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. Religionmadeyoumessedupinthehead

    Wow. The stupidity of the religious people here....tooooo funny.

    September 29, 2013 at 1:32 am |
  2. mrehmus

    Dawkins is so ignorant that he thinks the Old Testament still holds sway. Wrong! The New Testament is the ruling contract between God and mankind. There is no 'eye for an eye' or stoning in the New Testament but a plea for a universal love between all people.
    His ignorance will likely be his downfall on the day of judgment but I hope he will wake up to the truth before he dies.

    September 29, 2013 at 1:42 am |
    • Mark

      Please read the text again. He is saying the opposite, that we are cherry-picking our morals and that most from the old testament no longer apply. Your comment is the ignorant one, or even worse a ingenious one.

      September 29, 2013 at 5:46 am |
    • LisforMe

      So the New Testament is the "ruling contract"? It's an amendment? That necessarily implies that the Old Testament was wrong. So all-knowing, all-powerful, infallible, perfect god screwed it up in the OT and fixed it in the NT? Then how do you know the NT isn't also wrong?

      September 29, 2013 at 8:39 am |
  3. Andrew

    Dawkins is a biologist. What does he know about religion? Let's not elevate people to an area where they just voice their bias.

    September 29, 2013 at 1:53 am |
    • Connor

      You seem to be saying that it requires an educational degree in theology in order for one to have an opinion on religion. Why then should billions of people who are religious yet lack a theological degree think anything about religion? If they are not qualified to think about religion then why should they follow religious teachings?

      September 29, 2013 at 2:03 am |
      • Chris

        Dawkins has an "opinion" about religion like Al Queda has an "opinion" about the west.

        September 29, 2013 at 6:42 am |
      • christian witchcraft

        like religionist have an opinion of a god existing

        September 29, 2013 at 7:29 am |
      • Sachin

        He doesn't need a degree in theology, but he probably does need a PhD in Religion. Dawkins is actually fine. His criticism is about claims regarding the cosmos, and nothing more, so his criticism is perfectly valid.

        But bigots like Sam Harris who try and justify their bigotry and support of racial profiling behind "atheism" could do with a PhD in Religion to show why their apologetics don't hold ground. The academic study of religion is a very fruitful avenue in this regard.

        September 29, 2013 at 8:28 am |
      • Sachin

        And the billions who are religious are no more qualified to comment on religion than Dawkins. Once again, they are foreigners to the academic study of religion.

        September 29, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      Please explain what level of expertise one needs to have to be able to comment on religion? Do you also require Christians to have the same level of scientific expertise before commenting on evolution?

      I spent the 1st 18 years of my life in a fundamentalist baptist church and 13 years in the christian school system. Does that make me qualified to proclaim religion is nonsense?

      September 29, 2013 at 2:12 am |
      • Rebecca

        I love this so much! You stopped him in his tracks.

        September 29, 2013 at 2:26 am |
      • bmonteith

        You are probably supremely qualified to proclaim it nonsense, and your life experience (notice I did not say thought process) makes it supremely unlikely you would ever do so.

        September 29, 2013 at 2:52 am |
      • GodFreeNow

        @ bmonteith, Allow me to make the unlikely, likely.

        Based on my life experiences I haven not see any statistical difference between the events in my life if there were a controlling, all-powerful god and if there were not. So I feel quite confident stating the that the idea of god is nonsense— that is, non – sense. There is no logic behind the idea whatsoever.

        September 29, 2013 at 3:37 am |
      • Robert

        You must have been hurt by people or the system along the way. It is hard to imagine why anyone growing up in a "healthy" Christian environment that emphasizes the love and grace of God would simply walk away. It's like being given a vacation in a five star resort and then refusing it and choosing to play in a mud hole instead.

        September 29, 2013 at 6:34 am |
      • D

        You claim to have all this religious experience, yet you have not learned the basic basic fundamental. That being having faith. God does not need to prove what he can do to satisfy your curiosity. He works when it will give Him the glory. If you studied the scripture, you will see those that turn their back towards God perished. Not by God's hand, but by the hand of man. If any on here believe in ghosts then you believe in the spiritual plane. That is where God's power resides. Satan wants ppl to stop believing it makes it easier for him to have you join him.

        September 29, 2013 at 6:46 am |
      • SSampson

        What course should I take to talk abut the Tooth Fairy... Or Santa Claus – How about elves and goblins....??

        After all – my faith tells me they are real – no evidence is required as long as you have faith....

        Dawkins is a biologist.... but I bet he has read most religious texts in their entirety – I have – actually they make me laugh (Bible Old/new – Qur'an – Tanakh -Upanishads – Bhagavad Gita etc) – I'd bet you haven't read any entirely.... just some bits spewed out to support the wants of your particular brand...

