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 (2,952 Responses)
  1. Ralph

    Disillusioned, the space and universe we see and know was formed with the big bang. I don't know what was around in the pre-universe, but why wouldn't it also be a froth of particles/anti-particles. This concept of particles forming from nothingness is in agreement with the Big Bang and has been experimentally proven.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Reply
    • Disillusioned

      From where did this mass of particles come, known as the singularity? To cause the universe? All matter was contained in that, correct? Where did it come from? Clearly it wasn't a
      Ways there or the universe would have been way, way older than it is, or had a
      Ways been, Amd yet we know it has a definite age. Where did the singularity come from?

      September 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Reply
      • chuckles

        The universe is pulsating. When the age of the universe is discussed, it is only the age of this iteration. The Big Bang followed on the Big Shrink and it will go on ad infinitum; perpetual motion. All of the matter and energy in the universe is conserved (there really is no where for it to go). Waht the particles are made of has always been here. In an eternal universe why would creation only happen once? How many times has this occurred? Who knows? It ahs happened uncountable times. Do Christians really have a good understanding of eternal? They are locked up in this historical unfolding of time. In eternity time really has no relevance; no matter how many billions of years of existence, it is still as no more consequence than the life of a fly is to us. God is not in time so He sees, as He is eternal and omnipotent, etc., all that ever was or will ever be. Existence is essentially an illusion; it is all relative. Where do we fit in a universe made up of trillions of galaxies which are comprised of billions of stars? Lighten up.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  2. vr45

    Human being is curious. Wants to know who we are, who created this universe and what is our relationship with the creator if any. These are followed by other questions such as purpose of this life and our relationships with other creations.
    A religion tries to answer these questions which should be logical and consistent. For these it makes certain assumptions, hypothesis. The strength of a religion is as good it's assumption to explain above curiosities.
    Most religions go one step forward. They established codes of conduct to control power of human mind. These 'code of conduct' are termed as 'morality' and the means to correct deviation from these morality is by 'punishment'. Both morality and punishments vary from place to place and time to time.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Reply
  3. Markus

    To end the infinite chain of backwards causation, some serious thinkers have proposed an 'impossible' object: an uncaused cause. From there, without justification, many assign intelligence, purpose and even benevolence to this impossible object: as a further stamp of bigotry and foolishness, they said it was identical to a character in a story they contracted from their ancestors. The uncaused cause became the undesigned designer, but certainly no less impossible.

    Almost never in these discussions is any real physics! Beyond the infinite backwards causation chain and the uncaused cause is a third option:

    There are four ingredients in the universe: energy, mass, space and time. Einstein showed that energy and mass were equivalent, and also unified space and time into a single manifold, and so there are then two ingredients: energy/mass and space/time. In quantum mechanics energy calculations terms with square roots appear, inviting both positive and negative energies. Realizing that the negative solutions are still valid allowed Dirac to predict antimatter.

    Negative energy would look like a hole, an extended degree of freedom: a space. Space/time is made of negative energy in modern physics, so now there is just one ingredient to make the entire universe. And if the summation is done across all observed space the energy sum is virtually zero, within measurement error.

    Why is there something rather than nothing? On the largest of scales, there is nothing. There has been no creation.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Reply
    • deab

      Idiot

      September 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Reply
      • RollingHisEyes

        Lamest post ever, even if is sarcastic.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  4. Jake

    Who needs a moral compass? I have moral GPS.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Reply
  5. kyzaadrao

    Sorry, not believing in something doesn't make you anything in and of itself. Try a contribution to society other than bashing what you don't believe. Your moral compass is broken by its very nature of wanting to squash something that's sacred to others. The only thing you have as a group is non belief. It's silly to think you're anything but anti religion activists.

    Pass on your moral compass, and that has nothing to do with religion. You're just too self centered.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      No, that's just you being a cry-baby.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Reply
      • counter ww

        atheism = self centeredness. Look in the mirror Colin.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Yahweh

      "Your moral compass is broken by its very nature of wanting to squash something that's sacred to others."

      So by proselytizing to those with other faiths (as Jesus VERY CLEARLY commands you to do) you're demonstrating a broken moral compass. Or do your rules only apply to you? Let's see, what do they call that? Oh yeah! Hypocrisy.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Reply
      • kyzaadrao

        I'm not proselytizing, I'm just a guy with an opinion about an industry of activists and those monetizing atheism trying to sell me well ... nothing. Unless you count trolling against religion as a product, which they do.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
      • Yahweh

        Sorry but if you don't believe that it's your duty to proselytize to other faiths then you are definitely not a follower of Jesus Christ. He commanded it several times. Or do you only seek out those parts of the bible that suit your tastes and lifestyle?

