One sad aspect of the lawsuit recently filed against Josh Timonen by Richard Dawkins is the way that it has inadvertently played out the atheist script generally: reduce an ontological mystery (a mystery of being) to a mere problem or function for rational tallying and management (akin to the tidy plotline of a Scooby Doo cartoon).
Over the past several years, the 70-something Richard Dawkins had clearly latched onto the 20-something Josh Timonen as a father to a son. He loved Josh Timonen. And he gave Timonen the keys, as it were, to his institutional car (management of the website, the website’s store, etc). Dawkins even dedicated his 2009 book, The Greatest Show on Earth, to Timonen. In the mystery of why one human heart latches onto another human heart without limit, Richard Dawkins gave himself to Josh Timonen and not to another. He trusted him explicitly and defended him adamantly against criticism. Like the experience of qualia (the subjective experience, say, of green as green), love is something you either have or you don’t, and the reasons for it are frequently too varied and complex to trace. Love, like color perception and consciousness in general, appears to be overdetermined, and explainable, if at all, only in obituary, in retrospect. It is something that passes by unannounced, a visitation—a profound ontological mystery.
And its betrayal leads to retreat.
The death of love, in other words, lapses into function—a reduction that makes it no longer recognizable, something merely material. This is Keats’s unweaving of the rainbow, and Wordsworth’s murdering to dissect. Josh Timonen, once a part of Richard Dawkins’s informal family, now appears, as Courthouse News Service reports, headed for the dissection table of a court of law:
Dawkins says he asked Timonen to run the store through his company, Upper Branch Productions. Timonen took the reins, Dawkins says, and ran the online store for 3 years, during which he claimed the store cleared only $30,000 and “was just squeaking by.” But the scientist says Timonen actually pocketed $375,000. Dawkins says he found out about the scam this year, when the Foundation decided to wrest control of the store from Timonen. Timonen handed over financial books that detailed his embezzlement, Dawkins says, including $500 meals, trips to Timberline Lodge in Oregon and the Malibu Beach Inn, and $314,000 in “salaries” paid to Timonen and his girlfriend -though Timonen and the Foundation agreed that the $278,000 it was aware of paying him would be his combined salary for running the store and performing his other duties. Timonen’s ”significantly older” girlfriend, defendant Maureen Norton, allegedly used at least $100,000 of the charity’s money to upgrade her Sherman Oaks home before she put it on the market. A recent real estate listing describes improvements such as a “custom backyard pool and spa area with a wonderful waterfall and glass block fire pit plus custom seating for the ultimate outdoor living and entertaining experience,” according to the complaint. Dawkins claims Timonen made off with 92 percent of the money generated at the store in 3 years.
Richard Dawkins’s 18 page court-filed complaint against Timonen is the reduction that occurs upon a perceived betrayal of love. It is the way you respond to someone who is no longer a part of your family. You tally up accounts; you make what was once a spiritual exchange a material exchange—an exchange of money. The spell is broken. Matter is what was really real all along. You were subject to an error of the open heart, a delusion brought by the visiting god of love, a god delusion.