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Richard Dawkins: 2 Flaws Plague Unscientific Belief, from Trump & Alt-Right to Religious Doctrine

What’s it like to be worshipped by the Alt-Right? Not good, especially if you’re a passionate rationalist like Richard Dawkins. He was very recently accused of Islamophobia by KPFA radio—which is why some of the Alt-Right have flocked toward him—however Dawkins released a statement calling any alleged “abusive speech” by him preposterous, and clarified his views: “I have indeed strongly condemned the misogyny, homophobia, and violence of Islamism, of which Muslims—particularly Muslim women—are the prime victims. I make no apologies for denouncing those oppressive cruelties, and I will continue to do so.” Here he responds to how unpleasant it is to have your rational thoughts and your name hijacked by political extremists, and he expresses his disdain for President Trump’s policies, specifically the ‘Muslim ban’. With that as context, he proceeds to do what he does best: use science to investigate the idea of supernatural gods as the creators of the universe—which is a scientific hypothesis, he states, but one of the failed kind. Dawkins explains that we already have a superb theory of why living things have come into being—Darwinian evolution—and the evils that can come from too much faith. Richard Dawkins’ most recent book is Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist.

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Transcript: It’s very unfortunate when you inadvertently find people agreeing with you who they’re the last people who wish to agree with you. I mean I despise Trump. I despise everything that he stands for. But it’s perfectly true that many people think that I ought to be on his side because he has these draconian illiberal horrible policies towards Muslims, trying to stop Muslims entering the country. What a horrible thing to do. What an impolite unwise illiberal inhumane thing to do. And so I’m embarrassed if people on the alt-right agree with something that I say for the wrong reasons.

There’s not a great deal about religion in Science in the Soul. Most of what I have to say about that is in my earlier book The God Delusion, so I can rehearse that if you wish. To me as a scientist the main argument is a scientific one. I think that the hypothesis that the universe was created by a supernatural intelligence is a scientific hypothesis, it’s a bad hypothesis, it’s a false hypothesis, but it has to be judged on its scientific merits.

The universe would be a very different kind of universe if there was a supernatural creative intelligence in it than if there wasn’t. So much of my argument is a scientific argument. There is no positive reason to believe in anything supernatural. If you look at all the reasons that have been offered none of them stand up, none of them hold water.

We have in the form of Darwinian evolution we have a superb theory of why living things have come into being, why they are the way they are, why they look as though they’ve been designed and they undoubtedly do look as though they’ve been designed. The illusion of design in living things is immensely powerful and it’s no wonder that until Darwinian came along almost everybody believed that it was created by a supernatural intelligence.

But we now have Darwin, we now have Darwin and his successors. We now know how life came about. And the complexity and the beauty, the elegance and the illusion of design of life has always been by far the most powerful argument for the existence of supernatural gods and that is completely blown out of the water.

The secondary argument is whether religion has evil effects, whether religion as bad effects and on balance I think it does. The real problem is that religious faith prides itself on not needing support. You can’t argue somebody out of their faith they simply say that’s my faith you have to accept it. And that means that if their faith tells them, if their religious upbringing tells them that they must do bad things like blow things up, kill apostates, throw gay people off high buildings, et cetera, if their religion tells them that then you can’t argue them out of it because it comes from their faith, and faith by definition has no argument, faith by definition and shelter behind the wall that says no it’s my faith I don’t have to defend it it’s just there, it’s just faith, that I think is potentially very evil.

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