        September 29, 2013 at 7:26 am |
      • attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

        @ D:
        So only people who turn their back on your god perish??????? Really???????? that has to be one of the silliest comments I've ever read. Do you think there were believers of your god on the hijacked 9/11 planes? How'd they make out? I bet there was a lot of praying going on, and yet, strangely, your god – supposedly all-knowing and all-powerful – didn't do anything to stop it from happening. Oh, wait – let me guess: your god didn't want to interfere in the free will of the hijackers? Even though that cost hundreds in the planes their lives?

        September 29, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • kenny

      everyone knows how to be funny and since religion is a joke... everyone is an expert... haha

      September 29, 2013 at 2:17 am |
      • no

        Even children can make up stories. Adults make up stories and then argue with each other about the names of the characters for 10,000 years, lol.

        November 22, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • donna

      He was raised in a very religious environment, he was Catholic. He is an expert in evolutionary biology, the biological history of the planet, behavior, and the study of reality (science)- which means he's an expert in biological organisms, including humans and how we evolved. And he's done a lot of research in religion and culture specifically, and is respected as an expert by other philosophers and scientists. He's well published both academically and popularly.

      September 29, 2013 at 2:31 am |
      • Mack

        Donna, iin Dawkins interview on The Daily Show, he states that he was raised Church of England. A minor point, but I agree with you that he was raised in a religious environment until he was 15.

        September 29, 2013 at 7:02 am |
      • donna

        Thanks for the correction Max.

        September 29, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
      • donna

        I'm sorry, Mack!!

        September 29, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Anonymous

      And what does priests, priestess, popes, and whatnots religious leaders/people know about science? Try thinking first before commenting. You're sounding ignorant.

      September 29, 2013 at 2:41 am |
      • D

        Actually many pastors study much more than just religious theology. Some study sociology, coupled with archeology. Others study biology some astronomy. A lot of the pastors out there have doctorate degrees in various studies. Don't paint them all with a single brush

        September 29, 2013 at 6:39 am |
      • A Twain

        Mendel and Copernicus were priests. The Big Bang Theory was first taught by a Belgian priest. There are actually many scientiist-priests, past and present.

        September 29, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • shawn l

      Funny, that doesn't keep christians who have no background in science who try to force school districts to teach creationism instead of evolution.

      September 29, 2013 at 4:17 am |
      • Disillusioned

        Yah i beeleive in a higher intemt but I m not thrilled about trying to teach creationism in schools either. If people want to touch on faith ,talk about it in philosophy or history. Science isn't taught in church, so don't try teaching faith in science class. As I see it.

        September 29, 2013 at 8:57 am |
      • Disillusioned

        At least in public schools. Private religious schools are different, of course.

        September 29, 2013 at 8:58 am |
      • Disillusioned

        While I believe, and see personal evidence of a higher intent,I do recognize that there is simply not enough verifiable evidence up to scientifically factual standards to teach it as a verifiable theory in a public school. With kids whose religious beliefs are wildly varied

        September 29, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • Fritz Hohenheim

      And what sort of "expert" is an "expert" in religion in your view? Religion is a non-topic, it is only in your imagination. You imagine one god, the moslems imagine another and so on. there are no "experts' in religion other than those who study their chosen books and get their arguments from there. Dawkins is certainly more educated than any of those self proclaimed or ordained priests who spend their entire life studying wisdom from the bronze age and nothing else

      September 29, 2013 at 5:00 am |
    • Tomek

      When a person does science, he or she must be able to think. Religion does not surive this kind of scrutiny. Do you not find it curious that the God behaves and acts as if it did not exist?

      September 29, 2013 at 5:10 am |
    • Nate Mullikin

      Sure. You have to be an expert in my magic book about my invisible friend to have an intelligent opinion about my magic book about my invisible friend.

      September 29, 2013 at 6:16 am |
    • JR

      Nonsense. People need not be experts in every field in which they have an opinion.

      Further, it doesn't require expertise to recognize there is not one shred of evidence supporting the notion of a supernatural deity in the sky, so Dawkins is right to call the religionists out on it.

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

      So only priests and theologians are allowed to talk about religion? LOL. Yeah, there'll be no bias there...

      September 29, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Steve

      It is amazing that people use religion for their opportunity rather than the intended purpose. Look at a few facts. Does anyone deny a man name Jesus walked this earth? The only difference from him and all the rest is that he taught the people to praise God, and focus on that. He did not set himself up to be worshiped, he did not live in a mansion, or live the high life, he focused on our Father. Of all the so-called religions or religious leaders, which have chosen that path versus the path to personal wealth, power and greed?

      September 29, 2013 at 7:45 am |
      • attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

        Actually, Steve, a lot of people DO deny that the biblical Jesus existed – this based on a lack of substantive, corroborated evidence.

