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 (2,962 Responses)
  1. TheTruth

    If you want to espouse your views, that's your choice and your right. But telling the truth is your obligation when exercising that right. Time to be honest (as so many have pointed out you are not).

    September 27, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • Joe

      This is super ignorant and he seems to know nothing of the mechanics of religion.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
      • Maani

        This is, sadly, true of all of the "New Atheists," except Daniel Dennett, who has actually studied theology, philosophy and ontology. Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Maher, Stenger and other "fundamentalist" atheists seem to think that they can pontificate on faith, religion and Scripture solely because they have degrees in OTHER subjects (mostly science-based). Yet they are the first to scream when someone with a degree in theology, philosophy or other non-science field DARES to pontificate on science. Their hypocrisy is breath-taking.

        September 27, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
      • Kevin

        Ahh maani, the desperate cries from someone one the losing side of an argument. If you don't think Hitchens (who opens his book God Is Not Great by describing his experience in bible school) or Harris (who dropped out of college for 10 years to study religion–and who incidentally got his undergraduate degree in philosophy) are not literate in religion or philosophy, then you really haven't paid any attention to what they say

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

        OK then Joe, what are the mechanics of religion?

        September 29, 2013 at 3:59 am |
      • Jim

        Maani, what nonsense. One needs an education in science in order to fully understand it because there is a vast body of empirical knowledge that builds upon itself to lead to objective, reliable answers.

        However, one needs no education in religion to be able to comment on it, because religion is built not on empiricism, experimentation and peer review, but on making stuff up and pretending it's true. You don't need an education in theology or philosophy to do this, it's built in to everybody at childhood. Some people continue the fairy tales into adulthood, and thus religion propagates.

        September 30, 2013 at 11:24 am |
      • Ian

        I guess you haven't read or understood your bible..

        September 30, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Steve

      Joe: saying this is ignorant and then not explaining why is ridiculous. Maani: please point out when the new atheists have screamed when somebody without scientific knowledge or a degree asks them a question about science. Never seen the non-qualified defense from them. Its probably comforting for you to believe that though.

      September 27, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • Ted

      You don't have to be an atheist to see that religion is BIG business, while before it was BIG power especially in Europe. But now the business of religion is competing with other forms of entertainment and mind-preoccupation and it is loosing to them especially with younger population.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Shelia

      Dawkins is ignorant on the matters of religion.. Knows nothing about Christianity of who Jesus is.

      September 28, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
      • John


        September 28, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • Shelia

      Doesn't matter what they think freedom of religion is a human right. They can cry whine all day long religion is here to stay. IF you think other wise then you are anti freedom...

      September 28, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
      • Macha

        As we (society) get better educated, then religion weakens. The religious (especially in the US) are fighting a losing battle against reason and are becoming increasingly extreme and desperate and ending up looking just silly.

        It's going to take time – but religion will eventually die out from nothing more complicated than lack of interest.

        September 29, 2013 at 7:10 am |
      • Christopher

        That is always the trouble with "rights". Exactly who's rights should we listen to? Do others not have a right to freedom from religion? And if we/I do have that right will you stop forcing your antiquated views down our/my throats? Don't bother to answer, I know what you will say. And why don't we shut up? Simply because you won't let us.

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

      Hey The Truth

      You might want to read this for more facts = truth.

      Where do morals come from?

      (not from the bible/religion)

      By Kelly Murray, CNN

      April 12th, 2013

      04:00 PM ET


      Anthropologists Confirm Link Between Cranial Anatomy and Two-Legged Walking

      Sep. 26, 2013 — Anthropology researchers from The University of Texas at Austin have confirmed a direct link between upright two-legged (bipedal) walking and the position of the foramen magnum, a hole in the base of the skull that transmits the spinal cord.


      Share This:

      The study, published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Human Evolution,


      October 1, 2013 at 7:30 am |
  2. Buddy

    Atheists have been responsible for the deaths of over 250 million people in the past 100 years via atheists such as Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Lenin, and a dozen lesser known atheist tyrants. Far more than all other religions combined in all of recorded history,.

    Theists tend to have fewer mental disorders, to commit suicide less often, be more charitable, and have better relationships with their fathers.

    Studies link atheism more with anger towards God than with any rational rejection of the concept of God.

    Officially atheist nations have always been a cesspool of murder and denial of the most basic of human rights.

    September 27, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • Mike. P

      LOL. you nitwit 🙂

      September 27, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
      • sqeptiq

        You're too kind, Mike.

        September 28, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • gregingso

      You, and others like you who make similar arguments, ignore the fact Pol Pot, Mao, Lenin and Stalin all lived during a time when industrialization vastly increased the lethality of weapons and warfare. If the religious zealots who are/were responsible for all the other millions and millions of deaths had lived during such a time their death count would be just as high. Religion and Nationalism,otherwise known as 'God and Country' are the root cause of all warfare. To pick despots who happened to live at a time when the ability to inflict carnage was at its highest as proof of the moral superiority of people of faith is an dishonest argument.

