Does God exist his religion a force for good or even camp religion and science

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does God exist his religion a force for
good or even camp religion and science

go hand in hand to find some answers

I've come to Oxford home to the oldest

university in the english-speaking world

place where I study as an undergraduate

one of the jewels in the city's crown is

the Oxford Union the debating chamber

that's witnessed such legendary orators

as Winston Churchill benazir bhutto and

of course Kermit the Frog I've come back

to the Union today to sit down with the

world's most famous atheist Professor

Richard Dawkins to put faith on trial

and to ask his religion evil

Muslims riot in protest against a truly

awful film demonizing Islam dozens are

killed tries to burn a copy of the Quran

and a unites global fandom and even

Buddhists are at it attacking the Muslim

minority ro hangers in western Burma and

of course it's a conflict plaguing the

modern Middle East are often blamed on

ancient hatreds between the children of

Abel remember 9/11 was this religiously

inspired terrorism thousand died yet

here's the thing societies without faith

communism banned all religions as Joseph

Stalin and Mao Zedong systematically

slaughtered millions of their own

country is science any better since

Galileo and Darwin scientists have

sought to stamp out ignorant and unravel

the mysteries of the universe but

science has also poisoned the

environment Unleashed killing on an

industrial scale and now threatens our

entire planet my guest

today however stands firmly on the side

of science and has provoked controversy

with his attacks on religion ladies and

gentlemen professor Richard Dawkins one

of the most prolific thinkers of his

generation he's shot to fame in the

1970s with his research into genetics

and his book The Selfish Gene

transformed evolutionary biology his

most famous work The God Delusion sold

millions of copies and has been

translated into more than 30 languages

Richard thanks so much for joining us

here on our Jazeera before we go any

further I just want to check something

are you an atheist for all practical

purposes yes nobody can actually say for

certain that anything doesn't exist but

I'm an atheist in the same way as I'm an

a leprechaun estándar Nathe various and

an a big unicorn undred % sure God

doesn't exist but you're a sure enough

to make it practically I'm as sure as

you are sure that fairies and

leprechauns don't exist and do you see

an equivalence between the idea of God

and the idea of a fairy and a leprechaun

the evidence for both is equally poor

you say in The God Delusion one of my

favorite sentences jumps out of the page

that the God of the Old Testament is a

petty unjust unforgiving control-freak a

vindictive bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser

a misogynistic homophobic racist

infanticidal genocidal Phyllis idle

pestilential megalomaniacal

sadomasochistic capricious malevolent

bully as a piece of rhetoric superb but

do you really believe that

congratulations on getting

megalomaniacal right by the way most

people most people fungal on that yes if

you've actually read the Old Testament I

think you would have to agree it is it's

hideous it's an anti the god of the Old

Testament who is a monster but also the

god of the Koran the New Testament the

Hindu scripture well the god of the

Quran I don't know so much about the god

of the New Testament is widely

advertised as being a bit a bit more

gentle and certainly on the whole he is

there are things about the New Testament

that I find in a way almost more

objectionable than the Old Testament but

the sheer horror of the character I said

he was the most unpleasant character in

all fiction because I regarded as

fiction of course and yes he is I mean

he's jealous he's vindictive he's

callous he's cruel and this is a God

that is worshipped by loved by adored by

followed by millions billions of

I hope not I hope that the God that is

adored by millions of people is a grown

up kind of God who is no longer I hope

that most people who the kind of people

I would like to know who worship and

admire him regard those stories as not

literally true now there are some who do

regard them as literally true and I

suspect they either haven't read the Old

Testament or they're not the kind of

people I would wish to know because

because you don't you do not win what

want to worship a character like that by

all means worship some kind of great

spirit of the universe some kind of

creative intelligence who created the

universe but don't worship this vile

vindictive monster we throw what why

throw around these sweeping statements

about religion not the God of the Old

Testament but religion itself being evil

I mean do you believe religion is evil

no you say plenty of times in this book

the religion is evil you said in a

speech famously that I think a case can

be made that faith is one of the world's

great evils comparable to the smallpox

virus virus but harder to eradicate I do

think that yes because what I'm talking

about there is faith where faith means

belief in something without evidence

because if you believe something without

evidence then that justifies anything

you you're no longer vulnerable to

somebody coming back at you and saying

hang on a minute let me argue the case

