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Dawkins says religion is 'like sucking a dummy'

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Professor Richard Dawkins has described religious believers as "sucking on dummies" for comfort and said that giving children a religious education was comparable to "erecting a firewall in their minds" against scientific truth.

Debating in London on the subject: "Are we better off without religion?", he said religion was like "a child with a dummy in its mouth. I do not think it a very dignified or respect-worthy posture for an adult to go around sucking a dummy for comfort."

When his opponents, who included Rabbi Julia Neuberger and philosopher Roger Scruton, argued that "the religious gene" is in all of us, and it was part of the human condition to search for meaning, Dawkins replied: "Speak for yourself. It is not a part of me. It is not a part of the great majority of my friends in universities in England and the US and elsewhere."

The debate ranged from religious inspiration in art, to the human capacity for good and evil. You can read a full account in Ruth Gledhill's blog, Articles of Faith , and listen to our podcast .

The audience was asked to vote on the motion before the debate, with the result 826 votes for the motion, 681 against and 364 don't knows. At the end, the vote was 1,205 for the motion, 778 against and 100 don't knows.

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