Richard Dawkins Talks About How Non-Religious People View ‘Sin’

In his latest documentary for Channel 4, Richard Dawkins explores Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life. The series will have three episodes and run through the end of the month.

In this episode, he talks specifically about how non-religious people approach “sin”:

I haven’t seen the whole thing yet, so if you like any particular moments, please leave the timestamps and summary in the comments!

(via Atheist Media Blog)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Jennwith2ns

    Well, I’m (not surprisingly) not a fan of Dawkins, but I loved seeing Newham kids (3.45-ish), on account of I used to live there. Awesome!

    • Jennwith2ns

       And . . . I like that religious guy’s comments.

      • Thinkyhead

        His most coherent point seemed to be, how can you get youth to respect and obey your ideas, without some kind of credibility or leverage? And somehow, it works better if you as an adult are not taking on the role of authoritarian yourself, which people would resist, but rather enjoining them to submit to a transcendent authority to which you are also submitting. This bypasses the credibility and authority problem and prevents rebellious instincts from taking precedence. Since, after all, there is an instinct for the young to supersede the old.

        Other ways to obtain authority is to have an established hierarchy and to use the social pressure of the group to reign in the non-conformist, and these are also applied.

        The challenge then is, how can we learn to convey morality without having to resort to psychological trickery? Can we simply be direct and plain in explaining how effect follows cause, and how one’s actions have predictable social consequences? In general most people are on the whole quite moral, so I think only exceptional cases should require any more than encouraging a cooperative spirit.

  • jose

    Generally agree, although I resent the evopsych tendency of the evolution segment. Tangos are not courtship rituals in human form any more than a novel is a bark in human form. We can make the case for evolution as the place where the foundation of the moral sense comes from without oversimplifying to the point of falsehood.

  • ortcutt

    There is a divide within society between authoritarian religionists on the one hand and non-authoritarian religionists and the non-religious on the other.   The authoritarian religionist thinks of their his actions in terms of whether they follow God’s commands (or his surrogates’–the Pope, pastor, etc….) or not.  Whenever they make any decision, the question is “What does God want?”  Authoritarian religion emphasizes surrender and obedience.  Naturally, they believe that absent those commands there would be no reason to do anything at all. 

    The non-religious and non-authoritarian religionists don’t see themselves as command-followers, but rather as problem-solvers, people who need to solve problems about how we are going to live together in a society.  It’s a completely different way of thinking.  The biggest problem facing the world is how to get people to think in the second way rather than the first.

  • http://www.theaunicornist.com Mike D

    I particularly like Dawkins’ remark around the 21 minute mark about viewing morality not as a lofty set of ideas, but as a practical system that enables us to get along, survive, and reproduce. 

  • Blacksheep

    The first line is interesting: “More and more of us realize there is no God.”

    Christians have realized the opposite: That there is a God.

    “Realization”  is a powerful word.

    • Patterrssonn

      I don’t think that wanting something to be true is the same as realizing something is true. Does anyone realize that there is a Santa Claus or that there are unicorns?

      If so, if you can realize that gods or elves or bigfoots exist then really how powerful or even useful a word is it.

    • RobMcCune

       Realizing there is a god is so easy you could force a child to do it.

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      Funny how people don’t “realize” gods until they’ve already been introduced to the idea of them.

  • Mrsmullen22

    I think his reference to “bling” makes the whole thing for me. :-)

  • David McNerney

    “This video contains content from Channel 4 who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds”

    Et tu, Channel 4?

    (4od works – so not so bad)


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