When and if the famed biologist and pompositivist (yes, I just made that up) does write his memoirs, that should be the title. Here's one of many reasons why:
Speaking at a university in Spain, he said: "I wonder on what basis anyone can say condoms make Aids worse. The Pope is either stupid, ignorant or dim.
"If people take his words seriously he will be responsible for the deaths of thousands, perhaps millions of people."
As Fr. Thomas Crean ably pointed out in God Is No Delusion: A Refutation of Richard Dawkins (Ignatius Press, 2007), Dawkins might be a fine biologist, but he's not much of a philosopher or researcher or respecter of anything coming from Christian sources. He seems to have a knack for talking about matters he doesn't know much about while acting as though he really does, and he simply assumes that Christians are complete idiots and superstitious fools. (But, hey, it's because of the arrogance gene; he can't help it.)
Someone who does a thing or three about AIDS and Africa is Edward C. Green, described by Christianity Today as "one of the world's leading field researchers on the spread of HIV and public health interventions"; he is the director of the Harvard AIDS Prevention Research Project. Green recently stated:
This is hard for a liberal like me to admit, but yes, it's unfair because in fact, the best evidence we have supports his comments — at least his major comments, the ones I have seen.
What does the evidence show about the effectiveness of condom-use strategies in reducing HIV infection rates among large-scale populations?
It will be easiest if we confine our discussion to Africa, because that's where the pope is, and that is what he was talking about. There's no evidence at all that condoms have worked as a public health intervention intended to reduce HIV infections at the "level of population." This is a bit difficult to understand. It may well make sense for an individual to use condoms every time, or as often as possible, and he may well decrease his chances of catching HIV. But we are talking about programs, large efforts that either work or fail at the level of countries, or, as we say in public health, the level of population. Major articles published in Science, The Lancet, British Medical Journal, and even Studies in Family Planning have reported this finding since 2004. I first wrote about putting emphasis on fidelity instead of condoms in Africa in 1988.
Pope, 1. Dawkins, 0.
As many people have rightly noted, Dawkins' remarks about Benedict being responsible for the deaths of thousand and millions (what, not trillions?), make no sense. He assumes (as many do), with nary a logical twitch, that people will slavishly follow the Pope's exhortations regarding not using condoms while completely ignoring his exhortations to avoid fornication, pre-marital sex, homosexual sex, and extra-marital sex. You don't need a microscope or fancy theories to know how silly that is.
Pope 2. Dawkins, 0.
What else? Oh, the Pope has a much better wardrobe and is very polite.
Pope 3. Dawkins, 0.