Renowned atheist Richard Dawkins fired back at the Telegraph today after the paper accused him of profiting—albeit indirectly—from slavery, the Guardian reports. The Telegraph's article notes that Dawkins' great great great great great grandfather, Henry Dawkins, owned 1,013 Jamaican slaves before he died in 1744. Dawkins called the article "a smear tactic" and says the family slave fortune dwindled long before he was born.
According to Dawkins, the Telegraph reporter called him and quoted a Biblical line about the Lord "visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation." The reporter also suggested that Dawkins—an evolutionary biologist—has a "slave supporting" gene. Dawkins writes in his blog that he expected a "smear" after clashing with a former chancellor of St. Paul's cathedral on a BBC program this week. "But in my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined the surreal form this one was to take."