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Dr. Richard Dawkins On Education, 'Innocence of Muslims,' and Rep. Paul Broun 862

Posted by Roblimo
from the choosing-between-science-and-some-hairy-guy-in-the-sky dept.
In this video interview (with transcript), Dr. Richard Dawkins discusses religious exceptionalism with regard to the teaching of evolution, and the chilling effect of fundamentalism on the production of scientists and engineers. He says, "I can think of no other reason why, of all the scientific facts that people might disagree with or disbelieve, [evolution] is the one they pick on. Physics gets through OK. Chemistry gets through Ok. But not biology/geology, and I think it's got to be because of religion." He also addresses the recent comments from Rep. Paul Broun, who denounced evolution and the Big Bang theory as "lies straight from the pit of hell," and the recent Innocence of Muslims video that led to unrest in various parts of the world. "Freedom of speech is something that Islamic theocracies simply do not understand. They don't get it. They're so used to living in a theocracy, that they presume that if a film is released in the United States, the United States Government must be behind it! How could it be otherwise? So, they need to be educated that, actually, some countries do have freedom of speech and government is not responsible for what any idiot may do in the way of making a video." He also has some very insightful comments about religion as one of the most arbitrary labels by which people divide themselves when involved in conflict. Hit the link below for the video.

Slashdot: In a recent Gallup poll, it's been shown that the American population has shown no change over the past thirty years in their acceptance of evolution as truth. Why do you think that is?

Dr. Richard Dawkins: Well, I'm aware of that. It's a disturbing fact. This is Gallup poll results. It's slightly unfortunate in a way, that the way that they phrased the question in that particular Gallup poll is to say, on the one hand, mankind was created more or less in its present form some time during the last 10,000 years. Or.. the right answer.. evolution. Or, God had nothing to do with it. And, that "God had nothing to do with it" kind of puts people off. Nevertheless, that's the way Gallup phrased it. And, you're right that the poll hasn't changed. It's somewhere between 40%, 45% consistently.

I think religion is to blame. I mean, I can think of no other reason why, of all the scientific facts that people might disagree with or disbelieve, this is the one they pick on. Physics gets through OK. Chemistry gets through OK. But, not biology/geology and I think it's got to be because of religion.

Slashdot: Is that something you think can be easily remedied through education?

Dawkins: It should be. Education is the answer to the problem. I think that scientists are somewhat to blame for not getting out more and bringing their subject to people. So, I think we're not entirely blameless of that. The evidence is absolutely clear, isn't it? No doubt about it. It's not the sort of thing that one can be at all doubtful about, once you've seen the evidence. And, clearly, most people haven't seen the evidence. You've only got to talk to people who call themselves creationists to realize they haven't the faintest idea what the evidence is, or indeed, what evolution is.

Slashdot: Do you think there's a better way that people could be shown what the evidence is?

Dawkins: Well, there are books. There are plenty of television documentaries. There are plenty of websites that you can go look up Q & A and things. There's quite a lot of stuff out there. I'm not quite sure what that better way would look like, but I'd be grateful for any suggestions.

Slashdot: Earlier this year, the Tennessee State Legislature passed a law [allowing] public schools to teach the controversy with regard to evolution, global warming and a few other scientific theories. Much more recently, Representative Paul Broun, a Republican in Georgia, said that evolution, embryology, the big bang theory--are "lies straight from the pit of Hell." How does that tie in with the educational aspect? It seems to me, you're working at two problems. You have students who are not educated, with respect to evolution, the big bang theory, and similar things. And, those students grow up to be voters and legislators, who are now contributing the the problem.

Dawkins: It's very evident that Representative Paul Broun is uneducated, ignorant, probably stupid, too, which is very sad. It's very sad that somebody as ill-qualified to hold high office as that has been elected. There was a rather amusing tweet I saw on Twitter, which went something like this. "Doctor, you say that brushing teeth is a good way to keep them healthy. I say smearing them with chocolate is. Let's teach the controversy!" And the fact is, there is no controversy about evolution. It's a fact, demonstrated beyond all possible doubt by scientific evidence. Every qualified person who looked at the evidence agrees that it's an absolutely secure fact. There is no controversy to teach.

Slashdot: What is the effect, do you think, of this unwillingness to commit to science, on the production of scientists and engineers. In other words, if you suddenly could wave a magic wand and solve all these issues, do you think we would see more engineers and scientists come out of this country?

