The Root of All Evil?

The Root of All Evil?

2006, Religion  -    -  Playlist 464 Comments
Ratings: 8.75/10 from 199 users.

The Root of All Evil? is a television documentary, written and presented by Richard Dawkins, in which he argues that the world would be better off without religion. The documentary was first broadcast in January 2006, in the form of two 45-minute episodes (The God Delusion and The Virus of Faith), on Channel 4 in the UK. Dawkins has said that the title The Root of All Evil? was not his preferred choice, but that Channel 4 had insisted on it to create controversy.

His sole concession from the producers on the title was the addition of the question mark. Dawkins has stated that the notion of anything being the root of all evil is ridiculous. Dawkins's book The God Delusion, released in September 2006, goes on to examine the topics raised in the documentary in greater detail. (Excerpt from

Directed by: Russell Barnes

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2 months ago

The root of all evils (at least, for the past 300 years) is the privately-owned central banking system that poses itself as a governmental agency to deceive people. The banksters brought on all political and economic disasters (wars, business cycles, inflation, etc.), geo-engineered "natural" disasters, and manufactured diseases and fake (but deadly) cures. If God exists, God would destroy these evil banksters who are playing God themselves.

6 months ago

Ahm excuse where is atheist when Nero burned the Christians and tell to stop offering humans ..after all no such thng as atheist in pre Christian. he should also mention that great inventors like Da Vinci Blaise pascal are not stupid to believe in Jesus

1 year ago

Narrowminded viewpoint from a prominent individual of the status quo.

1 year ago

All religons have been created by people, usually male - which is why women are second class citizens in faith as well as politics. If you find this doc or its narrator not in agreement with your world view, then it is your view that is askew not the facts presented here. If your view is based on religious texts, which are all written by mortals claiming to know to know god first hand, then your views are irrelevant when compared to facts. They may have meaning for you, but those views are not facts and you should not cite them as facts. God is only in your mind, to keep you obedient to others.

2 years ago

You Sir, the host of this documentry, you say that you haven heard so much comments of bigotery, but you are ignorantly not being aware of it perhaps, making the worst example, worst version of the bigotery that you don't like hearing your self. Why? Are you so angry, personally angry with faith? You see I can see that way passed personal for you, and you yourself aren't in the condition to listen, take, intake, think about it and make conclusions without already having enormous distaste, and unbelief. You come to the table with extremely unpleasant attitude, and if your going to make a documentary where people have freedom to their opinion, why do you get so horribly angry and all shaken with disagreement , can't you be nice and respectful? You make yourself look like a irresponsible child! When something you don't like comes up you become utterly hysterical and rude to the other person who is only trying to resonate love, the love of God, the love of Jesus, is this whats making you so angry and cruel? The fact that people with faith have love in them and are treating you as they would want to be treated, but you! Are in response very horrible to the people your interviewing on your show. Sad!

4 years ago

Ego maniacs cannot have anything superior to themselves, be it certain scientists, religionairs, socio-psycopathic socialist-communists, or whatever type of bullies you may encounter. Yet any true religion SUGGESTS to do the right thing, be humble, considerate, patient, tolerant, kind, helpful; some would describe such as love; but not to waste that on the users or evil types.

Why should anyone listen to someone who knows little to nothing of what they speak? Do you go to Dawkins for car trouble? Then why for any comment on religion? By the same logic why would anyone listen to a so called religious leader if they are not trying to remind folks what is good and true and to do the right thing? Or a scientist who just blathers on about his beliefs based on distortions, making things conform to what they want to believe.

Clearly, the largest problem we face is people's lazy mindedness and willingness to jump to baseless conclusions. They refuse to do their own homework so they will know BS when they hear it. Too lazy to verify. Just accept whatever sounds like it makes sense. Whatever fits their world view, often which is distorted. Assumption is jump to conclusions.

Stop jumping to conclusions, do sufficient homework, you and the world will be better for it.

4 years ago

within the first two minutes he sets out his thesis with the premise "I BELIEVE there is a profound contradiction between scientific and religious BELIEF". At the onset he clearly states that his own ideas are a belief, therefore based on faith, therefore a religion. This is the kind of reductionist materialist bull* that has gotten the world to the crappy place it is. The archetypes and paradigms contained in stories of antiquity have endured for millennia for a reason. They offer and contain profound wisdom and meaning. If this had been an honest look into faith and religion over the course of history and then proved that his "belief" is intellectually and morally superior to that which religion offers. I would be on board. Also the definition of God he bases his premise on is incredible juvenile almost to the point of imbecility.

kill count for athiests: stalin, pol pot, hitler, mao (lowest number within the range): 106 million.
for religion (highest number within the range): 5 million.

