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. are122

    Yes, things have gotten better since we replaced God with guns, haven't they.

    September 28, 2013 at 9:36 am | Reply
  2. Disillusioned

    Athiests, tell me how that believing that matter, every million forms of it, that arose spontaneously from a pure nothing in a vacuum is more rational than believing in a power that made it happen. Tell me how the odds of life as we know it right now is so unbelievably far fetched and nearly nonexistent, that it makes more rational
    And logical sense to believe it came about randomly than with a higher power involved.

    September 28, 2013 at 9:39 am | Reply
    • TiglathPileser

      According to a Dawkins interview a few years back it could have been aliens (honestly!)

      September 28, 2013 at 9:50 am | Reply
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      Ok, but you have to tell me how big God is first.

      September 28, 2013 at 10:00 am | Reply
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        And I'll say for this question, size does matter.

        September 28, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • Shayna

      The beauty of atheism is that we are not afraid to say "I don't know". It doesn't mean that there is no answer, just that we don't know it right now. Therefore, it eliminates the need to make one up – like the earth is resting on the back of a giant tortoise or that all people came from incest via the progeny of Adam & Eve.

      September 28, 2013 at 10:03 am | Reply
      • Disillusioned

        Faith makes the same reply. "I don't know. I don't know how god does it. I just know he does somehow". And why athiests insist on making a higher power an enemy of science is also perplexing amd unfair. Though even I too get exasperated with believers than will deny science in the face of prrof. If god invented everything, then god invented science too. And in my opinion science is the tool with which he/she works.

        September 28, 2013 at 10:10 am |
      • pugh7755

        Shauna, you need to read the Bible before trying to use it as refference. Adam and Eve were the first people...not the only people. If you read the bible you will find that their children married people from another land...not.their brother or sister. Oh, and they weren't apes either by the way.

        September 28, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
      • chuckles

        Pugh, so who were these other people? If they weren't children of Adam and Eve who were there parents? So you are saying that Adam and Eve were just the first people God created and all not all men are their descendents because God created other people after Adam and Eve? How does that square with original sin? The story is that we all inherit sin from Adam and Eve. If all men are not descendents of Adam and Eve, then they are not born sinful unless the serpent lured the other people he created into sinning too? But we have no story telling us about the creation of the other people and how they fared after being created. Did these people also have the right to name all the other creatures God created? Were these other first peoples God created equal to or lesser than Adam and Eve? If they were created after Adam and Eve why were so many more of them to allow for the building of cities? Again the story, the Bible, offers no information on this. Maybe they were created by another god? Since you made up a little story to explain away inconsistencies in the story of creation, then we are all free to do the same.

        September 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Lisa

      I can only speak for myself. I don't "believe" anything about the origins of life nor do I really care. I am content to assume that is beyond our capabilities as humans. Evolution is a scientific theory with significant evidence behind it – nothing more or nothing less.

      But likewise, I see nothing to believe about some deity in the sky either.

      My goal in life is to be productive to my family and to society and try to make a positive contribution in the world. That's plenty to occupy me and I'm not missing anything that drives me to want to connect to some deity. When I die, my remains go back to the earth. The notion of an afterlife is impossible for me to believe – it's nonsensical.

      September 28, 2013 at 10:06 am | Reply
      • Mike

        Lisa , I'm curious to know what the strong evidence for evolution is. Thank you

        September 28, 2013 at 11:16 am |
      • G to the T

        Mike – if you are asking that question here, then I'm pretty sure no answer given is going to satisfy you.

        September 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
      • Ian

        oh Mike, there are so many books/experiments etc out there that provide the knowledge you crave

        September 30, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • sybaris

      and yet you believe that an invisible sky daddy created everything out of................. nothing.

      September 28, 2013 at 10:08 am | Reply
      • Disillusioned

        And you believe that every bit of the universe came from a pure vacuum of void just like magic? Poof. One minute pure nothing, and then the next all matter randomly appeared . Even Scientifically this makes no sense. Makes less sense than a higher intention driving it.

        September 28, 2013 at 10:26 am |
      • sybaris

        No, I don't know how it happened and scientists don't know either. Science has only presented the most plausible answer to a point based on the evidence at hand.....and that will likely change as more evidence is discovered.

        Meanwhile there are thousands of religions each positing a creation story based on nothing but imagination.

