Fri 1st Aug 2014 | Last updated: Thu 31st Jul 2014 at 16:39pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Comment & Blogs

Dawkins predicts religion’s early death: the Pope warns that ‘in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of being snuffed out’. But they are saying very different things

The Holy Father is leading a renewal of the faith, not predicting its demise

By on Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Benedict XVI leaves vespers at St Paul Outside the Walls last week (Photo: CNS)

Benedict XVI leaves vespers at St Paul Outside the Walls last week (Photo: CNS)

I don’t suppose many of my readers are also readers of the Times of India, so most of you will not have seen the following, which appeared on January 24 under the headline “Look forward to the death of organised religion: Richard Dawkins”:

JAIPUR: Richard Dawkins – scientist, bestselling author and the world’s foremost atheist – comes across as mild-mannered and genial but doesn’t believe in pulling his punches. He certainly didn’t on Monday at the Jaipur Lit Fest as he blasted the “lamentable disgrace” of Salman Rushdie’s enforced absence. He also launched a broadside against the “virus of faith”, and said he looked forward to the “complete death of organised religion” in his lifetime.

Dawkins singled out various irrational beliefs, including “Santa Claus, baby Jesus and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer” and then homed in on the Catholic Church:

Dawkins pointed out that in the 16th century, some Catholics in England had written to a senior figure in the Vatican asking if it was acceptable to murder Elizabeth I. The answer was that since the Queen had led millions away from Catholicism, her murder would be a commendable act. Dawkins didn’t spell it out, but two points were clear- he wasn’t targeting a faith but all of them, and nothing much has changed in almost 500 years. “Religion is deadly because it makes people willing to die and kill for it without a shred of evidence to back up their beliefs,” he said.

Well, that needn’t detain us for very long. We all know that Pius V’s bull, Regnans in Excelsis (1570), which declared Elizabeth I a heretic and released her subjects from their allegiance to her, was a massive political blunder, since Elizabeth, who had thus far tolerated Catholic worship in private, now started actively persecuting Catholics, a persecution whose effects lasted for over 400 years and are with us still (Dawkins himself is in a sense riding on the back of it, as we saw in his campaign against the Pope’s visit to England). Dawkins claims to rule his life by the light of reason: but to say that Pius V’s disastrous blunder disproves his religion is entirely irrational. Regnans in Excelsis isn’t in any sense a religious or spiritual document: it’s power politics from beginning to end. As for religion being deadly “because it makes people willing to die and kill for it without a shred of evidence to back up their beliefs”, how about the willingness of the atheists Stalin and Mao massively to kill for it in the name of their own supposedly scientific but equally unproved anti-religious beliefs?

But this is the kind of thing we are used to from Dawkins. What attracts attention here is that prediction: that there will be the “complete death of organised religion” in his lifetime. Well now. He’s almost certainly wrong, and I wouldn’t bother to dignify his polemical sally with any argument against it, if it didn’t seem on the face of it to be not entirely dissimilar to a recent predictive speculation of the Holy Father’s, uttered three days later at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s recent plenary session. “We are facing,” the Pope said, “a deep crisis of faith, a loss of religious sense which poses the greatest challenge for the Church today”: he went on to warn that “In vast areas of the world faith risks going out like a flame that no longer has anything to burn on.”

It’s happened before, of course, this selective death of faith where once it flourished: where is St Augustine’s Hippo now? In North Africa, once a centre of the Catholic faith, that’s where. But to realise that the survival of the faith in any particular place or area of the globe is never secure is quite different from doubting the dominical promise that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. Whatever may be happening in Europe and North America, worldwide the faith is still advancing, not retreating.

And of course, that’s what the Pope is really saying: it’s the renewal of faith that he’s after, especially in areas of the world where it seems threatened. Fr Z’s translation of the relevant passage (which I didn’t find complete and in English anywhere else) is useful here:

As we know, in vast areas of the world the Faith is in danger of being snuffed out like a flame that no longer has any sustenance. We are at a profound crisis of faith, at a loss of a religious sense that constitutes the greatest challenge for the Church of today. The renewal of the faith must therefore be the priority in the undertaking of the whole Church in our times. I hope that the Year of Faith can contribute, with the cordial collaboration of all the members of the People of God, to bring God back anew to this world and to open to men an access to the faith, to a reliance on the God who loved us to the end (cf John 13,1), in Christ Jesus, crucified and risen.