      September 27, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Big Kahuna

      That makes absolutely no sense. I have heard that argument time and time again. It just doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

      September 27, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • j

      Yep, the crusades and the Inquisition and burning people at the stake for being a witch by religious people did not kill any one.

      September 27, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • j

      Yep, the crusades and the Inquisition and burning people at the stake for being a witch by religious people did not kill any one. ****

      September 27, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Wortie

      Atheism is just another point of view

      September 27, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
      • sqeptiq

        No, it is refusal to believe in anything for which there is no evidence.

        September 28, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • Olaf Big

      It's true that many of the mass murderers of the 20th century were atheists, at least officially,but I don't think it's their lack of religious faith that prompted them to commit and instigate mass killings. Spanish conquistadors were as religious as they get, and it did not stop them from slaughtering natives in South America to the extent that whole cultures were annihilated. Neither did religion stop our deeply religious forefathers from slaughtering Indians in North America. The 20th century simply put genocide on a new scale. Atheism has very little to do with it.

      September 27, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
      • Maani

        On the contrary. While the original poster has his numbers wrong (more in a moment), a great number of the deaths and murders under Stalin, Lenin and Mao were based on SPECIFICALLY anti-theist policies. Lenin and Stalin in particular were virulently anti-theist, and murdered clergy BECAUSE they were clergy.

        Look up Rudolph Rummel. He is generally accepted as the world's foremost authority on death in history. According to Rummel, the number of people murdered or killed in all of the holy wars, Crusades, inquisitions, witch hunts, etc. – in all of recorded history – is ~75-100 million. Yet those who died under Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Hitler (a pagan, not a Christian, despite his use of Christian rhetoric and symbolism (even Hitchens agrees on this)) – again, based largely on specifically anti-theist policies and practices – was ~100-150 million, in just 75-80 years.

        This does not absolve religion of its past (or its present, in much smaller regard), nor the atrocities it undertook. But the reality is that ANY ideology – religious, political, economic, social, etc. – can be "co-opted" and used to justify the deaths of others. This has been true throughout human history.

        September 27, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
      • Bravo

        Maani – Even if you were to label Hitler a Pagan, that does not make him an anti-theist or atheist and therefore, it would be erroneous to lump the 60 million deaths that can be attributed to him as an example of "Atrocities committed by Anti-Theist". That is right, 60 million people died in world war II and Hitler started it all. Also, an Anti-Theist, if he truly is an anti-theist, wouldn't relegate his hatred to just merely the Jews and leave devote Christian/Catholics to their own devices. After all, Hitler partnered with Italy (a Catholic stronghold) and had quite close ties with the Catholic church.

        September 27, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
      • crbrearley

        Hitler did, in fact, wage war against the Catholic church but he did so only when he was fairly secure in his power. He was aware of Bismarks mistake–attacking the church and failing–and keen not to repeat it. But there could only be one religion in Germany: worship of Adolf Hitler.

        As far as this debate goes, it seems very silly to me. Both sides are ridiculously extreme. Surely pointing to Stalin or Mao as atheist examples is absurd. As is pointing to religious crusaders. The Islamic examples are more germane but if you strip the Muslim countries of Islam you still have a lot of very poor, very angry, very jealous people and you're not going to get some lovely atheistic behavior out of them.

        Dawkins comments on children were absurd as parents make all kinds of decisions for their children (like forcing them to go to school or church) that surely influences how others would label them.

        September 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
      • Maani


        As one who has studied this specific topic for over 25 years, I believe your understanding of the history here to be faulty.

        Firstly, Bravo, even if it is true that Hitler started WWII, it is fallacy to attribute every death therefrom to him. Rather, let's just stick with the ~13 million that actually died under his "thumb." And this included over 2 million Christians – right from the start, Mr. Brearley. Indeed, in 1933, just after becoming chancellor, Hitler told the party faithful, "It is through the peasantry that we will finally destroy Christianity." And he began his attacks on the Protestant Church right away, including having 90% of all parish priests in Poland and Prussia arrested; only 10% of those returned to their parishes years later, the remaining 90% murdered by Hitler's men. By 1943, Hitler had all but destroyed the Protestant Church in Europe. As for the Catholic Church, it is a canard that Hitler was in any way "in bed" with the Pope. In fact, Hitler hated the Pope, and tried at least once to have him assassinated. The reason for this was that, while the Pope himself acceded to Hitler's demand that the Catholic Church do nothing to help the Jews, many individual priests were nevertheless doing so, and both Hitler and the Pope knew this. When Hitler told the Pope to have those priests arrested, the Pope refused, and turned a blind eye. Hitler was furious at this.

        Hitler was an equal opportunity murderer; among those killed by him or by his orders were 6 million Jews, 2 million Christians, and another 3-5 million elderly, physically and/or mentally disabled, trade unionists, communists, etc.