        September 29, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • Steve

      Here is a thought to ponder... Did this earth randomly happen? No.
      Did a airplane just happen? No. (I can go on, but you get the point.)
      What brought all the matter together to allow the universe to be created? Who created all the laws of physics that control the universe that man can not understand? How did someone create a paradise for us to live in?
      God is the creator. The fact that we have this wonderful world to live in is amazing.
      God gave us choice. We are his experiment to prove that because 1/3 of the angels made a bad choice to not follow God, we as humans, his most prized creation, can prove we are able to believe in, and praise God.
      All of us will meet him once, just some of us will spend eternity with him, while others who reject him will spend eternity in a very hot, uncomfortable place.

      September 29, 2013 at 7:53 am |
      • cosmicsnoop

        Oh Boy. I figured out when I was ten years old how wrong this simpleton summary of heaven and hell is and how it is not at all possible. We should teach logic in school since most lack it. I'm sorry that I just dismiss people as dumb who come up with this lame argument, but if I could figure out at ten how stupid it is, well..... So, explain this: If God is love, then how can God condemn people to eternal torture? He can't; it is completely illogical and EVIL! Do what I say or be punished?! I, as a simple human, would never condemn someone to eternal torture for their past crimes. Not even Hitler, whoever, not for eternity. In my opinion, that would make me more evil than them. I thought God was love and forgiveness? So, how can I be more loving and compassionate than God? Try Skipping church and go for a walk in the woods. It's far better for your soul. And try thinking once in awhile.

        September 29, 2013 at 8:37 am |
      • Milton Platt

        There are sound theories explaining those events. You might try reading up on some of them. The airplane is a red herring. It is an outgrowth of the natural events that brought the universe into being, because it was designed by minds that rare a result of that universe's existence. Are you saying that god is now designing airplanes?

        And an argument from ignorance is no argument at all. Just because you cannot identify a cause is no reason to appeal to the notion of a supernatural being to account for a lack of knowledge.

        September 29, 2013 at 8:54 am |
      • attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

        Fabulous argument, Steve: "Did the earth randomly happen? No." Do you have any evidence whatsoever to counter the thousands of scientists who, have extensive studies using the scientific method, claim that it did?

        Just as easily, I can state that the earth did not randomly happen. It in fact was created by Llarrs the Magnificent, a humanoid from 100000 years in our future who, using time-travel technology, went back gazillions of years and, using planet-building technology, created the earth. Using your logic and evidence, my statement about Llarrrs creating the earth is as equally valid about your claim the "God" created the Earth.

        September 29, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Geoff

      But a religious expert can explain how the dinosaurs were faked by the devil? How close-minded and hypocritical - but then, that's no surprise.

      September 29, 2013 at 7:58 am |
    • ca

      You can say that about all the firemen, flight attendants, restaurant workers, factory workers,real estate salespeople and all other types of everyday people who think they are experts on the Bible because they have found God. We've all heard them prognosticate.

      September 29, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • cosmicsnoop

      Your argument makes zero sense. This man is far more intelligent than you and has logical arguments to back his views. You do not and just choose to ignore them because you don't agree. That makes you dumb.

      September 29, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • BobbyQC

      > Dawkins is a biologist. What does he know about religion?
      > Let's not elevate people to an area where they just voice their bias.

      He's a smart and logical person. I don't know $h!t about religion because it doesn't interest me because it's all a big load of c r a p. Nobody believes in Santa Claus, ferries, unicorns and leprechaun past the age of about 8. He uses his logic to understand that religion does not make any sense at all. Why is it that David Koresh from Waco got killed in the 90's? Because he was crazy and didn't make sense... but we were in the 90's! So you bet it didn't make sense. But if that would have happened 2000 years ago, then people would have believed... oh... sorry, it DID happen 2000 years ago. He was called Jesus. Perhaps the guy was a nut-case but because he had enough mind power to control people, which is the base of religion, he was able to drag a bunch of weak-minded people with him.

      September 29, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • richard dawkins

      Dawkins is a biologist? i thought i was an automomous collective.

      September 29, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • Rick

      Andrew: Would that not include clerics?

      September 29, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  4. jose perez

    I do not agree, although it would seem to make sense the truth is that religion has kept humanities moral compass at bay so far. Yes, I believe its wrong for people to put aside their own belief for the belief of another persons views. Religion should not be the only reason you help strangers. Either way, for all the good it has accomplish it should not be dismissed just because of the few bad apples. Nonetheless, the argument being raised is who is more fit? And my answer would be none! How can any man be fit to judge another, there are too many factors that fall into why a person would do anything at all. To think that you, or your believers are better fit to judge anyone is to be as foolish as the religious freaks that think they are right and everyone else is wrong. It sounds to me that the author of this post has a grudge against religion in particular. All cases should be looked at under a different microscope for each individual incident of its own. There are only certain facts of other cases which should make it into court, the rest should fall on the exacts of the case at hand and on the persons personal history leading to the case itself. No man should have to follow another for all men are created equal, therefore the communities life should not rest on the decision of just one man. If the community is more involved in the proceedings of their own neighborhoods you would see the difference in not just conviction rates but in cooperation as well. The moral to this story is that regardless of who ever brings this argument up, the person or group itself will always be wrong for no one would be the right answer. And to take it even further forgive me for being blunt but as much judgement as was put on this article without real standing makes me wonder how much more would be put towards a defendant on the stand. Please learn to all get along and bring forth peace without judgement or preference.