        The default answer is not "Godidit"

        September 28, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • G to the T

        Disillusioned – Check out sometime what a "singularity" is. No one has ever suggested that everything came from nothing (except christians perhaps).

        September 30, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Mark Bailey

      It's the thing that religious people so love to completely ignore:evidence! That's what sets science apart from religion, people! Science is based upon collection and interpretation of known FACTS! Science may occasionally get it wrong but at least they TRY to base their conclusions on evidence. Religion requires NO EVIDENCE. In fact, it demands the ignoring of vast stores of evidence. This is the recipe for getting your worldview completely wrong! Which is what religion has obviously done. Religion, SHOW ME THE EVIDENCE and I will believe. Of course, this cannot be done because there IS NO valid evidence to be shown. There are only statements we are told to believe.

      September 28, 2013 at 10:11 am | Reply
      • sybaris

        Religion requires ignorance to perpetuate

        September 28, 2013 at 10:23 am |
      • Marv

        Science is about questions that should be answered

        Religion is about answers that should not be questioned.

        September 28, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Disillusioned

      A Higgs–Saw Mechanism as a Source for Dark Energy
      Lawrence M. Krauss

      http://arxiv.org/pdf/1306.3239v1.pdf
      It might be to complicated for you

      September 28, 2013 at 10:12 am | Reply
      • Disillusioned

        Dark energy is matter that came from nothing, right? Explain that to me. Explain how something came from a void of utter, complete, vacuum.

        September 28, 2013 at 10:33 am |
      • Disillusioned

        The higgs boson is still a particle of matter, right? Where did it come from in a void of nothing?

        September 28, 2013 at 10:40 am |
      • Science

        if you have not taken a physics class you won't understand , the pdf above is the math behind it.

        2 Higgs boson scientists tipped for Nobel Prize

        http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/9/25/2-higgs-boson-scientists-tipped-for-nobel-prize?category=Science#

        September 28, 2013 at 11:05 am |
      • Disillusioned

        Something does not come from nothing. There must be something first. Mass, light, energy, something. A void does not generate matter.

        September 28, 2013 at 11:11 am |
      • Matthew Grant

        @Disillusioned There is no such thing as a true vacuum according to quantum mechanics. There is a probability that particles pop into existences and disappear after a short time frame. As far as Dark matter goes, science do not know what is actually going on. There seem to be more mass in the universe than we can see because based on our current knowledge their is not enough visible mass to hold the universe together. Thus, they just call this missing mass "Dark matter". But it could be the case that we are miss understanding some fundamental law and is leading science to the wrong conclusion. For example, gravity could act differently over long distances. There is a propose theory based on this thought called "quantum gravity". My point science just does not know what is actually happening at the present time

        September 28, 2013 at 11:23 am |
      • Science

        SOMETHING FROM NOTHING ? [OFFICIAL] Richard Dawkins & Lawrence Krauss

        September 28, 2013 at 11:24 am |
      • Science

        Do not forget the talking snake ?

        September 28, 2013 at 11:31 am |
      • sybaris

        Disillusioned – "Something does not come from nothing. There must be something first. Mass, light, energy, something. A void does not generate matter."

        Using your logic what created your god?

        September 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • EdNv

      There is only one form of matter that we have observed and it is made of quarks...there are different variations of the quark coupling but still only one form of matter...until they ever actually observer this so-called 'dark matter' then there will be 2 forms of matter.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Reply
    • nbgb

      Annunaki

      September 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Reply
    • chuckles

      Disillusioned, scientists do not all accept that the universe was created from nothing. In fact the universe may be eternal which means it would have no beginning or end. It is a great many biblical literalists who say the Bible says that which is came from nothing. This would bring up the old ontological problem of how something can exist in nothing. What does it mean for something to be bounded by nothing? This confusion comes from nothing being defined as a void being a space where nothing discrete exists or being defined as nothing at all. Did the Big Bang fill up the empty space or did it create its own space from nothing?

      September 28, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Reply
    • nepawoods

      Classic creationist straw man argument. "arose spontaneously from a pure nothing in a vacuum" ... "life ... came about randomly"

      Nobody with a decent knowledge of science would say those things, yet creationists keep pretending that's what science says. Even if there were a creator, wouldn't you want to study his creation to see how it works? That's what science does. Learn a little about what we know, through science, of the creation, and stop with the ridiculous straw man caricatures of science.

