Britain’s Cultural Divide

According to The Guardian, the “new cultural divide” in Britain is not between different religious sects. It’s between those with faith and those without.

Colin Slee, Dean of Southward, says this:

We are witnessing a social phenomenon that is about fundamentalism… Atheists like the Richard Dawkins of this world are just as fundamentalist as the people setting off bombs on the tube, the hardline settlers on the West Bank and the anti-gay bigots of the Church of England. Most of them would regard each other as destined to fry in hell.

That’s the most questionable, oblivious statement I will hear… until later in the same article. And that’s excluding the fact that atheists do not, in fact, think you are destined to fry in hell.

Atheists are not blowing up buildings. Or stopping you from getting your birth control. Or standing in the way of promising stem-cell research. Or stopping you from getting the same rights as a married couple. Our “religion” (if you want to call it that) is about discussion and tolerance, not violence and bigotry. How are those equal?!

The article’s author, Stuart Jeffries, tries to answer this, but you never seem to hear him mention any truly vile action brought about by an atheist. Nothing that compares to the atrocities that religious fundamentalism has brought.

In fact, when talking about Richard Dawkins, the same article says this:

This is the man so voguishly intemperate that when speaking to the Times recently about Nadia Eweida, the British Airways worker whose employer refused to allow her to wear a Christian cross openly to work, said: “I saw a picture of this woman. She had one of the most stupid faces I’ve ever seen.”

Well, that’s not very nice. But that’s about the extent of it. Dawkins uses strong language to get his point across. Sometimes the strong language is unnecessary. He actually continued that line by saying:

Well, of course, Christians are sodding well allowed to work for British Airways. It’s got nothing to do with it. She is clearly too stupid to see the difference between somebody who wears a cross and somebody who is a Christian.

My point is that if this is one of the best (or rather, worst) examples of “militant” atheism the author can find, it’s a weak case to say “fundamental atheists” are the equivalent of bus-bombing, building destroyers.

Oxford theologian Alister McGrath agrees with Jeffries’ premise, arguing that

The God Delusion might turn out to be a monumental own goal – persuading people that atheism is just as intolerant as the worst that religion can offer.

Dawkins is trying to open up the eyes of those who have never seen anything outside religion. Yes, he can be a jerk about it sometimes, but that’s only in his tone, not his actions. Another writer could publish the same ideas in another voice, and he/she would not be called “militant.”

Say what you will about some of the atheists that get in the media spotlight, they’re harmless when compared to many of the religious spokespeople that get on the airwaves.

If we’re putting faith and non-faith on two sides of a scale, the hatred that is religiously-inspired overwhelmingly tips the whole scale over when compared to the rhetoric of atheists.


[tags]atheist, atheism, The Guardian, Colin Slee, Dean of Southward, fundamentalism, Richard Dawkins, West Bank, Church of England, birth control, stem-cell research, religion, Stuart Jeffries, Nadia Eweida, British Airways, Christian, cross, Oxford, theologian, Alister McGrath, The God Delusion[/tags]

  • Siamang

    Meanwhile people calling olympic bomber, murderer and terrorist Eric Rudolph an anti-terrorist fighter are POSTING ON HELEN’S BLOG!

    http://conversationattheedge.com/2007/02/24/merediths-side-of-the-story/#more-317

    AAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!

    How did she attract the attentions of these terrorists/terrorist supporters?

    (I’m SO glad I’m anonymous.)

  • http://uncrediblehallq.blogspot.com Chris Hallquist

    I think that claims of atheist fundamentalism represent a shocking failure to see anything wrong with fundamentalism. It’s as if people think the problem with fundamentalists is that they’re not polite enough when they say that all who disagree with them go to hell. Not only is this not the problem, I think it’s a bad thing when they try to be polite. In public discussion of an issue like that, all concerned should be frank about their beliefs.

