Richard Dawkins: Faith School Menace?

The number of faith schools in Britain is rising. Around 7,000 publicly-funded schools – one in three – now has a religious affiliation.

As the coalition government paves the way for more faith-based education by promoting ‘free schools’, the renowned atheist and evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins says enough is enough.

In this passionately argued film, Dawkins calls on us to reconsider the consequences of faith education, which, he argues, bamboozles parents and indoctrinates and divides children.

The film features robust exchanges with former Secretary of State for Education Charles Clarke, Head of the Church of England Education Service Reverend Janina Ainsworth, and the Chair of the Association of Muslim Schools, Dr Mohammed Mukadam.

It also features insights from child psychologists and key players in faith education as well as insights from both parents and pupils.

Dawkins also draws on his own personal history as a father, arguing that the government must stop funding new faith schools, and urges society to respect a child’s right to freedom of belief.

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  1. Yeah, they want all the kiddies in government run training camps. helps turn out the right kind of voters.

  2. What a scary high number that is

  3. Richard needs to reexamine his definition of discrimination. While a child might be “excluded” from attending a religious school, the alternative might be to join a church that supports your views and has a school that meets your needs. Then again, no one is forcing someone to attend a religious school.

  4. More people have been killed in the name of Religion than in all the Wars of Human history combined. I’m not an atheist, but I’m agnostic…as should each and every other man and woman that lives among this Garden we call Earth. NONE of Us have a way of knowing what lies beyond that last breath we take, and unless Science can in some way make heads or tails about going about solving this, we will NEVER know. That’s why I wish that it could all (“it” being Religion) just cast aside and allow Mankind to move onto a higher level and states of consciousness. That will NEVER happen as long as Religion of ANY KIND pervades the Earth’s populace.

  5. All these pussy religious nutters getting offended… grow up, there is no god(s). The bible, the koran are fantasy books that you believe are real. They are not. The sooner the world puts religion on the scrap heap of ideas along with flat earth etc. the better. Religion is evil and no good comes from it.

  6. I like the ending “Ask questions. Where is the evidence?”

  7. Faith is not a matter of religion not more than compassion is

  8. south park oH mr garrison ya fuck my monkey

    .pound it

  9. I no all about this brought up in religion but made feel outed and discriminated against 1 i wore glasses was seen as disabled, what a crock made sit out of sports no let be involved religious relatives made me feel inadequate not up to their standard well, my faith will always override theres in compassion love and empathy.

  10. Not with fucking “Jesus” Mr. Dawkins!!! You are not Atheist Mr. Dawkins!!!

  11. You will never see Dawkins apologise for his arrogance of posture. How can he? — – That would be an oxymoron. I cannot tell whether even he is conscious of that innate overweening characteristic which any person, equally reasonable as he, but possessed of greater emotional intelligence can only ever find repulsive, as illustrated by his interview with the catholic agonist. Can he though, in all his brave-yet-hurt-faced chip-on-shoulderness be as scarily hideous as the macabre yet ludicrous marching bowlerhatted OTT triumphalism of the marchers he shows us —- our smiley porridge face pastor the mask on bullying religion-as-politics? Can he be as spinechilling as the ‘science teacher who has clearly never even asked herself the old common ancestor/chimp question.. jeeeez!. Not easily. Yet his use of language, his abrupt tone measured through home counties cream and that air of assumed superiority he appears never even to begin to question, I feel, must alienate where religion, for all its apparently verifiable falsehood, will always benefit, where its proselytiser is possessed of charisma, an easy voice and a visible sense of humour and flow. Did Richard ever dare to imagine that possibly one strange old day at the end of time and, possibly, consciousness. that it will turn out that both religion and science got it all right and at the same time all wrong, that, just as string theory in at least its pub-science interpretation has it, a thing can be two things in two places at once, so that both religion, however apparently ludicrous, and science, can both be correct depending on which end of the string ‘the truth’ is spinning on at any one particular nanosecond? I’m sure such an open mined fellow did, but if he did, where did he get all that bombastic air?

  12. I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in writing this blog. I’m hoping the same high-grade web site post from you in the future too. In fact your creative writing skills has inspired me to get my own website going now. Really blogging is spreading its wings and growing rapidly. Your write up is a good example.

  13. A good Bible Scripture for Richard Dawkins to consider is Matthew 18:6: “But whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea.”

  14. Parents have NO right to indoctrinate children. No right to cut off body parts, nothing. All it does it create little parrots running around keeping the cycle going. Oh, I am not at all against a child having a faith. But THEY need to seek it, and they need to accept what is taught, not the parents. The kids will be the ones to stand in front of God and answer for him or her self, the parent will not be there, and will be responsible for his own self. But maybe, the kids will not want any part of any faith tradition. There is nothing wrong with that. ITs his or her life. Focus on teaching them about compassion for other human beings, all of them, and give them a GOOD education. Focusing on what’s important. And bring back vocational schools. Not all kids want, or can go to college for whatever reason. Children are NOT the property of parents. They are human beings in their own right. Parents the the responsibility to educate their children, NOT indoctrinate them.

