Dawkins: Religion no moral compass
September 27th, 2013
05:53 PM ET

Dawkins: Religion no moral compass

By Jason Miks

GPS digital producer Jason Miks sits down with renowned evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, author of the Selfish Gene and An Appetite for Wonder, to discuss readers’ questions on religion, its role in society and whether children can be described as “Christian.”

A number of readers noting your skepticism over religion’s role in society ask whether an absence of religion would leave us without a moral compass?

The very idea that we get a moral compass from religion is horrible. Not only should we not get our moral compass from religion, as a matter of fact we don’t. We shouldn’t, because if you actually look at the bible or the Koran, and get your moral compass from there, it’s horrible – stoning people to death, stoning people for breaking the Sabbath.

Now of course we don’t do that anymore, but the reason we don’t do it is that we pick out those verses of the bible that we like, and reject those verses we don’t like. What criteria do we use to pick out the good ones and reject the bad ones? Non-biblical criteria, non-religious criteria. The same criteria as guide any modern person in their moral compass that has nothing to do with religion.

So the moral compass of any person is very much a part of the century or even the decade in which they happen to live, regardless of their religion. So we live in the early 21st century, and our moral compass in the early 21st century is quite different from 100 years ago, or 200 years ago. We are now much less racist than they were, much less sexist than they were. We are much kinder than non-human animals than they were – all sorts of respects in which we are labeled with a moral compass. So something has changed, and it certainly has nothing to do with religion.

You’ve been travelling to the States from the U.K. for a number of years. Have you noticed much of a change in the place of religion in the two countries over that time?

Notoriously, the United States is the most religious of the Western advanced nations. It’s a bit mysterious why that is. In Britain, Christianity is dying. Islam, unfortunately, isn’t. In Western Europe generally, Christianity is dying. Even in America, the figures show that religious adherence is being steadily reduced, and the people who now record themselves as having no religious affiliation is something like 20 percent. Many people don’t recognize what a high figure it is, and so politicians here who feel they have to curry favor with religious lobbies should maybe take a look at those statistics and realize that not everyone in this country is religious.

You say it’s a bit of a mystery why America is so much more religious than other advanced countries. Do you have any thoughts on why it might be? Tied to that question of disposition, several readers also wondered if there is a genetic predisposition toward faith?

There probably is, but I don’t think that really explains why America is so different from Britain. The least implausible suggestion that I’ve heard is that Britain and Scandinavian countries, which are also very non-religious, have an established church, and that kind of makes religion boring. Whereas in America, there is constitutionally a bar against an established church, and that could be one reason why religion has become so popular – it has become big business, it has become free enterprise, rival churches vie with each other for congregations and especially tax free ties.

Some readers see you as very evangelical in your atheism. Do you feel it a duty, just as some Christians might to share the word of God, to spread an atheist point of view?

Duty is a funny word. But when you say evangelical, I like to think that I don’t shout or shriek, but employ a quiet, sober voice of reason. And reason is on our side.

You’ve talked about feeling uncomfortable with the impact of religion on children. In fact, one reader asked whether you would prefer to see no under-18s at church. What’s your take?

I certainly wouldn’t wish to prohibit parents influencing their children. However, for the rest of the world, to label a child a Catholic child simply because its parents are Catholic, seems to me to be a form of child abuse. The child is too young to know.

You can see the absurdity of talking about a Catholic child of four when you think what it would be like if we talked about an existentialist child of four, or a logical positivist of four. In other words, we wouldn’t accept the labeling of a child based the parents’ belief, so why do we accept it when it’s religion? Why does religion get a free pass when it comes to labeling children in this way?

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Topics: Religion • Science

soundoff (2,950 Responses)
  1. akis vassilleiou

    religions must not be based on common sense and knowledge but on transcedence. you see how successful iskam is becoming not relying on inquiry and common sense?

    September 29, 2013 at 8:28 am | Reply
    • Realist

      yes,, religions have changed over the times,, thank secular society for that. Odd that people can't see the complete transition of religion making its roots less valid

      September 29, 2013 at 8:35 am | Reply
  2. Jack Granger

    Realist: You say you have no sin...you lie, for all have fallen short of the glory of God.

    September 29, 2013 at 8:43 am | Reply
    • Realist

      thankfully,, your witchcraft doesn't work on most of us. We also raise our children to be good and caring,, we don't destroy them by calling them sinners.

      I really hope you are not around children.

      September 29, 2013 at 9:12 am | Reply
      • Jake Garner

        John 3:16

        September 29, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  3. frank

    "Religion: Together we can find the cure."

    September 29, 2013 at 8:52 am | Reply
    • Realist

      yes,, religion can use their magical powers while science cures.

      September 29, 2013 at 9:14 am | Reply
      • callinfiresupport

        Cures what????.........nothing in over 50yrs......

        September 29, 2013 at 9:42 am |
      • David

        Sure science can cure all diseases but you cant use science , a pathway to heaven Jesus is the living bridge to heaven Thats the only way to get to heaven To know God is to know Jesus to begin with. Amen

        September 29, 2013 at 10:32 am |
      • Realist

        yet no proof of god or heaven exists.. How delusional a post you made.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • ed dugan

      The cure is no religion at all. I guess Jimmy Swaggert and all the rest of thos religious hucksters caught with their pants down, or disgusting individuals like billy grahm who has made a very nice living telling us what god wants or doesn;t want, all must have lost their compansses. Religion is just BS wrapped up in more BS.