Dawkins: Yes. I mean, it's an odd fact that the United States is, beyond any doubt, the preeminent scientific power in the world. No doubt about it. Measure it with Nobel Prizes, with numbers of scientific papers published, and so on. It is the world leader. Yet, at the same time, it's being dragged backwards by nearly 50% of the population, who are anti- intellectual, anti-education, despise people who have education, and it's a big problem. Fortunately, the 50% who are doing the right thing are so good that they are still pulling the country in the right direction.

Slashdot: Is it important to focus on the United States and similar countries in this matter? Or, for example, South Korea recently had a win, actually, in which they kept the teaching of creationism out of their school textbooks. Is it more important to focus on the larger, more established educational systems, or to get into the smaller ones before that?

Dawkins: Yeah. I wouldn't say more important, but it sort of hits one in the gut, rather, that a country like the United States, which is so ahead of the field in half the country should be so way backward in the other half. It does rather stand out like a sore thumb in world statistics, but it's still important to teach in other parts of the world. Particularly, the Islamic part of the world, which is shrouded in darkness, really, educationally speaking, in this field.

Slashdot: Speaking of which: the recent controversy over the "Innocence of Muslims" video. Could you talk a little about that, and what you think the repercussions it's had throughout the world?

Dawkins: I've only seen the trailer for that video. It's quite astonishingly badly done, as everybody agrees. So, the fact that the Islamic propagandists decided to pick on that one is extremely unfortunate. They should simply have ignored it. Everybody else would have ignored if they had. So, that's a deplorable incident. On the other hand, freedom of speech is very important. Freedom of speech is something that Islamic theocracies simply do not understand. They don't get it. They're so used to living in a theocracy, that they presume that if a film is released in the United States, the United States Government must be behind it! How could it be otherwise? So, they need to be educated that, actually, some countries do have freedom of speech and government is not responsible for what any idiot may do in the way of making a video.

Slashdot: I want to read a quote from an article you wrote earlier this year. You said, "My point is not that religion itself is the motivation for wars, murders and terrorist attacks, but that religion is the principal label, and the most dangerous one, by which a "they" as opposed to a "we" can be identified at all." Now, nations can be conquered and nationalities can be merged. Racism is slowly getting eroded by education. Do you feel that religion can be educated in a similar way?

Dawkins: The context of the quote which you just read out was probably Northern Ireland, where I had been upbraided for suggesting that the Northern Ireland Conflict is about religion. People said, "no, no, it's about politics. It's about economics. It's about centuries of oppression." Which it is. But, when one group is said to be oppressing another, there has to be some label by which the groups can identify themselves. Now, in countries where there are racial differences, like South Africa, it's easy to see which group you belong to. In countries like Belgium, where there's a linguistic friction between those who speak French and those who speak Dutch, once again, language is the barrier, is the label by which people can identify the "them" or "us." But, in Northern Ireland — and I think probably in the Indian subcontinent — the predominant label, by far, is religion. So, that's how people identify the "them" and "us."

If you think about it, it's not surprising, because psychologists have shown that if you take, for example, children, and give them arbitrary labels — you arbitrarily divide the children into two halve — and give these ones orange t-shirts and those ones green t-shirts, and give them various other labels, they will develop loyalties to those of their own labeled group. And that happens very quickly. Now, if you imagine that you set up a rule, such that oranges only marry oranges, and greens only marry greens, and children of orange couples only ever go to orange schools, and children of green couples only go to green schools, and you carry that on for 300 years, what have you got? I mean, you've got a deep, deep division in society. And if it's possible for one of those two groups to oppress the other economically, they will. And then you'll get all sorts of vendettas and feuds developing.

Part 2 of this video will be coming soon.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Dr. Richard Dawkins On Education, 'Innocence of Muslims,' and Rep. Paul Broun

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  • by dskoll (99328) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:36AM (#41765427)

    There were protests about the film in Libya

    The protesters there were religious, no, even if the state is not a theocracy?

    Iran, with a religious institution at the head of government, saw no such unrest.

    There certainly were protests in Iran [cnn.com] with Iran's supreme leader calling the making of the film "a criminal act".

  • by na1led (1030470) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:38AM (#41765461)
    Can you provide ONE example of his Bigotry? I can name thousands of example how Religions around the world are Bigots to non-believers! Mr. Dawkins doesn't go around beheading people for having different beliefs.
  • by AuMatar (183847) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:39AM (#41765471)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller%E2%80%93Urey_experiment [wikipedia.org]

    We can make the building blocks of life from inanimate objects.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:41AM (#41765513)

    have been both a Christian and an Atheist at different points in my life, so have a different perspective than most. Folks like Dawkins tend to be the loudest, but are the most ineffective at changing mids. If I were writing a play book for the Atheist movement, I would instruct all influential Atheists to model Michio Kaku. Dr. Kaku rarely strays into religous discussion, may make peripheral comments but doesn't seek to create a lot of controversy. Instead, he sticks to the main points of what he is proficient at and gives people, even those who are Christian or Muslim, someone to want to emulate. It becomes apparent that he is a non-believer in God, but doesn't alienate those who begin with a diferent viewpoint. Focus on living the life you should and people will follow.