    September 29, 2013 at 1:54 am |
  5. lolwut

    Yes, you can have a moral code that does not originate with some higher authority, but you cannot justify that code.

    I hear a lot of confident claims about "reason" from self-satisfied internet atheists, but the only reasonable conclusion is that if there is no god then there is no basis other than brute power for asserting any truth or moral code. If there is no god–no absolute truth–then all is permitted, and there is no constraint on the will save the force of some opposing will. The very concepts of right and wrong, good and evil simply do not exist, though Richard Dawkins clearly still yearns to hide behind them. All authority is void; all becomes perpetual rebellion.

    Nietszche, at least, had the courage and insight to face squarely the nihilistic consequences of this "death" of god in the hearts of men without borrowing comforting assumptions from the capital of a Christian inheritance that he had declared bankrupt (which is far more than can be said for lesser minds like Dawkins), though that realization drove him mad. The fashionable, incurious "athiests" of our decadent postmodern age are seldom interested or educated enough in philosophy or religion even to appreciate the consequences of their own worldview.

    September 29, 2013 at 2:00 am |
    • Pest

      My moral code is based on empathy. I therefore follow the golden rule, at least until given reason to do otherwise. It's that simple.

      I will grant you that theistic shackles may serve some use for controlling those who don't empathize. When theists present arguments such as yours, it makes me think that those are ideal candidates for such shackles.

      September 29, 2013 at 2:43 am |
    • Fritz Hohenheim

      If you say you are a "moral person" because of the bible or whatever book you chose to accept as the one and only truth, then you are a very sorry person. Are you saying that you need some ancient book to tell you whats right and whats wrong and without it you would go berserk, killing anybody you want to? If somebody takes his moral guidance from a religious book, that is the most horrible thing imaginable, because he is just one step away from committing atrocities of the strongest sort. If you believe god speaks to you and gives you moral guidance, what if you woke up one day and believed god ordered you to kill all red headed people in your town?" Would you do it? Or would you not do it, absolutely believing that you are contradicting your one and true god?

      I dont need some ancient text to know that killing is wrong, stealing etc. All I know is the simple principle, treat others as you want to be treated, or else there is no civilization. Besides, all civilizations so far have come up with the same rule, based on Zeus, Ra, Quexalcotle or Unicorns. And according to christians, their gods are all false, so how did they get their moral guidance?

      September 29, 2013 at 5:06 am |
    • Milton Platt

      So how do you explain all the people who are not religious or worship a different supernatural being who also have morals....and on top of that do not promote racism, trample women's rights, or kills others in the name of their god?
      I would say they have the edge on the religiously moral. The religious only are moral because they are afraid of an invisible man in the sky. Apparently they actually have no moral,inclinations of their own at all. I hear them continually saying that without their particular god to threaten them, they would have no moral compass at all.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Milton Platt

      Can you explain how you are using the word "justify" in your post? Would not doing the right thing toward your fellow man be justified?

      September 29, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  6. beelzebub

    Didn't this guy used to host Family Feud?

    September 29, 2013 at 2:10 am |
  7. Jeff

    The point he misses is that one of the most powerful drives behind human culture and history is religion and that he is himself, as are all atheists, embued with the very moral compass developed by religious experience and so deeply engrained within the culture they grow up in. The vastly improved moral compass he talks about is also in no large part due to the excesses we've experienced from non religious drives and events in our history. While certainly men of religion have done a lot of wroing in the name of god, atheists have too in the name of humanity. One need only look at the results of the French Revolution which basicly ate its own in the beginning of the modern period, to the results of atheistic communism in the 20th century with its tens of millions of deaths–all this in the name of humanity and progress. I think his focus should not be so much on the evils of religion, but on the eveil men do–regardless of the soundness of their moral compass.

    September 29, 2013 at 2:11 am |
    • donna

      Jeff, Dawkins neither misses nor denies the impact that religion has on our world, including our sense of morality. Far from it. You clearly aren't familiar with his works.

      September 29, 2013 at 2:34 am |
    • fanninjt

      Feeling good after helping someone isn't a religious experience. Feeling bad about hurting someone isn't a religious experience. It's the natural feeling most humans have; it's called empathy. It's the basis for religion, not the other way around. You don't need religion to have empathy and therefore a moral compass.

