Tuesday 21 February 2017

O'Doherty's error

Published 22/09/2011 | 05:00

•In discussing the religiosity of English comedian Frank Skinner, Ian O'Doherty's latest attack on religion (Irish Independent, September 20) belies his high intelligence. Faith seems to be a catalyst for psychosis in many intellectuals -- just look at Richard Dawkins froth at mention of God -- whereby calm argument is replaced with childish rattle-throwing.

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To argue that religion has caused harm is not in question. What belief system hasn't? To mock Skinner, saying, "Funny enough, I can't recall the last time an atheist strapped on a semtex waistcoat and blew up a load of people in the name of an absent God", wantonly ignores history. Where was God in Mao's liquidation of at least 70 million Chinese? There weren't many crucifixes while tens of millions died in Soviet Russia. Did religious fervour drive Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to murder over a quarter of all Cambodians?

It is terribly ironic that O'Doherty, such a staunch defender of reason, who regularly attacks the poor argumentation of others, falls into this very same trap.

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