    I'd make a similar argument to Christians. Don't try to be like Ann Coultier or Rush Limbaugh. Like your lives like Mother Teresa who instructed people "to find your own Calcutta". Focus on living the life you should and people will follow.

    -- MyLongNickName
    (Slashdot keeps logging me out when I leave the main page)

  • Re:Theocracies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by venicebeach (702856) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:42AM (#41765523) Homepage Journal

    Rep. Broun needs to learn than belief in god and even Christianity does not mean the big bang or evolution are wrong. One cannot snap their fingers and make a cake; the ingredients must be mixed together and have heat applied. Why should god be able to circumvent the rules just because his cake is the universe?

    I think the obvious answer to that would be because he makes the rules.

    But more importantly, while you are right that Christianity in the general sense is not incompatible with these two scientific theories, certainly a literal interpretation of the Bible is incompatible. You'd have to do some pretty liberal stretching of Genesis to make it fit what we know about evolution. It's a pretty serious problem for Christians that their infallible sacred text contains bad theories about the natural world.

    Note to future religious text writers: stick to unfalsifiable metaphysics and moral advice.

  • by swb (14022) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:44AM (#41765565)

    ...because you'd sound pretty fucking crazy sitting in a flying airplane denying Newtonian physics and most every man-made object in the modern world relies on chemistry to make it -- plastics, composites, even metals.

    Those two fields start out so far ahead in working, every day examples of their basic truths that challenging their more exotic variants seems risky and many of them are too complex for the drooling religious zealots to even begin to criticize.

    Evolution doesn't have those kind of concrete, hands-on examples in every day life (well, OK it does, but...). To most people it's been distilled down to MAN USED TO BE A MONKEY AND GOD DIDN'T CREATE HIM BECAUSE THERE IS NO GOD AND THAT MEANS GAY MARRIAGE IS OK and they just can't accept that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:46AM (#41765597)

    I don't think it is. In his own book, The God Delusion, he gives an example of a PhD Paleontologist who ignored all his education so that he could believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible.

    Then there are the folks, like my father in law (BSME Texas A&M) who will say that current evidence _may_ show that humans evolved on this planet but one day there will be evidence that shows that we were put here. I am not joking or exaggerating. He uses science's own thinking to "show" that they may be wrong.

    All the education in the World will not change the opinion of someone who puts their fingers in their ears and yells, "La la la la la la la ...".

    Religion is all about people's emotional "thinking". When you ask a believer, their "proof" of God or whatever eventually boils down to a feeling. They "know" He exists and by "know" they're talking about their feeling.

    It's that irrational trap humans fall into all the time and they confuse it with rational thought.

  • Re:Theocracies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by number6x (626555) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:48AM (#41765617)

    The 'Inalienable rights' statement is in the Declaration of Independence, not the constitution.

    'Creator' or 'God' is not mentioned in the constitution. Article IV does state :

    "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

    And, of course, the first amendment states:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    Besides, fundamentalist christians should have no problem with a seperation of church and state. The bible explicitly tells them to render unto rome what is rome's and to god what is god's. I'm sure every last fundamentalist preacher and religious order in America voluntarily pays taxes, even though they are exempt by law. If they don't render unto the government what is due, they are not following the word of god and are hypocrites. I'm sure none of them ever do anything hypocritical!

  • by Empiric (675968) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @11:59AM (#41765793)
    Can you provide ONE example of his Bigotry? I can name thousands of example how Religions around the world are Bigots to non-believers!

    Calling all religious believers "delusional" by definition, meets your criteria fully.

