Richard Dawkins, famed atheist and evolutionary biologist, manages in a Salon interview of a month back to be at once too alarmist and too generous. And also, to top it off, breathtakingly stupid and naive in his analysis of global politics:
...the broad direction of history is toward enlightenment, and so I think that what America is going through at the moment will prove to be a temporary reverse. I think there is great hope for the future. My advice would be, Don't despair, these things pass.

Religion is scarcely distinguishable from childhood delusions like the "imaginary friend" and the bogeyman under the bed. Unfortunately, the God delusion possesses adults, and not just a minority of unfortunates in an asylum. The word "delusion" also carries negative connotations, and religion has plenty of those.
As we will cover later, religion for many ceases to function as a child's story even while they are children.
Bush and bin Laden are really on the same side: the side of faith and violence against the side of reason and discussion. Both have implacable faith that they are right and the other is evil. Each believes that when he dies he is going to heaven. Each believes that if he could kill the other, his path to paradise in the next world would be even swifter. The delusional "next world" is welcome to both of them. This world would be a much better place without either of them.
Oh, Jesus Christ, that is just so fucking stupid. George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden may be pretty similar, when you get right down to it - ne'er-do-well scions of powerful families (the ties between which go way back), but seriously: neither of those guys believes in God, Heaven, the afterlife, any of that. They believe in power, and they understand power fairly well (don't gimmie none of that guff about how stupid Dubya is - yes, he has surrounded himself with [evil] clever people, but he also has a certain kind of intelligence and ability to communicate to and control people that most lack), and they understand that the use of religion as an instrument of power is truly excellent, because you never need to explain yourself.

Dawkins' perfect society?

How would we be better off without religion?

We'd all be freed to concentrate on the only life we are ever going to have. We'd be free to exult in the privilege -- the remarkable good fortune -- that each one of us enjoys through having been being born. An astronomically overwhelming majority of the people who could be born never will be. You are one of the tiny minority whose number came up. Be thankful that you have a life, and forsake your vain and presumptuous desire for a second one. The world would be a better place if we all had this positive attitude to life. It would also be a better place if morality was all about doing good to others and refraining from hurting them, rather than religion's morbid obsession with private sin and the evils of sexual enjoyment.
Again - what a fucking moron.

Not able to understand this fairly simple, child's-level view of religion (it's a bunch of stories that talk about how you should act - you know, METAPHORS), he's further not able to process the idea that scientists - and specifically, the Smartest Man Ever) might actually be
able to deal with metaphors:
When you meet a scientist who calls himself or herself religious, you'll often find that that's what they mean. You often find that by "religious" they do not mean anything supernatural. They mean precisely the kind of emotional response to the natural world that you've described. Einstein had it very strongly. Unfortunately, he used the word "God" to describe it, which has led to a great deal of misunderstanding. But Einstein had that feeling, I have that feeling, you'll find it in the writings of many scientists. It's a kind of quasi-religious feeling.
"Misunderstanding"? Let's think about this. It's not as if atheism didn't exist when Einstein was around - he understood pretty damn well what religion was, what it wasn't, and the costs of religion or any other sort of system of social organization. He was a Jew who fled the Nazis. Trying to pretend that Albert Einstein - the Smartest Man Ever, a man who truly understood the nature of things and of humanity - made a mistake or somesuch, that there could be any "misunderstanding" about what he was talking about when he was talking about God - which he did not infrequently, and always eloquently - is a task of either enormous stupidity, mountainous willed ignorance, or simple prevarication. I'm not sure which Dawkins is guilty of - willed ignorance seems a good bet, though I'm not going to rule our prevarication - but any way you slice it, this is a tremendously misinformed analysis.

Dawkins is not a stupid man. He is, in fact, brilliant, as would seem obvious from his being "one of the world's leading evolutionary biologists," and when he talks about evolutionary biology, he does so with grace and beauty. In fact, he talks about evolutionary biology with much the same tone of reverance that many Great Thinkers have used over the millenia when talking about Revealed Truth, whether that truth is divine or otherwise. He feels that he understands the world in a truly advanced and profound way, and wants to share his vision of the world with others. He is so enthralled by the beauty of the world that he has found, in fact, that it seems he cannot step back to see that he is an evangelist for The Way as surely as Paul, Siddartha or any roadside preacher. "All other faiths are false - they are stupid stories which
contain nothing. Listen to me, for Truth has been Revealed, and it is Glorious! There is no God, only Nature; you will perish and rot forever, give thanks for the time you have! You shall have no God before me, and you shall exult in the privilege - the remarkable good fortune - that
each one of us enjoys through having been being born!"

Okay. That's different how this how?
In Judaism, life is valued above almost all else. The Talmud notes that all people are descended from a single person, thus taking a single life is like destroying an entire world, and saving a single life is like saving an entire world.

One more point, regarding Dawkins' general style of agrumentation. To say he is an asshole, and cares nothing of what others think (which is, of course, yet another mark of a True Believer) does not do justice to his view of those with whom he disagrees. His contempt fairly drips when speaking of religion, and of those who identify as Believers: "delusional" is not a word you use to describe a friend. By painting opponents - those unwilling to acknowledge the Truth, as it has been Revealed to Dawkins via evoluntionary biology - as being, literally,
mentally ill, the victims of a "disease," Dawkins can safely write off all they say. Who listens to the ravings of a lunatic? All opponents safely vanquished to the crazy house.

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