Richard Dawkins’ new bio book touts science over religion with gusto

Donald A. Collins | 14 October 2015
Church and State

Screenshot from the trailer of Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss’ film ‘The Unbelievers’.
Screenshot from the trailer of Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss’ film ‘The Unbelievers’.

Over the past couple of days I have had the pleasure of meeting at a private dinner with and then subsequently listening to one of the world’s most distinguished scientists, Richard Dawkins, the Oxford Don, speak about science and the importance of using science to dispel the absurdities of religion in providing the ultimate guidance in people’s lives.

How quickly his views will be adopted remains unknown, just as is the existence of any higher power. However, as H. L. Mencken opined so eloquently, “I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.”

This is obviously not going to be easy after we witness the recent Pope Francis reception, but he is in the process of completing an exhaustive tour of the USA, partly described as a book tour to encourage scientific education as a vehicle to assist people befuddled by religion to become atheists.

A brilliant non fiction writer, his latest book, Brief Candle in The Dark: My Life in Science, chronicles the second part of his life’s journey in science to reach his overt and active atheism, a path which I personally have followed and thus feel special affinity for. But it all started with his early embrace of Darwin’s theory. The book is a compelling read, full of humor, insights and descriptions of his enormous range of contacts with important figures in all walks of life. A great book to sit down with as the weather here starts to turn colder and you need the warmth of original thinking.

Doubtless the power of established religion which has wrought such human wonders as the Spanish Inquisition or the earlier Crusades to kill infidels in the Middle East (did we sow a backlash in the present day?) will be around for much longer, but Dawkins is confident that religions are dying as their claims of such things as an afterlife and special protection from God are continuously shown to be absurd and dangerous versions of tribalism affecting all of humanity.

If you find its mission statement appealing , you can help his effort by contributing to his non profit foundation, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Here it is:

To support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering.”

One might ask, however, a commonly posed question, “But isn’t it consoling to think there is a big guy in the sky who will help us along and even find a place for us after we are dead–unless we misbehave and end up in some version of Dante’s Inferno?”

Yes, of course, fantasies of many kinds are practiced by all of us. For examples, how about the madness of falling in love, in seeking without restraint to acquire more worldly goods and pleasures, or perhaps running for political office in our dangerous world, etc.

The rubber really hits the road when those fantasy faiths go cruelly secular as they did in the past or as they now continue to be practiced all over the world, including the USA. As Dawkins has asked often, “Could an atheist be elected to a political office if he or she stated that they were atheists?”

Well, no one so far has tried that, although we can hope someone will soon.

Halfway measures really don’t do the job.

For example, take former President Jimmie Carter. I have always thought President Carter to be a sincere, honorable and endlessly trying to do good person.

Amazingly, he persuaded Israel and Egypt to agree on a détente which of course cost President Sadat his life, showing how dangerous going against religious zealots can be.

And just now, although he announced he is suffering from a fatal illness, he has left the Baptist Church, which you can read all about by going here.

Sorry that Mr. Carter didn’t just say Goodbye to his silly Southern Convention Baptists, who, while more benign than the militant Muslims, still hold sway over millions who could be saying how important it is to treat women as equal to males, but as Carter decries they do not!

In fairness, Carter does give great media exposure this long practiced bias. The Baptists’ broad anti women attitudes are not unique, as similar views are historically ingrained into the abject intellectual inanity of all monotheistic religions.

Some religions have tried to overcome this fact, but when one studies the claims of every one about their special uniqueness, one is forced to conclude that only those who wish to be subjugated to untenable positions of personal freedom will subscribe or waste time being involved with them. Some use snakes, some fall on prayer rugs, others find solace in myriad ways. All have texts you can use.

For example, let me offer you a quick way to obtain your freedom from religion. You don’t need to observe the so called 10 commandments to be a moral, righteous person. Let’s look at what they say.

One: You shall have no other gods before you.

Answer: What if you don’t believe in any gods?

Two: You shall not make idols.

Answer: Well, I idolize my wife and don’t tell me I can’t!!

Three: You shall not take the name of the Lord thy god in vain.

Answer: Sorry, he ain’t my god, so I do say “God damn” often!

Four: Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

Answer: Why waste 1/7th of the only life you will have? Play golf or use any languid Sunday morning to make passionate love to your wife.

So, Folks, after committing your freedom and fealty to some clever earthly sales force by buying into the above described first four, which by the way are embraced in virtually the same manner by all the big monotheistic sects, you can probably subscribe to the last 6 commandments as structures that everyone except ISIS and their ilk would see as dandy. But you are then in a mindless intellectual jail from which you can’t escape. Ok, I admit you will find some other inmates you may like!

So I guess we should at least partially thank Mr. Carter, who bravely faced his bleak medical diagnosis and certainly he has our best wishes. But sadly he didn’t go far enough. He of course still believes in a hereafter and think of all the time he wasted teaching in those bible classes. Hope he stressed the last 6 of the famous 10 commandments. As for believing in an afterlife, so do I!!! I think my molecules are immortal. Think of all those wonderful bones that have been found so that the latest issue of the Scientific American can tell us in detail much more about the evolution that Darwin and Dawkins have described.

My matter won’t disappear. Maybe my molecules will end up on the tail or ear or ass of an elephant thrashing through an African savanna, if there are any savannas or elephants left after the idiocy of our failed planetary stewardship carries on for another 100 years.

“Sic transit Gloria mundi” but not soon I hope!

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013

By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
Kindle Store

Back in 1991, the NGO Don Collins founded in 1976, International Services Assistance Fund (ISAF), co-produced a TV quality 22-minute film called “Whose Choice?” which Ted Turner arranged to broadcast on September 21, 1992 in prime time on his then independent Turner Broadcast System (TBS). Other outlets such as PBS and several of its affiliates Collins and his colleagues contacted then refused to run it because of its forthright treatment of the abortion issue, arguing for all women’s right to choose not to have a baby. ISAF has made a new edition of that DVD. The purpose for reissuing this 3rd version of “Whose Choice?” was simply to show the historical urgency that attended those times, still blocked and attacked over 40 years after the Roe v Wade decision in 1973. This video is available for public viewing for the first time.

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