A Message from Richard Dawkins to Young Freethinkers

This is what he said:
I hope you will overlook my age and allow me to explain why I think you are making such a valiant contribution to the cause of atheism, rationalism and secularism.

It is all too easy for debates about the role of religion to become inward-looking and academic, but it really does matter. Every day, all across the world, millions of our fellow humans are diminished by religion: religion that may force them to mutilate their children, cover their hair or faces, stay silent when they have so much more to say than those who suppress them, surrender control over their reproduction, donate money they cannot afford, obey and submit to their inferiors, deny reality, forgo education, close their minds, reject proper medical care, suffer needlessly, be burdened by pointless guilt, and live with the spectre of eternal torment. Every day, religion works to recruit more victims, among the young, the sick, the poor and dispossessed, the old: anyone who is weak and vulnerable is a legitimate target in religion’s eyes.

Of course, in any civilised society people must be free to believe whatever they want, but this doesn't mean those beliefs should be automatically shielded from challenge just because they are religious, and it certainly doesn't mean they should be enshrined in law or promulgated by the state. It doesn't mean that the state should abet churches and mosques and temples in trying to convert young minds in schools. It doesn't mean that young people should be divided from one another throughout their all-important school lives purely because their parents happen to follow different creeds. It doesn't mean we should allow our state broadcaster to perpetuate the myth that you need religion to be good. It doesn't mean that the minority of people who are actively religious should have privileged access to our lawmakers, their opinions sought out by policy makers, their bishops sit, as of right, in the House of Lords, their representatives automatically packing government committees or Royal Commissions with an ethical brief. It doesn't mean that our hard-pressed NHS should squander money paying chaplains out of its already over-stretched budgets. It doesn't mean that schools should be obliged to force pupils into daily acts of worship.

Every major battle for the advancement of human rights has been won in the teeth of fierce religious opposition: whether it's the abolition of slavery, equality for women or gays, freedom of speech, the abolition of the blasphemy law, the right of a woman to control her own fertility, or the right of the terminally ill to choose to end their suffering with dignity and medical assistance.

So, this really matters – in the real world and not just in internet chatrooms. Of course we must leave people in peace to practise religion if they so choose. But the rest of us must be left in peace to live our lives without it. The religious want more and more influence over government policy and, if they succeed, our society will be the poorer: less tolerant, less equal, less just, less educated, less rational. These issues should matter to all of us, but young people are the ones who should care most of all. You will inherit the societies that current governments leave behind. This is your future we are talking about, and the kind of society you want to live in.

If you want – and what decent person wouldn't? – to live with the best Enlightenment values, live free and tolerant and committed to knowledge and education and reason, then you must speak up and let your voices be heard.

All good wishes

Richard Dawkins


HT: Friendly Atheist


District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Nothing like evangelical fundamentalist atheism to rally the troops...Dawkins, "I send thee out into the world to make converts of all...even though we're 400 years older than Christianity and have a comparitively few that would believe this garbage...DON'T be discouraged!"


Alistair Scott said...

Hmmm ... interesting comment District Supt. Harvey Burnett.

It's fascinating, the way that fundamental Christians project their world-view on to others.

For example, many of them seem believe that Darwin's 'Origin of the Species' is some sort of 'holy bible' to those who believe in evolution. It's not.

And now, here's the good District Supt. talking about Dawkins 'making converts'.

He completely ignores the fact that Dawkins writes, "... in any civilised society people must be free to believe whatever they want ...".

Is that 'making converts' District Supt.? Have you actually read what Dawkins wrote?

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

This is sad - I feel for Dawkins. One of the patterns of "blindness" that I awoke from was that one inadvertently perpetuates the very thing that one holds in contempt. I believe Jesus succinctly put it this way - get the log out of your eye before you attempt to remove the splinter from anothers. Exhibit A of Richard's blindsightedness right here in his own letter:

His own words reveal the infection of ageism when he, himself, opens his letter with an apology for his age (as though youth is superior, but, by worldly standards and the standards for natural selection, it is - but that is not the same as faithful standards) and then later, he assigns exploitation solely to those involved in religion - he accuses the religious for recruiting and exploiting the old! Why apolgize for your age then?? Excuse me, Richard, but insidiously, you are coopted and perpetuating by the very thing that you are accusing others of --- so it is that the "spectre of eternal torment" is construed - just in this very manner!

