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talljasperman's avatar

Can Richard Dawkins be considered a missionary for Atheism?

Asked by talljasperman (18007 points ) April 15th, 2010

He writes books promoting Atheism and He lectures and debates on it. Does that make him equal to a Missonary then… seeing he’s trying to convert peolpe?

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65 Answers

plethora's avatar

Looks that way to me….a real atheistic evangelist. Next thing, he’ll be on TV and then he’ll be a televangelist.

gorillapaws's avatar

No, missionaries ultimately want your money.

dpworkin's avatar

Maybe he wants to start molesting kids, and he sees how the Catholics get away with it.

Ivan's avatar

He’s only written one book on atheism, he is a scientist and public educator first and foremost. And he isn’t actively going out, trying to convert people, he’s just stating his opinion and having discussions.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I was going to say what Ivan did, but he already said it. So… I agree with Ivan.

earthduzt's avatar

no, he would have to go into a 3rd world country and try to take their kids away first

plethora's avatar

“Evangelist” per the dictionary…..a zealous advocate of something

I think Dawkins qualifies.

Ivan's avatar

@plethora

Is that what the question asked?

talljasperman's avatar

@Ivan But the one book he wrote was called “The God Delsusion” I have it in my bookcase

j0ey's avatar

If he tried to do so or not, Dawkins has converted religious individuals to atheism…..

I would say he is probably more successful at converting people than a Christian missionary would be in the modern western world.

But, I don’t think missonary is really the right word….like @Ivan said, I would say he is more of an educator.

@gorillapaws…..Missionaries dont ultimately want your money…the whole point of many mission trips is to help the less fortunate with self sacrificing service. I would say Dawkins is after money more so than a missionary….At the end of the day, doing what he does is part of his job, and we do all work to make a buck. (your comment may have been sarcastic…If it was, I am sorry.)

plethora's avatar

@Ivan Pardon me….I’ll spell it out.

Can Richard Dawkins be considered a missionary for Atheism?

Missionary….a person on a religious mission. Dawkins gives every evidence (to me) of being a zealous advocate on a religious mission.

Religious…. of or relating to a system of belief concerning a divine being or beings. Denying the existence of God requires a system of belief concerning a divine being. There would be no point of discussion if the issue were not over divinity…thus, religious.

j0ey's avatar

@plethora…..when you put it like that….I guess he is.

Well done. lol.

Sarcasm's avatar

I wouldn’t consider him a missionary.
He doesn’t go out to convert you. He doesn’t go door-to-door, or set up camp with his anti-religion texts in Africa.
He gives his speeches to the scientific community. If those who are unsure about their faith want to check him out, so be it.

Ivan's avatar

@talljasperman

Yup, it’s sitting right next to me on my coffee table. That’s still only one book. Regardless, writing books does not make you a missionary.

@plethora

You said he was an evangelist; an evangelist is not the same thing as a missionary. I’d like to discuss whether or not he actually is an evangelist, or whether atheism is a system of belief, but that’s not what the question asked.

plethora's avatar

@Sarcasm Oh please. I have no issue with the man, although I don’t buy his argument, but he did write the book, The God Delusion.

He doesn’t go out to convert you. He doesn’t go door-to-door, or set up camp with his anti-religion texts in Africa

This is Jehovah’s Witness behavior and they are not even Christian. Nor will you find you find those terms in a definition of either missionary or evangelist.

DominicX's avatar

@plethora

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are considered a Christian denomination, as are the Mormons, who are also known for going to door-to-door.

That may not be in the definition of being a missionary, but it is definitely a missionary practice.

plethora's avatar

@Ivan What did I not explain here? Defining “missionary” requires defining “religious”.

Can Richard Dawkins be considered a missionary for Atheism?

Missionary….a person on a religious mission. Dawkins gives every evidence (to me) of being a zealous advocate on a religious mission.