    As for "beheading", can you name something within Darwinian Naturalism that argues against it, if it increases the propagation of the behead-ers DNA? Stalin certainly didn't see that reason for restraint that isn't there, and you can easily google millions of examples of his own citizens, believers and atheists alike, killed by this formally-atheistic state. How much of Dawkins' non-correspondence to this demonstrable history of an actual large-scale test case, rather than a fantasy utopian atheist projection, is due not to the fact he -wouldn't-,,but rather -can't-, seems like a germane question. As is the reality of existence before any religion existed to blame--it would have been an ongoing intertribal bloodbath that is the very reason offered for why we exist in our current form and capabilities. Most of these projections against religion, are, simply, an "Argument from the Never-existed" fallacy that doesn't even propose to offer hard metrics, such as statistics, for -relative- comparison on what is a -relative- normative question. Understandably so, since the atheist worldview would lose immediately and overwhelmingly if we introduced actual hard data, simply by reference to the 20'th Century alone.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:00PM (#41765809)

    I'd make a similar argument to Christians. [...] Like your lives like Mother Teresa

    FYI, not everyone holds MT in saintly regard.

    (I don't know enough about her to have an opinion on it.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:01PM (#41765833)

    for goodness sakes, do not try to live your life like mother Theresa.

    There's already enough suffering in the world

  • by na1led (1030470) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:08PM (#41765981)
    People don't kill in the name of Atheism.
  • Re:Theocracies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:09PM (#41766017)

    You'd have to do some pretty liberal stretching of Genesis to make it fit what we know about evolution. It's a pretty serious problem for Christians that their infallible sacred text contains bad theories about the natural world.

    Not really. You see, the way the entire Bible is written, the "literal" meaning isn't as simple as taking the meaning of the individual words and putting them together, and the Bible (from the very beginning of Christianity) has always been looked at that way. For example, if I say someone has the "heart of a lion", I don't mean their ventricular structure is that of a feline animal. Similarly, in Genesis when they list the "days" and the creation of the world, it's an attempt at describing what happened in basic human terms. There couldn't even have been a proper "day" before the creation of the sun. The creation of "light" before the sun/stars is usually taken to be, on the literal level, not referring to electromagnetic waves, but to angelic beings (and the separation of angels and demons).

    In other words, it isn't a scientific text, and shouldn't be read as one. It isn't even trying to describe science, and it's a serious misreading of it to think it is. It's like reading the Iliad as a history book, and complaining about the inaccuracies. That's completely missing the point. Thinking you know better than the Bible because you know more science than it does is not impressive, because the Bible was never trying to describe science.

    To take a more modern example: it's like the people who complain about the unscientific nature of lightsabers in Star Wars. Congratulations on being a pedant (or, if you're George Lucas, introducing midichlorians in an attempt to be "realistic" and ruining the series), but Star Wars was never about the science. Science is nearly the last thing it is about (and in that way, it's pretty similar to the Bible, and yes I did just compare the Bible to Star Wars).

  • Re:Theocracies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ogi_UnixNut (916982) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:11PM (#41766063) Homepage

    But more importantly, while you are right that Christianity in the general sense is not incompatible with these two scientific theories, certainly a literal interpretation of the Bible is incompatible. You'd have to do some pretty liberal stretching of Genesis to make it fit what we know about evolution. It's a pretty serious problem for Christians that their infallible sacred text contains bad theories about the natural world.

    But who on earth is silly enough to take the bible literally? I was brought up a Christian, and not once did anyone tell me that the bible is a literal documentary on events, but rather a collection of stories written after they happened (especially the old testament, which is basically cobbled together from bits of the torah, and some other things). I've also not met a single Christian who takes the bible literally (and I even went to Sunday school).

    The stories are a bit like the Greek myths, they have a moral or ethical point behind them, but in many cases they were written in such a way that your average peasant could understand 2000 years ago. We've developed much since then, and it would be lunacy to take their interpretation of the word of god as the literal truth.

    Don't stick all Christians under your definition, personally I suspect that the Bible literalists are a predominantly American creation, for reasons that are beyond me to be honest...

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:14PM (#41766129) Homepage Journal

    I cannot believe the kind of false equivalency you just shoved out there. You just compared Dr. Dawkins who publishes well researched biological and philosophical books and levels disagreements with the religious against Coulter who literally calls for the outright slaughter(on multiple occasions) of those she disagrees with, and Limbaugh who makes a profession out of repeatedly misrepresenting facts. That's completely unreasonable.

    You make it seem like having publicly stated atheist opinions is somehow equally vitriolic as calling for the murder of those you disagree with. This is why people like Dawkins speak out, because right now, its perfectly acceptable to equate atheists with monsters.

  • by slim (1652) <`ten.puntrah' `ta' `nhoj'> on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:15PM (#41766131) Homepage

    Not to mention that if you have mutation, selection and replication, it's all-but-impossible for evolution *not* to happen. Once you have a single-celled organism with those properties, in an environment ready for colonisation, the evolution of complex organisms to exploit that environment is inevitable.

