Do You Believe in God?
What would you do if you were dying? Would you try and call for help? Would you pray for survival? It all depends on your world view and religious beliefs.
In many cases, death is unexpected and unpredictable, and in all cases, it’s unavoidable. But that doesn’t stop us from trying our hardest to prevent it, whether by medical or spiritual means.
Many people experience major spiritual interventions after near-death experiences, but when famous atheist and academic Richard Dawkins (75) had a stroke last February, God was the last thing on his mind.
As his condition continues to improve during his recovery, Dawkins has again picked up his crusade against religion and religious minorities, urging people to offend Muslims and other believers “at every opportunity.” But is there major prejudice inherent to his suggested way to achieve equality?
Here’s what he had to say about Muslim immigrants…
Dawkins and Atheism
Though confirmed into the Church of England when he was thirteen, Dawkins soon lost his religious faith and has gone on to become one of the world’s foremost outspoken atheists.
His studies in science (today he is an ethologist and evolutionary biologist) further led him to the conclusion that God does not exist and that religion is a social construct. Among his published works is The God Delusion, a 2006 bestseller that critiques the reasons why people choose to believe in a higher being while stating that people don’t need organized religion to be moral citizens.
In the book, Dawkins introduces the spectrum of theistic probability, which ranks people from believers to non-believers on a scale of 1 to 7. On this scale, Dawkins ranks himself as a 6.9, saying he’s a de-facto atheist and that he “cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”
Taking (and Giving) Offense
Dawkins had long wanted to write a scathing book about religion before publishing The God Delusion, and he approaches his atheism unapologetically, even preferring to confront believers and encouraging others to do the same.
He recently told the London Times that among the myriad problems caused by religion, in today’s world, there is an “absurd double standard” in the Western world which makes people more afraid to insult Muslims than Christians for fear of coming off as racist. “There’s an awful confusion in many people’s minds,” he explained, “They think Islam is a race, which of course it isn’t. If you’re seen to criticize Islam you are often accused of racism, which is absurd.” He furthermore does not believe that Islamophobia is a real thing.
He brings up a good point here about our society’s current obsession with all things PC, but he errs quickly as he continues his explanation. Not only should we not worry about not offending people, he says, but we should be outright offending believers in the name of atheism and science. “I’m all for offending people’s religion. I think it should be offended at every opportunity.”
People have the right to believe in whatever they want, and while I think it’s healthy to have our beliefs challenged, I don’t understand what Dawkins hopes to gain from encouraging people to deliberately offend others purely based on their beliefs. That’s when he leaves the realm of philosophy and academia and moves explicitly into hate-mongering.