4 years ago

your an athiest im a Greek Orthodox and believe in not only what I was taught but what I have experienced. If you dont believe you know sh*t

5 years ago

Lol he is just s*****ing on religion thru out the whole documentary.
It should be called s****ing on
F***ing dude doe he makes good points

John Collignon
5 years ago

I'm thinking that the reviewers of these films 'jump' on bashing Ray Comfort's film because it tries too hard to convert people to his religion as is mockingly derided for it, Though, isn't Dawkins attempting to convert people to his 'religion' just as much and much more sarcastically ?

Ilona Randall
9 years ago

My issue with programs like this is that all religions are put into the same box. Is Wicca, Neopaganism and some other religions (example eastern philosophies/religions) really comparable to Fundamental Christianity or Extremist Islam? Really!?

I feel it's just as bad to paint all spiritual/religious people with the same brush as doing this to atheists. Maybe some are reacting this way due to being prosecuted but then is it good that you become the prosecutor? How does that feel?

I'd rather we come to an understanding through education, communication and cooperation. I'd prefer not to be forced to be an atheist or being treated badly. Not a nice "choice"!

Also, I believe humans always find a reason, excuse or confirmation to do bad, if that's what they want to do. Anything can be twisted to mean what you want it to mean. Of course it's a lot easier to use religion and then point to it as the reason everything is bad and wrong, when in reality there's something wrong with the individual. That's a lot harder to admit.

John Marus
10 years ago

There appears to be evidence that religion is the root of all evil whereas there appears to be no evidence that religion is real. Welcome to the greatest story ever told; this documentary should be shown to 12 year olds

10 years ago

Dawkin's has a very narrow and dogmatic view of religions.

anthony glaude
10 years ago

Over the edge
Thanks for your response, but you still have not answered my question. I asked "How does something evolute
into becoming male and female with different sexual organs. If evolution started with one organism then how did it evolute into different species, I was not asking about the many benefits or the mixing of genes. You said that the male seahorses carry their young until they develop; The male seahorse has a pocket in which the female lays her eggs, and carrying your young and giving birth is two different things.
You said that sexual reproduction requires no seed, so then, what is a sperm? It is not the man's seed. You ask to define kind, It is a group of individuals or items connected by shared characteristics.
You said it is not a scientific term, but have you ever done any gardening at all.
Finally you said that if a human gave birth to a puppy, that would prove evolutionary theory wrong. First what is a theory? Is it not speculations? Assumption, presumptions, or a guess? I was simply showing that evolution cannot, and under no circumstances produce variety, If it can, then prove it to me in a short period. And I will prove to you that the bible is right, in that, everything is still producing after it’s own kind.
Thank you Mr. Allen for the corrections. But i saw you had no corrections for your friend, Over the edge, bye for now.

anthony glaude
10 years ago

How does something evolute into becoming male and female with different sexual organs.
One being able to give birth [that is the female] and the other cannot give birth at all [that is the male]
Also if evolution causes that, then why is it not happening again?
The bible said male and female created he them and in sorrow shall the woman give birth and to this day it still takes birth pains to bring fort a child.
Also why everything begins in seed form and every seed brings fort after it own kind.
If things evolute, then why human being are not making puppies, and why your DNA has its own genetic script, who wrote that script?

10 years ago

Dear Vlatko:
1 and 2
The issue was not weather I understand what evolution is. Your forgetting what we started to discuss. I do know what evolution is, but the case was that you don't know anything about our origin, and an evolution theory (right or wrong) will not help you to understand the main question (where we are from, how we came to be etc.) You realize that and thats good. Lesson learned. So now, when you realize that science is fallen short of explaining these questions, at least for now, future will show what science can come up with. I am excited to see. The fine tuning argument are you probably familiar with. How do you approach that? The argument I mentioned about the universe naturally reflect some of the creator (if He exist) is that brainwashed? You tell me, but if you discover a small building somewhere in the universe, what are your first guess? Coincidence? Or that someone made it? At least, it should be obvious to consider that this is made of someone, something. And because of the extremly fine tuning Penrose is describing (He actually have a number for it as well.) I believe it is for a purpose. Its not just made for nothing. And that leads me to guess that there is a purpose with us. And I also believe that it make sense that He would like to reach to us of we are Hes creations. And now suddenly we have moved into philosophical and theological thinking and I stop here. But its not irrational thinking. We are thinking in this way most of our life (nothing come out of nothing etc.) A highly complicated product doesnt come from a lower complicated product etc.

