O’Reilly hosted Richard Dawkins, who’s on a book tour promoting a science primer called “The Magic of Reality.” All the nearby bookstores have closed down, so I haven’t seen the book yet, but I’m aware that each chapter apparently opens with an origin-of-life myth from around the ancient world. Mr. O’Reilly complained that Judeo-Christian creation stories were included. That’s mockery, in his view.
They sparred on that a little, but occasionally danced around a topic that deserves much more thoughtful treatment… the question of whether countries led by atheists have done more violence than countries led by religious believers. Dawkins, so interested in disassociating atheism from bad guys, skirted the point. His bottom line is “ideology made them do it.” Yes, but that’s the other side of the coin from, “the devil made them do it.”
A better answer would address the problems of free will as well as the proper sources of moral obligation and social rules. When people choose to believe that something — like a cosmic principle — or someone — like a supernatural being — defines the truth they are obliged to follow, they give themselves a convenient excuse to live by excuses. It supplies a dogma by which they can feel rationally obliged to include some people and exclude others when deciding whether to act in accord with norms of reciprocity and fairness.