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. Disillusioned

    Do you knôw the chances of a pool of proteins truck by lightning to make human life as we know it today? Your chances of taking a rock and saying I pronounce you alive, are better than what the odds were of life being formed frrom elements like this. The unbelievable billions to one odds to have a conscious life on an inhabitable planet. From nothing.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Reply
    • ReligionIsPoop

      Keep touching yourself and pontificating about your religious morality, pal!

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

        On snap. Lets make a stupid comment unrelated to my point. You told me!

        September 28, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Colin

      Evolution by natural selection is more nuanced than you are thinking of it. It isn't just about lightning striking something. In fact, I don't think Darwin ever even mentioned lightning, you should actually read the origin of the species.

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

        Who said I was referring to Darwin? Actual comscios Life supposedly came from some random lightning strikes of a protein pool and elements . Maybe you should read up on the science that you profess to follow.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • arturobio

      Actually no it isnt. Your explanation of one theory misses key aspects of what makes abiogenesis so complex yet simplistic. For one it doesn't use lightning as the only energy source and two no random pool is considered the precursor to all life. In fact early stages of our planet contained vast oceans compromising of various chemicals. These theories simplify the fact that these chemicals would have naturally bound together in the presence of catalytic reactions and the source of these reactions being anything from UV radiation(earth had no oxygen based atmosphere then), lightning, thermal vents, and even the elements themselves(such as nickel). Now through these reactions polymers came into existence way before any proto cell ever arose. And through time everything evolved naturally as more polymers bound with other polymers(creating simple DNA or RNA) and life arose through the very first or perhaps multiple first cells which could have happened in multiple places around the world(vast ocean). Simple biology.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Reply
  2. TED DAVEY

    WHAT FOR ANYONE DUMB ENOUGH TO BELIEVE ALL THIS HAPPENED BY ACCIDENT IS NOT SMART ENOUGH TO COMPETE IN TODAYS WORLD ALSO IT WOULD ALIENATE THE OTHER 90% WHO DO BELIEVE

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

      Yeah, religious people who think gods just randomly showed up and started creating things can't compete in the real world of science.nits a shame.

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

        Nothing random about it. Atheist think all of this complexity, energy and matter just "happened"

        Ludicrous.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
      • Colin

        There's nothing random about a god randomly showing up and creating everything? Wow, man. You are too far gone for me. Atheists do not maintain that the universe is random. Natural selection is the opposite of a randomized process. It is a process of cause and effect.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • ReligionIsPoop

      Hey m.o.r.o.n, once upon a time, 99% believed that the earth is the center of the universe!

      September 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Reply
      • UpsetVoter

        There is a huge difference between people not being aware of things before they are discovered and the general religious concept of a higher order of life. Exploration proved there world was connected on the other side somehow but the concept of a planet was hard for most to grasp before we could fly over the surface and see the planet. As we see more of the universe around us our knowledge about that universe expands. Evolution explains the mechanism that allowed for higher orders of life and we can trace those changes on this planet but it does not tell us why. There is so much out there that we do not know yet and we have not discovered. Some of it might be beyond what we will ever see considering how vast the distances in the universe are. The fact that we do not see or hear life on far distant planets does not indicate weather or not they actually exist. The religious concept of a higher order of life might never be proven but that alone is never going to be proof that a higher order of life does not exist. Your insistence in the idea that there is no possibility of a higher order is just as closed minded as the people who insist that the world is 6000 years old despite all the evidence to the contrary.

        Personally ... I keep an open mind with a great curiosity in what we can still discover. The truth is out there somewhere.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Flapjacks

      Just shows more and more that Atheism is a religion of it's own.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Reply
      • Colin

        No it doesn't.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
      • KHS

        Religion is the belief in a supernatural being (a god, a spirit etc.). Since atheists don't believe in that, atheism cannot be a religion. Or what's your definition of religion?

        September 28, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
      • yoda

        except that as an atheist I am ok with your religion and all religions as long as they don't hurt anyone, dont' cram it down my throat and don't attempt to impose your beliefs in my life. Your religion, like all of them are out to turn as many people as possible, not because of some desire to bring us into the fold but rather to bump up your numbers, increase your revenues and take all the joy out of life. Since after the 2010 the fastest growing "group' was atheism, I am confident that your numbers are going to soon be a joke.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
      • Yahweh

        I see this a lot, the deluded acolytes trying to claim that we're a religion just as much as they are. And I wondered, why would this be so important for them to try and convince everyone that atheism is a religion no different from their own. I can only figure it must make them feel a little less stupid for having such inane beliefs. So fine, if it makes you all feel better and you feel less like burning people at the stake then yes, we atheists are adherents of a religion just like you.

