Richard Dawkins Retweeted My Article, and What We Can Learn From That

Professor Richard Dawkins at Lib Dem Party Conference, Bournemouth Sept 09. Credit Alex Folkes/Fishnik PhotographyAs you may have heard, the Twitterverse exploded in late August when Richard Dawkins tweeted that it would be immoral to not abort a baby diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

He wrote a blog post clarifying his views the following day, and I wrote an article to help pro-life people understand what Richard Dawkins actually believes.  I explained that while his view is offensive and I disagree with it, it does follow naturally from Dawkins’ beliefs that first-trimester babies are not yet persons.

Here is an excerpt from the article on why I wrote it:

Just like in any dialogue with a pro-choice person, we should start by trying to understand Dawkin’s views, and after what I’ve seen on social media in the last week, I’m concerned that many pro-life people don’t get where he’s coming from.  We should be trying to figure out the answer to this question: Why is Dawkins particularly in favor of abortion when the child is diagnosed with DS?  (I’ll give you a hint: It’s not that he hates people with DS)

I strongly disagree with Dawkins’ views on abortion, but now that I’ve read his article, I’m going to try to explain why I believe his view isn’t as offensive as his first tweet was.  One of the reasons we launched Equal Rights Institute is to help pro-life and pro-choice people to have better dialogues.  I believe a necessary condition of having a good dialogue is accurately understanding what the person in front of you actually believes, which is rarely clear in the beginning of a conversation.  I think trying to get into Dawkins’ shoes will be a good exercise.

To read the rest of the article, go to EqualRightsInstitute.com/Dawkins.

The day after I published the article, Richard Dawkins himself retweeted it to his one-million followers.

richard dawkins retweet with arrow

As you can imagine, our Twitter feeds blew up and I began engaging philosophical atheists on the question of abortion.  Ultimately the article got more than 7,000 views and hundreds of tweets and Facebook shares.

Even more gratifying were some of the comments we got under the article:

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Dawkins comment 2

The approach of the article was different than what pro-choice people would expect from a pro-life advocate, but look at the impact it had on pro-choice people and the opportunities for conversations it gave us!  It takes a lot of patience and discipline to put this approach into practice, but it is worth it because the results are so much better than the results I used to get with my old approach.  I used to post Facebook statuses and tweets along the lines of, “Here’s what this pro-choice person said, and here’s why that doesn’t make sense.”  Those Facebook statuses would get support from other pro-life people, but pro-choice people never responded.  They probably rolled their eyes and moved on.  My tweets linking to the Dawkins piece had a different result.  Many pro-choice people actually considered the piece, and they reacted positively to it.  People who do not generally read pro-life articles got to see the pro-life movement a little differently.

Here’s the point. When you go out of your way to understand people, even when they offend you, they notice.  You help create an environment where you can have meaningful conversations with others, which does not happen if you just follow the temptation to dismiss their view.  Our goal at Equal Rights Institute is to train the pro-life movement, especially college students, to be able to create an environment for dialogue that actually changes people.

Thank you so much for your prayer and financial support.

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The post “Richard Dawkins Retweeted My Article, and What We Can Learn From That” originally appeared at JoshBrahm.comClick here to subscribe via email and get exclusive access to a FREE MP3 of Josh Brahm’s speech, “Nine Faulty Pro-Life Arguments and Tactics.”

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President

Josh Brahm is the President of Equal Rights Institute, an organization that trains pro-life advocates to think clearly, reason honestly and argue persuasively.

Josh uses speaking, writing and campus outreach to emphasize practical dialogue tips, pro-life philosophy, and relational apologetics.

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