Fr Z’s own contribution to that process is to say that “nothing of which His Holiness spoke is going to be accomplished without a renewal of our liturgical worship”; and I’m quite certain that he’s right. That’s where it has to begin: at the altar. I’m less sure than he is that this can be accomplished principally by homing in on Summorum Pontificum, though I absolutely agree that it remains “one of the most important acts of his pontificate”. This is what Fr Z would like to see:

We need more and more and more opportunities for people to experience the older, traditional form of the Roman Rite in our Latin Church parishes.

Younger priests: learn the older form. This is your Rite! Know your Rite! If you are a Latin Church priest, who are you if you don’t know your Rite? Just do it!

Lay people: band together and start requesting celebrations of Holy Mass also in the Extraordinary Form. Get organized. Form a schola and start singing chant so you will be ready when the time comes. Offer to take care of all the material details. Offer to provide vestments, books, money so the priest can go get training. Start thinking about forming a group of servers, perhaps even father and son teams.

I agree with all of that, and on Sundays I not infrequently hear Mass in the Extraordinary Form. But I still find myself more often attending High Mass in Latin according to the Novus Ordo. I am, I admit, exceptionally fortunate in my parish church, the Oxford Oratory, where I can experience every week what the Church’s liturgy could be everywhere. There’s no question for us of “the Faith [being] in danger of being snuffed out like a flame that no longer has any sustenance”. Fr Z concludes by saying that “Many benefits will flow from a side by side experience of both forms of Holy Mass of the Latin Church”, and I’m certain he’s right: I’m quite sure, for instance, that my clergy’s celebration of the Novus Ordo is deeply enriched by the fact that they all regularly celebrate the Old Mass too.

But I am also only too aware that when I am away from home Sundays can be very different, and that though the Mass is always irreducibly the Mass, the way it is celebrated can send a real chill to the heart. For every priest, everywhere, seriously to address this problem has to be seen as a first priority. Do the bishops understand how important this is? I wonder.

  • Joe

    While Regnans in Excelsis may have been a “political blunder”, I’m not sure the Holy Father had politics in mind when he made it.  Jesus Christ himself made many a “political blunder”.  Otherwise, a great piece!

  • http://tonylayne.blogspot.com/ Anthony S. Layne

    Typical Western elitism from Dawkins: If it dies in Europe, it doesn’t matter if it flourishes anywhere else.

  • Anonymous

    “Stalin and Mao killed millions because of their belief in atheism.”

     Nonsense.To start with, atheism is a non-belief, not a belief. I know that is hard for theists to understand because the error occurs so often.So you maintain that they killed because they didn’t believe in a god. That is as sensible as saying they killed because they didn’t believe in fairies or in green skinned Martians or in teapots orbiting Saturn.

    They killed to maintain power. That is one of the problems with a totalitarian state. It needs to maintain control in any way it can. That is the true comparison to Pius V. He incompetently attempted to maintain power. Of course his power plays were more successful with the Turks when he formed an alliance to defeat them in battle.

    Now the difference between Mao, Stalin and Pius V is that Mao and Stalin were just tyrannical dictators. Pius V of course, did his killing in the name of his religion, so that was ok then.

  • theroadmaster

    In certain parts of the world such as the continents of Europe and North America,  the Christian Faith generally seems to be in free fall, when we take account of the dispiriting drop in numbers concerning religious vocations, attendance at mass/religious services and adherence to gospel values.  Dawkins would predictably rub his hands in glee, if this became the pervasive trend regarding religious observation all over the world.  But his premature move to write an obituary notice for the death of Faith, would be a very foolish judgement to make in global terms when one takes onboard the exponential growth of religious beliefs on the continents of Africa, South American and Asia.  The Catholic Church has experienced phenomenal growth in Africa, flourishing from roughly 1.5 million adherents in 1900 to over 150 million  today.  On this continent, the Church has also to compete with the very impressive numerical growth experienced in pentecostalist groups as well as Islam.  Pentecostalism seems to be presenting also a formidable challenge to the once dominant bloc of Catholicism in South America, as evidenced in such countries as Brazil.  But the Church is still managing to hold it’s own.  