        (facepalm)

        September 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
      • Bill

        I'm not comfortable with any politician pandering to any religion. Whether it's Christianity, Judaism, Islam or Atheism

        September 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
      • ReligionIsPoop

        right m.o.r.o.n

        September 28, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • naw

      it would make sense this happened by accident. My guess would be that an infinite number of times an infinite number of universes exists. And given enough times, this would happen.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        I'm aware of this postulate... But it makes no sense to me.
        Too many issues with matter and energy.
        Obviously there is no God sitting on high on his throne, but the Eastern view of God, as the total of everything in
        the Universe with no no separation from each other and the world around us,
        fits the view of current Physics, both micro and macro.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Yahweh

      So I guess you're pretty dumb to believe that an omnipotent and omniscient being "just happened"?

      September 28, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Reply
    • KateOSee

      Oh, you used all caps. Well now I am convinced! It was definitely the capslock that convinced me. Well done!

      September 28, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Reply
    • logan5

      Actually, the position of most atheists is to admit that they simply don't know what created or initiated the Big Bang. This is a perfectly rational and reasonable position on this issue. What is "ludicrous" is for people to ascribe creation to a specific deity of their choosing and claim with absolute certainty their deity is behind it all.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Reply
    • yoda

      nobody said anything about an accident, You can see all types of complexity in nature and the world in general all around us on a daily basis. Cause and effect, we change the world just as much as it changes us. You are only your religion because you were born in a specific country and your parents made sure to braiswash you from birth. No matter how much religion is proven wrong, now matter how evil it really is, no matter how much you try to ignore all the rules of your book because it doesn't fit in modern times, you still seem to not question.....have you ever wondered why? you would still believe there is a santa clause had your parents kept that ruse up. think about it, you are only the religion you are because of where you were born....period.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Reply
    • patrick

      Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime; but give a man religion and he will die praying for a fish

      September 28, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Reply
    • Byegod

      IF the Earth were "created" by some being of higher intelligence for our benefit, then why are there so many ways it can go horribly wrong? We live on a climatic knife edge and there are places on the planet where humans cannot survive. Death is everywhere.....so many ways to innocently come to one's end on this rock. So, God was created by man because man is an animal who fears everything-and we humans have created a LOT of them. So we tell ourselves the invisible man in the sky has it all under control in spite of the fact that it refuses to offer any evidence and instead insists on blind faith as a "test" of our gullibility...and I will be the first to say if there was ANY evidence that there is a God who smiles on his believers and keeps them safe, I.E. believers were reliably spared horrible deaths, or always got "A's" in school, or had a better moral track record than non-believers, then I might be inclined to grant the believers a point or two.

      Instead, we are told we don't find out until we die, and that's a One Way Street....no one has ever brought evidence of an afterlife, good or bad....and if an omnipotent and omniscient being can't find a way to convince anyone without threats of a horrible demise, then......

      September 28, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  3. ChalupaBatman

    Atheists get courted all the time. The problem is that the ways that it is done are less obvious.

    September 28, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      How so? Be sure to differentiate between secularists and atheists since they are not the same thing.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Reply
      • UpsetVoter

        Secularists believe in the separation of church and state. They may or may not belong to a religion or believe in a higher order of life. It does not mater to them what other people believe as long as it is not dictated to others through government.

        Atheists want to end any feeling that a god or higher power exists. It bothers them that other people have those feelings which they feel are ridiculous. Religion is a threat in their mind.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
      • Colin

        This doesn't do anything to explain how we are courted.

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

        You wanted to be sure that people knew the difference so I explained that I did know the difference.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
      • G to the T

        Please don't speak for atheists – especially when your definition is way off from what I can see...

        September 30, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Human-being

      Courted? In some states we cannot even hold public office or testify in court. Boss finds out that you are an atheist and you cannot sue. I was stabbed in junior high school. Stabber said that he was justified because I said that I was an atheist. Principal agreed. We are not courted, we are asked to leave. I wish that I could move to UK or Scandinavia. But, they would probably assume that I am a religious maniac.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  4. Disillusioned

    Make that a habitable planet.

