Dawkins: Is he dangerous?

I’ve been watching some of Richard Dawkins’ videos and he makes a lot of claims that religion is dangerous. He points out that radicals are just ticking time bombs and that religion is a breeding ground for intolerance and willful ignorance, and for the most part I agree with all that.

What I don’t agree with is the somewhat combative and arrogant way he deals with people who are religious; and how xenophobic he is of everything outside atheism. If anything its that sort of behavior which is dangerous.

It’s also just as logical to say that atheist extremists are as dangerous as a religious extremist because they feel so threatened by every religion. Mr. Dawkins might argue that atheists are more rational and wouldn’t go as far as war, but I think if Mr. Dawkins had a device that would rid religious people from the planet we’d have a much smaller population.

So I think the real problem is tolerance. There always seems to be some group from every religion that is just intolerant of other religions/cultures. There is some bigoted story that is told to the youth to hate and fear people outside their own beliefs. I think Mr. Dawkins is doing the same thing with atheism. Preaching hate and fear to other atheists (like myself) in an attempt to stir us against them.

So is Richard Dawkins dangerous?


Dawkins is either getting soft in his old age or learning to express himself better. The last time he was on O’Reilly he said something to the effect of “you could probably defend your belief in Jesus, but that’s no reason to disbelieve evolution.” I also have somewhere a Newsweek from last year where he said when he bashes religious people he’s really just talking about the literalists.

And intolerance of intolerance is not the same as intolerance. I think there’s 0 chance of him ever resorting to any kind of violence or terrorism. He very explicitly and passionately hates that kind of stuff. That’s why he’s so passionate. It’s like asking if bin Laden might walk into Wellesley tomorrow and apply for the Feminine Studies program.

I went to see him speak in person a few months ago.

He seemed like a really nice, well mannered guy. Sure, he points out how utterly ridiculous religious beliefs are, but he’s not advocating putting them into concentration camps or anything like that. I really don’t get why people think he’s all that militant about his atheism. I in no way get that kind of vibe from him.

He personally isn’t dangerous, South Park episode not withstanding. The only way he could possibly be dangerous is if some hate group used his writings to form a violent anti-religious organization. Or, well, the opposite that uses his stuff as ideas that need to be burned.

But then that would make the Bible, Tanakh, Book of Mormon, Qur’an, etc much more dangerous.

Dangerous to religion? yes
Dangerous to human life? no

I very much doubt this. He doesn’t proclaim to hate religious people.

You’re making a whole false equivalence here that just because they are two groups that seem to be at direct odds with eachother, that they share equal but opposite traits, aren’t you?


Slippery slope huh?

I think he just makes a lot of people very uncomfortable. It’s simply not polite to point out that religion has no factual basis whatsoever. He’s like the boy in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” who points out that the Emperor is, in fact, naked and not wearing any clothes.

I’m simply not buying the idea that Dawkins is dangerous in any way, shape, or form. He’s about as mild mannered as Mr. Rogers.

You’ve got it backwards. The problem isn’t that Dawkins is irrationally biased against religion, it’s that everyone else is irrationally biased in favour of religion.

There’s something about Dawkins, or what he stands for, that seems to make him persist in the memories of some of his religious opponents, as more agressive than he actually ever is in reality.

I don’t think it’s his fault this happens at all, and I don’t think it’s necessarily even sloppy thinking on the part of the folks who carry a mistaken mental image of him - it’s just a phenomenon brought about by the naturally adversarial properties of the arena.

When I confine myself to examining his character and manner firsthand, rather than from memory, he actually seems quite a meek, calm and harmless individual.

Literal belief in a theistic God is pretty much objectively delusional. Dawkins is right about that. Where he gets muddied up is when he forgets to clarify theistic/fatherly/personal/active, etc., before the word “God.”

He does no such thing. Just because the truth has an atheist bias (that theists don’t want to hear), doesn’t mean speaking that truth is “preaching” anything, let alone “hate and fear”. In fact, just the opposite. People like Dawkins equip atheists with the tools to be rational about their atheism, and I happen to think knowledge and true information are the biggest weapons mankind has *against *hate and fear.

Why should we hate or fear (nonmilitant) theists, when we can see how downright pissed-pants scared and angry they are, at a tiny handful of men speaking the truth?

I don’t know, when I watched the God Delusion I got the impression he was a little paranoid that religion was going to cause some great catastrophe.

So please explain to me what he meant by ‘slippery slope’ in that clip I showed you… I got the impression he meant ‘slippery slope’ to violent extremism. Which I think is typically the ‘fear’ of most people like Dawkins that he is going to get caught in the crossfire of some holy war.

That comes off as a bit paranoid to me, and to me that is the brunt of his message.

As an atheist I don’t think it’s extreme to say that he preaches hate and fear of theists. In fact I can’t imagine how anybody who is being impartial could see it as anything but.

He has said, amongst other things:

Religion is responsible for most of the world’s evil
One can not logically justify violence using atheism as you can with religion
That both the beliefs and behaviour of theists is abhorrent
That theists are less honest and less intelligent

Now imagine if I came into a thread and said that Jews are responsible for most of the world’s evil, that you can not justify violence out of Christianity the way you can through Judaism, that Jews are less honest and intelligent than gentiles, that the beliefs and behaviour of Jews is abhorrent? Or if I said the same things about Blacks or women or any other group that you particularly favour. Do you honestly think I wouldn’t get pitted as being intolerant and preaching fear and hatred?
Whether you agree with Dawkins on these issues is irrelevant. The issue is whether it would be considered hateful and intolerant if it were aimed at any group that you feel sympathetic towards. Many people agree with all hateful and intolerant viewpoints. That alone doesn’t make them any less hateful and intolerant.

You mean like 9-11?

Religion creates disasters and smaller tragedies on a regular basis. He’s right to be afraid of religion.

It’s not paranoia to be afraid of something provably dangerous, and religion has a long, long history to prove that it IS dangerous.

And the same isn’t true of atheism? A few hundred million Russians and Chinese would argue with you, if they weren’t dead.

And the same isn’t true of atheism? A few hundred million Russians and Chinese would argue with you, if they weren’t dead.

I agree most violence in the world is not caused by religion anyway.

Wrong. There’s nothing wrong with hating and fearing an ideology for reasonable and accurate reasons. Your comparison with accusations against Jews and blacks and women fails because those accusations against those groups are wrong. Is the fear and hatred of Nazism unreasonable? No? Then it IS reasonable to fear and hate ideological groups.

Arguments like yours are just an attempt to declare religion a special category beyond criticism. In fact, you are being hypocritical; you on the one hand are claiming that it is wrong to condemn a group for what they believe, and at the same time you are talking as if beliefs like sexism, racism and anti-semitism are wrong - which is it? If it’s OK to condemn racists and sexists and anti-Semites because of what they believe, it is OK to condemn the religious. But if it is wrong to condemn the religious for what they believe, then it is wrong to condemn the racists and sexists and anti-Semites for their beliefs.

Communism and atheism aren’t the same thing, despite the constant dishonest attempts of the believers to pretend otherwise. If the problem is atheism and not Communism, then why can’t you find an example besides the Communists to bash atheism with?

Besides, how could atheism justify murder or anything else? It’s just a lack of belief in a delusion.