      September 29, 2013 at 10:27 am | Reply
      • David

        youre a BS in the first place. I rather be humble before God. We forgive you for you not knowing what youre saying Satan has been using you to do his works Repent!!!

        September 29, 2013 at 10:36 am |
      • Navyairvet

        You seem to be the source of BS with your judging and disrespect for others you disagree with spiritually!

        September 29, 2013 at 10:41 am |
      • Stan

        Amen.

        September 29, 2013 at 10:43 am |
      • Tony Soprano

        David,could you explain why you do not worship Allah?Your prospects for an afterlife are in jeopardy if you have chosen the wrong path.Repent and follow the teachings of the Koran,before it's too late.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:33 am |
      • Realist

        gee,, I hope David's god is a good god. From what I've read about him,, he's one unfair and angry dude.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Marc

      stoning people to death was very common back then, our version of stoning people today isn't with 3 lb rocks but with words that put people on their knees. one example is his comment saying that religion is a disease and that we are all sick. idk about you but that's a brick to the face, there is nothing wrong with believing something so powerful could make man, animal and the universe. i can tell you its alot better than a germ desiring to grow 4 legs and leave a lake or a big bang that instead of destroying everything in its path it created millions of planets, stars, and life. btw im sick so you may get infected by this comment.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:10 am | Reply
    • Smithy

      The only reason religion survives is through the incideous, bending of impressionable young minds which are unprepared to resist the powerful, inculction (read- brain washing) their parents and religious leaders insist is "The Truth"! I agree with Mr. Dawkings wholeheartedly; it is the worst form of child abuse! We should instead present children with accepted scientific proofs, teach them to think logicically and thereby endow them with the only tools they will need to protect themselves from charlatans and make informed, educated choices throughout their lives.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:40 am | Reply
      • Realist

        not only is it accepted child abuse,, but clergy rap=es and the cover ups, destroying children's lives, are also accepted by the religious???

        Why didn't the other christians demand the government make the catholic church accountable? Guess kids don't matter to them. After all, it's only wrong when others do it.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:56 am |
      • Oops

        Except you're discounting the people who found their faith themselves. Oops. Your bias is showing.

        September 29, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  4. pwmcgill

    Throughout history there has been more blood shed and abuse in the name of religion than for any other reason. Isn't this enough to declare that religion should not in any way shape or form be a viewed as a moral compass? In fact, if we were logical and intelligent about it, seems to be reason enough to declare it a criminal activity?

    September 29, 2013 at 9:02 am | Reply
    • Realist

      most recently are the revelations of child abuse and the worst crimes of cover ups by the catholic church.

      One might ask,, what has the church done to help those abused by their clergy?

      The answer to that question isn't a good one as they will;

      1) lobby to stop laws that would expose pedos and cover ups of pedophilia,, harming the once victims again. In fact denying all victims no matter who abused

      2) deflect by saying others did it too

      3) calling children liars,, those who lived traumatic lives of escape and isolation,, lost lives. Many children became mentally ill and others committed suicide due to the cover ups, rather than receiving needed help

      Then again, we must all remember that religions and dictators are the same in managing their followers. They love to control, create stories they expect you to beileve and use fears to make you believe.. Just look at christians, muslims, mao, stalin

      September 29, 2013 at 9:10 am | Reply
      • Hillary

        Amen.

        September 29, 2013 at 10:35 am |
      • Chris

        ‘We don’t see the Catholic Church as a hotbed of this or a place that has a bigger problem than anyone else,’ said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children."

        From the Guardian in the UK:

        "Certainly the safeguards against paedophilia in the priesthood are now among the tightest in the world. That won't stop a steady trickle of scandals; but I think that objectively your child is less likely to be abused by a Catholic or Anglican priest in the west today than by the members of almost any other profession."

        the extent of Communist (to further their Atheist agenda) abuse of Children will probably never be known:

        "The true extent of child abuse in former Soviet bloc countries is at last being recognized, after years of its existence being completely denied, paediatricians and psychologists at a Budapest conference heard last week."

        “Officially, child abuse didn't exist under the Communist....concept of a perfect society,” said Dr Owen Lewis, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at New York City's Columbia Medical School and cofounder of the Children's Mental Health Alliance. “Soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, it became very evident abuse was rampant."

        Usually occurred in "re-education" schools for kids who rebelled against communism.

        September 29, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
      • Chris

        Deflecting??? No...perspective... yes....

        And lumping communist atheists with religion like it's the same thing???...now that's deflecting....

        September 29, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • centeredpiece

      Since the beginning of time people have killed other people. This is undeniably true. That some have slaughtered in religion's name is also true. But, pray tell, do you believe that this slaughter was ALWAYS (or even usually) done for religious purposes? ALexander the Great conquered to acquire land, not to convert the masses. Same with Rome; although it had a religion, greed for land and plunder motivated its empire. For which religion did Hitler fight? Stalin slew 12 million for which religion? Pol Pot? Mao? You "religion is the root of all evil" folk have some research to do. Religion has been misused and twisted to justify killing, but it is hardly responsible for "most of the bloodshed" that's ever happened.
      Moreover, what was it that has made war unpalatable to the modern psyche? From whence springs the notion that all humans ought be treated with dignity and mercy? Oh, yeah, from Judeo-Christian morality and ethics which expound, not a tribal religion of "my god v. your god" but rather the notion that ALL humanity springs from a single divine source and thus is precious to the Creator. That's a religious based idea, not, by any means, a secular insight.