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

      define habital
      Life as we know it on Earth is specifically adapted to planet Earth. If we look around at life here, it is easy to believe that life could only exist on a planet like ours. I think life could exist on any planet that has any cycles with large enough changes in entropy.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Reply
      • Disillusioned

        Then you would be wrong. Billions upon billions of supposedly random happenings had to occur to have conscious life on a habitable planet occur from a universe that came from a single point of mass, that came from nothing.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
      • deep blue

        and how many planets in universe to try for the billions of random happenstances. If you get a large enough sample size, you can make an improbable event probable. P = 1 – (1-chance of event)^number of trials

        September 28, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  5. Andy

    Ted, learn how to shut off the cap lock key, then you can talk about how smart you are.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  6. AltarBoysKneelAlot

    sit, stand, kneel, stand, sit, kneel, pray, pray hard, pray really hard to win the lotto, pray so hard it hurts and you can't pray no more and then pray some more. Kneel, heel. Like the dog you are, obey.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  7. Ray

    so you're telling me as religions around the world are going down violence and drug abuse and disease are all going up. kind of sounds like we are losing our moral compass

    September 28, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Reply
    • deep blue

      homicides per capita has steadily decreased over the years (well, it went up during WWI and WWII). It is the lowest it has ever been.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Reply
    • yoda

      your mistaking more coverage of these events as technology gets better with an increase in the evil in the world. Statistically we are right on track with the amount of "evil" things which happen in the world, some years more than others but each year less then historically tracked. Try to understand that your religion went through exactly what the muslim world is going through currently, they are 1400 years old and when your religion was 1400 years you were stomping around Europe forcing people to convert and outright killing them all in the name of god and your man made book.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  8. deep blue

    Some have argued against the probability of spontaneous generation of life.
    There are countless planets in the universe. Lets call the probability of spontaneous generation of a self-replicating compound(i.e. life) on a specific planet in 1 earth year PL. The probability of life spontaneously forming anywhere in the universe is 1-(1-PL)^Number of Planets in the universe * number of years.
    Obviously, PL is really, really small, but the number of planets in the universe is really, really large.
    We can't replicate this kind of sample size in the lab.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  9. Eric R.

    TED IT WAS THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER AND /OR INVISIBLE PINK UNICORN, YOU'RE SO RIGHT!

    September 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Reply
  10. Magister

    Atheists are politically dangerous because they are so intolerant. The proof? All the insults and death threats I'm about to receive.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Reply
    • test sample

      @Magister – crickets.....

      September 28, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Reply
    • naw

      death threats?? you are tooooo funny. Your beliefs are laughable at best.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Reply
    • Yahweh

      Don't mistake pity for malice. Yes it's frustrating dealing with the brainwashed, anyone can tell you that. But that shouldn't make us lose our patience with you. Let me apologize for those that have (unless of course you begin by insulting them). People tend to universally react to hostility with hostility, doesn't matter what you do or don't believe in.

      But still, we as the adults in the situation need to be more patient since we're dealing with people inculcated at childhood. It takes patience and understanding. We'll get there.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Reply
    • Corey

      Burn in hell demon!

      September 28, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Reply
    • AllenGingrich

      You have a right to believe in whatever you want, as do I. Atheists are some of the most tolerant people in the world - we have no dogmas to line up behind. Our compassion comes from within ourselves, not from the guidelines of some ancient scripture.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Reply
      • UpsetVoter

        Atheist by the definition is intolerant. Anti Theistic ( anti religion) is an active belief that a higher order does not exist and people need to be purged of that idea.

        Agnostic is the absence of the belief in a higher order of life. They could care less what other people believe but are willing to entertain the Idea of a higher order of life if any such proof is found.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
      • G to the T

        You got some pretty interesting definitions of belief. I'm an agnostic atheist – is that OK with you?

        I don't believe that absolute knowledge of the existence of god can be proven (agnostic), but based on the lack of evidence, I don't believe there are any (atheist). I'm not an anti-theist, but I will call BS when I hear it, no matter what the source.