      Atheism, in itself, doesn't have a moral code like religion does. That's because atheism is not a religion that forces a specific moral code. It may seem like a religion, but atheism isn't. A good analogy is the color black. Black is the absence of light (like atheism is the absence of belief of god/religion), and we see black as its own color. But even though it appears as a color, it still isn't light. People like Stalin, who were atheists, didn't lack a moral code because they were atheists. They were just atheists who lacked a moral code. The point is; your morality and religious beliefs are seperate. You can be a moral atheist, or an immoral atheist (Stalin), just like you can be a moral theist or an immoral theist.

      September 29, 2013 at 4:30 am |
  8. edward

    Its very ignorant uneducated people that cannot properly understand the Bible. So what they cant understand they attack. Americans are becoming more ignorant everyday! So the Bible which is full of wisdom and knowledge they cannot understand because of there stupidity. The atheist are at the top of the list for ignorance!! Dawkins definitely proves you can still be alive with half a brain!! Its unbelievable that many people that have the highest degrees are also at the top of the list with the least common sense and very little intelligence. The Bible when they read it points out there ignorance so they attack it. As the low IQ people will attack me for speaking the truth!

    September 29, 2013 at 2:26 am |
    • Lloyd

      Dear Edward, how is it that I believe I read that 94% of scientists are atheists? It would seem the higher the level of understanding, the higher your ability to question things much of society does not have the understanding to question the higher the likelihood you will be an Atheist.

      September 29, 2013 at 3:30 am |
      • Steve

        Religion is about personal belief. No religion can force you to believe, it is the choice that we have. There is no smart-dumb behind the concept. Just ask yourself why you believe or don't believe. If there was a time machine and you could go back to the different times, would seeing the seas part for Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, or Jesus calming the seas during the storm, change your mind about religion and God? What if you walked the Ark with Noah to feed the animals, would you rethink your position?

        September 29, 2013 at 8:05 am |
      • Realist

        yes,, religion does make people believe.. how? They start the victim when a child, the brainwashing begins.. first they call them sinners, talk about fiery burning hell,, ever been burned before? Now imagine an eternity of fire. Not to forget the christians put monsters in hell to make it worse.

        This is called childhood trauma!!! Get it!!! It stunts the brains development. As adults they fight harder to preserve the fears and avoid logic. Yes, that's what traumatizing children causes;. irrational people.

        September 29, 2013 at 8:31 am |
      • Pig in a Poke

        @Steve so if your "time machine" were to go back and you found that those things didn't happen would your belief in God not exist?

        September 29, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Pig in a Poke

      And so you get to attack other peoples views as ignorant and stupid because we don't believe the same as you? And then you try to keep me from responding to your attacks by saying that I have a low IQ? Really? You must be a Christian.

      September 29, 2013 at 4:27 am |
    • Knoweiout

      Edward, thanks for the enlightenment and your very own demonstration of ignorance.

      "Its very ignorant uneducated people that cannot properly understand the Bible. So what they cant understand they attack."

      Your 'one fits all' claim disqualifies you from any serious discussion. You say 'very ignorant uneducated' blah, blah 'properly understand the Bible'....what a load of crap.

      What is your definition of properly understanding the Bible? And what are your credentials, degrees, certificates, etc. that grant you the right to say something that all encompassing? By your statement it sounds like the world's Muslims, Hindus, Jews, etc. are ignorant because they obviously don't properly understand the Bible.

      It's sheep that follow a religion without ever questioning how it fits into the best interests of being human.

      'Religion' can often be the blind leading the blind for their own selfish, power hungry reasons. They take a book, dismiss what they don't necessarily agree with, edit a chapter here and there, explain the unexplainable with fairy tales and lead their flock of sheep into 'their' world. Remember Jim Jones....a religious leader that gave a whole new meaning to Koolaid. I guess he did not properly understand the Bible, or maybe, just maybe he was a complete, utter selfish, power hungry nutbag. And he's just one of many over the past 5,000 years.

      Yes, the Bible is full of wisdom and knowledge; so are the Koran, Torah, etc...but they also have their fair share of fairy tales to explain what the authors couldn't explain. Seems to me that there are a couple Marvel comic books that share all these qualities.

      In general, all these religions are based on a 'faith to believe'. Not one shares any scientific proof or even a reasonable clue of any existance of the supreme being or power that is the core of that faith.

      BTW, I was raised Catholic with an added Jesuit education. But in the end I guess am just another one of the those 'ignorant uneducated people'.

      Finally, just in case you missed the recent news....and in spite of previous thoughts and beliefs...the moon is not made of cheese and the earth is NOT the center of the universe. These have been 'scientifically proven'!

      September 29, 2013 at 4:28 am |
    • Phil

      Good one Edward. The smartest person I have ever met has a Phd in Physics and a prof at a local university. He is an athiest.