Yes. Christianity infested all of Europe and many people did lots of wrongs during that time. Just as humans are doing wrong things wherever and whenever. Nothing controversial in that. The Roman empire with its insanity just as the Djengis Khan etc. You are all right in your accusations.
But bottom line is; The Christian infested Europe came out as the all time winner. No doubt about it. Human rights, living standards, technology, well fare, womens rights. You name it, it occured in the infested countries. Nowhere else. I am not saying Christians do everything right. I am simply pointing out that they are not bad compared with any other world view. Actually better. (By the why, about education and technology the Jews are sky-high over every other nation. A small population with 142 nobel prizes says it all. They are founded on theism.) So, bottom line. Your right in your accusations, but we can still agree that countries founded on Christian values are leading out the rest of the world. That the wind changes the last 50 years is right, but the west didn't start their why from the stone age in 1950..
Concerning Breivik He never attended any church, not as a child and not as a grown up. He was member of the secret club "free mason" (not sure of the english word for it) but have never referred to anything in the bible or Christianity itself, but was indeed fascinated by the knights templars. But Christian? Not a chance. He was member of the state church as most people are, but as you said; they are most atheists.

4: This is a strictly theological question. I am not sure if we should start at it here. There are plenty material to read if you want on both sides. I wouldnt put my life in the hands of a psycho, but strangely enough your "psycho" have motivated me to give money to charity, worked with street children in east Africa when I was younger etc. so to me and most Christians its not "God the psycho" who motivates us, so maybe we have discovered something in the Bible that slipped your critical eye. Or maybe we slipped Gods evil will for us and misunderstood. Bottom line here is that Christians have done and are still doing so much charity around the world that the picture you are painting are not necessarily true. About your 10 % it probably counts for those members of the state church. It is not representable for those attending churches regularly.

About North Korea few people know much about the moral there. Barbra Demicks book about daily life in North Korea (she is not christian i think) gives an unique insight in the crazyness there.
The documentary I saw on this page "Children of the secret state" shows that there are at least more psychoes then just one. (the army, guards at the prison camps etc) These folks are atheists. Bad Atheists, brainwashed atheists etc. I agree. But atheists. And they are not alone. the same goes for all of the communism. Its not just one person. They didn't capture the throne alone. The soil, people, where caught sleeping, joined the revoution, and before they realized whats wrong it was too late. Christians never joined that revolution. Atheists all over the world did. And are now counting the cost.
North Korea is special thou, i admit that. But atheism is not just freedom, peace etc. It offers evil more space sort of. Just as religion can give evil reason to slipp out. Bottom line here is that Atheism represents far more death the last hundred years then any other world view anywhere in the history have done in any period in the world.

Good night and sleep well:)

10 years ago

I am pointing out that i cant understand the greatness of the universe and HOW it is made, came to be. etc. That is something I leave to those who deals with stuff like that. And that is clearly not sience. Actually it is not human being.

But God is creator of all this that is not understandable for us.

I have small children. The youngest is 2 years old. She dont understand much of the world surrounding her. But she clearly knows her parents (who knows a lot more) and who takes care of her, have created her and love her. And our relation can be both strong and deep. Even she don't understand how i get food on the table, what money is, that daddy needs to work and that the music she listen to is on a cd, and the sound is inside the CD. All she is concerned about is her relation with me. Her parent. She all depends on me instead of her own abilities.

Do you get it?

As humans we cannot understand the entire world around us. We dont qualify. We can try to discover as much as possible. But we will not understand the entire universe scientifically. I think we all agree on that.

Bu good news is; I know the guy (God) who do. And He also explains good/evil. And He took my punishment on the cross. For all what I have done wrong. The relation does the difference.

"why not just say i do not know?"
-I don not know, but I know the One who know.