      September 29, 2013 at 9:27 am | Reply
      • Realist

        yes,, religions and dictators are quite the same. Wonder if religions learned from dictators and the opposite,, either way, both have destroyed so many lives.

        September 29, 2013 at 9:28 am |
      • Hillary

        Actually, Hitler's mother was a devout Catholic, Goering was married in a Catholic church, and the Catholic church in Germany kept silent about killing the Jews, and thus participated. Buddha and Buddhism excludes females.

        September 29, 2013 at 10:40 am |
      • Krakalakin

        It is you who needs to put down your bible and read some real history, Hitler and Mussolini both signed Konkordats (treaties) with the catholic church; in exchange for tacit support in the war from the catholic church, they offered exclusive rights to the souls of the reich's inhabitants....ever hear of the 100 years war?....the inquisition?...the crusades?....I can go on all day buddy....how dare you discount the death and destruction your religion has wrought on humanity....and that's one religion out of hundreds....and only in the past 2 thousand years....religious belief has been a source of strife ever since the first dude with an idea scratched the moon and stars on the walls of some cave....the audacity and arrogance of religion never ceases to amaze me, the sheer plurality of these flimsy stories should be enough to dissuade a rational being, yet scores of religions endure, along with the polarization of large swaths of humanity....but by all means keep the blinders on, and pass along a pair for your children, along with the denial of the crimes against humanity, and the nastier parts of the old book you hold so dear...

        September 29, 2013 at 11:43 am |
      • Religion is a disease

        Let's be clear when someone says "the catholic church did nothing to stop Hitler" what they really mean is ALL Christian religions did nothing to stop Hitler. Let's not toss stones at the Catholics for what EVERY OTHER christ-based religion did. They were all guilty, and participated in the slaughter of millions. My guess was they thought "who cares, it's just the jews"

        Religion disgusts me. ALL religion. Disease is an accurate way to look at it.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:52 am |
      • Oops

        What precisely was the Catholic Church supposed to do? Throw rosaries and holy water at tanks and jets? Countries were appeasing Hitler left and right. Atheists want religion out of politics but now expect them to have done something about WW2. How much they knew of the genocide is debatable. However the Catholic Church also didn't get involved in Iraq's gassing the Kurds or the problems in Syria or the genocides in Rwanda. I also didn't see a United Atheist Front stepping in to oppose Hitler. Give it a rest already.

        September 29, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • shenandoah

      It is true that wars have been fought "in the name" of religion. But what this really amounts to are wars fought over resources, racism, xenophobia, or regional power, that perpetrators try to justify with religion. Any serious student of history can easily find the true causes of wars, and can understand that even if religion was claimed as a point of conflict, this isn't truely the case, and war would have occurred even in a vacuum devoid of religion. To say that religion was the source of conflict in past conflicts, where warring christians/jews/muslims fought one another, is to ignore that the perpetrators of these conflicts were hypocrites to their own creeds.

      I doubt Dawkins himself can point out a single conflict where religion really was the sole motive, devoid of greed or xenophobia.

      September 29, 2013 at 9:53 am | Reply
      • Realist

        ah.. but the enabler to gather people to fight the war was done via moral persuasion.

        September 29, 2013 at 9:58 am |
      • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

        The Crusades

        September 29, 2013 at 10:04 am |
      • Danno

        Realist has put his finger on it. Every warring assemblage must convince the masses to die for "a cause". This is skillfully done so as to induce the peasants to fight, while sparing the aristocracy the inconveniences of war. Ideology, typically the unification achieved through the belief in a god, OR belief in patriotism, nationalism, racial purity, revenge or take your pick, is the binding force used to coalesce and motivate army. I agree that the true motive for going to war typically has nothing to do with anything beyond power, wealth, resources and maintaining the ruling class.

        September 29, 2013 at 10:33 am |
      • Krakalakin

        You're completely missing the point....these grand dictators used religion as a rallying cry to motivate them to slaughter one another....religion is the catalyst.....and it's still going on today, why don't you drop by Syria with your bible and see how far you get waving it around?

        September 29, 2013 at 11:48 am |
      • 123elle

        Yes, I don't believe religion was the reason for these wars, but rather a rationale for the territoriality of (mostly) male humans. Like males of other species, humans have a powerful, biological and genetic drive to acquire and defend territory. The origin of this, it seems obvious, is to impress females and to secure food within the territory. Humans are no different from lions or even reptiles or fish in that sense. Becauwe of our large brains, we can cloak our territoriality with excuses such as religion, national defense, "lebensraum" or the glory of conquest but it's the same old urge to acquire and defend territory. Animals mark their borders by urinating; we do it with passports, checkpoints, etc. We make a religion out of nationalism; sacred flags and so forth. We're just big smart mammals still imprisoned by our biology.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • sammy

      I guess you mean like those religious fanatics Hitler and Stalin, the greatest murders of our times.

