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. Disillusioned

    I'm asking you to aknowledge the perspective that whatever atheists like to say about natural selection and evolution, they would quail in the face of really following through with what living like a pure natural selection animal would truly signify. You wont asmit it but you follow religious values in terms of compassion and recognizing soul, despite whatever you say a as your denial of such. And If we actually lived according to material selection alone, we people never would have made it as a species as successfully as we have.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Reply
    • Corey

      Fortunately natural selection does not require your belief or adherence to be real. It just is. Sorry.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Reply
      • Disillusioned

        You ever been to a hospital? Got glasses? Why? Why don't you allow natural selection to take care of defects in yourself and your kids?

        September 28, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
      • Colin

        Because natural selection doesn't work that way! Haha. You clearly don't understand natural selection.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
      • Corey

        You are really confused man. Humans and animals don't follow natural selection like it is some kind of choice. It plays out over thousands of years. How could I just "let natural selection take care of defects in myself"? Are you saying I should just die because I believe in the concept of natural selection? I can't even begin to make sense of what is going on in your head.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Colin

      Science has already established that we perceive pain for ourselves when we see someone else being hurt. Humans are empathic animals by instinct (except for sociopaths who lack this innate thing). I don't follow any religious values. Stop claiming that values are a matter of religion only. I get my values from my own thought process and from the help and advice of other sometimes.

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

        Yeah? So what you're in pain, if you're dragging down the overall health of the human species with your various defects?

        September 28, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
      • Colin

        Well that is why atheists tend to support self-suicide. It's the religious who can't get in line with letting sick people die lol.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
      • Disillusioned

        Really. How far do you take that concept? With your family, your kids, yourself? I bet it's nowhere close to being what pure natural selection in the wild would enforce.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
      • Colin

        You fail to see that everything we are living in is already the process of natural selection.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
      • Disillusioned

        I m saying that the natural course of natural selection would mean the death of most of the human species with a destroyed planet to be ruled b a few warlords that are ruthless enough to continue, if we don't engage some basic values of empathy and compassion that go beyond who can live the longest by being a warlord. Animals have a natural balance that keeps ths from happening , too many dead or two man living. Humans don't. Thus we can take evolution to a conclusion that goes beyond natural balances. And it will be ugly and heinous if we don't regulate ourselves somehow with love and connections.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Jimjones11111

      The key idea behind natural selection is adaptability – not survival of the fittest.

      Compassion and caring is not exclusively a religious value, but discrimination and intolerance are.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Reply
      • Disillusioned

        You attempt to sound wise but you are quite wrong. Discrimination and intolerance are the founding blocks of evolution. With a human twist. If I do better running over you, and my offspring live better, then I clearly have the upper hand in doing so, correct? Yes.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
      • Colin

        Nah, Jim jones sounds wise. It is you who don't.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
      • Will

        Disillusioned, that's just weird. There are elements of all mankind's behaviors in evolution. Duh.
        Not to say that I agree with Jim Jones, mind you – Discrimination and intolerance are certainly found outside religion as well. It does us no good to exaggerate the domain of religion.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Jimjones11111

      Your comments about natural selection evidence your complete lack of understanding of the theory. Why is it that Christians love to claim to know things they clearly do not know?

      September 28, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Reply
  2. readbetweenthelines

    In the beginning(of what,time)god created the heavens(space)and the earth(matter)and saw that it was good.

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

      Did he create hate and closed minding ship? You keep this up, all of you and you will hurt us all.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Reply
      • Superglueingminds

        Blame Game? Blaming everything on "God" is just like the many "ignorant" (for lack of better word), people who blame everything on "karma". Either we all take responsibility for our own actions and destiny or NOT! Just that simple. Meanwhile, it only causes you (not me) more confusion as to where to point the finger – even though while pointing, 3 of them are pointing right back at you. You sound like someone who has lived or had contact with a lot of "silly" people, claiming to be Christians of which, you can still not place the blame on God, when it is not He who you chose to make the contact with and thereby judgment of. Doesn't make any sense – does it. You sound more angry at "something" moreso than a non-believer of "everything".

