More Extremism From Richard Dawkins

You can always count on militant atheists to fail when it comes to hiding their militancy.

A few months ago, Dawkins let his anger get the better of him and showed us his true feelings – all religious people are evil.

Of course, someone people might think I was reading too much into his tweets. Nah. Tweety Dawk just completed the circle. Note what he recently tweeted:

All good people are secular. Meaning that you can’t be good and religious. Which makes sense, if we consider Dawkins’ enlightened, educated mind where all religious people are evil. Y’see, if you are religious and good, you can’t truly be good. Why? Because you are religious. Duh!

I’m always amazed by the people who think Richard Dawkins is such an intelligent man. Do intelligent people truly possess such ham-handed, black-and-white thinking, where religious people are evil and good people are secular?

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34 Responses to More Extremism From Richard Dawkins

  1. UpstateIslandersFan says:

    This man really has the emotional profile of a 9-year-old. Basically, he exists only to say strident, shock value and demeaning things for a fan club that is as knuckle dragging and idiotic as any fundamentalist caricature. In his statement he has just foreclosed on billions of people who I believe most reasonable people would argue are good. There’s a frightening trend with the likes of Richard Dawkins, which is this creeping, insidious popular culture intolerance. Taken to its extreme it would involve the eradication of anyone’s belief in anything transcendent or non-material. It even shames and mocks people who ask questions about orthodox science. It seems to be getting stronger and stronger each year and its purveyors less and less introspective, more historically illiterate and morally bankrupt. Take for example the idiots – many of which would giddily follow Dawkins off of a cliff – who think it would be a great idea to criminalize a person to pass on his/her faith to their child. This rings very familiar…Oh yeah, that’s because Albania did it. Look at the 1000 years of prosperity it brought them. Oh but, that’s only because they were a communist nation without fancy gadgets. In the enlightened liberal west, people would push forward, progress would be achieved…No, because any culture that COMMITS itself to materialism as an ideology must logically enforce that ideology to achieve “progress”. I think that type progress culminates in the elevation of culture of supermen (and women) who see themselves as the gatekeepers of truth and knowledge. You want a dark ages to occur, embrace faith in that. Years ago I had the good fortune to meet a very nice Hungarian woman who told a story about her mother smuggling her and her first communion dress to an underground church during the darkest days of state communism. The penalty would have been imprisonment and public humiliation. Her mother did it anyway and 50 some on years on her daughter was hardly the deluded, irrational person that religious believers are made out to be. She was a kind soul and an academic and good company. Sorry I’m going on a long rant. As I’ve said before, I’m far from having it figured out. Still, it seems to me that if you believe people need to embrace rationality and reason you must define what those things are. I’ve never heard Dawkins and his ilk fully explain what they believe those are. But I can tell you one thing I believe. If you hold that there is something called rationality or reason that exist in a pure unambiguous sense and yet you reject the concept of God, you are invoking something that in and of itself is arbitrary and relative to each individual. I think these people need to be more honest. In their quest to eradicate religious faith, philosophy or any type of questioning of scientific orthodoxy (and I’m not talking about intelligent design or vaccinations), they are really just trying to enshrine materialism. That’s it, plain and simple. Nothing matters but matter. No possibility of consciousness, soul, spirit and certainly no reliance on subjective experience because people can’t be relied upon to be rational or reasonable – unless of course they embrace materialism. The ironic thing is that these are the last people to understand that consequences of their own thinking. They will only establish a scientific priesthood, beyond simply eradicating the possibility of the transcendent, prohibits all types of inquiry beyond what is acceptable by the supermen. Just look at how the likes of Jerry Coyne, P.Z. Myers and others tear down others in academia who put forward new ways of looking at things. One theist blogger noted that the same month Jerry Coyne and some physicist dude were tearing apart another scientist for noting that there were recorded fluctuations in the speed of light in the 1920-30s, and encouraging people to take a look to see if there might have been something there asides from error and miscalculation, a respected European journal had published a study indicating that such fluctuations could actually exist…I do find some guilty pleasure in seeing the science-only crowd fight over the validity of evolutionary psychology…But to close my long-winded rant, the 73-year-old 9-year-old with the Twitter account certainly can’t be trusted and neither can his most passionate followers. None of them strike me as particularly rational or reasonable. Just angry, vengeful, deluded and sowing the seeds of intolerance.