  15. How can we prove that evolution is not a part of intelligent design? Well for a start, evolution has a starting point, whereas intelligent design begs the question of who designed the designer?

  16. What can I say other than get this man a medal?

  17. Science has been placed on a pedestal and it should not be there.Science lost it`s cherry a long time ago and today I think it is correct to say that Science is just another human hustle on par with say used car salesmen/women and real estate promoters.Science today is all about ego,grants,possible Nobel prizes and parroting the company policy for good or not so good.Science is weak Humanity`s way of interpreting and quantifying physical phenomena and whilst Science is not altogether positive it does have a constructive application which can not be denied.However,Science has a destructive aspect to it`s nature as well and is,at best,amoral but not moral in it`s conduct and deportment.Science is absolutely NO SUBSTITUTE for God but allows Man to explore the physical aspects of existence.However being a believer in duality,I believe that Human Beings are both physical and spiritual and we require spiritual sustenance which only our creator is able to provide.Without the love and compassion of the Supreme Intelligence life and Humanity,including Humanity`s puny little Science,possesses no relevance or meaning whatsoever.GOD creates and Science observes! Science is significantly flawed but applicable to the physical realm.Many atheists,existentialists and other challenged creatures conveniently forget that Christian monks sustained learning during the darkest period of the Post Roman world.It is worth noting that Oxford and Harvard were founded by benevolent Christian people for the enhancement of higher learning and this fact should be remembered by people who love to engage in anti religious rants.I don`t know of any leading educational institution founded by any self proclaimed atheist.Also remember that God is spirit and not subject to the constraints of time and space and the enfeebled atheistic brain seems incapable of grasping this concept.Mankind is a vain,egotistical creature and the atheist seems especially vulnerable to arrogance and ignorance and this inherent rebellion toward God which hides behind the soiled skirts of reasoning and logic is a ploy designed to separate Mankind from it`s maker.In the end God will emerge triumphant and the atheists,existentialists,materialists “free thinkers” and others of this ilk will be judged accordingly.

    • Judged?…now that comment sums up religion quite simply. With a threatening God. Believe or you are really for it.
      The situation is frighteningly simple. If you believe in God, you clearly haven’t read the bible. No you haven’t. And if you convince yourself that you have, why on earth would you worship a God – that is vengeful, vicious, murderous, jealous. Beggars belief…

  18. Ok. As a Catholic (I am stating this first for the purpose of your objective consideration wherever possible) I feel I should correct some of the misleading information in this documentary. My personal experience consists of 4 different Catholic academic institutions.
    1) Non-Catholics are not “banned” from our schools. I am still in touch with a close childhood Muslim friend with whom I attended a Catholic school not to mention numerous childhood friends of other religions. It is simply that we as children were only ever aware of non-Catholic children when they were not required to sing hymns with us. About 10% of attendance was non-Catholic at the schools, as priority is given to those whose parents want them to be educated in that particular tradition. If you truly seek an understanding of the realities of faith schools, then you must also open your mind to the details instead of believing someone else’s conclusions.

    2) Every school has it’s own religious syllabus? Well that does not explain why I got an A in GCSE R.E. given the premise that the examination was sat through an independent board.

    3) Another example: I attained B and B for GCSE double science at school. Nowhere on that syllabus was it required of us to either state that we believe in evolution, nor to understand it in detail. This would normally be covered at a more advanced level than compulsory education has to offer. Normally students following this discipline are aiming for particular careers such as the field of archaeology. This is why the science teacher at the Muslim school was not an expert in this area. Mr Dawkins did try to embarrass her unfairly, which I think was impolite to say the least.

    4) Many Atheists in my experience speak from the perspective that their beliefs are solid fact and that everyone else’s are mere opinions. An example of religious fundamentalism in my view, and even more divisive. This is anathema to anyone who possesses a truly open mind. If we are to accept Mr Dawkins’ premise that evidence is required to validate an opinion, can he produce fossils of T-Rex that he himself has unearthed in support of them? No? In that case one may say that he, too, is accepting notions he has read in a book. He demands of the Muslim headmaster why he isn’t forcing children to accept this conventional wisdom instead of letting the pupils decide for themselves. He then proceeds to accuse such schools of indoctrination. I smell hypocrisy. The patronising manner in which it was done also seemed very rude. 

    5) If I have been “indoctrinated” at my Catholic school, then how come I spent 8 years as an Atheist existentialist, beginning when I was at a Catholic sixth form and ending when I re-discovered my faith? That’s nearly a decade of my life and I’m only 26 years old. Being involved in a faith does not equate to being a dogmatic fundamentalist incapable of critical analysis. Not for sane individuals at any rate.