10 years ago

And you tell me to bring "hard evidence"....
Listen. When mankind, with all of its resources are not able to create the simplest form of life, it is very arrogant to claim "hard evidence" for how the cosmos, with animals, rain-forest and human beings where "created" or come to be. And leak of self awareness to think that you would unerstood the actually answer if someone told you.

Read it again if you didn't understood it the first time and sorry for my bad english.

Sleep well

11 years ago

The media often portray Richard Dawkins as a real-life incarnation of Dr. Evil. He has been called mean-spirited, rude, fanatical, and religion hating. But nothing could be further from the truth. Ironically, Prof. Dawkins finds all those attributes ascribed to himself to be the loathsome fruits of religion. Rather than hating religion, IMHO, he hates the intolerance and ignorance that it engenders. In fact, one would expect the 80% of people in the world that claim to be religious to smoke screen the issues that he raises with ad hominem attacks...and of course, they do.
However, if anyone, including the Pope himself, were to put himself in Dawkins' 'shoes' filter philosophic questions of public policy through his naturalistic POV...then clearly he is among the most moral, polite and steadfast of men. He is a crusader for sanity using a simple, free secret weapon---education merged with uncommon good sense.
And, I hasten to add, he's right on the money...controversial, you bet, but right on target.

11 years ago

There are three kinds of believers, the unbeliever, the make-believer and the believer. It is written in the scripture that Jesus could not do many works in a certain city because of their unbelief. Unbelief will always hinder God from moving in someone’s life.
Then there is the make-believers like Judas, who is considered the hypocrite, they will always turn around and betray the Lord for money or something canal. Then there is the real believer that is the one who is divinely lead by the supernatural.
Now there is a natural world and there is supernatural world, that world cannot be scientifically proven, if it can be scientifically proven, then many scientist will not be atheists [someone who don’t believe in God] The supernatural world can only be contacted by faith, [a super sense that the Holy Ghost by a new birth gives you] and that is a divine experience.
In closing I will like to say that there are seven dimensions [1] is light [2] is time [3] is matter [4] is radio and television, which is the recording dimension [5] is the region of the lost [6] the region of the bless and [7]where God dwells. Scientist in the last twentieth century discovered the fourth dimension, we the real believers don’t have to wait for them to discover the last three to believe it exist, it has already been revealed to us from God’s word.

David Scott
11 years ago

The moral code of the muslim overpowered Richard Dawkins too. But the Levitical customs and Islamic Shariah Law all condemn people to death, and based on the those laws, everybody should be dead, or disfigured. We've all fornicated, We've all stolen, so all of our hands should be cut off, We've all worked on Saturday in some form or fashion, another death sentence, Most of us have drank Alcohol either socially, moderatly, or in excess, etc. Not to mention religous zealots actually beleive God just dropped a book out of heaven and said "beleive this or go to hell". I won't knock the ****, but I don't have to believe a danm thing. All I have to do is take care of my responsibilities as a man, stay black, and die. People don't understand that religion was created within tribes that eventually became dynasties. Religion was attached to government like Shariah Law in an Islamic ruled country. Some bimbo had a philosophy about the beginnings of the world, he had customs that he thought were more civilized for him and his family, and other close relatives and people followed him. Anybody who disagreed with him did their own thing or were cast out from him if they were amongst him at one point. Its common ******* sense that people these days don't have whatsoever.

David Scott
11 years ago

Who cares about Darwinism. Just another theory. Why don't people create their own theories and ideologies instead of blindly following everything some self righteous so-called intellectual person gives them?? Thats why organized religion sucks. They just want to make as much money as possible off the poor, keeping them poor and keeping the elite rich. Religion is an organized ideology to keep people in a box so that they don't out-think the elite. Notice how this government criticises other ideologies like Marxism, or Communism, Socialism, not because they are horrible concepts, but because they are a DIFFERENT IDEOLOGY THEN WHAT THEY WANT US TO BELEIVE. The poor need to incorporate some elements of working together equally and the rights to property being publically owned to CEASE BEING POOR. The government PROFITS OFF THE BACKS OF THE POOR. Anyone who tries to stimulate income and wealth into the communities of the so called "bottom feeders" is a so-called SOCIALIST, and then the government attempts to discredit them. I don't even know how someone can still be discredited in so- called America, theres so much blaitent corruption and disregard for authority, even by highly publicised and famous figures. politics is such a contradiction of itslef. Why do people vote? I helped the president to get into office twice so far, I'm only 24, and he's never put a doorknob on a building in my community, Neither has a church. I've a seen a church build another church, I've seen a church feed the poor and homeless, but I haven't seen them offer the poor & homeless a job, clean them up and send them on an interview. They give a food, some mis-translation of a two or more thousand year old book about some ancient mesopatanian tribe, and thats it. I'ma still be freezing my balls off twenty minutes after I leave the church, and I still haven't had a crack, danm a break, in my current f--ked up situation. My stomache should be full for about a hour though.