  • Michael K

    Hemant,
    Please don’t forget that there are Christians out there that are just as sickened by Jeffries’ comments as you are. In our quest for tolerance and understanding we must continue to remind ourselves of the discrepancies between the original message and its distorted version that is populated by folks like Jeffries.

    Thanks for the writing. I’m a regular reader.

  • http://www.whatbox.blogspot.com Jennifer

    Richard Dawkins gives atheism a very bad name. Just as Christians don’t win any souls by preaching hellfire and damnation, atheists aren’t going to win any minds by spewing vitriol. Just my opinion.

  • TXatheist

    Jennifer,
    May I ask if you have heard Dawkins say anything vitriol? Do you have any specific quotes from him?

  • Roberto

    Jennifer,

    Exactly how does Dawkins give atheism a bad name?

  • http://www.whatbox.blogspot.com Jennifer

    Well, the statement quoted above is a good example of his rudeness. I started reading The God Delusion and quit because Dawkins seems unable, imo, to separate good solid scientific reasoning and his own personal hatred for Christianity. It’s a shame, because I think he does a fantastic job of poking holes in the delusion of faith. But he comes across as having a large chip on his shoulder with a personal axe to grind. Unfortunately I don’t have the book here so I can’t give direct quotes. I got the same impression from interviews of him I have seen and read. My impression was that it was a lot of name calling and personal insults (like the one given above). He’s just rude, imo. It detracts from his credibility and amounts to little more than mud slinging. Facts speak for themselves. Let’s stick to facts and leave out the attitude.

    This is just my personal opinion, and could be entirely wrong. :)

  • HappyNat

    I think Dawkins gets fruistrated by people who hold onto their faith when faced with some much evidence to the contray. It is so clear to him (and to me) that these people can’t face reality and are holding on to something for no good reason, that he can some across as snide. He doesn’t believe in respecting a persons views if the views are silly. His blunt delivery is one of the reasons I am such a fan.

  • stogoe

    I’ve never known facts to actually sway people from religious beliefs.

    Dawkins is just being painted with the same tar as the ‘militant’ homosexuals, feminists, african americans, etc, who have had enough courage to stand up for equal rights.

    The great big glob of Golden Meaners that make up the majority of society value stability above all else. Those who dare to make waves in the cause of freedom, who dare to vocally argue for their rights are feared above all others, because the privileged stability is contingent upon keeping the Other silent, subservient and stereotyped.

    We must continue to rock the boat. No cause for liberty was ever won by staying silent.

  • TXatheist

    Jennifer,
    I understand but I see it as standing up. It’s similar to me when someone equates taking god out of the pledge or off dollar bills as promoting atheism. Not giving god acknowledgement is not promoting atheism, it’s being neutral or secular but I thank you for answering.

  • http://www.whatbox.blogspot.com Jennifer

    I have many friends who are agnostic or atheist, and we all manage to stand up for our freedoms without stooping to rudeness. People are much more inclined to listen when we say “I respect your beliefs, but I personally don’t believe in a supreme being, and here’s why…” As opposed to scoffing “You ignorant bunch of morons!” Facts alone swayed me, personally. But again, I know everyone is different. Thanks for the opportunity to respond.

  • Karen

    I’ve never known facts to actually sway people from religious beliefs.

    Well, facts worked for me, and quite a few other former fundamentalists I know.

    The crucial question is whether the religious believer is open to actually considering the facts, or if she’s got her mind snapped tightly shut due to fear. Where fear rules, facts have little chance to penetrate.

    Here’s the thing: Fundys have heard all the arguments from their pastors that supposedly “debunk” the facts. If they’ve got their fingers stuck in their ears, and are responding with canned arguments (like we’ve seen them doing here), that shows they’re afraid to think for themselves and probably will be immune to the facts.

    But if they’re looking at the facts objectively, and open to doing their own research (as I was), they may come to realize all (or at least a good part) of what they learned in church was hoakum. And I have seen that happen on several occasions.

