Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

Dr. Richard Dawkins On Why Disagreeing With Religion Isn't Insulting 1152

Posted by Roblimo
from the there's-no-offense-where-none-is-taken dept.
In part 2 of this video interview (with transcript), Dr. Richard Dawkins explains the function of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, headlined by his website. They're holding it up as a blueprint for similar groups: "We're trying to encourage, with some success, other organizations to make use of our facility, so that they will use our website, or have their own websites which are based upon ours, and have the same look and feel and use the same infrastructure." One of the Foundation's other purposes is to oppose organizations like the Good News Club. "What it is, is a group of Fundamentalist Christian organizations, who go into public schools after the school bell has rung for the day. So that it's no longer violating the Constitutional separation of church and state. ... And it's actually the Good News Club people masquerading as teachers, and they're being extremely effective." Dr. Dawkins also talks about his own comments, and explains why they're perceived as offensive: "Ignorance is no crime. There are all sorts of things I'm ignorant of, such as baseball, but I don't regard it as insulting if somebody says I'm ignorant of baseball, it's a simple fact. I am ignorant of baseball. People who claim to be Creationists are almost always ignorant of evolution. That's just a statement of fact, not an insult. It's just a statement. But it sounds like an insult. And I think that accounts for part of what you've picked up about my apparent image of being aggressive and offensive. I'm just telling it clearly." Hit the link below to see the rest of the interview.

Dr. Richard Dawkins: The central focus of our operation is our website, www.richarddawkins.net, which gets a lot of hits. It gets about a million hits a month, and lots of things go on it. We are trying to serve as a sort of service to other free-thinking, atheist, skeptical websites who perhaps haven't made quite such a professional job of it, because they tend to be run by volunteers, whereas we have salaried employees to make a really professional website with a very large number of hits. And we're trying to encourage, with some success, other organizations to make use of our facility, so that they will use our website, or have their own websites which are based upon ours, have the same look and feel and use the same infrastructure. So that's a big project, which is expensive, and it's a big thing that we're working on.

Another specific thing we're working on is the Good News Club, which, I don't know whether you know about this, is an extremely pernicious organization in the United States. In fact there's a book about it by Katherine Stewart called The Good News Club. She's an investigative journalist who has uncovered it all. What it is, is a group of Fundamentalist Christian organizations, who go into public schools after the school bell has rung for the day. So that it's no longer violating the Constitutional separation of church and state. The school day's over, and they swoop in and, as it were, carry on with their "club." But as far as the children are concerned, they look just like teachers.

So when a member of the Good News Club tells children "You're going to Hell because you're a Jew," or something like that, which they do, or tell children to tell other children they're going to Hell because they're Jewish or Catholic or something, as far as the child is concerned, it sounds like a teacher. And Katherine Stewart documents children who will then go to their parents and say, "The teacher told us that we or somebody else are going to Hell," and the parents are bewildered because they know that the teachers shouldn't be doing that. And it's actually the Good News Club people masquerading as teachers, and they're being extremely effective. They're very, very well-funded, as many Christian organizations are, and very well-supported by local organizations.

They're operating all over the country, and indeed, all over the world. They've actually got branches in almost every country of the world now. And we are going to try to help organize some opposition to this. The Good News Club happens to be concentrating next year on Denver, Colorado, which is close to where we have one of our branch offices. So we're going to try to move in to Denver to try to do something about their assault on the children in the public schools of Denver.

Slashdot: In a TED Talk you gave a few years ago, you finished by speaking about how 9/11 changed you, and said "Let's all stop being so damned respectful."

Dawkins: Yes.

Slashdot: How do you feel your approach differs from people who are more apologetic, or more respectful?

Dawkins: Well, as I said, the appearance of my being not respectful is greatly exaggerated by the presumption that religion is owed respect. I didn't mean we should be specifically disrespectful to religion. I just meant that we should not treat religion as any more immune to disrespect or ridicule or satire than anything else.

There's another thing I'd like to say, which arose after the previous question you asked. To many people, clarity is threatening. There are many people, we'll call them apologists or accomodationists, who, as it were, go 'round and 'round being so diplomatic you can hardly understand what they're saying. And I do believe in "Let your yea be yea and your nay be nay." I do believe in just speaking out truthfully.