11 years ago

I think I got the point
everything that is not science or religion.....baaad

john kay
11 years ago

root of all evil:
1. people

11 years ago

I think Dawkins is the root of all evil

11 years ago

Religion will probably exist for as long as science does not have all the answers. I am afraid to ask people dedicated to science this question but if the human mind can reach scientific truths through philosophy, for example the understanding of the atom by the ancient Greeks, (and yes robertallen I know it is not exactly an atom anymore), is it possible that the scientific method is not the only path to the truth? Is it possible for the mind to capture truths that can not be verified yet, or could not be verified at all? and one more question, given the fact that our ability to use the full potential of our mind is limited is it possible that some people have access to something that we call the paranormal but it might very well be part of the normal? Please share your thoughts.

11 years ago

Fair enough.

11 years ago

@over the edge
I do not really disagree with you but again lets go deeper. Religion provides the rallying banner but it could have been something else. When people fight for land, power resources they will find the excuse. For example you look at Rwanda and Darfour two areas where great evil was committed the last few years it was not religion. Countless people have been sacrificed for oil, two thirds of the world live in extreme poverty and destitution and it is not religion. In the Soviet union countless of crimes were committed and they had rejected religion. The environment has reached the point of collapse for which the irresponsibility of scientists is partly to blame. Nuclear weapons are threatening our very existence and they were not developed by priests. Economic and natural disasters are used to increase the wealth of the rich and the enlightened ideas of the economics involved came from a prestigious institution of higher learning. Medicine has been withheld from people in the name of sound capitalist practices. Water has become a commodity and no I am not talking about holy water. Do I need to go on???? So no religion is not the source of all evil, and it is not the source only of evil.

11 years ago

as I have implied before ms. robertallen religiosity comes in many shapes and forms. fare well.

11 years ago

Thank you for your time,
I can not agree that all religions are at their foundation evil, the same way I do not see all religions to be the same. There is a difference between the polytheistic and monotheistic, Eastern and Western religions. Religions have often been used for evil by the people who were to administer them. I do not equate the crimes committed in the name of religion with those committed in the name of science, religion is by far worse, however to add on the previous examples, nuclear bombs were invented by scientist as it is true for biological weapons, I am still waiting to see the scientists that have been poisoning children with over-medication for real and imaginary diseases to be held accountable. I would never use these examples to attack science, but that is exactly what he is doing to religion when he is evaluating the impact of all religions by focusing on fundamentalism only, even though I also think that religious fundamentalism is a great threat in our times.

What can make otherwise good people do evil things is fanaticism and you can have that through science as you do through religion, or through anything that becomes an ideology.

11 years ago

I am not a religious person but I find the approach of Dr. Dawkins on religion as superficial as the examples he uses. Religions ancient and modern incorporate some basic mythical archetypes that have survived through the ages as symbols and for whatever reason help the people spiritually. For ex: virginity and purity, an idea usually connected to fertility, Water and symbolic cleanliness or initiation in connection to rebirth. We might argue that the root of religion as it is for mythology is ignorance and the fear of the unknown, but this will be an over-simplification. Also in a discussion about religion and related practices we can not disregard the power and the value of culture and tradition. There are plenty of people who will participate in these practices aware that the biblical stories are just symbolic. In fact the biblical beginnings are almost irrelevant in the practice of religion and the rich cultures associated with them.
Yes, evil has been committed in the name of religion but evil has also been committed in the name of science. I will remind you of the time of the electric shock therapy, lobotomies, syphilis experiments, and the list is much longer, not to mention how animals have been used in the altar of our scientific method.
I am not a polemic of science at all, and I am not religious, and although I enjoy shooting at easy targets too I enjoy depth of thought more.