      September 29, 2013 at 10:27 am | Reply
      • test sample

        False analogy. Hitler was not an atheist and never claimed to be one. He even cloaked his speeches in religious symbolism. Although he sparred with the Catholic church, it was only over their political activities. Stalin's religious views are immaterial. He killed people because of political motivation, not a lack of belief in a deity.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Oops

      Actually, these atrocities have to deal more with money and power. Religion is just a convenient excuse but actually has nothing to do with faith. It's amusing how so many people cry for "reason" cannot make the simple distinction between religion and faith.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Reply
  5. AthurA

    I thought the baby killing big government takeover tax the rich out of the nation, "let's have an A-" credit rating party was courting them? Nobody remembers this headline from 9/4/11? "Democrats remove 'God' from DNC platform, insert Obama's name over 100 times", if that's not "courting" atheists then what exactly is? Now yes they reversed course because they would have lost the election by alienating all their "foolish" (I think that would be a term Dawkins would apply) religious minorities. Blacks and Latino's are very religious generally. I think we need to find a cure for the intellectual narcissism and cultural/moral relativism who's rise is directly connected with the destruction of the family. This is the cause of the worst of our social problems. I suppose the atheist democrats can be appreciative of the fact the the demolib support of planned parenthood is wiping out the presidents strongest religious minority support at a rate three to five times that of any other ethnicity. Bet it makes him grin and think of bacon. See "twitter" "dawkins" "fetus" "adult pig". His comparison of what we should assure is the beloved and nurtured future of our species only proves that he is indeed a pig though given the outrageous things he says to get attention I'm not sure the term adult could apply as perhaps he never grew up. I'm betting there was some serious childhood trauma on that man.

    September 29, 2013 at 9:19 am | Reply
    • Realist

      it's rather an insult to human intelligence to put god in the political arena. Let's keep the witchcraft in churches and away from kids,, please!!!

      September 29, 2013 at 9:25 am | Reply
    • Colin

      Electing a Christian is not the same thing as courting atheists. Now if they wanted to take god out of the pledge of alliegence, do away with swearing in on a bible, take away the tax exemption status of churches, rewrite the blue laws still on the books in some states which say atheists can't be elected, stop endorsing prayer at government meetings, admit when they themselves are atheists so that the stigma of atheist politicians might go away, stop using people's atheism as a qualification to take their children away in custody battles, stop engaging in holy wars, not using slurs against Jessica Ahlquist, etc. THEN maybe they'd be closer to "courting" atheists.

      September 29, 2013 at 9:30 am | Reply
  6. centeredpiece

    Where oh where to begin. Dawkins claims that since the OT condones stoning, the BIble offers no moral compass. Conveniently he ignores the fact that Christianity follows a new covenant expounded by Jesus which has as its main commandment(s) to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. No stoning condoned here. Yes, some (and even one is too many) Christian has disobeyed the "love" commandment and/or twisted it around. But one can hardly say that the NT provides no "moral compass" because the OT has verses that condone violence. Dawkins seems to think that we have moved past stoning simply because we live in the new, enlightened 21st century. So, I ask him, why is this new century "enlightened"? Because the Judeo-Christian (N.B.: Judaism does not follow the 'stoning' rules any longer, either. Jesus was not the only Jew to use the positive commandments as the moral center; he simply universalized the old covenant to apply to everyone, Jew and Gentile alike) ethics he so despises have become our moral compass. They did not spring full-grown from the forehead of Zeus or any of the "Enlightenment" pantheon of secular "saints" folks like Dawkins worship. They became commonplace because society was steeped in the moral/ethical soup of Judeo-Christian morality and ethics.

    September 29, 2013 at 9:21 am | Reply
    • Realist

      moral compass has always come from secular society.. Religions still can't get it right.

      That's why in the USA, US laws trump religious ones. In fact religious rule is no more important than kids tree house rules in the USA. Odd,, they seem so similar,, little kids and religion with big stories.

      September 29, 2013 at 9:27 am | Reply
    • One one

      Is sending people to hell for eternal torture for having the wrong belief moral? The concept is actually discussing.

      September 29, 2013 at 9:39 am | Reply
      • Realist

        point well made, one one.. and calling innocent children 'sinners'? Scaring children with fiery hell with monsters? What a wonderful bunch.

        September 29, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • snowboarder

      hence his point is well made, as the "morals" which are spelled out in the bible are quite contradictory and easily open to misinterpretation and abuse.

      September 29, 2013 at 9:58 am | Reply
  7. Jim

    The fact that recognized scientific are venerated by society make them abuse the fields they talk about. Mr Richard Dawkins you might be authority about biology but not about moral. ! Shoe Maker go to the shoes !.

    September 29, 2013 at 9:43 am | Reply
  8. snowboarder

    morality is a construct of civil society. it varies by location and throughout time, existing in every culture regardless of religious affiliation.

    September 29, 2013 at 9:47 am | Reply
    • Realist

      even the writers of the bible and the foundations of religions found their roots from the minds of secular society. yet the religions and bible never seem to get it right.

      NP as secular society will continue to step in correcting religions.

      September 29, 2013 at 10:01 am | Reply
    • sammy

      Who was the great philosopher in Rome that spoke out against murdering people for fun and enjoyment in the Colosseum? Oh yeah, I forgot there wasn't one. It wasn't until Constantine converted Rome to Christianity that it stopped.