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9286682/the-bizarre-and-costly-cult-of-richard-dawkins/

  2. So, while I don’t personally like Dawkins, you just basically proved that the WORST thing that you can say about militant atheists is, that they use their right of free speech to say bad things? Wow. Congratulations. The WORST thing that militant theists do is KILL PEOPLE.

  3. TFBW says:

    … you just basically proved that the WORST thing that you can say about militant atheists is …

    I think you assume that Michael is trying to paint militant atheists in the worst possible light. That assumption probably says more about you and your militant attitude than about him. If that wasn’t your assumption, then show your working, because I don’t see any “proof” of the kind you mention here.

  4. Kevin says:

    All Michael did in this post is prove one again how easy it is to demonstrate that Dawkins is a complete fool. The worst that militants atheists do is kill people, just like theists.

    You see, anti-theists love to attempt to squirm out of owning the Cult of Reason and oppressive communist regimes that are explicitly anti-religion. You love to talk about “religion” like there is even remotely a similarity between my Bible study group and ISIS, yet when we point out some remarkable similarities between New Atheist propaganda and Soviet propaganda, well then all of a sudden painting with a broad brush is a fallacy.

    Atheistic philosophies are responsible for tens of millions of deaths in the past century, probably over 100 million. I’m pretty sure Michael knows that Dawkins being a belligerent idiot on religious matters is not the worst atheists can throw at us.

  5. UpstateIslandersFan says:

    @Twisted Inspiration, probably the worst thing anyone can do is kill someone. Atheists don’t have a monopoly on it and neither do relious people. The same goes for rape and torture, assault, unkind words, etc. If Michael’s post is about anything it seems to be about the vapidity of Richard Dawkins public pronouncements. As for the militant atheism, what is its logical culmination? And how and what is the right way to express it and fulfill it?

  6. mechanar says:

    @UpstateIslandersFan you are right expect one little detail. The view on religion is not getting worse every year. Infact in the rest of the world islam, christianaty hinduism buddhism is growing in giant numbers every year. No this entery #Atheismforeverlols thing was just a passing fad, a trend that was funny for 2-3 years for some people only that the new atheism has not realized that america has moved on, today the way more intelligent Position is to say that religion/humanaty is a little bit more complex as 140 charachters in a twitter account. No what is geting worse every year is the new atheists which unlike the rest of society has not moved on. Think about it if new atheism was actually making the impact on the world that the new atheism says it does were is the one million man march of the reason rally 2.0?

    Of course we can not let totalitarian thinking like that get unchallenged but we should be happy about these kind of sentences because it is more damaging to new atheism than everything that someone of the opposite spectrum could say or do, its shows very plain and simple the primitiv core of the new atheism and every truly rational person will look at this and say “is this guy really serious?”

  7. Isn’t it nice that the worst thing Dawkins has done is type certain sentences? You have chosen to post about that instead if the child abductions, shootings and executions going in in the world inspired by religion.

  8. Allallt says:

    I don’t know that I’d call this militant. Ignorant and wrong, yes. But he’s not exactly beheading people or bombing abortion clinics, is he? How are you defining militant? Because I suspect you’re being quite liberal with your definition.

  9. I don’t know that I’d call this militant. Ignorant and wrong, yes. But he’s not exactly beheading people or bombing abortion clinics, is he? How are you defining militant? Because I suspect you’re being quite liberal with your definition.

    Well, dictionary.com defines “militant (adjective)” as:

    1. vigorously active and aggressive, especially in support of a cause:
    militant reformers.
    2. engaged in warfare; fighting.

    I don’t really think it’s a stretch to describe somebody who says that “all good people are secular” as “vigorously active and aggressive in support of a cause”.

  10. Doug Evans says:

    “All good people are secular”

    “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone”

    Therefore there are no secular people. Conundrum solved.

  11. Allallt says:

    “I don’t really think it’s a stretch to describe somebody who says that “all good people are secular” as “vigorously active and aggressive in support of a cause”.”

    Well, I think that is a stretch. No aggressiveness, no action, no fighting, nothing vigorous.
    Remember, atheists can be described as militant on the content of their tweets, but religious people have to kill someone first…

  12. TFBW says:

    Hey, Allallt, did you know that Dawkins has been promoting militant atheism since at least 2002? Clearly he needs to lift his game if you’re rating him, “no aggressiveness, no action, no fighting, nothing vigorous.” Tough crowd.

