Ben Avuyah

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Why, Dawkins, why?

Here is a short blurb of my views on the first segment of Dawkins’ tirade against religion, “The root of all Evil”, of which the first part was shown last week, and the remainder of which will be shown tonight.

I think in general it was poorly done.

Here is how he missed the mark.

His main point was to show the idea of faith to be a corrupt form of thought pattern; a logical construction that is outdated. However, to prove his point, he concentrated on interviewing extremists. From fundamentalist Islam to Christian televangelists he ran the gamut, but, I imagine that a large majority of religious folks sat there thinking to themselves, “Sure those guys are crazy, but that has nothing to do with us.”

The only instance during which he chose to address believers in the main stream was at Lourdes, were the faithful, and desperate, come for spiritual healing. In this setting, he chose to tastelessly probe the beliefs of some very pitiful people who seemed to be hanging on to this last shred of hope for dear life, and in doing so, he came off as being very crass and insensitive.

I hope for his next program he attempts something that I think would be far more interesting, and leaves the deathly ill and the fundamentalists alone.

I think a conversation with typical members of mainstream faiths, about what makes them faithful, and how they view the rationale of that decision, in comparison to other decision in their life, would be far more revealing.

We will see tonight…


At 11:03 AM, Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

If you think about his background (i.e. evolutionary biology) you'll understand why he focuses on the fundamentalists. They're the ones who argue in the face of all reason that the Earth is 6000 years old and that man was created pretty much the way he is. And, in America, that's over 50% of the population who believes that. (I know Dawkins is British, but still.)

I too often find myself lumping in the fundamentalists and the thoughtful religious people, despite knowing better. It's just that the fundamentalists are so damn vocal and, in America, powerful. But then I remember about all the sophisticated theists I know and love (and those I don't know but respect) and realize that fundamentalism does not equal religion.

Sometimes I think Dawkins is doing more harm than good for atheists, but it's nice to have someone out there on our side. ;)

Besides, it's not like theists ever fairly characterize atheists. It's always either that we hate God, or that we had bad relationships with our fathers, or we worship Satan, or we just want to be immoral.

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

I agree with everything you said, JA, and it certainly feels good to watch someone take a swing back for our team. The fundamentalists certainly deserve it. But I think he would reach a much wider audience with his point, about the core of religion and faith being incompatible with rational thought, if he stuck with the mainstream.

tell you the truth, even when he was arguing with the fundamentalist, he didn't come off very strong.

Maybe I expect too much.

At 2:28 PM, Blogger Mis-nagid said...

Torrent of part two is here. I haven't seen it yet.

At 6:26 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Thanks, Mis-Nagid, I had been looking for that !

At 8:17 AM, Blogger Simon said...

I just can't see the difference - so some people are less crazy than others. They're still all crazy.

Many "normal" people who call themselves believers in their particular faith consider themselves sane and say to me "why do you attack my way of life, we're not all crazy zealots?"

But surely this is only because they don't think too deeply about their faith. I find these people tend to not know all that much about it and just like the comfort of continuing something that has always been part of their life and the life of the people who formed the society which they grew up in.

I actually distrust those people more than the zealots. At least the zealots have looked into their belief and have come up what they think to be the most expressive form of truth they can find.

The supposed moderate believers are merely in passive agreement with the radical ones.

If 90% of the Nazis were moderate followers and didn't really believe in extreme actions of their leaders (which is probably true), does that make them any less dangerous or despicable?

Not in my mind.

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