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

        God created us in his image with free will to chose good or evil. Wishing that he had created us as programmed robots is not only futile but wrong.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
      • Bruce McClure

        smdahl

        But if god knows all, then he knew we would choose evil, so why bother with the temptation and the dance. And he must have orchestrated the fall, since he is all powerful. Go figure.

        September 29, 2013 at 12:38 am |
    • naw

      god was not so perfect, huh..

      In stead of resting on the 7th day, he should have been cleaning up. You know, meteors and such.

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

      In the beginning, there were tribes in the Middle East (and elsewhere) that created bedtime stories to scare children into submission, á la “if you are naughty, Santa Claus will not give you presents.” Same with every so-called sacred book. Stories of human genesis, flood, good vs. evil, etc. are all over these fables.

      September 28, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Reply
  3. Really

    Really this maters? Kids needs foods and this is the best we can. Get off here and help some, both sides blame each other as if it as game....

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

      the USA is the #1 helper of children world wide..

      A reminder, the catholic pope owns a chair made of gold and has gold lined wardrobe. Yet just a few miles away are children dying of starvation..

      September 28, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Reply
      • Paul

        My catholic church alone, raises over 1 million dollars per year to feed inner city kids of Detroit, YEARLY. So lets not talk about the pope's gold "chair" that has been handed down for many many years. LMAO silly guy

        September 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
      • naw

        you are fool

        September 28, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
      • sheshie

        Please research before making such an uninformed ,and ridiculous, statement. Clearly you are ignorant on the subject of the Catholic church.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • naw

        yeah,, and let's not forget how the catholic church set the example to help those children abused..

        Let me help.

        1) instead of helping the child, they threatened the child from telling
        2) they lobby to stop laws that would expose pedos and cover ups
        3) they call victims liars, yet many victims became mentally ill and others committed suicide due to the abuses
        4) docu=ments on demanding cover ups direct from the vatican

        ..and it goes on and on

        oh,, and let's not forget thee money laundering and the fact that catholic charities is funded by tax dollars. And let's not forget that if there's no money in it, they shut it down. All about profits,, they close hospitals, church's and schools if they lose their cash cow ability
        Great religion!

        September 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Colin

      But religion is to blame. They are the ones who commit the atrocities so they are the ones to blame. There might not be as many poor starving kids if the Catholic Church didnt tell the African people not to use condoms.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  4. evoc

    Appealing to atheists would make sense for the GOP, as they do walk that walk.
    But, they would lose the backing of the religious right, an important funding source.

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

      proof again,, money wins over common sense.. sad, but true.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Reply
    • albie

      dont think so – they have to vote for one of two candidates, and they skew conservative, so probably still republican - The main reason I will not consider voting republican anytime soon is because of their links to the religious right. I am a moderate, but i WOULD vote republican if they had a candidate who wasn't influenced by religion (and used his/her brain instead)

      September 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Reply
    • Paul

      You mean the ONLY backing source for Republicans. Remember, if you're not a religious kook, you've already been booted far out of the party by the religious right.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Reply
      • Randy

        Convert your church into a homeless shelter. Your donations would now go to helping these people eat, finding employment, and get counseling/treatment. When they gain employment and get back on their feet, they can move out and sponsor the next person that moves into their place. Yes, convert your church into a homeless shelter and using the congregation's donations for fund the lifestyles of the homeless while they recover and enter a new life would be a CHRISTIAN thing to do.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  5. sgreco

    Tired of over privileged Christians being the special snowflakes. America if for ALL Americans, not just christians.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Reply
  6. naw

    I think we all be thankful that religion's rules and laws are no different than kids tree house rules in the USA. Yep,, USA law rules all religions in this country.

    (Funny, the religious stories are quite similar in fabrication to kids tree house ones.)

    September 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Reply
  7. srcactus

    You are free to do "Your Thing" but I am free to ignore you. Quit with the pestering already

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

      Yes. If only the religious kooks would stop pestering everyone to agree with them. I totally agree with that sentiment.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  8. Bill

    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.
    Atheism is quickly becoming an outdated religion, with true modern thinkers move towards agnosticism.

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

      False, atheism is not a religion. Plus, I am an atheist agnostic. So is Dawkins. You fool yourself if you think we aren't agnostics. You can be both things because they seek to identify different aspects of a persons character.