Religious…. of or relating to a system of belief concerning a divine being or beings. Denying the existence of God requires a system of belief concerning a divine being. There would be no point of discussion if the issue were not over divinity…thus, religious.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@plethora Atheism is not a religion. It’s lack of religion.

plethora's avatar

@DominicX Sorry, mainstream Christian belief does not consider either Jehovahs Witness or Mormons as Christian. They are considered cults because they deny core Christian doctrines, both Catholic and Protestant.

Sarcasm's avatar

@plethoraThis is Jehovah’s Witness behavior and they are not even Christian. Nor will you find you find those terms in a definition of either missionary or evangelist.
Wiktionary:
1. A person who travels attempting to spread a religion or a creed.
2. (pejorative) A religious messenger.
dictionary.com:
1. a person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism or other activities, as educational or hospital work.

Nope. I did find those terms in a definition of missionary. You’re welcome.

Ivan's avatar

@plethora

So being religious makes you a missionary? This is ridiculous, you are abandoning all intellectual honesty in an attempt to paint Dawkins as “religious”, as if that makes him hypocritical somehow.

plethora's avatar

@Sarcasm The dictionary gives several definitions from narrow to broader. If you want to choose the narrow definition, have at it.

plethora's avatar

@Ivan Is there a problem with my reasoning from the dictionary definitions? Sorry if you don’t care for it. I don’t see anyway around it.

DominicX's avatar

@plethora

The phrase “religious mission” refers to a mission on behalf of a religion, for the benefit of the religion. That is an understood meaning. There are all kinds of loopholes in dictionary definitions. In that line of thinking, a person who sells CDs of Mozart’s Requiem is a “missionary” because the Requiem is related to religion.

plethora's avatar

@DominicX I really don’t follow that reasoning. Mine is pretty clear (to me) without calling anybody names or assigning values. We’re not demanding belief, simply defining the nature of the argument.

You’re way off base, man.

Ivan's avatar

@plethora

There certainly is. Dawkins holds a belief (really, a lack of a belief) regarding a religious issue. That’s not a religion, that’s just an opinion. Even more ridiculous is the notion that simply holding an opinion about something makes you a missionary. By your definition, every single book ever written makes the author some sort of missionary for whatever the message was.

DominicX's avatar

@plethora

Then we don’t agree on what a “religious mission” is.

And I don’t see where I called anybody names. Don’t make accusations if you can’t back them up. Also, please explain how I’m “off base”. Now look who’s calling people names…

j0ey's avatar

@plethora….I understand what youre saying and I agree with you. Just thought I would let my support be known lol.

plethora's avatar

@Ivan I did not say it was a religion, nor do I believe Dawkins participates in an organized religion…...a religious belief is an entirely different thing. A “lack of a belief” in something IS a belief. There is not even a hair to split here. If I said dogs do not exist, that would not be a “lack of a belief” about dogs. It would be a very specific beiief about the existence or non-existence of dogs.

plethora's avatar

@J0ey Thanks for weighing in…:)

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@plethora You actually did say it was a religion: “Religious…. of or relating to a system of belief concerning a divine being or beings. Denying the existence of God requires a system of belief concerning a divine being. There would be no point of discussion if the issue were not over divinity… thus, religious

A lack of a belief is a belief, yes, but it is not a religious belief.

Ivan's avatar

@plethora

“If I said dogs do not exist, that would not be a “lack of a belief” about dogs.”

No, this is subtle but important. That would be a statement of belief. You believe that no dogs exist. That’s different than saying that you don’t believe in dogs. I’ll use a more exaggerated example to demonstrate. I claim to you that there exists an invisible super race of magical unicorns who make rainbows. Do you believe in them? No, you lack that belief. However, you wouldn’t actively say ‘I BELIEVE THAT INVISIBLE SUPER, MAGICAL, RAINBOW-MAKING UNICORNS DON’T EXIST’, that would be an positive, active statement of belief. That’s different.