        Furthermore, I suppose Jesus' moral compass was broken since HE wants to take away others faiths? Right? Or maybe it has nothing to do with a "moral compass" at all and you now realize that you should probably walk back that statement?

        September 28, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  6. Peter Bishop

    Dawkins...the Pope of the new atheist religion.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Reply
    • deep blue

      Dawkins, a rabble rising writer who fancies himself a philosopher. He certainly does not speak for me.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Reply
      • Colin

        Also false. I've never once seen Dawkins call himself a philosopher. In fact, I think he avoids that label. He is a scientist and that is what he refers to himself as.

        September 28, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
      • retief1954

        Your tone suggests he offends you by talking about his view of religion. You don't just disagree with him; he annoys you. Now, maybe, you understand a little better how we non-believers feel about those of you who refuse to stop talking about your Christianity, and how it should influence society.

        September 28, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
      • deep blue

        I'm atheist. Dawkins is confronting philosophical questions. He may call himself a scientist, but he is trying to do philosophy. I think he does it poorly.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
      • donna

        You seem to be misinterpreting the definitions of scientist and philosopher. They are not exclusive. A scientist who theorizes about "big" questions is a philosopher. A scientist, including an evolutionary biologist, who addresses fundamental problems, such as existence, life origins, and development, is a philosopher. And would be a philosopher who is more educated in the realities of the universe than someone who merely majored in philosophy.

        There is a reason that PhD= Doctor of Philosophy. It means that are qualified to address the major issues in a given field. Dawkin's field of expertise is life.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • ReligionIsPoop

      Religion has as much to do with morality as it has with how often you touch yourself! Now, go touch yourself! 🙂

      September 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      False: there is no pope of atheism.

      Stop lying bigot.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Reply
    • ReligionIsPoop

      Peter is a frustrated bully that touches himself daily, just like the Vatican folks!

      September 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Reply
  7. deep blue

    "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."
    You can't define other people's religion for them, use that to explain why their religion is bad, and then claim you are being logical. Logic is a means of reaching conclusions based on premises. If you want to logically argue against someone, you must start with the same premises. If you are arguing the merits of religion or religious moral code, defining the religious moral code of that religion is a prerequisite to the debate, and I think most Christians and Muslims would disagree with his premises, thus rendering his logical argument moot.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  8. chiz3914

    Everything about religion and god's was created by humans anyway. So why wouldn't there still be a moral compass?

    September 28, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Reply
  9. usa john

    I never heard of a Jew being stoned to death for missing the sabbath can you poin this out to me? as a regular practice, where it says that is the rule...

    September 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Reply
    • deep blue

      Google says Exodus 31:14
      "Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people."
      Note that in my post above that I take issue with Dawkins interpreting what the bible and Koran mean, but I think this is what Dawkins was referencing. Many Christians today make various good arguments to why this interpretation of the bible is flawed and I think all Christians disagree with Dawkins's interpretation.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Reply
    • sejones

      Ah, another case of an American dimwit not actually bothering to *read* the ancient fairy tale he puts so much "faith" in ...

      September 28, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  10. ug

    I'd court them right out the door...

    September 28, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      Sit down and shut up. We aren't going anywhere.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Reply
  11. Brickell Princess

    I am proud to be an atheist. No church on this planet will ever brain wash me.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Reply
    • dean

      You have decided to remain ignorant. Good for you.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Reply
      • Jay

        Actually, atheists have a propensity to know more about world religions than adherents.
        If you look at the 2010 survey about religious knowledge,. you will see the proof in the pudding.

        http://www.pewforum.org/2010/09/28/u-s-religious-knowledge-survey-who-knows-what-about-religion/

        September 28, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
      • Colin

        No dean, he decided to grow up. You decide to be ignorant.

        September 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
      • Praisethelard

        You have that backwards... Organized Religion has been the greatest promoter of ignorance for millenia...

        September 28, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • HM8432

      Instead, you let a bunch of old English guys brainwash you with their pseudo-philiosphy!

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

        How can you possibly call encouraging free and rational thought "brainwashing?" It's the *EXACT* opposite of brainwashing. Seriously, what the hell is the matter with you?