  13. TFBW says:

    religionerased said:

    You have chosen to post about that instead if the child abductions, shootings and executions going in in the world inspired by religion.

    I notice that you recently chose to post about the size of your thumb in perspective, relative to the sun, instead of posting about the child abductions, shootings and executions going in in the world inspired by religion, so what’s your point? I think you’re a victim of your own rhetoric.

  14. UpstateIslandersFan says:

    @religionerased I think most people – non-believer or theist – are rightly bothered by violence, no matter who is carrying it out. I’m sure most believers would be frightened by Boko Haram or ISIS, just as they would by North Korea, which has abducted people and executes dissidents on a frequent basis. Counting bodies is crass. There are people who are believers who work to eradicate what they see as injustice. There are religious people who work in war zones because of their beliefs. One who comes to mind was the American Muslim convert who was beheaded in Syria in the fall, he had been abducted after several months of working medic to provide comfort to Syrian civilians caught up in the civil war. Recently, I read about Catholic nuns in Brazil whose aim is fighting human trafficking and prostitution. I’m sure there are non-believers doing this type of work too. The issue of militancy is in dehumanizing or placing value judgments on whole swathes of people. Religious people are capable of doing this, many do make such value judgments. I am of the belief that Richard Dawkins is childish. He exists as a shock value performance artist. The problem may not be with his statement but with the duderheadness of people who go, “oh, man, he’s so right, dude! Non-religious people are good.”, which of course in their minds forecloses on people who have transcendent beliefs. I have no idea if you would agree with Dawkins asinine tweet (and really, what tweet isn’t asinine?), but please consider that most religious people aren’t violent anymore than the average non-religious person.

  15. Allallt says:

    TFBW – I know Dawkins also happy to accept the label of militancy. Perhaps he thinks that owning the word is empowering. But it’s not militant. He’t not asking to assault people or bomb Churches… no violence…
    Perhaps I am a tough crowd. But I am pretty annoyed by a person claiming the title “Militant” and thus denigrating all atheists (because, as this blog shows, people are happy to group all atheists together). I am doubly annoyed when I agree with his methods, and then he calls his methods “Militant”. Where is one to go? I am disarmed by someone perceived as being on my side admitting militant guilt.

  16. “Militant” can be used to describe somebody who’s strident and aggressive. It doesn’t need to imply actual physical violence.

  17. TFBW says:

    Yeah, but Allallt thinks that Dawkins isn’t aggressive. “Militant” is a culturally relative term, and Dawkins is as aggressive and belligerent as his effete, professorial, upper-crust British nature allows him to be. There aren’t many people from his social class who would stand in front of a crowd of atheists and exhort them to contemptuously mock and ridicule Catholics in public. That’s way militant, relatively speaking. But no, Allallt is firmly set in a narrow view of militancy, where if you’re not employing physical violence, you’re not militant.

  18. Kevin says:

    And I find that this blog goes out of its way to point out it is not speaking of all atheists, just the New Atheist crowd.

  19. Allallt says:

    I still don’t see the militancy. (And I don’t think British people are as effete as you assume.)
    Not only is he not beheading or bombing anything, he’s also not imploring others to do. He’s not calling anyone to death nor is he claiming the worthlessness of life in an opposing camp.
    He is making one mistaken claim about the nature of goodness.
    He’s not even saying religious people can’t be good. He could be saying that being good for secular reasons is actually good, whereas being good for religious reasons is self interested (and given some conversations he has had about morality in the past, this is possible; I’ve not yet read the story it links to. I bet most of the commenters here haven’t, either).

  20. Allallt says:

    Footnote: I watched the video and it has nothing to do with morality, nor Dawkins’ comments. I can’t figure our why Dawkins appends his comment to this video, other than the @openlysecular, there’s no link.

  21. TFBW says:

    Well, this post was only ever about Dawkins’ tweets, not the video. Thanks for letting us know that it’s not even remotely relevant to the discussion, though. Thanks also for confirming my assertion that you don’t classify anything as militant until it involves violence. A correction, though: I described Dawkins as both effete and British, but that does not mean that I think British people are effete as a whole. Mind your logic.

    He is making one mistaken claim about the nature of goodness.

    If it were an isolated incident, I would grant you that. There’s nothing out-of-character about this remark, however. The only thing that makes it noteworthy is its clarity and brevity: usually he rants for paragraphs at a time to say much the same thing.

