Dawkins: Nationalism Could be Worse than Religion
by Sander Gusinow
You won’t find anyone with less love for god than Richard Dawkins. Author of ‘The God Delusion,’ Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist from the UK who has made bitter enemies of a smorgasbord of religious organizations, equating religion to a mental health disorder. His spirited, cerebral debate style made him a darling of the New Atheist Movement. His writings accuse people of faith across the globe for causing violence, and inhibiting the spread of knowledge amongst the species.
Perhaps on purpose, Dawkins’ loud opinions made him plenty of enemies in the religious communities, especially Islam. So unabashed are Dawkins’ rebukes, muslim student unions and other faith-based groups who have lobbied to cancel events and speeches from the professor for what they describe as offensive speech. To put it bluntly, the guy hates religion, and religion doesn’t have much love for him either.
His outspoken criticism of religious belief was exactly why Dawkins’ supporters and critics alike were stunned when yesterday he tweeted:
Contemplation of WW 1 & 2 persuades me that patriotism (“My country right or wrong”) might be even more evil than supernatural faith. Italians in 1943 deserve credit for finally turning on their preposterous Duce. But for Germans, the lure of patriotic loyalty was too strong.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) January 24, 2019
Never one to shy away from controversy, Dawkins’ conclusion ruffled feathers to say the least, with patriotic Brits accusing him of insensitivity towards veterans, diehard atheists accusing him of changing course. Naturally, the Alt-right toads brought their own boring, belligerent brand to the message boards, insisting Dawkins was caving to left-wing influence. Some people of faith reacted positively to the announcement, hoping Dawkins might eventually attribute human evils to tribalism on the whole, instead of nations or spirituality. Others were puzzled, as people of faith have been making the same argument against his work for decades.
While Dawkins replied that it was never his intention to dishonor veterans, he stuck to his guns, refuting any and all claims of inconsistency. For his suggestion the belief one’s country is always right was just as dangerous as supernatural belief. It can’t be understated how despicably Dawkins views religion, so to put something else on the same level must have been a long consideration indeed.
Both religious faith and nationalist sentiment can lead people to rally against a hated enemy, but while religion’s aims are often spiritual in nature, it’s hard to argue the aim of nationalism is anything other than direct gain for the nation in question. White nationalism has already killed people in our country, from a young woman at a protest in Charlottesville to innocent worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, so there’s no doubting Dawkins’ findings are evidence-based.
Of course, Dawkins won’t be pumping his brakes on religion any time soon, but his most recent conclusion should give everyone pause. Right or wrong, sinner or saint, Richard Dawkins has devoted his life to fighting religious faith. For him to put patriotic tribalism on the same shelf means, by process of scientific deduction, that fighting off nationalist fury might be a cause to devote one’s life to as well.