Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Ability Delusion

If his name is unfamiliar to you, Richard Dawkins is a scientist and writer.  Amongst other works, he is well known for his book the God Delusion where he attempts to disprove the existence of a supernatural creator or God. Science usually demands evidence to support a theory and to my knowledge no evidence has ever been presented to prove that God does not exist. Indeed it is impossible to do so as faith and science are uneasy bed-fellows.

However, I’m not writing this blog to re-ignite that particular debate. I’m just teasing out a picture of how unscientific our scientist actually is.

No, today Richard Dawkins has told his one million or so twitter followers that it “would be immoral” to bring a baby with Down’s syndrome into the world if you have the choice.

When asked whether it was civilised that 994 human beings with Down’s syndrome are killed before birth in England and Wales every year, Dawkins replied “Yes, it is very civilised. These are foetuses, diagnosed before they have human feelings.”

Another person then wrote “I honestly don’t know what I would do if I were pregnant with a kid with Down syndrome”

Dawkins: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”

The when Dawkins was quizzed on autism he replied “People on that spectrum have a great deal to contribute, maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. DS not advanced.”

Excuse me a minute (bangs head on desk several times)

No, it’s still there. Apparently it’s true.

Who DOES this man think he is? He doesn’t believe in a superior creator or God, yet he believes that HE is the one who can tell the rest of us what is civilised and what is moral!!!! On what basis?

The damage his comments could do, or already have done, is incalculable.

Under current legislation it is legal to terminate a pregnancy after 24 weeks “if there is substantial risk that the child would be born with serious physical or mental disabilities” – this includes babies with Down’s syndrome.

Life is considered viable after 24 weeks, at which point, it would be wrong to state that it is a fetus without human feelings. In fact it seems that Mr Dawkins is the one without human feelings, so should a similar approach to be taken for any adult without human feelings? #JustAsking

As for the question of autism versus Down’s syndrome, Mr Dawkins has really shown his ignorance of the subject. There are many people who have a dual diagnosis of Down’s syndrome AND autism. In fact, it is likely that there are a great many more without a formal dual diagnosis who have both characteristics.  Dawkins suggests that people with Down’s syndrome have nothing to contribute.

Is he suggesting that MY daughter has contributed nothing for the past 22 years?

Is he suggesting that she has no enhanced abilities?

How can he do so, he has NEVER met her (Yes Mr Dawkins you have made this VERY personal).

I do not feel I need to defend Emily or anyone else with Down’s syndrome. The way they live their lives is defence enough. Unfortunately Richard Dawkins and people who hold similar views, usually speak out of ignorance and intolerance. If he were speaking about people of a particular race, religion, ethnicity, gender, etc his words would be considered a hate crime but, hey it’s ok to talk about people with “disabilities” like that.

I have a theory. I have no science to prove it so I reckon that puts us on the same playing field Mr Dawkins. But here goes….

·         Drug dealers are never people with Down’s syndrome

·         Alcoholics are never people with Down’s syndrome

·         Wife beaters are never people with Down’s syndrome

·         Bank robbers, crooks, fraudsters – Down’s syndrome? NO

·         Murderers, rapists, muggers – Down’s syndrome? NO

·         Paedophiles – Down’s syndrome? NO

·         Liars & cheats – Down’s syndrome? NO

·         Rioters, arsonists and terrorists are never people with Down’s syndrome


The Ability Delusion has sold us a lie where we have come to accept that the things listed above are “normal” and that the way that people with Down’s syndrome live is something which deserves eradication of all human species with trisomy 21.
Now those of us in the know are more than aware that people with Down's syndrome are not angels. They can have tears and tantrums, they can fart and swear just like anyone else. But they bring something out of those of us who get to know them, qualities which we didn't even know we possessed. My development as a human has been enhanced by the presence in my life of Emily and many other people I have met with Down's syndrome. So if evolution really is about the survival of the fittest and the development of the human species we need to have an outlet for those very qualities which make us truly human - patience, compassion, grace, acceptance and love.

So Mr Dawkins, come and talk to me; come and talk to my daughter. Accompany her on a night out with her boyfriend. See what she’s doing in college. Take a look through my photo’s of the past 22 years. Sit in her bedroom and tell me that she does not deserve to live. The least you can do is read Emily’s Room.

If there’s something uncivilised here; if there’s something immoral and without human feeling; if there’s a lack of contribution then it’s all coming from your side of the fence.

And may the God you deny forgive you.



  1. Perfectly put Paul. Just the right balance of reason and anger, which we all feel.

  2. So Paul all alcoholics are as vile as the rest of those in the list?
    I am a lay reader in the C of E . Dry for over twenty years thanks to God.
    Doctors teachers and many other professionals are alkies and you do us all a dis service and insult us all.

    1. Bless you Stuart. I know we debated this on twitter afterwards but as there's a comment here I feel I need to respond.

      I certainly never used the word vile - It's important to read the words I wrote - "alcoholics are never people with Down's syndrome".

      As a lay reader you'll know the scripture, "To the pure all things are pure" - Titus 1:15
      In other words, if you look for good you'll see it but if you look for offence you'll find that. None of us are perfect and no-one is beyond redemption. Well done on 20 years dry by the way, that's a great achievement.

  3. I myself got caught up in his blabber yesterday on Twitter. I responded to his tweets as nicely as possible lol I decided he was a waste of my time! I love what you wrote here, it's perfect! And so is your daughter :)

    1. Thanks Johanna, really appreciate your feedback :)

  4. I saw that Dawkins responded to most of the outcry by labelling it as being based on emotion or religion, but even taken on the most robotic, logical levels it won't stand up with accurate data. I'd also point out that by that kind of rationale he seems to espouse, a 73 year-old man like Dawkins is past his physical prime and probably poses a greater strain on resources and infrastructure than his contributions... a net loss for our society. The kind of world he'd like to live in wouldn't even have room for him anymore.

  5. This is absolutely fantastically written. I know I'm late reading this but I'm so glad I came across this. I too have a child with Down's syndrome - a little boy called Asa, aged 2, and I'm also a Christian. Dawkins annoyed me on a few levels. As a scientist, he is wrong. As a human, he is the immoral one. I loved your comment about may the God he denies forgive him.
    Thank you for blogging, friend :-)

    1. Thanks Lizz I really appreciate your kind words. I was so angry on many levels about Dawkins, this was my response within hours of his tweets. I just can't get my head round how some people think. It's like his world is still flat!

  6. Brilliant post - I've just alluded to similar on Hayley's post. His narrow-minded bigotry is worse than any religion he claims to refute! #TeamT21