11 years ago

11 years ago

Interesting documentary. At the end it comes to whether people are smart enough to understand what's going on. Unfortunately this is not the case. I find however very curios that Mr. Dawkins talks about scientific evidence and then when it comes to islamic values they show the twin towers and the london bombings. In both cases there is hard evidence that islamist have really nothing to do with it. More strange is when he is in that so called state "Israel" and he inteviews 2 islamic fondamentalist but forgets to interview the many ultra nationalist jews whose main concern is to wipe out all the arabs from what they feel as their land, and this is their religious mission. Makes me therefore wonder who edited this program and who controls the TV channel or channels. I'm sure some of you understood.

11 years ago

people are the root of evil get over it, with or without god people are more than capible of doing awfull things the end!

11 years ago

How would any of these religious/spiritual people feel if they were forced to adopt another religion? They would go nuts.

I have no problem with adults and their fantasies but forcing them into children is plain cruelty. Or is it the excuse that they do with their children whatever the want to? like slaves, no?

The only problem with religion is its very existence. Anything within religion is part of the fantasy and fantasies are boundless. They can justify and explain anything in an endless game like Pokemon.

"Tell the children the truth" if you don't you are bringing up liars. I, for one, make very sure that I do like all religious/spiritualists and brainwash my children into atheism and teach them to mistrust any one who says trust me. Just telling them few anecdotes ( for example the spanish case of single mothers being robbed of their children by nuns and religious doctors because the child was outside marriage) has them running scared as soon as they see a nun in the street.

All Dawkins wants is to put religion in its place: history books.

11 years ago

i think its not for u 2 tell me wat 2 do w/ my life both of u.atheist and too closed minded religion has no place in my own life.ur both the same u will never hav control over me.i am my own self i accept whatever ever suits and just take the best of both worlds.

tanvir brown
11 years ago

When you say "general observations we take as 'fact' (gravity) but that the theory behind gravity itself is quite complex" you are correct! and so is Dawkin when he said evolution is a fact. No matter how debatable the process of evolution is that fact that we evolved into the form we are in is not debatable any more and that is what undermines creationism, not the evolutionary process. This is what Dawkin was saying. The very fact that we evolved totally contradicts creationism, and this has been proven without a doubt.

Practicing religion is fine, but we must not teach and preach lies in a massive scale, or at least that is something we should consider shouldn't we? Just because our ancestors made this mistake, does it mean we should too?

tanvir brown
11 years ago

Just because Mao and Stalin didn't use God/religion as the tool mean we let others use it? Anyways.. since you are so hooked up on facts, and word games, lets focus on that for a second. Facts themselves aren't as absolute as you would think. Consider the case: you are considered a great guy, a genius, among your peers since you feed their blind faith and ego by defending their creationist crap. On the other hand, those who know science in this page see right through you and simply laugh at you. Arent they both facts? How can you "bluetortilla" be two opposite things: a less intelligent being and a genius at the same time. Because most things in this world, even facts aren't as absolute as you might think they are.

So when you say "Though you may still, as Dawkins maintains and misleads that the entire process of evolution and all of its intricacies and mysteries that we know to date are simply a fact-" remember that he is saying that evolution is a fact based on the evidence scientists have, just the way some people on this page will see right through you based on the evidence they find in your arguments.

So while according to you ony 2+2=4 is a fact and everything else is "bad science" that is not what the rest of the rational minds would think.

11 years ago

Undoubtedly countless millions of lives have been lost in wars and massacres committed in the 'name of faith.' Even as man has tried "There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing." Even as man has denounced God such as in Stalin's Soviet Union or Mao's China, the leaders themselves then assume the posture of demi-gods and the atrocities continue. Wars can be fought by adversaries worshiping in the exact same way, such as in the case of the ancient wars between Thailand and Burma. Religion can certainly be a very strong component in war, perhaps its main justification, but I myself don't see it as the main cause. What we see is that Religion is a variable, for good or for bad, both a stabilizer and destabilizer in society, with benefits and weaknesses. Faith is not religion, as religion is an organized and instituted set of beliefs (dogma) and rituals, but faith is rather a personal conviction. And that conviction likewise can lead to good or harm. There is no relationship more important than the personal relationship one maintains with the mystery of their own being, and those who deny that such a relationship even exists might as well be wandering around in a house of mirrors where the only person they see is them, and most directions are illusory dead ends.
In spiritual matters, no one has the right to pretend that they know the answers or worse, to advocate the disbandment of any given religion. If we are to be free, we must be free to practice religion as well. I personally don't see how I could live happily without a spiritual aspect to my life- one that is highly personal and nobody's business save my own. Of course any scientist's wonder at the cosmos and the mysteries of life are proof of spirituality. People like Dawkin's who make it an agenda to attack faith on the other hand end up cynical and bitter, hallow and without much to say. At least that's my impression. Ditto for Bertrand Russel, at least in his later years. And can anyone here seriously tell me that Einstein was not a spiritual man? And on the other hand, that Stephen Hawkings is not unbearably arrogant? Theology is not the business of science anyway.
It has been said that no one is as faithful as an atheist. I guess that is a humorous observation but it is intriguing. I think a fundamental problem with this whole debate is the fact that whether one regards religion literally or not, there is a universal language and syntax of metaphor (check out Campbell for ex.) that all humans share. It's what's behind the masks, not the masks themselves, that give meaning to our lives.

