Richard Dawkins defends the moral goodness of infanticide and adultery

Here’s the latest moral wisdom from atheist Richard Dawkins, courtesy of Uncommon Descent.


I want to raise another question that interests me. Why are we so obsessed with monogamous fidelity in the first place?

[…]The underlying presumption — that a human being has some kind of property rights over another human being’s body — is unspoken because it is assumed to be obvious. But with what justification?

In one of the most disgusting stories to hit the British newspapers last year, the wife of a well-known television personality, Chris Tarrant, hired a private detective to spy on him. The detective reported evidence of adultery and Tarrant’s wife divorced him, in unusually vicious style. But what shocked me was the way public opinion sided with Tarrant’s horrible wife. Far from despising, as I do, anybody who would stoop so low as to hire a detective for such a purpose, large numbers of people, including even Mr. Tarrant himself, seemed to think she was fully justified. Far from concluding, as I would, that he was well rid of her, he was covered with contrition and his unfortunate mistress was ejected, covered with odium. The explanation of all these anomalous behavior patterns is the ingrained assumption of the deep rightness and appropriateness of sexual jealousy. It is manifest all the way from Othello to the French “crime passionnel” law, down to the “love rat” language of tabloid newspapers.

[…]Why should you deny your loved one the pleasure of sexual encounters with others, if he or she is that way inclined?

I, for one, feel drawn to the idea that there is something noble and virtuous in rising above nature in this way.

[…]And why don’t we all admire — as I increasingly do — those rare free spirits confident enough to rise above jealousy, stop fretting about who is “cheating on” whom,

Here’s a little snippet about Richard Dawkins’ ability to stay married:

In 1984, Dawkins divorced his wife of 17 years, Marian Stamp; later that same year, he married Eve Barham. Dawkins also divorced Barham, though the precise circumstances of this divorce are unclear. He married science fiction actress Lalla Ward in 1992; at present, the two are still married.

I have been advised that the full article featuring Dawkins’ views is far, far worse that what was excerpted by UD.

What does atheist morality amount to, in practice? It amounts to the strong acting selfishly and allowing the weak to suffer for it. That’s why atheists are almost entirely for abortion and sexual permissiveness – the children are the first to be screwed by the moral relativism of the adults. That’s where abortion, no-fault divorce, fatherlessness, etc. come from – they are crimes committed by selfish adults against vulnerable children – because they can. It’s the strong abusing the weak, exactly as Darwinism would have them do. There are no human rights on atheism, and there is no reason for self-sacrificial moral behavior, either. Do what you want, and don’t get caught. Get them, before they can get you. Don’t let anyone diminish your happiness with their moral rules. That’s “atheist morality”.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve caught a glimpse of Dawkins’ atheist perspective on morality, either.

Morality according to atheist Richard Dawkins

Rev. George Pitcher writes about an interview of Christopher Hitchens conducted by Richard Dawkins. (H/T Thinking Christian)


But the centrepiece of this Christmas edition is the main coup for the New Statesman – an interview by Prof. Dawkins with Christopher Hitchens, the great polymath who today lost his fight against cancer. It’s a fascinating read over three double-page spreads. Not least because Prof. Dawkins reveals a charming humility, allowing Hitchens to show his intellectual superiority at his own expense. Hitchens is thoughtful about CS Lewis and Christianity and rather leaves Prof. Dawkins floundering in his wake, occasionally interjecting little assents to show that he’s still there, as he struggles to keep up.

But one of these interjections is most revealing. About half-way through, the Prof gets this in edgeways: ‘Do you ever worry that if we win and, so to speak, destroy Christianity, that vacuum would be filled by Islam?’

So, ‘if we win…and destroy Christianity’. True, there’s a ‘so to speak’ in there, but it doesn’t do much. Try ‘If we win and, so to speak, kill all the Jews’ as an alternative. Doesn’t really work, does it? And Prof Dawkins can hardly claim that he was misquoted or taken out of context. He was editing the magazine, after all – there’s even a picture of him doing so, pen poised masterfully over page proofs.

Now you might think that Dawkins intends to destroy Christianity in debates, and not in the wars and purges of atheism that occurred last century in North Korea, Cambodia, China, the Soviet Union, and so on. Those atheist regimes caused the deaths of 100 million people, according to Harvard University Press. But Dawkins has refused to debate William Lane Craig on more than one occasion. So whatever he means by “destroy Christianity”, he doesn’t mean “defeat them in rational debate, using superior arguments and evidence”. He had his chance to do that, and he passed on it. So, he must mean something else by “destroying Christianity” other than persuasion.