      And one more tip: Yes, there are things we don't yet understand. That does NOT imply there's a God. (nor does understanding imply there isn't)

      September 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Reply
    • CoryT

      Way, way more evidence for the Big Bang than there is for any religious sky being. Evolution is a fact, and is provable.
      There, I've simplified it for you.

      September 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Reply
    • James George

      Disillusioned, there's a fundamental flaw to your reasoning. Several, in fact:

      (1) Just because you can't imagine how "everything" came from "nothing", doesn't mean that it didn't happen.

      (2) And supposing a deity DID create everything, how do you know it was YOUR deity?

      (3) Finally, how do you know there isn't an alternative explanation – one no one has thought of yet?

      As an Atheist, I have NO IDEA how the universe came to be. However, there's NO EVIDENCE that it was through some supernatural creator. Until such evidence presents itself (and it has to be more that just "not having a better explanation"), I'll withhold judgment – and BELIEF.

      Believer: I don't know, so God did it! And not just any God...my God...

      Atheist: I don't know. Let's try to find out! You know, with evidence and stuff...

      September 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Reply
  3. craig

    So our moral compass should not be religion because it is bad because stoning people is wrong. So i have a question. What makes it wrong.?There is murder all the time in the animal kingdom. Who decides what is wrong? Is it the individual or the culture perhaps science ? You are making a presupposition that there is wrong. Without objective truth( or knowledge of design intent) its all opinion or subjective fodder. For a guy who believes in a random chance existence there is some judgement on morals that do not exist in the philosophy he espouses. You cant have it both ways. Either morals exist because design exists and there is intent or there is no intent therefore no mind,no morality, and no intent.
    We are just animals in survival mood and if stoning gets rid of the unfit so be it. Right!!

    September 28, 2013 at 9:45 am | Reply
    • TiglathPileser

      Apparently it is Dawkins who gets to decide – lol

      September 28, 2013 at 9:49 am | Reply
    • hannah

      There is murder in the animal world, but primarily for the animals to sustain themselves. If you study animal behavior, when competing to mate or for territoiral rights, animals seldom kill their rivals. And they never kill for the joy of killing as humans do.

      September 28, 2013 at 10:11 am | Reply
      • BOB

        Animals DO kill just for the fun of it. We had cats on the farm that toyed with mice, killed them and then left them. Our dogs would kill ducks off of the pond and NEVER eat them.

        September 28, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
      • bilbfit

        Apparently you've never owned a cat.

        September 28, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Lisa

      Morals exist because they further a society.

      Regardless of how we got here (God, Aliens, or slime), it would not matter one bit what actions are best for the advancement and well-being of our world and our society. That's where the so-called moral compass come from – the balance between "me" and "us". It includes both negative reinforcement (punishment that the group could impose upon the individual) and positive reinforcement (knowing your children and theirs) will continue to live in this world after you are gone.

      September 28, 2013 at 10:12 am | Reply
    • Justin

      Read Dawkins more carefully. He does not state ethical sureties. I know him to be a follower of Foucault; morality is a moving target driven by popular culture. Right and wrong are defined by society at large according to Dawkins (and myself). He does not state stoning is right or wrong – he says our moral compass has changed. The Bible and Koran forward stoning as acceptable at certain points in the text. We no longer find this acceptable in the 43 nations defined as developed according to UN. He's stating pop culture's accepted standards, not his own, in the example referenced in this short CNN article.

      September 28, 2013 at 11:01 am | Reply
      • TiglathPileser

        "He's stating pop culture's accepted standards, not his own"
        Ah, poor misunderstood Richard. Sounds to much like a political spin job to me, he said it, its his opinion.

        September 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • deep blue

      There are plenty of philosophical explanations of ethics rooted in logic, so I think your idea that there are only two choices, a divinely defined moral code or no moral code, is fairly closed mined.
      I'll ask you in turn. Do you believe that God created a senseless moral code, or do you think the moral code that God created is logical? So, if the moral code makes sense, saying that something is right or wrong "because God says so" doesn't seem to give God enough credit.

      September 28, 2013 at 11:06 am | Reply
    • Ian

      fool, the animals only kill for food. humans do it for other stupid reasons like sport....

      September 30, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  4. Disillusioned

    God doesn't keep my family safe from violent egocentric sociopaths. Guns do. I'm not a gun person myself but I'd rely on that before praying in a closet while pigs invade my home and kill my family.