    There has also been an explosion in the numbers of Christian conversations in recent decades in China, with some estimates putting the total number of adherents at over 100,000,000(which is a round ballpark figure due to difficulties in getting complete information from some Chinese provinces).  Europe and N. America seem to stand in stark contrast to the above mentioned areas of the world, with increasing internal apostasy and external legal attacks on religious principles.  I must qualify that statement by pointing to the vitality of belief as displayed in the US via strong Catholic and evangelical Christian participation in the politico-social life of the nation.  But even here, there has been a noticeable diminution in terms of Church attendance and practice right across the board in Catholic and mainline protestant Churches.  

    The pope is too well aware of these disparate and contrasting trends, in terms of the fortunes of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular across the globe.  His New Evangelization project is mean’t to go to the root of the dramatic loss of Faith in Europe and other areas in the Western World, in recapturing the original evangelical zeal which drove the first generation of apostles to spread the Good news across the MIddle-Eastern and Mediterranean spheres of influence.  Let us pray that the same effect that these disciples had on their audiences will be achieved by the missionary teams in the cities of Europe and other parts of the world. Indeed we are all, both religious and lay, called to be missionaries for Christ in this world.

  • Jorge Morais

    Wrong. Marxism is the direct result of the “materialist conception of history”. Marxism would not exist without atheism. I know it is hard for you; you would love to be in the moral high ground, but 100,000,000 deaths attributed to atheist materialism do not allow it.

    Atheists get so desperate that some of them say “oh, but Stalin believe so strongly in Marxism that it was a form of religion, you see”. This is simply ridiculous. I won’t even bother to answer it. I just brought it here to show how deranged are the “new atheists”.

  • Mouse

    We believers were here before this generation, and the evidence suggests we’ll be here after it.
     
    Speaking just of Christians for the moment: we have survived powerful brutal regimes which tried to do away with us by murdering us all, from ancient Rome to 20th century USSR, and we’re still here. So even from an objective historical point of view alone, it’s unlikely that religion is going away. That’s not triumphalism. It’s just the facts… Not to mention Christ’s promise to the Church!
     
    I think this “insult believers and proclaim victory” approach is a sign of desperation. They thought religion would be gone by now, and since it isn’t, it appears they think that by proclaiming that it soon will be gone, and by leveling all kinds of insults against it, they might still be able to force a victory where all other attempts have failed. They might explain their rude and bitter words in another way, but this is my analysis!
      
    It would be merely sad except that it’s a danger to their souls and the souls of others who may be swayed by their rhetoric. Plus I think it is helping foment bigotry and harassment of Christians, which is on the rise from the elites in power in the West at this time, as you all know. We really need to be more than ever people of prayer, and of peaceful love as we react to these trends.
     
    Not all atheists are so obnoxious, by the way. Dawkins offends some atheists too!

  • Fred the Ferret

    Well said, Mouse!
     
    I get the feeling that that nomark Dawkins wasn’t looking into a crystal ball when he made that ‘prediction’ – he was looking into the toilet bowl he’s just used after a night of vindaloo curry!

    He thinks he is some kind of quasi-ayatolla of Atheism. Self delusion, not God delusion, here.

    We ain’t going nowhere… except UP!

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure that marxism is the result of a ‘materialistic conception of history’, I always though Karl Marx had something to do with it.

    But where does this concept of history come from. Well, materialism was known long before the word atheist was coined. In fact, three times in your bible, your invisible friend tells the faithful to NOT come before him empty handed. Of course, we know this was the priest/shaman getting his food etc. But having invented the principle that the poor should donate to the rich, you have some effrontery blaming materialism on atheists and therefore marxism on atheists. Some effrontery but not much scholarship.