        September 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
      • ClumBaby

        I was a non believer before I even knew who Dawkins was. Why? Because I have a brain and can tell the difference between reality and fairy tales. Religion is outdated. We have science now. Enjoy waiting for your zombie lord to return to earth and make us all question our mortality. Until then, some of us have actual work to do.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
      • Colin

        Yeah, Dawkins simply confirmed for me what I already had come to understand. He didnt really even say anything new to any of us atheists as much as he did just put into perspective the danger of handling religion with kid-gloves.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  12. churchlife

    "stoning people to death, stoning people for breaking the Sabbath".

    He obviously didn't read the bible. Ever hear "whoever hasn't sinned cast the first stone".

    September 28, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Reply
    • Jay

      That's It, cherry pick the bible.

      Try Reading Matthew 5:18 and say that with a straight face.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Reply
      • Yahweh

        Or my favorite: Matthew 24:34

        Let's see a Christian rationalize THAT verse. (because they can't, that's why it's so funny)

        September 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  13. dean

    For a man that is supposed to be highly intelligent and intuitive, he has the same dumb arguments where the Bible is concerned. He's a fool. Before a person can bring accurate criticism against anything he must first learn something about what it is he is attempting to criticize. Dawkins has demonstrated time and again, that he has no real knowledge of scripture. He is just another atheist.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Reply
    • deep blue

      who made the misguided claim that he is highly intelligent and intuitive?

      September 28, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Reply
      • dean

        The article. Did you even read it?

        September 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Colin

      Dawkins is highly intelligent. He was the Charles Simonyi professor for the public understanding of science at Oxford. But I wouldn't expect that to mean anything to you because clearly you are a dope.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Reply
      • counter ww

        He is an elitist like you; a person that thinks that science is the end all and be all of life.

        He also postulates that or origin may come from aliens but has no proof, but dismisses God or a creator. You are both fools.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Praisethelard

      The bible is nothing more than a series of fairy tales... why would anyone take them seriously unless they had no functioning brains?

      September 28, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  14. 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 12:37 pm | Reply
    • tt

      Science never claimed that it could answer all questions. More, it claims that all modern theories will be amended at some point: none of them is final.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Reply
  15. siggis94

    I noticed some people are asking why would God let their family be slaughtered by gunmen. First off, you don't just ask God to protect you from gunmen. Its like asking for him to give you a billion dollars, its can't just be given, it has to be earned. He helps you get what you want. If you wanna avoid gunmen, LIVE IN A SAFE COMMUNITY. Want a billion dollars, WORK FOR IT DON'T BE LAZY. Why did a tornado run over your house, its because its a NATURAL disaster, in other words out of Gods power. Why did the terrorists attack and kill everyone, again, its OUR (the human race's) fault for not nuking them when given the chance. Not god's. God can cure you from cancer if you deserve to be cured not just because you ask to be cured. If you smoked, of course you shouldn't be saved, you smoked knowing the risks. Have a heart attack and you are overweight as well, again your fault. People stop blaming God for your problems and bad times, its the human races fault as a whole.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Reply
    • G to the T

      "its because its a NATURAL disaster, in other words out of Gods power." Besides this VERY non-biblical belief (try reading Job sometime) your entire point seems to be that believing in god doesn't make any difference... which is what Dawkins was trying to say... sooo?

      September 30, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Reply
  16. darknesscrown

    "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."

    - My initial response hasn't shown up to this statement, so if it does, disregard this one...

    First of all, atheists matter DOES appear out of nothing in a vacuum. It's called a vacuum fluctuation. They have been observed and recorded. It is not a "belief" that matter can come from seemingly nothing, because that's what ACTUALLY happens. The only thing here that IS "belief", and continues to be a belief, is the assertion that there is an intelligent supernatural being behind it...even though you can't provide a single element of evidence to support that statement. None. Nada.

    Secondly, we atheists take the default position, which is that of doubt. We don't believe what we are told unless reasonable data can be presented and can be debated, discussed, made sense of, etc... With people who believe in god, conversely, none of these things apply. You guys insist that you have all the proof you need because the Qur'an, or Bible, or whatever else you read says so and that it takes faith. LOL Yes, indeed. There is a REASON it takes much, much, MUCH more effort to have faith in anything than to see things for what they really are.

