Outspoken atheist and scientist Richard Dawkins came under intense Twitter scrutiny after his recent posts regarding Muslim contributions to the science world.
The social media frenzy began on Aug. 8 when Dawkins tweeted, “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”
The tweet elicited a barrage of criticism from the Twitter world with a number of high-profile Twitter users expressing their disgust with his statement that appeared to suggest that Muslims had contributed nothing to science since the Middle Ages.
Dawkins responded by defending his remarks, with tweets such as “Interesting concept: a simple statement of undeniable FACT can be offensive. Other examples where facts should be hidden because offensive?” And further, “A statement of simple fact is not bigotry. And science by Muslims was great in the distant past.”
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Dawkins’ comments prompted writer Caitlin Moran to respond, “Think it’s time someone turned Richard Dawkins off and then on again,” and Channel 4 News Economics Editor Faisal Islam to state, “Actually, over the last two decades, it’s 8-4 against Trinity. I say this as a Muslim alumnus of Trinity College, Cambridge.” Islam went on to further question Dawkins’ “spurious use of data.”
After one Twitter user cited Muslim responsibility for the development of alchemy and algebra, Dawkins sarcastically replied, “Indeed, where would we be without alchemy? Dark Age achievements undoubted. But since then?”
This is certainly not the first time Dawkins, author of the 2006 bestseller "The God Delusion," has come under public scrutiny for his beliefs about religion and, specifically, Islam. In the past, the atheist scientist has labeled religion as “a betrayal of the intellect” and “a betrayal of all that’s best about what makes us human.” In 2012, he described his Catholic upbringing as “worse than child abuse;” in 2010, Dawkins said he felt a “visceral revulsion” upon seeing a woman dressed in a burka. His outspoken contempt for religion has made him no stranger to outrage over his personal beliefs.