Now, this is all sort of moot, because Dawkins actually does make the claim that no gods exist, so that is a belief. That still doesn’t make him a missionary, though.

plethora's avatar

@DrasticDreamer ummmm…I didn’t see the word “religion” even in your quotation of me. A religious belief is not the same thing as a religion. “Religious” is an adjective defining the nature of the belief. It has nothing to do with the content of the belief.

plethora's avatar

@Ivan Uhhh..the subtlety escapes me. But I can run with your last two sentences. Per my defining comments above, a missionary is on a religious mission and the mission is religious because it deals with a system of belief (pro or con, doesn’t matter) about a divine being (again, pro or con)

Ivan's avatar

I, Ivan, believe that Zeus does not exist.

I am now a religious missionary? Can I use this as a tax write-off somewhere?

HTDC's avatar

Ah well, even if Dawkins is considered a “missionary” at least it’s missionary of truth and scientific fact. So good on him.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

“God does not exist and Paul Dirac is his prophet!” – Wolfgang Pauli

dpworkin's avatar

:::Yawn:::

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, Dawkins can be considered a missionary. And a zealous one at that. Not all religious missionaries ultimately want your money. Some are just so convinced about their one and only one truth and it makes them blind and deaf.

I don’t believe in missionary endeavors whether it’s about spreading atheism, any religious faith or any other worldview. Even trying to spread democracy (especially by force) doesn’t really work.

It’s like pushing a knight from his horse shoving him into a BMW telling him to hit the road. What road? Where are the highways? Not built yet. Too bad. No driver’s licenses either. Oh, you haven’t thought about that, Mr. Bush. You should, actually, before boarding Air Force One spreading democracy around the world.

Now the story is completely different if a knight sold his horse, got electricity installed in his castle, went online using a broadband connection and asked: Where do I buy a BMW and how much is a driver’s license?

I think that’s the approach Barack Obama takes.

And it should be the approach of atheists and believers too. They should let all other people make their own decisions.

mattbrowne's avatar

@HTDC – Yes, a missionary of truth and scientific fact for the science part. Unfortunately, he claims truth for matters outside the realm of science as well. Even worse, he’s intellectually dishonest and tries to sell his philosophical assessments as science.

plethora's avatar

@mattbrowne And it should be the approach of atheists and believers too. They should let all other people make their own decisions.

Yes, a missionary of truth and scientific fact for the science part. Unfortunately, he claims truth for matters outside the realm of science as well. Even worse, he’s intellectually dishonest and tries to sell his philosophical assessments as science.

Damn, Matt, you and I are in total agreement. What gives?...;)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@plethora You said Dawkins gives every evidence (to me) of being a zealous advocate on a religious mission.
He’s not on a religious mission. Whatsoever.

plethora's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You think? Read the whole thread.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@plethora I did. It is my opinion that his mission (and he does have one) is not of a religious nature.

plethora's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Whatever….others think otherwise. Thanks for sharing your opinion (without support)

DominicX's avatar

I have the same opinion as @Simone_De_Beauvoir and the response I get is no response. Oh well. Figures.

plethora's avatar

@DominicX Sorry man, Thot I did respond, but maybe I didnt. I don’t recall calling anybody names though…...tell me where and I’ll apologize. Back with you later.

plethora's avatar

@DominicX

What did I not explain here? Defining “missionary” requires defining “religious”.

Can Richard Dawkins be considered a missionary for Atheism?

Missionary….a person on a religious mission. Dawkins gives every evidence (to me) of being a zealous advocate on a religious mission.

Religious…. of or relating to a system of belief concerning a divine being or beings. Denying the existence of God requires a system of belief concerning a divine being. There would be no point of discussion if the issue were not over divinity…thus, religious.