    6) Religion isn’t a labour-saving device that enables us to have all the answers as a shortcut to thinking. Moreover, it is a source of important questions we must ask ourselves for the sake of our ethical guidance, our social and romantic lives, our self-esteem and our intuition.

    We can argue about who is “right” and who is “wrong” about evolution and the existence of God until the cows come home. One thing we can all agree on is that although we all have an opinion on it, nobody really knows. That’s why it’s called “faith”.
    But can we please at least try to keep this debate relevant to the subject matter instead of going off on a metaphysical tangent?

    P.S. If you want to know whether I believe in God for a “good” reason, it is because my gut instinct tells me so. My hunches have generally proven me right in most real-life situations, even when I have either chosen to ignore them or behave counter-intuitively motivated by other factors. Whereas a lot of atheists hold their views on the basis of little more than documentaries like these which are labelled as “evidence”, despite the considerable spin and loaded language used. Wait a minute, aren’t the religious supposed to be the gullible ones some of you belittle by comparing us to believers in fairies? 

    • Religious – gullible? Kathryn, how could you?

      Talking snake, woman from a rib, big boat full of animals, turning woman into salt, parting seas, etc, etc. Sounds reasonable to me…

  19. This is harrowing. Seeing that dumb, brainwashed “science” teacher passing off unsubstantiated opinions as “fact” was terrifying. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising though. Science is all about challenging ideas. It’s fine to be wrong. You come up with an idea and then test it.

  20. o wow religion is not open to interpretation do you not realize this yet?? Religion is humans wishing to explain what they can not in an unusual pursuit of knowledge. That is nature,religion is simply the application of this desire.  Think about the fact that there are/ have been over 400 religions from the first written record.

  21. good.

  22. I grew up Buddhist, but my folks went to Scottish missionary school. We didn’t have much problems or delimas with faith, chiefly because my family believed in science/reason but were able to hold onto our Buddhist faith, mixed with the humane principals of Christianity.

  23. I do really like how in this post he is very neutral.  he does not support atheism over religion but he does support education for all, and an equal opportunity to decide one’s own religion.  despite being athiest, I have more respect for those who choose religion, over those who are indoctrinated in it.

  24. Addressing his claims on the theory of evolution…Its pretty obvious that he has very strong and detailed beliefs regarding the theory of evolution. I was just wondering, if humans developed from apes, where did apes come from? where did existence really begin? 

  25. Addressing his claims on the theory of evolution…Its pretty obvious that he has very strong and detailed beliefs regarding the theory of evolution. I was just wondering, if humans developed from apes, where did apes come from? where did existence really begin? 

    • If you’re interested in learning more, I suggest The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins. If you like that one, you might want to try The God Delusion by the same. Predating biology, it’s a matter of chemistry, predating that, astrophysics.

    • just like the last reply I can’t believe you just wrote that…. please people I know some people havent read a thing on evolution but seriously where did apes come from, where did existence really begin…. READ A GOD DAMN BOOK

    • Have you considered reading a book on the subject?

      A very brief study of the subject before posting comments would prevent you appearing to have the intellegence of the very lowest order of life.

    • Have you considered reading a book on the subject?

      A very brief study of the subject before posting comments would prevent you appearing to have the intellegence of the very lowest order of life.

  26. On the first day Man created God….

  27. Are chastity belts for boys part of the catholic school uniform?

  28. To the religious parents reading this: Don’t be surprised if your children stop talking to you one day and never speak to you again. It’s not that they don’t want to, it’s that they don’t know what to say, or how to cope with the pressure you put them under. You don’t even have to open your mouth, because their minds are haunted by your indoctrination. It’s overpowering, controlling, and it distorts their minds. I’ve been trying so hard to heal, but it seems an impossible task. I’m 24, and I’m so filled with constant irritability and rage that my mental health is in constant decline. The more I think about the evil doctrines of faith, the worse the rage gets, tinged with a bitter nostalgia. I miss my father, but it’s just too painful to see him. Christianity fed his mental illness like putting gasoline on a fire… It truly breaks my heart.

  29. I am 19 and went to a faith school, was made to attend church every weekend and feel whole heartedly that the shoving of believes down one’s throat is far more common practice in this country then we are led to believe. I now live in London and it is different here – there are too may different influences to be able to get one singular point across without question; but in middle England this is very often the case. I have clear memories of our RE teacher (who also happened to be a priest) slamming the bible down on his desk and shouting at me that my opinion was wrong! because i chose to question Christianity and talked of comparisons between religions. Had i not been such a terror, this could very well have stopped me from asking important questions and closing my mind a little more. Luckily, there are many like myself that grow up questioning repressive forms of teaching and rebel with gusto. I am more worried about the other half of the class that were shouted at or made to feel un holy just once and let it affect their thinking and opinions for the rest of their lives.