      September 29, 2013 at 10:31 am | Reply
      • faked

        and Constantine used pagan symbols on his shields (the cross) to get the pagans to fight in the war with him. That is why the cross is now a symbol of christianity. Kinda makes Constantine sound like a bit of a faker, using relgion to push people to die for him.

        September 29, 2013 at 10:55 am |
      • Hillary

        Didn't Constantine rule the eastern part of the divided Roman empire in 300 AD from Constantinople, long after the games were used as a political ploy to gain votes? Nonetheless, your position is full of ignorance. Most of the buildings in Rome that survive were TEMPLES, the basilica's where the tribunes sat were based upon temple plans, and not all events were executions of political enemies. The first spectacle at the Colosseum was a naval battle.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:01 am |
      • Hillary

        Most of the events were sanctioned by or dedicated to a religious deity. Historians dispute that any Christians were killed in the Colosseum or at least there is no Roman records of the ritual killings, same for the alleged execution of Jesus. And the Romans kept records. You will have to get a better source for your info than Hollywood or right wing propaganda.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • donna

      Morality is social construct combined with biological adaptations for behaviors such as empathy, compassion, altruism, protecting the group and nurturing. There's a reason we see universal patterns in morality cross culturally.

      September 29, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Reply
  9. One one

    The foundation of Christianity teaches that the "sins" of the "guilty" can be absolved by punishing the innocent.

    Or, that all future generations of humanity can be punished for the " sins" of two people in the beginning of humanity.

    Where is the morality in these teachings ?

    September 29, 2013 at 9:48 am | Reply
    • snowboarder

      even as a child growing up in parochial school the doctrine never made a bit of sense.

      September 29, 2013 at 9:54 am | Reply
    • shenandoah

      This is a ridiculous statement. Adam and Eve may be taken seriously as historical fact by a minority of Christians, but the majority over-overwhelmingly see it as an allegory pertaining to the fact that humans seem incapable of not doing some level of evil to one another. You can say that it is a myth attempting to explain the source of an observed problem.

      And this observed problem has never gone away, and it has never faced serious critique from either the majority of the religious or the non-religious because its kinda obvious. The belief of christians is that God chose a people, the jews, and pounded this fact into them for a few thousand years by giving them every opportunity to prove it wrong, and they failed because they live in this state and cannot escape it. Then God came to earth in a humble human state to show that there is hope of defeating this state of failure.

      Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, he told people that loving one another was more important than some obsure laws about not working on sundays and the like, and when he died, it is believed to have been both for a supernatural cleansing of that terrible condition from humanity, and as a symbolic gesture of the compassion, selflessness, and love that humanity can be capable of if it can only fight the human condition.

      September 29, 2013 at 10:11 am | Reply
      • snowboarder

        once the bible is accepted not to be fully historical fact, at what point would one determine the fiction ends?

        September 29, 2013 at 10:33 am |
      • One one

        I find it amusing to hear Christians go through rhetorical gymnastics to explain how their perfect god changed his mind and had to change his relationship with his creations.

        September 29, 2013 at 10:39 am |
      • Tony Soprano

        Why did a compassionate and intelligent god have to resort to such a bizarre method for communicating his message?It almost seems a little made up-NO?Let me guess-It's a mystery.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  10. Paul Hall

    There are 2 different stories about a Lazarus in the New Testament. The least known is my only response to the brilliant minds that seek the destruction of Christianity. Luke 16:19-31. Goggling this will protect genius atheists and brilliant humanist scholars from having to soil their hands by picking up the Bible. " I gave you Abraham, I gave you Moses..."

    September 29, 2013 at 10:02 am | Reply
    • Realist

      odd how a god is unable to produce himself without the use of 'pretending'

      September 29, 2013 at 10:08 am | Reply
      • Paul Hall

        Absurd drivel!

        September 29, 2013 at 11:01 am |
  11. Lloyd

    Life is too short and precious to waste it on hoping fairy tales could be true.

    September 29, 2013 at 10:04 am | Reply
    • goinmad2009

      Whatever you do with your short life is worthless. You are just fooling yourself to believe that your accomplishments are worth something. So who is living in the fairy land now?

      September 29, 2013 at 10:07 am | Reply
      • Realist

        sorry for your depressing life.. you need to see someone, there are people who can help.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • sammy

      You're a blob of accidental stardust. A bag of chemicals. Who cares what you do?

      September 29, 2013 at 10:34 am | Reply
      • 2BeOne

        Exactly... This is the root of the Atheist mindset. If we are all animals, randomly formed over time, what difference does it make whether we accomplish "good" or "evil". Animals kill each other for sport so by your simplistic worldview, what wrong is committed by murder? After all, in the end, its all meaningless as you say . The root of the atheism is individualism i.e. every man (animal) for himself... You can try disguise this fact in anyway you want, but atheism is simply intellectual laziness. Prove to me God does not exist! Prove to me that a realm beyond the natural is absent! If science simply ruled out the possibility of discovery such as the atheist does we would still be living in the stone age.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:33 am |
      • Realist

        how sad you are.. But I bet it's the anger of those as you who justify the destruction to others with religious support.

        How very sad. You are proof of the effects of fear and being reduced as a sinner.. I can understand why you see life and others as meaningless. Maybe you should go into the terrorist business, you seem to have their motives.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:33 am |
      • Realist

        yes,, loving and caring people, atheists included,, are the the reason we have good in this world. In fact religion's foundations evolved with the ideas of these good people.