      September 29, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  9. anon

    I'm an atheist as well. And this guy supports Government as the new religion. Government or science as a religion is as bad as any other religion he rails against.

    September 29, 2013 at 2:31 am |
  10. john smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    September 29, 2013 at 2:47 am |
    • Nordenfeldt

      Remarkably, almost everything you just said is complete and utter fiction. You would be better at making a case if you didnt lie so much.

      September 29, 2013 at 5:59 am |
    • CCC

      You seem to be a little confused. The topic here has to do do with religion vs atheism, not politics. At least try to keep your mind from wandering long enough to stay on-topic.

      Oh, and by the way, the U.S. is NOT the first nation to MISTAKENLY shoot down an airliner filled with innocent civilians, for which I am deeply sorry; we are the SECOND. The first such incident was the Korean Airlines Flight 007 incident, in which the Soviet Union shot down a Boeing 747, which had strayed into its airspace, becoming confused with an American intelligence-gathering aircraft. If you can't stay on-topic, at least get at least ONE alleged "fact" straight.

      September 29, 2013 at 6:59 am |
    • Milton Platt

      John smith.........did you notice that your post has nothing to do with the article you posted under? I thought not.

      September 29, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • no

      Did you miss the memo? We're sticking our nose around the world where it doesn't belong for a reason. As long as the world is mad at us for little things, they might not start WW3. Lets not forget America was pulled kicking and screaming into your other wars (and still won them for you).

      November 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  11. AtheistsAreEvils

    It's not a religion or atheism or else that makes a person being uneducated or a serial killer or even a good person. It's the person mental stability that will decide how he or she will interpret what hes or shes being said or how that person will interpret whatever he or she will be reading. I will state an example, if someone has a friend and he tell his friend that he hates his next door neighbour, his friend could if because of his mental sate turn around and kill that neighbour thinking that's what his friend asked him to do in an indirect way. This is just one example out of many. The mental state of a person is what makes that person being a good or a bad person. Another person can read the bible and by his own interpretation turn around kill 500 people thinking that it is what God wants us to do. The same thing goes for an atheist, Darwins give his view about christians and that same person could turn around and kill 25 christians because he or she thought that it's what Dawkins asked them to do.

    The mental instability of a person will decide what actions that person will do.That is why i believe that a preacher or a person like Dawkins should be careful in the way he address his views to the public. There will always be crazy people taking them too seriously and will interpret this in a way that a normal person wouldn't. Preachers and people like Dawkins should be careful in their choices of words and the context in which they put these words. There will always be people with mental instability that will make actions that will bring confusion among these groups. Because of these actions there will always be wars and attacks from both sides. Don't get me wrong, i'm not pointing to atheists or christianity only. I'm talking about every form of religions or non religious groups. The blaming and name calling from both sides are always the result of an unstable mental person actions. Some foolish religious person did something stupid,then the non religious groups will accuse the religious one, and vice versa. Some people saw Hitler as a leader that could fill everyone hopes and desire, those same people killed in the name of Hitler. Same thing can happen for Hawkins or the Pope.

    That's why religious and non religious people should be always careful. Any person who identify themselves has the solution to all the problems should be closely monitored to see if that person is having radical or extreme views. There will always be sheep, but those who take their precautions will avoid this kind situation. You don't have to wear a tinfoil hat or being paranoid about everything. Just be open minded and be also aware of this will be more than sufficient Never follow someone who promise you or the world a solution to the problems. Always study that person first, see what his or her motives are, does that person is having extremist or radical views about races, religions, non religious groups etc...If someone recognized this as being a part of the problems with the constant fighting between religious and non religious groups, then that person has evolved a little more than he or she was before recognizing these facts. If someone see this as a non-sense or this not being part of the problems, then that person is not an open minded person and therefore will never evolve in the right direction for a better world.

    September 29, 2013 at 3:34 am |
    • AtheistsAreEvils

      And by the way, don't judge me because of the name i'm using, it was just to make some fanatic people to react to my name.

      September 29, 2013 at 3:43 am |
      • christian witchcraft

        yes,, you are a bit immature

        September 29, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • no

      Here's where you went wrong...
      "Darwins give his view about christians and that same person could turn around and kill 25 christians because he or she thought that it's what Dawkins asked them to do."

      First of all, you're so foaming-at-the-mouth crazy for religion that you put Darwin where you meant Dawkin. And it wasn't a typo, because "r" and "k" aren't even close on the keyboard. Secondly, we can find a lot of examples of christians murdering in the name of god, where is your example of murder in the name of Atheism where the murderer claimed himself that it was some Atheistic reason to kill? We hear all the time things like "I drowned my babies cuz god told me to, he spoke to me".

      November 22, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  12. worldcares

    People, who feel hate in their heart have not progressed.