    Getting that single-celled organism in the first place, that's more of a mystery, but there are several plausible non-religious theories.

  • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:18PM (#41766213)

    Communist personality cults are religious in nature. Same mental bug, different exploit.

    The French Revolution had nothing to do with religion or lack thereof.

    Any other questions?

  • Re:Theocracies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alexgieg (948359) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:21PM (#41766265) Homepage

    You'd have to do some pretty liberal stretching of Genesis to make it fit what we know about evolution.

    Not really. The creation account in Genesis has been understood by knowledgeable Bible followers as not literal since at least the 1st century BC by reading into it a mythic description of Platonic archetypes. These can, in turn, be easily made compatible with modern hard sciences, either directly or via some of its derivative versions, such as Aritotle's. So much so, in fact, that any Christian who follows some version of Aristotle's philosophy, meaning most Catholics and a ton of historic Protestants, don't mind evolution at all, ditto most branches of Judaism, the older Islamic ones etc. What doesn't necessarily mean they profess belief in it, only that they don't mind either way, as it just isn't an important subject.

    The problem you guys have there in the USA with your Bible Belt Christian fundamentalists and related nutjobs is that most of its pastors, priests, reverends or whatever the favored term is nowadays are philosophically illiterate.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:21PM (#41766281)

    Those people weren't killed "in the name of atheism" no matter how much revisionism you shovel at it.

  • Re:Theocracies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bledri (1283728) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:31PM (#41766483)

    In other words, it isn't a scientific text, and shouldn't be read as one. It isn't even trying to describe science, and it's a serious misreading of it to think it is.

    That's all well and good, now how do we get my fellow citizens to stop voting for idiots that believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, that the US is a Christian nation, and that Satan (or God) created the earth with fossils in place to confuse (or test) people's faith?

  • by Marc Madness (2205586) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:37PM (#41766587)

    Why is it bigotry to say that homosexuality should be stamped out, yet not bigotry to say religion should be stamped out?

    There is one difference between the two: religion is a choice, homosexuality is not.

  • by Empiric (675968) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:39PM (#41766625)

    Though you did succeed in creating deep existential angst in me that I may be unable to read, I'll provide the same link to you as I did previously.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_Soviet_Union [wikipedia.org]

    Yes, in fact, people -do- kill "in the name of atheism", provably, as a matter of simple historical fact, and do so by the millions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:47PM (#41766763)

    It's popular to conflate Stalin's insane need to kill people who were "out to get him" with atheism in general. Apparently he killed no atheists, had a sober mind, and his people weren't terrified of whether they would be the next ones to be dragged off to gulags. And yet, mysteriously, when the same thing happens in religious circles, it's always pinned on one or two people, not the whole religion.

    In other words, we KNOW atheists can be brutal murders and dictators. We KNOW religious people can be the same way. And yet, we get dragged down by semantics simply because people are people, regardless of their faith or lack thereof. I would recommend everyone involved in these petty disputes stop leaning on this crutch. It's enough to say "look, both theists and atheists are perfectly capable of inhuman atrocities" without trying to blame the entire camp on a few nuts.

    If you wish to point claims of revisionism, you first have to stop revising history yourself by using logical fallacies.

  • Dawkins generally (Score:4, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:50PM (#41766823) Journal

    I find his comments to be interesting and insightful, but there's a sort of "why aren't people as smart as me?" arrogance behind it all.

    I guess there's no reason someone can't be right AND insufferable.

    It's altogether too easy (and becoming a little tiresome) to point at the excesses of religion and say "look how stupid that is". One can also point to the ample number of murders committed with guns and knives, yet it would be asinine to suggest that guns and knives are therefore valueless.

    PERSONALLY, I suspect that religious faith has lost its attraction to the West largely because we have little to fear. We eat well, we live long mostly-healthy lives, we have comprehensive social systems that by and large will care for us regardless. We have little expectation that a passing famine, plague, or war will kill us, our children, or our community. Why would we NEED Faith or hope that a Supreme Being has some sort of great plan to explain some horrific tragedy we've suffered?

    It's when life hands us inexplicables that we (as a species) resort to (as Dawkins might put it) contrived systems of belief, in order to try to put a human-comprehensible face on the unfeeling universe. Voltaire would call it Pangloss.

    I don't know that this is bad. Genuine hope is a significant predictor of success in otherwise-hopeless situations. Faith can be a moral rudder in times of chaos and change. Sure, it can be (and has been) abused as a justification for horrible conduct and brutality. But it seems to me that humans in general are capable of ample brutality with or without the pastiche excuse of religious doctrine, so I'm hard put to BLAME such conduct on Faith.