if you believe it without evidence which

is what faith is then you don't argue

the case you say no I'm not arguing that

case this is my faith it's mine it's

private I don't I don't dissent from it

I don't retreat from it you're just

going to have to accept it now that is

evil and yet you spend so much of your

time debating people or faith so clearly

people of faith are interested in having

discussions they're not just all blind

believers insisting on their waiver

nobody said anything about all of them I

mean the vast majority of religious

people are perfectly good nice people as

you are there there's no suggestion I've

ever made that all religious people are

evil of course not

there is a logical progression that goes

from believing in faith having faith

that you that your God tells you to do

something and doing terrible deeds like

suicide bombing like flying planes into

into skyscrapers the vast majority of

people of faith don't do such terrible

things but those people who do terrible

things do it believing that they are

righteous and good and they think that

they're doing the will of their gods as

they are they're not evil people are

actually good people by their own lights

they believe they're doing good things

and that's why religion is evil because

it can make you do evil things believing

that they are good do you really believe

that people who go out and carry out

suicide bombings it is faith religion is

to blame not geopolitics not the world

not their lives not what's going on

around us it's religion plain and simple

not always it's not in the case of the

Tamil Tigers for example but I think in

a great majority of cases it is and I

think it certainly makes it a hell of a

lot easier

the evidence is playing that that in

many Islamic suicide bombers you talk to

them those who fail you talk to them


they've got paradise on the brain they

they're desperate to go to a martyrs

heaven and that's what they think about

professor Robert Pape of the University

of Chicago studied every known case of

suicide terrorism 315 cases and he came

to the conclusion that there's quote

little connection between suicide

terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism or

any of the world's religions the taproot

of suicide terrorism he says is

nationalism it's about land it's about

power it's about politics it's not about

faith faith is just a cover what do you

know that he doesn't know well I've seen

other other evidence there are different

people say to say different things I've

seen plenty of of testimonies of suicide

bombers who have said precisely that

they do it because they want and martyrs

paradise shooting through the 7/7

bombers in that case as well yes I

believe so

have you watched their suicide videos

I'm not sure that I have now they talk

about Afghanistan they talk about Iraq

they talk about Crusades they talk about

war between the west and the Muslim

world they talk about invading armies I

mean there's a lot of there's a lot of

real world stuff in there I'm not saying

of course not the faith hasn't doesn't

play a role but I'm just interested in

this idea that you think faith is is the

issue you say you said in a very famous

column you wrote four days after 9/11

that this came

from religion there are enormous ly good

reasons for people to take political

action and this of this we see in

Northern Ireland we see it in

Afghanistan we see it in in Sri Lanka

where the Tamil Tigers operated so yes

there are political reasons but the

promise of other martyrs heaven which is

it we cannot deny that this is part of

Islamic doctrine martyrs go straight to

paradise yes they're not terrorists not

murderers not criminals well they

believe that because they're told it by

their Imams but then what about the

majority of the world's Muslim clerics

and Allah ma who came out and condemned

9/11 strength and delighted they did but

they were pretty quiet about it what

about the argument that says human

beings are prone to violence they're

prone to carrying out crimes against

their fellow man

you can blame religion you can blame

politics do you blame economics lots of

factors lots of excuses why don't what I

don't get why do you only focus on

religion for fairness why don't you also

isolate the other factors there are lots

of other factors and I'm quite happy to

say that yes there are there are lots of

rain if you look at the Wars of history

some of them have been about religion

plenty of them have not been about

religion I never said religion is the

the sole cause of wars and violence you

you may not have said that but you would

accept that the New Atheists

people like Sam Harris the late

Christopher Hitchens have blamed a lot

of history's Wars on God and religion

and you make a similar suggestion to God

Delusion yeah I would blame a lot of

history's Wars but the most terrible

wars in history the two major wars of

the set of this 20th century are nothing

to do with religion listen the Cold War

and Vietnam yes I would have cut of

course yes so when you have a situation

where some of the world's worst crimes

were carried out not by believers how

then does that square with your idea

that it's religion that causes good

people to do bad things religion that's

driving violence your original statement

against religion at the start of this

dogmatic belief in something like

religion or something like Marxism or