    September 28, 2013 at 9:45 am | Reply
  5. martin

    Moral compass? What moral compass?

    September 28, 2013 at 9:46 am | Reply
    • Disillusioned

      The one that doesn't Allow sociopathic freaks to wig out amd take out people's innocent families. Any more inane questions?

      September 28, 2013 at 10:19 am | Reply
      • G to the T

        Sociopaths (by definition) lack empathy. Empathy is the basis of most of our moralities. So I'm not sure what you're point is – that a religious sociopath would somehow be more moral than a regular person that happens to be an atheist?

        September 30, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  6. Stephen Pruett

    As usual, Dawkins reveals is spectacular and purposeful ignorance of Christianity by claiming, for example, that we don't stone people for violating biblical ritual laws anymore because we pick biblical verses we like and ignore others. God's revelation to us has been progressive as we have been able to understand it, and Christ changed everything. The old laws and penalties are not practiced because they have been superseded (for Christians, in any case) by the law of love expressed and paid for by Christ. However, the old laws, though brutal to our sensibilities were morally advanced in their day. An eye for an eye was morally superior to killing the whole clan whose member put out the eye of a member of an opposing clan. The bias and lack of objectivity shown by Dawkins wouldn't be so irritating if he was not always claiming to be such a paragon of reason.

    September 28, 2013 at 9:46 am | Reply
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      The words are the same now as they were then, so the meanings would have been there then as they are now, right? Or does it require someone with "special knowledge" to interpret it so everyone can "take it to mean" the same thing?

      September 28, 2013 at 10:04 am | Reply
      • TiglathPileser

        There you go, now you are getting close. The problem is, most who want to argue against the 'words' are taking them to mean, what they personally understand the meaning of them to be today, in this culture. Which, in many cases, is significantly different than how it should be understood in an entirely foreign culture and language. It would generally take effort and study to attempt the arguement that Dawkins profers (not to understand the gist mind you, simply see 'The Greatest Commandment'), but to carry on a detailed, in depth argeument would take effort and study, something we, as a society, tend to shy away from. So we follow what ever moderm Messiah gets shoved in front of the popular media du juer...aka, Richard Dawkins

        September 28, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Shayna

      Really? Then why do Christians still quote Old Testament verses to support their hatred of gays? Or, no birth control? Or, that the earth is only 6,000 years old? Or, that all the folks on the earth are the products of incest, via the progeny of Adam & Eve? Or, any number of other things?

      September 28, 2013 at 10:10 am | Reply
      • Disillusioned

        Not all Christians are conservative fundamentalists. By any means. People proudly calling themselves Christians were on the lines to protest the war. Quakers have a page on gay rights. Nuns are out on the front lines getting arrested for chaining themselves to nuclear weapons facilities. When was the last time you took a stand on progressive rights?

        September 28, 2013 at 11:06 am |
      • TiglathPileser

        I dunno, why do any number of villiage idiots do any number of things? There are crazy and extreme people on both sides of this arguement, they ahve nothing to do with it in my mind. The point is not whether so-and-so does or does not do this or that, the point is whether there is any substance to Dawkins position or not. I personally see very little.

        September 28, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Mike

      Atta boy Stephen!

      September 28, 2013 at 11:25 am | Reply
    • Random

      But the Bible is supposedly received revelation, the Word of God, divinely inspired and absolute. Is your argument that God didn't know any better back then but does now? Are you really suggesting that God felt that stoning was okay because at least it wasn't as bad as slaughtering an entire clan, but then decided somewhere further down the line that, wait, maybe I can do better? Is you conception of God one of a being so fallible and prone to change that He couldn't decide that, hey, maybe throwing rocks at someone to kill them for a minor sin might not be the best idea *from the start*?

      Incidentally, Jesus affirmed the Mosaic Code. He specifically said he wasn't there to undo it. So, no, the New Testament doesn't change a thing. And modern Christians, for the most part, consider the entire Bible, all 66 books (73 if you're Catholic) the sacred Word of God. Picking and choosing because of cultural shifts is purely hypocritical. Either you follow it all, or you follow none of it. Or you're a hypocrite...which is probably the best way to handle it, actually.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Reply
      • G to the T

        Most christians (in my experience) are Paulians first, Christians second and don't even realize it. What I mean is that they trust the intrepretation of Jesus' words by Paul as being "more true" than what Jesus actually is supposed to have said. Always fascinated me...