  22. Billy Squibs says:

    RD promoted and organisation that aims to “eliminate discrimination and increase acceptance..” (I would hope against all people) by using a discriminatory opening line. I don’t know if twitter lends itself to inaccuracy or if Dawkins has a special ability to put his foot in it. (Probably both). But his tweets can often contain ludicrous and inflammatory elements (albeit I find them unintentionally humorous) and he should be called out in such cases.

    It has been pointed out to you more than once militancy doesn’t necessarily entail physical violence, and that even the man of the hour, RD, has no issue with the word being applied to him and his movement in a given context. All of this really should not be difficult to grasp. There should not be any argument here. I don’t say this to be cruel, Allallt. But I find it strange that you are digging your heals in over a definition that is as clear as day.

    Let’s not loose focus here. RD yet again said some stupid shit in public and yet again he needs to be corrected in public. Though I don’t suppose a fraction of the people who read his tweets would be aware that objections like this blog post exist.

    (BTW, I don’t think that discrimination is necessarily a bad thing. We all discriminate, and I would argue that some forms of discrimination are essential in a health society. But that is a matter for another discussion.)

  23. GM says:

    Dawkins has compared raising children according to a religious tradition to “child abuse.” Child abuse is a crime. Crimes are countered with laws, which are backed by the coercive power of the state. Thus, Richard Dawkins thinks people who raise children according to a religious tradition should be subject to the punitive powers of the state. In other words, militant.

  24. Thus, Richard Dawkins thinks people who raise children according to a religious tradition should be subject to the punitive powers of the state.

    Or that child abuse shouldn’t be illegal, I suppose.

    (Actually, given what he’s said in the past about “gentle” paedophiles and the like, maybe he would support decriminalising child abuse…)

  25. Dhay says:

    In his article on Richard Dawkins’ RDF website entitled, “A Superscientific Definition of ‘Religion’ and a Clarification of Richard Dawkins’ New Atheism”, Raphael Lataster links to an article of the same name which Lataster wrote for the journal, “Literature and aesthetics : the journal of the Sydney Society of Literature and Aesthetics.” Lataster introduces the article:

    I interviewed Richard Dawkins, and analysed his writings and public interactions, in order to ascertain if the view that he is ‘anti-religious’ is correct. As part of this, I attempt to provide a definition of religion – building on Schilbrack’s recent effort – that would satisfy both laypeople and scholars. I also consider related issues, such as whether Dawkins and his New Atheist colleagues need to prove God’s non-existence. I discover that Dawkins is far more respectful towards religion than is usually thought, and that there are opportunities for New Atheists, Old Atheists, and religious liberals, to work together.
    https://richarddawkins.net/2015/04/a-superscientific-definition-of-religion-and-a-clarification-of-richard-dawkins-new-atheism/

    “The journal of the Sydney Society of Literature and Aesthetics” sounds like an appropriate journal in which to publish an article on religion, including a ground-breaking brand new definition of what “religion” is. I looked up Volume 24, Issue 2 online, and found five other articles there: the first, “If Christ was a Cowboy …”, contains, “[Wild Bill] Hickok, as the embodiment of the Holy Spirit of the old West, is foreign to the world that he rides into in the first episode. Hickok’s Christlike self-sacrifice, in episode four of the first season, at the poker table of the Number 10 saloon, represents the death of not only the spirit of the Old West but also of the era of pre-capitalism”, which nicely epitomises the level of theological understanding to be found in that article; of the other four, there’s one on the religious symbology of the colour blue, one on religious kitsch, and one on a colonial travel writer’s idea of home.
    (There is one non-lightweight article: Stephen Cook’s article, “A Reading of Job as a Theatrical Work: Challenging a Retributive Deuteronomistic Theodicy”, fits nicely within one strand of Biblical analysis, and is interesting reading.)

    The journal, then, is what it says on the box: not a serious publication covering heavyweight issues in religion, but covering literature and aesthetics. Perhaps this is as heavyweight a publication covering religion as Lataster could get accepted in. Now let’s turn to assess the merits of Lataster’s article and arguments.