  30. To Awful Truth:
    I’d like to retort, respectfully, that the problem religion causes – not enables through interpretation, but causes – is that to see a claim or a value judgement as sacred is a systematic way to make it immune to scrutiny; moreover, it creates the meta-value that it is virtuous not to question our beliefs or to re-evaluate. Every advance in history, from the discovery of the vacuum (which was a claim punishable by death by the Church) to a woman’s right to vote, has been an apocraphy to the idea that doctrines should not be scrutinised. It robs something very precious from a child to ask him or her to take into maturity the concept that values and claims should be accepted for tradition’s sake alone. It robs us of our most valuable gift as human beings: to grow and to progress.

  31. I notice he conveniently left out occupation as a dividing force among Irish Catholics and Protestants. It may no longer be there, but it certainly was a catalyzing force. I’m a non-believer also, but I still think it’s ridiculous to leave something that important out of the equation—especially when the emphasis is on critical thought.

  32. I notice he conveniently left out occupation as a dividing force among Irish Catholics and Protestants. It may no longer be there, but it certainly was a catalyzing force. I’m a non-believer also, but I still think it’s ridiculous to leave something that important out of the equation—especially when the emphasis is on critical thought.

  33. I notice he conveniently left out occupation as a dividing force among Irish Catholics and Protestants. It may no longer be there, but it certainly was a catalyzing force. I’m a non-believer also, but I still think it’s ridiculous to leave something that important out of the equation—especially when the emphasis is on critical thought.

  34. Several thoughts. Religion does not cause the problems we see, it is human interpretation of religion based on self interest/self justification that causes the problems we see around us.(contradiction)- used to subjugate or control the masses.
    It was said in this blog that scientific disagreement does not lead to the demonization of a person unlike religion. Explain this to Pons and Fleshman who thought they had discovered cold fusion. What they discovered was a flaw in Neil Bohr’s hydrogen atom, not cold fusion, but the scientific community drove them out of North Americam and MIT doctored their own test results to discredit them so they could get a jump on hydrogen fuel cell technology.
    The awful truth is that science and religion are trying to answer some of the same questions, one via faith, the other via observation and experimentation. Spiritual thoughts that guide people to be good to one another is not a bad thing. On the flip side, Einstein’s E=MC2 was “a description of the universe, not a prescription for a bomb”. Fighting in itself is not a bad thing, it is what motivates us to do it that determines it’s morality. In the final analysis, everything in the universe exists for a reason or it wouldn’t. To embrace this is to embrace life itself, a tolerance few of us can achieve. I gues the main point I am trying to express is that science and religion are not in conflict as Dawkins would have us believe. Hot/cold, left/right, up/down, etc. It would seem reasonab;e to me from observation and history that both co-exist together and have purpose. I leave everyone to consider this: How do we disprove that evolution is not a part of intelligent design? Perhaps George Carlin is correct and the only reason humans are here was to produce plastic, because the earth couldn’t create it itself. Now that we have done our job, humanity can be phased out.
    If we don’t give up this George Bush mentality(if your not with us, your against us!) that it is either one or the other, with no other possibilities, we will never truly evolve that which matters most. The wise will understand, and the rest will die in ignorance.

    • Religion does cause many of the problems that we see, and what is more distubing, is the fact that religion enables much more problems to occur. Religion gives room to the fundamentalists and due the dogmatic nature of *select your religion* it is unable to correct itself even if it is clearly making a bad to group of things. 

      An easy example is the condom ban in africa – even when every sensible catholic knows that condom use would reduce the suffering from AIDS and ease the overpopulation there, they cannot change the rules (at least with reasonable effort) because the order has came from this all knowing being – changing the rule would mean that the all knowing god figure would had made an mistake.

      Science on the other end is the exact opposite: if the science would had said earlier that condom use is bad, it would had corrected itself after the evidence would had piled up.

      On your other statement, that science and religion are not in conflict, i have to state that you are dead wrong. Religion is making claims about the universe/world that science denies (or vise versa). The difference is that where science collects evidence, evaluates it and then comes to a probable conclusion (and is prepared to always re-evaluate it), religion is just stating a god given fact that rests on the belief alone and is not open to questioning. 

      As the others have already replied: yea, no-one can prove that evolution isn’t caused by ID, it probably is not. We can use the Occam’s razor on this: the evolution doesn’t need a supernatural component to explain it so there is no reason to expect one. You see, no one can prove that the evolution isn’t caused by Invisible Unicorn or Pink Fairy either – yet every sensible person disregards them as the supernatural creator without an second thought.