        September 30, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  7. TiglathPileser

    This article actually shows Dawkins' level of understanding of the thing he rants against, he very clearly has little or no understanding of the Christian bible. For him to use examples from the Old Testament as 'Christian morality' clealry demonstrastes that he is either being puposefully duplicitous or ignorant, for him to entirely ignore the "greatest commandment" (love God and love your neighbor as yourself), is being purposefully decietful. People who call themselves Christian may chose to ignore the greatest commandment but for Dawkins to deny that it is the very root of chrisitian morality simply clarifies whether or not he is being sincer – clearly he is not.

    September 28, 2013 at 9:48 am | Reply
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      I think he's saying the "moral compass" is also an "immoral compass."

      September 28, 2013 at 10:05 am | Reply
      • TiglathPileser

        Yep, "love God and love your neighbor as yourself", I can see how that could be taken both ways...lol

        September 28, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  8. Cgates

    If I went into my backyard and came back with the story that a "spiritual person" appeared to only me and revealed Mully's will for mankind, would you believe me? If I produced squiggly lines on paper by the "telepresence" of the same aforementioned spiritual being and pronounced them a new ancient language, would you believe that? If I then proceeded to tell you that Mully was the One True God and that all who followed his holy scriptures would find everlasting joy in the eternal afterlife, would you believe that? And, finally, if Mully, may his holy name be praised, said that the best way to earn a joyous place in the afterlife was to cut out the heart of a vanquished foe with an obsidian knife on the top of a high temple and devour it, would you believe that?

    If you're going to reject basic tenets from other people's religions, why would you believe anybody's?

    That's what Dawkins is arguing when he says that our "moral compass" does not come from religion. Religions are incapable of providing a moral compass because they have no (rational) means for determining the validity of competing religious arguments.

    If one religion is true, then they all have the same claim to truth. If they are all true, then the (moral?) world is fundamentally irrational and unprincipled.

    September 28, 2013 at 9:56 am | Reply
  9. Disillusioned

    I'd say that's a higher Power then. Wouldnt you? Whatever name you want to put on god. People that don't believe in a god will just as soon believe in aliens and extraterrestrial life with no proof!

    September 28, 2013 at 9:58 am | Reply
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      As an atheist, and with the science I have at hand, I don't believe in aliens. But if one is ready to believe in a god for which there is no evidence, then belief in aliens is just as easy. I think the ball is in your court.

      September 28, 2013 at 10:17 am | Reply
      • Disillusioned

        Prove that there is not a god. If you can't , and still believe there isnt a god , then your mind is just as closed as the beleivers.

        September 28, 2013 at 10:30 am |
      • Worship Warrior

        How can anyone say there is no evidence of God? When I look around at the beauty of creation I see God everywhere. Yeah, there is a lot of crap out there as mankind has forsaken their Creator. And this has all been foretold. But I simply do not have enough faith to believe that this is all it the result of an amoeba fart that took place a bazillion years ago.

        September 28, 2013 at 10:42 am |
      • Disillusioned

        Believers look around and see intent. I see proof of god and intent too when I look around. Athiests do not see an intent or purpose of life or matter. As I understand. They see randomness and chance. Things just happened by chance to occur this way.

        September 28, 2013 at 10:53 am |
      • PlayLoud

        Not being able to disprove something is not proof of it's existence.

        As an agnostic, I do not believe in god, but I admit I have no knowledge one way or another. Could there be a god? Sure. Do I see any evidence of such a being? Not in the slightest. Just because I don't know exactly how the universe formed doesn't mean "God" is the right answer.

        At least when scientists named "Dark Energy" as their explanation for the acceleration of the universe expansion, they at least admitted that the term was just how they described their ignorance on the matter. For the religious people to say God exists if we can't prove he doesn't... That's just moronic.

        Watching a beautiful sunset is not proof that god exists. Nobody knows if god exists. Nobody. Not atheists. Not theists. I'm all for people believing what they want to believe, but anybody who thinks they KNOW the answer is full of bologna.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  10. Grampa

    Christianity is dying because the world is growing up and no longer in need of mythical explanations for observed phenomena, In the U.S, it is morphing into a last bastion of bitterness and hate for those who refuse to grow up and see the universe as it is. It is a sad, dwindling gathering of the "lost boys" and girls with Jesus as Peter Pan.

