Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins continues to be a wildly popular voice among atheists. The famed scientist is using his name and clout to help nonbelievers around the world in their fight against the influence of religion in society.
In a new article by Daily News & Analysis, Dawkins is quoted as making some wild proclamations about the beliefs of various U.S. presidents (that a number — including Obama — have possibly been atheists), while delving into his ideas about how the education system can be used to strip religion out of society. His statements were apparently made at the Jaipur Lit Fest in India on Monday, where, among other subjects, he tackled his belief that education is key to defeating religion.
In order to understand the correlation the scientist sees between knowledge and belief in a higher power, one must first delve into his views on children’s learning. For Dawkins, education is the only “antidote” that can help stave off religion. What he essentially believes is that kids are being indoctrinated into believing in a higher power.
“We need to protect children from being indoctrinated. It goes on to the next generation and then they see that their children get indoctrinated,” he said. “Children are getting educated into the religion of their parents. We shouldn’t just assume that a child of a Christian becomes a Christian.”
But his qualms with religion go far beyond these statements. Dawkins believes that kids are taught that they do not need any evidence to believe in something when they embrace faith and religion. This, he said, “paves the way for the minority to become extremists.”
This is likely one reason why Darkins wrote the children’s book, “The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True,” which is focused upon delving into some of the world’s greatest wonders. Dawkins, of course, couldn’t help but include what he calls ”the Judeo-Christian myth,” as he apparently seeks to pass his atheism on to young readers. This, too, many would call a form of indoctrination.
Below, watch him describe the book:
Dawkins also contends that atheism is on the rise. In America, this is certainly the trend, although the proportion of non-believers is still relatively small, as 16 percent of the country counts itself as “unaffiliated.” It is increased education, though, that he believes will drive up this proportion.
“There seems to be a correlation with education. It’s certainly true within the US — the more educated people are more likely to give up religion,” Dawkins said.
While this notion is a commonly held belief — that the more educated one is, the more likely he or she will be to give up or simply not believe in religion — a recent study we reported on shows very different results. In fact, in this particular examination, it was working-class Americans who were more likely to leave their faith behind. Last August, we reported:
A new study released by the American Sociological Association has found that Americans who have only a high school diploma are dropping out of church faster than those who are more educated. According to LiveScience.com, in the 1970s, half of white Americans with a high school diploma attended church services at least monthly. Now, this proportion has dropped to just 37 percent.
Here’s the irony: 46 percent of Highly-educated, white Americans attend church now. In the end, among non-educated Americans there has been a 13 to 15 percent drop in attendance, compared to only a five percent drop among the highly educated.
This seems to challenge the contention that the more educated you are, the more likely you are to abandon or simply not embrace religion.
Here’s another study that found something similar.
Where Dawkins goes next in the DNA article is intriguing, as he claims that Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were potentially nonbelievers. Of course, he uses their intellect as a basis for his theory.
“I think Lincoln, Kennedy, Clinton, Obama may well be an atheist,” he said. “Obama’s a very intelligent man. He probably is an atheist.”
The Times of India quoted him as saying:
“I suspect we have already seen several atheist US presidents, they just didn’t admit it. I suspect Lincoln was an atheist, probably so was Kennedy. Obama is an intelligent man, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a closet atheist.”
Watch Dawkins in a past video interview showering praise upon Obama below:
Dawkins went on to say that, with 535 members in the U.S. Congress, “It’s inconceivable that only one of them is an atheist. There’s got to be at least 50% of them.”
The one individual he’s referring to here — the only declared atheist in Congress — is Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA).
These statements come after the famed atheist also said late last year that Jesus Christ would have been an atheist too. Dawkins has also been active in the formation of a support group for former clergy members who are now nonbelievers.