    • So your justification for the bad things that religion has caused is simply because people have interpreted the teachings wrong? That’s hardly an excuse. Please realize the “good” teachings that can come from religion can be taught in other ways. The spiritualism and  dogma is not needed to teach people to be good to one another. And yes, science and religion are in major conflict as many religious people, some shown in this very documentary, choose to discard scientific facts that happen to interfere with their religion, which is not acceptable. Einstein’s E=MC2 has brought us much more than a bomb and to relate it to the negative things that religion has caused is just unfair. This equation is needed in order to better understand the universe that we live in. Why is religion needed? For the warm feelings and good morals that could be achieved other ways? At least the creation of the atomic bomb, as deadly and horrifying as it is, is a result of understanding. What do you call thousands of people dieing in the name of God? Life in prison for homosexuals? The burning of “witches”? Just plain ignorance. Quite the opposite of understanding actually. So don’t pretend that it’s the same thing. Also, nobody can prove that evolution is not a part of intelligent
      design, but no one is claiming that it isn’t. In fact, the two subjects
      have nothing to do with each other. It’s not so much that “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” as much as it is that if you’re not on the side with scientific facts, you’re wrong. Science is an explanation for the universe that’s here. Religion is an answer to why it’s here, but assuming that there’s a reason for why it’s here is ignorant in the first place.

      • Evolution by natural selection can be seen to have not been a product of intelligent design. It is the reason why intelligent design is not allowed to be taught in science lessons in America. Somebody tried to use a type of bacteria as an example of intelligent design to try and disprove evolution by natural selection and failed, the bacteria was shown to be a product or evolution. I just wish I could remember the name of the case! I saw it on a BBC documentary here in England a couple of weeks ago so hopefully it will be on this website soon. 

        Loved your comment otherwise! 

    • I think what you’re forgetting is the athiest perspective (well at least my perspective shared by a bunch of other atheists) of religion is that religion was written by man.  That is, people with an agenda sat down to write the bible.  Man already had morals on its own.  The Roman’s created the Roman Catholic church so that its citizens would remain moral, even if they were left with a weak ruler.  People do have morals, as dawkins describes it, it is a moving zeitgeist.  It just happens that the books of our bible and the books of other religion, are a record of that zeitgeist at the time the books were written.  Science and religion are in conflict, but both were written by man for a purpose at different times.  The religions (at least the actual “old” religions) were written at a time when we couldn’t yet use science to explain the world.  Now we can.  “How can we disprove evolution isn’t part of intelligent design?” easily the bible describes intelligent design and excludes evolution.  Even if you take the bible symbolically how do you know which parts are symbolic and which are real?  It seems ridiculous to pick and choose what is a fairy tale story to describe morality and what is fact.  My point is, atheists accept there is a slight chance there is a god, a creator who tweaked the knobs of the universe so that the conditions were right for life, and then he just let go and watched.  but the probability of that being so is tiny.  Even tinier is the likelihood you would choose one of the world’s existing religions as the actual answer.  really in all of time do you think it would be that easy to figure out?  no.  the bible never happened.  the stories in the bible are the same as the stories in greek and roman mythology.  the stories are the same for the pagans, just updated by each new religion for the new moral zeitgeist of the time.

      A much better argument is that if there were a god, (and intelligent design) he would have to have also come into being somehow.  That he would have had to have descended from something much simpler and less complex.  What existed before god?  the probability of that is so ridiculously small, it is like the probability that there is a teapot behind the moon.  how would we know?  because the idea is ridiculous.

      the idea of unicorns or fairies is just as ridiculous or a black swan… oh wait, haha.  just making a point.

      I personally prescribe to the multi-verse idea and accept that the world is “queerer than we can presume”.  perhaps in one of these verses there is a local verse god, and unicorns and fairies.  but i in the least bit would want to support or praise a god who says and does the things described in the bible.

    • The atom bomb is to science as religion is to culture. Both have highly destructive and widespread effects that last millenia, and both are susceptible to human manipulation. Religion DOES cause the problems we see. Science causes a different set of problems, though unlike religion, science seeks to correct the flaws and eliminate the dangers, unless it is in the hands of evil, greedy, or otherwise corrupt individuals (the inventors of devastating weapons and the evil people that use them). I think that religion is exactly the same thing as the atom bomb, though in a much more subtle and indirect form. I think religion has certainly caused more deaths across more centuries than the atom bomb currently has. Religious fanatics/usurpers of religious masses are the ones who are most likely to end up launching the nuclear arsenals piled throughout the world. My point is that religion does significant damage, and ultimately it’s infinitely more complicated than any of us would want it to be.

  35. The only downside of relying on the science of others in propelling mankind forward through evolution is that the invention of safety measures and medicines have all but circumnavigated natural selection. We live in a world where it really doesn’t matter whether you’re weak or stupid, you’ll still be carried forward by those who have worked to further themseleves.