something like Nazism these are all

indeed patriotism I mean my country

right or wrong these are all pernicious

beliefs which can drive

people to do to do terrible things and

in the Second World War

hitlerism was driven by by by racism by

a sort of sub Vardhan Aryan pagan

religion which Hitler revived Stalin's

atrocities were were motivated by a

dogmatic belief in Marxism and a few

Stalin happened to be an atheist but he

was never motivated Soviet Union was not

based on scientific rationalism on the

elimination of religion and God

Stalin persecuted the church Stalin

persecuted just about everybody are you

saying that the Soviet Union the leaders

of the Soviet Union were not driven by a

hatred of religion and a belief that

science and human progress and

materialism was the way forward they

believed that materialism science human

progress there was a kind of marker

there was a Marxist slant on those on

those words and they were hideously

misuse Mao Zedong when he invaded Tibet

told the Dalai Lama that religion is

poison the subtext to the late

Christopher Hitchens book was religion

poisons everything can you blame people

of religion for saying hold on we've

heard these ideas before that religion

poisons everything and it leads in one


it's an incidental fact that Mao Zedong

and Stalin happened to be atheists they

recently wasn't it wasn't core to

communism it I I think it was not caught

a communism no so when Karl Marx was

talking about religion being the opiate

of the masses that was just a throwaway

yeah I mean that was that was an

out-of-context statement I mean what an

earth you think I've got to do with

atheism I don't know let me put a

statement in context to you

Albania one of the world's worst

dictatorships tyrannies that we've seen

in the last hundred years article 37 of

Albania's communist Constitution

declared quote the state recognizes no

religion and supports atheistic

propaganda in order to implant a

scientific materialistic world outlook

in people what do you think you're

saying I mean that's an appalling thing

to say of course it is why is that an

appalling thing to say what do you

disagree with in that statement why

would I want to support atheistic

propaganda I support science and truths

but you don't support spreading atheism

I support spreading science and truth if

that happens to be atheism I support it

I'm not going to start bullying people

in tube into being atheist I'm not going

to start trying to compel people to be

to be atheist that was what the

Albanians were doing it's nothing to do

whatever you liked it of course but

you'd like to persuade them not to be

believers and becoming I'd like to raise

consciousness in a gentle civilized way

using argument rational argument from

evidence in your book you cite lots of

evidence for the bad things religions

and what I wonder is if you were being

fair wouldn't you've also included some

of the good things that religions done

my passion is for scientific truths I

don't much care about what's good and

evil actually I care about what's true I

mean do you actually believe in your

Muslim faith you believe that Mohammed

split the moon in two do you believe

that Mohammed flew to heaven on a winged

horse for example I pay you the

compliment of assuming that that you

don't know I do I believe in murder you

believe that yes you believe that

Muhammad went to heaven on a winged

horse yes I believe in God I believe in

miracles I believe in Revelation I mean

the point here is that let's assume I'm

wrong Richard I'm wrong that's look

let's just see my wrong

I'm wrong I'm happy to concede that

Richard I'm happy to consider I'm wrong

all religions are wrong God does not


we're all mad the issue is we exist

we've existed for a while I think even

Christopher Hitchens said and you said

in your writings we're not going

anywhere so my question to you is why

not acknowledge for example the good

things that will endure son do you

accept that religion has done good

things despite all of our mad beliefs in

our miracle I accept that individual

religious people have done an enormous

number of good things not driven by

religion like Martin Luther King for

example Reverend Martin Luther King yes

obviously he was up he was a cleric so

so I I imagine that that fed into the

good things that he did plenty of other

things did he was a great admirer of

Gandhi and he was a great admirer of

non-violence he was a brilliant a

wonderful great man would you disconnect

MLK's non-violence and Gandhi's

non-violence from there very strongly

held religious beliefs they didn't well

I think that's it's not a thing that I

really care about actually I mean I

think they will care about it rich

people carry out violence in the name of

God and I cite to an example of very

famous people who've done good and

non-violence in the name of God and you

say I'm not interested if God doesn't

exist then doing something good in his

name it's great that something good gets

done but there's no evidence at all that

believing in God makes you more likely

to do good things I can't see any noble

logical connection between being

religious and doing good things let's

concede that God does not exist let's

concede that religion is false my

problem here is trying to understand why

some of the new atheists are so anti

religion when religious people clearly

are doing lots of good things and

