Exposé on Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion


Vanguard

By Douglas Anele

Richard Dawkins

Dawkins admits, for example, that Jesus’ doctrine of “turning the other cheek was” way ahead of his time, and anticipated Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King by two thousand years. Yet the family values Jesus exhibited sometimes were not worthy of emulation: his brusqueness to his mother and prescription that his disciples must abandon their families and everything else and follow him are exemplary in this regard (p. 284).

The author highlights and correctly criticised absurdities in the doctrine of original sin, and described the Christian notion of atonement as “vicious, sado-masochistic and repellent” (p. 287). Dawkins reiterates the point, often deliberately ignored by Christian apologists, that much of the moral consideration for others advocated in The Holy Bible was originally intended to apply only to a narrowly defined group. He acknowledges that there is some improvement in moral values globally, but attributes it not to a single factor such as religion but to the complex interplay of disparate forces.

Chapter 7 ended with the observation that religion has motivated so many brutal wars, whereas atheism, or absence of belief, hasn’t, because a more plausible motive for waging war “is unshakeable faith that one’s own religion is the only true one, reinforced by a holy book that explicitly condemns all heretics and followers of rival religions to death, and explicitly promises that the soldiers of God will go straight to a martyrs’ heaven” (p. 316).

Chapter 8 has the interesting title “What’s wrong with religion? Why be so hostile?” In it, Dawkins defends his anti-religious atheistic stance. He distinguishes between fundamentalism and passion. A genuine fundamentalist believes a proposition not on the basis of evidence but because the proposition in question is contained in a purported holy book. Dawkins attributes his passionate defence of evolution to the fact that religious fundamentalists are missing the impressive, awesome, evidence in favour of the theory because of blind adherence to antiquated ancient literature.

Moreover, anyone who accepts a proposition on the basis of scientific evidence knows what it would take to make him change his mind, and would readily do so if the necessary evidence were forthcoming. But a genuine believer can never do that. Hard core fundamentalist religion is antithetical to scientific education of the youth, by teaching children right from the beginning that unquestioning faith is a virtue (p. 323). On the dark side of religious absolutism, Dawkins points out that in Muslim countries conversion to another religion or making statements which religious authorities consider “blasphemous” is punishable by death. He cites the case of Sadiq Abdul Karim Malallah who, in September 3, 1992, was publicly beheaded in Saudi Arabia “after being lawfully convicted of apostasy and blasphemy” (p. 325).

Dawkins also acknowledges the existence of fundamentalist “Taliban mentality” in Christian countries, particularly the United States. He also refers to the fallacious arguments religious bigots marshal against homosexuality and abortion. One of such bad reasoning is the anti-abortionist argument (or Great Beethoven Fallacy) that abortion is wrong because it deprives a baby of the opportunity of a full human life in the future (p. 337).

According to Dawkins, Peter and Jean Medawar have blown the argument out of the water by arguing that, if taken to its logical conclusion, it means that we deprive a human soul of the gift of existence anytime we fail to seize an opportunity for sexual intercourse (p. 339). Dawkins condemned the so-called “moderates” in religion, on the ground that they see nothing wrong in teaching children the dangerous notion that believing certain propositions without question or justification but based solely on faith is good. He maintains, and I agree completely, that inculcating in children unquestioned faith primes them to grow up into potentially lethal weapons for future jihads, crusades and suicide bombers.

Having argued trenchantly in chapter 8 that indoctrination and brainwashing of children with dogmatic religious doctrines is a grievous wrong, Dawkins followed it up in chapter 9 with a dissection of religion-motivated child abuse and how the dangers associated with faith can be avoided. He tells the sad story of how, in 1858, a six-year old child of Jewish parents living in Bologna, Italy, named Edgardo Mortara was legally abducted by the papal police in accordance with orders from the Inquisition. The little boy was brutally taken away from his weeping mother and distraught father to the Catechumens in Rome and reared as a Catholic. Apart from occasional brief visits under close watch by priests he was never seen again by his parents (p. 349).

Dawkins highlights the physical and mental abuses children are subjected to in the name of religion, and decries the nonchalant attitude towards, and ignoble defence, by the clergy and some highly-placed individuals of those who committed atrocities against children in the name or religion (pp. 350-379). He criticises the hypocrisy of accommodating extremist religious absurdities and deadly practices such as human sacrifices in the name of “cultural and religious diversity”; he laments the wastage of human and material resources for religious purposes.

Dawkins highlights the dangers inherent in deliberately twisting ideas culled from science to suit preconceived religious beliefs. However, although he was highly critical of the complacency and mis-education of children in scientific knowledge by faith-based educational institutions, he acknowledges the educational benefits of studying comparative religion as a part of literary culture. On pp. 383-385, he lists some useful and handy phrases, idioms and clichés from the King James Authorised Version of The Holy Bible.

Surely, he says, “ignorance of the Bible is bound to impoverish one’s appreciation of English literature.” Thus, he concludes that an atheistic world-view does not justify abolition of The Holy Bible and other sacred books from the educational system. According to Dawkins, “we can retain a sentimental loyalty to the cultural and literary traditions of, say, Judaism, Anglicanism or Islam, and even participate in religious rituals such as marriages and funerals, without buying into the supernatural beliefs that historically went along with those traditions. We can give up belief in God while not losing touch with a treasured heritage” (p. 387).