    The usual definitions of religion are evidently problematic; at any rate Lataster finds them so; so Lataster “[builds] on Schilbrack’s recent effort [to provide a satisfactory definition of religion]” in his what Lataster names as, “Philosophy and the Study of Religions”; looking it up, I find that “ Schilbrack’s recent effort” is actually in “Philosophy and the Study of Religions: A Manifesto”, which book is, well, a manifesto, a set of ideas being sold to others, not something generally accepted: that’s to say, Lataster has cherry-picked a maverick definition that nearly suited his purposes, rather than one used by the scholarly community; and then, because Schilbrack’s definition proposal didn’t quite suit Lataster’s purposes, Lataster changed it to something even more maverick which did, and which Lataster is alone among scholars in accepting – his website says he has a Masters, but is still researching for a PhD, so weigh for yourself his credentials as a scholar.

    There’s terms for being the only person holding to a particular “definition of religion” (or other view): one is “maverick”; others are, “out on a limb”, “isolated”, and “contrary to the scholarly consensus”. Among scholars, not even Schilbrack accepts Lataster’s definition of religion, so there’s no reason why we should, either. I think we can rule out that Lataster speaks for anyone other than himself, or that his conclusions are those of anyone but himself.

    Nor is Lataster’s definition problem free: he says, “While a little more advantageous, my definition is still not without its problems. It still entails that, if scientifically proven to be veridical, a religion is no longer a religion”, and, “… a good definition of religion assumes that it is ‘not true’. It might be true, but then, when demonstrated as such, it is no longer a religion.” Let’s try that out with a thought-experiment: if the resurrection were scientifically proven, Christianity would cease to be a religion? Lataster’s playing word games.

    Lataster’s “Superscientific Definition of ‘Religion’”, “building on” Schilbrack’s “superempirical” definition, has the problem that nowhere does Lataster actually define, or clearly tell us what he means by, “superscientific”. Perhaps the nearest is this: “Dawkins’ somewhat elaborated anti-religion aligns well with my own definition of religion. He is opposing views of the world that are made without, or even in contradiction with, scientific knowledge.”

    It occurs to me that most of politics, falls within the category of “views of the world that are made without, or even in contradiction with, scientific knowledge”: politics, most of social science and other “soft” sciences, my wife’s adoration of her grandchildren, Jerry Coyne’s obsession with cats, philosophy – these, too, align well with Lataster’s definition of religion.

    Whether “the view that [Dawkins] is ‘anti-religious’ is correct” (in Lataster’s argument) stands or falls depending on whether one accepts Lataster’s maverick definition of religion. Schilbrack tailors his to fully accommodate Buddhism and other Eastern religions, and Lataster’s follows suit; this enables Lataster to claim that because Dawkins is only anti- the Abrahamic and other theistic religions, he is not anti-religious as such, eg “[Dawkins’] disdain for religion is mostly limited to the Abrahamic faiths, with the Eastern religions generally overlooked. In a chapter that makes it obvious that his criticisms tend to be about the great monotheistic faiths, Dawkins declares, “I shall not be concerned at all with other religions such as Buddhism or Confucianism”, and questions whether these are religions at all. Clearly, he is not truly contra all religions, even when he is content to label himself ‘anti-religious’”.

    But Lataster equivocates: later, in his article’s conclusion, he says he “demonstrated that by this [Lataster’s] definition, Dawkins is certainly antireligious”, and also says, “I revealed that even on other possible interpretations of the term ‘anti-religious’, Dawkins should not be considered as such …”

    The introduction continues, “I also consider related issues, such as whether Dawkins and his New Atheist colleagues need to prove God’s non-existence.” Hmm. Lataster says, “Even secular colleagues of mine from Australian and British Religious Studies departments opined that Dawkins’ The God Delusion attempted – and failed – to prove that God does not exist.” and Dawkins is quoted as saying, “You can’t disprove God. What a ridiculous idea.” So where does that leave us: Dawkins arguably attempted – and failed – to prove that God does not exist, and has now declared that the idea that you can disprove God is ridiculous; what seems to be missing from Lataster’s article is anything to say that Dawkins and his New Atheist colleagues do or do not (objectively) need to prove God’s non-existence. Lataster’s playing word games.

    The introduction continues, “I discover that Dawkins is far more respectful towards religion than is usually thought, and that there are opportunities for New Atheists, Old Atheists, and religious liberals, to work together.” Why? Well, Dawkins identifies himself as a “cultural Christian”; I note that Jerry Coyne identifies himself (September 26, 2011 and others) as a “secular Jew”; neither is actually respectful towards religion, as has been documented on Shadow to Light on many occasions.