        Too bad religions still don't get it right.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:35 am |
  12. Jake Garner

    John 3:16

    September 29, 2013 at 10:11 am | Reply
    • Realist

      LSU 41-44

      September 29, 2013 at 11:36 am | Reply
  13. Juanito

    Morality is contingent on social interaction with others.

    Dawkins is a biologist. I can argue that police officers are more qualified to talk about morality with greater authority than Dawkins.

    He attacks religion/spirituality because he believes there is no God. Instead of going back to the lab and delve into what he is trained to do, Dawkins picks up the athiest standard and launches his own anti religion crusade.

    Dawkins champions a cause which, if he's right, his prize is nothing. If he's wrong(which he is), his prize will be far worse.

    What he fails to mention or even realize, is that Christianity is exploding in countries whose governments are trying to crush it: China, Iran, Egypt, Mayalsia, N Korea.

    The choice is everyone's. if any individual think that the tiny sliver of our Existance and experience is enough to explain away God, then they are in need of a serious dose of humility and true enlightenment.

    In the name of Jesus.

    September 29, 2013 at 10:16 am | Reply
    • donna

      Morality is product of biology and culture, it is in the domain of science- Dawkins is a Doctor of Science in biology and a Doctor of Public Understanding of Science. He is well respected by other philosophers and scientists in his field.

      September 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  14. reality

    religion has caused more deaths than anything else

    September 29, 2013 at 10:19 am | Reply
    • sammy

      yeah...like Hitler and Stalin

      September 29, 2013 at 10:32 am | Reply
      • Realist

        yes, religions and dictators behave quite similarly.. good point. Both like to control, make up stories and use fears to make you believe their stories..

        Except for Hitler,, he was a devout catholic too. More so, christians, catholics especially, hated jews back then. hitler visited the vatican, cut a deal with the pope and pronounced his catholic belief on video and writings to his death.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Paul Hall

      Ignorance & irrational self interest have killed more no matter what cloak they pretend to wear!

      September 29, 2013 at 11:07 am | Reply
    • chris

      Atheists have killed more people in the 20th century than any religious system. Look at the millions killed by Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, and the Kims of North Korea. These are your examples of atheists in total power.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:09 am | Reply
    • Juanito

      An oversimplified statement brought by a pedestrian mind.

      More deaths were attributed by wars for gain/politcal differences and the diseases that followed than anything pertaining to crusades or religious fervors.

      Since the rise of napolean, the death toll of those directly, or indirectly, tied to conflicts far surpasses any of those for religious differences.

      Even in this time of 'enlightenment', thousands are being murdered every week for their political differences, and well as their religious beliefs.

      In His Name, Juanito.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:20 am | Reply
    • Oops

      Greed has caused more deaths than anything else. And if you look at Chinese sweatshops, not much has changed.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Reply
    • Chris

      Well, you state the obvious...If God is actually God then, yes...he caused ALL death....But if God is actually God he caused ALL life...so your argument really come down to "it is better to exist or not"...and If God is God then the possibility of life after death make you, logically, say "it is better to exist then not"

      As far "religion" causing death..you must define your terms...until about the last century "religion" and the state were really not separate..how much of the crusades and the inquisition was political and how much we religious..anybodies guess. But to have religion own it all is just your way of proving your particular agenda.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Reply
  15. Lovecrafty

    I fear death as much as I fear general anesthesia. Who wants to have "eternal life"? Who wants eternal consciousness going on and on forever? Give me the peace of eternal blackness that is death! I think it is a fear of death, and a hope of once again seeing departed loved ones, that compels most religious people into convincing themselves of an afterlife. But really. If our memories, personalities and thoughts can't even survive Alzheimer's, how do you think that brain is going to survive death itself? Where did my 92 year old Grandmother with Alzheimer's consciousness dwell for the 15 years it took her body to die? In some celestial holding pattern? When I had to introduce myself every time I went to see her in the nursing home, where did my Grandma go? When the brain dies you die. All your memories are gone. Deal with it.

    September 29, 2013 at 10:20 am | Reply
    • Pietro

      But you still went there to introduce yourself to your absent-minded grandmother, time and time again. Her memories live on in you and in the others who survive her. You did this because you had "faith" in her memory and believed in the chance that her mental state would return, if not for just a short time at the least. We might be more than just skin and bones, but then so were the supposed creators. God may have existed, but he or she, is as dead as we shall eventually be. Nothing lives forever. Not even the universe we live in... but does that doesn't mean that our lives are meaningless. Death is the universe's way of forcing us to see how precious every moment of life is. My advice to everyone out there: "Just be happy that you were the sperm who won the race!"

      September 29, 2013 at 11:03 am | Reply
  16. Jesse

    Over simplification.

    Religion is not the motive for wars it is an excuse sometimes but not the motive. The Bible is not just a guidebook but a history book. So there are things in the bible that seem horrible but it is showing us history and people's movement through that history. It was growth related helping people look beyond themselves Jesus's teachings went more in depth.

    Take the Westboro baptist church. They don't believe in their religion as much as their hatefulness for gays. Religion is a cover but that is all it is. Also religion is not about being perfect but striving for a better way of life.

    This guy is over simplifying such a complex issue. It is very tragic. I am not telling you how to believe but at least make the realization things are complicated and find your own way.

