Some of you may remember a post I wrote a couple of years ago about my disillusionment with Richard Dawkins. A copy of that post is here. Yesterday I was reading one of our local papers and I came across this rather dodgy article here, which took me to the original, but equally dodgy article in the Daily Telegraph here.
I have not significantly changed my views of Dawkins in the intervening period, but articles and attacks such as this and the one that occurred on Radio 4 last week, where he forgot the full title of Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ does incline me to soften my opinion of him. Some of those attackers are so fatuous in their methods that it must be extremely tiresome for him.
Essentially, what the article says, is that Professor Dawkins bears responsibility for the sins of ancestors, some of whom were slave traders and owners. The writer, one Adam Lusher, even suggests that Dawkins must possess slave-owning genes. As Dawkins points out, in his rebuttal here, even if there were such a thing, after 7 generations, he would only have 1/128th of that slave-owning ancestor’s genes in him. Even the Bible only condemns descendants for the sins of their fathers to the 4th generation: “a nice example, incidentally, of biblical morality”.
I continue to stand by what I said in my original post, but I do believe that these silly assaults on Dawkins are beginning to backfire, in much the same way that his overly enthusiastic attacks on religion and its adherents backfired. I think that he has realised that a calmer approach might achieve better results.
On his own site, Prof Dawkins says that it is only because the direct patrilineal line links him to his ancestor that his connection was identified. He told Mr Lusher that it is very likely that most people inBritainare descended from slave owners and indeed from slaves themselves. I know that I am – from slave-owners that is.
I won’t bore you all with too many details, but one of my ancestors, was a fellow by the name of Bryan Blundell, who founded the Blue Coat School in Liverpool. Much of his fortune came from trading slaves in the 18th century. Another was a Scotsman by the name of James Crokatt. He went off to Charleston in South Carolina where he made a fortune in trading slaves and indigo. He returned to the UK in about 1750 and bought a huge home, becoming a pillar of society. His son was painted by Gainsborough.
For those of you who do not know, indigo is the blue dye used to colour denim jeans. Perhaps Lusher was correct in his assertion about our inheritance since I own several pairs myself.
Here is my 7th great uncle 1st on left.