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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Is Richard Dawkins the new Auguste Comte?

When the story of sociology is told, people often start with August Comte (1798-1857), who argued on behalf of the study of society using scientific methods. Early in his career he attracted quite a following and was well respected, but in his later years he became somewhat full of himself. Although he was critical of religion for its superstitious beliefs, later in his career he sought to establish a secular universal religion of humanity and declared himself to be its high priest. His friend, John Stuart Mill, sometimes referred to the "good" Comte (the author of the Course in Positive Philosophy) and the "bad Comte" (the author of the secular-religious system).

I don't known if the biologist Richard Dawkins would consider himself the high priest of atheism, but he evidently is getting increasingly full of himself. His website encourages people to join the "Reason Circle" where a donation of $85 per month ($1,020 per year) allows them to get discounts on his merchandise and the chance to meet someone from his foundation (but not Dawkins). In order to meet Dawkins, you need to donate $5,000, and if you'd like to have a private breakfast or lunch with him (I guess dinner's not on the table), you need to fork over $100,000. What a deal.

Note: Source for the portion of this post that concerns Richard Dawkins: The Christian Century, September 17th issue, p. 9.

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