they're doing it in the name of God I've

never denied that religious people are

doing good things and non-religious

people are doing good things I care

about what screw I'm an educator I'm a

scientist and I want people to

understand the truth about the universe

they live that's what I care about and I

regard religion as a distraction and in

some cases of pernicious distraction

from true education which I which I love

and value of the way you value love your

God can you not do both well so long as

they don't contradict each other but but

if you if you if you actually believe

Mohammed flew to heaven on a winged

horse that's an anti scientific belief

and that could be wrong but valuable is

wrong but that doesn't change that

doesn't change how do you know it's

wrong oh come on you're a man of the

21st century

I'm just asking this comes back to my

original question the rational position

addition is the agnostic position way

out there I mean I didn't say up that I

didn't pick a place why would a world

horse be that neither way to get to

heaven if it's not up there I asked a

question about you asked about proof I'm

all for saying I can't prove it but can

you prove he didn't do it I mean this is

flight of heaven I'm just asking on your

I'm just asking or no I can't prove it

and I can't prove it wasn't a golden

universe fascinated that you would

rather I've fascinated you rather talk

about what animals the Prophet may or

may not have used 1400 years ago rather

than talk about what Muslims or Islam is

doing in the world today good or bad

well that seems to be the distraction if

anyone's distracted seems to be you well

that's your that's your view I'm

fascinated by how somebody a respected

sophisticated journalist in the 21st

century could believe that a prophet

flew to heaven on a winged horse let me

ask you this are all people who hold

beliefs in God and in miracles and the

supernatural do you regard them all as

intellectually inferior to you I regard

those beliefs as intellectual nonsense I

don't regard the individuals as

intellectually inferior to me because

many of them palpably are not if you go

back in history then all bets are off

because before before Darwin for example

it's not at all surprising that before

Darwin people believed in all kinds of

things which they wouldn't believe in

now there are many people many

scientists today who say they're

religious and if you actually ask them

what they

believe in many cases it turns out what

they believe is in some sort of theistic

God some sort of intellectual spirit

some sort of creative intelligence that

lay at the root of the universe perhaps

invented the laws of physics something

like that I don't agree with this book

but it's an excellent but very well

argued you're very passionate clearly

there's one section in the book where

you talk about bringing up children oh

yes and you talked about education you

talked about a story when you you tell

us a story about being in Ireland and

talking about the Catholic child abuse

scandal and there's one quote on page

356 which I will read out to you

horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was

the damage was arguably less than the

long-term psychological damage inflicted

by bringing the child up Catholic in the

first place you believe that being

brought up as a Catholic is worse than

being abused by a priest there are

shades of being abused by a priest and I

quoted the I I quoted the example of a

woman in America who wrote to me saying

that when she was seven years old she

was sexually abused by a priest in his

car and at the same time a friend of

hers who also seven who was Protestant

was of Protestant family I should say

died and she was told that because her

friend was Protestant she had gone to

hell and would be roasting in hell

forever and she told me that of those

two abuses she got over the physical

it was the yucky which he got over it

but the mental abuse of being told about

hell she took years to get over and

respect Richard you're an empiricist

you're a rationalist one letter from one

woman in America isn't really bit the

basis to extrapolate and make suppose we

think includes of course true and I'm

not basing it on that it seems to me

that that telling children such that

they really really believe that people

who sin are going to go to hell and

roast forever forever that your skin

grows again when it when it peels off

with with with with burning

it seems to me to be intuitively

entirely reasonable that that is a worse

form of child abuse that will give more

nightmares that will give more genuine

distress because they really believe if

they don't believe it's not a problem of

course you also say let me just fit me

and I've been put on the spot about this

Health farthing I we have really been

put on this in what sense have you been

put on the spot well I I sense that you

think it's somehow obvious that that

having a priest if you're a small girl

having a priest

I would be very interested in asking the

audience whether being told about heaven

and hell as a child

I mean brought up as Catholic is worse

than that was worse than being abused by

a priest okay let's have a show of hands

is it worse to be abused by a priest and

if you believe it's worse for a priest

to abuse a child than to bring up your

child Catholic raise your hands are they

both as bad as each other raise your

