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South Park on Richard Dawkins
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I just recently saw the two South Park episodes from last season (Go, God, Go!) in which Mr./Mrs. Garrison refuses to teach evolution, so they bring in Richard Dawkins, who ends up falling in love with him/her. Meanwhile, Cartman doesn't want to wait for a Nintendo Wii, so he freezes himself in the snow, but an avalanche covers him up and he wakes up 500 years later instead of three weeks. In the future, everyone is an atheist, thanks to Dawkins, but they are divided into warring factions, fighting over what to call themselves.

So, that could be funny, but there's usually a somewhat serious point lurking in satire, and it seemed to come out when the atheists of the future reflected on what their great historical leader Richard Dawkins had taught them: That it's not enough to rely on science and reason...if other people don't have the same ideas as you, you need to act like a dick.

The writers are pretty much trashing Dawkins for "being a dick" to religious people who don't share his beliefs. They also show him ramming Mr./Mrs. Garrison from behind, which actually seems like a much milder offense. You could argue that's not what they're saying, or that I'm taking SP a little too seriously, but that sure seemed to be one of the major points they were making, and frankly, it's pretty stupid.

Dawkins is quite more even-handed in his tone than most people give him credit for, and it's one thing to disagree with other people and rigorously criticize their ideas, but he has never advocated fact just the opposite.

And when it comes to being a dick and striking the right tone, exactly what is the most polite way to tell someone that their beliefs are not reasonably justified? The alternative would be to keep your mouth shut, but if religious ideas are such good ideas, then they should be able to stand up to a little scrutiny, shouldn't they? So what's the harm?

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