No doubt you’ve heard about Ahmed Mohammed and his clock. The media is all over it, as it seems to be a classic example of injustice. There is some pushback, however, including within the athiest/skeptic community.

Richard Dawkins: OK, fraudulent claiming of an “invention” is not heinous. And he certainly should not have been arrested by the police.

ANCR: @RichardDawkins Taking this a bit too seriously.

Richard Dawkins: @andycrox Many took it seriously (myself included). With the result that this “kid” is now doing very nicely, invite to White House etc.

Richard Dawkins: @smenor @MhaskarChief He didn’t only claim to have built it. He claimed, on Youtube, that it was his INVENTION.

Gut ohne Gott: @RichardDawkins @smenor @MhaskarChief What has this got to do with evolutionary biology or atheism? Why are you so annoyed about this kid?

Richard Dawkins: @I_Love_Atheism Because he disassembled & reassembled a clock (which is fine) & then claimed it was his “invention” (which is fraud).

There’s been some objection that since Ahmed didn’t invent the clock, merely took apart an existing clock and rebuilt it, that this somehow nullifies or reduces the praise he deserves. However, this reminds me of a curious character: as a kid, Richard Feynman took apart radios and strung them up all around his bedroom. It led to a causal job fixing radios, and through trial-and-error he eventually built up an intimate knowledge of how radios work.

Ahmed is no different from Feynman. His clock may not have been a custom circuit-board build, but it’s a tentative step towards that and something we should be fully encouraging. The White House invites and training offers are still well justified. As one site put it,

Ahmed should be proud of his build. All 14-year-olds possess curiosity about taking things apart and putting them together; this is integral to learning and growing, which allows us to understand and master technology. It’s an extremely unfortunate situation that none of his teachers were able to understand the build, nor his intention to connect with them and find someone to foster his creative desires.

It’s a shame that some atheists can’t understand that either.