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Look forward to the death of organized religion: Richard Dawkins - Comments

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

An optimistic outlook that we all share. Disorganized religion would be a great improvement!

I did not know that historical tidbit about Elizabeth I but the 16th century would be back tomorrow if some christains had their way. And the 16th century is really not that long ago in terms of human moral behavior.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 03:51:12 UTC | #911026

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 2 by QuestioningKat

Yes a very optimistic outlook. He must be planning on living to about 110. I'm not sure organized religion will collapse by then, but I do see an increase in atheism. I know this is anecdotal and maybe wacky to some, but I find that I tend to be on the edge of trends just as they are happening. IMO, My fairly recent loss of faith is a sign of things to come. Most people who are lifelong atheists or atheists who have been so for a long time are of a higher intelligence than I am. I think the internet has made it possible for fairly intelligent people like me to wake up. More will follow.

I think a few factors can help things along.

  1. Neuroscience - people need to understand the limitations of their perceptions and recognize that all brain processes are physical in nature.
  2. People will freely admit to others that they do not believe in a afterlife (even if they are still uncertain about their views about God.) Death is a big motivating factor for many religions.
  3. Imagine everyone who thinks their particular holy book is BS saying so freely. Even if they are not atheists, this would be a HUGE step.
  4. Exposing all the flaws, philosophically and monetarily, of all religions, spiritual paths, etc.
  5. Showing people they have another option for teaching children ethical behavior
  6. Helping others understand they their life can have value without religion.
  7. An influential atheist under the age of 35 comes along....
  8. Separation of church and State - but I think this would have a lesser impact to Western countries. (Sorry I need to find the bullets instead of auto numbering.)

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 04:27:08 UTC | #911029

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 3 by Premiseless

"If we don't understand something, we should roll up our sleeves and get to work trying to figure it out. We should not be lazy and call it supernatural."

Classic.

I recall a TV interview in which an audience question went along the lines of finding out which bits of scripture might be worth relying on for "How to Live?" RD came out with "Why bother?" which about perfectly summed up the contempt one should feel for any book which constantly suspects your abilities to work out how to best live life using the mind you were born with.

Humanity has more than enough brain power to fathom solutions to problems it faces, it's just that most of them are being tricked into fighting against reason for the sakes of wars started off by already long dead men, using records that beseeched imagined emotions of non existent characters. The magnified emotions of dead humans are haunting our present world through these ridiculous scriptures.

Humanity is being bullied and coerced into en masse relinquishing of reason when in fact it will do far better to hold fast to it. After all it's what our brains are for!

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 04:57:03 UTC | #911031

raam's Avatar Comment 4 by raam

I hope professor Dawkins writes about his experience in India and the response he received for his forthright views on faith and religion. Nowhere in the world is religion treated with kid gloves than it is in India. Also, I hope that his foundation for reason focuses more on India. Living in India, I feel that anti-scientific ideas are slowly gaining a toe hold. The time is ripe for his intervention in India, to nip these movements in the bud.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 05:03:51 UTC | #911033

zengardener's Avatar Comment 5 by zengardener

I think organized religion will be around for quite some time.

Perhaps we will hit a tipping point and things will take a sudden shift. All of the fringe thoughtless religious people will disappear. There might still be little conclaves of theists, but nobody will pay them too much attention.

When politicians are reluctant to deamonize atheists for fear of being labeled intolerant, I will be much happier.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 05:13:05 UTC | #911035

Tryphon Tournesol's Avatar Comment 6 by Tryphon Tournesol

Comment 1 by Neodarwinian :

An optimistic outlook that we all share. Disorganized religion would be a great improvement!

Without the means to organise (form memes), religion would not exist at all. Only a collection non-interconnected falsehoods randomly occurring in individuals. Improvement indeed!

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 05:52:39 UTC | #911036

Fouad Boussetta's Avatar Comment 7 by Fouad Boussetta

I like this article! :)

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 06:19:43 UTC | #911038

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 8 by strangebrew

Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

Disorganized religion would be a great improvement!

It rather seems that is exactly what the situation is currently.

A myriad of competing dogmas...all vying and lying for cash to swab their decks. The moderate cults haemorrhaging victims at an alarming rate to other vague and glittery upstart cults. All with their own intolerances rabid and centre stage in their 'faith' from the anti-teh ghey to the subjugation of women through removing abortion choice and whining piteously about 'right to die' legislation.

"Got a pet ignorance that you want to discriminate for...join us and hate for the lawd' !"

All with their own foibles and all interpreting the meme to suit personal bigotries.

