Richard Dawkins' Brand of Atheism

Inspired by this thread.
Richard Dawkins with his book “The God Delusion” has been at the forefront of the atheism movement that has recently taken form. Atheists are becoming increasingly outspoken about their (lack of) religious beliefs.
So how do you feel about it? This is kind of like a poll, so please state your religious background(or lack there of) before giving your opinion.

As someone that grew up in a nonreligious household and an atheist, I am not too fond of it. Religious beliefs are something that many people hold close to their hearts and to attack it in such a way is remarkably insensitive and in poor taste. Not to mention arrogant and condescending. Yes there have been many atrocities committed in the name of religion but those are often the extremists, and I agree that religious fundamentalism (whether it be Christian or Islamic) is something that I don’t agree with. Religion is not a “problem”. It may be irrational but if it allows people to lead happier lives, then I’m all for it.

But when you get right down to it religious people do not evidence to support their positions. Dawkins is right about that. It is not arrogant if you are right.

I grew up in a place where the religious people were the minority. Therefore I would’ve been even more of an asshole pointing and laughing at the believers than you would in a place like the United States where religion is dominant. Pick on someone your own size or bigger and all that…

I agree with the OP in that there is no reason fighting religion where it’s not a problem. To me, an atheist in majority (if local), Dawkins appear as intelligent and heroic as a man travelling around giving lectures and writing books about why Santa Claus cannot possibly exist. He would be a laughing stock here in Sweden.

Atheist, of course.

The same can be said of all sorts of stupid or outright evil ideas. Telling many people that they aren’t allowed to beat their children deeply offends them; tough. There’s also the little detail that so many of them don’t hesitate to attack atheists and “unbelievers” of all kinds; I see no reason to protect the tender sensibilites of people who don’t hesitate to stomp on other people’s feelings. Not to mention freedoms.

You don’t think it’s a problem; Dawkins does, I do, and so do others.

Tell that to all the people who have suffered and died because of it. How many will suffer and die because of homophobia and sexism and the “pro life” movement and the crusade against contraception ? Religion is a plague upon the world. In the long run, I believe that either religion will be destroyed as a significant force in the world, or civilization will destroy itself.

It doesn’t let people lead happier lives, so given that it’s also irrational, that seems like about as good of an argument as you ever need.

Personally, I argue against religiosity due to things like equality for homosexuals, pro-choice, government not impeding the biosciences, etc. If my country is going to make choices that I disagree with, I want there to be a greater reason for it than because some shaman or confidence man ran a good line 2000 or 4000 years ago.

Oh, and since I went into Great Debates mode and forgot this was a semi-poll, I’m all for assertive atheism. If it offends people, those people should grow up, instead of insisting that other people tiptoe around them


You can disagree with people on many other areas that are important to them. Politics, for instance. Let’s suppose a large portion of the population were convinced communists. Would you also advocate never to argue against them?

It’s a huge problem. Did you actually read the book?

Just to make a short list of problems caused regarding moderate christians. Pro-choice, no sex before marriage, discrimination against homosexuals and ridiculous anti-research laws.

A more significant issue is the great enhancement of the us-vs-them feeling against people who don’t share the religion. And, as you mentioned, the fanatism religion so easily fosters, if it goes unquestioned.

Lets say I believe something that sounds exceedingly stupid to you. Say, there is an invisible bunny on top of the Eiffel tower. Now, I somehow convinced the government that the population should, through taxes, pay for thousands of professionals to teach about this bunny. Also the bunny has an invisible statement t-shirt that says that tumors are actually human life, so they are never allowed to be removed or treated.

What would you do now? Never question my beliefs, because that would make you “even more of an asshole”? Even if you want to just try and revert the legislation, your argument for it must involve that I am mistaken about the bunny.

Agnostic (atheist at heart).

I do believe that religion should be eradicated, though it needs to be done with sensitivity - the poor dears to whom it lends happiness shouldn’t just have their comfort blanket snatched away. It’s older than the Turin Shroud after all.

Atheism shouldn’t have to be legislated for - education should eventually be enough to give people the choice: do you want to carry on wearing nappies (diapers) or can you face nothingness-after-death without soiling yourself?

I haven’t read Dawkins’ book yet.


There was a ‘conservative catholic’ on TV on Sunday here in the UK, trying to argue that Christians are discriminated against because anti-discrimination legislation means they are no longer allowed to discriminate against The Gay. For no further reason, she and all who follow her creed can go fuck themselves. Till my dieing day I will revel in ridiculing their ridiculous, hate filled beliefs.

Dawkins is undoubtedly a highly intelligent man and he makes some persuasive arguments for his position, but then at other times, he comes out with stuff that seems so stupid you have to wonder if he’s living on the same planet.

The whole thing where he suggested atheists call themselves ‘brights’ is probably the prime example of this. Stupid, stupid, counterproductive, weird idea. What the heck was he thinking?