    September 29, 2013 at 10:25 am | Reply
    • reality

      its historical fiction

      September 29, 2013 at 10:26 am | Reply
    • Lovecrafty

      So you are saying that, historically speaking, a pair of 3 toed Sloths walked off Noah's Ark and proceeded to make their way to South America, crossing an ocean and a desert, at a whopping 6.5 FEET per minute...in between 22hr naps? And it is an historical fact that light did not refract through water droplets in the air until AFTER the flood when God made Rainbows as a promise to never again drown everyone?

      September 29, 2013 at 10:30 am | Reply
  17. Matty Metta

    Brilliant man in that he communicates in a logical and facts based way the fallacy of 'sky people' running the world. Eloquent and humorous speaker. The truth is always refreshing. Although science still has some 'faith' in its theories...until we actually figure out how gravity works...

    September 29, 2013 at 10:27 am | Reply
  18. Robin Burns

    It isn't that it's wrong to be Christian, but that "mainstream Christianity" has often got it wrong. We can and should rely on scripture as a moral gauge – but never out of context. For those of us who have received solid information, on a personal or public level, from the "other side" there is no denying the reality of a spiritual world beyond our own physical experience. You don't need to have a smart phone to be in God's social network! But to be there, you need a deeper understanding of the message intended to give us that.

    September 29, 2013 at 10:33 am | Reply
  19. Matty Metta

    Religion has done great harm as predicted by Buddha Gautama . He dealt with the reality of experience...personal, direct experiences of the senses. Senses aren't something to be appeased. They are signals from a conscious process that is the universe. No personality, no anthropomorphism, no faith, no belief...direct and immutable wisdom from experience. But people confuse his teachings with "Buddhism", so they write it off as just another religion. Only one way to find out is to experience it through the method(s) he left behind. Buddha never wanted followers. He wanted people to walk with him side by side to help spread what he has experienced...the release from suffering that is inherent in life. Not with a 'punishment' for non-practice, but as a reward for the diligent.

    September 29, 2013 at 10:35 am | Reply
    • Denese

      Gandhi once said, "I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians".

      September 29, 2013 at 11:01 am | Reply
    • Kenneth

      Of course, no good at all was ever done by people of faith. Just harm, harm, harm...

      September 29, 2013 at 11:16 am | Reply
  20. mom of 4

    I find it interesting that a lot of these posts talk about a civil society, people working together, commonality, etc.

    I'd like to ask these people a question. Do parents teach their children how to lie? Do parents teach their children how to take away toys from their siblings or another child? Do parents show their children how to smack their little brother or sister over the head with a toy?

    NO we don't. It is inherent of a sinful nature. I have 4 children and not once did I tell my oldest daughter that it's OK to smack her little sister if she takes her doll away. I never taught my son to lie about not cleaning his room or cheating on a test.

    Every civilization has some form of the 10 Commandments. You don't want to believe in God – fine. That is your right. But to bully other who do is abominable. The intolerance is hypocritical. People who keep quoting that "religion is the cause of more wars" does not know their history, and therefore makes them sound like fools. Over 20 million Christians were killed in the 20th century for their faith. Google it – the facts are there.

    I am proudly a Christian. I have seen people's lives to a complete 180 after believing in Jesus. I've seen wife beaters become humble men. I've seen drug addicts clean after years in secular rehab that never works. I've seen Christian organizations still in the Gulf Coast 8 years after Hurricane Katrina, helping out when the Red Cross and FEMA left 5 years ago. I see churches feeding the poor, opening day care centers and providing activities to keep youth off the city streets. Say what you will, but Jesus is real and I've seen Him change lives. I also believe the Bible when it says that "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord". Sorry to say, many on here will be doing this in His presence when it's too late, and that is a tragedy.

    September 29, 2013 at 10:39 am | Reply
    • Juanito

      Well said, and The Lord bless thee!

      In His Name, Juanito.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:25 am | Reply
    • Realist

      laws to protect people from harm have always been around in civilizations where religion wasn't know. It's good people who created these, just as we watch over religions in this country to keep them on a less destructing path.

      Remember, it was good people, atheist included, who do good deeds. It's pretty sad that religions steal the good works of others and claim it as their own.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Reply
  21. JamVee

    Truth is, nobody courts them, because many atheists, are REPUGNANT to folks. This isn't because they don't believe in God, that's their right. It's because so many of them are RABIDLY ANTI-RELIGION and spend a lot of their time trying to shove their "non-beliefs" down everyone's throat, with insults and vilification.

    I believe in God, but I don't go around constantly disparaging, and insulting Atheists. In fact I truly support their right to believe or not believe whatever they wish. I just wish they'd treat me the same way. Every time I see Bill Maher on TV I'm reminded how insulting atheists can be.

    September 29, 2013 at 10:41 am | Reply
    • Navyairvet

      Right on. Atheists judge others for judging others.

      September 29, 2013 at 10:45 am | Reply
    • tony

      Churches, with their roadside billboards, aren't for shoving belief along? And BTW, bring your children, we have classes for them . . .

      September 29, 2013 at 10:50 am | Reply
  22. Sherri

    It is too bad that people think they have to obey a sky fairy in order to be good people. They would rather go by some 2000 year old book, or some dead prophet. People should do good things for the GOOD of it, not because they are afraid of some future hellfire (which does not exist anyway). I hope that someday we can do away with these religions. They aren't helping anyone except the weak, the very weak. They think they can't be good people unless they follow these archaic rules and worship some non existent being. GOOD people don't: lie, cheat, steal, kill, commit adultery etc. You don't have to have a sky fairy telling you not to. You act right because it is the right thing to do.