Religion has never been organised as such...just that they tend to join forces now and then against the common enemy.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 07:23:46 UTC | #911040

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 9 by Schrodinger's Cat

In my view it is the 'organized' that is the problem.

To me religion is like this :- Someone has a nice trip on magic mushroom. They see lots of nice colours, feel one with the universe, see a bright light, and have a good time. They tell their son about it......the son tells others, but adds on that the bright light said gays are bad. Pretty soon there's a small group.....and they add on that adultery is a sin. The small group becomes a large group....who add on ten 'commandments' from the bright light. The large group then smites neighbouring towns and takes over.....which of course the bright light supposedly authorised. Along comes a king......he claims sole personal communication with the bright light, and adds that all sins are very naughty and some should be punished by death, plus a load of silly rituals. The king's country then gets demolished by a passing empire that couldn't give a toss about the bright light but later finds the beliefs useful for unifying the hordes of people. Those in charge then rename themselves clerics, and enforce 'doctrine' with a rod of iron.....burning at the stake anyone who even thinks of questioning their power.

Do we blame the magic mushroom.....the 'religion' itself ? No, I think a little psilocybin might actually do people a world of good....especially clerics ! It's when the 'Cult of Mushroom' stops being a personal experience and starts being 'The Holy Mushroom says........that the evil arises.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 07:33:57 UTC | #911041

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 10 by Vorlund

A tour de force! I hope there were people listening who went away with a more skeptical stance.

I liked Kat's list but I think the short route through this is to make sure children are either kept away from or weaned off the supernatural crap as early as possible. That means we have to make sure religions are kept away from our schools and that children have access to the scientifc truth and rational thinking in an accessible form. When they grow up and have their own children their will be fewer and fewer religios. It could be done in a few generations, it will probably take many more.

Taking on religious adults (the happy ignorant arrogant ones are the worst) takes the most effort and yeilds smaller returns except where a good piece of demolition (Hitch springs to mind) shows to others what dodgy thinking is really behind religious life.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 08:14:35 UTC | #911048

Tony d's Avatar Comment 11 by Tony d

Cor, i would love to see the end of organized religion. It just gets me down, every time i see some Muslim or some Christian talking about their God and their religion, i can't stop myself thinking that the person talking is a complete Knob head and i find it hard not to look on them with contempt, sneering at their gullibility. I recognise it might not be their fault.The people at the top of these religious organisations are the ones to blame.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 08:19:25 UTC | #911049

Nitin Singh's Avatar Comment 12 by Nitin Singh

We Indians have a strange belief in religion and God. We don't reject any scientific discovery which debunks our superstitions but we still continue following them. Like, I know so many Indians who perfectly know how Lunar or Solar eclipse occurs but will still not drink or eat during an eclipse. No one in India criticises the theory of evolution like the religious in the west, but still there are so many who believe the complex hindu rituals can miraculously improve their lives.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 08:58:56 UTC | #911053

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 13 by Premiseless

Comment 12 by Nitin Singh :

We Indians have a strange belief in religion and God. We don't reject any scientific discovery which debunks our superstitions but we still continue following them. Like, I know so many Indians who perfectly know how Lunar or Solar eclipse occurs but will still not drink or eat during an eclipse. No one in India criticises the theory of evolution like the religious in the west, but still there are so many who believe the complex hindu rituals can miraculously improve their lives.

Do you have any theories as to why this is?

There is some thought theory that humans standing in nature was a well evolved sensory reciprocity. Feel the dirt, the cold and the sun on your face. Taste the seasons via the fruits and crops in due course. Hunt the animals especially when scarcity surrounds you or when their young 'spring'. Nature became a symbiotic seasonally sensory livelihood. And many emotions in our distant past became tied to story and fictions that integrated with such cycles. An activity and emotion that had a stake in its ecology.

Once lost or weakened, due the human zoo syndrome, desire for ritual or replacement ritual became a sweet way to spend ones free time. In the west games, sports etc have become endemic pastimes.

Would you agree that in some cases, this desire for ritual has become co dependent on irrational obsessions, replacement in part for the redundancy of a no longer co dependency on these ancient cycles? Or is it that those still trapped in those ancient connectives have equally retained their affections for ancient irrationalities as a link to their ancestry and the fictional emotions such prospects of reuniting with them fulfills?

Why are people the way they are?

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 09:33:41 UTC | #911058

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 14 by Alan4discussion

The answer was that since the Queen had led millions away from Catholicism, her murder would be a commendable act.

Her dad (Henry VIII) certainly sorted out the problem of Catholic domination in England, so the popes spent years plotting with foreign princes, exiles, and undercover Catholics, to try to arrange take-over invasions and plots!