ETA: My position - formerly fundamentalist Christian, now ‘liberal’ Christian (whatever that really means), softening and becoming more vague by the day.

Well, he does have a point that the word “atheist” is really negatively branded as it is now. What else did he say that you think is stupid?

One of the prime reasons for scientists to oppose theism is that it promotes belief without direct evidence. The basis of religion is faith and if faith is reposed in as complex and profound as God then it may be easier to repose faith in other things such as- eclipse is caused by a snake eating the Sun, eating papaya will cure cancer or faith in some crooked preacher so one sends one’s life savings to him.

Sure, but the word ‘bright’ has many connotations that he has claimed he doesn’t intend (such as defining others as ‘dim’).

I can’t recall any specifics at the moment, but I’m thinking of things I’ve heard him come out with in debates and interviews on TV - particularly when he tries to factually describe the position or argument of his opponents, but seems to get it quite wrong - on at least a few occasions, it’s caused me to stop and wonder why anyone as clearly intelligent as him would indulge in such sloppy thinking. I’ll see if I can find an example.

I’m glad to see atheists speak up right now.

We have been too quiet for too long. The end result of the more aggresive among us speaking out will be that we are a more accepted and less misunderstood group later on. Also, the public discourse will allow others who are leaning toward non belief access to information and resources that were difficult, if not nearly impossible, to find previously.

I recall speaking with a believer who was actually shocked that I held no belief. It just never occured to him that one could think that way.

I see religion as causing alot of problems in people. For example, I have a neighbor who moved from being a Pentacost to a Catholic. She really suffers from alot of guilt and makes alot of personally bad decisions based on her religous upbringing. I have no doubt that she would find decision making easier and make better life decisions if she were free of the guilt and the dogmas that are so deeply instilled in her.

I just passed that page the other day and I’m fairly certain that not only is that **not **a Dawkins initiative, he also eludes to it being a bit weird.

I believe he mentions the group trying to make the “Brights” change, but expresses more of an interest in whether the branding of a term can be done on purpose (as part of an organized effort) or if it just tends to happen as people adopt it naturally (the example he gives is the gay rights movement “taking back” the word “gay”).

It looks as though you’re right. I was under the impression that Dawkins coined the term - he is apparently merely a supporter of the movement.

I also can’t find any of the other instances I was talking about, indeed, having rewatched a couple of interviews from which I thought I remembered seeing them, they’re simply not there - as unlikely as it sounds, I think I might be misattributing to Dawkins something said by someone else.

  • I must therefore retract most of what I’ve said in this thread and offer my sincere apologies. Sorry. :o

I think that this comes close to the issues I have with Douglas Adams ‘radical atheism’ - and I know that he was strongly influenced by Dawkins and the two of them were fairly close friends.

Myself, I think I agree that there is no evidence to support religion. I can respect atheists who say ‘I refuse to believe in something for which there is not a shred of unbiased evidence, and I don’t really understand your mindset that you do.’

However, to say ‘because there is no evidence in favor of this it is WRONG’ seems a bit over-emphatic, and maybe even similarly wrong if said against believers whose faith is in something that there’s no unbiased evidence AGAINST. For instance, if someone is a believer in the literal world-wide flood or the young earth creation, I can see the argument that there is reasonable geological evidence against them. A number of moderate christians, though, probably think that God is ‘out there, somewhere’ in a sense where science cannot measure him, and this belief is probably unanswerable in my opinion. It literally is something that can either be taken on faith… or not. As the individual chooses.

By the way, does anybody think that Dawkins has a tendency to set up religious ‘straw men’ with extreme, fundamentalist, irrational examples just so that he can easily knock them down??

Dawkins argues against this with the teapot orbiting saturn theory. Science cannot decide whether the teapot is there or not. But does that mean we shouldn’t think that those who claim it exists are wrong?

I don’t. Do you have an example?

Well one thing is that atheists do understand the mindset. We’re living in a world where the vast majority of people have been indoctrinated into a set of beliefs before they had any chance to be able to understand the world. Idly standing by as people are willfully playing with little kids’ minds is a rather scary thing to have to do. Yeah, it’s a harmless belief in most cases, but still you are playing with peoples’ minds.

Just imagine if I was to teach a kid from the time he was a toddler and through to his teens that he needed to all of his food or else his grandfather’s ghost would cut off his legs. Mostly harmless, but still who knows what in the world that’s going to do the kid. Imagine being a little toddler with a parent with a deathly frightened face telling you this when you hadn’t eaten your meal.

I agree that that is over-emphatic. But there is evidence against deities, that is unbiased. I haven’t read Dawkins’ books, but from my understanding he does go through them.

Though of course, regardless of how much evidence there may be against a deity, you can’t disprove it’s existance any more than you can disprove the existance of the Invisible Pink Unicorn.