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January 09, 2006

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Afraid of whom?

Of American evangelicals, that's who.

Having just watched the first in a series of programmes by Professor Richard Dawkins about religion (called The Root of All Evil?), I've yet again been scared by the extreme views that some people hold. Dawkins' examined Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and was amazed at some people's completely blind faith in views which are thousands of years old and often completely at odds with modern society and scientific evidence.

Even scarier than the divide between Israel and Palestine, was the arrogance of an American evangelist, who claimed that evolution thought "miracles such as the eye and the ear…were just 'accidents'" (which is patently untrue). Amusingly, Dawkins said his sermon was something Goebbels would have been proud of. Worryingly, the reverend didn't seem to get Dawkins' full meaning.

Dawkins' programme was illuminating and altogether scary. Throughout, I found myself agreeing with his arguments. But I thought his approach was problematic. While criticising the fundamentalists of arrogance, Dawkins sometimes skipped a few steps of his methodology, meaning he defended science 'for science's sake'. This itself smacked of arrogance (albeit enlightened arrogance!), and some of the balls he threw were too easy to hit back.

The programme seemed to be addressing atheists rather than believers, which seems somewhat futile. Also, he failed to address some philosophical conclusions. For instance, he said the world could not continue with such completely-opposed religions, for it would fall apart. But he failed to show how this could be avoided. Maybe he will do this next week.

Next week, Dawkins will tackle the issue of children who are brought up with fundamental beliefs, an issue that is maybe even more worrying. Because if the 'myth' of religion is being perpetuated through breeding, then the cycle of endless conflicts between people with utterly opposed views will endure.


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