Friday, January 20, 2006


More disapointed secular reviews of Dawkins' recent TV series

Edited highlights of two secular reviews of 'The Root of all Evil':

'Dawkins presented a thoroughly unscientific argument that 'religion is the root of all evil' and came across as a fundamentalist himself... He tried to play on our fears about suicide bombers and terrorists, as if they were the only 'evil' things done in history. He seems to have forgotten that the atrocities committed in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Communist China had little, if anything, to do with religion... Dawkins seems to have chosen a deliberately condescending, patronising and aggressive approach... When interviewing a celebrity pastor in the US, Ted Haggard, Dawkins compared Haggard's Christian service with the 'Nuremberg Rally' in an obvious attempt to get a rise out of the guy. The pastor laughed the suggestion off and proceeded to demolish Dawkins, accusing him of being arrogant. When the pastor challenged Dawkins with the notion that evolution might one day be laughed at by his grandchildren, Dawkins response was simply to retort angrily 'do you want to bet?' Hardly the height of sophisticated argument... Dawkins repeatedly stressed the importance of evidence in science. Yet he was guilty of ignoring his own advice as he talked of Christian Fascism and the 'American Taliban' without providing any evidence for their existence. At one point, when interviewing someone who can only be described a nutter, Dawkins, rather disingenuously, stated that he was an atheist who didn't 'hate' anyone. The film so far put the lie to this - Dawkins' contempt for the religious masses was obvious throughout the film. Why did Dawkins choose to interview someone who was obviously a nutter when there are several intelligent, articulate Muslims who he could have met? ...I understand Dawkins' anger and frustration. I grew up in a Muslim community but rejected Islam at a young age. I lose patience with people who believe in astrology or think that homoeopathy is something scientists simply don't understand... However, even with my strong views, I found Dawkins' polemic unpalatable and suspect it may have done more harm than good for 'the cause'.' - Alom Shaha, 'The Root of all Anti-Science?' @

'it was the type of crimson-inducing programme whereby peering through half-closed fingers seemed highly advisable... it is depressing that Dawkins seems to have little to offer. And what he does say contains all the insight of a saloon-bar loudmouth... when explaining why religion continues to play a part in modern life, Dawkins' explanation is to flash the 'you must be stupid' card... Ironically, Dawkins fails to appreciate how religion has contributed to the humanism he is seeking to defend. Instead he presents atheist humanism as something straight out of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World - all machine-like creatures bedazzled by reductive technology yet blind to what makes us truly human... For all his scientific arguments, he seems to take more exception to the concepts of truth, absolutes and commitment to a higher cause. Yet these are invaluable tramlines that can guide purposeful human action. Dawkins casts the existence of firm belief systems as being responsible for conflicts around the world. So for Dawkins, the dispute between Jewish settlers and Palestinians is reducible to religious dogma rather than more complex issues arising from politics and oppression... The other problem is that singling out religion for diminished humanism sets up a false battleground. In fact, even today religion expresses kernels of humanism that sometimes even appear progressive compared to contemporary thinking. For example, the major religions recognise that as humans are capable of making moral choices, we are fundamentally different from animals. How many secularists share such views today? Elsewhere, religion's understanding of truth and selfless commitment to a wider community or cause appears preferable to today's culture of narcissism and navel-gazing... Many aspects of religion certainly have a shameful and woeful repute. Dawkins is in danger of doing the same to atheist humanism.' - Neil Davenport, 'Is Religion the Root of all Evil?' @

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