RICHARD DAWKINS has for years opposed views on religion that contradict his own, his own views, of course, not being classified as Religion. He has spoken rather openly against Religious beliefs and attacked those who adhere to them, and has since at least the 1980’s, and yet he claims his respect for the Abrahamic Faiths ended on September the 11th, 2001.
I find this claim incredulous given that he has spoken against them prior to this, yet will address his Quote.
"My respect for the Abrahamic religions went up in the smoke and choking dust of September 11th. The last vestige of respect for the taboo disappeared as I watched the 'Day of Prayer' in Washington Cathedral, where people of mutually incompatible faiths united in homage to the very force that caused the problem in the first place: religion. It is time for people of intellect, as opposed to people of faith, to stand up and say 'Enough!' Let our tribute to the dead be a new resolve: to respect people for what they individually think, rather than respect groups for what they were collectively brought up to believe."
-- "Time to Stand Up," written for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Sept. 2001.
The above quote clearly demonstrates why Richard Dawkins is not a deep or particularly insightful thinker, as it makes a host of mistakes in the logic It presents.
Even aside from the obvious question in regards to its veracity, one must wonder if Dawkins quote acts as nothing more than an attempt at justifying his Sharp Criticisms while shifting the blame to that which he attacks, for surely he seems to want to lay the blame upon Religion for his outrage and contempt. After all, his own aggression, his belittling of others who believe in religion, his attack son their character, their morality, and there intelligence, all of it is justified because religion is such an evil and destructive thing.
In this way he doesn’t have to address his own condescending and rude attitude, as it is a justifiable reaction. He needn’t worry that his Criticisms are hostile and he seems aggressive and incendiary, as he acts for the best against a great evil.
It is standard fare, really, to do this. Demonising an opponent and laying the blame on them for the problems one sees and for the hatred one feels toward them frees one of responsibility as the liability for what transpired is soley upon those who happen to be the recipient of the attack, and as they deserve it for being nasty, there is no fault on the part of those who are nasty to them.
This is of course a Childish and simplistic manner of approach, and fails to really examine any issue. In fact, it acts as an impediment to truthful examination and accurate reporting of what is being discussed, and that fault is evident also in Dawkin’s above quote. After all, it is not the Terrorist attacks themselves that Dawkins turns his attention to, and finds as a source of final wrath and loss of all respect, however vestal, he had once for the Abrahamic Faiths, but rather the reaction of the Community in the aftermath.
After 9/11/2001, in Washington Cathedral, people of all Faiths gathered to comfort one another and pray to God for healing and comfort, and to find solace with God and one another.
Dawkins finds this a most heinous crime, for they did not draw the conclusion he did. Religion, he asserts, caused the problem in the first place, therefore, Religion should not be turned to in the aftermath but renounced. This is he conclusion Dawkins sees plainly in the event, and yet he sees others of “Mutually incompatible faiths” gathering to attend a Cathedral to commemorate the dead and find strength and comfort. How dare they.
Dawkins’s anger rests upon the fact that they Gathered together in a Multi-Faith religious service to remember the dead and comfort the living, and to entreat the mercy of God upon the community.
Dawkins anger rests, then, on the fact that the force that reaped so much destruction was then given homage. If it had not been for Religion, there would have been no 9-11. Religion caused it, didn’t those blind fools see!
Religion causes strife and warfare, according to Dawkins, and was the cause of the terrorist attacks. Had it not been for religion, there would have been no attacks in the first place.
Yet, the people all gathered in that Cathedral, united in prayer, singing, praise, tears, and joy. They comforted one another, read scriptures from different faiths, and mourned their losses while coping with the new reality in the wake of the event.
To Dawkins, this was the final insult that shattered what remained of his respect for the Abrahamic Faiths.
At least this is what he claims, although he was keynote speaker in the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 1999, and some of the same topics. That question aside, however, one must return to his stated outrage at this transpiration.
Dawkins found it highly insulting that groups should be commemorated, and not individuals. It is time for a new resolve in remembering our dead, he proclaims. We should remember them base don hat they individually believed, not on what they as a group where collectively brought up to believe!
But is Hawkins really right in this? No, not really, and his comments fail on many levels.
For starters, he assumes that those who are in a religion are there principle because they where brought up in it, and there is an implication that this is not what they personally believed.
Of course, Adult converts do exist and are not as Rare as many, including Dawkins, seem to want to think.
But that isn’t the crux f his quote, or the article he wrote, and is not the crux of what I shall address.
Rather, to deal with the last things first, I wonder how Dawkins thinks that we should “ respect people for what they individually think, rather than respect groups for what they were collectively brought up to believe. “ After all, this has both practical and ideological problems.
To begin on this point, how is this possible?
If 5000 people died the day after I wrote this and I was expected to give a mass Eulogy for the event that transpired, be it a terrorist attack or a building collapse or fire or a cave in, or weather, I would not be capable as an individual, with limited time to set up and present the event, and with limited scope, and limited knowledge of who I was speaking for, to give each of the 5000 people Homage for what they individually believed. It would be impossible.