Let’s find out what Richard Dawkins thinks about morality. Dawkins has previously written this:

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

(“God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, November, 1995, p. 85)

Dawkins’ view is that nothing is really good or bad objectively. Cultures just evolve certain conventions, and those conventions vary arbitrarily by time and place. I think we need to interpret his goal of destroying Christianity against the backdrop of his nihilism. 50 million unborn children have been killed in the United States since 1973 alone. That’s 50 million people with distinct genetic codes different from their mothers or their fathers, who will never grow up to achieve their potential.

Dawkins himself is in favor of infanticide:

So what might destroying Christianity look like to an atheist?

Here it what destroying Christianity means in North Korea, the most atheistic country on the planet.


A Christian woman accused of distributing the Bible, a book banned in communist North Korea, was publicly executed last month for the crime, South Korean activists said Friday.

The 33-year-old mother of three, Ri Hyon Ok, also was accused of spying for South Korea and the United States, and of organizing dissidents, a rights group said in Seoul, citing documents obtained from the North.

The Investigative Commission on Crime Against Humanity report included a copy of Ri’s government-issued photo ID and said her husband, children and parents were sent to a political prison the day after her June 16 execution.

That’s what Kim Jong Il means by “destroy Christianity”. What does Dawkins mean by it?

FLASHBACK: American Atheists calls for the eradication of Christianity.

17 thoughts on “Richard Dawkins defends the moral goodness of infanticide and adultery”

  1. He is such a self-parody. While trying to rationalize why adultery is OK he simultaneously says it is wrong to investigate adultery. But wouldn’t he use the same rationalizations to dismiss the alleged immorality of the investigations as well? He is the poster boy for Darwinism yet can’t go three sentences without contradicting himself.


  2. I’m not excusing him at all when I write this, but this is why scientists sometimes fail at these kinds of discussions: he’s a scientist, not a philosopher. (Hawking anyone?) The new atheists need to let their philosopher pals handle stuff like this.


    1. Jared,
      I agree that his philosophy-oriented counterparts would be better-suited to offer more coherent statements on morality, but a scientist doesn’t need a degree in philosophy to spot gross inconsistency in one’s moral convictions.

      I think his problem is that he simply likes to hide behind his fortress of willful ignorance.


  3. Ugh… and to think that after reading this, his loyal followers will still find no fault in his campaign of anti-rationality. Sometimes it’s just too much to bear.


  4. The truth is, atheists aren’t atheists because the evidence is overwhelming. It’s not that they have sincerely looked into it and just can’t bring themselves to believe in the claims of Christianity. They don’t want to listen to or consider any Christian claims because they don’t want to accept Christian morality. They don’t want a higher power telling them what they should and shouldn’t do. They don’t want to curb their sexual appetities and greed and selfishness. They don’t want to feel guilty for doing wrong. How does one avoid the guilt that comes from doing wrong? One must insist that there is no such thing as absolute morality, no such thing as objective right and wrong. Atheism is simply the easiest means to that end.


    1. Yes:

      Consider the words of Thomas Nagel, a famous atheist philosopher:

      “In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper–namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers.

      I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”(”The Last Word” by Thomas Nagel, Oxford University Press: 1997)”

      And one last one from Aldous Huxley:

      “I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantegous to themselves… For myself, the philosophy of meaningless was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.” — Aldous Huxley in Ends and Means, 1937


      1. Don’t you think we need to refrain from painting with such a broad brush ? Though the quotes you present do indicate some atheists who simply deny God’s existence because they want to do what they please without guilt, is it really plausible that all atheists, at the root of it all, disbelieve for the very same reason ?

        What about those who are honestly just strict empiricists ? While I would agree in pointing out most empiricists’ inconsistency of not applying that kind of rationale to their own worldview, I don’t find it to be implausible that some may live consistently with such worldviews – even nihilism.

        What I don’t understood, though, is why most former Christians decide to hold to atheism or agnosticism instead of deism. If they’ve decided that the triune God of Christianity is not real, that certainly doesn’t follow that there’s no God at all.


  5. This is just completely embarrassing. At first I thought he would be an anomaly, but I read the comments on his website and saw that the majority of the commenters agree with him. One more reason to be glad I’m not an atheist. I’m not sure I can sell that to sane people.


    1. It’s sad because children don’t do well when their parents are constantly re-marrying and abandoning them. It messes them up. And adultery definitely puts the marriage at risk. No one likes that.


