The latest issue of Hew Humanist has an interview with Mary Warnock, a redoubtable campaigner on moral ethics and member of the House of Lords. The interview no doubt was prompted by the publication of her new book: Dishonest to God: On Keeping Religion out of Politics.
For the most part, it’s quite a good interview, but it does contain what I found to be an astonishing statement by Baroness Warnock:
“That’s absolutely right. I find Dawkins’ simple-minded view of religion very difficult to take. It pays no proper attention to the history and tradition of religion. It says that religions have done nothing but harm but that is manifestly not true. He omits all the good things, the education, the cathedrals, the music. All that’s disregarded.”
She’s talking about Richard Dawkins, of course. The author of The God Delusion. The book in which he says:
…an atheistic world-view provides no justification for cutting the Bible, and other sacred books, out of our education. And of course we can retain a sentimental loyalty to the cultural and literary traditions of, say, Judaism, Anglicanism or Islam, and even participate in religious rituals such as marriages and funerals, without buying into the supernatural beliefs that historically went along with those traditions. We can give up belief in God while not losing touch with a treasured heritage.
Dawkins has said of himself that he is a “cultural Christian”, and that he gets enjoyment from such things as Carol music. So how Mary Warnock can claim that he “omits all the good things”, I really don’t know. A surprising lapse from a usually reliable philosopher.
(hat tip to Francis Sedgemore for pointing out this stumble from Baroness Warnock)