Richard Dawkins makes difficult concepts clear. And his sense of wonder is infectious.’

Tony Costa,Alan Edmunds,Milli Seyffert,8 more... April 30 2007

Richard Dawkins makes difficult concepts clear. And his sense of wonder is infectious.’

Tony Costa,Alan Edmunds,Milli Seyffert,8 more... April 30 2007


Richard Dawkins makes difficult concepts clear. And his sense of wonder is infectious.’


THE DIATRIBES of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens against the belief in God has produced a lot of heat, but little light (“Is God poison?” Cover, April 16). While the world’s religions come under their scrutiny, it is painfully obvious that their main target is Christianity. Of course, they say nothing about the concepts of liberty and freedom of conscience, expression and religion (including atheism) having their roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Have there been abuses in religions and do they continue in the present? Yes, indeed, but Dawkins and Hitchens make an unfair comparison between the essence of Christianity and the acts done in Christendom. Christianity should never be confused with Churchianity. Hitchens’ claim that religion “is not just amoral, but immoral” is self-refuting. If there is no God, then how can one speak of morals at all? Tony Costa, Toronto

AT THE VERY EARLIEST dawning of man’s consciousness, existentialists knew that our psyche was too fragile to handle the enormity of our own rational existence. In keeping with man’s universal predilection for the highest ethical good, they committed the ultimate atheistic mea culpa and invented religion as solace for man’s lone and personal anguish of responsibility. As writer Brian Bethune adroitly indicates, religion is the most extreme in/out marker ever conceived because “it necessarily seeks to interfere in the lives of non-believers.” Coupled with an untethered licence for manipulation, religions have become weapons of mass corruption.

Alan Edmunds, London, Ont.

HITCHENS SAYs that if the Amish, for example, were to rise to supreme authority over other faiths, they would soon begin to resemble the medieval Catholic Church. I wonder if the atheists were to rise to supreme authority, would they soon begin to resemble Stalinist Russia?

Milli Seyffert, London, Ont.

I’M HAVING TROUBLE figuring out how you reached the conclusion that Richard Dawkins was spiritually deaf to a sense of wonder. One of Dawkins’ main themes is that the wonders of this actual world—the coded instructions in a genome, the spectrum of visible light—far outshine the putative delights of any next world humans have dreamed up. In The God Delusion, Dawkins touches on this idea more than once. In Unweaving the Rainbow, it’s his central argument. He’s a scientist who can make the most difficult scientific concepts crystal clear to a non-scientist like me. As for his sense of wonder, it’s downright infectious. Jo Currie, Centreville, N.S.

IS THE ALMIGHTY POISON? Absolutely not, but religion is. Religion with its rules, demands and interpretations taxes the faith of believers, be they Christian, Hindu or Muslim. Two millennia ago, Jesus warned the religious leaders of his day about what they demanded of the people versus what they themselves practised. You can find that in Matthew 15, verses 1 to 13 and in Matthew 23, verses 1 to 36. Religion hasn’t changed much. Just put the blame where it truly belongs.

Bob MacLaughlin, South Ohio, N.S.

GOD IS REAL. Using religion to gain power is poison.

Erwin Dresner, Toronto

GOD IS NOT POISON because there is no God. Much human misery is caused by people who allow their minds to be poisoned by belief of any sort whether it’s religious, political or our new, mindless environmental eco-religion. Gerold Becker, Thunder Bay, Ont.

I BET you received a ton of feedback on this one. It was a good article. Organized religion may have much to answer for, but a faith in God can only bring hope and peace to a troubled world. If we all took the Ten Commandments and practised them in our daily lives, our world would be a better place. Stephen Burkholder, Whitby, Ont.

ONCE YOU CONVINCE the masses that a book was written by God and that it contains the will of God, you can control them. No person in his right mind will disagree with what God is saying. One pastor told me one day that when a preacher talks to his flock in a church, it is not really the preacher who is talking, but God. That is a lot of power over people who believe it. Do not blame God for things that people do in His name.

Luis Jose Romero, Toronto

I DON’T KNOW if God is poison or not, but there are no atheists who can be turned into suicide bombers.

Anthony Oland, Wasaga Beach, Ont.

WHAT WE KNOW for sure is that God sells magazines. And I don’t think that even God is particularly fond of religion.

Kevin Abell, Pt. Burwell, Ont.

GOOD TIMING. Every Easter I know I can count on your magazine to include a story on how bad and silly Christianity is.

Carl Van Harten, Orangeville, Ont.


BOTH Maclean’s and Mary Walsh make the common mistake of confusing vulgarisms with satire (“Mary’s mouth is back in action,” Media, April 16). True satire requires imagination, a deft hand, and often a subtle humour. A sewer mouth is not a prerequisite. If Walsh’s description of Prime Minister Stephen Harper as someone who’s beginning to look like “300 lb. of condemned veal” is her best effort at satire, then perhaps it’s time for her to try the pub circuit.

Louis Quigley, Riverview, N.B.


ANDREA MANDEL-CAMPBELL has been able to publish a book based on the old idea that Canadians are timid and have an inferiority complex (“Land of the timid, home of the careful,” Business, April 16). It seems to me there is nothing timid or inferior in that

accomplishment. I haven’t read her book Why Mexicans Don’t Drink Molson, but I read the Maclean’s abridged portion and there was enough marketing hyperbole in that to rate with the best we have to offer in the United States. Maybe Canadians are changing? Richard Salvador, Pittsburgh

READING THIS neo-con article really rankled me. So we don’t dominate global markets. So what? Did Mandel-Campbell consider that many of us see big multinationals as the problem rather than the solution? And that maybe we’re a land of people who are inherently mistrustful of Halliburton or Enron? In short, Canadian businesses are doing just fine by our standards. And maybe, just maybe, the reason Mexicans don’t drink (largely American-owned) Molson is that they have bettertasting domestic beer.

Dave Ruch, Oshawa, Ont.


THANK YOU very much for the unbiased and well-researched story from Barbara Righton (“Killing for fun,” National, April 16) about the proposed German ban on seal products. It’s so rare that a journalist goes beyond the rhetoric and propaganda of the multi-million-dollar animal-rights campaigns and examines the hypocrisy of the urban-based animal-rights movement, whose proponents are so remote from nature that they have forgotten, ignored, or simply do not understand the full meaning of sustainable use. Newfoundlanders are not killing for fun. In some small outports, sealing helps support a quarter of households, and can make up more than 30 per cent of an individual’s annual income.

Elizabeth Smith, Montreal


Kurt Vonnegut, 84, novelist. He shot to fame in 1969 at the age of 46 with Slaughterhouse Five and also penned Cat’s Cradle, Welcome to the Monkey House and Breakfast of Champions. A writer with a huge cult following, especially among the young, he wrote with an unlikely brand of humane pessimism.

Harry Rasky, 78, filmmaker. A pioneer in the CBC’s documentary department, he came to international prominence in the 1970s with two projects, Tennessee Williams’ South and Homage to Chagall. His other portraits included those of Teresa Stratas, Yousuf Karsh and Henry Moore, prompting the New York Times to write of the “Raskymentary.”