For those who are new to this blog, and the universe in general, and haven't heard of this man, he has recently written a book called 'The God Delusion'. I suppose not everyone thinks it's nonsense, and to be fair, if you actively enjoy being told what to think and how to use dodgy logic to "disprove" God's existence while patronising anyone who has ever had the remotest contact with the world around them, then your ship may just have come in; for everyone else, it's a fairly amusing set of randomly selected factoids which take one's mind on a pleasant ramble through the very shallow end of philospohy until you get to the point where you realise he's actually serious and you throw the book out the window.
But again, I digress.
The mission statement of the charity is available on the RDF website and contains a stark warning for us all:
"The enlightenment is under threat. So is reason. So is truth. So is science, especially in the schools of America."
Now, I don't wish to downplay the number of "Christian" idiots who seem to have wormed their way into schools in the US and here. It is indeed ridiculous to be teaching children that "the entire universe... began after the domestication of the dog". On this point I agree with big Rich, and I suspect that were Jesus still walking on earth and were choosing to involve himself in matters educational, he'd have something negative to say about this too (can you imagine that Board of Governors meeting?). I am fully behind Professor D when he aspires to "[p]romot[e] science as poetry". It can, indeed, be a beautiful thing.
So far, so good.
It all takes a turn for the more sombre, though, when we discover that the Prof has been scuppered in his attempts to give what he could to "various secular and rationalist organizations" by the "major difficulties" in doing this in a tax-efficient way (am I missing something here? - don't you just sign a form?). But fear not! for there is light; why, surely and forsooth, Dawkins himself is
We pause briefly here, to give you time to wipe the tear from your eye and swallow the lump in your throat.
And now we turn to the key question: what will the Richard Dawkins Foundation actually do?
The aims are eleven-fold and can be read in full on the RDF website. I summarise them here for your convenience.
1. Research. Dawkins is ever-troubled by one pesky question... why on earth does anyone disagree with him? Why do so many of us take the broad road of religion and superstition, when we could instead be on the narrow way of education and intelligence? (I kid you not, he does actually say that, although I admit I have paraphrased.) I'm quite tempted to apply for one of the grants he's offering, and then survey all the intelligent Christians I know, just to screw up his statistics.
2. Education. Christians are giving money to promote Creationism, so Dawkins is going to give money to promote Evolution. I'd pity the kids who are left sitting in science class with this particular peeing contest being played out around them, but then I think back to my own schooldays and console myself with the fact that they'll all be passing notes and giggling and ignoring the teacher anyway.
3. Website. The RDF will have a website where you can buy lots of Richard's books and DVDs and follow a link to his other website where you can buy lots of Richard's books and DVDs and also see photos of him.
4. Database of lecturers. Sadly the good prof is unable to speak at everything he's invited to, but if you're organising a talk he'll give you the name of an atheist near you.
5. Merchandise. You can buy Richard's books and DVDs.
6. Publication. Dammit, he's writing more books.
7. Charitable giving by secularists to humanitarian good causes. If there's a disaster and you want to help, but you're worried about your money falling into the hands of those nasty religionists, worry no more... the RDF will provide you a list of non-religious charities. Particularly useful for those who've never heard of, for example, Google.
8. The OUT Campaign. Scared to tell everyone you're an atheist? Not sure how to "come out" in the open? The RDF has the answer - for $20, wear a T-shirt with a big scarlet "A" on it, and tell the world! As an added bonus, and I swear I'm not making this up, it also has Richard Dawkins' name underneath - worth it at twice the price!
9. Consciousness-raising about labelling children. You shouldn't call children 'Christian children' as this is well-known to scar them for life.
10. Think for Yourself. The RDF equivalent of the Sunday morning Children's Sermon. In other words, it's the bit most of the adults really listen to. Children will be encouraged to 'think for themselves'. This sounds good, but I've a feeling it won't be.
11. Conferences. The one you've all been waiting for. Actually hear the Great Bright One speak. Maybe have lunch with him. And get the books and DVDs autographed.
So there you have it. A truly worthy cause. We can only stand and stare in amazement that the world has had to wait so long. And of course we are humbled by Richard Dawkins' near-refusal to even mention his name in relation to this, so little does he want to look like the altruist that he is.
And I thought he was just a self-promoting twit.