Famed evolutionary biologist and atheist leader Richard Dawkins reportedly said this week that “nice Christians” and “nice Muslims” might actually be making the “world safe for extremists.”
While speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in the U.K. on Wednesday, Dawkins apparently claimed that moderates inadvertently contribute to faith-fueled fundamentalism and extremism.
“It’s very important that we should not demonize ordinary, law-abiding, very decent Muslims which of course is the vast majority in this country,” Dawkins said, according to the Telegraph.
He continued, “What I do think about the difference, and let’s leave out Muslims specifically, but the difference between moderate religious people and extremist fundamentalists is that although of course it’s only a tiny minority of any sect which is ever going to get violent or horrible, there is a sense in which the moderate, nice religious people — nice Christians, nice Muslims — make the world safe for extremists.”
Dawkins went on to say that moderate religious people who are kind create the notion that “there’s something good about religion” and that there are benefits to bringing children up to embrace theological ideals. He such such a notion leads people to believe in something without having evidence or the need to offer justification.
“They’re entitled simply to say ‘oh that’s my faith, I believe it, you’re not allowed to question it and you’re not allowed to ask me why I hold it,” he continued.
It is this very ideal that Dawkins took issue with, saying it could lead to fundamentalism and extremism.
“Once you teach people that that’s a legitimate reason for believing something then you as it were give a license to the extremists who say, ‘My belief is that I’m supposed to be a suicide bomber or I’m supposed to blow up buildings — it’s my faith and you can’t question that,’” he added, according to the Telegraph.
Dawkins, who said he’s sure moderates would be horrified by the notion that they are helping fuel radicalism, posited that “nevertheless it could be true.”
Dawkins also told the audience during the same appearance that he wasn’t always the outspoken atheist activist he is now. In fact, when he was 13 years old, he prayed regularly and sought God out over a two-year period, the Guardian reported.
“I was briefly seduced by it and took it all in and would pray very vigorously every night,” Dawkins said.
The atheist leader recently came under fire for tweets about “date rape,” “stranger rape,” “mild pedophilia” and “violent pedophilia.”