Dawkins: Critics of religion should avoid violence and insult

BBC Sunday Morning Live catches up with reowned biologist and outspoken atheist author Richard Dawkins. The 75-year-old suffered a stroke earlier this year and was forced to cancel trips to some atheist conferences and gatherings. His speaking abilities has been affected and he now speaks with a cloaky voice.  In this interview, Dawkins talks briefly about his views on religion, his criticism of faith schools and his recovery from the stroke. In this particular segment, 3.35 to 4.30, Dawkins said that criticism of religion should be done on intellectual grounds, using arguments and evidence, rather than violence and insult. We transcribe this particular segment here:

When you defend atheism, how closely do you come to attacking religion?

Dawkins: One line that should not be crossed is the line of violence, and neither I or any of my atheist colleagues ever do that. I think it is right to attack religion. I think it is right to attack any false belief, but always to do on intellectual grounds, always to do it using arguments and evidence, rather than insult.

Is it inevitable that you will insult someone and hurt people?

Dawkins: You may hurt people because they identify with their religion which is a very unfortunate thing. I mean, you are not your religion, you are your own person. You are you.

How do cope with knowing that you have offended someone or hurt someone?

Dawkins: I don’t mind at all if its simply their religion that causes them to be hurt. I will never hurt somebody by saying ‘what an ugly face’ or something like that. But saying, your religion is absurd, I’m quite happy to say that.