Richard Dawkins is moving into some very strange territory:
My man in the pub was at the very low end of what believers will do and pay for: the Richard Dawkins website offers followers the chance to join the ‘Reason Circle’, which, like Dante’s Hell, is arranged in concentric circles. For $85 a month, you get discounts on his merchandise, and the chance to meet ‘Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science personalities’. Obviously that’s not enough to meet the man himself. For that you pay $210 a month — or $5,000 a year — for the chance to attend an event where he will speak.
When you compare this to the going rate for other charismatic preachers, it does seem on the high side. The Pentecostal evangelist Morris Cerullo, for example, charges only $30 a month to become a member of ‘God’s Victorious Army’, which is bringing ‘healing and deliverance to the world’. And from Cerullo you get free DVDs, not just discounts.
But the $85 a month just touches the hem of rationality. After the neophyte passes through the successively more expensive ‘Darwin Circle’ and then the ‘Evolution Circle’, he attains the innermost circle, where for $100,000 a year or more he gets to have a private breakfast or lunch with Richard Dawkins, and a reserved table at an invitation-only circle event with ‘Richard’ as well as ‘all the benefits listed above’, so he still gets a discount on his Richard Dawkins T-shirt saying ‘Religion — together we can find a cure.’
The website suggests that donations of up to $500,000 a year will be accepted for the privilege of eating with him once a year: at this level of contribution you become a member of something called ‘The Magic of Reality Circle’. I don’t think any irony is intended.
At this point it is obvious to everyone except the participants that what we have here is a religion without the good bits.
What a pity for him that “Scientology” is already taken. You know, I’d have a private breakfast or lunch with people for a mere $25,000. Actually, that’s not quite true. I’d have private lunches or dinners. Since I prefer a silent breakfast, accompanied by reading rather than talking, you’re just not going to get your money’s worth.
As it happens, membership in the Dread Ilk is free and BYOG. Which, of course, stands for Bring Your Own Gun. Not that there isn’t a rigorous test, which consists of old-timers such as Nate and the Ghost of Bane staring you and your weapon of choice down with narrowed eyes. If they grunt and turn away, you’re in. If they spit and shake their heads, you’re out. Of course, if you show up with anything in 9mm and you’re not a lady, there is a good chance that if you are accepted, you’ll be sent to the Queer Party Friends brigade. Show up with a Glock and you may as well wear heels.
The most amusing part of the piece is definitely the comments, as the Dicky Dawk cultists show up in force. I’m sure you’ll be very surprised to know that the author, an atheist, is repeatedly assumed to be, and accused of being, a Christian. Because, after all, there can be no criticism of the Great Master that is not rooted an irrational and unscientific attachment to the evilist of all evil religions. They repeat by rote the usual Dawkinsian nonsense such as this:
Why would xenophobia, racism, rape or sexual infidelity be any more wrong if God did exist? You cant get an ought from an is, even if the “is” is devine. If an act is “moral” only because God commands it, then performing that act isn’t morality, merely blind craven obedience to a divine dictator – who, if the Old Testament is to be believed, frequently ordered his worshippers to commit genocide, rape and child abuse.
Morality: “conformity to the rules of right conduct”. So performing the act that God commands, which is conforming to the rules of conduct declared to be right by the Creator, is, without question morality. Whether the conformity is “blind craven obedience” or brave, self-determined voluntary compliance, the act is moral.
Which also means that xenophobia, racism, rape or sexual infidelity can only be wrong IF the intrinsically legitimate superhuman authority a) exists, and b) has set rules of right conduct that those things specifically violate.