So without being particularly deliberately offensive or insulting, just tell it like it is. Just be clear. And clarity, as I say, can sound insulting. A good example of this was a few years ago when I wrote a book review, I think it was in the New York Times, about a book that I think was about Creationism. I said "Anybody who claims to be a Creationist is either stupid, ignorant, or insane. Probably ignorant." Ignorance is no crime. There are all sorts of things I'm ignorant of, such as baseball, but I don't regard it as insulting if somebody says I'm ignorant of baseball, it's a simple fact. I am ignorant of baseball. People who claim to be Creationists are almost always ignorant of evolution.

That's just a statement of fact, not an insult. It's just a statement. But it sounds like an insult. And I think that accounts for part of what you've picked up about my apparent image of being aggressive and offensive. I'm just telling it clearly.

Slashdot: Is there anything that can be done to tone the debate down, so that statements like that aren't considered offensive to other people here?

Dawkins: I'm not sure toning it down is the right approach. I think that the right approach is to raise consciousness to the idea that there's nothing special about religion that deserves respect; so whatever you would say about something you disagree with. If you're having an argument about which is the best baseball team, you can have that argument and it's not taken as an insult to disagree with something. People need to stop cosseting religion, as though a disagreement in religion is something like a personal insult.

If I say "I think you're wrong about your God," it's not the same as saying, "I think you've got an ugly face," or "You smell," or something. But there are people who think it is, and I think we need to raise consciousness that it isn't a personal insult. It's just simply an argument about the way the cosmos is and the way morality is and so on.

Slashdot: Thank you for your time.

Dawkins: Thank you very much.

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

Dr. Richard Dawkins On Why Disagreeing With Religion Isn't Insulting

Comments Filter:
  • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:05AM (#41804477) Homepage Journal

    He made a pretty good point there. There's only solution I've found to the problem of people taking your disagreement as an insult, and that is to pose every concern as a question for more detail. I've found it's a lot easier to do such conversations one on one as well, which I think is an often overlooked component of why debates on the internet seem so pointless and shouty.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:25AM (#41804777)

      The line between religion and politics is coercion. It's important to realize (or accept) that pure religion is not coercive -- the only threats of violence one recieves in pure religion come from the immortal (god), not the mortal (other human beings). This isn't something to become angry about or fight against. It's merely something to be brushed off.

      The situation is the exact opposite in politics. In politics, every opinion is essentially a threat of violence. Why? Because everything government does and could possibly do is founded on coercion (meaning violence or threat of violence). Coercion is the first prerequisite and key tool of every government, and accordingly it is the end prize that goes to the "winner" of politics. This is why people are so sensitive to political issues, whether they consciously accept it or not: if they lose, then the enemy gains the tool of violence.

      The only possible way religion can threaten peace is when religion becomes intermixed with politics, thereby gaining the tool of coercion. It is therefore quite pointless to be "against" religion when religion is independent of politics -- there is no enemy to be concerned with!

      In conclusion, religion is a non-issue for the non-religious. The only issue of importance is coercion, and who holds the legal "right" to wield it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm pretty sure a lot of religion is heavy into the idea of sending you to HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY if you don't follow the rules.

        Is that not coercive?

        • by Phreakiture (547094) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:44AM (#41805085) Homepage
          That would only be coercive if they take it upon themselves to send you there personally.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I specifically made a distinction between a threat from the immoral (god) and a threat from the mortal (other human beings). If you don't believe in the religion, then logically, any coercive threats from their god are irrelevent to you!

          • by SecurityGuy (217807) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:06AM (#41805517)

            a threat from the immoral (god)

            Awesome Freudian slip.

          • by tehcyder (746570) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:38AM (#41806115) Journal

            I specifically made a distinction between a threat from the immoral (god) and a threat from the mortal (other human beings). If you don't believe in the religion, then logically, any coercive threats from their god are irrelevent to you!

            That would be fine if no one with religious beliefs ever talked about them in public or allowed them to influence their politics. As soon as retards in Iran or the US start using holy books to justify wars or other idiocies, religion has lost its claim to be merely an innocent bystander.

            • by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @07:35AM (#41828929)

              I specifically made a distinction between a threat from the immoral (god) and a threat from the mortal (other human beings). If you don't believe in the religion, then logically, any coercive threats from their god are irrelevent to you!

