Radio host Terrence McNally recently interviewed Richard Dawkins. The transcript can be found here. Most of it is a rehashing of words Dawkins has said many times before, but this particular response bugged me:
TM: In other words, if [a religion was] just a philosophical belief that had no impact on the world, fine.
RD: Exactly. I don’t think you’ll find many people criticizing any gentle religion, like Jainism.
Sam Harris echoed that thought in The End of Faith.
Do these men actually know the details of Jainism? I do. I was raised with the faith.
I assume they’re referring to the fact that Jainism hinges on the belief and practice of non-violence. And it is true that, as a result, you probably won’t see Jains blowing up buildings anytime soon.
However, for all the diatribes Harris/Dawkins leash upon religious beliefs that have no basis in reality, they seem to ignore the beliefs of Jainism entirely.
I criticize certain aspects of Jainism in the book, but let me mention a few of the illogical beliefs now:
- Jains believe in a never-ending, cyclical time cycle, with phases of “rising” and “falling” happiness. Each phase lasts several thousands of years.
- Jains believe that they can accumulate and shed karma and this impacts our future lives (reincarnation).
- Jains do not believe in Evolution (PDF).
For all the insults Harris/Dawkins bestow on religions that have similar beliefs, they are too kind to Jainism.
Again, these beliefs are not going to hurt anyone and I’ve never heard of Jains pushing their beliefs onto anyone else. But I can’t imagine why Harris/Dawkins fail to criticize these beliefs.
Unless they’re simply unaware of them.
[tags]Terrence McNally, Richard Dawkins, atheist, atheism, Indian-American, Desi, Jainism, Sam Harris, The End of Faith, karma, reincarnation, Evolution[/tags]