hands so we have a three-way split in

the audience let's finish this section

with one last related subject on on this

question a personal question from me you

talked about how to teach children that

there is one God or that God created the

world in six days that is child abuse to

even teach your children religion is

child abuse so I have a daughter I teach

her about Islam and the horse am i

guilty of child abuse do you teach her

the world was created in six days

because Islam doesn't teach that I'm

delighted to hear that I ask again am i

guilty of child abuse for teaching my

child stories from the Quran yes or not

good to know we are going to talk more

about science and we're going to go back

to the audience to ask some questions to

professor Dawkins in part two we'll be

back after the break

welcome back we're talking about

religion and its impact on the world

good bad evil we're joined here by our

guest evolutionary biologist professor

Richard Dawkins Richard science is your

great passion and you a great believer

in science you're an evangelist for

science a promoter and defender of

science but what would you say to those

people who say there are some quite

important questions genuine questions

that science cannot answer why are we

here what's the meaning of life where

does morality come from and that if

religion wants to have a cracker

answering those what science is

objection I'm not sure I'd accept that

science can't answer those particular

questions I think there are other

questions sounds probably shouldn't try

to answer like what is what is right and

what is wrong those are those are

questions that are not the immediate

concern of science but what's the

meaning of life why is there it why is

there anything how did it all start but

there seem to me to be scientific

questions or potentially scientific

questions if there are some questions of

that sort that science can never answer

then we should at least keep trying to

answer them and if science can't answer

them religion having a crack at

answering them if there's no reason to

think that religion has any any any

basis for an answer then why would

religion have a crack why would you

bother to listen to religion having a

crack at answering them I mean one thing

I would say there may be questions that

science can't answer like the origin of

everything but if science can't answer

them then religion certainly can't and

nothing else can either why why is it

science either science or nothing

yes because because science is is is the

method of getting at what's true I mean

if you take something like how did the

universe begin which is a very baffling

deep question how did life begin another

deep question both those questions are

are unanswered the best methods we have

of approaching those are the methods of

science because these are the methods

that that look at evidence that that

evaluate evidence in all sorts of

sophisticated ways what is religion got

to do with that other than just looking

at the the writings of somebody who

wrote a few centuries ago I mean what

why would you bother to read to read

those writings so the great philosophers

and theologians in history will grapple

with these big questions and thought

about spiritual issues moral issues are


they were all wasting their time yes

they're wasting their time what about

why does my life have meaning what's

it's worth well yours my dignity come

from your your meaning and your dignity

are up to you and mine are up to me and

and these are not questions that science

would attempt to answer each person

finds their own meaning in their in

their own life and I'm good luck to them

and what's what's wrong with religion

religion offering moral certainties is

if as you say science can't answer moral

questions science can't offer moral

certainty but I don't see that religion

can either you don't think that the

religious values we have to say the

moral codes we live by today a writ were

originally derived from judeo-christian

values Islamic values Hindu values not

really no I mean there are we have

things like the Golden Rule things like

treat others as you would wish to be

treated yourself these are ancient

values which are which crop up all over

the world they've been adopted by many

religions you can find justifications

for them in moral philosophy go and find

justifications for them in evolutionary

biology which is my own my own subject

I don't seriously think you're going to

base your morality on religion because

if you do then you've got disabled do I

base it on scripture I hope you don't

base it on scripture because if you do

then you're going to have some pretty

horrible values unless you deliberately

cut out those parts of scripture which

which which are unacceptable to modern

do you believe science is omnipotent

that it can answer any questions I've

already said no I've already said it

can't answer moral questions but

questions about the real world questions

about reality questions about

the origins of things why life is the

way it is why the world is the way it is

why the universe of the wages yes

science is that is the way to answer

that some of your critics have argued

that you are willing to hold religion up

to a very it put it under the microscope

hold it to account scrutinize it

criticize it you don't do the same to

science or scientists or some of the bad

