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Entry 461, on 2007-01-22 at 18:46:06 (Rating 4, Comments)
Today I listened to a podcast interview with Richard Dawkins, the famous evolutionary biologist, and supporter of atheism. He has been controversial recently because he has dared to say what a lot of other people already think, but are scared to say in public. He has dared to criticise religion! And he has publicly admitted he's an atheist. In many countries this is no big deal, but in the US he has had people thank him for making it seem that their dark secret is actually OK!
If you follow my blog or have viewed other information I have made public you will know I have been openly criticising religion for years, but its quite different when a major public figure does something that some random individual (like myself) has already done. The worst repercussion of my atheistic views so far is almost being thrown out of a church when I dared to question the nonsense they were propagating, and getting the minister who was going to perform our marriage ceremony rather upset!
In the interview Dawkins mentioned the idea of Einsteinian Religion. In some ways it was an unfortunate choice of phrase because Einstein wasn't religious in the conventional sense, despite his rather well known comments which included the concept of god.
But the idea did mean something to me, because it refers to the deeply held feelings of wonder we feel when contemplating the natural wonders of the Universe. Many religious people are blinded to this because they have to pretend to be so enthralled by the wonders of their imaginary god. A comment I often get from religious people is they feel sorry for me because I can't experience the joy of their religion. Well I feel equally sorry for them because they miss out on the natural wonders I experience - and I have the additional advantage that mine are real!
Dawkins also had some interesting comments on morality. He claims that morality doesn't come from religion, and that the opposite is true. Religions tend to reflect the morality of the people who invented them. The problem is that once those moralities are fixed in religious dogma they can't be improved. For example, the Bible, doesn't condemn slavery, is sexist, etc. We no longer find this acceptable, so our morality has changed, but the Bible hasn't.
So even people who claim we must have religion to provide a morality are missing the point. Their morality has no religious basis. Its merely the (often irrelevant) opinion of an ancient writer who presented it as if it has some objective external meaning. It doesn't.
Finally he talked about the respect we are encouraged to have for faith, and faith-based beliefs. Why? This is a theme I have discussed several times, and Dawkins opinion is similar to mine. Faith is just a mechanism to avoid thinking, and to disguise the truth. We should be appalled that people have faith and we should ridicule them for it. I certainly do, and it makes me really popular with my religious friends!
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