              That would be fine if no one with religious beliefs ever talked about them in public or allowed them to influence their politics. As soon as retards in Iran or the US start using holy books to justify wars or other idiocies, religion has lost its claim to be merely an innocent bystander.

              Let's take religion out of it for a second...

              That would be fine if no one with beliefs ever talked about them in public or allowed them to influence their politics.

              Because even an agnostic can have irrational beliefs not based on religion. Much current legislation on drugs is belief-based, and not religiously so. Much economic theory is belief-based, and the economic crisis has already shown us how misjudged some of those beliefs are. And yet we allow legislators to force "austerity measures" based on a political/economic ideology, even though it flies in the face of all evidence, and we continue to ban recreational drugs on the grounds of various societal ill-effects that have no evidence, even though prohibition has immediately obvious ill-effects (from causing crime, to the availability of dangerous impurities in the supplied product).

              So seriously, when people keep saying that religion is fine, but that anyone with a religious view should be banned from public office (or worse still, banned from voting), I feel compelled to point out that religion is no different from other societally-conditioned views. It's just conditioned by a particular mechanism.

        • by fadethepolice (689344) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:29AM (#41805961) Journal
          I am not a christian, just have studied this subject. Usually this is what a religion becomes after selfish people twist it to their own ends. Jesus was crucified because he told people they don't have to pay the jewish priests to get married or to bless their milk, and for also telling people that if they are sick of taxes they should give caeser all of his gold back and just share the food. (often misinterpreted as a reason to pay taxes "give unto caeser..." but which actually meant not just the taxes, but all of the money. This would be more in context with his teachings than saying pay your taxes.) So. You see, jesus was crucified for saying "You won't go to hell for disobeying the rules" I find that so entertainingly ironic, and the flips jesus has been doing in his grave for the last 2000 can easily be misinterpreted for rising from it.
      • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:43AM (#41805073) Homepage Journal

        Forgive me for being dismissive, but this is typical libertarian silliness.

        My points of disagreement:
        1. Governments are not the only organizations capable of coercion. One only need read about organized campaigns of threats and harassment against those observed entering abortion clinics to know how religious organizations can present threats entirely outside the law. Or for a more serious case from other religions, the so-called "honor killings" of Islam.
        2. Knowledge, and the lack thereof has a perpetual feedback into the overall effectiveness of a democracy. Attempting to limit inhibiting factors like religion can have an underlying justification, even without any overt components represented in politics(we should be so lucky).
        3. Not everything is about protecting yourself from harm. Dawkins, in particular, is a humanist, and his goals are oriented towards improving the overall quality of life for humanity. His position is that a lack of religion can be good in this regard.

      • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:04AM (#41805491) Homepage Journal

        It's important to realize (or accept) that pure religion is not coercive

        Aye, 'tis true! That Scotsman is a fucking saint, he is!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JosKarith (757063)
      I've found the best way to deal with people insisting on taking your disgreement as an insult is to cut loose with a few choice obscenities. Then in the stunned silence afterwards smile sweetly and say "No, THAT was me being insulting. Now we've defined some boundaries can we get back to the discussion?"
      I've had to deal with the "race to offence" types so many times I just have no patience for them. They look for anything that they can claim offence at so that they can lock down the field of discussion a
    • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:42AM (#41805049)

      and that is to pose every concern as a question for more detail

      I've tried this technique (even here on /.) and I find that by and large it doesn't work. Unless the person you're chatting with is an intellectual (i.e. a university-trained theologian who has spent years discussing these issue) eventually people get very frustrated with your questions as they're typically unable to answer them to even their satisfaction, let alone yours.

    • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:01AM (#41805437)

      He made a pretty good point there. There's only solution I've found to the problem of people taking your disagreement as an insult, and that is to pose every concern as a question for more detail.

      I absolutely agree, though I think Dawkins underestimates his aggressiveness. From the summary:

      And I think that accounts for part of what you've picked up about my apparent image of being aggressive and offensive. I'm just telling it clearly.

      Dawkins used to be a little nicer about this stuff. But when you publish a book called The God Delusion, I think you've gone beyond calling people "ignorant" of evolution. You've accused them of being delusional.

      Whether or not any particular religious person is "delusional" is not something I want to judge. But I think Dawkins is already starting out with a reputation now for something who is very aggressive in his atheism, and that's a reputation he has cultivated in recent years. With a reputation like that, he has already alienated most people who don't subscribe to his ideas already -- and if he calls them "ignorant" on top of it, it's not going to be productive.

