Richard Dawkins Claims 'Nice Muslims, Nice Christians' Are Making the World 'Safe for Extremists'

Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins in an interview with Seth Andrews, host of "The Thinking Atheist," published on Oct. 20, 2013. |

Notable atheist author and intellectual Richard Dawkins has recently claimed that nonviolent religious believers enable acts of violent extremism by being "nice."

While speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Dawkins blamed "nice Muslims, nice Christians" for acts of religious terrorism.

"It's very important that we should not demonise ordinary, law-abiding, very decent Muslims, which of course is the vast majority in this country," Dawkins said Wednesday, according to the UK Telegraph.

"[However] 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 connect religious upbringing to religious terrorism, stating that since "the moderates are so nice we all are brought up with the idea that there's something good about religion faith. That there's something good about bringing children up to have a faith."

"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,'" continued Dawkins.

"Once you teach people that that's a legitimate reason for believing something then you, as it were, give a licence 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."

These comments came not long after Dawkins garnered controversy for a post on Twitter in which he shared his belief that different types of rape are not equally offensive.

"Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that's an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think," tweeted Dawkins.

The Tweet garnered backlash from many including Eleanor Robertson, a columnist for the Guardian.

"You can almost imagine him tweeting this, his fingers jabbing away at the keyboard as his glasses slide down a face contorted with disappointment at how irrational everyone is being," wrote Robertson.

"Having grown up after Dawkins made the transition from lauded science communicator to old man who shouts at clouds, it's hard for me to understand why anyone continues to listen to him about anything."

Comments Dawkins has made about "mild pedophilia," Islam and other topics have led some to debate whether the author of "The God Delusion" has become a hindrance to modern atheism.

In a column for the New Statesman published last August, Martin Robbins wrote in response to a Dawkins tweet attacking modern Islam and its apparent lack of Nobel Prize winners.

"Dawkins remains a powerful force in atheism for the time being. Increasingly though, his public output resembles that of a man desperately grasping for attention and relevance in a maturing community," wrote Robbins.

"A community more interested in the positive expression of humanism and secularism than in watching a rich and privileged man punching down at people denied his opportunities in life."

Hemant Mehta, known as the Patheos blogger the "Friendly Atheist," wrote recently that while not without his flaws, Dawkins "is still an ssset to the atheist movement.

"… The Internet controversies involving Dawkins tend to focus on statements he makes that he probably thinks are innocuous and sensible," wrote Mehta. "It's not that he's trying to be controversial, but the comments often blow up in his face and he doesn't see it coming until it's too late. Then, in an attempt to make things right, he just digs himself a deeper grave."

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