    So – you never know whether you’re dealing with a fearful, closed person or someone who might just be open to noticing the chink in the armor they’ve surrounded themselves with.

  • Bill

    The frustration I sometimes have with Richard Dawkins comes when he links religious faith with being intellectually deficient, or when he claims that people like me enable malicious and violent people who are a menace to civilization.

    It may not surprise you to hear that I don’t much care for being called a deluded child or an accomplice to mass murder.

    I know he has said that people should have the right to believe in whatever they want to believe, whether it is God, Allah, Buddah, Yahweh, or the flying spaghetti monster. When set against other comments of his, however, I feel as if he is saying that people have the right to believe in God, but if they do they are dangerous morons.

  • TXatheist

    Bill,
    Before Hemant erases it I’d like you to read Dan’s comment on the Southern California Job topic and tell me his ideas are not intellectually deficient. I’m not saying Dan is completely dumb, just a small portion of his intellect is deficient. That same view is taken from xianity and that’s what Dawkins is talking about.

    Dan said

    Almighty God created it, and guilty sinners have to face Him on the Day of His Wrath. What an unspeakably fearful thing.

  • Bill

    TXatheist,

    I have read many of Dan’s posts, and I find they drive me to distraction. I know that many Christians feel threatened by science, and are predisposed to come to science with a closed mind or to try to pervert it in a vain attempt to uphold their beliefs as Dan has done many times.

    My point is that having religious faith is not evidence of any intellectual fault. My believing in Genesis does not mean I believe it is meant to be scientifically accurate, and it does not mean I have no capacity for reason. At times I feel as though Dawkins thinks my faith is indicative of a lack of intellect, and I find that arrogant.

    To give you a real life example, I can recall being in the pub one day, when the subject of my studying to be a priest came up in conversation with an acquaintance.

    “But you seem like such an intelligent guy” was his serious and baffled response.

    That I find condescending.

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  • Simon

    As a non-believer I’ve got to say it really amazes and intrigues me, the reaction that Dawkins induces in religious people. I can empathize with their feelings of being under attack, and feeling insulted, after all it can’t be fun to have some of your views described as delusion. At the same time, when I read or listen to Dawkins I hear a completely calm, rational, devastating, non-personal argument. If he were talking about politics then only the most rabid, ideologically-blinded partisans would take issue with his tone (for example think about how right-wingers react to the soft-spoken Chomsky), while the rest would either ignore him or see him for what he is – a man with a strong, thoughtful opinion and nothing more. However, since religion enjoys such special privilege (i.e. we must not only tolerate religion, a reasonable request, but also respect it at all times, even if we truly find it ridiculous), his rational arguments sound like “vitriol” to many people who aren’t used to being confronted so openly.

    In any case, I’ve watched many interviews with Dawkins and he absolutely does not claim that religious people are dumb or in any way inferior to non-religious people. While he doesn’t respect religious belief, he can easily respect a person who has religious belief (and does respect plenty of people who have religious belief).

    Many people seem to react to Dawkins like Jennifer (above) does, and stop listening to him or reading him altogether. Why don’t people instead look forward to defending their belief and participating in the argument? If Dawkins is so wrong, tackle his arguments, don’t just call him a meanie and stomp your feet and plug your ears and cry “NANANANANA”. By claiming that in your opinion he is just rude (based on a handful of isolated quotes from an ocean of material – what, have you never said anything rude about somebody you vehemently disagree with in your life? Do those few occasions label you as a rude person?) and has a personal axe to grind with Christianity (an absurd claim), you are taking the easy way out. Why not instead be like the very religious Andrew Sullivan who is currently, bravely engaged in an email debate with the very non-religious Sam Harris (see Dawkins’ website for the text) – think about the arguments being presented, challenge your own beliefs, and if they stand up to true scrutiny then go ahead and defend them with renewed confidence! Otherwise you risk perpetuating the stereotype of a delusional, childish, immature thinker, don’t you?

  • txatheist

    My post didn’t appear. That’s a first.

