This essay aims to respond to “No stopping religion’s misguided missile” article by Richard Dawkins. The article first appeared in The Guardian and has since been reprinted in many newspapers worldwide. The core thesis of Dawkin’s argument relates to the potential danger arising from religion. He warns that “to fill a world with religion, or religions of the Abrahamic kind, is like littering the streets with loaded guns”.
The article is a readable essay about an important topic, challenging readers to think about the events of September 11 which according to the author, stem from religious beliefs. Dawkin’s article is clearly written with the main points well-structured within the article. Although the article is written in an interesting manner and engages readers, the main argument is clearly flawed since some of the premises are deemed unacceptable and at times, offer insuffient grounds for the conclusion. The term “religion” as used by Dawkin is somewhat ambiguous, as in some instances, it appears to refer to religious fanatacism and the events of September 11. However it is also used as a broad term within the article, warning against the potential dangers of religion as a whole.
Therefore it is not religion that produces the devaluaing of human life, but fanaticism. Skinner and moving onto the emergence of the modern smart missiles. Again there is a need to distinguish between extremists and religious believers. A straw man fallacy is committed when Dawkin discusses the religious beliefs that perpetuate the promise of the afterlife. The argument could be significantly strengthened with a distinction made between religion and religious fanaticism which would provide a more balanced approach. Many religious groups work in support of various causes, helping people in times of trouble, assisting the poor, sick in their own communities. Another point is that religion promotes the value of human life, for example Catholicism which is vehemently promotes the right to life- for instance, in opposing abortion and euthanasia. An objectionable cause is made when Dawkin proposes that that it is the religious belief in life after death which allows fanatics to devalue human life since" rationally, a person can be expected to value his life highly and be reluctant to risk it". " This is not religion, it is religious fanatasim. This is easily refutable since many religions such as Christianity and Judaism believe that the way to the after-life needs to be earnt- through good works on earth and teaches that opinion and beliefs are to be tolerated to promote unity. Thus it is not religion that is dangerous, it is religious fanaticism taken to the extreme. It is an interesting argument, though not plausible given the argument is so strongly against religion, warning of the dangerous nature of religious beliefs without distinguishing between religion in general and religious fanaticism. Dawkins fails to take into account how religion and religious beliefs impact positively both on individuals and as society as a whole.