If I am commemorating the Victims of an event en Masse, I couldn’t share each of the 5000 with the crowd that attends. I couldn’t even for 500, or 100. I’d be barley above to with 30 or 40.
Obviously it is easier to give them general and unified services, along general groups they belonged to. This, also is hardly offensive. After all, if the Individual did not really believe in the tenets of his Faith, why would he or she remain in that faith? If the religious affiliation they wore in life did not reflect their actual thoughts and feelings, then how is it that they came to identify, often strongly, with the religion they adhere to?
Dawkins and his ilk may say it is all about how they where raised, but as I noted earlier this is too simplistic.
Not all where raised in what they are now, and yet would have Funeral rights based upon what they currently ascribe to, not what they where raised in. Likewise, those who where raised in a specific religion would also enjoy by and large the rituals and services of their familiar faith.
I know that I, as a Christian, raise din the Churches of Christ, would want a Funeral that reflected this affiliation that so defines my life and outlook. Why would I not? Why should we instead forgo the Church ceremony and cut out that part of who I am?
Should we to reflect on what I think and feel? What I think and feel is that I’d enjoy such a Christen service. Should we then say it should be base don what I really think and feel and not on what I was raised to think and feel? Is there a difference?
As to the raising question, Hawkins and his like may say I am Brainwashed, I’ve been accused of this before but think it unfair. Can’t I say Dawkins has been brainwashed?
Besides, I know others who would have rites now that do not reflect their origins. I know a girl who converted from Evangelical Protestantism to Catholicism and aspires to be a Nun. Would she want to be buried in a service that mentions no part of her Catholics? If She died today, she’d want a Catholic Funeral, yet this does not reflect her upbringing. It reflects what she chose later in life.
Others have converted from Christianity to Islam and would have Islamic services, or Buddhism to Christianity.
Yet this is consistent in them, what they are at the moment of their deaths in terms of religious affiliation is what they believe in, and does reflect what they as individuals think and feel. Thus, denying Religious ceremonies in Memorial vents, as Dawkins suggests, won’t allow us to appreciate the individual more, they are still a crowd who died in a mutual tragedy. It will simply deny them what was meaningful to their lives that they had accepted to give them structure.
Those Group affiliation play a large role in peoples lives as individuals, and reflects them as individuals better than anything Dawkins could conceive of by removing them.
They would marry in those sorts of services. They’d go through the trials of life using those sorts of services. There children’s births, their seeking jobs or solace, the or desire for meaning or purpose or overcoming difficulty, all defined by this. Yet Dawkins thinks it is inappropriate. His reasoning being that it doesn’t reflect the individuals and what they believe, something he simply assumes base don his own prejudices and desires.
I ask, is this really more fair? Is Dawkins’s outrage truly justified when he says this?
But then there is the key issue, the real reason Dawkins is insulted. He is angry that the power that had brought so much destruction and misery in the first place is now given reverential treatment and called upon for solutions.
In the article the quote is extracted from, Dawkins opens with saying Northern Ireland and the 9-11 attacks are the same in that they are fuelled by Religion. His usual claim is that Religion is divisive, and he continues to make claims that if no Religion existed, this or that atrocity would not have happened and this or that trouble would not have occurred. From the Crusades to Northern Ireland, from the Jewish state to Islamic Extremism, he lays the blame squarely on religion as the force of destruction that divides people and creates enemies and hatred. It divides Communities and transmits hatreds form centuries past. It is in his statements that Religion causes hatred against a group, and that this is the great bane of Humanity.
Using his Northern Ireland reasoning, because the men who stole sone Irishman’s grandfathers land where Protestants, he hates Protestants, and so kills Protestants in revenge.
Dawkins says this is irrational as those he kill didn’t steal the land, but that the Religion makes the difference, for the Religion is the link share between the land thieves and those killed.
Thus the hatred caused by Religious identification is illustrated, and Religion blamed for the continuation of strife against groups.
But would this really disappear if Hawkins had a magical wand and could make everyone surrender their religion save those whose religion is that of Dawkins himself? I’m afraid this also is quiet shallow in thinking. Dawkins blames religion, when in fact the Guilt by Association syndrome is Symptomatic to Humanity and doesn’t exclusively transmit to Religion.
Communists would often kill Capitalists, and Capitalists where just as hostile against all Communists. The Secret Police in the Soviet Union prove that the Communists where ready to Kill based upon an Ideology in the same manner as the religious, and as a result Dawkins says they became a Secular Religion. Of course anything becomes a religion that causes harm to Dawkins, but that is another Essay. However, the Capitalists in the United States of America had the McCarthy hearings against members of the Communist Party, USA. Many who simply believed in communal ownership and the ideals of Marx and Ingles where subject to arrest and questioning, perhaps fines where levied and in many cases imprisonment was the end result.