    September 28, 2013 at 10:06 am | Reply
    • JD

      Grampa, eloqguently put

      September 28, 2013 at 11:04 am | Reply
    • TiglathPileser

      Actually, "Chrisitianity is dying" be cause we are becoming conmsumed with our own personal superiority, self centeredness and greed, nothing to do with "growing up" (silly notion if you read the state of the world today anyway). Nice bit of arrogance though.

      September 28, 2013 at 11:57 am | Reply
      • G to the T

        Arrogance is being certain of your opinion to the point you present it as facts.

        September 30, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  11. w

    Testing

    September 28, 2013 at 10:06 am | Reply
  12. sybaris

    Right

    The whole god given morality thing for Christians fails because we are not born with morals. Just the other day I had to explain to my 7 year old grandson why it is wrong to go around the patio stomping the life out of every living thing he found. If morals were divinely given then it makes no sense that only a select group of people in the middle east were anointed with them thousands of years ago. If Christian assertions were true pertaining to "Christian morals" then every non-Christian country, region or state would be in total chaos and that is simply not the case. Regardless, prisons are full of Christians, no? (Oh but THOSE aren't REAL Christians, right?)

    Anyone with a modest knowledge of anthropology and sociology knows that morals evolved to ensure group survival, they weren't handed down to an old man on mountain nor poofed into our brains.

    September 28, 2013 at 10:10 am | Reply
  13. Disillusioned

    There is a big, big difference in believing there is a maker of the universe, and following a human construct like the various religions here. Neither side wants to admit that.

    September 28, 2013 at 10:17 am | Reply
    • G to the T

      I would abosutely admit that. There are actually 3 separate questions there in my mind – 1 is there a god or gods? 2 was the universe created by an intelligent agency? and 3 does the christian god exist? I don't believe the first 2 can ever be known for certain (at least from our end, at this time). The 3rd may be debated based on the specific information provided to describe that god. That's why I'm an agnostic atheist. I don't KNOW that no gods exist, but based on the information I have, I don't believe they do. It is a conditional belief and one that can change as new data is presented.

      September 30, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  14. sybaris

    All it takes for a Christian to ruin the lives of other people is for rational people to do nothing

    September 28, 2013 at 10:24 am | Reply
  15. the facist

    he dosent understand why the country with the most christians, and what used to be considered a christian nation, is also the most powerfull, most respected, most free, richest country in the world. and, why as we move further from gods word, we decline in status.. his ignorance in gods word is troubling. if he understood gods word, he would see its perfection. it is the basis for all law used today. god has always blessed those who trust him. my god, the god of abraham and moses is alive and his will shall be done. god is not slack concerning his promise but is longsuffering, giving all man the oppurtunity for repentance. tribulation is at hand, seek gods forgivness and follow his command, before its to late

    September 28, 2013 at 10:29 am | Reply
    • right

      so wrong

      September 28, 2013 at 10:58 am | Reply
    • deep blue

      So, if things go right, give credit to God. If things go wrong, we must have offended him.
      How about we accept responsibility for our actions?

      September 28, 2013 at 11:23 am | Reply
  16. stevie68a

    christians should at least consider that they've been had. Religion is a delusion. It is used to control.

    September 28, 2013 at 10:41 am | Reply
    • tim

      Control what? The Govt is control, God is freedom from control

      September 28, 2013 at 11:17 am | Reply
  17. Francesco

    The only problem that I have with Mr. Dawkins is his obsessive need to find an external pressure for an individuals freely chosen and very personal religious faith. He shares this annoying paternal disposition with the liberal nanny state's of Europe; which contemptuously believe that it has all the answers in life; and will protect the uneducated masses from their own inability to genuinely understand and appreciate the fact that they know what is best for them.

    I am a devout Roman Catholic Mr. Dawkins; and I have no interest in you lecturing me from a perceived position of intellectual worldliness and evolutionary superiority. I respect your choice to embrace atheism. You have never displayed a similar interest in respecting those who embrace a faith based life. Just don't continue to explain to me why I am Roman Catholic. Your are simply not smart enough to do so. The fact that you think you are; is a delusional exercise in comedic hubris.