  • by tbannist (230135) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:51PM (#41766841)

    Can you provide ONE example of his Bigotry? I can name thousands of example how Religions around the world are Bigots to non-believers!

    Calling all religious believers "delusional" by definition, meets your criteria fully.

    I would like to point out that most of the people that Dawkins is allegedly bigoted against agree with him about most of the other people. The difference between Dawkins and most religious people is that they think that believing in any one of a thousand different gods is delusional, while he believes that believing in any one of a thousand and one different gods is delusional.

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:52PM (#41766857)

    It's popular to conflate Stalin's insane need to kill people who were "out to get him" with atheism in general. Apparently he killed no atheists, had a sober mind, and his people weren't terrified of whether they would be the next ones to be dragged off to gulags. And yet, mysteriously, when the same thing happens in religious circles, it's always pinned on one or two people, not the whole religion.

    Actually, its pinned not only on the whole religion, but on "religion" as a concept. By lots of people. Including, you know, Richard Dawkins. The pointing out of which was sort of a major point earlier in this subthread.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:04PM (#41767079) Journal

    As much as Dawkins may get a little direct, considering the treatment he has been subjected to by some of the True Believers, it's little wonder he says things the way he does. Coreligionists of True Believers seem to be quick to attack Dawkins, but slow to admit that some among them are purely immoral vicious bastards.

    Or as some holy guy who lived in Palestine once said: "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:07PM (#41767139)

    There is one difference between the two: religion is a choice, homosexuality is not.

    They both involve orientations which have a demonstrated genetic predisposition and biological mechanism. They are also both used as labels for sets of behaviors which are choices (the propensity to make the choices are, of course, closely tied to the orientation, but also influenced by social context and other factors.)

  • by bledri (1283728) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:07PM (#41767143)

    Review the defined worldview of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a political entity, and the millions of people killed, internally and externally, by it, to correct your error.

    This is a ridiculous claim. Stalin and friends were not motivated by there lack of belief in a God, they were psychopathic bastards following an ideological dogma. They had the writings of Karl Marx as their sacred books. They were killing everyone that they thought threatened their dogmatic truth, or they didn't like, because of their interpretation on Communism [1]. Their beliefs in Communism where a replacement for religion and in competition with religion. Atheism itself is not a replacement for religion, it makes no claims except "I don't believe there is a God." No sacred texts saying who goes to Heaven, who goes to Hell, who gets to live and who we must kill because of what they eat, love, say, wear, do, or believe.

    And to preempt the whole Hitler thing, he was raised Catholic, alluded to God and a higher power all the time and seemed to believe all sorts of mystical stuff. He may not have been a "true" Christian, but he was no Atheist. And his foot solders were all Catholic and Lutherans. Again, all the killing was in the name of the Fatherland and patriotism fueled by ideology and dogma.

    [1] I have no idea how close Stalin and friends actions were aligned with Marx's writings. It doesn't matter, all that matters is a group of people intent on enforcing their will on others through violence, in support of an unquestionable dogma.

  • Re:Theocracies (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SolitaryMan (538416) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:16PM (#41767317) Homepage Journal

    Rights that have their basis just in mortal reason can always be bent to whatever a person or persons feel is appropriate.

    Except that this is exactly what was happening all the time throughout the history and also happening now.

    It also works both ways: anybody can claim that the right X is not god given and you can go fuck yourself. Which also was happening all the time throughout the history and happening now. For example, see religious arguments against gay marriage.

  • by tempmpi (233132) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:18PM (#41767369)

    delusion: something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated

    Many parts of religious believe is not proven wrong, but unfalsifiability. Wikipedia (and Wordnet) define delusion as

    A delusion is a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary.

    There is no superior evidence to the contrary, just a lack of evidence.

    Calling religious believers delusional is accurate, not bigotry.

    No, it is just crap. There are delusional believers sure, but many believers are not delusional.

  • by hazah (807503) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:36PM (#41767675)

    Calling all religious believers "delusional" by definition, meets your criteria fully.

    So recognizing something for what it is makes one a biggot?! No wonder we are fucked. Ideas like this make any meaningful conversation a figment of the imagination. Political correctness at its worst.

  • by dskoll (99328) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:39PM (#41767729)

    Calling all religious believers "delusional" by definition, meets your criteria fully.

    So it's not a delusion to claim that Eve was created from Adam's rib? Or that Mohammed ascended to the heavens on a magical horse? Or that when you drink wine in the Communion rite, it's actually the blood of Christ entering your body?