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

        As an Atheist, you still have a dogmatic belief that can't be proved.

        September 28, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • naw

      I believe people have always questioned religion since not a single god has ever been proven to exist.

      In fact the religionist are dwindling in size (except in 3rd world countries where people aren't as educated).

      More so, religionist are standing away from the bible verses as those always failed in arguments. Now they use the logic of 'how else could this have been created'. Well,, my guess is that they should worry about that,, what if their god isn't a good one.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Reply
    • albie

      atheism is not a religion

      September 28, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        Of course it is. You have beliefs you can not prove and you even have churches and gatherings.

        September 28, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  9. naw

    it's just too bad we didn't have therapist in the jesus days,, he could have used lots of help.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  10. naw

    if there were a jesus,, he sure wasn't taken off the cross or buried.. Pilot hated Jews, crucified them and would not allow them to be buried.

    They died on the cross and rotted. Nothing left but bones.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Reply
    • doug

      There are non-Christian accounts of Christ, the burial, and resurrection. Not sure where you are getting your information.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Reply
      • Paul

        Very likely true. However, I must point out that the Bible wasn't written until after Jesus was long dead. How much of that was true? (considering, that 2000 years ago, there was no recordings of any kind, so almost all information is handed down orally – also, considering the Bible is "re-purposing" old myths and stories for Jesus' reasons – really, how much of any of it is true? Think about it!)

        September 28, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
      • Pest

        There is no contemporaneous evidence of Jesus' supposed existence.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
      • Jimjones11111

        Not true Doug. There are no extra biblical accounts of the supernatural aspects of Jesus life.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  11. Superglueingminds

    I think more folk would take atheists seriously if they would understand the differences between faith and religion, old law and grace, Christianity and Catholicism, education and wisdom, love and lust, God and Jesus, the world and the church. .... maybe then everyone can meet in the middle and have an intelligent conversation of hope.

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

      And what is that exactly?

      September 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Reply
    • abc123

      It's not a question of believing in atheists. It's just logic slowly winning out over mythology. It's happening.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Reply
    • Christ

      If I say 2+2 is 4, and you say 2+2 is 8, then should we meet at the "middle" and accept 2+2 is 6?? The "middle" is not always right. If you have reason, logic, evidence, present your case. Otherwise, go do some research.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Reply
    • albie

      confusing

      September 28, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Reply
    • Paul

      I was raised Catholic so I'm well aware of the doctrine of faith. Here's the way it works, you believe in what you believe no matter what. The end. Ooooo... complicated! The problem with religions (of any stripe) is they are actually incredibly simple-minded takes on man's existence. That's it. What the heck is complicated about fairy stories?

      September 28, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Reply
  12. darrin

    it's fine if atheists don't believe in anything but what i don't understand is they want to take it away from those of us who do they should just get a life and leave everyone else alone.....but no matter what they do they can't take our beliefs from our hearts and minds.......

    September 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Reply
    • Bill

      Atheists do believe in the absence of God in any form and they are a religion....
      Agnostics are the ones who admit they don't have the scientific proof to believe anything.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Reply
      • Colin

        Yes, and that is why I am an atheist/agnostic. Belief and proof are two different things.

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

        Bill, atheism is not a religion. A religion is a set of beliefs, and the word atheism refers to the issue of one single belief. So there is nothing that all atheists have in common, except for they lack a single belief in a deity. It is not true that atheists by definition, think there's proof there is no god, or that there is no possibility.

        Agnosticism is not an alternate to atheism or deism. Agnostic means you understand you cannot know for absolute fact, but it does not mean you can't hold an opinion on the subject.

        RIchard Dawkins is an Agnostic Atheist because he knows there is a possibility (which he thinks is very small) that a deity could exists, but he thinks one doesn't based on the evidence.

        There are lots of agnostic atheists, and there are agnostic deists.

        Then there are people who are agnostic and won't claim to form an opinion on the subject.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
      • Pest

        Atheists reject your theistic claims as being insufficiently supported by legitimate evidence; it's nothing more than a response to the claims of people like you. It requires no faith and no dogma, just a lack of belief or a disbelief in god(s). It is the absence of religion.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Colin

      We don't want to take anything away from you. We just want you to see you don't need it.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Reply
      • Bruce McClure

        And get your friends out of my bedroom...