    The IDEA of a god is abstract in it's entirety. There is nothing measurable, verifiable, or testable about it. Therefore, how can an intelligent person take seriously, in a debate about the universe, a person who asserts that there just must be something else behind everything. Do you know how ridiculous that sounds? Yeah, there COULD be, but until you can back it up, we will laugh at you. Furthermore, until you can back it up, we may continue to completely dismiss your views.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Reply
    • Disillusioned

      Matter does not come from complete absence of no matter. It does not. A vacuum fluctuation still has nothing to form something. There's nothing there. If something for,s something then it's still nothing that formed it. Answer this. Simply. Where did the singularity come from? Secondly. A good scientist keeps an open mind. You cannot prove there is not a god. But yet you will insist absent proof that the higher intent cannot exist. Really? Prove that.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Reply
    • Disillusioned

      I can laugh at the idea that a plasma of lightning strikes and proteins caused life from rock air amd water, and until you can show the results verifiably in a lab I might say the same. Meanwhile we humans can't even prolong life already existing for eternity, but a mix of the most common elements unaltered produced conscious human life right now. By " chance"". Yeah we can laugh too.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Reply
      • darknesscrown

        No you can't. Actually. Put up or shut up. The list of things science has explained away from god exceeds even the most fervent believer's imagination.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
      • Disillusioned

        Do it yourself. Make life come randomly from a pool or pf elements and lightning. Do it. Or shut your flapping hole.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
      • Disillusioned

        Science does not explain away god. It show what an ultimate scientist he/ shereally is. He/ she the higher intent is THE ultimate scientist.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
      • Disillusioned

        By the way, it has to happen randomly. Because there is no god or intent, right? So you take a pool of elelments and lightning ands have it magically metamorphasize into life. Writing to see scientists do this. Without outside interference.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  17. ReligionIsPoop

    Religion has as much to do with morality as it has with how often you touch yourself! 🙂

    September 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  18. Pol Pot

    The very idea that we get a moral compass from atheism is horrible. Not only should we not get our moral compass from atheism, as a matter of fact we don’t. We shouldn’t, because if you actually look at Stalin and Pol Pot, and get your moral compass from them, it’s horrible – mass genocides, destroying history, culture, and civilization.
    Now of course we don’t do that anymore, but the reason we don’t do it is that we pick out those horrible atheists and pick the ones we like, and reject those we don’t like. What criteria do we use to pick out the good ones and reject the bad ones?

    September 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Reply
    • G to the T

      The same criteria you would use for anyone else – their actions.

      September 30, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Reply
    • no

      Wrong. Replace "Atheist" with its actual definition and you make no sense. You know how you can tell if you are using a word correctly? ^ exactly.

      November 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Reply
  19. kennyzales

    Certainly glad that Dawkins has ALL the answers (as most atheists claim to have), so that I don't have to waste my time with seeking out any further truth than his own. Goodness...what a time saver! 🙂

    September 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      Atheists don't claim to have all the answers. In fact, such statements are written in nearly every piece of atheist literature I know. I am the most outspoken atheist I know, and I don't make that claim either. Stop fooling yourself.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Reply
    • no

      Kenny you seem to be stuck on the lie that the answer for everything MUST come from one place and only one place.

      November 22, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Reply
  20. allenwoll

    .
    Atheism is just another faith-based philosophy - Neither Theists nor Atheists can PROVE their ideas so they proceed guided by their FAITH in their ideas. . It is all kind of silly - Either may be right or both may be wrong !
    .
    Some agency or other apparently put this all into place - Beyond that we KNOW nothing.
    .

    September 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      Atheism is the absence of faith in a god. Learn your facts.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Reply
      • counter ww

        Well, that is a point of view,not a a fact. To NOT believe that God exists is a leap of faith in the wrong direction, but that is just me.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
      • G to the T

        To claim you KNOW there is no god(s) would be positive statement. To say you don't believe god(s) exist is a very different matter. It's basically saying – I have a high degree of confidence that god(s) as described probably don't exist but that is not a declaritive statement and is pending new evidence being brought forward.