    As for "beheading", can you name something within Darwinian Naturalism that argues against it, if it increases the propagation of the behead-ers DNA?

    Natural selection is an explanation of biological evolution. It's not a system for morality; it's simply the way the universe works.

  • by painandgreed (692585) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:49PM (#41767907)

    I think the point is that Stalinist Russia is more commonly know for some other -ism that isn't atheism. The implication is, of course, that the other -ism is the real reason for the persecution of religion in Stalinist Russia.

    I'm sure if you spend some more time studying the subject you will figure it out. While it's true that USSR was officially atheist, the question you need to answer is why it was atheist and why they persecuted religion.

    Well, if atheism gets a pass due to Russia being communist and other political details, then Christianity and Islam should also get a pass though most of history and even in many parts of the current day world as religion again is just being used as political and cultural device of control.

    When it all comes down to it, lots of people blame religion for various things, but if they got rid of religion, the same things would still be carried out in the name of nationalism. Get rid of nationalism and you'll end up with other idealogies being the cause. Get rid of those and it will just default to clan and family matters. Get rid of them and you'll still have the same things being carried out over resources and money, which it could be argued that they are being done for even in all the other cases.

  • by hazah (807503) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:53PM (#41767959)

    Because Atheism is the existence of nothing

    That is, perhaps, one of the greatest delusions of those that claim to "believe".

  • by Belial6 (794905) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:55PM (#41768013)
    One is verifiable real. The other is not.
  • by bhiestand (157373) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:57PM (#41768037) Journal

    The problem with this objection, in contrast to where it actually applies, is that Christianity actually has specific documented definition and norms.

    That there is debate regarding particular points, does not make it an analogous "Scotsman" context any more than it would for physics.

    I was about to mod you "Funny", but I realized you might not be kidding. Definitions of "Christian" are just as open to interpretation as the underlying religious texts. Go ask some southern baptists if Mormons and Catholics are Christians.

    Your argument is "Hitler was not a True Christian because no True Christian would do what Hitler did." Irrespective of whether Hitler was a practicing member of the religious community, had the full support of his church, or justified his actions with Christianity.

  • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @02:21PM (#41768409)
    Puritans weren't fans of Christmas either (it was even banned in Boston for several decades in the 17th century), I suppose you're going to tell me they were not Christian? That's the point... Christianity is actually rather nebulous, which is why there have been so many schisms and heresies, and there are tens of thousands of sects. The fact remains that Hitler spoke of things like 'doing God's work' and the NSDAP colluded with Catholic hierarchies. In fact, after the war was over, the primary conduit for German war criminals to escape the Allies was the Catholic church, whose agents concealed, protected and ferried such criminals to South America.
  • Re:Theocracies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @02:27PM (#41768511)

    100% literally true, including the peculiarities in my translation
    100% literally true, but going back to the Hebrew and Greek might clarify things
    100% literally true in that all of the scripture has an instructive purpose direct from God
    100% literally true, well except for those parts I wasn't thinking about when the pollster asked me
    Not 100% literally true but I answered 100% literally true because the other answers came across as denigrating to the bible

    Some of these answers are less crazy than others.

  • by Creedo (548980) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @02:54PM (#41768929) Journal
    When your god shows up for an interview, let the world know.
  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday October 25, 2012 @03:27PM (#41769463) Homepage Journal

    Your dictionary is broken:

    So is your understanding of what your own dictionary says. "Bigotry 'a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices'".

    Sounds like Dawkins to me. And you, to, if I may say so.

    Your belief that there can be no god despite any evidence whatever takes a lot of faith. Without indication one way or another, the only logical conclusion is agnosticism. However, many of us have had such an indication. [go.com]

  • God (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mrops (927562) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @03:37PM (#41769621)

    In my experience, discussion with a handful of atheist on and off led me to believe that they are only topped by extremists when it comes to discussion on existence of God. Majority of the believers are busy living a life and thanking God once in a while.

    I prefer agnostics to atheist. Atheists, IMO follow a religion that does not believe in God.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @05:56PM (#41771287)

    And we all KNOW, absolutely KNOW that the violence was absolutely due to the fact that they were rejecting religion.

    One sure mark of a fundamentalist is demanding a literally impossible standard of evidence from the people he disagrees with, and only them.