     Marxism would not have flourished without the poor being made poorer by the aristocrats and the priests. After all, religion always tries to cling to power and if that fails, you cling to the powerful. The riches in the Russian cathedrals were unlikely to impress people who were starving. The chance to better themselves by revolting, obviously did. 

    So don’t try blaming 100 million deaths on the non-belief of anything. Much as you would want to, it is illogical and inconsistent with what happened. Basically you are upset because Lenin threw out the priests. The actions of Stalin were extremely consistent with the actions of a man maintaining power and exactly the same as Pius V with the Turks, and exactly same as the theists in Iran. The only difference is that the religious yell out the name of their god, as if that gives them a divine right kill someone. So much for religious morals. 

  • Oconnord

    I must point out that Godwin’s Law now, generally, has three acceptable proxies included, Stalin, Mao and Polpot. The essence of the law remains the same. Much more so in this case where the writer is the one to introduce the idea of mass death then use Godwin to prove a point never stated by the person he is refuting.

    Thus a strawman is introduced and knocked down without touching the actual point…. 

    “because it makes people willing to die and kill for it without a shred of evidence to back up their beliefs”

    Dawkins is in no way original by asking this but it seems even after centuries of theology and apologetics it is easier to dodge the question.

  • Sweetjae

    Yes, Pius V was successful defending Europe from the onslaught od Muslim invaders, if not for the him and the church for their sacrifices, you and Marx would be praying to Allah and Mohummad right now, so be grateful.

  • PFM

    Materialism denies that man has a soul, not a body.  Marx had a materialist conception of history.  You can find it in any book of history or any book by Marx. Religion “always clings to the powerful” is fantastical thinking if meant as a universal premise.  Reading, say, the popes for the past 400 years is an education in defying the rich and powerful.  To assert that the revolutions  in Russia were provoked by the the Orthodox clergy and their style of church decorating is plain silly.  It requires one to ignore the history of the tsarist autocracy, the consequences of WWI, Germany … well, history.  Lenin didn’t throw out the priests.  He murdered them by the tens of thousands.  

  • pk

    Dawkins failed as a scientist. He did not discover anything that would change the way we think about biology or science in general. He turned against religion to make himself famous and hide his own shortcomings as a scientist.

  • DAHoward

    The Latin Mass will not save the World. This is a pipe dream and false attribution. The issue is, as Cardinal Ratzinger himself said once, the “dictatorship of relativism.” People have lost a sense of objectivity, probably in part due to education in schools in which even losers are winners, and in part due to spinning and lying politicians. However, it escapes me how politicians are our moral compass.

  • Oconnord

    How did  he you fail as a scientist? 

    Discovery of a new “Law” is not a mandate in respect of any field. 

    The simple idea that he might have had “an idea” shows that you are too stupid in understanding the basic idea of modern science. He proves his ideas, do you?

    Simply put, he is not only smarter than you, he’s far smarter than you can dream of being. 