        September 30, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  21. Mickey D

    Because science can't explain something to your satisfaction right now, you don't accept it but you say you don't understand how god works ie. why children get cancer, and you say it's god's will. Religion can use this circular argument for anything. What makes more sense, The universe was created by physical laws we don't fully understand yet or some guy that waves his hand and it's there? It's called the god of the gaps. Any time someone doesn't understand something it must be divine intervention. The problem with religion is it allows people to stop thinking or asking questions.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Reply
    • deep blue

      The problem of evil is often discussed in philosophy and religious literature. The argument goes like this:
      premises: God is good, God is omniscient, God is omnipotent, and bad things happen in this world
      corollary: God knows bad things happen in this world and is capable of stopping those bad things
      conclusion: If such a god existed, he would stop those bad things because he is good.
      I don't believe this is a sound argument. The question hinges on what "good" means. Would this world be a better world if God actively intervened to remove all evil? If not, then the question becomes where to draw the line. That makes the argument a lot more complicated.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Reply
      • G to the T

        Yes – it would be a better world if god intervened directly against evil. What you shoud ask is why an all-powerful being couldn't have done it without evil. For instance – is there sin in heaven? If there isn't – do you still have free will? If there is no sin and you still have free will then there's no good reason it can't be done now.

        But all of this is fairly abstract – I cannot imagine looking into the face of starving child or a 12 prositute in Thailand and saying "yup – god is in control and everything is going according to plan. Don't worry – things will be better for you in the next life. Oh? You don't believe in my god – then this existence will be nothing compared to the suffering you will endure in the next." Just can't bring myself to do it...

        September 30, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  22. sd

    Atheists proclaim that God doesn't exist and challenge believers to prove that s/she/it does. To the atheist I say "prove that God doesn't exist" because religion and science are different in that religion simply requires one to believe in something without necessarily providing empirical evidence, as in the case of science. Existence or not aside, to the atheists I say: "I, for one, as a fence-sitter, am not condemning you, telling you that you are wrong, and no more wish to be told what to believe in or not, can't you do the same with those whose believe in God?"

    After all, by its very definition, God is something humans aren't necessarily supposed to fully comprehend, just as the solar eclipse was to early humans thousands of years ago; it is possible that someday we may have a better understanding through science as to what the unproveable is today (seen by some as "God")

    September 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Reply
    • no

      You can't prove something doesn't exist; because nobody has been everywhere in time and space and then come back and had proof of the entire journey that could be analyzed by everyone equally.

      The burden of proof lies with the person claiming something to be true. Otherwise; I say to you: disprove Atheism.

      November 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  23. deep blue

    As I have said before, I find Dawkins's arguments logically flawed.
    My issue with Christianity and many religions is the idea of judgement. We are not supposed to judge others: "he who hath not sinned cast the first stone", yet God rewards those who do good and punishes those who commit evil. Shouldn't God live up to his own ideal? One of the plagues that God sent to Egypt was to kill every firstborn child. Isn't the slaughter of innocents morally reprehensible. I admit I am not well versed in the bible, and I understand that many people have different views within the Christian faith, so I am very open to criticism of my interpretation. I guess I don't understand.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Reply
    • counter ww

      You don't get it. All of us deserve external punishment, but by accepting Christ and his atoning death we can have God live within us and learn to love others in a better way.
      the ultimate way.

      It is not earned, it is a gift.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Reply
      • G to the T

        So I don't have to believe in god to get this gift? No? So I don't have believe in the idea of sin and the Jesus' death was an atonement for that?

        Good to know! 🙂

        September 30, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  24. FrenchChef

    We see that religion is a force for evil in America. For example, while many major Christian and Jewish denominations want to marry same gender couples RIGHT NOW, a few other churches' leaders have committed criminal acts to deny those affirming and welcoming denominations their right to practice their religion. Mormon and Catholic leaders committed criminal acts to throw the 2008 California anti-gay H8te Vote, and the US Supreme Court has an email Catholic bishops wrote that proves that.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Reply
  25. ReligionIsPoop

    Religions have nothing to do with morality! Do the Italian mafia, Mexican drug lords, Islamic terrorists ring a bell?

    September 28, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  26. harpomang

    I feel bad for Dawkins. Look at how sad he always looks 😦

    September 28, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      You've clearly only ever seen pictures of him from religious sources. Usually he is laughing and smiling.

      September 28, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  27. Mickey D

    You can't prove a negative. You can't disprove the existence of Thor or the flying tea pot in the sky(Dawkin's Idea). Most atheists would believe in god if there was any proof. The bible is not proof of anything and really isn't much different than other religious teachings.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Reply
  28. atheist

    World would b a happier place without religion.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Reply
  29. coastlinecascot

    If you push an idea onto others. Does that make it your "religion"?

    September 28, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Reply
    • ReligionIsPoop

      You mean like "in dog we trust," or "help me dog?" 🙂

      September 28, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      No

      September 28, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  30. ReligionIsPoop

    Religions have something to do with morality? Bigots: ask the Vatican folks whether they touch themselves!

    September 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Reply
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