        September 30, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  11. Colin

    Darwin created the idea of evolution by natural selection, the process which you are so pitifully attempting to speak about. I read plenty of science books, guy. I'm just laughing at how dumb you are.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Reply
    • Disillusioned

      You're pretty stupid if you can't recognize to what I'm referring. Like I mentioned, reading a book on actual science might help you to support your apparently pitiful idea that you follow, you know- actual science.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Reply
      • Disillusioned

        It's however way funny that a believer has to inform you of basic scientific ideas.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
      • Colin

        No, it's the other way around. I'm the one explaining things to you.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
      • Disillusioned

        Really? Do it then. Life is said to be formed from a plasma of proteins being struck by lightning. Apparently this is new scientific news to you.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
      • G to the T

        Dillisuioned – Says who? Who are these people saying that life started when lightning struck a pool of goo? I know of quite a few theories of abiogenisis (notice – NOT evolution) but I guess I'm not familiar with these.

        September 30, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  12. dilberth

    Religion is just another name for a fraudulent scam. It relies on presenting the impossible as probable, lies as the truth, and myths as tools for fools. Religion is not a guide for moral values. It's quite the opposite as we well know. Divisiveness is its main feature. The Bible should never be taken seriously. Rather, it should be taken to the nearest landfill and deposited there anongst the other trash.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Reply
    • ReligionIsPoop

      Most of the crooks I've encountered are Christian!

      September 28, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  13. sRj

    I am proud to be an atheist but I don't believe atheists should push their own agenda on others just as Christians shouldn't. Whatever makes you feel better going to bed at night is your business. I was raised by a devout catholic family and even as a child I knew something wasn't right. I would look around at other parishoniers and get scared by how brainwashed they seemed to me. So as I got older and did research the answer was obvious to me. Religion especially Christianity denouces knowledge. It doesn't want you to think for yourself! Take the story of Adam and Eve. They get punished for eating fruit off the TREE OF KNOWLEDGE! I could never believe in something that doesn't promote intellect.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      And that is exactly why it is worthy of atheists to be publically outspoken.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Reply
    • Yahweh

      If it was really a situation of live and let live then I agree. But it's not. We had a madman start a war (that I had to fight in, mind you) because a god told him to. That deserves to be spoken up against. There are also states that don't allow atheists to hold public office and serve on juries. How is that not discrimination. If you can't discriminate against blacks, jews, tall people, or gays then you shouldn't be able to discriminate against people who don't share your delusion. That deserves to be called out.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  14. UpsetVoter

    Atheist is a religion. Atheist is anti the concept that god or any high order of being exists. They do not want to have anything to answer to. Their main goal in life is to disrupt any thought of a higher being by others since they are the center of the universe.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      No that isn't true. That's just your hate speaking.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Reply
      • Colin

        My main goal is to be a drummer. Doesn't have anything to do with my atheism. My atheism is the least important aspect of who I am, it's just because I always have to fend off people like you that it seems important to me to you.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
      • UpsetVoter

        Atheist by the definition is intolerant. Anti Theistic ( anti religion) is an active belief that a higher order does not exist and people need to be purged of that idea.

        Agnostic is the absence of the belief in a higher order of life. They could care less what other people believe but are willing to entertain the Idea of a higher order of life if any such proof is found.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
      • UpsetVoter

        Your reaction alone is proof that your Atheism is an active belief. None of my comments have have been for or against the existence of a higher power. My comments are based on the dictionary definition of atheism and scientific discovery but you find even that is a threat to your active belief.

        Atheist comes from anti theistic. Theistic is religious. Therefore atheist is anti religious which is an active belief.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • test sample

      atheism is nota religion. it is simply lack of belief in any deity. how can that be a religion?

      September 28, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Reply
      • UpsetVoter

        Agnostic is the lack of belief in a higher order/god. The word Atheist comes from anti theistic or in simple terms anti religion. Anti is an active belief unlike the agnostic who could care less either way.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • deep blue

      I answer to myself, and I am a harsh judge. Jesus forgives Christians if they acknowledge their sins and believe in him. I am a much hasher judge on myself than that.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Reply
    • dilberth

      HA! Such drivel. A bartender, a maid, a truck driver or a clerk could have said as much.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Reply
    • patrick

      If god created me then why did he make me an atheist?

      September 28, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Reply
      • UpsetVoter

        I did not realize your parents were god since it was their actions that created you. You might want to ask them about the mechanics involved.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • sam stone

      you sound bitter, UpsetVoter

      September 28, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Reply
    • G to the T

      No matter how many times you copy/paste those definitions, they'll still be wrong...

      Me = Agnostic Atheist. Get it?

