Evolutionary biologist and famed atheist Richard Dawkins has praised Christians for having "more sense" than to take certain Biblical commandments literally after a Muslim boy cut off his own hand following public accusations of blasphemy.
As reported by the Gospel Herald, 15-year-old Mohammad Amwar cut off his hand after a Muslim cleric wrongly accused him of mocking the prophet Mohammad. When asked if he regretted the awful decision, Amwar replied, "Why should I feel any pain or trouble in cutting off the hand that was raised against the Holy Prophet? I didn't feel any pain when I chopped it off so why would I feel any now? The hand that commits blasphemy should be chopped off."
On Thursday, Dawkins weighed in on the disturbing story and compared Islam to Christianity, tweeting to his 1.3 million followers, "Jesus said, 'If thy right hand offend thee cut it off.' But Christians have more sense than to take it literally."
The famed God Delusion author was referring to Matthew 5:30, in which Jesus says, "And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell."
However, Christ-followers understand that Jesus' words are not to be taken literally, in part because He created our bodies and we're commanded not to destroy them. Explains author Randy Alcorn, "With this hyperbolic language (which is not misleading because people knew it was hyperbole), Jesus is simply saying, 'Be radical. Take whatever steps are necessary to keep yourself away from the temptation to sin. Follow me wholeheartedly.'"
In contrast, Amwar's family and fellow villagers have said they are "proud" of the boy for the "devotional" act of mutilating himself to please the god of Islam.
Reads a particularly disturbing portion of a BBC report: "Farooq, a man in his mid-thirties, was one of those who came to pay his respects. Appearing at [the boy's] home, he took the boy's left hand, kissed it and pressed it against his forehead. Following local custom, he also placed some cash in the pocket of the teenager he hails as a hero."
"I heard that a boy sacrificed his own hand for the love of our Prophet. I came here to meet him," the report quotes Farooq as saying."The boy's gesture to show his love for the Prophet is unmatchable. I'm here to encourage him and to pay homage."
Wrote Dawkins in response, "Religion is no ordinary insanity. It is so extremely insane it can move a child to cut his hand off & get praised for it by his community."
The Selfish Gene author has come under fire from the Muslim community for his outspoken criticism of Islam. In December, he slammed the "regressive left" in particular for "turning a blind eye" to the "homophobia and misogyny" promoted by the religion.
"There's this notion Islam and Muslims are this protected species," the 74-year-old said. "That if we talk about them at all or criticize at all, it's somehow hurting or humiliating Muslims. It's a ridiculous idea."
Despite his similar disdain for Christianity, Dawkins has also admitted that he sees Islam as a far bigger threat to world peace than Christianity and argued that "Christianity may actually be our best defense against aberrant forms of religion that threaten the world."
"There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings," Dawkins said back in 2010. "I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death."
The famed atheist also acknowledges that the teachings of Jesus Christ do not lead to a world of terror, whereas followers of radical Islam perpetrate horrific atrocities.
In light of this realization, Dawkins suggested Christianity might offer an antidote to protect western civilization against jihad. "I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse," he said.
He seemingly reiterated this sentiment it on Friday, tweeting, "Yes, individuals in all cultures do bad things. But QUANTITATIVELY, some cultures are orders of magnitude worse than others."