        September 28, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Mike Johnson

      The same conservative media who had conservatives believing a beer drinking Obama, who was a communist born in Kenya, was following Islam as conservatives believing this idiotic notion atheist have murder more than religion. Christians murder millions of Jews in Europe. Islam saved the Jewish Culture in Spain. Christians starting in 1490's have murder 300,000 million in the Americans. Toss in the Nazis, who used Christianity to sell facism, like conservatives in the media are repeating today.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • martin

      His is just one opinion in millions. And considering he is a scientist, his views on religion shouldn't come as a surprise. Sad though that with all his formal education and powerful reasoning abilities he chooses to dehumanize and over simplify a subject as complex as the human experience of religion which has been around for thousands of years, in one form or another, in every single corner of the world

      September 27, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • KHS

      The dictators you mentioned committed their crimes not in the name of atheism, but of communism, a radical political philosophy just as dangerous as religious fanaticism. Christians have also committed horrible crimes in the name of their religion. Just think of the crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the witch burnings. The fact that there were fewer dead is due to the less developed weaponry in times past.
      The Scandinavian countries are essentially (if not officially) atheist and are the most highly developed, civilized, democratic countries, not a cesspool of murderers.
      Another question: Is it better to be moral because you are afraid of a punishing god who is watching you constantly or to be moral because you want to be a decent person and a contributing member of human society? If you follow the Golden Rule, you need no religious morality.

      September 27, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
      • snowman

        If you follow the golden rule, you are following a biblical scripture (Matthew 7:12)

        September 27, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
      • southmost

        The golden rule predates Christianity or any modern religion.

        September 28, 2013 at 3:27 am |
      • Ian

        Snowman.. the so called Golden rule was around in one form or another years before jesus was supposed to be around

        September 30, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • peter

      So it's okay when God's chosen boy Bush43 kills hundreds of thousands of innocents because it's a smaller number or because he believes in God and Jesus?

      September 27, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
    • kenny

      did they kill in the name of atheism? or their own desire for power and control? can the same be said about religion? the golden rule is instinct... it guides the hearts of men all the time. those who choose to ignore it and hurt others will eventually be hurt themselves. religion simply added specifics and a sky daddy that would enforce them since man cannot. it civilized an uncivil world but now we have governments and laws that enforce the golden rule and all its specifics... its so simple a child can understand it.. why can't you

      September 28, 2013 at 12:31 am |
    • herbie9

      completely,absolutely agree Buddy...facts are facts.

      September 28, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • Macha

      Post hoc ergo propter hoc

      September 29, 2013 at 7:24 am |
    • Christopher

      You mean to imply that if, say, the Spanish Inquisitors had had access to weapons of mass destruction they would not have used them? Or those 'noble' Christians fighting the Crusades? If you actually study the 20th century you will find that it is not as simple as you imply.

      September 29, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Person

      You almost made me convert to Christianity. Gosh!

      October 16, 2016 at 6:36 am |
  3. FactChecker

    "You don't need religion to have morals. If you can't determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion." - Anonymous.

    September 27, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
  4. read the bible

    This guy thinks hes so smart and has everything figured out from "reason" yet he is so stupid

    September 27, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • ignorancekills

      He is an evolutionary biologist, and bases his worldviews on scientific fact and therefore, reason. What makes a person stupid is when they blindly subscribe to a set of beliefs that aren't supported by any evidence, and will not change their mind regardless of what evidence may present itself. It is not easy to swallow, but there comes a time when one must choose truth over comfort.

      September 27, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
      • Milestones

        Nice post, good choice of words 🙂
        Be free...

        September 27, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
      • speltomqt

        Do you mean beliefs like, "Thou shalt not kill?" We all know that is true and it comes from a religious book.

        Use scientific method and reason to prove that, please.

        When you can't, are you going to say that it isn't true that we should not kill?

        September 27, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
      • Maani

        "Stupid" may have been a bad choice of word. However, Dawkins can certainly be faulted for thinking that just because he has a degree in evolutionary biology, he somehow has the right (much less the knowledge) to pontificate on a subject that he is woefully ignorant of.

        September 27, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
      • counter ww

        The problem with your post is that not all truth can be empirically proven. Most sane people know this. Only the materialists think that they have to prove everything. quite immature.

        September 27, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
      • quitearationalist

        Yes, he is an evolutionary biologist– and he has no empirical evidence that life is ever formed from non-life, yet he believes it to be true. He certainly is just drawing conclusions on the evidence, right??

        September 28, 2013 at 12:08 am |
      • southmost

        @speltomqt: The idea of "let's work together and not kill each other" is fundamental to any working society, religious or not. Including among nonhuman social animals (that's where the evolutionary biology background is useful!). Do you really think chimpanzees read Exodus?

