Richard Dawkins suggests it's faith that makes people capable of committing evil on the scale of the Taliban and Islamic State

Richard Dawkins with Church of England vicar Sally Hitchiner

Vocal atheist Richard Dawkins has suggested that the Pakistan school massacre earlier this week shows how religion can lead to great acts of evil.

More than 140 people, including at least 132 pupils, were killed by seven Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers on Tuesday at an army-run school in Peshawar, Pakistan. The Pakistani Taliban said the attack was in retaliation for an anti-terrorist military offensive.

Dawkins posted a number of tweets blaming the horrifying massacre on Islam and religion as a whole.

The best-selling author tweeted on Wednesday, "Mental illness can drive a lone nutter to it. But an organised group needs an extreme motivation— faith, in something like a god or Nazism."

He added, "Very few faith-heads are as evil as Taliban or IS. Yet what else but faith is CAPABLE of making people do such evil?"

Dawkins is not the only one openly criticising Islam and faith for the string of terror attacks that have happened this year, particularly in Syria and Iraq.

Atheist author Sam Harris wrote in a blog post in September: "As an atheist, I cannot help wondering when this scrim of pretense and delusion will be finally burned away—either by the clear light of reason or by a surfeit of horror meted out to innocents by the parties of God.

"Which will come first, flying cars and vacations to Mars, or a simple acknowledgment that beliefs guide behaviour and that certain religious ideas—jihad, martyrdom, blasphemy, apostasy—reliably lead to oppression and murder?"

Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptics Society, also recently posted on Twitter: "Does it surprise anyone (besides @BenAffleck) that the Taliban killers in Pakistan, while killing 141, shouted 'Allahu akbar'? God is great?"

Shermer was referring to the time Ben Affleck slammed Bill Maher for the latter's criticism of Islam when the actor appeared on the HBO host's show.

Affleck argued that the majority of Muslims should not be judged by the actions of a few.

"How about the more than a billion people, who aren't fanatical, who don't punish women, who just want to go to school, have some sandwiches, pray five times a day, and don't do any of the things that you're saying all Muslims do?" the actor told Maher.