Religion: Root of all Evil?

March 18, 2006

"Physicist and Nobel prizewinner Stephen Weinberg describes religion as an insult to human dignity. 'Without it,' he says, 'you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion.' Dawkins agrees. It is more moral, he says, to do good for its own sake than out of fear. Morality, he says, is older than religion, and kindness and generosity are innate in human beings, as they are in other social animals. The irony is that science recognises the majesty and complexity of the universe while religions lead to easy, closed answers.

Is there no more than just this life? asks Richard Dawkins. How much more do you want? We are lucky to be here, he says, and we should make the most of our time on this world."

This is from the Channel 4 promo page for "The Root of All Evil?", the two-part series on religion presented by Richard Dawkins, aka "Darwin's Rotweiller".

When is it showing in NZ?

Here is a BBC interview with Dawkins about the making of the show. He is incredibly good - clear, simple, intelligent arguments. Great listening!

Channel 4 - The Root of All Evil?

BBC Radio 5 - Interview with Richard Dawkins:

(Correction made - Channel 4 is a private station, and has nothing to do with BBC. Thanks to LibertyScott for setting me straight. :)


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  1. Rick says:
    March 19, 2006 @ 05:03 — Reply

    Morality older than religion? Don't believe it.

  2. Julian Pistorius says:
    March 19, 2006 @ 14:47 — Reply

    How do you figure that Rick?

    And whether you are right or not about the relative ages of morality and religion, what are your thoughts regarding the main thrust of the post?


  3. Ricklosopher says:
    March 20, 2006 @ 02:53 — Reply

    Well, it's a bit like saying economics is older than Adam Smith or philosophy is older than the Greeks. People do say that, it's just that I argue strongly against them.

    Yes, there was proto-philosophic ideas. People thought about philosophy long before they started theorising about it. But morality, moral theory, comes from the cults/religions that inspired the pre-Socratic philosophers.

    As for the main thrust, I think religion is for the weak-minded. I don't agree it is an insult to human dignity because I don't really rate the "human" very highly. My respect for religion is like my admiration for a well-made steam engine. It's great what it can do, we're more powerful with it than with nothing in its place BUT it has been supplanted and the new way is better.

    I had to confess to Libertyscott in comments here much the same point.

  4. Julian Pistorius says:
    March 20, 2006 @ 17:27 — Reply

    Religion is like a well-made steam engine? WTF? And we're better with it than without it?

    Hmm... That amounts to saying that even though the blindfold you've put on stops you from seeing, at least your face stays nice and warm. Or that the ball and chain you've shackled yourself to makes nice sounds as they drag along the ground.

    In my mind, religion is the careful avoidance of thinking about certain things. Since humans are the only rational creatures, to avoid thinking is like intentionally blinding yourself. How is that a good thing? If we have dignity, it is the dignity of being able to think things out for ourselves, and come to conclusions - right or wrong.

    To believe in something with no ground in reality, to rely on faith, is just playing pretend.

    I suspect we have different definitions of what religion is...

  5. libertyscott says:
    March 20, 2006 @ 04:45 — Reply

    Just one comment Julian, it was NOT the BBC that broadcast this, Channel 4 is a privately owned commercial TV channel. The BBC interviewed Dawkins on Radio 5 (the sports network curiously), but I doubt it would have the courage to show the TV programme on its channels.

  6. Rick says:
    March 21, 2006 @ 21:16 — Reply

    This calls for a blog item!

    Come hither

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