Quotes By Richard Dawkins:
Religious people split into three main groups when faced with science. I shall label them the "know-nothings", the "know-alls", and the "no-contests".
Religion is a scientific theory.
I suspect that today if you asked people to justify their belief in God, the dominant reason would be scientific. Most people, I believe, think that you need a God to explain the existence of the world, and especially the existence of life.
God is not an old man with a white beard in the sky. Right then, what is God? And now come the weasel words. these are very variable. "God is not out there, he is in all of us." God is the ground of all being." "God is the essence of life." "God is the universe." "Don't you believe in the universe?" "Of course I believe in the universe." "Then you believe in God." "God is love, don't you believe in love?" "Right, then you believe in God?"
Modern physicists sometimes wax a bit mystical when they contemplate questions such as why the big bang happened when it did, why the laws of physics are these laws and not those laws, why the universe exists at all, and so on. Sometimes physicists may resort to saying that there is an inner core of mystery that we don't understand, and perhaps never can; and they may then say that perhaps this inner core of mystery is another name for God. Or in Stephen Hawkings's words, if we understand these things, we shall perhaps "know the mind of God." The trouble is that God in this sophisticated, physicist's sense bears no resemblance to the God of the Bible or any other religion.
Truths about the cosmos are true all around the universe. They don't differ in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Poland, or Norway. Yet, we are apparently prepared to accept that the religion we adopt is a matter of an accident of geography.
When so-called Muslim community leaders go on the radio and advocate the killing of Salman Rushdie, they are clearly committing incitement to murder--a crime for which they would ordinarily be prosecuted and possibly imprisoned. But are they arrested? They are not, because our secular society "respects" their faith, and sympathises with the deep "hurt" and "insult" to it.
We cannot prove that there is no God, but we can safely conclude the He is very, very improbable indeed.
I want to move on from evidence, which is a good reason for believing something , and warn you against three bad reasons for believing anything. They are called "tradition,", "authority," and "revelation."
Tradition: They said things like: "We Hindus believe so and so"; "We Muslims believe such and such"; "We Christians believe something else." Of course, since they all believed different things, they couldn't all be right. Tradition means beliefs handed down from grandparent to parent to child, and so on. Or from books handed down through the centuries. Traditional beliefs often start from almost nothing; perhaps somebody just makes them up originally, like the stories about Thor and Zeus. But after they've been handed down over some centuries, the mere fact that they are so old makes them seem special. People believe things simply because people have believed the same thing over the centuries. That's tradition. The trouble with tradition is that, no matter how long ago a story was made up, it is still exactly as true or untrue as the original story was. If you make up a story that isn't true, handing it down over a number of centuries doesn't make it any truer! People who believe even slightly different things from each other go to war over their disagreements. So you might think that they must have some pretty good reasons - evidence - for believing what they believe. But actually, their different beliefs are entirely due to different traditions.
The tradition that Mary's body was lifted into Heaven is not an old one. The bible says nothing on how she died; in fact, the poor woman is scarcely mentioned in the Bible at all. The belief that her body was lifted into Heaven wasn't invented until about six centuries after Jesus' time. At first, it was just made up, in the same way as any story like "Snow White" was made up. But, over the centuries, it grew into a tradition and people started to take it seriously simply because the story had been handed down over so many generations. The older the tradition became, the more people took it seriously. It finally was written down as and official Roman Catholic belief only very recently, in 1950, when I was the age you are now.
Authority: as a reason for believing something, means believing in it because you are told to believe it by somebody important. In the Roman Catholic Church, the pope is the most important person, and people believe he must be right just because he is the pope. In one branch of the Muslim religion, the important people are the old men with beards called ayatollahs. Lots of Muslims in this country are prepared to commit murder, purely because the ayatollahs in a faraway country tell them to.
The third kind of bad reason for believing anything is called "revelation. When religious people just have a feeling inside themselves that something must be true, even though there is no evidence that it is true, they call their feeling "revelation."
Once something gets itself strongly believed - even if it is completely untrue and there never was any reason to believe it in the first place - it can go on forever. Could this be what has happened with religions ? Belief that there is a god or gods, belief in Heaven, belief that Mary never died, belief that Jesus never had a human father, belief that prayers are answered, belief that wine turns into blood - not one of these beliefs is backed up by any good evidence. Yet millions of people believe them. Perhaps this because they were told to believe them when they were told to believe them when they were young enough to believe anything. Millions of other people believe quite different things, because they were told different things when they were children. Muslim children are told different things from Christian children, and both grow up utterly convinced that they are right and the others are wrong.
Next time somebody tells you something that sounds important, think to yourself: "Is this the kind of thing that people probably know because of evidence? Or is it the kind of thing that people only believe because of tradition, authority, or revelation?" And, next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: "What kind of evidence is there for that?" And if they can't give you a good answer, I hope you'll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.
Much of what people do is done in the name of God. Irishmen blow each other up in his name. Arabs blow themselves up in his name. Imams and ayatollahs oppress women in his name. Celibate popes and priests mess up people's sex lives in his name. Jewish shohets cut live animals' throats in his name.
“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” -Stephen Roberts
“I do not think it is necessary to believe that the same God who has given us our senses, reason, and intelligence wished us to abandon their use.” -Galileo Galilei
According to scientists reality would be unaffected by God’s absence. That is, just as we previously learned that natural phenomena, such as lightning & rain, were unaffected by the absence of ancient gods, we’ve recently learned that our universe, and everything in it, would be unaffected by the absence of any god.
Since self-creation is impossible all conscious beings ultimately owe their existence to the unconscious nature of things. That is, if God had a god, and so on, then the supreme god, with nobody around to create him, and unable to create himself (as stated above), must owe his existence to something other than conscious creation, which is exactly where we were before assuming God had a god.
In addition, most theists claim that God meddles in our affairs; however, according to all studies, including those performed by religious institutions, God does not answer prayers, performs miracles or modifies reality in any other way. For example, according to all relevant statistics, devout believers are no more favored by God than the amoral or atheistic.
Atheists are free to admit the limits of human understanding in a way that religious people are not. It is obvious that we do not fully understand the universe; but it is even more obvious that neither the Bible nor the Koran reflects our best understanding of it.
In most cases, it seems that religion gives people bad reasons to behave well, when good reasons are actually available. Ask yourself, which is more moral, helping the poor out of concern for their suffering, or doing so because you think the creator of the universe wants you to do it, will reward you for doing it or will punish you for not doing it?