      • by radtea (464814) on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:55PM (#41808737)

        Whether or not any particular religious person is "delusional" is not something I want to judge.

        "Delusional" is the correct term for anti-Bayesian beliefs, and religious beliefs are by definition anti-Bayesian, because they are founded on faith, which is a belief that is by definition impervious to evidence.

        Believing something is plausible based on evidence, and being willing to update that belief in the face of new evidence according to Bayes' rule, is not faith. Faith is specifically a profound commitment to ignore all evidence that would under the ordinary application of Bayes' rule lead to a decreased plausibility for the belief in question.

        So while Dawkins is unduly aggressive in his presentation at times--although of course vastly more gentle than even moderate religious people in his defense of reason and science against anti-Bayesian zealots--his use of the term "delusional" for religious people is well within the bounds of ordinary language, however distasteful the many sincerely deluded religious people may find it.

        Surprsingly many religious people even on ./ are ignorant of Bayesianism and are unaware that their beliefs are a violation of the only possible self-consistent method of updating beliefs in the face of new evidence (the "only possible" claim is mathematically provable.) Those people may be plausibly called "ignorant" rather than "deluded".

  • Baseball (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:05AM (#41804481)

    The difference being, if you're ignorant of baseball you don't deny its existence and insist that divine intervention causes the game to play itself.

  • doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by v1 (525388) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:06AM (#41804489) Homepage Journal

    to some groups, disagreeing with their religion is, by definition, insulting it. There's no process of debate involved. It's right there, written in their Book of Facts.

    And it's a complete waste of your time to argue with them over their "Facts".

    • Re:doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by i kan reed (749298) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:15AM (#41804611) Homepage Journal

      The fundamental assertion you're making is that there exist people who are incapable of reevaluating their views. It casts off some people as literally inferior to others. Without going into specifics, I'd say that history has shown many such beliefs to be quite wrong. I understand where you're coming from, but be careful exactly what you imply.

      • Re:doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Freddybear (1805256) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:25AM (#41804783)
        What is so terrible about implying that some people's beliefs are inferior to others? Believing falsehood is indeed inferior to believing the truth.
        • Re:doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

          by i kan reed (749298) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:28AM (#41804843) Homepage Journal

          Because you're equating belief to quality of character. Suffice to say you can believe true things and do horrible things, and believe false things and do good things.

          Moreover, it is a position I've held for a long time that every person has at least one incorrect belief they hold because they've never been reasonable challenged on(no there's no direct evidence of that , it's an inductively concluded position based on personal observation. I'd change my mind in the face of actual evidence) .

          • Re:doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Freddybear (1805256) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:43AM (#41805079)
            Well, yes, the inability to, or worse the refusal to correct one's beliefs in the face of evidence to the contrary is a negative character trait. I'm not talking about people who simply have not encountered the truth.
            • You can't simply see "the truth" and then know instantly that it is. A position is only as strong as its supporting argument, and most people are pretty bad at presenting arguments well. The fact that "the truth is out there" is not the same as someone having been presented with a compelling argument and deciding they were too lazy to deal with it.

      • Re:doesn't matter (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:28AM (#41804837)

        There exist people who are incapable of reevaluating their views. I call her mom. And it's exactly on topic, as evolution is one of a great many topics she is implacable on. She views athiests and agnostics as being "against god", and she prays for my soul regularly and tries to sneak my son off to church if we leave him in her custody on Sunday. I keep telling her she doesn't need to sneak (hell we put him in a christian preschool!), if she wants to take him it's fine with us, that one day he'll evaluate his views and decide what he believes ...but she still feels like she has to sneak. No amount of reasoned debate from anyone, anywhere will shake her views.

        I would say instead that it is wrong to assume that all religious people are incapable of reevaluating their views. Many are. But there are people who are incapable, it's a complete waste of time to even try, and more than likely you are going to create some enemies. The better solution is to choose your battles and only fight what needs to be fought. If the evangelicals want to have religion in school, then add comparative religion as a curriculum item (and ensure that major religions past and present, are brought up). Let them fight with the catholics, jews, muslims, etc. over curriculum. Maybe they'll forget about science class.

