Exposing Evolution As A Mess and Atheism As Hot-Air!

Richard Dawkins On BBC’s Hard Talk

with 8 comments

Richard Dawkins did not do that well in this interview because his reasoning was exposed to be superficial.

I do so not understand why he protests that Stalin and Mao did not do their crimes in the name of religion?  But these people were Marxists and Marx set out to eliminate the opiate of the masses i.e. religion.  Does not stand to reason that Stalin and Mao did their crimes in the name of Marxism, an atheist philosophy?

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Written by dawkinswatch

March 17, 2008 at 2:08 pm

8 Responses

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  1. I think Dawkins was saying that Stalin and Mao did what they did in the name of an ideology other than atheism. He conceded that they were atheists, but said that they did not do what they did in the name of atheism. I think you are saying that they did what they did in name of Marxism and that Marxism is atheistic and opposed to Christianity.

    I think that one of the most interesting things he said is that moderate religion is potentially dangerous because it legitimates fanatical religion. It is interesting that within Christianity the left and right hate each other and believe that moderate beliefs lead people toward the other side – so neither the left nor the right likes the moderates. Similarly, in the conflict between atheists and religious people, each worries that moderates will end up supporting the opposite side.


    March 17, 2008 at 3:48 pm

  2. I have to agree with you Ken – it can be rephrased though in terms of Venn diagrams: All Marxists may be atheists, but not all atheists are Marxists.


    March 17, 2008 at 3:57 pm

  3. Some thoughts from listening carefully to the videos, I really appreciated what Dawkins said about:

    The undeserved pedestal that religion is placed on, such that people are expected to treat religionists with “kid gloves.” The implication with that is that religionists get to say the most absurdly stupid things, and nontheists are required to treat them with respect or as an equally valid viewpoint. Point for Dawkins there.

    Religion as an identifier – absolutely. Religion as a natural phenomenon reinforces parochialism, ethnocentrism, and the lot. Point for Dawkins.

    His response to the bit about the Marxism red herring – Dawkins could have responded to this better. I do agree that he splits hairs there, rather than emphasize the fact that Communist leaders of the 20th Century did do their misdeeds because they were atheists… that they were atheists was merely coincidental. Minus a point for Dawkins.

    I also didn’t like his response to the question on indoctrination of children into religion, especially his emphasis on not automatically labeling kids as the same religion as their parents. Again, he’s splitting hairs here, I think, and he would probably spend his time better if he focused on the parents inane beliefs rather than their mode of sharing those beliefs with their children. Minus a point for Dawkins.

    His point on the utility of religion versus the truth of religion – again, he could have explained it better (this was a major weakness of the God Delusion). But he didn’t answer it wrongly, he just failed to explain it, and the host had no idea what he was talking about (not Dawkins’ fault). No point awarded.

    The host’s question on science as faith or religion was inane. Dawkins answer wasn’t that great either, as he failed to call the host on his false presumption regarding what science is and is not – in fact, he takes the host’s question at face value. Both of them should read up on Popper, I think. I’m not sure how to score that one – probably no point.

    So overall I’d give Dawkins a net score of 0, but with an asterisk of approval for publicizing his book and trying to get people to take religion down off its pedestal (which the discussion opened up with).

    A question for Dawkinswatch though: like Dawkins or dislike him (your choice), but what part of it was “superficial”? That sounds like a cheap way to avoid actually talking about anything that was actually mentioned on HardTalk (except the bit about Marxism, which was pretty ridiculous of both you and the host to comment on).


    March 17, 2008 at 7:53 pm

  4. It struck me in this interview that Richard Dawkins was being candid about the difficulty of criticizing religion. I think that his candor offers a key to understanding his work. He confesses to be an atheist, but does not give the impression that he loves atheism in the way a religious person loves God. He is not religiously atheistic, as some liberal protestants are, for example. I think it is criticism of religion that is his interest. I think he makes strong statements, like the title of his book, to get attention so that maybe people, some people, will listen to his criticisms. I don’t mean to psychoanalyze him. I think that something like this is what he said in the interview. I heard the interviewer trying to hit hot buttons, but I heard Dawkins trying to make his criticisms clear and trying to gain the viewer’s sympathy for them and himself. It is a difficult, creative challenge for a critic of religion to achieve such a result.


    March 17, 2008 at 10:21 pm

  5. Sure, his interest is undoubtedly the criticism of religion. But Bertrand Russell did this much better than Dawkins, as did Sagan – that is, simply by pointing out the parochial aspects of religion with the Celestial Teapot analogy and by looking back at the “Pale Blue Dot,” respectively. He’s saying the same thing by asserting that belief in gods and belief in fairies are equally well-founded (i.e., not at all), but he doesn’t follow through and explain or elaborate as Russell and Sagan and I think Douglas Adams did, IMO.

    But there’s a perspective that I like better still – religion as a natural phenomenon – if you can get people to listen to or read about psychology and anthropology more. That’s not an easy task, since most people appear to only have the patience for the 30-second soundbite. Still, religion as a natural phenomenon does explain why so many people believe in things that are so blatantly wrong, and Dawkins fails to do this. Dennett tries to do this, at least.


    March 18, 2008 at 9:31 am

  6. Dan do you know that russell was a Luciferian from an old occult family?


    March 20, 2008 at 4:57 pm

  7. There you go again, making stuff up.


    March 20, 2008 at 6:51 pm

  8. The point that Marx had encouraged others to eliminate religion is completely nonsense. Mao and Stalin misused the saying of Marx to eliminate religion without changing completely the substructure it was based on. Marx have stated that religion will be eliminated gradually not by killing religious people but by changing the politico-economical atmosphere to a more egalitarian democratic pattern(which is far from USSR and China). I myself am a Marxist and atheist, and none of us today believe in massacring religious people in the name of Marxism.


    April 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm

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