  • Parasum

    “Dawkins pointed out that in the 16th century, some Catholics in England had written to a senior figure in the Vatican asking if it was acceptable to murder Elizabeth I.”## “Pointed out” is different in meaning from “asserted that” – it implies that what is pointed out enjoys the status of a fact. Since the statement is about events to which there are no living witnesses, this implies there are sources that for D. to rely on. So what are the sources ? For X to be known, or even imagined, to be factual, evidence of the factuality of X is required. So what are the sources for the assertion ? Supposing the assertion to be accurate – what was the result ? And were the Catholics representative of the Catholic body in England ? By this vague, dateless, unspecific, incomplete, unsourced approach to history, great harm can be done; he does not have to like Catholics or their religion: but we are part of the same world and the same human family and (many of us, of) the same nation as he is; so to inflame bad feeling between groups with little in common is inexcusable. Such an approach would not be tolerated for one moment if a student adopted it – a man of Dawkins’ influence, eminence & position in academia has even less excuse. The anecdote, even if fully true, is a reproach against Catholics alone; and against only some  – not against anyone at all with a religion. Unless he can show that Paul VI (say) favoured political assassination, or that the Abp of Canterbury & the Moderator of the Kirk of Scotland are jihadis or smugglers of drugs & armaments. He cannot blame Muslims for the St.Bartholomew’s Massacre of 1572, or Jains for the Fourth Crusade, or Catholics for the persecution of the Nestorian Christians of China in the 9th century, any more than he can give Peter Singer (say) the credit for discovering penicillin or the DNA helix. He would not do anything as daft as that – so why do this, which is no different ? That Catholics are capable of behaving in a ghastly fashion is a good reason for atheists to shun such conduct like the plague – so why does he not do so, and show the superiority of atheism to us deluded fools with our imaginary (& nasty – his claim) God by the fairness of his arguments ? “Dawkins claims to rule his life by the light of reason: but to say that Pius V’s disastrous blunder disproves his religion is entirely irrational. Regnans in Excelsis isn’t
    in any sense a religious or spiritual document: it’s power politics
    from beginning to end.”

    ## No. England was a Papal fief – the Pope was or had been the feudal overlord of the English monarchs since King Henry II at least. St. Pius V was merely re-asserting old rights; he was perfectly entitled to depose an heretical queen, & one who had a clear record of attacking the Church – not least by imprisoning almost all the Catholic hierarchy. A Pope ought to provide for the good of Catholics – the Pope tried to do so. He cannot fairly be blamed for not realising that what had worked in earlier centuries, no longer would; nor was it clear in 1570 that Protestantism in England had seen off Catholicism for good. It is very unfair to overlook the Pope’s zeal for the salvation of souls, which was the motive behind the Bull. The Bull is in every sense a religious & Catholic document – that is why it is political. 

    “As for religion being deadly “because it makes
    people willing to die and kill for it without a shred of evidence to back up their beliefs”, how about the willingness of the atheists Stalin and Mao massively to kill for it in the name of their own supposedly scientific but equally unproved anti-religious beliefs?”## They thought they had proof.

  • Parasum

    Atheism is an existential position. So is having a religion. They are two species within the same genus. People who call atheism a religion are confusing genus with species – it’s as mistaken as calling water a form of whisky – they are both liquids, but both are not whisky.

  • DAHoward

    Well said. I was thinking the same thing. Catholicism is growing in non-materialist Countries, which means, everywhere but Europe. I wonder if they think their high salaries will forgive their sins?

  • DAHoward

    Dawkins is non-scientific in his reasoning. In one of his videos he used Lourdes, France as a backdrop, but did not conduct a scientific survey of the people were there.  He just proclaimed that they are there to be healed. Of the 50 parishoners from my chapel that went to Lourdes France, 2 of them went to get healed. So much for Dawkins claim.

  • Anonymous

    Materialism, the “material dialectic,” otherwise known as the Marxist view of history. Not materialism as in in wanting things! Doh!

    Go read Engels, Lenin and Marx!

  • Anonymous

    The dialectic is quite different from claiming that marxism was derived from materialism. Read the thread.

  • Anonymous

    As to the last 400 years, religious leaders have seldom been far from the seats of power. In the UK, Bishops still sit in government. When the pope goes visiting, he meets heads of state. The Vatican makes him a de facto head of state. Seems pretty close to the rich and powerful to me.

    I agreed that the Romanoffs contributed to their own downfall but they were not the only group causing unrest in Russia. But to blame the deaths of anyone on a non-belief is still nonsense. 

  • Cath101

    I absolutely disagree with you. The Latin Mass can save the world……

  • http://twitter.com/generalcurtis John Morris

    Liturgical renewal is one important aspect of the new evangelization, but it is not enough. An intense catechesis is necessary too. That will be the only way to ensure that the fullness of the faith carries on.