        • Re:doesn't matter (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Quanticfx (2443904) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:02AM (#41805473)

          If the evangelicals want to have religion in school, then add comparative religion as a curriculum item (and ensure that major religions past and present, are brought up)

          I went to a catholic high school and that was my sophomore or junior year of religion class. We learned all about different religions and philosophies (Shintoism, Taoism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam...Christianity wasn't included because that's for the other 3 years of school). It was also one of the classes I remember the most and really set me on my path to agnosticism. I think a comparative religion class would be a great class to include in most school curricula.

      • Re:doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

        by i (8254) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:31AM (#41804881)

        I'm 57 years old. My experience is that *most* people can't/do not want to reevaluating their views. They have etablished their views many years ago and don't listen to any conflicting facts. At least as long there are no real problems that is affecting them due to the views.

        • Re:doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

          by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:40AM (#41805023)

          Furthermore people will define their identify by their group membership. So a Christian will tie up a large part of their identity with Christianity and when you say that Jesus' teachings are bad you're saying that they, by self identifying and wrapping up their identity with their beliefs are also bad.

    • Re:doesn't matter (Score:5, Informative)

      by Joce640k (829181) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:20AM (#41804701) Homepage

      I dunno...the best tool for arguing with a Christian is a copy of The Bible.

      Knowing The Bible better than they do is usually very very easy (I don't think many Christians have actually read it) and you only need five or six verses memorized to make the entire belief system look ridiculous.

      Point to their TV/SUV and read the bit about how Jesus tells them to give all their stuff away; rich men, camels, eyes of needles, etc.

      Next ask them what the ten commandments are then read Exodus 34 together, that's always a hoot.

      Read some old testament "stone naughty children" verses then when they pull out the line about how Jesus makes the old testament obsolete show them Matthew 5:17-20

      etc.

      • Re:doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:32AM (#41804887) Homepage
        The vast majority of Christians on earth do not hold to the principle of sola Scriptura and therefore your attempt to dissuade them by pointing to Bible verses taken out of any established hemeneutical tradition is horribly misguided. If you want to argue against a set of beliefs, get it right and don't go after a strawman.
        • Re:doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

          by paiute (550198) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:03AM (#41805485)

          The vast majority of Christians on earth do not hold to the principle of sola Scriptura....

          Maybe, but I don't live on the whole earth. I only live in the US, and here the principle is very widely held.

        • Re:doesn't matter (Score:4, Informative)

          by Nemyst (1383049) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:06AM (#41805515) Homepage

          The vast majority of Christians on earth also happen to be pretty normal folk. It's the tiny minority that acts like a bunch of jerks and thinks it's always, always right that's the problem.

          Unsurprisingly, there's a fair bit of overlap between those guys and people who hold the Bible as being literally true.

        • Re:doesn't matter (Score:4, Insightful)

          by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:34AM (#41806039) Homepage Journal

          If you want to argue against a set of beliefs, get it right and don't go after a strawman.

          Go after the beliefs... "that's just your opinion, but the Bible is the Truth."

          Go after the Bible.... "that's just taken out of context, only relevant in the context of an ancient civilization, only an interpretation of God's word, no longer applies because Jesus, etc."

          The problem with your religion is that it's so fundamentally absurd that any argument against it could be construed as arguing against a strawman. You demand that people respect your particular rationalizations for those absurdities, but that is nearly conceding the argument. We are under no obligation to pretend that the elaborate castle you've built on clouds rests on bedrock.

      • Read some old testament "stone naughty children" verses then when they pull out the line about how Jesus makes the old testament obsolete show them Matthew 5:17-20

        Don't forget the holy attack bears

        23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.

        24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

        2 Kings 2:23-24

    • by Epeeist (2682) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:49AM (#41805177) Homepage

      to some groups, disagreeing with their religion is, by definition, insulting it.

      As a friend of mine (and Richard Dawkins) says "'Take offence at the drop of a hat' is the unwritten eleventh commandment".

  • From an interview [freethoughtnation.com]:

    RD: "I'm pessimistic about the Islamic world. I regard Islam as one of the great evils in the world, and I fear that we have a very difficult struggle there."

    Narrator: "Why is it more problematic than Christianity, for instance?"

