Richard Dawkins says Religion is No Moral Compass

In the article at “evolutionary biologist” Richard Dawkins continues his assault on “religion” in the public square. He is asked to respond to the idea that removing religion from society would leave us without a “moral compass”. To which he says, “The very idea that we get a moral compass from religion is horrible.”

Now I want to talk about what Dawkins says here. Firstly, he has not defined what religion he is talking about. In the quote he goes on to say that the reason this is so “horrible” is because the Bible and the Koran advocate things like stoning people to death for Sabbath Breaking.

What Dawkins DOES NOT acknowledge is that the Bible contains both an Old and New Testament. Its instructions for the Twelve Tribes of Israel under the dispensation of Moses were DIFFERENT to what is prescribed under the New Testament dispensation for us today. This is explicitly stated in the New Testament, where it states that we are no longer under the law (of Moses) and where it states that the burden of Mosaic Lawkeeping is not to be placed upon the yoke of the disciples of Jesus. See Acts 15 and Galatians. We may as well be honest and admit that Judaism and the Way of Jesus Christ are two different “religions” if you wish to call them such.

Furthermore, the law about stoning Sabbath Breakers was an Old Testament civil law given at a particular time in Israel’s history. It was never intended to be a civil law for the Gentiles. If Dawkins wishes to argue otherwise, he is simply continuing in his tradition of intellectual dishonesty which he used in books like the “Blind Watchmaker”, where ‘blind chance’ apparently has a way of measuring how close a system is to a goal which ‘blind chance’ knows nothing of.

Maybe we can agree with Dawkins that some religious ideas do not provide a satisfactory system of ethics for today’s society. I agree that Islam would be a horrible reference point for deciding what is right or wrong. And Judaism as Civil Law would not work either today. I don’t believe God ordained either of those systems to guide our Civil Law. The Old Testament does INFORM us regarding certain principles of justice, and we owe a debt to parts of the Law of Moses like the Ten Commandments in our system of modern jurisprudence, but it is not an absolute reference point.

Satan is not afraid of religion, he is the author of most of it. So we can’t use “religion” per se as a standard for right and wrong. But  whether Christianity and the teachings of Jesus would serve us well as a moral compass is another question entirely – one that Dawkins does not make a case against here – simply because he lumps Christianity in with Mosaic lawkeeping (not to mention Islam) and then rejects the whole package.

There is another problem. Richard Dawkins is on record as saying that “mild paedophilia” is O.K. Now a lot of people even today would be shocked at such a suggestion. The question can therefore be legitimately asked: “Can we use Richard Dawkins’ ideas as a moral compass?” If you answer to this question, “No” then his views on what is “horrible” are just that – HIS VIEWS. They are nothing more. Just because Richard Dawkins says that “the very idea that we get a moral compass from religion is horrible” does not make it so. Why should society bow down to Richard Dawkins’ personal taste on religion, paedophilia, or anything else?

The fact is that people in many societies DO get a moral compass from religion. Whether they SHOULD is a different question. In Islam, people feel that it is perfectly acceptable to kill those who forsake the islamic religion. They feel that women who are raped should be punished. We may feel they are misguided but the fact is they are in many cases following a kind of moral compass they have derived from their religion.

In any case, why should anyone let Richard Dawkins set the tone of what is and what is not moral – especially if he is just an evolved system of unplanned biological flukes (if he is NOT, then he doesn’t know what he is talking about anyway)?

Dawkins goes on to say about this: “As a matter of fact, we don’t [derive our moral compass from religion]”.  Well we don’t ABSOLUTELY derive our modern ideas about right and wrong from any one religion, but no one can deny that Judaeo-Christian thinking has had a HUGE impact on modern western ethics. If we are throwing all this away progressively, it is not wonder that society is falling apart. We’re getting to the point where no one can be trusted any more, especially people in Government who feel that dishonesty and deception is often for the public good and in the interests of “National Security”. But be that as it many, there is still a strong lingering effect of biblical ethics which is what actually made western society streak ahead of all the asiatic and middle eastern ones which essentially rejected the Bible or never even heard of it for centuries. I refer you to the writings of Indian Philosopher Dr Vishal Mangalwadi for more information on this.

Dawkins says: “Not only should we not get our moral compass from religion …”. I find it rather quaint that atheistic evolutionists use words like “should”. From where does Dawkins derive his moral authority to talk about what “should and should not happen”? If not God, then from where? Was he voted in somehow as Grand Poobah of atheistic moralizing?

Dawkins says what we really do is pick and choose those parts of the Bible that we like. Well maybe society does do that, and clearly Western Society has been changing a lot in regards to how it picks and chooses here. But what this means of course is that society itself has moral standards that are very UNLIKE a compass. Because a compass keeps pointing to Magnetic north no matter how much the person who holds it does a 180 degree turn on certain issues.

Society today having rejected religious norms has nothing resembling a COMPASS when it comes to morals and ethics.

Does this matter? Sure it does. Today it is considered wrong for the governent to assassinate you for being a political dissident. But tomorrow, that could change. There are no absolute reference points for our rulers today. None that they respect anyway. And so, it could become politically correct one day  to throw all Climate Change deniers or Born Again Christians for that matter in prison, or to sterilize them, or to take their children away. Its not so today, but who is to say that such a political environment could not EVOLVE? Of course it could evolve. And if people like Dawkins are allowed to shape public policy, it would be easy to imagine a scenario where Christians eventually could be treated as mentally ill, barred from public office. barred from professions like Law or Medicine, and basically consigned to a kind of human scrapheap or perhaps to a re-education camp. Think it can’t happen? Have a look at what DID happen in the 20th century in societies ruled by Scientific Atheists who did their best to stamp out the influence of the Bible and anything else which might put a LIMIT on their power!

Dawkins suggests that the criteria we use for a moral compass are “the same criteria as guide any modern person in their moral compass that has nothing to do with religion.”

What a load of rubbish. What exactly ARE these criteria? Are they the same ones which cause some people to vote Republican, and others to vote Democrat? Are they the ones which lead some people to oppose abortion, and others to defend it? And who is this mythical “modern person” anyway? Is it someone who broadly agrees with Dawkins? Is that what he really means by “any modern person”?

Isn’t this posturing by Dawkins just a clever kind of way of IMPOSING his values on others? I think it is. I think this Dawkins should just shut up and sit down. He isn’t good enough OR smart enough and certainly he is not honest enough to be a good reference point for truth or ethics or anything really important in the affairs of men today.

I’ll leave it at that for now. I can’t deal with everything Dawkins says here in one sitting because it would result in long-winded articles that most of my readers would not finish reading. Maybe another time …





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About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

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