        September 28, 2013 at 3:35 am |
      • TiglathPileser

        I like your wording "chose truth over confort" yet in the same breath you state Dawkins is basing his worldview on what he is most comfortable with, evolutionary biology...nice.

        September 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
      • Drekor

        We actually know that you can make life from non-life. We have ourselves created artificial life and there are a number of hypothesis' regarding exactly how life originally started. It's rather hard to tell since that was billions of years ago and they weren't nice enough to take a video and keep detailled notes on the subject though (the nerve!).

        As our understanding grows we continue to prove more and more of the bible to be incorrect. Comically we can now prove with "biblical facts" that heaven is hotter than hell. So you might not be in for a pleasant afterlife!

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

        Drekor: "We actually know that you can make life from non-life. We have ourselves created artificial life." Uh...you wanna provide some support for that, please?

        September 28, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • Corey

      Yes, how dare he fall prey to "reason"

      September 27, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • Mike Johnson

      I know more about the Bible than most of you so called Christians. The Bible was authored during the Babylonian Captivity. This is why the stories of the Flood and Moses were taken from Babylonian myths. We know, that the Hebrews where simply Canaanites and that Moses never existed.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
      • counter ww

        you "know"

        How do you know? Was that empirical or what you want to believe?

        September 27, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
      • Maani


        It would help if you allowed your humility to keep your cert.itude in check. SOME of the OT was written during the Babylonian exile, but not all of it. And which books were written when is still disputed. Similarly, the existence of Moses is disputed: it has not been disproved by anyone or anything.


        September 28, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • kenny

      the golden rule is the one and only law of man... it is followed by each and every one of us every day. religion made it stronger and specific based on the men who chose to control religion in order to control man. you follow the golden rule in every good or bad act you do... only sometimes you don't get held accountable for them... its so simple a child can understand it ... why can't you....

      September 28, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • MikeFright

      The dispute between science and religion is a fundamental disagreement between people willing to see the universe as it is, as best they can determine its workings through research leading to conjecture vetted by further research, and those who are determined to see the universe as they wish it to be, regardless of any contradictory evidence.

      September 28, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • dilberth

      How many books have you authored? Does that make a person stupid, stupid?

      September 29, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
  5. Buddy

    Dawkins is either a liar or very ignorant of Christianity.

    The nation of Israel was governed by the Old Covenant. The "Old Testament" records rules and regulations of the Old Covenant.

    The church is governed by the New Coveannt. The New Testament writings compass the instructions of the New Testament.

    There is no "picking and choosing." The Old Covenant and New Covenant were for different people. The New Covenant is the covenant the followers of Christ are under.

    I challenge Dawkins to produce a New Testament scripture that instructs Christians to stone anyone. If he can't do so he must retract his false claims about Christianity.

    September 27, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • Samantha

      That was part of his point, you cherry pick what you want to believe. You cannot come out and say that Your god is infallible, that he wrote the old testament, but that it doesn't apply anymore and you don't follow it. It was taken as the "word of god" once upon a time, so why not anymore? Even the new testament is ridiculous, open it to ANY page, and there is nonsensical drivel from when Earth was flat, and people got sick through witchcraft.

      September 27, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
      • heebeejeebee

        uh, clearly you have not read the New Testament.

        September 27, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
      • TiredofDawkinsPreaching

        News flash fool:
        Yes. Yes you CAN cherry pick. Life boils down to subjective reasoning. Anyone who says you can't is just a fundamentalist and an idiot no more than Richard Dawkins himself.
        Secondly, people CAN claim their God is infallible. The claim is theoretical....and Jesus didn't write the Bible. *laughs* He wasn't handing Bibles out to people like you see churches doing. Jesus would never have needed a Bible, nor would he advise one, for the simple fact of inevitable human error.
        As for the Koran...more like a bedtime story for the land of Agrabah.
        *spits out drink* Why on Earth would anyone want to follow the Old Testament? That's like your having your ancestors force your family line to remain unchanged by time. Uh...and the Old Testament was culture based by Jewish traditions. As it appears, I am not a Jew, as many Christians aren't, so there is no need to follow their "rules". Jews created their own rules, Jews also spoke for God. Not every person in the Bible had contact with God. Most just had imaginations. I reckon only a few actually witnessed or experienced a true encounter with God. The reason it was taken as the word of God before, is because Jews asserted this claim. They asserted it, but were capitalizing on a fact that very few people actually knew anything about. The New Testament provides the bare minimum for Christian truth. That God did exist, and that he came to reach out to people in the form of man, and that he came to correct the established order that had developed itself so poorly in the eyes of the truth.
        Oh, I'm sure the New Testament contains a lot of nonsensical drivel, and it would be a shame that anyone be distracted by that. But it would also be a shame that anyone assume the crap that Dawkins has without actually challenging honesty.