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Pyramidion’s editorial policy.

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11 thoughts on “Exposé on Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion

  1. Dawkins wants to replace God with Science. With which virtues I ask?
    I think God is fine just as is Richard. You in the other hand could use some improvement.
    You might want to start with humility…

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  2. My comment is directed to Dawkins. I’m not sure what he is trying to accomplish in his life, but his total and sole focus seems to be directed towards attacking religious fundamentalists, over and over again, forever and ever amen.

    There is no reason for anyone to be an Atheist in this day and age. For example, the very profound nature of NDE’s offer a glimpse into the greater reality of which we are all apart.

    Anyone with a dose of humility and an open heart will accept the experience relayed by NDEr as the gift that it is. I am so grateful and awestruck whenever I hear of a personal experience, and come to understand the life altering, extremely profound affect these experiences have had on those who have had them. I know what they are and what they mean.

    Mr. Dawkins is living in the dark ages. I just don’t understand him at all. He belittles good hearted, well inteneded people of faith. I know there is God. I’ve known as long as I can remember, despite being raised in a staunchly atheist family. I just knew…

    As far as I am concerned, all roads lead to God, as there is nowhere where God is not.

    Mr. Dawkins is the one that is delussional, for believing in a reality which is not.

    Anyway, that’s my rant.

    Keep up the good work. I’ll make a point of stopping in to have a look from time to time.

    All the best.

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  3. Jesus loves you- go to the church of your choice, and wait! (And- by the way- god has contacted me personally. He told me to tell you, that if you do not immediately send ten bucks to this email address, he is taking me ‘home’.)
    According to Packwood’s Law: ‘Sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from EVIL.’ ‘Nuff said.

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  4. Well, I feel as though I should weigh in on this article, as well, since I have always been interested and opinionated about religion. It is interesting that the subject of religion has gained the greatest number of replies of any of your posts, and the replies seem to be by Americans. That doesn’t surprise me. As an American, I know that we are some of the most religious people in the world. That has long appalled me, because in spite of this religiosity, we Americans have allowed our government and our corporations to rape, pillage and destroy the rest of the world in our name for more than a hundred years, all the while proclaiming our “exceptionalism” as the “City on the Hill,” “A Light to the Nations,” the “Arsenal of Democracy,” and so on. We are like Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Grey, presenting a beautiful, youthful, energetic facade to the world while the portrait of our real being – our soul – decays and rots in secret, out of sight and mind, unseen and seemingly ignored by the world. Now that America has become a dictatorship, the evil we formerly hid and denied has become blatant and even more aggressive and brutal. Astonishingly, most of our people, even though the evidence of our evil deeds in the world has become fearsomely obvious, continue to deny it and proclaim “We’re the good guys.””We’re fighting evil and tyranny in the world.” It would be ridiculous if it weren’t so tragic and horrific. If Jesus really is “up there” watching us, we who insist on calling ourselves by his name, he must be shaking his head and weeping uncontrollably.

    One could argue, and I have, that what is happening to America now is a judgment from God against our hypocritical “exceptionalism.” For more than one hundred years we have gone around the world overthrowing democratically elected governments and installing fascist dictators in their stead. We have enslaved foreign economies to feed our bloated standard of living while creating poverty and destitution in the lands that provided us the resources we needed for that standard of living. Now, it is being done to us. It’s exactly what we deserve.

    When America finally goes down in flames, ravaged by economic collapse, revolution and civil war, and those few of its people who are still left sit amid the ashes and ruins of its former “greatness,” the rest of the world will celebrate. “Fallen,” they will say. “Fallen is Babylon the Great.”

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  5. Sorry, I got off the subject in the previous comment. The subject, of course, was Richard Dawkins. As I’ve said elsewhere on this blog, I do believe there is a “Supreme Being,” but that all of our religions have been created to “manage” mankind and actually PREVENT our spiritual advancement. Nevertheless, I believe they all have some truth, and are, to a great extent, the record of mankind’s painful search for the holy and sacred. As Dr. Ezzat has shown repeatedly here, ancient Egypt was the birthplace of the ethics that grounds Judaism, Islam and Christianity, and there is accumulating evidence that ancient Egypt was, in the remotest “prehistory,” far more scientifically and spiritually advanced than we are today.
    In contrast, Dawkins’ cold, sterile rationality presents a cold, merciless view of the Universe that, I believe, is wrong. For me, the single greatest piece of evidence from science itself that suggests most strongly that this view is wrong is the discovery that subatomic particles react to observation. They act differently when they are being observed than when they are not being observed. This is clear evidence, to me, that the Universe, far from being a cold wasteland of of pitiless forces, is CONSCIOUS. Indeed, it may be argued that it is CONSCIOUSNESS! If the Universe is conscious and reacts to OUR consciousness, that indicates that human beings are extraordinary creatures indeed, and far, far more than mere animals. In fact, it appears that humans were designed precisely to explore and understand the Cosmos, and to seek the Intelligence Consciousness that is responsible for it all.

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  6. Pingback: An atheist at Christmas: Oh come all ye faithless « Pyramidion

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