  • Aaron Aukema

    Your particular bias is clouding your reason on this.  Just as atheism is the ideal of non-belief, so to is materialism the ideal of non-belief.  The atheist and the materialist agree that matters aside from the physical are imaginary, and therefore unimportant.  The atheist like Dawkins would logically assume, like materialists, that all decisions made by a human are the direct result of a desire or need for some physical, or material thing.  This is why Marx was a materialist: he was also an atheist.  Thus, a non-believer like Hitler or Stalin, believing in no higher power save himself, can do whatever he likes in the pursuit of his own material benefit, and not worry about the morality of said action.
    _______________

    “Marxism would not have flourished without the poor being made poorer by the aristocrats and the priests.”  This statement shows how historically illiterate you really are.  Marxism arose in industrial nations, not feudal nations.  Marx’s theories were based on his (rather flawed and limited) observations from reading The Economist magazine from his hovels in industrialized France and England (being banished from Germany) while living off the generosity of Friederich Engels (who used his industrialist father’s wealth).  Marx attacked the bourgeoisie, the industrialists, not the landed aristocracy (who also suffered at the hands of the industrialists). Marxism became popular not among the people, but among the European academics, many of whom had rejected God and belief.  Marx appealed to them because his Communist society was devoid of any notion of God or theism: it affirmed their essential non-belief. 
    ______________________
    “The actions of Stalin were extremely consistent with the actions of a
    man maintaining power and exactly the same as Pius V with the Turks, and
    exactly same as the theists in Iran.”  So, Stalin executing, torturing, and murdering thousands of political opponents, in addition to allowing millions to starve simply so his preferred people could have food, is exactly the same as Pius V initiating a military venture to prevent the invasion from Turks who were seeking to destroy European society.  Spoken like a true materialist.  Of course, seeing as things like charity and concern for fellow humans are fairy tales (like the God they come from), an action like that of Pius must be materialist in nature.

  • Aaron Aukema

     Atheists, or non-believers, could argue that, but they’d be wrong: Stalin wasn’t a true Marxist.  Marx believed very strongly that the people would rise up and create their own self-sufficient communes (after violently overthrowing the industrialists).  Stalin believed that the people needed to be led to Communism by an all-powerful socialist state, to remove any vestige of personal importance (only the state matters, not the individual).  The state was the ultimate goal, not the people’s welfare.

  • Aaron Aukema

     “Of course, we know this was the priest/shaman getting his food etc. But
    having invented the principle that the poor should donate to the rich,
    you have some effrontery blaming materialism on atheists and therefore
    marxism on atheists. Some effrontery but not much scholarship.”

    The poor donating to the rich, huh?  I’m not really surprised, based on your historical illiteracy, that you’d be this clueless.  According to the Old Testament, all the tribes of Israel (descended from the sons of Israel) would receive a plot of land and an inheritance…accept the priestly tribe of Levi.  They were to have no inheritance.  The priests who served in the Tabernacle owned nothing, and everything they received they got from those who came to worship.  Without the offerings of the people, they’d starve.

  • Anonymous

    Atheism has become a set of beliefs, except that it is not a belief in God! Why else would atheists want to build a temple in central London?

    The truth is that no one lives in a vacuum devoid of belief – either in the self, in a thing, or in higher being(s). Your claim that “atheism is a non-belief” is ipso facto, false. If you are one, sit down and reflect on what you really believe in – or ask Dawkins to help you!!!

  • Anonymous

    Acleron,
    the idea of a “materialist conception of history” does not refer to “materialism” as we have come to know today in the acquisition of wealth! It refers to the limitedness of “history” to things you can see. Here in particular, is the reference that man is just “matter”  - or body, without a soul. Please understand that before you misplace scholarship!

  • Anonymous

    Wow …

  • Aaron Aukema

    “As to the last 400 years, religious leaders have seldom been far from
    the seats of power. ”

    And during that 400, religious leaders have acted just as often as spoils to those who occupy the seats of power as they have to help those in the seats of power.
    _________________________
    “When the pope goes visiting, he meets heads of state. The Vatican makes
    him a de facto head of state. Seems pretty close to the rich and
    powerful to me.”

