The Atheist

Excellent Salon interview with evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins.

The atheist

Still, so many people resist believing in evolution. Where does the resistance come from?

It comes, I’m sorry to say, from religion. And from bad religion. You won’t find any opposition to the idea of evolution among sophisticated, educated theologians. It comes from an exceedingly retarded, primitive version of religion, which unfortunately is at present undergoing an epidemic in the United States. Not in Europe, not in Britain, but in the United States.

My American friends tell me that you are slipping towards a theocratic Dark Age. Which is very disagreeable for the very large number of educated, intelligent and right-thinking people in America. Unfortunately, at present, it’s slightly outnumbered by the ignorant, uneducated people who voted Bush in.

Edited to add the graphic. I didn’t make it and don’t know who did. Please let me know if you do.

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7 Responses to The Atheist

  1. Pingback: Jude Noise Blog

  2. Nathan says:

    The other half of the problem, though, is people like Dawkins himself, who propound evolution as the great triumph of atheism. Which leaves a religiously-minded person with a false dichotomy; because he has been told for years that evolution is incompatible with religious faith, and since he has religious faith, he must deny evolution.

    If Dawkins really wants evolution to be more widely accepted, he needs to stop using it as a stick to beat religion with, and instead present it as what it is: A science of biological origins.

  3. Lanf says:

    I’m in accord with Nathan – I have no trouble reconciling evolution and faith. The militant athiest position adopted by Dawkins seems to be horribly counter-productive…you will win no converts by insisting “evolution is fact and only the stupid or credulous believe in God.”

    ‘Course, not knowing anything about Dawkins, I have no idea if this is his usual spiel or if the specific questions in the interview had a lot to do with the tone.

  4. Brian says:

    Great article that embodies my current train of thought on religion & science. I take small issue with a couple of his what I consider to be overly aggressive statements, but the overall gist is dead-on.

    Having been an avid church goer myself, even to the point of co-leading a singles ministry with my wife, I do know both sides of this debate quite well. This embodies why I am currently so frustrated by the religious: “People brought up to believe in faith and private revelation cannot be persuaded by evidence to change their minds”.

    Most of the people I used to hang out with were the educated people Dawkins referred to, in that they were not so ignorant as to refute evolutionary processes at all. They accepted them in fact. However, they accepted, and yes, without evidence, that God created everything, and jsut “let fly”. I too at one time held that belief, as it’s about the only way a scientifically-minded person can accept both evolution and a god.

    Having gone to the destined-for-crispy-hell atheistic side for over 5 years now, I don’t see going back. Evidence is key to science. When new evidence comes up, laws and cannons may change, but it’s because such new evidence has caused us to reframe how the world actually operates. In religion, evidence is the nefarious plot of Satan to detract the remnant. ;) Emotion is *everything* to the religious. Sure morals have their place, but morals can and should be distinct from emotion-based religion.

    Didn’t most of “educated” humanity once embrace, not that long ago, unswaggering belief in Neptune, Hera, Athena, and Mercury? Hopefully, the next religious iteration our world culture evolves into will be more mature, away from emotions-based faiths in the incredulous. I hope we grow up soon.

  5. Steven Berg says:

    Er, does not Dawkins say, in the very passage which Dave quotes, that the theory of evolution is comptatible with religion? Not that he’s going to win any converts (if that’s what he’s trying to do) by calling fundamentalism retarded and primitive, but he’s not saying that everybody who believes in Jesus is an idiot.

  6. Lanf says:

    The relevant passage from the interview for Steven:
    A delusion is something that people believe in despite a total lack of evidence. Religion is scarcely distinguishable from childhood delusions like the “imaginary friend” and the bogeyman under the bed. Unfortunately, the God delusion possesses adults, and not just a minority of unfortunates in an asylum. The word “delusion” also carries negative connotations, and religion has plenty of those.

    Regardless of how true it might be that evolution is not in conflict with religion, statements like that enflame. It engages their emotions, makes them angry. It’s very hard to reason with an angry person – thus I stand by the statement that Dawkins is hurting his cause by mixing pro-evolution and anti-religion.

  7. Nathan says:

    And by the way, the graphic came from an Onion article; fundamentalist parents were up in arms about the teaching of cosmological heat death in the schools. “An entropic world is NOT the kind of world I want to raise my children in!”