I don't think organised religion will go globally extinct, but there is hope it will die out in local or national locations.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 10:00:28 UTC | #911063

raam's Avatar Comment 15 by raam

It is not true that people in India happily co-exist with both science and spirituality. It is mostly that they don't understand science or its implications. I have come across followers of the organization ISKCON promoting what they call krishna-consciousness, openly promoting self-published books which say evolution is false. Ordinary people who come under the influence of these religious groups are made, for the first time in their lives, to confront the dichotomy between what they learnt in school - a simplistic version of evolution, illustrated with a monkey progressively becoming a man - and what krishna has said in the scriptures. And more often than not, they make a choice in favour of their God and come down against evolution. That's the first step. Slowly, they start talking all sorts of anti-scientific nonsense because they have to somehow justify to themselves that everything they had hitherto accepted as true about science, stuff they studied in school but never really thought about, goes against their faith.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 10:28:11 UTC | #911066

existance's Avatar Comment 16 by existance

And why indeed should any of us pull any punches when it comes to critisising organised religion?

I enjoyed Jeremy Paxman grilling the Bishop on BBCs Newsnight last night. Basically point blank fired at him the question: "By what authority do you, as an unelected member of the House of Lords decide to reject a law which has considerable support from the public and the members of Parliament who they have elected to represent them?" The Bishop pointed out quite rightly that this was a different debate altogether, but he knew he didn't have a legitimate answer, bleating that 'it's always been this way for 500 years!'. Still, credit the Paxman for firing it at him.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 11:20:38 UTC | #911072

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 17 by AtheistEgbert

Optimistic but maybe not realistic.

The real enemy is rather an obvious one, it's how organized religion is a direct threat to liberal or secular democracies. Even in America, its politics is religious soaked. Religion cannot stay away from politics, and America can do nothing about it, because its constitution protects religion.

Atheists must become politically sophisticated, and must take politics seriously, debating the religious and filling out petitions is not going to protect our freedoms. Atheists show great interest in education and science but that interest is only matched by their, let's face it, laziness and non-seriousness when it comes to politics.

I want to see organized atheism, or lets call it organized liberalism, which actually respects equality and liberty amongst its own people, and then it would be mature enough to take on organized religion.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 11:24:17 UTC | #911074

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 18 by drumdaddy

Global War on Nonsense? I'm enlisted and will recruit. Mankind will be healthier and more prosperous when passions, energy, resources and moneys no longer swirl into the stinking drains that are religions, pseudosciences, and other commercial deceptions. There may be a sucker born every minute but shouldn't they be somewhat protected via the prosecution of the thieves who would dupe them?

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 12:05:32 UTC | #911078

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 19 by Schrodinger's Cat

I think one can go too far to the other end of the scale and pronounce all 'spirituality' or attempt at trancendence as wrong or bad, and seek to reduce people to mere machines. I'm not one of those who feels they simply must drive out every last ounce of 'delusion' from the human mind....any more than I'd argue people should stop reading Lord Of The Rings or getting high on mescalin.

The problem is not, and has never been, individual people's beliefs, delusions, or whatever you may care to call them. The problem with religion has always been the authoritarian power cliques that arise.......and in some cases even hijack any original creeds. The problems arise the minute someone gains authority and demands 'God says......'............as opposed to ' I had a nice lttle mental experience, would you like to hear about it ?'

It's the 'God says...' development that leads to what in my opinion is the most evil organisation ever to have existed.....the Catholic church. Not even the current incarnation of Islam has quite yet matched the full oppression and horrors the Catholic church has been responsible for over the centuries......though it is certainly well on its way.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 13:08:57 UTC | #911082

potteryshard's Avatar Comment 20 by potteryshard

Religion seems to be weakening... The appeal of the traditional mainstream churches seems to be faltering enough that they are losing adherents to the shopping mall churches. The 'message' is becoming increasingly fragmented as churches begin marketing directly to smaller and more narrowly focused audiences.

As always, however, the epidemic won't be controllable until such time as tax dodges and loopholes for lunatics are closed. The constitution protects religion; that is not the same as protecting it's revenues. Religion will continue to proliferate until we can expunge the profits from pretend piety.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 13:14:13 UTC | #911083

Bala's Avatar Comment 21 by Bala

to Mods.... video of Dawkins' book reading available here http://jaipurliteraturefestival.org/program-2011/23-jan-2012-program/ albeit with a video audio mismatch.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 13:28:26 UTC | #911085

I'm_not's Avatar Comment 22 by I'm_not

Comment 1 by Neodarwinian :

An optimistic outlook that we all share. Disorganized religion would be a great improvement!