    • hmmm thats actually pretty interesting, slowly dumbing ourselves down physically and mentally…. by keeping the weak and stupid alive… we really need to get rid of religion

    • hmmm thats actually pretty interesting, slowly dumbing ourselves down physically and mentally…. by keeping the weak and stupid alive… we really need to get rid of religion

    • hmmm thats actually pretty interesting, slowly dumbing ourselves down physically and mentally…. by keeping the weak and stupid alive… we really need to get rid of religion

  36. Mr Dawkins says that religion should be looked at by the independent body and reviewed like any other subject. This, I agree with. However, I would go further. If RE cannot show that there is logical coherence in the syllabus which should address ALL different religions, so that a Comparative Religious platform is taught, then it’s a biased platform which does not look at Religion as a whole, but rather only one religion. I think somewhere I read that there are 33,000 different denominations of Christianity alone. Do not think that a Christian label means one Christian thinks the same way as another. No, each one of those denominations claims “The Truth” for themselves – Catholic, Mormon, Westboro Baptist. If Christianity has so many variations, so too would the others have variations. What the hell are our children being taught? Maybe we should be standing up and demanding Freedom From Religion until the schools are prepared to have their “faith” scrutinized, so that the faith also does not transfer over into other subjects.

  37. I am 60 now and went to a faith school in a different country from where my parents worked (ie I was sent to Boarding school in another country and went home once a year). I came to school in Australia. My father was a Presbyterian so I went to a Presbyterian school. When I was in my senior years there was a list put up asking for names for “confirmation”. I didn’t put down my name and was called into see the Headmistress. When asked why I had not put down my name, I simply said that I recognized I was still a child and had not had the opportunity to explore religion, and I didn’t want to commit to anything. The Headmistress couldn’t believe her ears. Anyway, I am now an Atheist to the teachings of any established religion. Do I believe in a God? Yes I do, but not in any sense, the Gods that are taught of through established religions. I find religion exclusive and divisive. They do not teach how to get on with people who believe differently from yourself. It’s a “them” and “us” mentality. I find established religions and their school a blight on society in the same way as politicians who decide to send their young to war, a blight on society. Maybe it’s a little over the top, but if a war is declared, line up the pollies and put them into detention – theoretically no war. Put the religious people back into church and do not let it mix with our most precious source – our children.

  38. I’m about as big an atheist as you can get, devoting my time to activism and so on and soforth (including “indoctrinating” undergraduates — har har har), but Dawkins is (excuse my bluntness and ad hom attacks) an asshole who does far more damage to the atheist “community” than good. He has no grasp of philosophy — aside from a refried interpretation of Hume — and he’s unbelievably myopic in his strategies. He will go down in history with Slavoj Zizek, Noam Chomsky, Cornell West, and many, many others as true academics who should’ve stuck to academia. As elitist as it may sound, pop philosophy does no one any good.

  39. I was the victim of child abuse– mental child abuse. I was taught myth– religion– as fact. All religion is based on faith, a kind of assumption. No child should ever be taught assumptions as fact, it is just not right. If children have to be indoctrinated in order that religion survives, then we have to ask the value of religion. If it can’t stand on its own merits as judged by thinking adults, then it is not worthy of being believed by anyone. Many if not most of the problems of the world are a result of making decisions based on assumptions rather than reason.
    Religion would have died out many years ago if not for the unjust indoctrination of children.

  40. I often think to myself: What if, for example, the Catholic Church and Catholicism had never existed and was being set up today? We would be asked to fund and attend a majestic building to watch a man in an expensive robe perform rituals (which include the swinging of incense and having us repeat the same statements) and tell us how to live our lives in order to be ‘saved from evil’ and that our children will go to hell unless he washes their heads with water. We’d laugh wouldn’t we?

  41. Modern religions use manmade doctrines to rule over the people. True spirituality such as the teachings and life lived by Christ destroy manmade doctrines and set us free. I am a christian. I believe in evolution. The big bang was a miraculous expansion of energy. Divine Energy. Sent spiraling through the cosmos. Look at the similarity of human DNA and that of mice, dogs or even bananas. How on earth can we have such similar DNA patterns? HMMM. Looks like we all started from ONE DIVINE LIFE source. and then adapted and branched off the vine of life into our own species. Scientific and Spiritual.(Not Religious)

    I can’t even believe you people argue over such things. It just goes to show that even though our “science” is so technologically advanced that you people have acquired no true knowledge. The spiritual world around us is alive and well, just waiting for us ego loving humans to join in the celebration of LIFE. So get over yourself and what you think you know and just BE. You can analyze all you want but the truth is all around us, its just waiting for you to remove the veil of your mind and accept it with an open heart. The power in the heart is an amazing thing. Used for spiritual good, you can remove mountains. Maybe you’ll need some bulldozers but hey, you did move mountains, right?