things that have come out of science

well bad things that come out of science

if by that you mean horrible weapons

nuclear weapons yes chambers nucleogenic

yeah these are these are terrible things

which are technology that arises out of

science and it's certainly true but if

you want to do terrible things with

technology but terrible weapons for

example science is the best way to do it

because that is the best way to do

anything and even bad things even bad

things I mean that that's right at you

if you want to develop a terrible weapon

you're not going to do it in any other

way than by science the trick is not to

want to develop a terrible weapon and

the way and that's a political decision

and you do not you do not see science

and religion as occupying two different

compartments that can live side-by-side

they are in conflict with one over in so

far as religion attempts to talk about

reality and has an alternative vision of

reality I think they are incompatible

yes despite the fact as we discussed

earlier many of our leading scientists

are believers

I think it's baffling I mean what the

impact practice do is they leave their

their religion at the door when they go

into the lab and and so they get on with

their side say they don't well I know

they do but ok isn't it because religion

answers all sorts of human needs and

spiritual urges which science never can

it's not the real issue that you can't

get away from religion may answer human

needs I mean for example if you're

terrified of dying religion may answer

the need for comfort and consolation or

if you if you miss a loved one who's

died and you hope to see them one day in

heaven then religion answers a need

doesn't make it true and one last thing

and then we'll go to the audience do you

what do you say to those people who say

you talk a great deal about the power of

science the truth of science you have

people like Sam Harris who say morality

can be determined by science you have

quite charismatic forceful people going

around the world proselytizing on behalf

of science that science is actually the

new religion that you guys are pitching

I wouldn't say it's a new religion I

mean it certainly does some of the

things that religion traditionally has

tried to do like to answer the deep

questions of existence and and it does

that and it does it successfully in a

way that religion never has but it isn't

a religion because it's not based upon

any holy books it's not based upon faith

it's not based upon Revelation it's not

based upon tradition it's based upon

evidence and there's a huge difference

and anything that we do not have

evidence for that's not scientifically

testable you would dismiss well

scientifically testable is is putting

the bar rather highly but I do think

that that evidence is the only good

reason to believe anything yes so love

beauty as many I mean there's obviously

important questions and and if you ask

that some question like um how do you

know that your wife loves you

it's from evidence I mean it's not some

it's not scientifically testable

evidence but it's evidence it's little

looks in the eyes little catches in the

voice it's it's um that is evidence

that's not that's not just internal

revelation okay let's open up to the

audience we've been talking about God

evil war terrorism bringing up your

children living a good life religion and

happiness science versus religion who

would like to ask the first question yes

you if you Almighty God appears suddenly

on the cloud or on the airs or part of

universe what is your reaction are you

going to believe or are you going to go

against him well it's like if you

believe in God not just me yeah that

mean popping his head through the clouds

yeah that's the thing I've worried about

a lot

obviously do wonders for the book the

reason I worry about it is that is that

obviously as a scientist I'm committed

to the view that I would change my mind

if evidence came along and so it's a

very important question what would that

evidence look like and I talked about it

with my colleagues a great deal I used

to think yes if there was a great deep

Paul Robeson voice coming out of the

cloud saying oh I this and think then

then yes obviously I would I would

believe it but have you ever seen a

really really good conjuring trick there

are things that I've seen done that it

seems to me to be a god that's got to be

a miracle and yet you know it's not and

so that there is a real problem there

that that we are easily fooled

let's take another question from

gentleman here very interesting gun

I was extremely amused when you

described faith as sort of Brooking no

no argument this University of course

began with the study of theology most of

the people here would have been studying

theology at the beginning of the

university and indeed the way in which

it was taught was not professorial you

didn't have lectures mostly mostly you

had discussions debates people didn't

write monographs they collected

discussions notes of discussions people

disagreed about their faith absolutely I

mean everybody had had enough different

opinion and everybody expressed it and

everybody was heard the idea that so the

question is um do you really think that

your your view of faith Brooking no

argument that measures up to really any

experience of how people think about

their faith you talked about the