  • Re:God (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rtb61 (674572) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @07:06PM (#41771947) Homepage

    I have to point out that Richard Dawkins was very wrong about one thing, that religion is an arbitrary label behind which people divide themselves. Religion is not so arbitrary in that at all but, has often been specifically selected by psychopathic rulers in order that their people will have less qualms about slaughtering adjoining nations and their heathen non-believers. This slaughter having nothing to do with religion and everything to do with empowering the psychopathic leader by feeding their lusts and ego's, their ability to have the power of life and death over millions, to maim and slaughter them in battle and to publicly torture them to death after wards, all while the psychopathic ruler watches on sating baser sexual and gorging lusts.

    Now that is the true nature of the growth of monotheism, to ensure psychopathic leaders could pervert those religions upon a global scale for conquest et al. Pay very close attention to how often a religion controlled the psychopathic heads of monarchical states and how often the psychopathic heads of monarchical states controlled religion. When in doubt and push came to shove it was priest who ended up being decapitated not royalty. Ahh, religion the tool of tyrants, used far to often do exactly the opposite of what the religion claims to promote, even to this very bloody and I do mean bloody day.

  • Re:God (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz (762201) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:23PM (#41773033) Homepage Journal

    It takes a strong belief (not faith) in your position to claim to be an atheist.

    Atheist == without belief in a god or gods. So, no, it's not about belief. It's about lack of belief.

    All it takes to be an atheist is an honest response of "no" to the question, "Do you harbor or hold any belief in a god or gods?"

    Any position past that isn't definitive of atheism; it's definitive of something else. Because atheism is dead-simple: it's the state of lacking belief. No more, no less; there's no dogma, no catechism, no holy book, no structure, no leaders, no followers, no morals, no ethics, no laws. Any of that shows up, it can be directly attributed to something other than atheism. Which is fine. Where the problem arises is when someone looks at more than the no-belief state and then ascribes that issue to atheism.

    Atheism is strictly a one trick pony. Anything other than a lack of belief in a god or gods is coming from somewhere else.

  • Re:God (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pseudonym (62607) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @10:08PM (#41773323)

    I have to point out that Richard Dawkins was very wrong about one thing, that religion is an arbitrary label behind which people divide themselves.

    On the other hand, it's no more or less arbitrary as any other label which has been used over the years. "Race" or "ethnicity" are just as arbitrary and, indeed, they've often been historically synonymous.

    In Northern Ireland, "Protestant" and "Catholic" started off as proxies for "English" and "Irish" respectively (and later, "republicans" and "loyalists" respectively). It's much the same as in the former Yugoslavia, where Croatian == Catholic, Serbian == Orthodox and Bosnian == Muslim.

    Having said that, you've hit the nail on the head in a grand-sweeping-view-with-lots-of-caveats kind of way. I would argue that Constantine I of Rome was probably a "true believer", for example. Nonetheless, as a general statement, when religion is used as a tool of division by powerful interests, it is invariably a smokescreen for some person or group's power trip, and it's invariably the religion (rather than the powerful interest) which ends up with most of the negative consequences.

    It's even visible in the current US election cycle. Just look at the US evangelical/fundamentalist church's endorsement of Mitt Romney, a Mormon. As much as they talk about religion, when push comes to shove, they're willing to compromise on religion. Because it's not really about religion, and everyone knows it [wordpress.com]. This can only end up badly for US evangelical/fundamentalist Christians. And whatever you think of US evangelical Christians, nobody deserves to be treated like that.

    What's really interesting right now, though, is that as the influence of organised religion declines (being replaced with a combination of disorganised religion and non-religion), the "good causes" being perverted by powerful interests seem to be changing along with it.

    The war in Iraq was launched on the pretext of "freedom" and "democracy". "Freedom" and "democracy" are excellent things. That makes those ideals ripe for, as you say, psychopathic leaders perverting them for conquest et al.

  • Re:God (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Empiric (675968) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @10:25PM (#41773439)

    I am sure that Mr. Dawkins would consider you getting him some more book-cash by buying his anti-theism book, to be a fully acceptable alternative to the listed activities.

    Incidentally, when are we going to stop pretending that this is a question of "anti-evolution"? He doesn't get said book-cash from presenting evolution, he gets it by attacking religion--even with this new tone of playing the victim.

    The clever equivocation of using "evolution" to mean not "evolutionary processes occur" (which most theists agree with anyway, including myself and, say, the entire Catholic Church), but rather the untestable, unscientific position of, essentially, "only evolution occurs" as a causal factor in human origins, I do have to give him kudos for, though. Nice way to set up the False Dichotomy of "science versus religion", even if the "science" presented isn't actually science, but rather an untestable inference in the domain of philosophy.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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