        September 28, 2013 at 1:39 am |
    • heebeejeebee

      In fact, the New Testament says exactly the opposite of what Dawkins is claiming "Let the one without sin cast the first stone." I'm not making a statement either way here except I grow weary of people who cherry-pick their references. The bottom line is Dawkins doesn't truly KNOW any more than you or I know. His beliefs are still based on faith. You can claim he's a scientist all you like but his knowledge is not complete, therefore....

      September 27, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
      • Seriously

        Lot of dead "witches" from the inquisition and Salem might disagree about how much OT made it into your New Covenant.

        September 27, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
      • TiglathPileser

        While they may disagree that does not make them correct. Pick it up and read it, the text is clear about the divide between the Old and New Testaments, there is no cherry picking there. I find it interesting that Dawkins himself is doing precisly what he accuses believers of.

        September 28, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Mr. Black

      Then why is the Old Testament part of the Christian Bible? Y'all want to put the ten commandments up everywhere, but that's part of the OT, which you said you don't use. What sense does that make? And if you think the NT is free from contradictions, think again. Try actually reading it.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
      • speltomqt

        I've read it. Now, please give us some specific examples so that we can evaluate your argument.

        September 27, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
      • Maani

        The OT is part of the Christian Bible because (i) it was the only book Jesus Himself knew and taught from, and (ii) it prophecied His coming. After all, Jesus did not come to start a new religion; He came to teach the Jews how to be better Jews. When they rejected Him, He took His message to the Gentiles.

        What Dawkins (and many of you) miss is that Jesus came to FULFILL the laws of the OT, so that they would no longer apply to those who believed in His ministry; i.e., He taught that the spirit of the law is more important than the letter of the law. This is why, once He came, taught, died and was resurrected, the "old laws" (stoning, etc.) "passed away" along with the Old "testament" (with Moses) in favor of the New "testament" (with those who believed in Him and His ministry).

        It does not make the OT "null and void," since there is still much there besides "the law." Nor is this cherry-picking; it is an explanation of the RELATIONSHIP of the Old "testament" (and 'the law") to the New "testament" (and grace through faith).

        September 27, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • Mark

      No picking and chosing??? Then why aren't we still stoning people??

      September 27, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • mrsinned

      Prime example of unchecked religious fervor short circuiting calm, reasoned analysis. Dawkins never said that Christians or the new testiment promote stoning. He said the "Bible" and Koran speak of stoning:

      "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."

      If you're going to base a life of faith on a book, then close reading might be important–or just do what your religious leaders tell you to do; whatever.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Mike Johnson

      So sayth, your mythology.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • kenny

      the only rule is golden... we follow it every day in everything we do... sometimes it is enforced... sometimes it is not... wise and powerful men of old and new understand this and used religion to control the ignorant masses... like yourself... who are too blinded to see and understand a rule so simple a child can understand it and live by it... observe children and how they behave towards one another and you will see it in action... its sad there are so many still ignorant of it...

      September 28, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • southmost

      In the 1500's heretics were commonly burnt at the stake for going against Christian teachings. Now they (typically) are not. What's changed? The basic tenets of Christianity, or the way society chooses to interpret them?

      September 28, 2013 at 3:44 am |
    • Eric

      In the NT, Jesus says that not one word of the law will be taken away. It's Paul that qualifies it later and suggests that the old laws could be ignored, but it's still a bit ambiguous. I've read the NT through many times and don't believe this is a simple question, unless someone else has told you that it is based upon their own interpretation.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  6. goinmad2009

    I will celebrate when this dude kicks the bucket.

    September 27, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Shawn Irwin

      That is very christian of you

      September 27, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • ignorancekills

      How very christian of you.

      September 27, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Mike Johnson

      We see the real teachings of Jesus in this fine example of Christianity. In his words, you can see why Christians believed murdering Jews and Native Americans was a tool to spread Christianity.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  7. Sara

    LOVE THIS GUY! Great words, great demeanor. Well said!

    September 27, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  8. Buddy

    Dawkins claims reason is on the side of atheism. Yet it is very unreasonable to claim that the universe is eternal. It is also very unreasonable to claim the universe produced itself out of a steady state of absolute nothing.

    There had to be a First Cause. That cause had to be self existent, spaceless, immaterial, timeless, powerful, intelligent, and wise. God.

    God did it is the only explanation for the universe that makes sense. "Nothindidit" certainly does not make sense.

    September 27, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Shawn Irwin

      Great logic, pal, until you as the question . . . who created that being?

      September 27, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • If horses had gods, their gods would be horses

      "...Dawkins claims reason is on the side of atheism. Yet it is very unreasonable to claim that the universe is eternal. It is also very unreasonable to claim the universe produced itself out of a steady state of absolute nothing..."

      You soooooo miss the points. He never claims the universe is eternal, how could we know that?!! He also never claims the universe produced itself, how could we know that?!! (but on an interesting aside, YOU have "faith" that your deity produced itself from nothing....)

