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Richard Dawkins says Pope is 'stupid'

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Richard Dawkins has described the Pope as "stupid" for claiming that the use of condoms could increase Africa's Aids problem.

Professor Dawkins, the prominent biologist and atheist, said that Benedict XVI would have blood on his hands if his beliefs were followed by Catholics around the continent.

Speaking at a university in Spain, he said: "I wonder on what basis anyone can say condoms make Aids worse. The Pope is either stupid, ignorant or dim.

"If people take his words seriously he will be responsible for the deaths of thousands, perhaps millions of people."

Prof Dawkins, 67, was speaking at a press conference at the University of Valencia after having been awarded an honorary degree.

He also urged people to think for themselves on the subject, adding that the more they did, the less they were likely to believe in God.

He congratulated Barack Obama, the US President, for having overturned a ban imposed by his predecessor, George W. Bush, on state funding for stem cell research.

Prof Dawkins, who recently stepped down as the Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, is renowned for his strident views on faith.

He wrote the bestselling book The God Delusion in 2006 and supported the recent £140,000 advertising campaign on London transport, which featured posters reading: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Last year, he announced his intention to write a book warning children of the dangers in believing what he called "anti-scientific" fairytales, including Harry Potter.

Last month Pope Benedict told reporters that condoms were not a solution and even "increase the problem" of Aids, as he arrived for a visit to Africa.

His comments prompted widespread criticism around the world from health activists, medical professionals and politicians.

In an editorial earlier this week, the Lancet, the respected medical journal, called on the Pope to retract his statement and said his comments could be "devastating for the health of millions of people".



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