The Dawkins Delusion

ANTHONY WHITFIELD

Richard Dawkins has recently sparked controversy over his twitter comments regarding Ahmed Mohamed’s arrest in Texas for bringing a bomb to school, which later turned out to be a clock. This is the most recent skirmish in his lifelong war on religion. Some say it risks destroying his legacy as an exemplary evolutionary biologist and writer, but is this a fight worth becoming a martyr for?

At this point I feel you need to know that I am an atheist. However I was brought up as a Roman catholic in an Italian family, so I feel I have a somewhat unique perspective when it comes to a debate like this.

Dawkins argues that ‘evolution is fundamentally hostile to religion’ [1] and that an ‘understanding of Darwinism is deeply corrosive to the religious faith’ [1]. Whilst it is true that religion, evolution and scientific reasoning in general are deeply conflicting, they can coexist. However, this requires concessions on both sides. Scientific reasoning dictates that you must make decisions based on evidence and logic, so for example, a good scientist would have to accept that the dinosaurs existed based on the overwhelming evidence. This would mean compromising their religious faith in that god created humans in present form, but this is not an uncommon view point, with 31% [2] of Americans believing in evolution that was guided by god. Unfortunately, this leaves 42% [2] who believe otherwise; the creationists.

Creationists have been the focus of Dawkins wrath since the start of his campaign- the disdain between them is considered to be mutual. I agree with Dawkins that religion should not be able to censor knowledge or indoctrinate school children, which unfortunately is a tactic used by creationists in the US. However, as the atheist movement has gained support, I cannot help but feel many atheists have started to commit the same sins as the creationists.

In my opinion, the cardinal sin of many atheists (Dawkins especially) is their zealotry. Similarly to the Spanish inquisition, militant atheists have also persecuted many for their personal beliefs- taking to twitter and other forms of social media in order to attack religion and religious people. I was at one time guilty of this as well, but since then I have come to realise that religion is not the harbinger of evil many think it is. It’s true many groups do horrendous things in the name of religion, need I not mention Boko Haram or ISIL, but I feel that these atrocities are not a direct result of any particular religious beliefs, but instead simply a result of humanity’s wanton self-destruction.

So, I put to you that it’s not religion that causes the wars and the hatred, but just ordinary people who fear what they do not understand and find justification for their fears in their religion. Without religion these people would still be ignorant of others ideologies, be it political stance or sexuality. I believe these people would still find a reason to discriminate against others, this is why in my opinion, Dawkins is fighting a futile battle. A brilliant mind and vital energy is simply wasted. It is a fantasy to believe that we could right so many wrongs in the world by simply changing one thing. Even if religion was removed, evil and ignorance would still exist, for humanity would still exist.

 

[1] Militant atheism: Richard Dawkins:  TED2002 · 29:10 · Filmed Feb 2002, accessed 11/10/2015.

[2] In U.S., 42% Believe Creationist View of Human Origins, Frank Newport, Survey performed by ‘GALLUP’, accessed 11/10/2015.

The Dawkins Delusion

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