      Dawkins is all about reason and learning. Study, evaluate, make good decisions. If someones says there is a teapot in orbit around the sun, let's check out that hypothesis. If someone says there is a noodle monster waiting for us when we die, let's check out that hypothesis. If a christian wants to say, "Hey, I think I have something called a soul, and I think that that soul will carry me into another realm of existence after I die, and I think there that I will meet the creator of everything and he will love me and I will live happily on for eternity.......weeeeellllll buddy, you're going to need even just one tiny shred of proof.

      Fail. There is no proof. And if you think you can point to your little book of horrors as proof of a deity, you really need to do some studying on "circular logic" as it pertains to bible study.

      The point of Dawkins is that the true nature of life, existence, and the Universe is currently unknown. Christians, indeed any theists of any kind really can't handle that vase amount of unknown in their life so they follow a much easier answer. "God" did it all, and god cannot be questioned....POOF! no more questions. and if you still try and question then you are evil or a heretic and you are told that you are going to be tortured for eons. Ridiculous. Religion is a tool to keep the non-thinking side of humanity in check. Just a few more decades and it will be not just 20% that are non-religious...

      SAVE EARTH (she's more important than any divinity the mind of Man could create)

      September 27, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
      • counter ww

        First off, the earth is a THING, not a "she" and 2nd, there are plenty of Christians that do ask "why" but realize that not all things /issues/problems /unknowns can be proven or even answered. That is where someone that believes had it way over the atheist.

        September 27, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
      • quitearationalist

        Dawkins is not so open as you say. He rejects the possibility of a god as the first cause, yet holds onto the idea that life came from non-living things– which every experiment ever done disproves. Yet he is open? Perhaps you should read him more so you can accurately represent his position.

        September 28, 2013 at 12:12 am |
    • Wortie

      Atheism is just another point of view

      September 27, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
      • Milestones

        hardly. That's like saying the "belief" that "Elvis is actually dead" is just another point of view from "Elvis is actually still alive". You fully comprehend that thousands of other gods are stories, why not one more? Get rid of this last violent one who couches all the hate and torment of Hell into the love of jesus. What a radical dichotomy.

        At the end of the day, all religions come back to Humans wanting there to be "something more" and "to not die". weak minds. Not having all the answers is rather empowering...it keeps you learning, studying, growing, living and loving life. Rather than just getting overweight on your backside reading stories of old Bronze Age pseudo-gods and their sons.

        September 27, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • Brian

      Actually, the universe is almost certainly eternal, and with no origin or beginning. The problem people have with that is we are unable to comprehend such a thing, much in the same way that we are unable to comprehend how far a light year is or how long ago a million years was. In mathematics infinity is a real number, but that doesn't mean that the human mind is quite able to comprehend it. Modern physics has shown many times (and I believe it is the currently accepted model) that the universe, in fact, did not have an origin and that it was likely eternal.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
      • speltomqt

        Could you please go into more detail and maybe provide a source for this claim.

        In the event that you are right and the Universe is eternal, then I pose this question: why are the laws of physics what they are? Where did all of this matter come from?

        These are important questions.

        September 27, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • Mike Johnson

      You can believe in the sacred Frog for all it matters.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • southmost

      "There had to be a First Cause." Why? Saying so doesn't make it true. Modern physics has shown that naive commonsense notions of causality do not adequately explain how the Universe behaves on very small length scales, very short time scales, or very high energy scales. Empirical, non-intuitive mathematical models are much more successful at predicting how things actually work.

      And even if there is a first cause, why should it be intelligent, or even sentient? Because it comforts you to think so? The fallacies of the Cartesian "proof" of God have been pointed out long ago.

      Raw human intuition has proven to be a very poor guide to understanding the Universe; observation and testable hypotheses work much better.

      September 28, 2013 at 4:00 am |
  9. DC

    I find this article and the views of Richard Dawkins highly flawed. The first question regarding the bible as a moral compass refers to stoning people to death for breaking the Sabbath which seems to confirm that although Richard Dawkins rejects the bible he has obviously never read the entire book. Stoning, sacrifices, God's angry vengeance upon disobedient humans is included in the Old Testament, however, in the New Testament we are given the gift of Jesus Christ. Christ is a game-changer. Gone are the sacrifices of the fatted calf, gone are the swift executions for disobeying God. I would encourage Richard Dawkins and all readers of this article to actually read the entire bible. I find that people have many negative comments about the bible without ever actually reading it. Lastly, we must not confuse religion with Christ and Christianity. Jesus never had a church; he never sang a hymn or occupied a pew on Sunday morning. Please don't judge Christianity by "Christians", and read the bible before making your decision to accept or deny Christ's love for you.

    September 27, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Shawn Irwin

      That is what is so ridiculous bout Christians . . The claim an all-powerful, all-knowing god, who knows the past and the future, but it was so dumn it had to change its mind about its own doctrine. It is very laughable . . . . not much sense of logic there at all.