Truly, I am sad for Mr. Dawkins and the world he is blindly cooperating in perpetuating. It's been done before throughout the history of mankind, and I know, I once did this myself in an attempt to condescend,minimize and justify my contempt for all things Godly.

There is a God Who loves everyone - even those who hold Him in contempt and attempt to relegate God as a nonentity. It truly is a narrow path to love all humanity.


D.L. Folken said...

Dawkins is so inconsistent! He won't even debate anyone. Dawkins is the one who has boxed himself in and won't allow anyone to criticize his thought process.

He relies solely on indoctrination methods rather than accepting the role of critical thought being applied to his own theories.

I wish he was a free thinker. If he was, he would accept material and spiritual thought as being acceptable avenues for man; however, he has closed himself off from spiritual considerations and will only entertain the material aspect of reality.

I personally think Dawkins is a very closed minded individual who is afraid of rational thought. He hides behind books and shuts down debate because he believes debate gives his critics a platform.

Dawkins is not a free thinker. He is a box thinker who can only think about that which fits his preconceived notions about the world.

Christian Agnostic said...

Freethinking is an abtuse notion the way Dawkins uses it. Everywhere people are trampled on in the name of religion, politics, science and the world of work. The bogeyman is mankind, and human nature is manifestly incurable. This one-dimensional critique of Dawkins, despite his wide audience, misses the point entirely.

Gandolf said...

Ohhh read the riot act,Richard Dawkins a atheist says it like he really see`s it and folks are all of a sudden getting themselves in a great flap he`s a evangelical fundamentalist of atheism.

Who cares.Go wail on some religious wailing wall somewhere,bit of luck maybe somebody will still feel a little sorry for ya.

Maybe those extra interested in global warming should be beaten with this fundamentalist title stick too.Still it doesnt change the fact that just maybe global warming needs some important discussion or action does it,just because somebody labels somebody as being too fundamentalist about it.

Try to attack some of the points Richard Dawkins made and atleast try to prove them wrong, might show a bit more guts.But folks of faith cant can they,because much of what Richard suggest is not just a suggestion its backed by experience and fact.

MMM in my opinion i think he was simply addressing a young crowd and simply noted that!,at the same time as addressing the fact that he has lots of respect for the interest all the extra amounts of youth has already show in the matter at hand these days.

However also surely? of course matters of the youth and their future should always be of (extra great) importance to us all.Shouldnt they be MMM?.

After all i suggest "infection of ageism" has sadly been a great problem already in the soceity we have. That all to often in our past hasnt really considered the "youth" and their future anywhere near often enough as it should have done,and specially idiotic faithful folks with their stupid thoughts of some supposed afterlife and salvation, and idiotic dreams of gods who supposedly can simply always just supply us new worlds at will when ever needed. Have all been only to happy to abuse this planet without hardly even a decent thought for any of the youth and promise of continuation of a future for them.

No old religious bigots only seemed to care more about judging the youth, while rape and pilaging the planet at free will.Not caring about the future of their youth,but were more concerned with their own selfish salvation and silly belief in gods.

No Richard Dawkins showing he has some respect for the youth, is something that many folks of faith could maybe learn a little something decent from.If they were ever maybe able to be a little less proud about themselves that is.

Good on Richard Dawkins.And good on him for not wasting his time bothering debating all the dilapidated religious once has-beens either.Richard is right the future has always really relied on getting to the thinking of our youth,sadly the youth once used to only mostly all be indoctrinated to old religious type thinking.

To change our future, folks like Richard surely are much better to continue spending more of their energy talking to the youth that are so obviously interested in what is being said!.

Than they are trying to debate and piss around trying to also change the minds of all the other old dog type religious folks who only really understand how to use well rehearsed biblical garbage arguments really well to confuse people.Why bother debating those whos only expertise is they only know how to lose somebody in a game of biblical gymnastics quotes and use abusive and manipulative tactics learned from screaming from behind some church pulpit.

No Richard should leave the debating of these religious type folks,to other atheist folks who are more clued up enough to be debating these indoctrinated folks from the very angle of their own indoctrination game plan.

No the new age atheist movement is right on target by using every option open to its best optional interest,just like it is doing.