Biologist and best-selling atheist author Richard Dawkins talked about his fear of Islam, how religion is strong in the U.S. due to its free-enterprise business model and how somebody as intelligent as Jesus would have been an atheist, in a recent interview with the Guardian.
Dawkins pointed out that countries with official churches, such as Britain and Sweden, tend to have more secular cultures than the U.S., which has a strict separation of church and state.
The reason for that, Dawkins said, is that in countries where religion is part of the establishment, such as Britain with its official Church of England, religion has boring. In the U.S., however, religion has a free-market business model which allows mega churches with television networks and other pricey entities, which allows it to flourish.
"[Churches in the U.S.] have become huge commercial enterprises – tax free by the way, with televangelists with private Lear jets to fly around in and fleets of luxury cars…Religion has become a big business in America," Dawkins said.
Dawkins' criticism of religion's effect on society was not limited to Christianity. Islam, he says, is also having a negative impact on the British learning system and is part of the religious agenda he hopes to defeat.
"Time after time I hear stories of my colleagues trying to teach evolution who get heckled by Islamic students who quite openly say if it is a choice between scientific evidence on one hand and the Koran on the other, they will go with the Koran every time," Dawkins said. "Well, that is deeply, deeply unscientific and that is what I want to fight."
Dawkins belief that Jesus would have been an atheist is not a new statement. The evolutionary biologist wrote an essay in 2006 entitled "Atheists for Jesus" in which Dawkins commends Jesus for his radical way of thinking which led to the stark change in what Dawkins calls the "Sharish-like cruelty" of the Old Testament and suggests that if he were to return today, Jesus would be an atheist:
“It has become a commonplace that, were he to return today, he would be appalled at what is being done in his name, by Christians ranging from the Catholic Church to the fundamentalist Religious Right. Less obviously but still plausibly, in the light of modern scientific knowledge I think he would see through supernaturalist obscurantism."
In the interview with the Guardian, Dawkins again commended Jesus' moral teachings and suggested that he would be an atheist.
"Jesus was a great moral teacher," Dawkins said. "Somebody as intelligent as Jesus would have been an atheist if he had known what we know today."