11 years ago

Well, now that the debate between evolution vs. 'a fact' is settled- the 'evolution as fact' group (evidenced in Wikipedia) is simply putting up a ruse using the reputable name of science to attack creationism (and I am NOT a creationist btw), and it is NOT good science; it's a dumbdown knee jerk reaction (although I must say I know little of creationists and their arguments, which are bound to be equally baffling). Dawkins for example is clearly terrified of religion. It is common that we agree that evolution occurs, most people do. What we're interested in though is HOW it occurs- that is theory. (Though you may still, as Dawkins maintains and misleads that the entire process of evolution and all of its intricacies and mysteries that we know to date are simply a fact- just to maintain a trivial battle with those 'stupid creationists.' Kind of pathetic if you ask me, like Dawkins lamenting the futile faith of crippled Catholics.)

Here's something though in a bigger light that makes one wonder the very nature of existence itself- one of the last quotes by famed atheist Bertrand Russel:

"There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing."

Uplifting, eh? I hope I'm in a better mood before I die.

over the edge
11 years ago

the best way i have found to look at it is. evolution is a fact the theory is the best description of how the fact occurs

11 years ago

I've been told by several well-meaning people in this thread before you to look up the meaning of theory, yet no definition will yield a result that enables one to say that a theory is a 'fact.' That's NOT what theories are, and it is bad science to promote any such notion. If scientists are to promulgate such fallacies then they are no different than the 'superstitious' religious organizations that their supposed rational thinking refutes. Science is rational and skeptical- in a healthy way. A good scientist does not let emotions get in the way of his research.
I wholeheartedly agree that theories are useful and applicable. I never said that they were made up or that they had nothing to do with facts or theorems. I guess my point is that the principles of a theory are dynamic. As I said, and as you say, don't we still use (i.e. Newtonian physics) though we know some aspects are not true? Obviously, the world's arsenal of nuclear weapons were built upon principles of relativity. Yes, there is utility, both good and bad.
And once again, I seem to get labeled as a proponent of creationism. I suppose that anyone who disagrees with bad science must be a creationist? How is that any better than a medieval Christian accusing you of blasphemy? The two are equally dogmatic. Simply put, misapplied science poses a malevolent threat to our, and all, species.
A tremendous amount of evidence supports the theory of evolution. And new evidence is being uncovered all the time. I submit that the further we probe into this process, the more astonishing the facts will become. I also submit that while Darwin was a remarkable pioneer and a great scientist, he was just scratching the surface. That makes sense- he was the first. However, a great many of Darwin's postulations don't hold water any longer. Does that discredit the whole theory of evolution? Absolutely not. There is no rest in the pursuit of truth. We never sit on our laurels.
There is nothing at all wrong with evolution being 'just' a theory. That is correct and the way it should be. You can feel that plants and animals change over time and that is fact. But how and why? That is theory. There is a tremendous amount that we don't know about evolution, and it is an extremely exciting discipline.
I would suggest that anyone who feels so cocksure about the meaning of theory do some investigation again. I have. If you have any more references, please let me know. Discovering far outweighs arguing.

tanvir brown
11 years ago

The fact that people here keeps going on about how evolution is an theory is a reflection of the society we live in. People who have no idea about something (even the definition of theory in the context of science) is so eager to prove others wrong/ They are so sure, that they don't bother to look things up. I wonder where this arrogance comes from ? How are they so sure that they are right ? What gives them this sense of superior authority? Oh wait... I think I know!