    The pope is not a de facto head of state, but an actual head of state. This is due to the fact that the Vatican wouldn’t exist without the pope, and the fact that the Vatican is its own country.
    _________________________
    “I agreed that the Romanoffs contributed to their own downfall but they
    were not the only group causing unrest in Russia.”

    Admittedly, I am not an expert on the Russian Revolutions, but I do know that I’ve never heard of one of the chief complaints during the Revolution being the Orthodox Church or its clergy.  The same cannot be said of the French Revolution.

    Prior to the French Revolution, the higher Catholic clergy enjoyed a privileged status, which contributed to the economic woes facing the country.  The initial phases of the Revolution ended feudalism and thus the privileged status of the clergy, but the Church was not attacked.

    In the Russian February Revolution, those that assumed power focused their reforms on the aristocracy and political system, not the Orthodox Church.  When looked at alongside the French Revolution, it appears as if the Orthodox Church was not seen as a cause of the problems facing Russians in 1917.

  • Oferdesade

    good grief, read the text again. http://richarddawkins.net/articles/644796-it-s-part-of-their-culture-reading-nick-cohen-in-the-light-of-the-jaipur-affair it has nothing to do with your topic. its about appeasement, and just because he didnt mean chamberlain doesnt mean you shouldnt have figured this out for yourself. if you MUST hijac the text, at least do it with wisdom: appeasement as a result of fear, which if you’re a believer is meant to make you braver, thus less inclined to appeas… oh, but i forgot – we’re talking about the catholic church, arent we…

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Simply naming an argumentative strategy -particularly where, as here, you extend its contents on an ad hoc basis to exclude any argument you find inconvenient- isn’t to refute that argument.

    Dawkins says: ‘Religion is deadly because it makes people willing to die and kill for it without a shred of evidence to back up their beliefs.’  Dr Oddie points out that the same can be said of atheism which shows that religion is not a  necessary condition for non-evidential, murderous actions.

    Unless (eg) you think that Rowan Williams is secretly bumping off turbulent priests (wouldn’t blame him though!) it’s already clear that religious belief isn’t a sufficient condition either.

    So it’s hard to know what Dawkins (and, as you say, the others who follow him in being ‘in no way original’) think they’re doing here. But you and they would do us all a favour by not repeating this ridiculous charge again and again. 

    If you do, you’ve only got yourselves to blame when Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot are trotted out in reply.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    ‘To start with, atheism is a non-belief, not a belief.’
    Let’s grant that, for the sake of argument. So, according to you, an atheist is open minded about the necessity of religion  and may even be religious (since atheists have no belief about the nature of religion being essentially theist or immoral). 

    Accordingly, your appearance and arguments on this site, in your own terms, go beyond your (non-belief) as an atheist and are based on some other belief system you share with Dawkins.

    Could you please give it a name so that I can despise it?

  • Aaron Aukema

    “So you maintain that they killed because they didn’t believe in a god.
    That is as sensible as saying they killed because they didn’t believe in
    fairies or in green skinned Martians or in teapots orbiting Saturn.”

    The moral codes that have existed in the West are the result of the Judeo-Christian beliefs, which include the belief in an Almighty God who Authored those beliefs.  That moral code condemns the behaviors of Stalin, Mao, and Hitler because of the senselessness and selfishness inherent in those acts. 

    What enabled Hitler, Mao, and Stalin to kill tens of millions of people was their rejection of God, and through logical consideration, His moral code.  To go around believing in nothing except the physicality of this existence is to deny the existence in moral norms.  If we are simply a group of cells that band together for survival, that all that matters, essentially, is the preservation of our individual existence.  If we are nothing more that flesh and blood, if we have no higher calling, or no higher existence, then what we do is of no consequence.  If what we do is of no consequence, the who cares if I slaughter millions because they get in my way?

