I recently read a news article claiming that Richard Dawkins was now promoting cannabilism. It’s based on a tweet from March 3rd referring to an article in the UK’s Independent about research turning livestock stem cells into what they called “clean meat” and of the possibility this lab grown meat could be onsale by the end of this year.
Here’s the tweet from Professor Dawkins:
I looked at Professor Dawkins’ timeline since this tweet and he has made no further comment. In the past, as many of us are aware, Dr. Dawkins has tweeted on topics that weren’t clear to many and ended up coming back on Twitter to explain exactly what he meant.
This seems unambiguous.
The reason I’m somewhat disturbed by this tweet is Dawkins’ standing as an atheist. Don’t get me wrong, I have enormous respect for him as both an atheist and a scientist. He’s done more to promote science in my lifetime than probably any living scientist. As an atheist,for decades he has written and spoken about the negative effects religion has on society.
Therefore, especially in the media, he has become the de facto go-to atheist as if he represents atheism as a whole. He is probably the best known atheist, and I do like how he is unflinching in his critique of religion, but sometimes the media conflates what he says with atheism as a whole.
Of course, Dr. Dawkins can say or tweet what he wants. I do, and I would daresay all of us do at one time or another. But nothing I tweet about is taken as representative of atheism. Atheists already are perceived negatively in society, and this does nothing to obviate those impressions.
I haven’t seen this going viral as yet. The tweet is 2 weeks old. Let me know in the comments if you’ve seen otherwise.
I think, in a way, Dr. Dawkins did “step in it.” He should, as a prominent atheist be more cognizant of what he’s tweeting.