Atheist in memory lapse and slavery shock

A riposte to the "smear tactics" used against the evolutionary biologist

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Following Richard Dawkins's Today programme exchange with Giles Fraser over the New Testament and Darwin's On the Origin of Species, the evolutionary biologist and former New Statesman guest editor addresses the "smear tactics" used against him over the past week, first of which was the former canon chancellor's attempt on radio:

Far from being a real gotcha, Fraser's diversionary tactic can only be seen as a measure of desperation, designed to conceal the embarrassing ignorance of their holy book shown by 64 per cent of Census Christians [people who self-identified in the 2001 census as "Christian"]. In any case Darwin's Origin, I hope I don't have to add, is nobody's holy book.

In the cover story of this week's magazine, available in shops tomorrow, Dawkins also presents the results of a large-scale Ipsos MORI poll into Britain's relationship with Christianity. Among initial findings such as that the percentage of the population which describes itself as Christian has dropped from 72 to 54 per cent, Dawkins reports that:

"I try to be a good person" came top of the list of "what being a Christian means to you", but mark the sequel. When the Census Christians were asked explicitly, "When it comes to right and wrong, which of the following, if any, do you most look to for guidance?"only 10 per cent chose "Religious teachings and beliefs". Fifty-four per cent chose "My own inner moral sense" and a quarter chose "Parents, family or friends". Those would be my own top two and, I suspect, yours, too.

Dawkins states that these facts - not negotiable opinions - cannot be changed by smears and irrelevant digressions:

In modern Britain, not even Christians put Christianity anywhere near the heart of their lives, and they don't want it put at the heart of public life either. David Cameron and Baroness Warsi, please take note.

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0-0, yawn yawn - and Everton were just as poor as Spurs

Watching the game was grim. Hearing it, too, would only have made it worse.

Have you ever had a hearing test? Nor me, till last week. I think I can hear OK, just that I’ve started asking my wife to repeat things, usually just one word, that’s all I ever miss.

I’d imagined the nurse would crouch down behind a couch and whisper things you’d have to repeat, a bit like a sight test at the optician’s. Or perhaps you’d get put in front of the TV and they’d progressively turn down the volume really low.

Instead she got out the sort of thing I use in the Lake District to keep down the moles. It’s like a big pencil, with a battery inside, which you put in the grass and it gives a high-pitched ping and drives moles mad.

She stuck it in my right ear and switched it on. I had to put my arm out, then drop it when I heard any pings. I failed one out of five. My left ear was worse – two wrong out of five. So I have to go to the Royal Free. Perhaps the test there will be different: shouting in your ears.

The next day, going to Spurs, the noise, my dears, and the people. I think they’ve trebled the volume of the video nonsenses on the big screen since last season. People were standing with fingers in their ears. The Prem now insists on this manic, faux-operatic music when the teams come out. It was so loud that the teams in fact came out in silence – the silence of the crowd, who usually scream their loyalty, but were overwhelmed by the canned rubbish.

So, what’s new? Spurs’ kit has a slash across the front, as if a car has run over it. That stupid Prem ball, the new multicoloured one. First time I’d seen it close up. Looks like a plastic toy, won at a fairground instead of a goldfish. Apparently it’s Nike’s “Ordem 3”, which boasts a “bold geometric design”. There’s a similar ball for the Spanish and Italian leagues, with slight colour differences, depending on the league. How many fans don’t know which country they’re in?

For years we’ve had new kits every season, just to sell more new kits, then it was multicoloured boots. Now they’re having a go at the balls, just to give us more balls. How about multicoloured grass? It’s been green for years, so boring, come on, Nike.

It was Spurs-Everton. I couldn’t hear what they were singing, until my son translated, yet they were singing something I’m supposed to be an expert on – a Beatles song. It was “Money Can’t Buy You Stones”. Chelsea, of course, has been trying to buy John Stones from Everton. They rather mangled it, trying to make the words fit the tune, or it could have been my ears. Arsenal do it better when singing about Giroud to “Hey Jude”. “Yellow Submarine” is still the all-time Beatles-related football song, especially in Europe. When the Evertonians grew bored with their Beatles pastiche, they fell back on “Fuckoffmourinho”.

Nothing new about Spurs, alas. If anything, they’re back to their dismal, predictable, lumpen ways. They overachieved last season – by being merely mediocre and middling. On Saturday, there was not one Spurs player I was looking forward to watching; Eriksen wasn’t playing.

Harry Kane is a conundrum, for Spurs and England. When you watch him in the flesh it’s clear he has no confidence. His touch has gone; he looks nervous and tired, despite it being so early in the season. Was last season a one-off, his mirabilis moment? I’m beginning to fear so. Earlier in his career he was loaned out several times, which is always a worrying sign – to Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich, Leicester. He did poorly, especially at Leicester, so all my Leicester friends tell me.

Or is it because defences have got wise to him, doubling up and marking him out of the game? Everton hardly worried about him, just let him miss his chances. Having said that, Harry will probably now get a hat-trick for England.

It was 0-0, yawn yawn, and Everton were just as poor as Spurs, both of them giving the ball away, useless at free-kicks and corners. What do they do in training all week?

Spurs roused themselves in the second half and the crowd responded, becoming really, really noisy. So I was told . . . 

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 03 September 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Pope of the masses