable references. In both instances, the name reference was not relevant to the information otherwise contained in the messages.
I am deleting the original messages.
The first one is:
Here's that message without the personal references:
Dawkins Award Speech
As it appears in current issue of SECULAR NATION
DAWKINS AWARD PRESENTATION
Following is the text of the speech by Richard Dawkins in presenting the Richard
Dawkins Award on behalf of Atheist Alliance of America, Houston, 8th October
Today I am called upon to honour a man whose name will be joined, in the history
of our movement, with those of Bertrand Russell, Robert Ingersoll, Thomas Paine,
He is a writer and an orator with a matchless style, commanding a vocabulary and
a range of literary and historical allusion far wider than anybody I know. And I
live in Oxford, his alma mater and mine.
He is a reader, whose breadth of reading is simultaneously so deep and
comprehensive as to deserve the slightly stuffy word `learned' except that
Christopher is the least stuffy learned person you will ever meet.
He is a debater, who will kick the stuffing out of a hapless victim, yet he does
it with a grace that disarms his opponent while simultaneously eviscerating him.
He is emphatically not of the (all too common) school that thinks the winner of
a debate is he who shouts loudest. His opponents may shout and shriek. Indeed
they do. But Hitch doesn't need to shout. His words, his polymathic store of
facts and allusions, his commanding generalship of the field of discourse, the
fork lightning of his wit . . . I tried to sum it up in my review of God is not
great in the Times of London:
There is much fluttering in the dovecots of the deluded, and Christopher
Hitchens is one of those responsible. Another is the philosopher A. C. Grayling.
I recently shared a platform with both.
We were to debate against a trio of, as it turned out, rather half-hearted
religious apologists ("Of course I don't believe in a God with a long white
beard, but . . ."). I hadn't met Hitchens before, but I got an idea of what to
expect when Grayling emailed me to discuss tactics. After proposing a couple of
lines for himself and me, he concluded, ". . . and Hitch will spray AK47 ammo at
the enemy in characteristic style".
Grayling's engaging caricature misses Hitchens's ability to temper his pugnacity
with old-fashioned courtesy. And "spray" suggests a scattershot fusillade, which
underestimates the deadly accuracy of his marksmanship. If you are a religious
apologist invited to debate with Christopher Hitchens, decline. His witty
repartee, his ready-access store of historical quotations, his bookish
eloquence, his effortless flow of well-formed and beautifully spoken words,
would threaten your arguments even if you had good ones to deploy. A string of
reverends and "theologians" ruefully discovered this during Hitchens's
barnstorming book tour around the United States.
With characteristic effrontery, he took his tour through the Bible Belt states
the reptilian brain of southern and middle America, rather than the easier
pickings of the country's cerebral cortex to the north and down the coasts. The
plaudits he received were all the more gratifying. Something is stirring in that
Christopher Hitchens is known as a man of the left. Except that he is too
complex a thinker to be placed on a single left-right dimension.
Parenthetically, I have long been surprised that the very idea of a single
left-right political spectrum works at all. Psychologists need many mathematical
dimensions in order to locate human personality, and why should political
opinion be any different? With most people, it is surprising how much of the
variance is explained by the single dimension we call left-right. If you know
somebody's opinion on, say, the death penalty, you can usually guess their
opinion on taxation or public health.
But Christopher is a one-off. He is unclassifiable. He might be described as a
contrarian except that he has specifically and correctly disavowed the title. He
is uniquely placed in his own multidimensional space. You don't know what he
will say about anything until you hear him say it, and when he does he will say
it so well, and back it up so fully, that if you want to argue against him you'd
better be on your guard.
He is known throughout the world as one of the leading public intellectuals
anywhere. He has written many books and countless articles. He is an intrepid
traveller and a war reporter of signal valour.
But of course he has a special place in our affections here as the leading
intellect and scholar of our atheist / secular movement. A formidable adversary
to the pretentious, the woolly-minded or the intellectually dishonest, he is a
gently encouraging friend to the young, to the diffident, to those tentatively
feeling their way into the life of the freethinker and not certain where it will
We treasure his bon mots and I'll just quote a few of my favourites.
From the penetratingly logical . . .
> "That which can be asserted without evidence,To the cuttingly witty:
> can be dismissed without evidence."
> "Everybody does have a book in them, but inTo the courageously unconventional:
> most cases that's where it should stay."
> "[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor.The following is vintage Hitch:
> She was a friend of poverty.
> She said that suffering was a gift from God.
> She spent her life opposing the only known
> cure for poverty, which is the empowerment
> of women and the emancipation of them from
> a livestock version of compulsory reproduction."
> "I suppose that one reason I have always detestedAnd what about this:
> religion is its sly tendency to insinuate the idea
> that the universe is designed with 'you' in mind
> or, even worse, that there is a divine plan into
> which one fits whether one knows it or not. This
> kind of modesty is too arrogant for me."
> "Organised religion isAnd this:
>> allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry,
>> invested in ignorance and
>> hostile to free inquiry,
>> contemptuous of women and
>> coercive toward children."
> "Everything about Christianity is containedHis respect for women and their rights shines forth:
> in the pathetic image of 'the flock'."
> "Who are your favorite heroines in real life?Though not a scientist and with no pretensions in that direction, he understands
> The women of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran who
> risk their lives and their beauty to defy the
> foulness of theocracy."
the importance of science in the advancement of our species and the destruction
of religion and superstition:
> "One must state it plainly. Religion comes from theHe has inspired and energised and encouraged us. He has us cheering him on
> period of human prehistory where nobody not even
> the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter
> was made from atoms had the smallest idea what was
> going on. It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy
> of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our
> inescapable demand for knowledge (as well as for
> comfort, reassurance and other infantile needs). Today
> the least educated of my children knows much more about
> the natural order than any of the founders of religion . . ."
almost daily. He's even begotten a new word the hitchslap. We don't just
admire his intellect, we admire his pugnacity, his spirit, his refusal to
countenance ignoble compromise, his forthrightness, his indomitable spirit, his
And in the very way he is looking his illness in the eye, he is embodying one
part of the case against religion. Leave it to the religious to mewl and whimper
at the feet of an imaginary deity in their fear of death; leave it to them to
spend their lives in denial of its reality. Hitch is looking it squarely in the
eye: not denying it, not giving in to it, but facing up to it squarely and
honestly and with a courage that inspires us all.
Before his illness, it was as an erudite author and essayist, a sparkling,
devastating speaker that this valiant horseman led the charge against the
follies and lies of religion. Since his illness he has added another weapon to
his armoury and ours perhaps the most formidable and powerful weapon of all:
his very character has become an outstanding and unmistakable symbol of the
honesty and dignity of atheism, as well as of the worth and dignity of the human
being when not debased by the infantile babblings of religion.
Every day he is demonstrating the falsehood of that most squalid of Christian
lies: that there are no atheists in foxholes. Hitch is in a foxhole, and he is
dealing with it with a courage, an honesty and a dignity that any of us would
be, and should be, proud to be able to muster. And in the process, he is showing
himself to be even more deserving of our admiration, respect, and love.
I was asked to honour Christopher Hitchens today.
I need hardly say that he does me the far greater honour, by accepting this
award in my name.
Ladies and gentlemen, comrades, I give you Christopher Hitchens.
That was courtesy of Xxxxx Xxxxx...!