Professor Richard Dawkins
Writer Richard Dawkins was giving examples of a "syllogism" logical argumentReuters

Author Richard Dawkins has said on Twitter that while "date rape is bad", "stranger rape at knifepoint is worse".

The atheist writer, known for his 2006 bestseller The God Delusion, said he was not endorsing rape, but instead giving examples of a "syllogism" logical argument where comparisons do not indicate any approval of either.

He also contrasted "mild" paedophilia with the "violent" kind, after starting the discussion using an X and Y example.

"Mild paedophilia is bad. Violent paedophilia is worse. If you think that's an endorsement of mild paedophilia, go away and learn how to think," his tweet read.

Dawkins then went on to use sexual violence as an example.

"Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that's an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think," he wrote.

While some of his 986,453 followers approved the argument, other responded less positively.

One wrote: "Do you genuinely not understand that the issue people have is with you grading individual cases of rape?"

"You don't understand that using rape to make a point could upset people? You're a bit of an idol of mine but this is wrong," another tweeted.

Meanwhile, others agreed with the evolutionary biologist's X and Y example of syllogism.

Another user wrote: "People seem to be too caught up in the example used to see the logic behind them. It is simple and truthful logic."

Dawkins ended the discussion by tweeting that people on Twitter "think in absolutist terms".

In 2012, Dawkins sparked fury by suggesting a spate of child sex abuse scandals had been overblown.

In an interview in the Times Magazine, he said: "Just as we don't look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild paedophilia, and can't find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today."