(Top Posts - Philosophy
(FREELOVER) - 051207)
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From The Times
May 12, 2007
How dare you call me a fundamentalist
The right to criticise ‘faith-heads’
by Richard Dawkins
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Excerpts [with one insert, not part of the
originating article, included in brackets]:
"You’re preaching to the choir. What’s the
The nonbelieving choir is much bigger than
people think, and it desperately needs en-
couragement to come out.
Judging by the thanks that showered my
North American book tour, my articulation
of hitherto closeted thoughts is heard as
a kind of liberation.
The atheist choir, moreover, is too ready
to observe society’s convention of accord-
ing special respect to faith, and it goes
along with society’s lamentable habit of
labelling small children with the religion
of their parents.
You’d never speak of a “Marxist child” or
a “monetarist child”. So why give religion
a free pass to indoctrinate helpless chil-
There is no such thing as a Christian child:
only a child of Christian parents.
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"You’re as much a fundamentalist as those
No, please, do not mistake passion, which
can change its mind, for fundamentalism,
which never will.
Passion for passion, an evangelical Chris-
tian and I may be evenly matched. But we
are not equally fundamentalist.
The true scientist, however passionately
he may "believe", in evolution for example,
knows exactly what would change his mind:
The fundamentalist knows that nothing will.
[insert -- Actually, former fundamentalists
have been known to change their minds,
and become disbelievers and doubters,
once presented with all of the evidence re-
garding the anti-human impact of religions
throughout history, the naturalistic explana-
tions for why/how religions were concocted
and why/how religions are perpetuated, and
the overwhelming evidence for an entirely
naturalistic point-of-view regarding all mat-
ters both within the realm of the known -and-
within the exploration of the not-yet-known.]
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"I’m an atheist, but people need religion.
What are you going to put in its place? How
are you going to fill the need, or comfort the
What patronising condescension! "You and
I are too intelligent and well educated to
need religion. But ordinary people, hoi polloi,
Orwellian proles, Huxleian Deltas and Epsi-
lons need religion."
In any case, the universe doesn’t owe us
comfort, and the fact that a belief is comfort-
ing doesn’t make it true.
The God Delusion doesn’t set out to be
comforting, but at least it is not a placebo.
I am pleased that the opening lines of my
own Unweaving the Rainbow have been
used to give solace at funerals.
When asked whether she believed in God,
Golda Meir said: "I believe in the Jewish
people, and the Jewish people believe in
I recently heard a prize specimen of I’m-
an-atheist-buttery quote this and then sub-
stitute his own version: "I believe in people,
and people believe in God."
I too believe in people. I believe that,
proper encouragement to think, and given
the best information available, people will
courageously cast aside celestial comfort
blankets and lead intellectually fulfilled,
emotionally liberated lives.
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