    Bill,
    We all have stereotypes as individuals but I know plenty of xians(most of them) that are very intelligent but that’s not what he or I presume Dawkins is saying. It’s the idea that xianity brings forth that is absurd. Mike C said he was glad to be compassionate and caring like Jesus and that’s fine. Be like Ghandi or Jesus in behavior, I try to keep their good behavior in my thoughts.
    I can’t speak for the pub incident but how many times do you think I’ve heard that you are too nice to be an atheist? My point and possibly Dawkins is that you are perpetuating a story, Genesis, that you take figuratively/metaphorically/allegorically or something and other people are also doing it literally. When I ask them who is right they say they are and that you are wrong. I’m serious, I just had this converstation with someone last Saturday.
    Let me put it this way please. Is god a myth? Is the bible mostly fiction?

  • Michael K

    Unfortunately there are a lot of misunderstandings about the book of Genesis and the literary genre to which it belongs. If you are (rightly) wise enough to not read Genesis as a scientific or historical account of creation, then continue that thinking further and examine Genesis (and the life of Christ for that matter) for what it is.

    We must stop equating the beliefs/actions of misguided individuals to the claims of the religion to which they subcribe. We all could spend days coming up with examples of naive Christians or mean-spirited atheists. Does that really get us anywhere?

  • http://www.whatbox.blogspot.com Jennifer

    It amuses me, as I read through the comments here, as it appears that some people have assumed I am a Christian because I disagree with Dawkins’ attitude. Maybe I’m interpolating too much, but some of the statements appear that way. Which really speaks to a broader sociological issue, when you think about it. It’s as if someone has drawn a line that says anyone who dislikes Dawkins must be a Christian. Funny.

    Well, (Simon), I happen to an atheist, and I agree with Dawkins’ conclusions, but I dislike his approach and his personality. I didn’t stop reading his book because I disagreed with him. I stopped because his attitude annoyed me. Plain and simple.

    Whether or not someone is intellectually deficient in their thinking, it does no good to point this out to him in an effort to sway his beliefs. You have to understand that most fundamentalist Christians have been drilled with the mythology and its apologetics from the cradle on. They have in fact been brainwashed. This is why you can see someone with a PhD in a highly specialized field, who is obviously intelligent, and yet cannot be swayed on matters of faith.

    As happened in my personal case, and with many others I know, it was only after being repeatedly exposed to factual information, presented by friends who respected me despite my “intellectual deficiency”, that I began to see the light.

    In short, I agree with Karen.

  • TXatheist

    Michael K,
    Then why embrace the book as inspired works from a supernatural being? This is exactly what Sam Harris goes after, the moderate xian. Is any of the bible to be taken literal and if so how do we know? (I’m not talking about the ideas like love thy neighbor but that jesus walked on water or the global flood for example)

  • Bill

    TXatheist,

    One concept that has come past me is that of reading something (particularly something of a biblical nature) both positively and negatively. (As I recall the correlating technical terms are “apophatically” and “kataphatically”.)

    To that end (and I know this might sound like I’m weaseling out of the question) I believe that the Bible can be both true and untrue. In this sense, when reading stories about the universe being created in six days and the like, I can read it positively and say that God did create the universe, but also read it negatively and say God did not create the universe or suspend the tides of the Red Sea in any scientific sense. In this way, I suppose something can be theologically true without having to be scientifically true.

    I suspect that you and I would see pretty much eye to eye on scientific matters, but that I am additionally informed by theological angles that you don’t recognize.

    By the way, I am quite aware that the way I view things is heretical to some Christians!

  • Bill

    Jennifer,

    I recall watching part of a television special that Dawkins made. What I took offense at was not that he disagreed with my religious sentiments, but that he was such a wanker about it.

  • txatheist

    Theologically true? If you mean it’s another mythology story, that’s true.

    I suspect that you and I would see pretty much eye to eye on scientific matters, but that I am additionally informed by theological angles that you don’t recognize.