    September 29, 2013 at 10:47 am | Reply
  23. JamVee

    Oh, and I forgot to mention. The fervor with which many atheist support (or defend) their system of non-belief, indicates, at least to me, that their confidence level is on the SHAKY side . . . "Methinks the lady protesteth too much", if you get my drift.

    They are the opposite of Jehovah's Witnesses, who can't seem to stop proselytizing for Jesus, long enough to draw a breath!

    September 29, 2013 at 10:50 am | Reply
    • Denese

      That's because while atheists quietly go about their daily business, religious fanatics do anything to get elected into positions of power and then immediately begin to change the laws and rules to suit their imaginary belief system.

      September 29, 2013 at 10:55 am | Reply
      • chris

        Take a quick lesson in history and look what atheists did to the countries of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe when they gained total power. Go on a trip through the Gulag to find what atheists in power accomplish.

        September 29, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • aurelius

      You write like a good bigot.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:58 am | Reply
  24. Denese

    Some of the worst people I know also constantly claim to be the most religious. I've learned that when they are banging on about their faith, they are shouting about how they want me to behave...not how they themselves behave.

    September 29, 2013 at 10:52 am | Reply
    • Kenneth

      Or, what is more likely, you look for correlations between the "worst" people you know and religion. Just like racist look for crimes committed by blacks to justify their prejudices. Or xenophobes looks for problems created by immigrants.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:13 am | Reply
  25. chris

    Why should they court you? You do not have anyone to pray to in order to help them.

    September 29, 2013 at 11:02 am | Reply
  26. tony

    Rainbows happen just as much in parts of the World that are overwhelmingly, Muslim, Hindu, Shinto, etc.

    So if that "covenant message" can be directly communicated and "heaven sent", why have a bible created in just one place, in one old disused language, needing a bunch of missionaries to take it around over a coupla thousand years?

    September 29, 2013 at 11:08 am | Reply
  27. Kenneth

    I've got a better idea.
    Why not everyone just shut up about what they believe or don't believe?
    Pray in private.
    Don't pray in private.
    But everyone keep their divisive opinions and name calling to themselves.

    But, I guess the lure of the internet stage is too compelling...

    September 29, 2013 at 11:11 am | Reply
    • Realist

      great!! and let's get god off our dollar and such. Agreed.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:51 am | Reply
    • aurelius

      You go bit too far. You would have to shut down every church in the land and quite a few schools. Am an atheist and I don't believe in such radical move.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:57 am | Reply
      • Kenneth

        Yea, good point.
        How about just a civil dialogue?
        "Oh, you believe such and such? Cool. How about we catch a movie now?"

        September 29, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • donna

      OK, but can we not let people who believe in magic vote on issues that will effect others?

      September 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Reply
      • Disillusioned

        Would that include you primadonna, that believes a pool of elements was randomly amd magically given life by lightning? You're a joke. Amd You're a rude pig that has no respect for others beliefs.

        September 29, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
  28. nepawoods

    Whether religion is the basis of our moral compass, and every other question he addressed ... none of it is relevant to the question of the existence of God.

    September 29, 2013 at 11:12 am | Reply
    • tony

      A question based on zero evidence and just about the lowest possible probability versus other explanations.

      So who in their right minds would even ask suich a question

      September 29, 2013 at 11:19 am | Reply
  29. JohnnyO

    Yeah, that's EXACTLY what this country needs: More Godless leaders without fear of consequences. Awesome. Great place to raise my children. F THAT!

    September 29, 2013 at 11:32 am | Reply
    • Mopery

      As opposed to what, George W. Bush? We have yet to see the real consequences of his foolishness, invading Iraq going against the UN security council, just wait until Russia or China decide to use his actions as a precedent. The UN's only real purpose is to prevent a nuclear war between the powers that be, if it ever fails in that job we all die.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:45 am | Reply
    • Realist

      yeah,, instead they need voodoo and witchcraft of chirstianity..

      and let's not forget the child abuse cover ups and the leaders who protected themselves first over destroyed children's lives.

      Yes,, and in our government with politicians who need catholic votes and suppress the destruction to children's lives. The tell all??? if the catholic church were a national day care center, the pope, bishops and cardinals would be all rotting in jails today.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:48 am | Reply
  30. BizaaroLand

    Religion has no moral compass anymore because it has been mostly taken over by self righteous, sanctimonious hypocrites; that would be our politicians and corrupt leaders. For their own nefarious reasons. Most Americans don't have the intellectual ability to know any better. The U.S. Christian edifice is rotten. I'm glad there are a few people with the guts to speak out the real Truth, like Dawkins. (even though his life could be in danger, from the 'gentle followers of Jesus here in 'mericuh.) I know I'm scared to say much outloud against the hypocrisy here in 'Jesus Land.'

    September 29, 2013 at 11:45 am | Reply
    • Realist

      religious acts of 'good' were derived from secular society,, people and that includes atheists.. jesus and the bible writers could never get it right. They should have spent more time with loving and caring families to learn..

      September 29, 2013 at 11:50 am | Reply
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