The Independent has an entertaining Q&A session with Richard Dawkins, with questions sent in by the public:
What is there to distinguish your intolerance from that of a religious fanatic? TONY REYNOLDS, By e-mail
It would be intolerant if I advocated the banning of religion, but of course I never have. I merely give robust expression to views about the cosmos and morality with which you happen to disagree. You interpret that as ‘intolerance’ because of the weirdly privileged status of religion, which expects to get a free ride and not have to defend itself. If I wrote a book called The Socialist Delusion or The Monetarist Delusion, you would never use a word like intolerance. But The God Delusion sounds automatically intolerant. Why? What’s the difference?
I have a (you might say fanatical) desire for people to use their own minds and make their own choices, based upon publicly available evidence. Religious fanatics want people to switch off their own minds, ignore the evidence, and blindly follow a holy book based upon private ‘revelation’. There is a huge difference.
Other questions range from asking what he does at Christmas to his opinions on global warming, but the most popular topic, bizarrely, is Lalla Ward. Does she say ‘bless you’ when you sneeze? How did you attract somebody so beautiful? Does she still have the sailor outfit?