Echoing Dawkins – Don’t Call Us Fundamentalists Thursday, July 26, 2007Posted by henry000 in anti-fundamentalism, atheism, Bible, Chinese, Christianity, Dawkins, faith, fundamentalism, God, Islam, Judaism, Koran, rationality, reason, religion, Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion.
Richard Dawkins has lately written an article titled “How dare you call me a fundamentalist” as a response to some of the main criticisms he received for his controversial bestseller The God Delusion. Here I will add my own arguments to what Dawkins has already said, because when rational people criticise god and putting religion in perspective, they get unfairly judged, and this we must address.
The criticisms made on Dawkins are in bold.
I’m an atheist, but I wish to dissociate myself from your shrill, strident, intemperate, intolerant, ranting language.
How you feel about the tone and language of the book is entirely up to you. Some might find it clear and concise. I find it to be passionate and blunt, and I think blunt is a much better and objective description of the tone and language of the book.
Take the first chapter for example. The one line where I can find people might find it offending is this line:
The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive.
Now seriously, how shrill and intolerant is this? Try replacing the words “a personal God” with something else say “United Nations” or “the Live Aid concert”. Does it make a difference?
I offer this advice to people who feel the book is arrogant and condescending: read it again (or at least some of it), and you might come to feel differently about it as the first time might come as a shock.
You can’t criticise religion without detailed study of learned books on theology.
The book is not ignorant on theology and various aspects of religion – see Dawkins’ own explanation – this alone should settle this particular criticism. I would add that you need not to be a scholar to highlight the obvious problems of religion, such as the blind faiths people have in ancient scriptures that drive them to happily hurt and kill others for no other reason than religion. There is a difference between criticising something while being completely ignorant (such as simple-minded creationists), and being knowledgeable enough.
I think most readers here realise the dangers of the North Korean dictatorship going down the path of developing nuclear weapons, and would anyone say that detailed studies are needed on the history, politics, technical capabilities, nuclear physics and so on before we criticise the regime?
You ignore the best of religion and instead…
This book was written to pinpoint the problems of religion and the invalidity of god, not to present a fair assessment of religion. Would you present the arguments from the opposite side when you are in a debate? Just think how politicians debate each other.
You’re preaching to the choir. What’s the point?
Firstly, no, Dawkins states that he is writing to the fence-sitters and the general public. And now with the benefit of hindsight, we know that the book has reached the bookshelves of millions, and the likes of Dawkins and Hitchens have repeatedly said that even the religious have read the book for whatever reasons. Secondly, even if it was designed to preach to the choir, it would be a good thing. It is time to have the non-believers come out and speak out against the dangers of blind faiths.
You’re as much a fundamentalist as those you criticise.
People who make this claim need to sit down and think about what it means to be a fundamentalist. Dawkins said it correct – fundamentalism is not the same as passion. Fundies will not blink for one moment in the face of evidence and reason – in fact, they would twist and spin everything into their compartmentalised thinking. Worse, they are willing to kill and die for their faith.
I’m an atheist, but people need religion.
No, the simple fact that there are many atheists out there refutes this claim completely. The Chinese need no beliefs in a deity or multiple deities for thousands of years – instead they have two philosophical systems in Buddhism and Confucianism. When people are in dire need of comfort for whatever reason, how is it known that they turn to religion? Often family and friends provide the best comfort. In the face of tragedies and disasters, people have been known to lose faith in religion and/or god. When people are in emotional needs, they need love and compassion, which can come from religion, but not always.