I did not know that historical tidbit about Elizabeth I but the 16th century would be back tomorrow if some christains had their way. And the 16th century is really not that long ago in terms of human moral behavior.

It still is the 16th century in large parts of Northern Ireland...

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 14:03:51 UTC | #911090

tejas_gokhale01's Avatar Comment 23 by tejas_gokhale01

"You can't be an American politician without being a hypocrite," signed off the renowned biologist and ardent Darwinian.

I think the word American can be replaced by any country in the world.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 14:35:53 UTC | #911091

Tryphon Tournesol's Avatar Comment 24 by Tryphon Tournesol

Comment 23 by tejas_gokhale01 :

"You can't be an American politician without being a hypocrite," signed off the renowned biologist and ardent Darwinian.

I think the word American can be replaced by any country in the word.

click

Slick bastard! Btw.. hymn for Red October (soundtrack) is worth listening to.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 14:46:21 UTC | #911092

some asshole's Avatar Comment 25 by some asshole

I'm not saying this because it's his site--I really am not--but I have to say that I am deeply appreciative of Richard Dawkins. I don't have "heroes" and I am not a mindless follower, but I find his rhetorical contributions immeasurably beneficial. Even simple, offhand statements he makes that trickle down through the various media outlets serve to vindicate, and pry open minds, even if just a little bit. I hope it doesn't seem to sycophantic to say that I would like to shake his hand one day.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 15:20:37 UTC | #911095

quarecuss's Avatar Comment 26 by quarecuss

Figures the professor would be in fighting form in Jaipur where Rushdie dare not show. Love the bit about Obama.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 16:11:01 UTC | #911100

chawinwords's Avatar Comment 27 by chawinwords

Reality, over human history declares one fact/truth/reality, and that is: as long as any concept of religious belief in the unseeable exists, that religion will organize -- period. And if there are thousands of different religions believing in the unseeable, all of those religions will attempt to organize; hence, all of the problems therein associated, including every conceivable human justification for human killings, will also exist, and be justified!

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 16:35:31 UTC | #911104

stellier68's Avatar Comment 28 by stellier68

More polarization is what I expect unfortunately from the "Christian" diaspora. Western Europe, Canada, Australia will get more secular in my opinion because they value their intellectuals and their thinkers. A good example is the political cultures of these countries based on constructive debates and argumentations. Americans on the other hands are first degree, they value Bigger than Life personnae and their political culture is more "People Magazine". So unless there's a MAJOR shift where american quit "feeling" and start "thinking", I don't see them stop going to church.

For Islam - it's the "Vince Lombardi" factor; us against the world...Islam aginst the west, islam against women, islam against gays, islam against israel, islam against Rushdie, etc... The only thing Islam seems to promote is to keep the masses in a medieval lifestyle. Middle East will run out of petrol eventually :(

As for the Jewish. They have long stopped being a religion, they're a lobby now...

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 16:41:44 UTC | #911106

mr_DNA's Avatar Comment 29 by mr_DNA

Got to be honest, I don't share his optimism. Organised religion is very good at evolving ( ironically ) with the times.

If take a historical perspective this is very easy to observe. It constantly changes to reflect the morality and the prejudice of the audience. Those of you who think that politicians adopt their policies to attract the faithful should take note that religion is of its self extremely political. Always has been. They are power brokers still in most countries of the world. And they know how to keep a grip on power by re-branding and adapting to new ideas.

As science peels away more of the mysteries of the universe, religions will move to occupy the new areas of mystery ( witness the voodoo of Quantum mechanics as a case in point ) Add to that the undoubted weakness of the human brain that has a tendency to see intent and behaviour in random and natural events and you have an audience EAGER to be exploited. As has been said many times people would rather be sold a lie no matter how ridiculous that they and their loved ones will one day meet again in an after life to be than accept the obvious truth.

So I continue to hope for more tolerance in the World for non-believers and for acceptance. Though intellectually I don't think that will happen in my life time. In fact I'm pessimistic. I think we can clearly see the fruits of the age of reason; the aspiration to be rationale and critical; dying in front of our eyes.

I apologise for my pessimism but that's how I see it.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 17:24:33 UTC | #911115

Bob Russell's Avatar Comment 30 by Bob Russell

I have a plan. Each of us buy a copy of Satantic Verses and ofAllah, Liberty & Love and send them to a local mosque, wherever you live. Doesn't cost alot and puts cash in the author's pockets. What will the clerics do? Read the books? Complain? Burn them? I can guess. Where is the harm in sharing books?

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 19:08:13 UTC | #911156