The Root of All Evil

Tomorrow at 2000 Channel 4 are showing the first part of The Root of all Evil?. In it Richard Dawkins puts forward his case that religion is to blame for much of the world’s problems. I first read a form of this The Blind Watchmaker and found the argument very compelling indeed. Of course it’s Dawkins making the claim, so the onus is on him to provide the evidence. That he has, with arguments from history, psychology, biology and anthropology. With his case made, I’ve read the counter-arguments and found them always severely lacking. They’re always either personal attacks, or ‘that’s obviously wrong’. This show should be compelling viewing. Nick Cohen explains further:

In The Root of all Evil?, Oxford’s professor of the public understanding of science uses the very Darwinism fundamentalists reject to explain why they are so keen to ‘abuse childhood innocence’ in religious schools. Children can’t follow the scientific method and test everything their parents say. If they decide to find out whether it is truly dangerous to walk off a cliff, they will be in no position to pass on their genes when they grow up. Evolution has preprogrammed them to believe what adults tell them.

With a shockingly irresponsible Labour government preparing to use sectarian schools to divide our country by religion and race, Dawkins is giving us a warning as well as an argument. Channel 4 dramatises it by sending him to confront fundamentalists of all faiths. He treats them with donnish puzzlement rather than aggression.

You can’t say the same of his interviewees.

Definitely one to watch. Christian Voice1, a fundamentalist UK organisation who seem to have the ear of the major media, will undoubtedly have something to say about it. Mind you, it’ll probably be that we’re all going to hell, or something similarly productive.

Update on 16th Jan: There are follow-up posts here, here and here.

  1. I’m not increasing their pagerank by linking to their website []