Richard Dawkins on who is an atheist

Richard Dawkins

In a recent talk, Richard Dawkins spoke about education, atheism and intelligence. His comments are interesting.

He said, he said

In January Richard was one of many speakers at the Jaipur Literature Festival in India. A quick summary of some of the highlights:

  • He spoke about the evils of religion, including his often-repeated claims that faith is devoid of evidence (“detached from objective reality”) for there is not the slightest evidence for the existence of God. I am unsure how he can say this (see Is faith the opposite of reason? and Is there no evidence for God?), but presumably he means repeatable and verifiable scientific evidence, even though many of his statements about religion are just as unscientific.
  • He looks forward to the death of organised religion in his lifetime.
  • He spoke about the importance of education, saying that education is the only antidote to religion. He said: “Religion is a form of wickedness, a corruption of the minds of children …. We need to protect children from being indoctrinated.” I’m not sure how he would propose to accomplish that, but it sounds a little coercive.
  • He is reported to have said atheism is on the rise in the US because of increased education: “There seems to be a correlation with education. It’s certainly true within the US — the more educated people are more likely to give up religion.” However studies I’ve seen (Live Science and USA Today indicate the facts are a little different – church attendance is lowest among the least educated and highest among the better educated. In the UK, the average atheist is better educated than the average believer, but those who have converted to atheism recently are generally less educated than average, while those who have recently converted to theism are generally the best educated of all. Dawkins’ figures are probably based on surveys of scientists which show that around a third to a half of scientists believe in God, much lower than in the general population in the US, with the numbers dropping still further among the “top scientists“.
  • He argued that morality can be derived from atheism and doesn’t need the support of religion.
  • Perhaps most interesting was his discussion of atheism in political life. He said: “There are 535 members in the US congress. Presumably some of them are reasonably educated. It’s inconceivable that only one of them is an atheist. There’s got to be at least 50% of them” This despite the fact that 90% of people in the US believe in a god.
  • He was also quoted as saying: “I suspect we have already seen several atheist US presidents, they just didn’t admit it. I suspect Lincoln was an atheist, probably so was Kennedy. Obama is an intelligent man, so I wouldn‘t be surprised if he’s a closet atheist.” It doesn’t seem he followed his own teachings on evidence here (Obama speaks quite clearly about his faith), but bases his conclusions on his belief that religion and intelligence cannot easily coexist.
  • All this is consistent with statements he made not long ago and reported in The Blaze that “Jesus was a great moral teacher and I was suggesting that somebody as intelligent as Jesus would have been an atheist if he had known what we know today.”

I wonder ….

Richard Dawkins is obviously a highly intelligent man. I wonder whether he ever ponders what he has said and notices any inconsistencies, any lack of logic or evidence. Does he ever ponder whether in his enthusiasm for his cause, he is taking on any of the characteristics of those he criticises so vehemently (intolerance, zeal in excess of wisdom or evidence, ideas that could encourage others to go further than he would go into dangerous actions)? I wonder if he ever has second thoughts, or is he entirely confident? I’m not at all sure.


  1. “◦He looks forward to the death of organised religion in his lifetime.”

    Well, he is in good company there. Intellectuals have done that for well over a century. So far the claim has a record as good as endtimes predictions.

    Anyway, though he doesn’t look too pleased in that image, at least Dawkins’s taste in dress has progressed through selection. 😉 Just look at this old still:

  2. It has always amzaed me how proud of themselves,these atheists and agnostics are,it seems as if they looked at everybody else over their shoulder or as if they thought they are absolutely right and the rest of the people,those who do not think as they do,were wrong,and unworthy to take them in account or what is worse,worth to be laughed at.In my mind,they disclaim the existence of God because they think they are the center of the entire Universe,so the conclusion is that they,themselves,are GOD.It is easy to mock at a peaceful faith,that never protests,they must thank God for that.I wonder why they are not so brave,and instead they use the name of the God belonging to the Muslim religion,in such campaigns.In addition to this,they manipulate the truth,and are big liars,since they claim that Einstein,who,on the other side,is an overvalued Nobel Prize scientist,has refused the existence of God.That’s false.But,the reason for all this manipulation may be that they think they are the illustrated ones,with all that atheist reading with which they have filled their lives,such as Nietsche and similar,and consequently they consider that the people who ,basically believe,that God exists,without entering in religious discussions,are just ignorant and fanatic people,easy to manipulate with all kind of inventions.I wonder why they have not donated those 130.000 pounds to some N.G.O.instead of wasting it in such an absurd campaign.On the other side,what is the purpose for it?Their discussions about God are always based on prejudices and stereotypes,and the arm they always use is ridiculizing the believers.Time is a good allied,so it is just a question of time for they changing their minds,if not,at least,respect to those who do believe.

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