  • W Oddie

    No, that’s wrong: atheism is an actual belief when it is made an intrinsic part of an ideology, as it was of Marxism-Leninism.  Not believing things, after all, is the basis of protestantism; it defines itself by saying which Catholic doctrines it doesn’t believe. Catholics never said they didn’t believe in scriptural truth: they just said it wasn’t all there was. ‘Sola Scriptura’ is a denial of this. So, for all their negativity, denials can be a very ‘positive’, that is to say definite, element in a belief system, and it certainly was of the communism which led to so many millions of deaths.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Struggling to understand your point. Are you suggesting that the Times of India misreported Dawkins in saying that he unleashed ‘a broadside against the virus of faith’ and looked forward to its demise? Or that, because the main point of his talk was addressed to another issue, it’s somehow illegitimate to comment on all the stupid things he said on the way?

  • Paul L.

    I’m not
    sure how many here have read ‘The God Delusion’. I have and it is an example of the
    worst logic I have ever read. If this is how he approaches his scientific work
    he gives science a bad name. He does prove one thing which is that some people
    did evolve from monkeys, and he hasn’t evolved very far.

    He never made me
    doubt the existence of God, but he proved beyond the shadow of a doubt the existence
    of the devil and I would sure hate to be him on Judgment Day.  

  • Oconnord

    Hang on don’t get distracted, please explain your first sentence. How is Dawkins non-scientific in his reasoning? Just because he doesn’t explain his every point in scientific terms is, well frankly, normal. If he mentioned getting a taxi is he at fault for not then explaining the workings of an internal combustion engine?

    Dawkins has published peer-reviewed papers since the late 60′s and “popular” science books since the mid 70′s. He was an established and respected science “authority” for almost two decades before he wrote “The God Delusion”. 

    So it begs the question how is his reasoning “non-scientific”, let alone unscientific?

  • Oconnord

    I have no problems with an argumentative strategy, but that was a lazy and above all irrelevant argument.

     The author’s point would be, why would a jealous husband kill his wife for having an affair with a man, when there’s no evidence of there being another man. Whereas Dawkins point is why would a jealous husband kill his wife for having an affair with a hobbit, when there is evidence that hobbits exist.

  • Oconnord

    Yikes… the last part should read NO evidence for hobbits….
    I really should proof read my comments.

  • Oconnord

    I’m sorry but that makes no sense. How does my disbelief in UFO’s become part of my “ideology”. Your belief in a god is part of your ideology, but is your disbelief in unicorns an intrinsic part too?

  • Jorge Morais

    Sir, you are _grossly_ misinformed, to say the least.
    The “Materialism” I was referring to is not consumerism, avarice or greed.

  • Jorge Morais

    And Europe is in the process of demographically dying into insignificance.
    Since I like Europe, I hope this process stops, but it _is_ worrisome. And directly attributable to lack of faith.

  • Jorge Morais

    No, actually not. Marx had a concept of “false class consciousness”, which roughly means that the proletariat does not know what they want. Marx therefore defended that the “vanguard of the proletariat” (i.e. the communist party) should take power by violent means and implant a dictatorship.

  • Jorge Morais

    WOW, after being corrected about what “materialist conception of history” means, you _still_ don’t get it. How old are you anyway?

  • Jorge Morais

    The point is very simple:

    Atheism Materialist conception of history

    Materialist conception of history => Marxism

    Marxism => 100,000,000 deaths.

    Therefore Atheism => 100,000,000 deaths.

    And please read about “materialist conception of history” before answering and making a fool of yourself.

  • Jorge Morais

    WOW, after being hit with a cluebat, you _still_ don’t get it.
    Please go read about the materialist conception of history before you embarrass yourself more.

  • Carls12

    …and directly attributable to lack of faith.  Whoa! Where is the evidence for such a large statement? True, Europe is changing, and in transition to a new more secular reality. “Dying into insignificance”? No evidence for this either.

  • Jorge Morais

    You idea about Godwin’s “law” simply doesn’t matter. The reality is that whenever atheists point the couple thousand people killed by Christians, we will point out the 100,000,000 people killed by Marxists. I you don’t like that, then don’t point out the people killed by Christians. Simple as that.

  • Oconnord

    No doubt you read the book, the question is did you understand it. Please give some examples of the worst logic you have ever read. Feel free to cite “chapter and verse”.