        September 29, 2013 at 12:47 am |
    • albie

      It would be great if Christians (and other religions) just kept to themselves, but they DONT – they insist on inserting their belief system into governments, dictating policy, censoring, forcing everyone else to conform to their point of view. I also don't appreciate the fact that they waste a tremendous amount of time and resources that could be spent for something useful. I also don't like the fact that they brainwash children, instead of waiting until they are old enough to know better. So, you may keep to yourself, but your cohorts are on the march, hence the passionate response from people who disagree...

      September 28, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Reply
    • Dan

      There are probably a lot of things that you don't understand.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Reply
    • Toby

      why are people with religion always trying to force it on everyone else.
      "they should just get a life and leave everyone else alone"

      September 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Reply
    • BrotherCavil

      When was the last time an Atheist knocked on your door and asked if you do NOT believe in the lord jesus christ our savior? Cause I was harassed by a Jehovah's witness just last month.

      When was the last time an atheist told you you will suffer eternal damnation for believing in Jesus? Cause I was told that I would spend the afterlife burning in hell by a "christian" just last week.

      It is theists who are imposing their beliefs on atheists, not the other way around.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Reply
    • Paul

      darrin, we atheists/agnostics have no desire to remove your beliefs (least, I don't) – for some reason, religious folks aren't happy if everyone ain't believing what they believe. Why they give 2 cr*ps about what other's believe is beyond me. I'm thinking that they are insecure in their own beliefs, so they lash out. In all my 40 years of atheism, I've had maybe 2-3 people mention their lack of belief to me (out of the blue, without prompting) whereas I've had hundreds (probably thousands) or religious folks mention their love of God to me (without prompting). Let's face it, it's the religious who have a problem keeping their beliefs to themselves. So, you should be complaining to them (but that doesn't fit into your world view, so I expect you to continue on believing what you believe)

      September 28, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  13. Bill

    It seems that this Atheist is falling into the traps of religion:
    Dogmatic self righteousness, enforced by other members of his Atheist religion.
    The intolerance is very troubling. Reminds me of Sharia Law and Islam.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      Who?

      September 28, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        The author and his ideas about the raising of children and his lack of respect for religious freedom.

        September 28, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • albie

      I just don't see any of that ... give some examples

      September 28, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  14. myopenedeyes

    Richard Dawkins has a mediocre understanding of the Bible. I doubt he has read it since he was a teenager. He uses instances from the Bible, like stonings, not eating "unclean" things blah blah blah the same old arguments against the Bible, he says this is because we pick and choose what we believe and this is a valid argument if he includes himself in that argument. Yet his carefully crafted, though adolescent red herring seeks only to make people who have faith look stupid and irrational. However if you really read the Bible, and I use the bible here because I know it better than the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita or other Holy Books, you will realize that the that the Bible is a Dialogue between the God of Israel and the people of Israel, written over thousands of years the "morality" of the Bible changes as the understanding of God changes. This dialogue happens through the Prophets with the ultimate Prophet of the Bible eventually being God "Himself" in the incarnation of who we call Jesus Christ. The ultimate understanding of God being that "He" is singularly Love and that if we accept that Love then we are filled with the Spirit of God's Love and it will completely change the world, renewing it. Dawkins does exactly what he accuses Christians of and uses the "logical" fallacy that he so vehemently rails against as a proof. He picks what he wants and shapes it to his own purpose. I hope one day he will open his mind and heart and experience the Love that he so desperately hates.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      No. That isn't true. Dawkins is highly knowledgeable and makes really good judgements against religion.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Reply
    • Bill

      He seems to have a lot of gaps in his knowledge and admits it.
      ex. "Notoriously, the United States is the most religious of the Western advanced nations.
      It’s a bit mysterious why that is."
      Seems to show a lack of historic knowledge.
      The reason the we are here was to have freedom of religion!!
      Guess he is too wrapped up in his on circular argument.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Reply
      • Colin

        His confusion isn't due to a lack of historical understanding. It is due to the fact that Americans are otherwise so demanding of individual liberties and stuff like that that makes him wonder why we would give into religions which seek to control us.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
      • donna

        Bill, most Western countries have freedom of religion- you're being ethnocentric. The US is not unique in that sense.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
      • RicoTorpe

        One particular group (which was very small) came here for religious reasons. It doesn't follow that everyone else came for the same reason.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • naw

      bible is just a bunch of primitive man's stories.

      odd that god doesn't appear during modern times. More importantly that excuses for a god not appearing have to be made up.