    RD: "There is a belief that every word of the Koran is literally true, and there's a kind of closemindedness which is, I think, less present in the former Christendom, perhaps because we've had long - I don't know quite why - but there's more of a historical tradition of questioning. There are people in the Islamic world who simply say, 'Islam is right, and we are going to impose our will.' There's an asymmetry. I think in a way we are being too nice. I think that it's possible to be naively overoptimistic, and if you reach out to people who have absolutely no intention of reaching back to you, then you may be disillusioned."

    • by squiggleslash (241428) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:15AM (#41804613) Homepage Journal

      I think Dawkins has spent too much time in modern England, where, yeah, Christian fundamentalists are very, very, rare, and alas, the Muslim fundamentalist group is surprisingly large (largely because of a substantial refugee population from Pakistan.)

      • by benjfowler (239527) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:24AM (#41804755)

        The Christian fundies do exist here (and I've run into quite a few militant anti-abortionists and young earth creationists). It's just that they're overshadowed by a bunch of very, very ugly Muslim extremists, who for various reasons, can get away with showing a persistent level of hatred and intolerance that would get the Christians shouted down at best, and thrown in the slammer en masse at worst.

        Just last week, there was a bunch of bearded brown Muslim extremists in skirts screaming their heads off in the street at Oxford Circus, with big banners ("JESUS = SATAN") written on them. The only reason why they didn't get a hiding off anybody, because they where there in such force of numbers, that nobody dared challenge them. In the middle of Oxford Street. This is in 2012, after September 11 and the 7th of July attacks.

        Britain DOES have a problem with religious extremism, and while there ARE Christian extremists, the Muslim extremists are multiplying at a rapid rate, are out there, in your face, and are virtually unassailable, because everyone is too scared of being stigmatized as an Islamophobe for not tolerating vile Islamic extremism.

        • by Zocalo (252965) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:45AM (#41805089) Homepage
          Well, then they just demonstrated a quite stunning level of ignorance of their proclaimed religion, didn't they? Maybe the local Iman should have pointed out that the Koran quite clearly labels Jesus as a prophet and a Messenger of Allah, agrees with the New Testament of the Bible about the Virgin Birth and many other points of Jesus' supposed life and teachings therein. So, walking around with a sign saying "Allah's Messenger = Satan"... maybe they ought to go and try that in somewhere like Afghanistan or the Pakistani FATA and see how long can they keep their head or avoid getting stoned.

          As a poster above pointed out, quite often Christian Fundamentalists have not actually read the Bible, and the same is also true about Muslim Fundamentalists, it seems.
  • Mostly agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:07AM (#41804521)

    I mostly agree with Dawkins on this and I think he walks a fine line. Many pro-knowledge/anti-religious people are quite aggressive and offensive. So much so that, despite the fact I'm not at all religious, I find myself quite put off by them. Their idea may be right, but their presentation lacks and just drives away people.

    Dawkins is usually respectful when he is speaking. He may be blunt, but he isn't often insulting. I feel this puts him in much better standing than other people trying to educate. He is generally quite good at explaining his points of view and giving reasons for his ideas without bashing other people.

    • "Their idea may be right, but their presentation lacks and just drives away people."

      Most religious people aren't interested in discussion, they already believe they are right because the confuse how they feel with knowledge. You cant counter someones feelings with facts unless they are honest and intelligent enough to understand how truth works.

  • "Ignorant" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enonu (129798) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:16AM (#41804639)

    Telling somebody that they're ignorant about a particular topic may potentially (and more often than not) have the underlying connotation that that person should have known better in the first place. Nobody is going to tell Dr. Dawkins that he's ignorant of baseball because that's a useless statement. When somebody tells you that you're ignorant of "traffic laws", "etiquette", or "geography" you get the point.

    Applied to the religious, telling them that they're ignorant of evolution, and being defensive about them getting mad about the statement because you think it's just a fact IS ignorant. The religious already believe that they've considered everything they need to know about evolution, and have discredited it in their own minds. The real strategy here is to not start with a public conclusion of them being ignorant, but to simply ask questions and answer their rebuttals. Eventually you'll hit a contradiction or hole in their misunderstanding, and the real question there is what they'll do next. Do they open their minds to truth, no matter how repugnant it is to their faith, or do they stay aggressively closed minded about the subject?