The Communist of America where guilty because the Communists in Russia where our enemies.
What of the Japanese-Americans in World War 2? Many where Christians, or Atheists. Yet, because of their ancestry they where imprisoned in Internment camps.
They where guilty because their ancestors came from Japan.
Many examples even in recent history show this pattern in Human thought, which, although not right, surly won’t disappear if we got rid of religion, nor does religion cause it.
It is caused instead by Psychological factors. Humanity tends to think in terms of groups, and so tends to dehumanise groups they see as an enemy. They also tend to, as a race, Identify as members of a group. Humans are tribal creatures, after all.
Such thinking is simply a part of Human nature we must learn to overcome, and not something that will disappear if we get rid of religion. Dawkins point is false.
Indeed, and for the final point made, his entire claim rests on something he himself refutes without realising it. Dawkins courses on instances in which pain, division, and hatred are spurred by Religion, and then uses this to show how Religion in and of itself is a force for division, hatred, enmity, and strife. Yet his anger is directed toward an event which occurred in the Washington Cathedral, when all religions united to offer comfort and prayer and held a memorial for the dead.
To Dawkins, Religion is the force that caused 9-11, and the event in that Cathedral was an abomination, for it paid tribute to the very thing that had caused so much grief and misery to those in attendance. He wonders how they could not see that it was religion that caused their pain in the first place? I ask, how does Hawkins not see that it is also that same force which has united them all, even of such diverse faiths, and has brought comfort and rest to them?
Dawkins speaks of the divisions caused by Religion yet he is angry when those of different religions come together, not even setting aside there differences, but welcoming each other along with there beliefs and customs, in an attempt to be there for one another.
The Unity, peace, and hope found in the Religious observance in the Washington Cathedral is a testament to the power of religion, just as much as 9/11 would be.
There was no division, no strife, no Animosity. There was Solidarity, union, hope. Comfort and joy reigned over terror and tragedy in that Cathedral, as we mourned the dead and sought Divine guidance and justice, healing and understanding ;To helped us to overcome, and to grow stronger, and to not succumb to the Darkness. Yet, it is this aspect, that casts Religion in a good light, that Dawkins refuses to see.
Dawkins wants to present Religion as the Root of all Evil, and so he emphasises the bad done in its name, and omits the good, or even criticises the good, as not acknowledging the real culprit and by saying it actually encourages more pain and division.
But, if those different faiths united under one roof in that Cathedral when the Community needed them to, if they showed strength and comforted one another, this is no division, and his was needful.
Dawkins missed this. The same power he criticised, Religion, for bringing about 9-11 wasn’t simply given homage in the Cathedral, as if Religion was the power behind the 9-11 attacks but somehow only given praise but not really present in the Cathedral. Religion was in the Cathedral to, being every bit the power he’d accuse it of in the 9-11 terror attacks. There stood all of those faiths, in unison, comforting one another. There stood people of those faiths, comforting one another. There, in that Cathedral, strength and hope was gained. All due to the power of Religious belief, and the teachings contained within it.
This, in his Zeal, Dawkins ignores. He ignores it because he must, because his own religion also causes division, separation, and hatred. His own followers sneer at people like me base donly upon our beliefs. Is readers will swiftly mock my intelligence, and the intellegenc of others in my Faith and in other faiths, not even realising theres is equally a Faith.
They will spew hatred and enmity, seek to have our freedoms curtailed, and seek to annihilate our ability to impact the culture, all under the pretence of creating peace and prosperity free of war and strife.
Richard Dawkins is simply a Hypocrite who wants us to accept his religion, and reject all others. He has declared them all false and dangerous, and seeks to implement hatred and fear of them into others minds, and to silence those who dare speak of them in a favourable light in public.
It is not, in the end, Religion that causes problems in our world, but we ourselves and our attitude and beliefs in regards to it.
Men and women who seek to control others, force them to think as they do and behave as they’d like them to, cause problems.
Those who seek to Dominate others or to avenge themselves son a group that disagrees, those ho use violence as a mean of forcing their way, they cause our problems. Those who seek to force one view and one view only, or who want only that view permitted, hey cause our problems. Such a man is Richard Dawkins, who wants to impose his views onto others and who demonises those who disagree.
He cannot see the comfort given in the Cathedral because to see it is to admit he is wrong, and that Religion can be used for good, and isn’t so divisive. It would cause him to rethink his position, and his arrogancy demands his thinking be seen as above reproach.
The Irony is that his anger and outrage are precisely that which cause the problems he wishes to curtail and blames on religion. Although Dr. Dawkins claims he lost respect for Abrahamic faiths in this event, he seems to have spoken against all religions, while ignoring the fact that all religions, even the Abrahamic oens he so disclaims above, where used then for social unity and strength after the event, alongside other religions, and htta these religions, as diverse as they where, manged to unite in the face of the terror attacks to bring solace to the community at large.
Dawkins paints a one-sided view of things, and his anger is unjustified.