    September 28, 2013 at 10:52 am | Reply
    • James George

      Respectfully, many people (like Dawkins) feel that religious belief is inherently dangerous to us as individuals and to humanity as a species. Deciding to believe anything on insufficient evidence CAN be EXTREMELY dangerous if we allow it to spread into the rest of our lives. Why shouldn't we take EVERYTHING on faith? Why shouldn't we rely on faith alone to inform our decisions about medicine and similar important life choices? Now, I'll assume that you,' like most Catholics, draw a line here and behave rationally 99% of the time. But this is only because you recognize, even if subconsciously, that we have to if we hope to function successfully in the world. Personal religious belief becomes a self-indulgent exception we allow ourselves.

      I've read and listened to an extraordinary amount of Catholic work that is unabashedly critical of Atheism. Be prepared to criticize THAT first – or risk your credibility...

      September 29, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Reply
  18. SteveinMN

    Finally; reason! God Bless Richard Dawkins!!!

    September 28, 2013 at 10:53 am | Reply
    • tim

      Funny how you don't see Gods reason isn't it?

      September 28, 2013 at 11:16 am | Reply
  19. J.P.O'Hara

    If Mr. Dawkins is perplexed as to why Christian children are called Christian he only needs to read the New Testament.

    September 28, 2013 at 11:00 am | Reply
  20. tim

    Go ahead ,remove God even more. When you cant leave your house and fear death every minute of the day,maybe you will begin to pray again!

    September 28, 2013 at 11:15 am | Reply
  21. deep blue

    Dawkins tries to define other people's religion and then explain why it doesn't make sense or isn't a good moral code. How can you claim that you are arguing logically if you don't first agree on premises?
    If one believes the claim that God created a universal moral code, one might venture to ask, does God's code of ethics make sense? Is it a good moral code that applies well in this world? If God's moral code is not senseless, then we should be able to make logical, secular arguments to describe why that code of ethics is correct. That being the case, arguing that something is morally right or morally wrong because "God said so" doesn't seem to give God enough credit for the thought he put into this.

    September 28, 2013 at 11:20 am | Reply
    • G to the T

      I think he's trying to say the morals can make sense without religion. Not that the morals that can be derived from religion are invald. He's basically saying they come from the same source (us), whether religiously derived or not.

      September 30, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Reply
  22. Disillusioned

    I still believe even atheistic morality is based on religious values. Why would you embrace the ideas of wrong and right otherwise? Why would you not enforce the idea that you create a life only guided by evolutionary principles? Why would you not allow your sick children to die as defects?

    September 28, 2013 at 11:25 am | Reply
    • deep blue

      Well, there are many different arguments to that. Hobbes would say that it is a social contract with society, established because everyone is better off if everyone has to follow rules for the collective good (which would not include letting the elderly or sick children die). Kant would claim that you shouldn't be a hypocrite, and you wouldn't want to die if the situations were reversed. Mills would say that the world would be a worse place if innocents were killed. Aristotle would say that letting innocents die would inhibit contentment with yourself.

      September 28, 2013 at 11:53 am | Reply
  23. Disillusioned

    Why bother not only caring for yourselves and letting your civilization die? Why care for the elderly. What factual benefit do you get from that, especially if they're sick and amnesiac and can't pass along life lessons?

    September 28, 2013 at 11:28 am | Reply
    • G to the T

      Empathy – see it's not really that hard.

      September 30, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Reply
  24. Disillusioned

    If you believe people are soulless why care about these things? Amd I assume most atheists do not believe in a soul.

    September 28, 2013 at 11:29 am | Reply
    • deep blue

      Why can't I choose my own philosophical and ideological principles to live by? I define myself through my actions. I don't want to be someone who doesn't care about children or the elderly, so I care. It is a choice.

      September 28, 2013 at 11:46 am | Reply
    • G to the T

      I personally don't see evidence for the existence of a soul but it certainly isn't a requirement of atheism nor am I sure why it would have any bearing on ethics.

      Since it is a positive assertion I think the better question would be, why do you believe in the soul?

      September 30, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Reply
  25. Ralph

    Disillusioned asked how dark matter came from nothing. Any matter (not just dark) is being made from nothing continuously throughout the universe as I write this. The universe is a froth of particles and anti-particle pairs forming and usually annihilating themselves very quickly. Some of these particle pairs survive. This concept has been proven by science – look it up. The idea is that the existence of these particles represents energy (matter=energy) which is "borrowed" from the universe. The entire known universe could have been formed in a similar way. That original big bang could be a larger version of this known concept.