      A god that was all knowing would understand that man would expect some sound proof, and would prove his existence.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Reply
      • myopenedeyes

        The human race is no more advanced now than it was then the only thing that has changed is the clothes and the efficiency with which we operate. We still kill each other over stupid things we still destroy the planet we are living on. However I will assert that the world would be significantly more primitive if the followers of religions like Islam say like Ibn Al-Haytham who single handedly developed the scientific method or Christian Monks like Gregor Mendel who's experiments led to the basis of genetics and he pretty much scooped Darwin on that one. The original scientists were religious ad continued to be, this is a fact. Sorry to burst your bubble.

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

        So your examples of advancements in clothing and efficiency do not count as advancements? Those are certainly not the only areas in which we are more advanced than primitive man, but I just thought it was interesting that you started out your post by contradicting yourself.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
      • myopenedeyes

        @ Pest the contradiction only occurs if we are comparing apples to oranges so to speak. I am comparing modern behavior to primitive behavior. I could have worded it better, I admit. It would have been better to say perhaps that our behavior has improved enough to advance technologically but that behavior is still "primitive."But those advancement in behavior and technology have been historically guided by religion. As the two paths diverge and become more and more vehemently opposed to one another the world will become even more "primitive. Both sides are to blame for this. However, historically religion and science has made a good pairing with one hand washing the other.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • abc123

      It's not necessary to study a mythology to the nth degree to understand that it's a mythology.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Reply
      • myopenedeyes

        By that logic it is not necessary to study the world around us to know how it works to understand that it works.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • James George

      All that aside, do you have ANY evidence for the truth of your religious and supernatural claims?

      September 29, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Reply
  15. Ken from FL

    I'm never surprised by the anti-religious garbage I read in the blogs on CNN; it is, after all, the last refuge of the non-believers. I want you all to know (and I also know that this will infuriate many of you, but so be it) that you, and Richard Dawkins, will be in my prayers. And while I'm at it, may I recommend Stephen Meyer's Darwin's Doubt as antidote to Dawnkins.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      It's not garbage. It's brilliant!

      September 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Reply
    • No gods before Pickles

      Ok that's cool, but I have to say that you are so wrong. Your metaphysical beliefs are foolish notions that are being continually disproved by over one hundred years of neuroscience. You have no soul man! When you heart stops pumping and your brain gets no O2, and all electrical activity stops, that's it! You aren't going to rise up out of that and go somewhere, and certainly not to a land of ego, where you get to live in love with a magical being. Pure fallacy. Go ahead, pray the gay away, or pray for the rains to come, or to stop, or pray for you football team to win, or pray for your health, or your family or whatever...in the end you have only wasted your life on foolish thoughts without an ounce of proof or reality.

      FAITH is the simple licence you give yourself to believe in things that are not true, not known, or not provable. It is a bad thing in the context of religion and unknown metaphysical phenomena ie. souls, gods, continuing to live after death.

      FAITH does more harm than good. But it does keep a smile on your face doesn't it? A smug one perhaps? After all, you KNOW that you are going to dwell in gods love for trillions of years, and even if you pray everyday for me until you are blue in the face, you KNOW that I am going to be tortured in hell fire for trillions of years. Well I'll make you a deal...you keep praying for me, and if the devil offers me a deal to come back for visits, I might just take it and come see you again 🙂

      September 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Reply
    • abc123

      "Last refuge"? Demographic trends indicate the opposite – logic is steadily gaining over mythology.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Reply
    • albie

      you forgot to mention that we are all going to hell ... right?

      September 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Reply
    • Dan

      You are brain-washed garbage.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Reply
    • Bruce McClure

      Maybe start with Darwin?

