This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.


← If by "Christian love" you mean hatred & contempt...

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by AtheistEgbert

Comment 19 by Richard Dawkins :

I would be curious to hear from psychologists what they think is really going on in the minds of these Christians when they write such hateful things. Not just hateful but threatening, and filled with vengeful but impotent fantasies of the girl being raped in this life or going to hell in the next. My untutored guess would be that they are frightened and insecure about their own beliefs and therefore feel deeply threatened by a challenge such as this. And could it be that the threat is all the greater because it comes from a nice young woman – of the type whom they would normally admire – who doesn't fit with their stereotype of the evil atheist? I genuinely don't know, and wonder whether we have any expert psychologists who could reflect on the problem.


There has been some interesting literature written about group behaviour, politics and religion by such writers as Gustave Le Bon (The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind); Sigmund Freud (Civilization and Its Discontents and Group Psychology and the Analysis of Evil); Earnest Becker (The Denial of Death and Escape from Evil); Erich Fromm (Escape From Freedom and The Sane Society); Hannah Arendt (The Origins of Totalitarianism and The Human Condition and Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil); Philip George Zimbardo ( The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil).

And of course many many more. The general thesis is the link between group identity and authoritarianism, a thesis that I strongly agree with. That is why I think psychology can offer us stronger clues about why people hold religious beliefs and authoritarian political beliefs, and how we can help change people's minds to a more liberal and rational world view.

I really do hope you take an interest in some of these authors, who offered a wealth of wisdom and knowledge on the subject.

Sat, 14 Jan 2012 17:17:33 UTC | #908253