evidence that your wife loves you I

think for most religious people the

evidence that there's a God is rather

like that well obviously I would be mad

to suggest that the theologians don't

argue they argue all the time and always

have they fight wars over their

arguments so clearly they argue I'd say

when I say Brook no argument I don't

mean that

don't argue when you say that

theologians have had disputes and

interesting discussions I take it that

from your garb you take what a position

one way or the other on whether the

transubstantiation whether the bread and

wine really is the body and blood of a

first century Jew or is merely symbolic

but what evidence you bring to bear on

such an argument I cannot imagine it

would not be a real argument at all it

would be a full SOG argument would not

not be an argument which could be

settled by by real evidence just deal

with the point about the evidence level

when you remember when you have a real

wife when you say that your that your

wife loves you and you do you getting

evidence from looks and the vote looks

in the eye and catches in the voice was

the phrase that I actually used and the

questioner said that's the way religious

people feel about God yes they feel that

about God but there's no evidence that

they're getting any cues at all I mean

they're there God is an imaginary God

inside themselves they feel that they're

getting little looks from the eyes of

God and sounds from the voice of God but

why should we believe them since we

can't see or hear any evidence to that

effect let's take another question

gentlemen here in the secondary with

regards to to religion use you've given

an example where the the Islamic faith

and the Muslims basically they wrapped

themselves up in bombs because that's

what they believe is an Islamic faith

but I disagree with you because there

are more than a billion Muslims living

in the world today who actually believe

in the Quran in the scripture which you

said if everybody started believing in

the scripture then that would be

horrible but I disagree with you because

more than a billion people billion

Muslims believe that if you kill one

innocent person

it's as if as you've killed the entire

humanity so today humanity is about

seven billion people so more than a

billion Muslims do not strap themselves

up and actually go and you know commit

suicides the problem with many

scriptures and I think the Quran is no

exception is that you can find a verse

that says so so when you find another

verse that says the opposite and so you

have to you have to pick and choose I

mean is it not the case for example with

choose the bad

well no I mean I I'm suggesting that you

shouldn't be in a position of having to


I mean you shouldn't base your your your

life on on a holy book which has

contradictory verses where you can

choose one verse when you want to make

one point and another verse when you

want to make make another point I mean

isn't it the case that that the penalty

for apostasy is death you can't take

these things and just hold I could hold

up an example of we mentioned earlier

sam harris has said there are some views

that are so irrational people should be

put to death for them should I hold all

atheist him of course I won't hold him

to me well let me put it to you in is

the penalty for apostasy death no good

I'm delighted here that what why didn't

the Quran doesn't say it is well then

some Islamic scholars do okay that's

debate and discussion there's no

arguments going on things take place

over centuries okay let's have an

atheist make a point and join the debate

lady that's waving her hand actually in

the Quran mankind refers only to Muslims

and excludes infidels which is all the

rest of us so that's a small point but I

really my question to professor Dawkins

is how does he feel about the

encroachment of all religions extremists

evangelists Christians and a lot of

Muslims into the politics and everyday

life and how does he feel about religion

influence trying to influence politics

and in public you know how do you feel

about religion influencing politics in

public life people should be free to to

speak them their minds I mean I'm great

believer in in free speech and so

members of parliament should speak their

minds and if their minds are influenced

by their their religion then that's

that's fine what I would object to I

think is the view that somehow religion

has a privileged right to speak because

it's religion and I think you'll

probably agree to that as well if you

stand up in Parliament and make an

excellent speech in favor of something

which religion has a view on like

abortion say if you make your points

well and win the vote by making your

points well that's fine but what you

shouldn't be allowed to get away with

this saying because it's religion

therefore this is what we should do lady

they're in their scuffle

as a social scientists we sort of the

model of the rational actor is somewhat

discredited we don't look at all actors

at all times as acting rationally in

fact we assume that they don't but that

was the pre lead to my question my

question with really would you accept

that it's not so much religion that

causes conflict but since their

commitment to some belief that you think

is morally important and in that sense

do we get rid of morality well I think I

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