(Have you read Dawkins book. He does an excellent job of defining his system of belief regarding the non-existence of a divine being. What can I say? If you have a problem with the English language, I can’t really address that) Have a good evening…..I will..:)

Rangie's avatar

@dpworkin
_dpworkin’s avatar

Maybe he wants to start molesting kids, and he sees how the Catholics get away with it._
I would have never have thought of that in a million years. Was that his suggestion or yours?

dpworkin's avatar

@Rangie That was what we call a “joke”. I’m afraid I don’t have the capacity to explain a “joke” to someone who doesn’t know what one is.

Rangie's avatar

@dpworkin I don’t know you or your sense of humor. I was reading down the tread, and I took offense to that remark. I didn’t see anything funny about it, or why you singled out the Catholics. Sorry, I am not laughing. No need to try to explain. Perhaps your next joke will be funny.

dpworkin's avatar

If you find one of my posts objectionable, flag it for the mods, but please refrain from informing me. I don’t give a shit what you think about anything.

Rangie's avatar

@dpworkin When it comes to religion, I think it would be a classy thing, to refrain from making any uncalled for remarks, about any religion. Anyway if I had to flag them every time your posts were objectionable, I would be here all day hitting Flag. You certainly look old enough in your avatar to be an adult.

dpworkin's avatar

What don’t you understand about “I don’t give a shit what you think”?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@plethora What support do you need? You have one without support, yet I still read it.

plethora's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir YIKES Simone….I’m the dominant poster on this particular thread (not by choice)....I don’t think I can explain myself any more thoroughly. You may not agree, but you sure as Hell are way off base saying I haven’t given the rational for what I’ve posted.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@plethora Okay you want my rationale okay – to me, just because something has to do with religion doesn’t make it religious – just because he acknowledges that religion exists (because who wouldn’t?) doesn’t make him a person on a religious mission – it makes him a person on a mission that has something to do with religion. Maybe we’re just talking semantics here.

phillis's avatar

Just leave it, Plethora. This isn’t going anywhere good.

Pandora's avatar

@plethora You always continue to be a hero to me. :D
I totally understand what you mean.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – Here’s my opinion: Dawkins is a man on a mission, a zealous advocate of atheism and an antireligious crusader. He’s intellectually dishonest and he’s burning bridges instead of building them. Atheists should be embarrassed about him and distance themselves from him. Like religious people should distance themselves from religious fundamentalism and totalitarian structures like the one established by the Vatican.

I support Dawkins to get the Pope arrested during his upcoming visit in the UK.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@mattbrowne I don’t agree with some of what he says.

plethora's avatar

@Pandora Well thanks…:) But I am living in an “alternate reality”. It’s fun though.

Ron_C's avatar

Dawkins has a real job, he’s a biologist just trying to bring reason into the world. The religious try to put everything i religious terms. They say “Secular Humanism” is a religion, they say that Atheism is a religion.

Religion (according to dictionary.com) is a system of thought, feeling, and action that is shared by a group and that gives the members an object of devotion.

There is no object of devotion in any of those things. Even science is questioned. The nice thing about science is that you can raise questions without being burned at the stake.

So Dawkins flunks the missionary or evangelical test.

talljasperman's avatar

@Ron_C dictionary.com is’nt the final say on anything…besides atheists belive in logic…and worship it…but then you can belive in whatever you want…. like everyone anyone else who disagrees with you.

Ron_C's avatar

@talljasperman I used dictionary.com because it was convenient to copy and paste from. I haven’t seen a discrepancy between them an print dictionaries.

Maybe I need to add the definition of worship, but you’ll dispute that because you seem to put everything in religious terms.

The point of being an atheist is that you don’t believe in a god. If you have no god, you don’t worship. We believe that logic can be applied to most issues but if someone provides proof that our theories are wrong, we can accept the new information with out having a schism and burning heretics. There are no atheists that can be accused of apostasy and punished. We just go on a work with the new information. By the way atheists are not organized, we have no priests, hierarchy, services, and we definitely do not pay alms except that our taxes make up for the deficit caused by tax breaks for religious institutions.

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