    Excuse me? You are additionally MISinformed by mythology and unable to recognize they are false concepts. It irks me when someone says they have a religious/spiritual ability that I have yet to get a grasp of. I was a xian and I’m aware of those angles, that’s why I’m an atheist, I realize they were false/useless angles.

  • Bill

    TXatheist,

    I thought for a while about how best to phrase that statement, and I suspected it would come off wrong. Evidently it did.

    What I was trying to say, was that when it comes to our origins, you feel that science explains how we got here, and I agree. Science does an examplary job in this respect. The question of why, however, is different. I am not sure than science has an answer to why, or whether it would even recognize the question. Theology, on the other hand, is all about the intangible “why”.

    I would accept applying religious principles to science as being “misinformed by mythology”. Using religion to explain things belonging to the physical world is, in my opinion, a false concept which debases both science and theology. However, I apply my particular mythology to a completely different set of questions which I freely admit are entirely unscientific. As such, I don’t feel I am misinformed, because I am being informed on an entirely separate subject.

    I don’t know if that better explains what I was getting at (I suspect it doesn’t) but it’s the best I can do at the moment.

  • txatheist

    Bill,
    I know what you are trying to say and I appreciate it. Let’s just agree to disagree that religion answers questions of why, please.

  • Michael K

    TXatheist,

    Sorry for the delayed reply. Genesis does not have to be taken as a scientific or historical account to have value. As a former Christian, you’re probably aware that if we see the OT in its entirety, we begin to see a story unfolding of a God relating to a group of people. That story reaches its climax in the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus’ life is much more historically verifiable than creation or the flood. I found it much more sensible when evaluating the message of Christianity to start with the life of Jesus than to start with creation. Don’t you think so?

    Unfortunately, I have not yet read any of Harris’ works. I would be very interested to read them. From what I have gathered from his viewpoint though, his attack on religious moderation is more of an attack on apathy or just a wishy-washy stance on religion that fails to stand up to injustices being committed by religious fanatics. One does not have to make the mistake of reading the Bible literally in order to have a spine and a little common sense and stand up for what’s right. Nor does one have to discredit all of Christianity because the Bible was not intended to be read as a history book.

  • txatheist

    It’s quite a story, no argument there. However, I’m one of them people who see no reason to believe jesus christ was a real person. I think the ideas of Jesus are worthy and can be used but unfortunately they are tied to a book that is very poorly written and morally corrupt, imo. I read Harris’ book and I didn’t note one single attack. I did read where he informed us of how corrupt religious ideas are and some people already knew that and others learned that fact.
    I have a question. You say one does not have to make the mistake of reading the bible literally but previously stated it was a god unfolding to a group of people. Is it literal or myth that god was unfolding to a group of people? God is a myth? I don’t discredit xianity any more than I discredit Hercules.

  • Michael K

    To claim Jesus of Nazareth was not an actual person is to be on very shakey ground indeed! That strikes me as a conspiracy theory that dwarfs even the doubts of humans landing on the moon. I’m not meaning to be condescending at all when I say that, so please don’t take offense. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the historicity of Jesus.

    I wasn’t being negative by saying Harris “attacked” religious moderation. Maybe criticized is a better word? I agree that apathy and the enabling of social injustice to continue by Christians and non-Christians alike should be “attacked.”

    Seems to me you’re using the words “literal” and “myth” interchangeably with “true” and “false,” aren’t you? Can a myth still be “true” without being literal? Can the Genesis creation account be taken to mean God created the earth (however the hell it was done) and that creation was a very good thing?

    Creation aside, I still hold that a discussion of the “truth” of Christianity must begin with the person of Jesus. If Jesus really said what we think he said and did what we think he did, then he is of extreme importance to us today, isn’t he? We’ve got to get past all of the distortions of Christianity and modern interpretations and try to get as close to the beginning as we can.

