Wednesday, January 11, 2006

the root of all evil?

No, no, I'm not talking about the man himself, that was the title of his programme. (Sorry, that was a terribly cheap shot, but I just couldn't resist - I mean really, it was asking for it)

I've just watched (on video) the first part of Richard Dawkins' The Root of All Evil, in which he explores whether religion, is indeed, the root of all evil.

Maggi Dawn points to an interesting response to his programmes on the Guardian website. But I had some reflections of my own.

Dawkins came across as rather arrogant. Despite later admitting that science does not (yet) have the answers to all lifes questions, he still acted as though it did. And at times, as though he himself knew all answers as well. I'm not gonna deny that the uber-Evangelical American also came across as a little arrogant, admittedly not as much of a numpty as he might have done, but that doesn't change the fact that Dawkins also seemed a bit of a know-it-all.

Now obviously he's a fairly intelligent bloke, but he did seem to over-simplify the reasons why there is conflict in the world. I mean come on, yes religion is used to mobilise people to commit acts of violence, but there are other issues, to do with power, distribution of resources, identity, that cause peoeple to go to war.

This notion that religion is the sole reason why evil happens, why wars happen, and why there is resultant suffering is utter rubbish. Last term at uni I did a module in 'Religion in Contemporary Global Politics'. In the final session of the module we did a bit of an overview of the various different views about 'religious violence', and there was an overwhelming feeling that those theorists who see religion as the prime cause of said violence, have not really grasped what is going on in the world. (ok ok, thats my opinion, and my interpretation of what happened - but its pretty accurate) The situation is far more complex than to just state that faith is the root of all evil. Personally, and yes you might spot a hint of a Biblical reference here, I kinda think greed has quite a lot to do with evil.

I wait with interest to see what Dawkins has to say for himself next week. Channel 4, Monday at 8pm - in case you missed it.....

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