:: The Root of All Evil?
“The Root of All Evil?” is a problematic made for TV documentary, which is hosted, narrated, and written by Richard Dawkins, the controversial Oxford biologist, staunch atheist, and popular author of “The Blind Watchmaker” and “The God Delusion”. The documentary is split into two parts; “The God Delusion”, which has Dawkins travelling to the Bible belt of America, and to Jerusalem; and “The Virus of Faith”, which focuses on the morality of the bible, and the influence religion has on children.
Within the first few minutes, Dawkins firmly lays out his strong view point on religion, namely; that faith equals non-thinking; that religion discourages independent thought, is divisive, and dangerous; and that the authority of organized religion should always be questioned. It does not take long for Dawkins to establish himself as a fundamentalist atheist either, who is just as aggressive and narrow minded in his view point, as well as a number of the irrational militant people of faith he crosses paths with. He is an extremely smug character, who fancies himself as a man of evidence, a so called “freethinker” and vice of reason (he coincidently is a part of the “Bright’s” groups, about as pretentious and wankerish a name ever given to an organization), and is never short of empty analogies and weak theories.
The documentary (just like the man) is rather deceptive. Dawkins rounds up and questions a number of men who represent the more extreme aspects of faith, and passes them off as spokespersons for their religion. (Of course, an interview filmed with Oxford Professor Alistor McGrath was not omitted, for surely a man of faith who holds an intellectual and credible viewpoint would just be too much for this documentary.) Usually, Dawkins will come on strong, relishing a confrontational approach while taking crude snipes at his interviewee’s religious beliefs, claiming not to hate but unable to control his emotions, with many of his Q & A’s tun into slagging matches. During post production, many of his interviewee’s responses are narrated over, and to add insult to unfair injury, a short quip in the form of a quote or a joke at their expense follows, without his subjects given a chance to respond.
However, the lowest that Dawkins succumbs to is found in his “Virus of Faith” segment, especially in regards to the suggestion that religious upbringing is nothing more than child abuse, a claim which – coming from a loving Catholic family – I found to be highly offensive.
Whilst watching this poor excuse of a scientific documentary, one word kept coming to mind: hypocrite. Dawkins claims that religion breeds intolerance and murder. Yet there is no mention to the atheist regimes of the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, or Maoist China, and their mass genocides which make the Crusade’s and Spanish Inquisition look like child’s play. Nor is their any mention of influential religious figures such as Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Malcolm X, or Martin Luther King, who all brought great change and compassion to the world. He accuses Evangelical Christians of scanning the bible and lifting passages to enforce their right wing ideals, but wastes no time in doing the exact same thing to enforce his own radical view point.
Dawkins shows disgust at those who use fear as a morality tool, yet again does the exact same thing in his depictions of dark lit chapels, the contribution of an eerie score, and in his comparison of a Christian procession to the Nuremburg rally. He constantly states that religion undermines and attacks religion, yet the mere existence of a scientist such as world renowned geneticist Frances Collins clearly puts a dent into that theory. And the example of how atheists in the Bible belt are persecuted for their non-belief is rich, considering how the likes of Dawkins constantly persecute scientists who wish to investigate the theory of a creator.
For a man who preaches the need for evidence, it is surprising to find that Dawkins has none to back his claims, only pseudo-science presented by a man with a respectable title, preaching religious hatred in the guise of free speech. Within the DVD case, there was a sticker that read; “For good people to do evil things, it takes religion”. I say, for good people to do evil things, it takes arrogance, ignorance, fear, and moral superiority over others, elements which fit Dawkins and his twisted rhetoric perfectly.