      September 27, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Seriously

      So the whole inquisition thing, and Cotton Mather and his buddies in Salem was all New Testament morality? Nice.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Mike Johnson

      Most those who lived were Jesus lived during the time of Jesus ancestors are Jews and not Christians. This speaks volumes.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • kenny

      wouldn't it make more sense that man changed the rules to fit more civilized human behavior? ... we have always and still do follow one simple and instinctual rule ... and its golden... you follow it every day when you are nice to people... which most are... when you aren't you fear their wrath... religion was created by wise and powerful men to civilize the ignorant masses who would break the rule because they thought they could get away with it... its so simple a child can understand it... why can't you

      September 28, 2013 at 12:40 am |
  10. Henry Agboma

    The illustration Given by Mr. Richard Dawkins on morality on no longer stoning people to death was not, according to the bible, man's undoing. it was Jesus christ that taught that he who is wthout sin should cast the first stone, Christ also say that We should remove the log in our eyes so we can see clearly the speck in the other person's eyes. I want you to pray that God should give you wisdom to see the difference btw religion and the true worship of God

    September 27, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • nogodsbeforeZUES

      That's part of the main point....there is NO GOD. You are Atheist to all other gods, why not one more?? C'mon you can do it! Free your brain!!

      September 27, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
      • counter ww

        Free yourself, give up self. Follow Christ. You have it all wrong.

        September 27, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
      • Jenny

        Counter! YOU need to give up EGO!

        Christians are the most arrogant, deep down! WHY do you follow Christ? Do you know? I'll answer for you, if you don't mind...(ahem)...YOU WISH TO SAVE YOUR IMMORTAL SOUL.

        Do you see the me me me me me me (ego) me me me me hidden in there? Ok.Ok.Ok.Ok.Ok stop me if you have heard this one before...you don't have a soul and death is the end of you.

        everything else should fall into place now...

        be well.


        September 27, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
    • Ian

      Get a life....

      September 30, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  11. Matty

    I want to know how Mr. Dawkins relationships are, does he get along with his wife, children, co-workers, etc. and that sort of thing. Why so zealous?

    September 27, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • pious tard

      If you require religion to have sucess in your relationships you are truly a weak and pathetic individual!

      September 27, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • mrsinned

      Pretty simplistic effort to hide your personal attack. Why does Dawkins' interest in promoting critical thinking, logic, and scepticism have to relate to the soundness of his personal relationships? The obvious suggestion is that he must be an emotionally flawed/angry/dangerous person to want to say the things he says. Don't attack the person, face his position.

      And what about his calm discussion makes him "zealous"? Your post seems to disclose more about your religious insecurities than pose a legitimate question about Dawkins' motivations.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  12. nogodsbeforeZUES

    Go Dawkins! Verbally Hitch slap those churches 🙂

    September 27, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  13. If horses had gods, there gods would be horses

    Well said Richard. Keep up the good work. Love you and Sam, really miss Christopher...

    September 27, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  14. Bible/koran are fiction

    The less religious a person is the higher thier IQ usually is. This is clearly evident with Mr Dawkins. In a thousand years(if religous idiots have not destroyed the human race) you will be evidence to posterity that not all of us were mindless idiots. Bravo Sir!

    September 27, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Wortie

      If being less religious gives you a higher IQ
      THEN that makes MILEY SIRUS AND HITLER smarter than Einstein

      September 27, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
      • kenny

        hitler was catholic and used god to rally the german people.. you idiiot

        September 28, 2013 at 12:41 am |
    • Maani

      I wonder how Aristotle, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Michelangelo, DaVinci, and Rembrandt – to say nothing of Copernicus, Bacon (who invented the scientific method), Kepler, Galilei, Descartes, Pascal, Newton, Faraday, Mendel Kelvin, Planck, Leeuwenhoek, Pasteur – deists or theists all – would feel about your statement.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
  15. Frank

    Mr. Miks, A proper noun is always capitalized. The word "Bible" in your article has suffered from this grammar mistake. I hope you fix that so you won't be accused of being biased.

    September 27, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  16. Lilyq

    Be careful what you ask for, Mr. Dawkins, you just may get it.

    September 27, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • pious tard

      yes indeed! The sky fairy may shoot bolts of lightning out his butt cheeks to smite Mr Dawkins intelligent words. Because intelligence is always offensive to the religious and thier gods!

      September 27, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
      • Shawn Irwin

        But the accompanying thunder is god farting, see, I just proved to you he exists!!!!

        September 27, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • Will

      One can hope.

      September 28, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • John

      what is he asking for? And I bet he can handle it.

      September 28, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  17. Bobby T.

    Excellent! Well said...google Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens too for some really good insights into these topics.

    September 27, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  18. perfectpyles

    I guess treating your neighbor as you want to be treated is a terrible thing, along with turning the other cheek. What a terrible world this would be if we listened to Jesus....obviously.