  • Dawkins is no Sagan (Score:5, Informative)

    by gblackwo (1087063) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:16AM (#41804647) Homepage
    I am currently reading Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark [amazon.com]

    Sagan does an incredible job at promoting skepticism, fighting ignorance and all while being extremely respectful of religion. While I love Sagan, I just can't stand Dawkins.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:18AM (#41804671)

    As a Buddhist, I find the entire tree of Abrahamic religions insulting: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism. Since they put the afterlife ahead of this life, and the Magic Man in the Sky ahead of Humanity.

    • by Camel Pilot (78781) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:12PM (#41806797) Homepage Journal

      The vast majority of Western Christians do not really "put the afterlife ahead of this life". They live this life in as much luxury and comfort as the next guy. I will agree with you though that giving up this life for the next is the message of the New Testament, which is largely ignored or muted. I will also agree that this sort of thinking can be dangerous and harmful. The chances of success of any endeavour (such as human society) depends greatly upon how well "mental maps" correspond to reality.

      I wonder though if Buddhism doesn't have a similar issue with a complete focus on personal "enlightment" which can cause people to become reclusive and self-focused. For example, what are the significant buddhists contributions to science?

  • by Millennium (2451) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:26AM (#41804797) Homepage

    Disagreeing with religion is not insulting. Calling its followers unthinking, ignorant, brainwashed, delusional: this is insulting.

  • by LostMyBeaver (1226054) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:09AM (#41805585)
    At one point, I decided to watch some videos of Dawkins and found him to be obscene and utterly rude. While I am personally an atheist, I truly disagree with people suggesting that this man is representative of me. It's reached a point where religious people use him as an example of the raving lunatics atheists are. So far as I can tell, while he's also an atheist, he takes atheism to a degree of being a religion. Between him and organized non-religion groups, I'm thoroughly disappointed.

    The point is atheists shouldn't ever be organizing as being atheists. It should not be a defining characteristic. A person who is an atheist should be something else. Maybe an artist, a musician, a scientist, an engineer, a good will worker. In short, an atheist should have a great deal of time to spend on things that are just more important and more meaningful than religion. Instead, these groups (including the Dawkins lackies) spend all their time being atheists and they even get into the "I'm better than the people who define themselves as believing in nonsense since I'm a person who defines myself as opposing believing in nonsense." It's like the morons who stand outside of meat plants protesting slaughtering cows while wearing a leather jacket to stay warm.

    People... please just be more.
  • by karlandtanya (601084) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:54AM (#41806415)

    If Dawkins truly believes that religion will quietly tolerate being told it is wrong, he is an idiot.
    Well, he's not an idiot. He's trying to point out the absurdity of holding a point of view that takes offense at any question, challenge, or outright dispute. And that this type "offense" is fabricated to manipulate polite society and should be ignored.

    There are such things as boundaries in human society, and while they're never absolute, there comes a point when one group extends the boundaries of its own propriety so far that there is no room for anyone else to exist--let alone coexist with a similarly absurdly broad set of boundaries. We can't all be pope.

    Affected outrage is worn like a mask and used like a weapon to cow the rest of society to the will of an aggressive and dangerous few.
    It's not the responsibility of the rest of the world to tiptoe around a group of people who have subverted the natural human desire for social harmony. Nobody offended you; you chose to "take offense". Well, now you've taken it; you have it; enjoy it. This is your offense, not ours.

    To cite examples from the religion into which I have been indoctrinated:
    Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. [vatican.va]
    Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea [vatican.va]

    You don't get to "opt out" and believe something else on your own time. You're either with or you're against. The domain of God and His representatives on earth is absolute. "Heresy" is ANY teaching inconsistent with dogma. It doesn't matter who teaches it or to whom. Church member or not, challenging dogma is not only an insult, it's a crime.

    In modern times, the power of the Church to prosecute heresy has decreased significantly. They grudgingly acknowledge the existence of other views, but VCII, Ecumenism, etc. are still controversial with a lot of people. "OK, sure, we don't have to convert all the ignorant savages. We tend get a lot of really dirty looks from folks when we do that, and besides, we can't enforce it anyway. So, in the spirit of God's love for all His children, we accept that all..." But make no mistake if the Church had the power to enforce canon law everywhere, they would. Manipulation of the secular law where canon law has lost dominion is an effective and efficient tool.

    One can only imagine that another's religion, especially offshoots of the one into which one has been indoctrinated has similarly totalitarian views of dissention--by members of the church or by people in general. I invite their own apostates to speak for their religion's tolerance to heresy.

The bogosity meter just pegged.

Working...