I cannot speak for other village atheists, whom I have not read, but I can take the tenor of man on this topic after even short notice, since I used to be the champion and paladin of the forces of atheism, and I can tell true atheists from false.

True atheists worship nothing. That is the point of atheism and the definition. True atheist do not give a tinker’s damn about the damns of tinkers, because true atheists do not believe in damnation, nor salvation, not any other supernatural folderol.

True atheists do not believe in magic. Hence the true atheist fears no symbols for he holds that symbols are arbitrary and manmade conveniences used by men to convey ideas, one mind to another, having no supernatural powers, eliciting no awe, worthy of no worship. True atheists do not bow the knee to idols for the same reason true Christians do not: because we love the truth, and will not bow to anything false and undeserving.

True atheists do not make and idol out of anything, no, not even science, and we certainly do not make an idol out of atheism. That would be somewhat against the point.

Back when I was an atheist, I had no respect for Mr Dawkins and thought him an embarrassment if not a calamity to the noble cause of godlessness he and I both served. I was a champion of reason over superstition. I could not imagine what in the world he pretended to be.

A champion of reason uses fact, and the logical deductions from facts, as the basis for his beliefs. He does not use falsehood. Why bother? No man shoots blanks at a foe when he had bullets. Only a desperate man does that, one whose arsenal is empty, who hopes mere loud noise might startle the foe.

Likewise, no champion of reason uses unreason, nor thinks so poorly of his foe, as if mere loudness of noise were a substitute for a well laid argument.

I will not in this place recite the arguments and their refutations, nor fisk Mr Dawkins’ many public statements shown repeated to be in error, and not corrected by him. Others have done this ably enough, and the matter would fill a book. If you are not convinced my assessment of Mr Dawkins’ public behavior is just, look for yourself. The matter is public. Read and decide.

For me, my conclusion is this: Mr Dawkins believes the worst of Christianity not because he has examined the evidence, and, after full and fair consideration, decided Christianity is bad. He hates Christianity for reasons no one outside his own heart knows, and he invents flimsy reasons to support and justify the hate.

I do not know what is in his heart, but I know a flimsy reason when I see it. This is not a case of someone sincerely looking at the history of science and concluding that the Church opposed rather than aided it. This is a case of someone losing one religion, and finding another.

In this case, science is being treated not as an efficient and honest method of determining the truth of empirical theories. For him, science is Baal, and idol to whom he bows the knee, and serves and loves, and, like all lovers, inflated the worth with high words of the beloved; and, like all idolators, losing all sight of the plain truth when he bows his trembling head in submission to his false and absurd little godling.

Science, the skeptical study of natural phenomena, makes a bright, splendid, great, fine and honorable branch of philosophy. Science makes a wretched, low, nasty and unsightly idol.

The worship of science inevitably boils down to the worship of professors and grad students, astronomers and botanists, which is to say, un-skeptical acceptance of the authority of anonymous pedants whose work you never check.

Who is less worthy of worship than a pedant?

What is more directly antithetical to skeptical inspection of scientific claims than the gullibility of adorers?

What is more foolish than thinking science can save your soul or build the shining towers of utopia the day after tomorrow, when science never has, never can, and never will make any such claims?

As idols go, Uranus or Apollo, Serapis or Isis, Kannon or Baldir the Bright have far more dignity when placed on a pedestal and worshiped.