    September 29, 2013 at 4:20 am |
    • Elliott Carlin

      I agree with you about bigots like Dawkins.

      September 29, 2013 at 8:05 am |
      • Realist

        I understand your need to fear those with open and logical minds as Dawkins. You are a good christian because you preserve the fears planted inside you.

        September 29, 2013 at 8:33 am |
  13. Marvin

    Yet, every day we seem to be slipping further and further into chaos as we slip further and further away from God. In the purest form without all the silly rules, God = Love. We now love our things instead of each other.

    September 29, 2013 at 5:01 am |
    • no

      The people making the big decisions are all still religious nutjobs. Things will get better when logical humans are voted into and appointed offices of all levels in government.

      Or did you want to blame the country's problems on these mom-n-pop "Atheists" who just work a dayjob and represent less than 3% of the country? Seems kind of silly. But silly is your thing isn't it.

      November 22, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  14. john

    Religion is no moral compass. One can go wrong in religion also. If.leaders of religion goes wrong and places emphases on the wrong things then society is affected.They have taught about God but it is important to be accountable .I do not think any one religion is responsible for wrongs .
    A person's moral compass lies within him.

    September 29, 2013 at 5:29 am |
  15. Dick Wiggler

    Oh, I know the answer! I know why Amerifats are more religious than other civilized countries.
    It's because they're stupid. They vote against their own health care, they gun each other down regularly, and they elect insane, racist politicians that want to drown their government in the bathtub! They're a bunch of retards.

    September 29, 2013 at 6:14 am |
    • no

      It's true. Most of us are like that. The few, like me, that don't do any of those things are kind of stuck here in la-la-land. 🙁 America is the only place that will take people in as citizens without some extreme reason so we have nowhere to go.

      November 22, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Boy this guy is self deluded...we're kinder now? There are more murders commited every day worldwide than at any other time in human history. Yes corporatl punishment is a part of Biblical justice. Humans have decided it is too "cruel" and therefore let the nasty people among us roam free to commit heinous crimes again. You call that a moral compass? I call it total lack of morality and justice. What this guy says borders on criminal. Politicians will indeed court atheist just as they have courted all the other criminal and corrupt dreggs of society. No big mystery or surprise there. God help you all!

    September 29, 2013 at 6:37 am |
    • christian witchcraft

      society is much better than ever before. Most importantly,, people aren't afraid to expose evil. ie Catholic church clergy abuse was covered up throughout the life of the church. Today, fewer children abused thanks to victims and families (most left the church and dropped out of religion but demanded the church clean up itself)

      September 29, 2013 at 7:27 am |
  17. Aryugaetu

    I would not base my life on 2000 year old tales, any more than I would read a 2000 year old book on the care of horses in order to fix my Honda. If you wish to spend every 7th day learning about the care and feeding of horses, that is fine, but don’t espouse that I am not a traveler because I refuse to shove hay into my gas tank.

    As a society, we’d be much further along if we could harness the energy-to-mass transformations within a Higgs boson field (think Star Trek replicator), rather than waiting for an ancient mythical god to cure hunger by zapping up a pile of food for the billions of starving people; the people that the alleged caring and empathetic religious societies have ignored.

    Keep praying. It keeps you out of the way so the rest of us can actually do some work.

    September 29, 2013 at 6:50 am |
    • no

      The Earth can currently supply more food than twice its current population could consume. And it could do that for thousands of years. It's the governments that stop this from happening. Governments that are 99% controlled, run, and operated by people who believe in flying spaghetti monsters. These people don't care about your starving children; because 'god' will take care of them in the end afterall.

      November 22, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  18. sharkusg

    Nothing like having a Godless heathen preach at you....

    September 29, 2013 at 7:24 am |
    • no

      Really? There's nothing else like that? You can't think of any other group that does it more often and in more offensive and personal ways? Your full of sh1t because I had 2 on my porch yesterday!

      November 22, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  19. Terik Ororke

    Everyone who has a preference wants to be recognized or protected - and they get what they want in the U.S., except for Christians.

    September 29, 2013 at 7:29 am |
  20. Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

    We need look no further than the range of the tones in the posting here to see that even practicing the simplest moral of civility in a discussion fails with both atheists and believers. If one is wiling to be caustic in an anonymous discussion, what else is one willing to do? As the saying goes, can you do the right thing when no one is looking? Where are your moral compasses now? What this demonstrates is that religion or reason are only valuable if one takes the time to learn AND practice.

    September 29, 2013 at 7:37 am |
  21. LWJR

    Ben Stein dehorned this guy. He has bigger fantasies than any religionist. Totally deranged.

    September 29, 2013 at 7:41 am |
  22. Frank S

    I don't know if I am an atheist, since I don't know what or who made the universe. But I am pretty sure that if there is a God, you shouldn't count on Him to come down and save your behind if you get into a jam. We are all on our own, get used to it.

