The Root of All Evil?

17Aug07

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Honestly, as much as I’d loved all his previous books, I was a bit disappointed by Richard DawkinsThe God Delusion; not because the arguments weren’t sound but mostly because the entire book oozed with an air of arrogance. Of course, when you’re one of the smartest people on the planet, arrogance goes with the territory, but still. He came across as a fundamentalist at times, albeit an atheist fundamentalist. Wasn’t that the very thing he spoke against- fundamentalism?

So reluctantly, I sat down to watch the 2 part British TV series, The Root of All Evil, Dawkins’s attempt at provoking a religious self analysis of the average couch potato. As much as I want to limit the use of superlatives, I can’t help but marvel at what he’s tried to accomplish. The TV series is brilliant, thought provoking and thoroughly convincing and it’s sure to enrage some people, hopefully for the better.

He journeys from the Lourde to Jerusalem and meets people ranging from devout believers to fundamentalists. His conversations range from the humorous to thought provoking to the genuinely scary. The second part dwellled on a more pressing problem, indoctrination of religion; bringing up children to believe in superstitions.

What really had me all worked up was a conversation Dawkins has with a psychotic evangelist, Ted Haggard. His ignorance of the concept of evolution and science in general is amazing-it’s amazing that millions of people actually listen to people as retentive as him. Evangelists sicken me, and I like to think I know a thing or two about them. But a little reading into the life and times of Ted Haggard left me…well…satisfied.

In November 2006, former prostitute and masseur Mike Jones alleged that Haggard had paid to engage in sex with him for three years and had also purchased and used crystal methamphetamine. Jones said he had only recently learned of Haggard’s true identity and explained his reasons for coming forward by saying, “It made me angry that here’s someone preaching about gay marriage and going behind the scenes having gay sex.”

But on Haggard acknowledged some, but not all, of the allegations, and was removed from all of his leadership positions in religious organizations, including the church he founded. At first, however, he claimed he had never met his accuser and in a television interview said “I am steady with my wife. I’m faithful to my wife.”November 5, in a statement Haggard said, “I am a deceiver and a liar. The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality…There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all of my adult life. … Please forgive my accuser … actually thank God for him. He didn’t violate you; I did.”

-From Wikipedia

And he almost had dibs on the best seats in heaven!

I loved the way Dawkins ended the series. Being non religious/atheist/agnostic doesn’t really make life all that bleak, it just leaves endless possibilities at our disposal.

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die, because they are never going to be born. The number of people who could be here in my place outnumbers the sand grains of Sahara. If you think about all the different ways our genes could be permuted, you and I are quite grotesquely lucky to be here: the number of events that had to happen in order for you to exist, in order for me to exist. We are privileged to be alive and we should make the most of our time on this world.

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8 Responses to “The Root of All Evil?”

  1. Unfortunately, after hearing an interview with Dawkins on ABC radio here in Oz, I couldn’t bring myself to read his book. Ideology of any kind is the destructive force on the planet, whether Dawkinism or a religious variety. I agree that much needs to be done about knowledge, education, and advancing the democratic dialogue, but the Dawkins stance gives me as much spine shuddering as thinking about Stalin or the current terrorist threats. Dawkins claims not to be presenting solution but is he willing to be engaged in solution. Others have put their lives on the line as part of the solution, some have died acting. I’m sticking with the truly spiritual heroes of the day. Dawkins ignores them.

  2. Why spiritual heroes? Spiritualism relies rather heavily on faith, much more sensible to go with reason and logic.

  3. 3 bApHoMEt

    For many people, the alternative to religion/faith/spirituality/God is the harsh reality of being a mere probabilistic entity spawned by chance/luck. Maybe I am arrogant. But as an atheist, I will always be labelled just that by the religious. But aren’t the religious, arrogant hypocrites too? They dwell in the escapist fantasy that they are more than animals. What makes us so special is not grace from God, but a superior evolutionary path that we have taken (allowing us to become intelligent enough to be aware of it). And yet, we squander that intellect by turning to an omnipotent entity for the solution to all our problems. Religion is defeatist and God is an escapist fantasy.

    Rather than arguing over the existence of God, I feel we must first ask ourselves wether we need a God. A man who cannot grasp the scale of the mysteries of the universe, or who is dissapointed with the realities of human existence, can turn to God for answers. The people who look for solutions on their own (that is why we have evolved a brain) do not need a supernatural scape-goat.

  4. @Owen Who exactly are these spiritual heroes? Really?

    I agree that Dawkins may be a little strong with his views but then again, you can’t blame him. He’s but a faint voice in a world devoid of reason and logic.

    @Baphomet True, what could truly prove to be a problem is when people look for a solution from outside instead of actually sitting down and working out their own problem.

    Whether we need a God? Sadly, people are always going to say that an entity such as God is going to be the only answer to their problems. They are going to argue that for life to have meaning or purpose, God is a necessity. People find it scary to face the fact that they’re not part of a plan, that their lives are just a series of coincidences.
    Fear drives them to God.

  5. @Presti:

    They are going to argue that for life to have meaning or purpose, God is a necessity. People find it scary to face the fact that they’re not part of a plan, that their lives are just a series of coincidences.
    Fear drives them to God.

    Maybe it isn’t necessarily fear…maybe its much simpler to believe in the existence of god to help get the feeling of ‘someone in control’ when life goes in all the wrong directions. Maybe one chooses to believe in god just in order to have someone to blame or someone to applaud. Do we need god? Whats the harm as long as it doesn’t promote fanaticism.

  6. 6 bApHoMEt

    @Bentley: “Do we need god? Whats the harm as long as it doesn’t promote fanaticism.”

    That would work in an ideal world. But then, different people have different problems. And thus, they need different Gods to deal with them. Hence, there will always be those, whose problems are essentially another’s solution. This leads to conflict and as always is the case with such things – fanaticism.

    I agree, that it’s not just fear alone that drives people to God, it’s also uncertainity. When you come to think of it, don’t people fear uncertainity?

  7. @Baphomet:

    When you come to think of it, don’t people fear uncertainity

    People fear uncertainty only because they don’t understand it. If one accepts that uncertainty is a part of this whole journey we call life then it eliminates the fear we talked about earlier. Now as atheists some might choose to abstain from the very thought of a superior being and I respect that. But having said that maybe someone needs a god to justify existence of not just self but of all of the rest as well and thus comes this GOD into the equation.

    Now back to the question of “Do we need God?”. Hmm I beg to differ from your stance of “Not necessarily”. Self help hasn’t really gotten us anywhere, if you know what i mean, ( im not saying it hasn’t worked entirely but the general masses haven’t found it effective altogether) so anyway you look at it God creeps back in to the solution as the easiest way out.

  8. @Bentley I beg to differ when you say that it isn’t harmless. Half of the problems we have today area result of religion gone bad. Apart from the wars, I personally know a few people who think God can solve all their problems and hence wait for a divine miracle all the while shunning any practical and logical solution.

    Plus just because it’s the easiest way out doesn’t mean it’s the right way out. People have to realize sooner or later that religion is nothing more than a form of escapism for people who cannot accept the harsh realities of life…the randomness and uncertainties of life.


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