    The introduction continues, “… and that there are opportunities for New Atheists, Old Atheists, and religious liberals, to work together.” Ah yes, the examples given are – is – Dawkins teamed up with the Church of England to suppress the teaching of creationism in a particular school. So, technically, this is correct: technically correct.

    Let’s have a look at Lataster’s evidence that Dawkins is open-minded: “… while traversing the appropriately-named Charles Darwin walk before our interview in the Blue Mountains, a little dispute arose between Dawkins, and our guide, Connor. Mostly happy to rely on Connor’s expertise in identifying numerous examples of native Australia flora and fauna, Dawkins asserted that one particular species was South African. Several members of our troupe consulted with the all-knowing Dr Google, identifying it as a Callistemon bottlebrush and revealing Dawkins’ error. His response: “I was wrong.””

    Wow. Having initially denied his guide’s expertise, having asserted that a South African plant would be found in Australia’s Blue Mountains (ie presumably and improbably in the wild, not in a cultivated garden), then having been caught out by simple fact-checking and faced down by several people, Dawkins was forced to admit he was wrong. I would say that is either supreme evidence that Dawkins is open-minded, or else supreme evidence that Lataster is sycophantic and fawning, plus a bit lacking in the critical reasoning department – make your own mind up.

    The last probably explains why Lataster got an interview denied everybody else. If he did indeed get an interview, that is, for the interview (and telephone follow-up) questions and responses seem strangely absent from the article. And reading between the lines I strongly suspect Lataster told Dawkins that he could use his quirky definition of religion to “prove” (ie ‘spin’) that Dawkins is not anti-religious, and could offer a spinned PR article to the RDF website to enhance Dawkins’ image in the eyes of the faithful and the gullible.

    On a different note, I personally tend to refer to New Atheist Sam Harris as being a neo-Buddhist, taking cognisance that he has written, “Why I Am Not A Buddhist”. Lataster disagrees (probably in order to “prove” that Harris therefore cannot be anti-religious if he is Buddhist): “[Dawkins’] New Atheist alum Sam Harris would certainly be considered by most religious experts as a Buddhist.”

    So there you have it, definitively, the opinion of most religious experts: Sam Harris is a Buddhist.

  26. Dhay says:

    Raphael Lataster > I interviewed Richard Dawkins, and analysed his writings and public interactions, in order to ascertain if the view that he is ‘anti-religious’ is correct. As part of this, I attempt to provide a definition of religion – building on Schilbrack’s recent effort – that would satisfy both laypeople and scholars.

    I suspect that those reading this introductory blurb on the RDF website will assume that the article claims that, by Lataster’s definition, Dawkins is not anti-religious; this impression will be bolstered for those few who click through to download the article itself, where the Introduction includes:

    ”I use excerpts from our discussions, as well as Dawkins’ writings, to contest the notion that Dawkins is anti-religious …“
    http://www.raphaellataster.com/articles/lataster-dawkins-interview.pdf

    Yet Lataster’s Conclusion says:

    ”I demonstrated that by [my] definition, Dawkins is certainly antireligious, and that this is not necessarily undesirable; indeed, it might be applauded.” [My emboldenings.]

    Lataster immediately continues:

    “On other possible [read: on the usual] interpretations of the term ‘anti-religious’, Dawkins should not be considered as such, given his focus on the worst and most harmful fruits of religious thought, which is something that should be – and is – opposed by secular elites and liberal religionists alike, and his generally overlooking of entire faith traditions such as Buddhism.”

    (The cynic might say that Dawkins, as a product of a colonial youth, has simply ignored whatever it is the ignorant fuzzy-wuzzies might believe. I certainly think that if Dawkins were to turn his attention to, say, Padmasambhava’s miraculous birth on a lotus leaf, or to reincarnation, he would quickly become vocally anti-Buddhist. For example.)

    Clearly Lataster is so muddled in his thinking, he doesn’t know whether he is arguing for or against Dawkins being correctly described as ‘anti-religious’.

    Lataster proposes and uses a novel definition of religion: “… religion is forms of [social?] life predicated upon the reality of the superscientific”; clearly he cannot be making a serious proposal to scholars, or with any serious expectation that scholars will accept his definition, for this notionally Philosophy of Religion paper is published not in a Philosophy of Religion journal, not in a Philosophy journal, not even in a Theology journal, but in a Literature and Aesthetics journal, somewhere where no relevant scholars will encounter (and criticise) it.

