Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dawkins and Religion

James Crossley has a nice review of the U.K. Channel 4 program by Richard Dawkins, the leading scientist who loves telling us things we don't want to hear and need to hear. His recent dangerous idea for The Edge was beautiful, and unsettling to people. I agree with James, however, that he tends to go off the deep end with his anti-religious rhetoric.

James acknowledges "perfectly sensible points" made by Dawkins in his attack on religion, while noting that religion can hardly absorb all the blame Dawkins wants to dump on it. He writes:

"I don't think by itself [religion] is inherently good or evil (in some ways like science you could say). As I've said before, in most cases it requires some kind of specific socio-economic context to trigger off deadly responses."

Not only this, but we should be under no delusion that the evils of the world would have been diminished had religion never appeared on the scene. Stalin and Pol Pot weren't motivated by religion. The simple fact is that homo sapiens are, biologically, a violent, discriminatory, and unhappy lot, and we're always going to try to justify our hurting others and discriminating against them, whether by religion or not. A scientist like Dawkins should realize this. It should also be noted that religion has been part of the critique against injustice and ignorance, just as it has been a perpetuator of them.


Anonymous Matt B said...

Even though I'm an atheist/agnostic, Dawkins still turns me off with his rabid anti-religious rhetoric. He's doing more harm than good by hardening the feelings of antipathy towards science among religious folks. As you pointed out, people will always harbor comfortable delusions and will always find excuses for justifying the unjustifiable, with or without religion.

Much of the evil perpetrated by organized religion, and politics, is not due to belief in God, the supernatural, or the illogical. It's the establishment of an ideological authority, be it a priesthood, dictatorship, or the GOP, which claims to have all the answers, demands unquestioning loyalty, manipulates people's fears and inherent "us versus them" mentality to cement that loyalty (and distract from its own shortcomings), and considers any questioning of its dogma as a threat to its power.

Blogger James Crossley said...

It is interesting that the secular equivalents given like Stalin or whatever have similarities to Dawkins' view (NB Dawkins' view) in that that it requires belief in all sorts of things grounded in a great figurehead who knows all etc.

Blogger raz said...

I would definitely blame organized religion for much of the world's ignorance and inability to unite. Organized religion for the most part does not value change or growth and would rather hold strict traditional ceremonies than help to better the world. A religion should not harvest money or power or political recognition of any sort. Since these components are a part of religion, war, hatred and rivalry are a natural consequence of religion. This is not an attack on the concept of God or whatever beliefs one may hold. This is only an attack on the human beings that believe they can grasp the rule of God on earth by manipulation, greed and war. Human beings should not get involve in dictating God's word because it is too mysterious and impossible to fully grasp. So yes, religion can and should be held responsible for the ignorance it spreads to the world.


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