      September 30, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  15. Willow

    I myself had religion forced upon my at a young age - school, church, the whole 9 yards. Not Catholic but Protestant. I had no choice in the matter, and it was through a great deal of mental anguish that I realized I just don't believe in the supernatural. I believe in the Golden Rule, and being a decent human being generally, but I have no desire to believe things like the rest of humanity who doesn't agree with me either a. gets tortured eternally or b. gets death, depending on your view of Christian hell doctrine. If you choose to believe that yourself, fine, but please do not expect the rest of the world to without proof. And no, books are not proof.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Reply
    • Jennifer

      Well said Willow, just plain common sense 🙂
      BE WELL!

      September 28, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  16. Just saying...

    90% of the people reading this article are believers. 10% are not believers (most of those, about 8% are agnostics, meaning they don't know what to believe). So lets say 2% of the people reading this are atheists. Yet, the vast majority of the comments on here are obviously left by atheists because they are so hateful towards believers. So to sum up, 90% of the people who read this article (on average) are not atheists and about 2% are. Yet most comments are left by atheists. Conclusion: Atheists have nothing better to do all day but sit around and leave anti-christian comments on CNN articles. Thats just sad... and one wonders why that is.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Reply
    • sRj

      Where did you get these numbers and percentages from? Are you telling me that you have personally been with every single person who has read this article and asked what their beliefs were? I am glad I don't follow ignorant sheep like you. You sound so much like your religion right now. Making up facts to try and save face. This is hilarious. I thought you people were supposed to have love in your heart for all of "God's" creatures. I guess that pertains only to fellow christians.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Reply
    • Yahweh

      So atheists commenting = sad existence with nothing better to do

      Christians commenting sad existence with nothing better to do

      Do I have that right? I'll give you deluded acolytes one thing, you guys have hypocrisy down to science. I mean, wow!

      September 28, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Reply
    • AllenGingrich

      What? I don't see any atheist being hateful. We actually don't care whether you believe or don't believe in a god, as long as you don't try to force it upon us. More power to you if believing in god helps you! You on the other hand seem a little hateful, so I'm not so sure it's helping your compassion much.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Reply
    • patrick

      Scientists do not join hands every Sunday and sing "Yes gravity is real! I know gravity is real! I will have faith! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down, down, down. Amen!" If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about the concept

      September 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  17. Jacko

    People can choose to believe what they want, but when you base your argument against something (in this case, religion) on a literal interpretation of a translation of an allegorical/poetic text and demonstrate no understanding of the time or place in which it was written you pretty much have no credibility. In other words, you are no better than the religious zealots. Offer me some hard proof and I'll believe you, otherwise you are just blowing smoke up your own butt.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Reply
    • Jennifer

      That's a really good point that most "believers" steadfastly refuse to wrap their heads around. When was your dogma written? what was happening in the world at the time? Who wrote it? what was their influence?, etc etc etc. If you look at all belief systems Man has had for just the last 8,000 years or so, you will see quite an evolution to religion. The next ones coming will probably last longer than just a few thousand years because they will incorporate much more of the knowledge that has been gained since the last ones were written.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  18. mark

    Religion will be the death of the human race.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  19. naw

    as a Realist I don't see atheist pushing anything. However the religionist do,, the sheep.

    I understand that religionist live by the fear of death and hope of some afterlife that's never been seen or proven to exist,, and they buy the vapor that's sold to them.But they should really keep their witchcraft private,, away from other kids.

    I prefer to treat religion as po–rn as it should be and away from children. Religionist pollute children.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Reply
    • deep blue

      Dawkins seems to be pushing his beliefs. So do you.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Reply
      • Just saying...

        Exactly

        September 28, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • naw

        your beliefs are merely an opinion. That's right,, your god is nothing more than an unprovable opinion.

