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Religion Kills, Science Saves
Or would have, writes Dawkins, in a letter to the editor, if the energy, funds, and attention devoted to primitive religious belief had been put into science instead:

The Bishop of Lincoln (Letters, December 29) asks to be preserved from religious people who try to explain the tsunami disaster. As well he might. Religious explanations for such tragedies range from loopy (it's payback for original sin) through vicious (disasters are sent to try our faith) to violent (after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, heretics were hanged for provoking God's wrath). But I'd rather be preserved from religious people who give up on trying to explain, yet remain religious.

In the same batch of letters, Dan Rickman says "science provides an explanation of the mechanism of the tsunami but it cannot say why this occurred any more than religion can". There, in one sentence, we have the religious mind displayed before us in all its absurdity. In what sense of the word "why", does plate tectonics not provide the answer?

Not only does science know why the tsunami happened, it can give precious hours of warning. If a small fraction of the tax breaks handed out to churches, mosques and synagogues had been diverted into an early warning system, tens of thousands of people, now dead, would have been moved to safety.

Let's get up off our knees, stop cringing before bogeymen and virtual fathers, face reality, and help science to do something constructive about human suffering.
Richard Dawkins

Posted by aalkon at January 2, 2005 7:58 AM


Last week on NPR, I think it was Michele Norris who interviewed a geologist on the tsunamis and asked him if he thought there was a deeper reason for what happened. He said something about tectonics, and she cut in, "No, I meant spiritually." This is on KCRW, not some late-night evangelical TV show. She should've been fired on the spot.

Posted by: Lena the Increasingly Intolerant Gash at January 3, 2005 6:38 AM

Give an idiot a microphone...!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 3, 2005 7:11 AM