      1. They (the children) really don’t do well with divorces. They realize that their parents abandoned them/chickened out of the marriage when things got a little tough (I know sometimes divorce is for legit reasons, e.g. adultery, physical abuse-I find it difficult to believe that most divorces are the result of legit reasons). No-fault divorce certainly didn’t help matters. When the choice is there then divorce isn’t just an option anymore it’s a charming mirage in the desert of a struggling marriage (by struggling I mean inevitable hard times like annoyances from raising children, money matters, job issues) that lures the two or one of the marriage in for temporary relief. Hopefully, the person wakes up in time before succumbing to the mirage.

        The children are the true victims of divorce. The selfish parents who go their separate ways will go on fulfilling their temporary lusts while the child(ren) is raised by guidance counselors, tv, and the psychologist he/she is dragged to and then told what to feel and do which creates this weak worldview that isn’t truly a comfort or a solution; it’s only a temporary fix, a sweeping under the rug. The child believes no one is truly close, that love isn’t real, and separateness is the only true shield he has to defend himself against future social abandonment.

        Now, every child doesn’t go through this obviously, but I would argue a good deal of them do. My brother is a good example of the disastrous effects of divorce. In college, I began friendships with excellent people who offered excellent arguments against my postmodern/existential philosophy. Not everyone has the privilege of such things because not every child of divorce will immerse himself in philosophy.


        1. Even if the divorce is for legit reasons, someone still made a mistake in choosing that person who would do such a thing. For example, Dawkins’ two previous wives can’t complain about him divorcing them – the man has made public statements endorsing adultery. There are no innocent victims in divorce because everyone is responsible for testing the person they choose.

          I agree with you that the no-fault divorce laws are just garbage. They were pushed by people who didn’t want to be trapped in “loveless marriages”. Well, how about this: how about you choose people more carefully before you decide to marry them and have children, so that your children will grow up in a stable home? What is so hard about that? Oh, I know: being rigorous about who you marry isn’t compatible with making the decision on feelings and intuitions. Well, to Hell with feelings and intuitions then.


          1. I agree with you on needing a rigorous study of the person before you marry him/her (I’m picturing a friendship here). Some may think that sounds dry, but it’s actually not. Love, and I mean the gushy feeling subjective side of love, can and does arise from a pure friendship with someone. Usually in a friendship you know the person very well or at least the following: loyalty, honesty, work ethic, and worldview. If you don’t know those things about a person then I don’t think you can call whatever you have with that person a friendship. I think a lot of failed marriages result from not knowing things about a person that you would find out in a friendship. These people skip the first and very important road to marriage…FRIENDSHIP.


          2. I could not agree more. Friendship first. Young people these days who try to choose a marriage partner by mere attraction have it exactly backwards. I think that women in particular are especially guilty of relying on feelings of attraction, which are culturally conditioned, instead of a long process of observation and evaluation during friendship.

            Well, I’ll be frank. I’m attracted to great looking women. But I’m smart enough to know that feelings of attraction should not determine who I choose to marry. A wise man chooses a woman who can do the roles of wife and mother, because he wants peace, companionship and stability for his children. The courting period is the time where you assess those capabilities in a woman. There is no use complaining later when using your feelings and intuitions result in failure. This is why so many people lobbied for no-fault divorce laws. They couldn’t be bothered to do the investigative work. They had an impractical emotion-dominated idea of how to choose a mate, and they wanted an easy way out of the consequences of their own bad decision-making.

            Imagine if you walked into a job interview and the interviewer informed you that he/she was choosing the candidate that he/she was the most attracted to, and that the interviewer’s friends would be by shortly to give their input on which candidates were “cool”. What would that say about the interviewer’s view of the job? What would it say about the interviewer’s view of how serious the job was and how serious they were about getting the right person to do the job? What would it say about how serious the interviewer was about their responsibility to pay their employee and to keep them around for a long time? Well, an attract-me interviewer is basically saying that the duties of the job (marriage) are “make me feel good and impress my shallow friends” and not “do the work of a husband/wife and father/mother”. This is where divorce and fatherlessness come from. The deification of feelings at the expense of proper engineering technique.

            This is so obvious. Why is it that people can’t see this and wreck their own lives and the lives of their children by being reckless?


  6. What is most interesting and most troubling here is how and where these excerpts are cut-off. Is it fair to judge an entire human being based on partial statements? How about the rest of that video and the rest of that article? No one at all looks good edited by their enemies.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s