    Nowhere does Lataster actually define, or clearly tell us what he means by, “superscientific”, a fault which a scholar would jump straight on: you start by clearly defining your terms; and it’s not as if the term is well defined, is in common use – try searching for it – or in any of my dictionaries. When I look at the etymology of “superscientific”, and how Lataster actually uses “superscientific” and “religion” in his article, it becomes plain to me that Lataster has defined religion by polar contrast (or opposition) to science: that is, anything that is not science, ie is “superscientific”, is defined as religion.

    I imagine almost the whole of jurisprudence would count as “superscientific”, hence as religion; likewise everything but the sciences, plus such science-like disciplines as engineering, would count as religion; while all those subjects collectively known as the Arts, and even the Social Sciences, would certainly count as religion.

    Do I detect philosophical materialism, or scientism, underlying Lataster’s strange definition. Contrary to Lataster’s hopeful claim, I don’t think Lataster can possibly say that he has achieved a definition of religion that would satisfy laypeople, or scholars, or both.

    My congratulations to Lataster; he has managed to do what Jerry Coyne has not managed to do in years of blogging, and will almost certainly also not achieve in his forthcoming book: with a quick flick of fingers on keyboard, Lataster has made science and religion totally incompatible by defining religion as what’s incompatible with science.

  27. Dhay says:

    Raphael Lataster > I interviewed Richard Dawkins, and analysed his writings and public interactions, in order to ascertain if the view that he is ‘anti-religious’ is correct.

    Actually, case closed, Dawkins himself has proudly and publicly declared he is anti-religious: listen to his February 2002 TED talk, where at 7:40 he says he is against not just creationism, but against religion itself; and at 27:45 he declares he despises religion and urges his audience to do likewise.
    http://dangerousidea.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/dawkins-ted-talk-that-started-new.html

    Interestingly, Dawkins urges that a program should be set up whereby atheists can “out” themselves publicly — he’d fund it himself if his books sold like Stephen Hawking’s do. I have to say that I am surprised that amply-multi-millionaire Dawkins has been so impoverished and unmotivated, and his well-funded Richard Dawkins Foundation has been likewise so impoverished and unmotivated, that the program has only recently been launched; it’s been twelve years since, such a long delay that it rather looks like Dawkins and the RDF couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery.

  28. Dhay says:

    Raphael Lataster > I interviewed Richard Dawkins, and analysed his writings and public interactions, in order to ascertain if the view that he is ‘anti-religious’ is correct.

    Case closed: by his own admission, Dawkins has been “militantly anti-religious” since age 17, and still is. This is from an article which, like Lataster’s, is on the RDF website.

    “At 17, having learnt about other religions, he became “militantly anti-religious”, and has been ever since.”
    https://richarddawkins.net/2013/09/the-world-according-to-richard-dawkins-the-times/

  29. Kevin says:

    Could we make that quote a permanent fixture on the blog for all the atheists who protest the word “militant” being applied to atheists?

  30. TFBW says:

    The age of seventeen, give or take a year, seems to be rather significant. Dawkins discovered other religions and became militantly anti-religious at that age. Coyne listened to “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” for the first time and had a religious experience which left him a converted atheist. Sam Harris had just turned sixteen when he went on “a twenty-three-day wilderness program in the mountains of Colorado” which revealed to him the misery of being alone with his thoughts, and set him on the path to his Buddhist denial of the self.

    I wonder what other formative late-teen experiences can be added to this list.

    When I look at my own life, my major religious decision was something I made at age twelve: I stopped going to the church I had been raised in, but did not reject Christianity. I still stand by that decision. I note that my decision was not precipitated by extraordinary circumstances, unlike the above examples — it was just a decision I made at the time. Maybe this says something about not giving the issue proper thought until you’re shocked into it.

  31. Dhay says:

    When these guys say they are not Islamophobic or anti-Islamic, it’s worth bearing in mind that they are each of them militantly anti-religious.

    Sam Harris is not only against Islamic extremism, he is vehemently opposed even to the “virus” of religious moderation (http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-virus-of-religious-moderation). Harris is an anti-religious extremist, someone who would love to see the eradication of religion

    Jerry Coyne phrases it differently, but in his again vehemently expressed antipathy towards those he calls “accommodationists” and “accommodatheists”, Coyne’s attitude is essentially the same.

