Richard Dawkins: Churchgoers enable fundamentalists by being ‘nice’

August 13, 2014

Because moderate Christians and Muslims are so pleasant people believe that religion is good, decent, ordinary churchgoers have helped enable religious fundamentalists to become suicide bombers by being “so nice” that people do not question their faiths, Richard Dawkins has argued.

Dawkins, the evolutionary scientist and outspoken atheist, said moderate Christian and Muslim believers had inadvertently paved the way for extremists by saying they had made non-evidence-based belief a “legitimate reason” for their behaviour, he claimed they have now helped “make the world safe” for fundamentalists to exist.

“It’s very important that we should not demonise ordinary, law-abiding, very decent Muslims which of course is the vast majority in this country, but what I do think about the difference, and let’s leave out Muslims specifically, but the difference between moderate religious people and extremist fundamentalists is that although of course it’s only a tiny minority of any sect which is ever going to get violent or horrible, there is a sense in which the moderate, nice religious people – nice Christians, nice Muslims – make the world safe for extremists, because the moderates are so nice we all are brought up with the idea that there’s something good about religion faith. That there’s something good about bringing children up to have a faith, which means to believe something without evidence and without the need for justifying it.” he said

Nobel prize-winning author Wole Soyinka warns of religion’s roll call of death

August 10, 2014

Atrocities carried out by fanatics such as Nigeria’s Boko Haram show the dangers of religious belief with the “scroll of faith … indistinguishable from the roll call of death”, according to the Nobel prize-winning author Wole Soyinka. In a video address to the World Humanist Congress, at which he will be presented with its main award, Soyinka will argue that even moderate religious leaders may be “vicariously liable” for sectarian hatred if they have failed to argue against it.

He added that Boko Haram’s members considered abducting 200 girls to be “virtuous” and moderate Muslims could not simply disavow their actions with “pious incantations” that “these are not the true followers of the faith”. “We have to ask such leadership penitents: ‘Were there times when you kept silent while such states of mind, overt or disguised, were seeding fanaticism around you? Are you vicariously liable?'” said Soyinka. “The lesson of Boko Haram is not for any one nation. It is not for the African continent alone. The whole world should wake up to the fact that the menace is borderless, aggressive and unconscionable.”