Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Time To Listen To Richard Dawkins

In the light of the recent idiocy over a series of cartoons depicting a man who lived centuries ago, I was reminded of Richard Dawkins.

Richard Dawkins is a hero in my mind. I’m not comfortable telling certain people that I don’t believe in “God” (whatever the hell that even means!) and prefer the label “agnostic” to atheist. I tell myself that I prefer that label because it is more accurate in that I can’t very well prove the non-existence of something who’s existence purportedly lies outside the borders of what is observable and measurable. I also must admit the fact that I just don’t have it in me to withstand the contempt and subject myself to the potential violence of the good Christians and Muslims of the world. For whatever reason, they usually don’t have a problem with “agnostics,” even though by definition, agnostics do not believe in God. Not so with atheists. I’ve been told personally that the government should take atheists’ children away from their parents, and President H. W. Bush once said “I don't know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots.” Imagine the uproar if he had said, “Jews” or “Muslims” instead of “atheists?” [If you are thinking, “that’s different,” tell me why in the comments section.]

Richard Dawkins, is an evolutionary biologist, and an author of many books on the subjects of biology and science in general. [I can personally recommend “The Blind Watchmaker,” which is an easy-to-understand explanation of evolution, “Unweaveing The Rainbow,” which is a book about the wonders and beauty of science , and “The Devil’s Chaplain” which is a collection of short essays on a variety of subjects. All excellent books.] He is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. And, he is unequivocal in his atheism.

The following is an excerpt from an article titled “Time To Stand Up” published on September 15th, 2001.

"To blame Islam for what happened in New York is like blaming Christianity for the troubles in Northern Ireland!" Yes. Precisely. It is time to stop pussyfooting around. Time to get angry. And not only with Islam.

Those of us who have renounced one or another of the three "great" monotheistic religions have, until now, moderated our language for reasons of politeness. Christians, Jews and Muslims are sincere in their beliefs and in what they find holy. We have respected that, even as we have disagreed with it.

The article can be read in its entirety here.

Related Posts:
Voice of Sanity by Neddie Jingo
Thoughts on Religion by yours truly

[Note: 07-Feb-2006 3:25 PM EST. I contacted Ned shortly after posting today to let him know that I had linked to him. He informed me that he had been working on this related post about Richard Dawkins for the last couple of days. These seemingly connected events are purely coincidental and the existence of some underlying intelligent design should not be inferred.]


Blogger isabelita said...

Thanks for the link to Dawkins. Food for THOUGHT, not belief.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

I've been reading some of the submissions to 'EDGE' from various scientists on 'Intelligent Design' and this somehow fits in nicely. Thanks, V. And now I better go check out what Neddie has to say!

5:20 PM  
Blogger Lance Mannion said...

Good post, AL, and in the GMTA dept., I've been working on my own Dawkins post too. I'm not a fan of his though. And I think he attributes too much to religion that is just a part of human nature. For instance, the Irish troubles aren't about religion as much as they are about land and heritage, even if the people doing the killing there now don't know it. The troubles date back to days when the English conquored Ireland and dispossessed the landowners there to install their own gentry. It's a fight over power and land as much as it's a fight over religion. I'm all for criticizing religion but one of the criticisms needs to be that people use it to hide their own rotten natures and dishonest motives from themselves.

3:45 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Hi Lance,

When it comes to the situation in Ireland, I think Dawkins would agree with you, but would point out the fact that the differences in faith exacerbate the problems.

Certainly people would find reasons to hate and kill each other without the benefit of religion, but it does seem to be at the top of the list of why people feel justified in doing so, and it is often used to incite and control people.

The thing he has right is this nonesense that religious people's beliefs, not matter how ridiculous or harmful or immoral or counter-productive they may be must be respected and not questioned or held accountable. That has to stop.

I'm all for criticizing religion but one of the criticisms needs to be that people use it to hide their own rotten natures and dishonest motives from themselves.

Excellent point. People love the bits about God forgiving them, but often choose to ignore the other bits, like helping the poor and forgiving others and not judging.

Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to your post on the subject.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Shinsyotta said...

Dawkins has been a hero of mine for many years. I was honoured to meet him at James Randi's "The Amazing Meeting 3", in 2005. He's just awe-inspiring to anyone with half a rational mind.
I wish more people would write complimentary pieces about what the man says. He, and many of us, are ahead of our time. It's not going to be an easy fight.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Viscount, just getting here after a minor enforced absence elsewhere. I'm not going to be drawn on Richard Dawkins, but I do want to say that there is some mighty odd stuff in the "foreign" press these days on the nature of religion. Which prompted a little rant of mine. Do you object to self-aggrandisement over here?

1:58 AM  

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