    Anyways I hope the scientific world will open your hearts, and that you religious fanatics can go burn in hell because the way that you are using “GOD’s” name in vain, the DIVINE ONE, is an atrocity, and one of the most horrible “sin’s” one can commit. Love your neighbor as thyself. But first, you must love yourself or how can you love your brother?

    • Love thy neighbour as thyself – preceded by religious fanatics burn in hell…a simple couple of statements you make that sums up the absolute nonsense of religion. Enjoy your day.

    • Can i just ask you what you mean by ‘you people’? Isn’t that as discriminatory as the fanatics you say should ‘burn in hell’? I am confused by your bi polar answer, one minute you’re telling us all to open her hearts and the next you are slamming down the metal shutters.

      The point really is that to have an open mind you have to be able to handle the closed minds of others.

    • Hi Travis…you make some good points.

      Your statement…you religious fanatics can go burn in hell…unsettles my heart. I believe if we are “to be” and “celebrate life”, it does not make sense to me to ever wish ill on another person, as the thought of damnation begins with judgement and in my belief, damnation is not our right.

      My belief is that we are capable of taking the “good” knowledge and insight that we have to teach others that they too can experience life without hatred and damnation via living by example.


      • Ellie,

        I am sorry for that comment but the way that people misuse the power of the spirit is what separates one from the DIVINE. It bothers me so much and I admit, that statement was poorly written and in bad taste. However, by taking the Lords name in vain, and by that I do not mean saying “God dammit,” but by claiming to be doing God’s service when in fact you aren’t, this will result in a separation from GOD/DIVINE power. That separation is the burning in hell. What is hell? separation from the divine vine of life. it could be a physical “place,” but nobody knows for sure. The separation from divine life itself is hell enough. We humans think that our physical bodies are who we are. Its not, that is your ego attaching itself to the current vessel your soul has acquired for this existence. I don’t mean to get down on people who are attempting a spiritual life but every modern day church and religion that i’ve encountered has had some sort of agenda. True spirituality’s only agenda is creating life abundantly. Sin cannot stand next to Love. There is just no way. The truth will set you free and Love is the ONE TRUTH.

        • Travis, I commend your “leading by example” not only in your response to me, but also in the manner of your response, thank you.

          I too believe that the vast power of love is truth. I feel it and I crave it and I am always content when I experience it…and it is a battle to keep the ego “at bay” so to speak. I also agree that the vessel our spirit occupies is not who we are…we are much more…more than we know.

          Seek and ye shall find…continue to grow in spirit. This spiritual journey makes me content and completely satisfied. I wish this for all.

  42. FORT YOUR STATEMENT IS SO IDIOTIC AND STUPID IT ABSOLUTLY BOGGLES THE MIND!!!Im genuinly amazed that you can read and use a computer with unbelelievbly moronic thinking like yours!!

  43. 23:00 – The Islamic science teacher, who supposedly teaches curriculum-based evolution, does not know why there are apes if the apes evolved into humans. Apparently all 60 year 11 pupils in her class ‘came to their own conclusions’ and rejected evolution at the end of the unit.

    That’s all you need to know about faith schools.
    Absolutely disgusting.
    I’m speechless and feel physically sick.

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  45. It’s called faith because it’s not based on knowledge.

  46. Science and religion are *nothing* like each other. No one has blind faith in science. Science is simply what we believe until proven differently…and science itself is *always* trying to prove itself wrong. That scientific process is what makes it so strong and so much better than religion. Does religion examine itself and it’s knowledge base? No, never. Religion is not about questioning the fundamentals of it’s beliefs… yet science is about doing this constantly, until all avenues are exhausted and the solution that still fits simply *must* be the truth ( or, rather, until someone can disprove it. )

    Religious types that claim science has any sort of faith to it are simply trying to create a sense of 50/50 equality. There is simply no comparison. It’s their last desperate attempt to not admit science trumps religion in all matters of the physical world. ( And Oprah and self help books can do just as good a job as religion on the other stuff.

    • It may of sounded like i was trying to bash science in my earlier comment, but that wasn’t my intention. My point was to the people who see science as a way of putting down people with other beliefs. They are the people who see science as untouchable/uncorruptable. They never put much thought into the way scienctific research is funded. Ask yourself this (is it possible to steer science in a certain direction?). Let me give you an example (and i not saying i am right, just give it some thought ) we spend billions and billions on particle accelerator’s trying to prove beyond any doubt a big bang theory, where as if we spent more money funding a unified field theory we could probably answer alot more questions about how the univese works, and there are many other example’s of where funds in certain scientific researches have been cut because they do not comply with the main theories. The fact is science research cost money and the people who fund science are business men, they do not particularly want to waste money on new theories. I would like to add that i do not see myself as a religious person, mainly because i haven’t studied every religion that ever existed, but i try to keep an open mind because we do not have all the answers.

