NEW YORK -- What would America be like if it weren't saddled by the "uncultured, ignorant" evangelicals that sit like an "incubus" around the national neck? That's the question pondered by Professor Richard Dawkins in one of a series of videos recorded for the Wall Street Journal ahead of the academic’s US leg of his latest book tour.
Speaking to the WSJ, Dawkins says the United States is “without doubt the leading scientific nation in the world ever and flourishes [but] it’s dragged down in a way by the other half, which is the fundamentalist not quite majority but not far from 50 percent who actually believe absurdities like the world is only a few thousand years old.”
The biologist and writer, poses for a portrait at the Woodstock Literary Festival on September 18, 2011 in Woodstock, England
The 74-year-old continued: “In a way it’s a wonder the US is the leading scientific nation despite having this incubus around its neck of an uncultured, ignorant almost-majority. You can’t help wondering what it would be like if it didn’t have that burden.”
The evolutionary biologist said that when he travels to America, he tends to “interact mostly with University people,” and often gets “a very good reception… in the so-called Bible belt.”
“For reason you can guess, I think the people who come are the beleaguered minority and they show really touching gratitude when people like me go to Arkansas or Georgia or wherever it is,” he added.
Dawkins said he has faced no hostility, but does get a lot of hostile mail but the people writing don’t attend his lectures. “I wish they would, I wouldn’t mind having an argument, but they stand outside and hand out leaflets," he said. "They don’t come in.”
Although the US boasts a huge Christian population (seven-in-ten identify with the faith), a recent Pew poll shows the Christian share of the population is declining, while those not affiliated with any organised religion is growing.