        Mr Dawkins is talking of logic and common sense,, the normal stuff some people do.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
      • Colin

        The problem isn't with people pushing their views on others. The problem is when those views aren't informed. I'm an atheist and I'd gladly try to share that with everyone. The only reason we think being vocally in favor of your own system is such an offensive thing is because religions have done such a horrible job of it. There is nothing wrong with telling someone else they are wrong though.nif they are mistaken then they are mistaken, and you do them more justice by telling them so than by avoiding the issue.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
      • deep blue

        I am an atheist. Dawkins is not using logic. Logic relies on following premises to their conclusions, but he is choosing poor premises, mooting his point.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
      • naw

        sorry you pretend to be an atheist deep blue.. The proof you are stands out in your post.. Yes,, Dawkins used logic and common sense. Don't expect you to understand that though. Fear is your ruler.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Just saying...

      and world peace, don't forget about world peace

      September 28, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Reply
      • patrick

        How dismal it is to see present day Americans yearning for the very orthodoxy that their country was founded to escape.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Disillusioned

      It is not the only cause that affects human existence and consciousness. Like I said if it is, then why not advocate for the killing for sick and elderly peoplle that can't contribute to our society. But We are more than that.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Reply
      • naw

        religions and dictators do enough killing already,, no wonder you bring up religion.

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

        Now you are just changing topics and trying to bring up the whole baby eating stereotype which is so dumb. ago read "the moral landscape" by sam harris. He wrote an entire book about this topic. I dare you. You don't even identify any other causation, you just say "there is something more" while waving your hands in the air like a magician, I presume.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
      • G to the T

        Off the top of my head – because I may be old or sick one day so maybe treating those people well is to my advantage...

        September 30, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  20. Colin

    You are right. I don't know what you are talking about because you don't make sense. Evolution by natural selection is as established in science as the theory of gravity. It is the basis for all of the study of biology.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Reply
    • Disillusioned

      It is not the only cause of human evolution. If atheists believe this, then why dont they advocate for the eradication of our sick and elderly that can't contribute to our society and use our resources.

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

        Wy use a hospital, when natural selection would allow people to die. Why wear glasses, when if you have trouble seeing you should die off naturally. My save your sick kid with medicine.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
      • deep blue

        If you believe that there exists a universal moral code, then your actions or inactions are morally equivalent to similar actions or inactions by others. With that simple premise, we derive the golden rule. As I child, I would want to be cared for. As a visually impaired individual, I want to be able to see. As an elderly person, I would want to be cared for. And, by applying principles universally, it is easy to see that I should treat others as I would have them treat me.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • Colin

        Why not kill yourself if you think you are going to get to meet god and be in heaven?

        September 28, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • Disillusioned

        On what basis or framework do you pin your morality? If you don't believe in soul or good or evil?

        September 28, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
      • Colin

        I do believe in good and evil. When did I ever say I didn't?

        September 28, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
      • Colin

        And my morality comes from within.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
      • Disillusioned

        Your morality comes from a set of past religious views that have long been established as acceptable in our society. As does most everyone's. lets face it people pretty much follow the basic tenants of what the bible has said in terms of treatment of each other. Te Ten Commandments.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
      • Disillusioned

        Then that's not natural selection.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
      • donna

        Disillusioned: Understanding biology doesn't mean you want people to die. You are making outrageous connections. If you learn how microwaves worked, would you feel compelled to put every being and object into a microwave? Natural selection is an observable process. We don't need to do anything for it to happen. And there is no reason for us to want to add or reduce selective pressures just because we know how it works.

        No biologist thinks natural selection is the only evolution force, far from it. YOu are very ignorant about this subject. And it's bizarre that you think people who understand biology should want to kill old people.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
      • donna

        What's amusing here is that your personal example of what you think is contradictory to natural selection is actually an example OF natural selection.

        "Wy use a hospital, when natural selection would allow people to die. Why wear glasses, when if you have trouble seeing you should die off naturally. My save your sick kid with medicine."

        In humans, Natural Selection highly favors group support and the use of technology. So in hospitals we see very very intense selective pressures for social support, problem solving, and technology us. Glasses are a perfect example of how natural selection now favors people with access to the technology of eyeglasses- just like natural selection favors crows who use tools for food.

        You clearly do not understand what natural selection is and what it is not.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
      • Disillusioned

        I have a very clear understandiing of what natural selection is. It is letting nature take its course on the sick and weak. To establish compassion for others that are, is the mark of a society that does not let itself only be ruled by simple ego and the fallback excuse of mere evolution. . Simple animals let the wilds of nature take its course. Altruistic ideals are what have kept so many people alive, by far one of the most abundant species today, the ideals of a higher meaning of existence than he who does with the most wins. I don't need your lecture on biology. I have a quite crlear understanding of how it works. Bit dont think its a squirts of chemicals that make humans worth saving minus souls and spirit. And most atheists know it.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
      • donna

        "I have a very clear understandiing of what natural selection is. It is letting nature take its course on the sick and weak."