    September 27, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Humanist

      As an atheist I, and many others that I know, do not disagree with many of the teachings of Jesus, such as have compassion for the poor and the outcast, admit when you are wrong, do not hate, do not judge, and be sincere, but most Christians that I know or hear from seem to be at odds with the teachings of Jesus. It makes no sense. That is why I prefer to be a humanist atheist.

      September 27, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  19. Bobby T.

    Burn in Hell fire for all time. Devil. Demons. Gods. Witches. Ghosts, holy or otherwise. Wow mono-theists are really nutty for 2013!

    September 27, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  20. Kevin Dwyer

    We are all atheists. When you truly understand WHY you reject all the other gods (Zeus, Odin, Wakonta, etc.) you will know why I reject yours.
    Add one more god to your unbelief!
    Someone smarter than me said as much, and said it better.

    September 27, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
  21. Delex

    The reason xtianity is changing in some parts of the world is because it is largely a product of individual interpretation and perception. My own perception is at variance with that of my neighbour and only suits what kind of religion I want to practice. Men abandon what they don't like about religion and stick to what they feel at home with or interpret their own script the way they like.

    September 27, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
  22. inmemoryofab

    If Dawkins wants to roam in a fallen world ruled by Satan without God he can go for it. There aren't enough seats for everybody so they might as well go to those whose moral compass is called the Holy Spirit.

    September 27, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Jenny

      Here's hoping you didn't procreate 🙂
      Say Hi to Beelzebub for us 🙁

      ps. the pope says we ALL get to go the fictional land of heaven...but I don't want to go.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
      • inmemoryofab

        The Pope knows what the Bible says. You obviously don't.

        September 27, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • Will

      I think Satan has a no-roaming policy.

      September 28, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Ian

      isn't ignorance bliss....... read your bible and then try and understand it, if you understand it then you'll realise its fiction

      September 30, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  23. Cris

    A very bitter fellow who desperately needs to trim his eyebrows.

    September 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
  24. Buster

    Atheism is a false religion.

    September 27, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  25. Buster

    Dawkins is a tattered, poorly educated moron, and has no clout whatsoever.

    September 27, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • Humanist

      Poorly educated? Really? Can you do any background research before making your completely unfounded claims? He is very well educated. By the way, atheism is not a religion and Dawkins is driven by logic, not hatred.

      September 27, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • John

      Now you're just being a gutter Christian resorting to insults. Don't get too smug bright eyes, cause you know what familiarity breeds.

      September 28, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  26. Buster

    I think Dawkins is driven by mental illness and hatred more than anything else. The sad part is that some people listen to him, and read his book.

    September 27, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • Nik

      Says the person making multiple emo comments.

      September 27, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • John

      Did you read? And he wrote books. Note the "s".

      September 28, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
  27. Buster

    Dawkins ideas will always be a failure because they are not true.

    September 27, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • Mike Johnson

      Unlike you, Dawkins can make a intelligent argument for his beliefs.

      September 27, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • mrsinned

      Your statement couldn't be more circular if you tried. "He's wrong...well, because he's just wrong."

      And all of your posts are emotional personal attacks that present no reasoned response and, thus, do not advance the discussion. Why are YOU so angry? It's just one man's opinion right?

      September 27, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • Ian

      trolls are really sad human beings.... we all feel sorry for you Buster

      September 30, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  28. Mike Johnson

    You all have it so wrong. There was this man Joseph Smith, who was once taken to court for being a fraud, who used a magic rock and a black hat to translate the world's most perfect book from golden plates written in Reformed Egyptian. The Book of Mormon has only had 3,000 corrections since it was first edited.

    September 27, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • Will

      Yeah, so funny. No more ridiculous than the other faiths. Works great to point out the absurdity.

      September 28, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  29. Pastor James Miller

    At least Dawkins is right that we're genetically hardwired for faith. in "Hardwired: Finding the God You Already Know," I explore the ways that we're made to go looking for God and the plausibility of it being an accident of evolution rather than design. I don't think there's any way around religiosity and the fundamental grounding of morality within it.

    September 27, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • John

      Morality is nothing more than a human group accepted code of behaviour on an intellectual level. I say human group so as to save the pecking order pack argument.

      September 28, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  30. myrtlemaylee

    While I will certainly agree that religion is no moral compass, I think it's disingenuous – to be kind – to assert that secular fundamentalists take their moral compass from the "time" in which they live. Implying that now people are so much more aware, kinder – bs. The US is certainly not the most religious of western countries. And Dawkins is certainly a fundamentalist, every bit as zealous as any other fundamentalist. So the human ego continues to fabricate, justify & destroy – and create. Best wishes, Mr. Dawkins. Nice try but not very reasonable.

    September 27, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • Humanist

      So who is the most religious Western country if not the US?

      September 27, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
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