11 years ago

also @over the edge, great point about government, pretty much covers all the other issues you described.. average priest can't impose religion on anyone but i suppose law making statesmen can .. tough to know what to do about that

11 years ago

@tanvir brown I don't see how as bystanders we can be spreading prejudice and hatred through maintaining a live and let live policy. You're right its wrong to brainwash people but in today's society there's many ways people can find the truth, and why shouldn't it be about finding happiness, long as people have the truth/evidence presented and can choose for themselves? Personally I think it's a bit strange that there are people who know about evolution and don't believe, and that this debate between fact and theory is still going on, but Dawkins say one of the things he likes best about atheism is that it inspires him to live his life to the fullest, and if religion does that for people, shouldn't that be okay as long as its not causing anyone else harm? There will always be extremists until their respective God comes down and tells them to convert to atheism.

11 years ago

With all due respect, one, this thread should not even be about the debate of theories (other than evolution vs. creationism) but rather the social impact of religion, and two, THEORIES ARE NOT FACTS. At best, they are widely accepted scientific principles that involve abstractions of observable phenomena. And as we speak, well respected physicists are trying to find holes and gaps in Einstein's relativity. Do you really deny that relativity 'could' contain falsehoods? And if it does, shouldn't we know? Aren't relativity and quantum mechanics contradictory? Are you saying that is not a debatable topic?
You can't have your cake and eat it too. 'Theory' has far too many meanings. You can best assume that the layman does not know what you mean exactly by 'scientific theory' and in any worthwhile debate there must be agreement on the meaning of terms.
My surprise is that all the people here asserting that they 'know' science are so seemingly arrogant and blind-sided, as if, indeed- theories ARE fact. You will not find that definition anywhere. Indeed, we are challenged to be ever exploring what is right AND wrong with theories. It is incumbent upon science to honor that position- obviously. There are no holy grails in science; and no spooks. If you all want to throw around the word 'theory' in a highly restricted context among the general public, perhaps you should civilly change your nomenclature so we know what exactly you are talking about. Science demands clarity. It must be concise and impeccable or else it's pointless.
My argument is against arrogance- not throwing the baby out with the bath water. Correcting holes in a theory doesn't destroy its usefulness. Don't we still use Newtonian physics all the time? Do we still see gravity as Newton did?

Sir, I could give a hoot what anybody 'labels' me. I'm no baby. If you have a problem with ego, perhaps you should reconsider science, its purpose, and its utility.

tanvir brown
11 years ago

Th question is not about finding happiness it is about right or wrong, true and false. It is unjust, immoral, and unethical to brain wash people, specially young children. While as bystanders we mean no harm, we also pave the way for the extremists to exist and certainly spread prejudice and hatred ourselves.

over the edge
11 years ago

in m opinion (i only speak for myself) if believing in god makes someone a letter person then good and i have no problem with that. but many people of faith try to inject their beliefs where they don't belong and that's where the problem lies for me. i have stated many times before that if religion stays out of science, my wallet,school and the impossible one government then i would probably never argue with a religious person. and you did point out the effects religion had in the past but they also deny condoms in aids stricken countries , deny equal status to homosexuals,women , people of other faiths and in many places govern people based on a faith that many don't agree with.

11 years ago

A few questions here, the first for aetheists and the rest for people of faith. I agree that it's absolutely ridiculous to disagree with evolution or claim the world is less then 10,000 years old, and at times watching Dawkins debate with certain religious people is painstaking. However, I have seen/heard countless stories about born again Christians who have 'found themself through God'. People who have pulled themselves out of the perverbial gutter claiming God guided them, and they all confess to be in a very happy place. Religion has done its share of evil since the beginning of its existence from Pagan leaders executing early Christians to modern extremeist terrorist attacks, but 'faith', whether it is real or not, has unquestionably done good for many people. Of course its futile to try and dispute proven scientific facts, but if blind faith and an utter belief in 'God' is what makes somebody happy, does it matter if they don't accept modern science (assuming any children they might have are presented with scientific facts and allowed to make they're own choices)? Does belief in God and religion close any door for them in life that could ultimately lead to hapiness? And a question for those of you who do practice faith, who created the Creater? What made God or where did he come from? Also I'd like to get an idea of what God is like to some people, is he an giant old man with a white beard and a robe up in the sky as he's often depicted or is he something else altogether?

11 years ago

I loved his comments at the end. Very moving.