Richard Dawkins says niceness of churchgoers enables extremists

Atheist Richard Dawkins has argued that the niceness of ordinary churchgoers has helped enable religious fundamentalists to become suicide bombers.

The Telegraph in the United Kingdom reported Dawkins saying moderate Christian and Muslim believers had inadvertently paved the way for extremists.

Dawkins said ordinary believers do this by being “so nice” that people do not question their faiths.

Saying they had made non-evidence-based belief a “legitimate reason” for their behaviour, he claimed they have now helped “make the world safe” for fundamentalists to exist.

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, he told an audience that moderate believers were “so nice” they had made it difficult for society to question their faith.

When asked whether he worried his public comments on Islamic extremism risked endangering law-abiding Muslims, he argued believers of all religions were not unconnected with fundamentalists.

“It’s very important that we should not demonise ordinary, law-abiding, very decent Muslims which of course [are] the vast majority in this country,” he said.

“What I do think about the difference, and let’s leave out Muslims specifically, but the difference between moderate religious people and extremist fundamentalists is that although of course it’s only a tiny minority of any sect which is ever going to get violent or horrible, there is a sense in which the moderate, nice religious people – nice Christians, nice Muslims – make the world safe for extremists.

“Because the moderates are so nice we all are brought up with the idea that there’s something good about religion [and] faith. That there’s something good about bringing children up to have a faith.

“Which means to believe something without evidence and without the need for justifying it.

“They’re entitled simply to say ‘oh that’s my faith, I believe it, you’re not allowed to question it and you’re not allowed to ask me why I hold it’.

“Once you teach people that that’s a legitimate reason for believing something then you, as it were, give a licence to the extremists who say ‘my belief is that I’m supposed to be a suicide bomber or I’m supposed to blow up buildings – it’s my faith and you can’t question that’.”

He added: “I’m sure they’d be horrified by it, but nevertheless it could be true.”


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