        Then we have found the problem straight away! That is not, in any way shape or form, what natural selection is!

        You are confusing biological natural selection with the social movement of social darwinism (with which darwin had no part and it was not based on biology, but sociology).

        Natural selection is the simple, observable, factual process that:
        1) when there are genetic traits that are inherited + 2) different rates of reproduction for each individual = A second generation that has a different genetic make up than the first. And those differences will reflect which traits increased reproductive success and which did not.

        It simply means that the organisms that reproduce pass on their genes and that the ones that don't reproduce, do not pass on those genes.

        You are so misinformed. Natural Selection is an observable process, not a philosophy that we should do or not do anything.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Disillusioned

      There are people that takes the ideas of natural selection and apply them socially. What do you think manifest destiny was. What do you think Aryanis, , is. What do you think lazed afire capitalism is. What do you think hitler fought about. Wake up. Ipauot putting words in My mouth. My biology teacher was a nun. I don't need your pontificating about what I think of biology teachers.

      September 28, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Reply
      • donna

        Disillusioned, You are so ignorant it's upsetting.

        Just because someone uses an idea inspired by a biological process by name, does not mean that that suddenly becomes the definition of that biological process.

        You've made it clear that you can't distinguish between biological processes and people's opinions of sociology. I tried to educate you about what natural selection is- and you ignored it. You have no interest in reality.

        And the fact that your understanding is based on your high school nun's bio class makes it all clear to me how you could be so poorly educated about biology.

        You're sad to hang onto your ignorance like it's a good thing. Somewhere I suspect you now you're ignorant about biology. I suspect at this point you are just too embarrassed to admit it.

        I feel pity for you.

        September 28, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
      • Disillusioned

        Ww i Know you like to patronize but may I inform you I don't need your lectiure on biology. Thanks but I took it already very a quite capable teacher amd yes, the biological process and the thinking that succeeds it are not difficult to link and many, many people have done so. I'm sorry that you are too ignorant to make the connection yourself.with your various degrees.

        September 28, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
      • CoryT

        Always a good laugh when the religious folk start trying to explain it in science terms.

        September 28, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
  21. theireyeswillbeblinded

    Is satan alive and well or what folks.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      No, satan doesn't exist.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Reply
    • naw

      the man made satan,, let's also not forget the anti-christ.. You know, the guy created to get the mass delusionals attack those who live by common sense.

      Religions had many years to practice their manipulations. They create fears in the mind of their sheeple.. And when that doesn't work, they label those who threaten them with common sense.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Reply
    • Yahweh

      Well if he was you'd have only your sadistic god to thank for it since he made him knowing full well what he would turn into right? Or is god only kind of omniscient, usually only on Thursdays? Talk to Yahweh about this devil you fear so much. We had nothing to do with it.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Reply
    • patrick

      There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the Dark Ages

      September 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Reply
  22. naw

    I've found similarities in dictators and religions..

    1) they love to control people
    2) they fabricate stories they expect you to believe
    3) and they use fears to make you believe their made up stories

    let's also not forget,, both groups have caused more harm to innocent women and children. Quite a similar bunch.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Reply
    • Yahweh

      4. Money!

      Let's not forget the most important reason. Amazing how a deity can be so omnipotent and still basically become a panhandler.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  23. J R Brown

    The idea that people "pick and choose" verses from the Old Testament to follow or not follow is the reason that religion is a fallible source as a moral compass is logically flawed and intellectually dishonest. Christians...those who follow the teachings of Christ...are not people who practice Judaism, which is the religion of the Old Testament.

    As an atheist, it saddens me to see prominent atheists using flawed arguments to justify being unilaterally dismissive of the possible good that can come of religious teachings. Certainly, teaching others to love each other as yourselves and to turn the other cheek are valid...even honorable moral compass headings.

    It is good to invalidate religious teachings that have been hijacked by certain individuals to further their own ends and agendas; however, claiming that religion should never be a source for moral guidance is just preposterous. The problem is not that Jesus taught to be an honest, empathetic, honorable and kind person...the problems is how people INTERPRET those words to create mechanisms to control people for power.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Reply
    • Corey

      JR...here is the problem. As you stated, it is "good to invalidate religious teachings that have been hijacked by certain individuals". Okay, this comes back to the point you made about people picking and choosing. Yes, there are good AND bad things taught in the bible. The question Dawkins raises is...how do you determine which is which? And the answer is that you already have your own moral compass. Religion is not necessary to be good or bad.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Reply
      • J R Brown

        It is a delusion that "you have your own moral compass"; morals are LEARNED behaviors and reflect a person's environment, upbringing and many other things. As a natural being, humans are predators and spent millennia working out way to the top of the food chain on this planet. The notion that we all have inherent moral compasses is preposterous.