      September 29, 2013 at 12:53 am | Reply
  16. NorthVanCan

    It should be interesting to see how religion does through out the information revolution .
    I'm guessing religion will lose influence over the majority.
    Thank God for that. Not a minute too soon.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      There was actually an article just out about how Mormons are having a really hard time with this right now. The Internet is destroying their bubble.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Reply
    • Jennyoffmyblock

      Here's hoping! The next 10/20/30 years will be fun to watch, but with this demise of religion happening en mass in larger groups, there are going to be little puddles of extremist god people all over the planet that will still try and make waves for whichever of the many gods they follow.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Reply
    • albie

      I think you are spot on - brainwashing doesnt work so well when other "truths" are out there

      September 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  17. Corey

    I don't necessarily have a problem with believing in a higher power, or rather accepting the POSSIBILITY of a higher power. I have a problem with organized religion (delusion). I don't really identify as an atheist myself because while I do not believe that God is very likely, I do believe that if there is any sort of all powerful being or the like than it is most probably the universe itself. We are all made from the same star stuff, everything in the universe (so far as we know) goes back to one point in time. We are all one I think. So I guess you could call that "religion" in a way, but I don't believe in it or anything ABSOLUTELY. More than anything else I believe that ANYTHING is possible. And when you accept that anything is possible you also have to allow for the possibility of God and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. They are just extremely unlikely to be real.

    September 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Reply
    • Bill

      And that is the future of "religion"
      Agnosticism with a eye to discovering the real truth of our existence.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Reply
    • are122

      Rather like two gobs of 5 million species all developing simultaneous as male and female...and rocks randomly creating the physics that govern the universe. Ya gotta wonder which rock decided gravity might be a good idea.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Reply
      • Pest

        "I don't understand, therefore God did it."

        Appeal to ignorance fallacy.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
      • Bill

        The universe is one. There is no separation. We are all God.
        Matter continues to complicate itself achieving consciousness of itself.
        That is the future and reality of God and physics.

        September 28, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
  18. Phazon

    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.
    Dawkins your a liar the reason we don't do those things anymore is because Jesus made a new covenant. Oh I am sure in your world if your children disobeyed you they would go unpunished grow up and do bad things but to God who is wiser than you btw knows that in order for someone to love you they must respect you and breaking the Sabbath was a sign of disrespect.

    September 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  19. amercon

    Information, organization, laws of science, laws of logic, life, and morals can only come from an intelligent living being (God). Energy and matter have no of these things unless first put there by God. Evolutionists have no means to get these immaterial things and; therefore, have no basis to use them to argue anything.

    September 28, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Reply
    • Pest

      You're doing great in spouting baseless assertions. Now if you only had evidence to back any of it up.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      Im an intelligent living being. You skipped right over people and went right towards the fairy tales. Why?

      September 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Reply
  20. JeniW

    "Dust in the wind
    All we are is dust in the wind
    (All we are is dust in the wind)

    Dust in the wind
    (Everything is dust in the wind)
    Everything is dust in the wind
    (In the wind)"

    Read more: Kansas – Dust In The Wind Lyrics

    September 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Reply
    • Bill

      Great song!!
      We are Stardust...

      September 28, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Reply
  21. greg

    Atheism is myth understood.

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

    Arguing over religion will get us nowhere! And, sorry Mr. Dawkins, but I have found my religion to provide me with a moral compass which has sustained me through the years. And I am certainly not delusional. As for Atheism, I also see it as a "religion"-with its own set of beliefs. So how about respectfully agreeing to disagree?

    September 28, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Reply
    • Glory

      of course you are delusional! You believe in a magical celestial being who listens to your thoughts! and you think IT CARES ABOUT YOU! Get over yourself. LOL 🙂

      September 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      As long as the religious call me a sinner, there is no agreeing to disagree.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Reply
    • abc123

      Given that a sense of morality can exist with or without any of the MANY religions, it might be truer to say that religion has given you a sense of comfort, rather than morality.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Reply
      • Colin

        Additionally, crack addicts get comfort from doing crack, so don't walk away thinking making the argument from comfort is going to buy you any more credibility. Abc123 is right though. Religion gives comfort to people when they don't want to think hard about morality.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • albie

      how is atheism a religion – its the absence of religion

      September 28, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Reply
    • Pest

      "I am certainly not delusional." <-- You thinking this is not evidence that you are not delusional.