  • TXatheist

    I understand your shock. The first time I heard that Jesus is a borrowed myth from Mithraism/Hinduism and his character is based off Jesus Ben Pantera I really got intrigued. It’s not shakey ground, just history :) I am not using true and false interchangeably with literal and myth. I really don’t like to use the word Truths. It’s a hang-up and I think it distorts the message. Just a note for you. The JW’s use the word Truth. They have the absolute Truth if you ask them. Is God a myth?
    The genesis account can be taken any way YOU want, it’s a story that I see no relevence in using. No public university uses the idea god created the universe and neither do I. It distorts the understanding and simply puts the god of the gaps idea in the comprehension. When someone doesn’t understand how the hell we got here and the earth they can say god did it. Bad science and bad way to look at it imo.
    Jesus is no more important than Neitzsche.

  • Michael K

    Thanks TXatheist. It seems like this is a good stopping point for now, yeah? I’m sure you’re pretty aware of the points on which I disagree with you from your last post.

    Good dialogue! Thanks for your thoughts.

  • TXatheist

    God is a myth? Simple question.

  • Michael K

    TX,

    No, I don’t believe God is a myth.

  • HappyNat

    To claim Jesus of Nazareth was not an actual person is to be on very shakey ground indeed! That strikes me as a conspiracy theory that dwarfs even the doubts of humans landing on the moon

    Not to jump in (although I am) but this comparison is just poor. The moon landing happened 50 years ago, was witnessed people on TV, books were written about it, the science of how it was done is there for anyone to see and we could ask the astronauts who were there. Jesus lived, if he was a real person, 2000 years ago, before cameras, newspapers, or antyhing that could record he was real. He never wrote anything that we have found and historians who lived at the same time never wrote about him.

  • TXatheist

    Happnat,
    Hopefully Michael K will look into the idea :)

  • Siamang

    Also the people who went to the moon left and brought back tangible evidence of their having gone to the moon.

    If (for example) I built a powerful enough telescope, I would be able to see human footprints on the moon. I could see the moon rovers left behind there.

    In the future, we may have the ability to travel to the moon ourselves. In two-thousand years we may be able to go to the moon and see the footprints and handprints in the dust left by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

    Jesus left no such proof. I cannot for the life of me figure out what kind of machine we could ever build that could confirm that Jesus preformed miracles, because he didn’t perform any permanent detectable miracles. He seemed very intent on performing miracles for those in attendence, but nothing that would stay.

  • Bill

    Just one last thing, I noticed very early on in the original post the Dean of Southwark was talking about religious extremism and he chose what I thought was a very unusual way to go about it, referring to “the anti-gay bigots of the Church of England.”

    I spent plenty of time in London and I know a number of clergy and laity in the C of E. It seems that this is a very odd group of people to target as anti-gay bigots, as there are plenty of other sub-groups within Christianity that fit this characterisation better. I don’t doubt that there are some in the Church of England who could be classified in this way, but a number of my clerical friends in England are gay themselves. I would say that the proportion of homosexuals in the clergy dwarfs that in the population as a whole.

    At any rate, I am delighted by the prospect of asking Father Mark (who openly lives with his boyfriend) what it’s like to be “a self loathing anti gay bigot!”

  • Michael K

    I thought you all might have a heyday with that one! :-) Yes, the moon landing is verifiable. I’m not claiming we didn’t land there. I was exaggerating to make a point.

    The point is an overwhelming majority of historians would find it difficult to support a claim that Jesus of Nazareth is a fictional character. Thanks for keeping me honest though.

  • TXatheist

    Michael K,
    We were fine until you made that statement :) An overwhelming majority have never shown that Jesus was real. We’ve always presumed JC was real. Happynat is right there is no evidence for Jesus during his alleged lifetimeand Thomas Jefferson made a quote that he wasn’t positive JC was real. Gerd Ludemann has been saying JC was fiction for many years and when he did it originally he was kicked out of the New York State university system for it. I’d suggest we not argue and you either order a movie
    http://www.thegodmovie.com or go to http://www.jesuspuzzle.com and do some reading.

