Richard Dawkins Blames Religion for 9/11

My first reaction to Richard Dawkins’ article is that it is moderately subtle Muslim-baiting.

My second reaction is that he does have something of a point, but he is painting it with a too broad brush. All of the prophets have taught that how we live our lives in this world is immensely important; we shouldn’t be concerned only with an afterlife. Just what does Dawkins mean by “religion,” anyway? And “religions of the Abrahamic kind,” to use his overly clever phrase?

Here’s what I mean by religion. When a prophet, a spiritual visionary, is gone from the scene, the organizations founded by the first generation of followers may become corrupted. They may come to be more interested in perpetuating themselves than in propagating the teachings of the founders. This is when a spiritual movement becomes a religion. Religion is institutionalized spirituality.

Unfortunately, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, and all the rest neglected to register their names as trademarks. So now anyone can apply these labels to their religious organizations whenever they like, whether or not their own lives bear any resemblance to how the prophets taught and showed that we are to live. This happens with secular figures such as Marx and Freud too.

I try to keep this in mind while struggling to interpret recent events. Why don’t all the moderate people in the Middle East speak up more strongly to say that they disagree with the terrorists? Hmm, if I’d like other people to do that, I should also speak up about people who claim the same religious label that I do:


In conclusion, I agree with Dawkins that religion shares some of the blame for suicide bombers — provided that we are using my definition of religion, as above. We can criticize the perversions and devolutions of organized religions without bashing their original inspirations.

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