      That you don't seem to understand the definition of atheism is not helping your case.

      Tell you what, you theists join us in promoting a religion-neutral society (i.e., the government not promoting your religion, the religion of anyone else, or atheism), then we can agree to disagree.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Reply
    • Dan

      Believing in an invisible magician in the sky is the only thing that keeps you from doing bad things? That is pretty scary.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Reply
    • James George

      As long as you believe that I'm going to Hell for not sharing your beliefs – and as long as you believe that I DESERVE to go to Hell for not sharing your beliefs, we can NEVER be friends. I, for one, don't believe for a minute that YOU'RE going to Hell, and I would NEVER advocate ETERNAL TORTURE merely for disagreeing with me.

      September 29, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  23. Bill

    I love mythology but I never did get into the Christian myths very much. They are not as enjoyable reading as the tales from Norse or Egyptian or even the Greek gods. I think it is very sad that the three monotheistic myths of Abraham occupy so much thoughts of so many EARTHlings 😦

    How could anyone think these things are real? Too much T.V.? Just scared of dying alone? Just to fit in with one's neighbor? Proof and reason should always outweigh myth and fiction. I like this Dawkins cat, he talks funny but at least he makes sense 🙂

    September 28, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Reply
  24. Me

    Atheism is nothing but a cancer to this country and the world in general...

    September 28, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      False. You are the cancer.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Reply
    • albie

      Religion is the cancer, always has been

      September 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Reply
    • Dan

      Atheism will save this world from brain-washed people like you.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  25. JeniW

    Is life, in whatever its form, insignificant? Do Atheists believe that all living things are insignificant?

    September 28, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      No way, atheists find a lot of things significant. I have en ex girlfriend I still wish I could talk to. She was an evangelical who cheated on me because I wasn't a Christian and refuses to talk to me now because of it. She basically made herself into my enemy but I still value her life and her humanity. That's how deep significance runs with atheists. We value even the meanest of people.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Reply
    • Dan

      No but it doesn't take a genie in the sky to create life. That is absurd.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Reply
    • Pest

      Even if they did believe that, how is it relevant to what is true? You wanting to believe that life is fundamentally significant has absolutely no bearing on whether that is the case.

      You're basically revealing your motivation for clinging to religion, I assume without realizing it.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Reply
  26. albie

    Religion is the cancer, always has been

    September 28, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Reply
  27. Dan

    It's about time that we put an end to this absurd magical religious nonsense.

    September 28, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Reply
    • Will

      Yes! It just seems that in this day and age we'd have evolved past these silly beliefs. I am continually dumbfounded that so many people are believers.

      September 28, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Reply
  28. Jack Jett

    If Atheist ruled this country we would not be in the mess we are in now......That is for sure.

    AND there would be far less tolerance of Israel.

    September 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Reply
  29. deep blue

    The idea that atheists are intellectually superior the theists is just as dangerous as the idea that theists are morally superior to atheists.

    September 28, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Reply
    • Colin

      No it isn't. In terms of this one specific issue, it is true that atheists are the intellectually superior people.. Morally superior too... But how is it dangerous? I don't see anybody killing in the name of atheism or taking away any body's rights. Atheism is as benign as not believing in unicorns.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Reply
      • deep blue

        Many evil acts were carried out with the justification that the victims were inferior. It is easy to get people to mistreat others when they view themselves as superior. See the Stanford prison study. It was not religion that was dangerous. It was the sense of superiority.

        September 28, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  30. kyzaadrao

    For me, Heinlein said it best: "I don't trust a man who talks about ethics when he is picking my pocket."

    This is true of most of the atheism news that hits the media. It is business, whether in the guise of non profit salaries, book sales, etc. I don't need to be peddled that particular product any more than I need to be peddled a piece of cloth by a televangelist, who is also running a business.

    To expect me to buy the moral high ground from atheists though. At least religion tries to sell me hope. Atheism tries to sell me the hole in religions donut.

    September 28, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Reply
    • deep blue

      Why let anyone tell you want to think? I am a fan of discussion. I'm not a fan of "selling" an ideological belief system.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Reply
    • Pest

      The hole is the least unhealthy part of the donut.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Reply
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