    You cannot be militantly anti-religious without being militantly anti-Islamic; you cannot be militantly anti-Theist without being militantly anti-Islamic: when these guys quibble about whether they can be correctly described as Islamophobic, they are quibbling over nuances such as whether they can be correctly described as intentionally or unintentionally — or are — racist.

    They are not quibbling about substance: because they are militantly anti-religious, they are Islamophobic.

  32. Lola says:

    I have recently watched Mehdi Hasan’s interview with Richard Dawkins for Al Jazeera. He makes some interesting statements that sort of contradict that tweet about all good people being secular. He’s clearly not being honest about his intentions. Is he a mere scientist seeking the truth, or is he a militant atheist proselytizing atheism while calling out for the eradication of religion? And more importantly, is he really concerned with the moral betterment of human life, whether people become ‘good or bad’? Based on that tweet, he’s making it clear to us that he does.

    Interviewer: Let me put a statement in context to you. Albania, one of the world’s worst dictatorships- tyrannies that we’ve seen in our last 100 years. Article 37 of Albania’s communist constitution declares that, quote: “The state recognizes no religion and supports atheistic propaganda in order to implant a scientific materialistic world outlook in people”.

    Dawkins: What do you think I’m saying.. that’s an appalling thing to say. Of course it is.

    Interviewer: Why is it an appalling thing to say? What do you disagree with in that statement?

    Dawkins: Why would I want to support atheistic propaganda.. I support science and truth.

    Interviewer: But you don’t support spreading atheism?

    Dawkins: I support spreading science and truth. If that happens to be atheism, I support it. I’m not going to start bullying people into being atheists. I’m not going to start to compel people to be atheists. That’s what the Albanians were doing, it’s got nothing to do with what I want to do.

    But here’s the interesting part….

    Interviewer: In your book, you cite lots of evidence for the bad things religion has done. What I wonder is, if you were being fair, wouldn’t you’ve also cited the good things religion has done?

    Dawkins: My passion is for scientific truth. I don’t much care about what’s good and evil actually. I care about what’s true.

    There you have it. He doesn’t give a damn about good and evil. He professes that he’s not going to start bullying people into being atheists, but his minions are bullying people left and right for having religious beliefs. The word “militant” seems like a fairly accurate description.

  33. Kevin says:

    At the misnamed Reason Rally, he actively encouraged his followers to go and do just that – bully them so the fence sitters would be scared away from religion. He’s a liar along with his other innumerable faults.

  34. FZM says:

    A few months ago, Dawkins let his anger get the better of him and showed us his true feelings – all religious people are evil.

    From what I’ve previously read/heard Dawkins come out with I am guessing the argument might go something like:

    Religion is based solely on faith
    Faith is belief without evidence
    Here ‘without evidence’ is just a synonym for belief that is evil
    Therefore Religion is based solely on belief that is evil.

    Dawkins claim could maybe be stated more concisely as ‘all people who hold evil beliefs are evil’. Obviously it’s pretty compelling.

    Let me put a statement in context to you. Albania, one of the world’s worst dictatorships- tyrannies that we’ve seen in our last 100 years. Article 37 of Albania’s communist constitution declares that, quote: “The state recognizes no religion and supports atheistic propaganda in order to implant a scientific materialistic world outlook in people”.

    I think looking at the example of Communist societies can lead to some significant questions about the kind of claims Dawkins often comes out with.

    The Communists who gained power and set up totalitarian regimes in large parts of the world in the 20th century were mostly strongly committed to a scientific, materialistic worldview which they believed naturally entailed atheism. Religion and religious belief was seen as something that was either useless or actively harmful and threatening to social well being.

    Their commitment to these facts (as they understood them) translated into restricting and controlling religious belief and working towards it’s eradication and strong, sustained effort to educate the populations they governed into a scientific, materialistic (atheistic) world view.

    The issue for the kind of claims Dawkins seems to be making is what went wrong? How did an intense commitment to science and what it’s adherents saw as a rational humanist scientific world view, together a strong measures to combat the evils and dangers of religious belief not lead to quite wonderful societies and quality of life far superior to that of societies where evil religious views went unchallenged and where the scientific world view was not dominant?

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