    Don’t be too sure of how many believe in the moon landing. My ex-coworker and I got along great on most political issues(he couldn’t take Texas any longer and moved) was skeptical of the moon landing and so was my brother-in-law when he heard about some program on tv discounting the event.

  • Michael K

    I also have good friends that are very well-read and highly educated that doubt the moon landing. And I didn’t even go down the JFK road! Maybe we can save that for another day. :)

    You may be assuming that I am far less read than I actually am TXatheist! I’m glad you can have a sense humor about these things though. I’ve enjoyed the conversation. Thanks.

  • TXatheist

    I’m not assuming you are less read, but maybe, just maybe less read on the idea that JC is a myth??? There are many things I am less read on that the xians who post here but I’m trying to catch up:)

  • Michael K

    I’ll give the Jesuspuzzle site a read. Thanks.

  • Chris

    Theism/faith and atheism/reason are not on the opposite end of the same spectrum…. there not even on the same spectrum!

    @Jennifer,

    There is a difference between being a fundamentalist and being passionate. Fundamentalists are dogmatic. They won’t change their mind even when shown how wrong they are. People of reason are the complete opposite of this. People simply confuse Dawkins’ tone and passion with that of dogma and fundamentalism. Its fine to disagree with his tone, but people shouldn’t class it as dogma in their disagreement.

    That said, while he may be direct and strident, he is simply saying things about religion that we would all say about non-religious but no less ridiculous and delusional issues. If someone believes the holocaust didn’t happen, or that aliens are going to invade earth, or that there is a worldwide secret government conspiracy, or that they hear voices in their head… etcetera, not only are we all as critical of them as Dawkins is of religion (no one calls this fundamentalist or dogmatic), some people even down right ‘belittle’ them. If someone believes the holocaust didn’t happen we don’t just say they are wrong, we say they are delusional. If someone is convinced in a forthcoming alien invasion we simply say they have lost their mind. And we say this without any qualms. And we are not criticised for saying this. Yet apply the same criticism to religion, and suddenly we are regarded as intolerant and disrespectful.

    Religion allows people en masse what only delusional lunatics people could believe in isolation.

  • Chris

    Theism/faith and atheism/reason are not on the opposite end of the same spectrum…. there not even on the same spectrum!

    @Jennifer,

    There is a difference between being a fundamentalist and being passionate. Fundamentalists are dogmatic. They won’t change their mind even when shown how wrong they are. People of reason are the complete opposite of this. People simply confuse Dawkins’ tone and passion with that of dogma and fundamentalism. Its fine to disagree with his tone, but people shouldn’t class it as dogma in their disagreement.

    That said, while he may be direct and strident, he is simply saying things about religion that we would all say about non-religious but no less ridiculous and delusional issues. If someone believes the holocaust didn’t happen, or that aliens are going to invade earth, or that there is a worldwide secret government conspiracy, or that they hear voices in their head… etcetera, not only are we all as critical of them as Dawkins is of religion (no one calls this fundamentalist or dogmatic), some people even down right ‘belittle’ them. If someone believes the holocaust didn’t happen we don’t just say they are wrong, we say they are delusional. If someone is convinced in a forthcoming alien invasion we simply say they have lost their mind. And we say this without any qualms. And we are not criticised for saying this. Yet apply the same criticism to religion, and suddenly we are regarded as intolerant and disrespectful.

    Religion allows people en masse to believe what only delusional lunatics could believe in isolation.

  • emma

    I think it would be useful for people to read Nietzsche on the Ascetic ideal. I’m about to do my 3rd year philosophy exam in nietzsche and think it is fascinating how, one hundred years later, the ‘death of god’ has not yet been achieved. according to nietzsche the overcoming of the will to truth is europe’s fate for the next two hundred years, the age of nihilism. i can but wonder what the next one hundred years will show….


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