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Posted by on Dec 27, 2012 in Atheism, Politics, Religion | 8 comments

Professor Dawkins On Al Jazeera

An excellent interview with Professor Dawkins who is, as ever, provocative, thoughtful, and a tad controversial. File this one under “conversations worth having.”

Also, please note how Dawkins views religious people in contrast with the “Gnu Atheists” of today.

  • I find it vaguely annoying when people refer to Dawkins as the “world’s most famous atheist”. He may be its best known public defender among the English-speaking world’s intelligentsia, but I rather suspect that Wen Jibao and Dilma Roussef are a lot more famous among a billion Chinese, two hundred million Brazilians, and anyone who’s affected by the developing world’s most important leaders.

  • I think, overall, Dawkins fielded questions fairly well but was disappointed when he backed down (apparently to avoid an uncivil turn of discussion) on whether or not teaching religion amounts to child abuse (an assertion he has, I believe, made in the past). The exchange occurred between 22:48 – 23:18 in the video.

    “I have a daughter. I teach her about Islam . . . Am I guilty of child abuse for teaching
    my child stories from the Quran?”

    “No, you’re not.”

    I think Hitchens would have been much more aggressive while still maintaining his aplomb.

    • bluharmony

      I’ll find a link to what he wrote about it. He believes that teaching eternal hellfire is child abuse, especially to sensitive children — or at least that it can be worse that a one time occurrence of mild fondling from a priest. He didn’t back down in the interview. What he said initially bore little resemblance to how people construed it. He also relayed his own experience with sexual molestation in his original piece on this issue (it’s quite old).

    • I think Dawkins might have done well to ask the interviewer, “So, do you teach these things just as stories, as allegory, or as literal and historical facts that she should rely upon as true? And furthermore, do you teach her that there are any consequences for ceasing to be a Muslim?” He also might have asked how old the daughter was, younger or older than nine, and if the father (or the daughter!) might feel comfortable with her becoming the wife of an old man, as Aisha did.

      • As she did at age nine, I should add, for those who may not have read it.