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"Ratzinger is an enemy of humanity," declares famous scientist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins. In a speech republished as an edited, 1683-word piece in the Guardian, Dawkins attacks the pope's swipes at atheism while visiting the United Kingdom. Pope Benedict suggested that atheism was responsible for some 20th-century atrocities, including those of the Third Reich. Dawkins's rebuttal is fierce and provocative. Here are the highlights.

OPENING SHOT

Don't ask the British taxpayer to subsidise the propaganda mission of an institution whose wealth is measured in the tens of billions: wealth for which the phrase "ill-gotten" might have been specifically coined. And spare us the nauseating spectacle of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and assorted lord lieutenants and other dignitaries cringing and fawning sycophantically all over him as though he were somebody we should respect.

ON THE POPE BLAMING ATHEISM FOR THE HORRORS OF THE THIRD REICH


The unfortunate little fact that Ratzinger [Pope Benedict] was in the Hitler Youth has been the subject of a widely observed moratorium. I've respected it myself, hitherto. But after the pope's outrageous speech in Edinburgh, blaming atheism for Adolf Hitler, one can't help feeling the gloves are off. ...

Hitler was a Roman Catholic. Or at least he was as much a Roman Catholic as the 5 million so-called Roman Catholics in this country today. For Hitler never renounced his baptismal Catholicism, which was doubtless the criterion for counting the 5 million alleged British Catholics today. You cannot have it both ways. Either you have 5 million British Catholics, in which case you have to have Hitler, too. Or Hitler was not a Catholic, in which case you have to give us an honest figure for the number of genuine Catholics in Britain today--the number who really believe Jesus turns himself into a wafer ... In any case, Hitler certainly was not an atheist. In 1933 he claimed to have "stamped atheism out" ...

HOW ATHEIST-BASHING DEPENDS UPON THE 'VILE' DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN


Even if Hitler had been an atheist--as Joseph Stalin more surely was--how dare Ratzinger suggest that atheism has any connection whatsoever with their horrific deeds? Any more than Hitler and Stalin's non-belief in leprechauns or unicorns. ... There is no logical pathway from atheism to wickedness.

Unless, that is, you are steeped in the vile obscenity at the heart of Catholic theology. I refer (and I am indebted to Paula Kirby for the point) to the doctrine of original sin. These people believe ... that every baby is "born in sin" ... [F]rom the moment we are born, we are wicked, corrupt, damned. Unless we believe in their God. Or unless we fall for the carrot of heaven and the stick of hell. That, ladies and gentleman, is the disgusting theory that leads them to presume that it was godlessness that made Hitler and Stalin the monsters that they were.

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