        September 28, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Will

      The problem isn't whether or not their moral teachings help. Certainly that alone benefits society. The problem is that they claim morality itself. Good deeds from the church are attached to their religion as proof of their own moral standing. Claiming moral authority gives religion power. And generosity wins adherents. The problem comes down the road when that position is used against outsiders, be it atheists or believers. This is a common method of any societal structure, whether it's religion, government, or even smaller groups like sports teams. It's a form of marketing, really. I mean, good marketing. Lol.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  24. Corey

    All I keep hearing is "Athiest is a religion". I guess this is because the religious nuts just can't really comprehend anything else. They are entirely incapable of removing themselves from their delusions and so they project them on others in futile attempt to grasp the really very simple concepts that athiests and other nonbelievers embrace. Things like common sense, logic, and science.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      Exactly!

      September 28, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Reply
    • naw

      and if they want to call atheism a religion,, then perfect. That allows atheist to put up signs around schools where your brainwashed children go. And the signs can read.. 'There is no god kids,, make your parents prove it without question...

      You see, signs as that will help kids cope and shake the fears. Brainwashing starts to vanish.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Reply
    • Yahweh

      Indeed. Notice that they don't like the followers of other gods that much but nothing really gets their dander up like someone who doesn't pick a god (or gods) to worship. It's like their saying to us that we have to pick one. Which leads me to believe that they're really just scared that their fellow acolytes will start to follow our example.

      Don't fear deluded ones, I'm sure the threat of eternal torture will keep them in line. Especially if you start young enough.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Reply
    • Will

      Wait a sec. If atheism IS a religion we've got a lot of perks coming our way. I'm thinking holidays, tax benefits, traditions(I've always been jealous of their traditions). We need to stop requiring people to think, and just give them low-entry, silly stories to keep them interested. People shouldn't have to work so hard to join us. Shakespeare knew. His plays are riddled with low-brow crowd-pleasing scenes. Let's follow his and religion's lead.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  25. john

    suddenly every atheist thinks they're a scientist.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Reply
    • deep blue

      suddenly every atheist thinks he or she is a philosopher.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Reply
      • Corey

        On some level I would have to say that most athiests are philosophers. It takes an open mind and the ability to ask yourself difficult questions and challenge certain concepts to wade through the religious crap.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
      • john

        corey you keep telling yourself that why? to feel mentally superior to non atheists? your iq is genetically predisposed – your iq of 60 will not just raise simply because you tell yourself you were able to "challenge the concept of religion."

        September 28, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • sam stone

      And every theist thinks they speak for god, pen-day-ho

      September 28, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Reply
  26. Bill

    I'm not comfortable with any politician pandering to any religion. Whether it's Christianity, Judaism, Islam or Atheism

    September 28, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      Atheism isn't a religion

      September 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  27. Colin

    False. I am an atheist and I do not consider myself a scientist. Stop lying.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  28. sRj

    Why can Christians preach about God and set up churches all around but when an atheist speaks about what it is to be an atheist, they get crucified for it?

    September 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  29. mick

    It's surprising how generic this gentleman's view of religion is. Nevermind the fact he doesn't understand, in other than a very stereotypical way, the definition of "evangelical" he neglects to address the fact that by his definitions you can change morals to whatever you want if you define them by societal means. Say what you want, but I see way more "evangelical" athiests nowadays than I do Christians.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Reply
    • naw

      morals are subjective,, In fact good deeds and good behavior are created by secular societies, not religions. Religions still can't get it right.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      That is not what Dawkins proposes. Read the book "the moral landscape" b Sam Harris so you can learn a little bit more about what atheists actually think.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Reply
    • Will

      To be an atheist, and declare yourself so, still has social stigma associated with it. I believe there are many more who don't declare themselves for that reason. It's easier to stay quiet. What that means is – those who declare themselves atheist already have a propensity to be vocal.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Reply
  30. Colin

    Because religion poisons everything.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Reply
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