      • May this comicstrip from Calvin & Hobbes help clarify my perspective:

      • Bradders’ got a point: When nations support the construction and funding of humongous projects like the LHC (or Manhattan project), it is because there is a belief that those would help (or harm) in a way no other project would. Here the direction is not marked by religion alone, but by politics. And if we start talking politics, we well might end up talking about sex here…
        Anyway, there is no possible way of knowing which scientific path is the most efficient to walk down, though we can estimate many. Usually there are actually not that many, because they are created upon initiative and persistence, scarce virtues these days.
        A fairly good approach, maybe not the best, but definitely not the worst, is to take advantage of the computing/thinking power of the more brains working altogether, the better. And that relates to democracy. Of course, some human brains might be more efficient than others in certain circumstances and knowledge environments, but we just do not yet know which ones and why. Collaborations seems to be the natural way.

    • I mostly agree with Zero except for the “aboslutist” bit of its talk, and the fact that faith moves mountains. There is no 50/50 equality sense, of course, but not either a 100/0 or either we would not be having this debate. We believe in the scientific method, but it might not be the fastest way to get to the so called “truth”, in case something like that does really exist (and there are no multiple truths based upon different perceptional mindsets, or other many frameworks that philosophers have studied for millenia). You say that science constantly questions itself, and the way it has to do so it’s called, precisely, religion 😉

  47. I also have another point. Yesterday’s witchcraft is today’s science, what is to say that today’s witchcraft will not be tomorrow’s science.

  48. The facts of science are not in question and should be taught in both religious and non religious schools. Experiments which can be repeated with the same results are demonstration of fact not a demonstration of faith. Although, there are many theories and schools of thought in the scientific community which do fall under the category of philosophy because these are based more on speculation and belief of the scientists which purport those theories. This is not to say that they do not sound logical but any school of thought can be explained rationally by someone who is well read enough. It is true there are provable laws in the universe but it is also equally true that in order for innovation and new discoveries to occur there needs to be a little element of faith. What is true faith and i dont mean dogma dished out by organized religions but pure faith as it is without trappings. It is stepping outside of the box and taking a leap out of that which is generally accepted as fact. This is where our greatest discoveries have come from and it does take an element of faith in an unknown. This is how the unknown becomes known. Many great scientists believed in a Creator. Such a beleif is not in conflict with science, it is impossible to prove with science. Spiritual experiences can only be experienced individually and are thus subjective and thus can never be discovered through science, they can only be discovered through introspection.

  49. I agree with Fort for the most part but I won’t step away from Dawkins’ fan club just yet 😉
    Scientific indoctrination is as dangerous as the religious (think Hiroshima), but alike Democracy, it seems to be the lesser evil among a varied collection os systems yet discovered.
    One could argue that religions incorporate a longer, more ancient perspective span to the way that we perceive the world and behave, as those have been going on for thousands of years in the most cases, but then this saying could be countered with the argumentation about the scientific development which has been ongoing since ancient, greeks, romans, egypts or chinese, to name a few.
    Skepticism is all about not believing, and I find this a bit disconforting in that the way it is presented in the documentary (as a father’s letter to his son) is very little assertive, and assertivity (and entrepreneurship) is terribly underrated these days.
    “Believe not what feels right just because it does”: this sentence can be reversed to read that the unlucky son will feel wrong for the rest of his unfaithful life, and that is sad, because we also have the right to be happy. Most of the times, the choice seems to be: “either choose happyness or truth”, and the disjunctive should not be that one. To know the truth should make us happier most of the times. I do not therefore think that ignorance is bliss, but lack of knowledge instead.
    Still, mind is an obscure emergence out of an imperfectly evolved brain which is connected to the outside world through vastly defective senses, so anything that helps not to hit the walls as the blind entities that we are, is somewhat helpful. You choose.

  50. Fort has raised a point. Many people think that Science or Atheism are a form of faith. Rather than respond with ad hominem attacks and outrage, I’ll provide a refutation.

    Perhaps the very definition of faith is belief without the benefit of evidence. When evidence for a teaching is absent, one may be told they must “take it on faith”, that is, believe the teaching without any supporting evidence.

    In fact, evidence destroys faith – the act itself of seeking evidence also undermines faith, since it indicates that you are at least slightly unwilling to believe without evidence.

    Science is the process of seeking greater truths through the creation of theories based on the evidence of lesser truths, and testing of those theories for evidence of their correctness – their truth. The entire process of science, theories from conception to proof, is based on evidence.

    It is therefore quite correct to say that Faith and Science are incompatible, in that when a scientist comes to evaluate their faith, they will in time find they either lose it, or abandon the scientific method in its analysis.

    As for Atheism, the case is simpler: Since Faith is belief without evidence, if I do not believe in a God, then I can not have faith in that God. The concept of God is larger (superset) than the concept of Nothing, therefore since the larger concept requires proof in order to augment the smaller concept (and there is none), Nothing remains.

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