    September 29, 2013 at 7:43 am |
    • Realist

      a rather sad and depressing post on your part.

      The GOOD news is that likely the universe is filled with life!!! And there are likely an infinite number of universes.

      And what is really cool is that you are part of it all!

      September 29, 2013 at 8:04 am |
  23. christian witchcraft

    we all need to stop and be thankful for our founding fathers. If they hadn't kept religion out of government, it'd be like middle east here today,, except with christians.

    Yes, over the years, religions have been trying to get a foothold though.

    Most important is that our country's secular society has tamed religions here. And even more important is that USA law trumps religious rules. In fact religious rules are no more important than kid's tree house rules.

    September 29, 2013 at 7:46 am |
    • Elliott Carlin

      Public education in action...

      September 29, 2013 at 8:04 am |
      • Realist

        bet you didn't care of the clergy abuse in parochial schools,, Bet you would deflect it all too. Like; others did it too, there were only a few,.. and the cover ups really didn't happen.

        BTW,, in public schools when pedophilia took place,, police were called and most importantly, the child received immediate care placing the victim back on path to their potential.

        However in parochial schools they threatened the child from telling,, from the diocese down. many of those children lter became mentally ill and others committed suicide simply because they were never helped in coping.

        September 29, 2013 at 8:13 am |
  24. pastorjsalcido

    Have you ever seen or encountered a demon-possessed person?
    When you look into the eyes of a demon-possessed person, you know you are looking at a non-human, highly malevolent being. Most people who don't believe in God have never had an encounter with the spiritual plane. If you had, you would find faith a lifeline rather than a crutch. The name of Jesus is the most powerful and effective thing you can use to combat demons. I have seen this first hand. Most people disbelieve because they want a reason to live a life of no accountability. Keep tellin' your lies Dawkins, I'll keep fighting the darkness that you license by your disbelief.

    September 29, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • Realist

      you have quite a fantasy there. Let me help,, accountability is by secular society. Secular society even makes religions accountable. On the other hand, religions like to control, create fantasy and use fears to capture the weak. <– rather primitive still.

      September 29, 2013 at 7:54 am |
  25. Realist

    wow, I can see it now. Two aliens visiting the planet thousands of years ago.. One nudged the other, with a chuckle, and said. 'Want to play the god/jesus thing here too?'

    September 29, 2013 at 7:51 am |
  26. Jack Granger

    Dawkins errs in his first paragraph about stoning people for breaking Mosaic Law. We are not prohibited from eating shellfish, etc because we are under a new covenant. not Mosaic Law. This has been pointed out to him but he still goes around babbling about old testament law which no longer applies to Christians.

    September 29, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • Realist

      yeah,, they do like to change their bible huh.. Let's see,, the bible was created by a bunch of men who included what they wanted, destroyed what they didn't want and changed a few things. BTW,, this was done well after the supposed events took place.

      In fact even the jesus thing doesn't hold up today as Pilot hated jews (like chistians did over the past 2000 years). Pilot crucified jews and demanded they stay on the cross, and never buried. The Jews were to stay their as an example, until there was nothing left but bones and no flesh.

      September 29, 2013 at 7:58 am |
      • Realist

        'stay there' meant

        September 29, 2013 at 7:59 am |
  27. Yankee Doodle

    But if our politicians courted atheism, what would happen to their Satan worship?

    September 29, 2013 at 8:00 am |
  28. Elliott Carlin

    as the famed John Lennox said, you can't get an ought from an it.
    Dawkins thinks we're subject to the whim of our DNA.

    September 29, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • Realist

      both our DNA and childhood trauma are the two most important elements in making us who we are..

      In fact religions call those who are mentally ill 'sinners',, how crazy and uncaring is that?

      September 29, 2013 at 8:06 am |
  29. Jack Granger

    WE are all sinners in need of a Savior.

    September 29, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Realist

      yes,, calling people sinners is the first part in reducing them.. A familiar technique in brainwashing.

      Now imagine if you told people they were good and caring instead???? That would have a far greater positive impact on society.

      September 29, 2013 at 8:25 am |
  30. Realist

    at the least we must save our children from these crippling religions. Looking down the posts here, you can see in many of the religious's comments. It is almost as if part of their brain development was stunted. They are unable to use good reasoning, as if reasoning on religious issues is blocked. They need to make excuses for all the errors in religion without facing the errors which crumble the very foundation of their religion.

    This same thing can be witness in the later adult of a once abused child. I suppose,, hell, burning fire, death, a gory picture of a guy dead on a cross, being called a sinner,,might be too much for children. At least it should be. In fact religion should be treated as p-o-rn. Let your kids grow up and develop a FULL mind,, without the fears and witchcraft. PLEASE,, stop traumatizing your children. It's no different than brainwashing!!!!!

    September 29, 2013 at 8:23 am |
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