    September 28, 2013 at 11:30 am | Reply
    • Disillusioned

      If the unoverse a a froth of particles then the particles are something. This does not jibe with the Big Bang, which asserts that preuniverse space was void of any matter. I am not arguing science, but tell me if preuniverse was void, then how could nothing, and I mean no froth of particles at all, could make matter.

      September 28, 2013 at 11:38 am | Reply
      • Dug

        I can't believe how often you and others have asked this question. You've gotten the answer multiple times, but you keep asking like the answer will change if you just keep at it. Scientists don't have an answer for what came before. The point is that they are trying to figure it out. You know, instead of not finding a definite answer immediately and deciding it must be something supernatural. Being an atheist doesn't mean knowing how the universe began and the truth of all mysteries held within. It means that we keep looking for answers and admit when we don't know something.

        September 30, 2013 at 5:33 am |
  26. Disillusioned

    The truth is is that our planet is so embued with the teachings of a religious past that even athiests carry the remnants of the morality and values of such.

    September 28, 2013 at 11:33 am | Reply
    • deep blue

      Are atheists influenced by religious culture? Certainly. I think someone who claims to by a morally code solely based on logic should try describing their moral code to a philosopher and watch that philosopher tear apart all the inconsistencies. To claim that atheist morality is solely based on religion I think does not give the field of philosophy enough credit.

      September 28, 2013 at 11:42 am | Reply
  27. Ginger Venger

    Shortsighted and intellectually dishonest, and those are the author's good points. Delve into the Bible as far as you like, but really, it's moral compass, taking God completely out of the equation, boils down to only two specifics: 8 of the 10 Commandments (Thou shalt not kill, honor thy mother and thy father, etc) and the Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

    We owe the bible more than the author wants you to know. People are obviously incapable of voluntarily behaving themselves. At some point in their lives, people were exposed to these precepts in the Bible. Some paid attention and took it to heart...some did not. You can tell which group any person falls in by their actions.

    September 28, 2013 at 11:54 am | Reply
    • deep blue

      "People are obviously incapable of voluntarily behaving themselves."
      So, they must be coerced? Doesn't sound very inspirational to me. A lot of Christians act in love of God, not in fear of him, and I respect that.
      I choose to do what I believe is right, not because I believe I will be rewarded or punished for my actions, not out of love for any being, but because I want to be the type of person that does the right thing. If you do what is right just for the afterlife, then you care too much about yourself and not enough about everyone else.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Reply
    • deep blue

      The golden rule can be easily logically derived with the premise that there is universal moral law. If there is universal moral law, then an action carried out by you against another person is morally equivalent to an action carried out by another person against you. That being the case, you cannot logically declare that it is immoral for someone to do something to you but it is ok for you to do that same action to that person.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  28. tc

    Can't say I disagree with Dawkins on some of his observations about "religion" but as it will always be, no one will ever have special knowledge of "faith" Some have it, some don't and you can't prove otherwise

    September 28, 2013 at 11:55 am | Reply
    • G to the T

      And some of us had it and don't anymore. Can you understand then why we doubt the claims of others that say they do?

      September 30, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  29. Heretic

    "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful." –Seneca Jesus was simply the latest manifestation of a long line of god-men myths, and an un-original copy. He wasn’t even an original Messiah. There were dozens before and after Jesus. Anyone who believes in the primitive Bedouin god, must accept his genocidal immorality and the immorality of his followers. Ethics and religion are simply incompatible.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Reply
    • TiglathPileser

      I always get a kick out of people who quote things like they actually mean something. The historical evidence for Seneca is hardly worht mentioning in comparison to the histroical evidence for nearly anything in scriptures, yet here you are quoting him as if we should accept this as the finale...haha Might also wanna do a quick google search on something like 'famous historical christians" or some such thing, Im thinking you may find more than a few who were considered 'wise'.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Reply
  30. robert

    Science can’t answer everything yet. Germ theory was a scientific discovery of the late 19th century. Before germ theory, many people died of infectious diseases and people said I don’t know why he died so it must have been God’s will. Then there is the watchmaker idea. Something as complex as our universe must have had a creator – God. But that would require another far more superior creator to create God.
    I have some major scientific questions;
    Where did the universe come from. Yes, we know there was a Big Bang. But how could something be created out of nothing?
    Abiogenesis; the natural process by which life arises from simple organic compounds.
    I look forward these being solved by science – not faith.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Reply
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