Posted by: nimbu | January 25, 2007

Defending Dawkins

I can’t help but notice how hostile people are towards him – Richard Dawkins. I guess the biggest beef people have is his confrontational tone. Or maybe his condescending attitude. He doesn’t pull any punches when discussing religion. What people forget are his arguments; they’re so pissed off that he stepped on their religion, they can’t see past their own fury.

Richard argues with passion and conviction. But it comes off sounding pretentious and hostile to religious people, and even some atheists. I find it refreshing! Religious people speak with the same passion and conviction, but we never label them as pretentious and condescending. Have you ever had a Christian tell you with a twinkle in his eyes, with a smile, that you and your family are doomed to hell because you haven’t accepted our Lord, Jesus into your hearts? Talk about pretentious and condescending!

So when I read other people’s blogs and they say things like: “oh, well, I’m an atheist, but I don’t like how Richard is so hostile and angry”.

Well, you would be too, if religious fanatics are taking your country to war over pieces of land that supposedly God gave to them. I love it that we, atheists, now have a passionate voice too. Someone else commented that it’s childish to stoop to their level and become just as “crazy”. I say, we’ve tried being polite. Atheists have written hundreds of books that gently and logically persuade people to give up their silly views on God and ferries. The “believers” never read these books. It takes a man of equal passion with greater logic to step up and challenge these lunatics.

Keep on going Richard – we need more people like you.



  1. There are several reasons to disagree with Dawkins or his way of expressing himself even if you’re an atheist.

    There are several problems with the way he expresses himself. First, nobody who needs to hear what he has to say is gonna listen. That, of course, is no fault of Dawkins’.

    The second problem is much more serious. It’s the fact that he applies characteristics and terms to all followers of religion when it in fact only is valid for a subset of them (even if this subset is large). For instance, his use of the phrase “child abuse” to refer to labelling children with their parents religion or indoctrination. It’s valid for some cases, perhaps even many cases, but not all. Also, his link between moderate religion and tolerance of extremism is suspect. I’ve yet to see what evidence he has for this. By criticizing the moderate beleivers for what their more extreme fellow believers have done Dawkins creates unneeded tension and controversy. It’s, first and foremost, the extreme cases that must be dealt with first.

    On the other hand, Dawkins has done much good too. Raising awareness of atheism and the dangers of letting religion have too much influence, and how wrong it is to present a child with fairy tells and say it’s true, is all well and good. That criticism of religion becomes more acceptable is a noble goal. Overthrowing pseudoscience such as ID too.

  2. Nimbu,

    You wrote: “Have you ever had a Christian tell you with a twinkle in his eyes, with a smile, that you and your family are doomed to hell because you haven’t accepted our Lord, Jesus into your hearts? Talk about pretentious and condescending!”

    Yes, I have! And, I was a believer like they were at the time! Why believers are so insistent about their own superiority is beyond me! I’d rather be a humble agnostic than a spiritually proud fundamentalist any day.

  3. Simen,

    As an ex-Muslim myself, I know exactly what Dawkins is referring to when he says that moderates give cover to extremists. I cannot tell you the number of times I had been in very large mosques in the U.S. where the Imam is simply preaching divisiveness and hatred. Nobody ever challenges these people. Now, I know for a fact that many of the people in the audience at these mosques are just there to pray to God and ask for things, like forgiveness, new jobs, etc. These moderates don’t pay any attention to these radical ideas. But their silence gives “approval” to these nutjobs. So, yes it is controversial to also put some blame on moderates – I know, because I was a moderate and I never raised my voice.

    I should have gone to the mosque director and said outright: I don’t think this type of rhetoric and hatred should be permitted in my mosque! But, like most of my Muslim countrymen, I stayed silent.

    Having broken free, I’ll chime up whenever I hear such vulgarity, regardless of whether they’re a well meaning Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, or whatever.

    I think the real controversy is that moderates never thought that they played a role in this global issue. No wonder a lot of people are offended – they just a portion of the blame!

  4. I actually like his fervor but I disagree with some of his ideas.

    All in all it is nice to have vocal atheist who really knows what he is talking about instead of the people who claim to be atheists and then fall flat when confronted.

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