British zoologist Richard Dawkins turned evolutionary theory on its head when he published his book, “The Selfish Gene,” in 1976. His recently released autobiography, “An Appetite for Wonder,” sheds light on the first 35 years of Dawkins’ life, from his birth in Kenya, to his fascination with science at Oxford, to the origin of his gene-centered view about natural selection. He joins us in the studio.

Interview Highlights

Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and emeritus fellow at the New College at Oxford University; author of "The Selfish Gene" and "An Appetite for Wonder"

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Seems most benevolent societies and organizations geared to providing housing for the poor, universities/colleges, hospitals,food banks,hospices, charities were begun by religious folks.

    Might Professor Dawkin (whom I follow on Twitter/Facebook) share what atheist non profits are there for those who are in need? Have looked and they are nowhere to be found.

    • Fred

      Didn’t Joseph McCarthy, who by the way was a terrorist according the dictionary definition, kind of put a stop to such activity? Even today people are afraid of being labeled a socialist.

      At any rate, atheism is merely the lack of god-belief. There are many kinds of atheists and some would be in favor of helping the poor for instance, and some not. I’m not convinced religious people are more generous. I see religious people doing so much harm to others and themselves, and then using the rubber stamp of make-believe divine forgiveness to make it OK — rather than apologizing for their behavior or paying restitution. There are even religious people even preach outright greed — e.g some Protestants do this and the Indian followers of Ganesha fixate on wealth, too.

      Religious organizations have a long history of supporting the status quo of inequality and thereby harming the poor, as well as women, atheists, gays etc, and some do it even while they are helping the needy.

      • TrainedHistorian

        “Religious organizations have a long history of supporting the status quo of inequality and thereby harming the poor, as well as women…..”
        Very simplistic. Almost all the revolutionary social movements aiming to alleviate what we would now call class inequality between say, 1000-1700 in the West had religious i.e. Christian inspiration.(“When Adam delved…”) In the pre-modern world, on balance, the Christian churches actually improved the rules for Western women by 1. opposing infanticide, which disproportionately impacted females 2.opposing polygyny and concubinage,, which was practiced by upper-class pagan Germanic Celtic and Slavic men 3. making the rules for divorce the same for men and women (most pagan Germanic & Celtic societies gave men greater power to divorce, as do Islamic socleties). 4. opposing honor killings for female adultery (very common in pre-Christian Germanic society..5. (Catholics after the 12th century but not Lutherans or Orthodox) insisting women could marry whom they chose even if their parents opposed their choice. The churches lost their “feminist” appearance only recently (late 19th century) because technological advances for the first time led to practical and safe forms of abortion and contraception that women could control. Only then did churches’ opposition/ambivalence about them and divorce seem anti-feminist. (Abortion was too dangerous before sterile surgery to benefit women in the past. Lack of effective female forms of contraception and high fertility levels made women fearful of unilateral divorce by men and thus more supportive of the church’s preference for indissolubility),

        Modern feminism has moved beyond the churches’ piecemeal improvements, but Western women would definitely not have been better off in the polygynous, infanticide-practicing, honor-killing, high-divorce societies of pre-Christian Northern Europe..

    • Chris OConnell

      Oh, if this question is read on air, I relish Dawkins’s response. I suspect he has heard variations of it hundreds of times. Since he doesn’t hold back, I will.

    • PHZ

      Any non religious non profit would fit the bill. Atheism doesn’t need churches or community organizations since it’s just the lack of belief in god, not a member organization.

    • Victor Williams

      The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation immediately comes to mind.

    • Oltremarino

      Secular charities: Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, Goodwill, Oxfam, UN Children’s Fund, Red Cross, Make a Wish Foundation, SEED Foundation, Charity Water, are just a few.

      • John Stone

        Goodwill and Red Cross are religious organizations.

        • Oltremarino

          Goodwill was originally founded by a minister but its current mission is unaffiliated with any religion. Red Cross is in international humanitarian organization with no religious affiliation.

    • Jennifer Heather

      Try using a “search engine” on the “internet”.

      If you had used “Google” then you would have found HUNDREDS of non-religious charities and non-profit organizations within seconds.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Seems some people missed where I noted ‘were begun by’.

      Nowhere was I suggesting there not some today that are non religious. Was wanting some examples because some people assume even today that they are all religious.

      Thank you for the examples.

  • Chris OConnell

    Comment: I want to thank Richard Dawkins for his atheist activism and consciousness-raising. He has been a martyr to the cause, so to speak – taking much grief – but I believe his work on this front has done a lot of good, and the tide or reason will continue to swell.

    Question: Regarding human evolution, where is it going? Is it going? How has our technology and stepping out of nature to an extent impacted the Natural Selection question?

    • thomasjriley

      Where is human evolution going? The question may be a poor one to ask, but what we can do is look at who is breeding and where. Humans are better able to breed with one another across seas and across deserts and mountains now. We know that the genes that each group had were unique only until recently. So what we will probably see is a small bifurcations of ‘species’ of humans, but we will also find hybrid humans (mixed races) and their gene pools mixing. Therefore, with a more varied genomes and mixes of DNA and culture, we will find physical changes accordingly. What types of physical changes? Well, let’s look at a short Asian breeding with a tall African or tall European. Let’s look at people who lived in lower pressure areas living in higher pressure areas. Let’s look at people who adapted to certain diseases mingling with people who adapted to certain other diseases… Etc

      • Chris OConnell

        I take it you are not an evolutionary biologist and appreciate this parody answer.

      • During an introduction to Biology class in college a number of years ago our instructor asserted that evolution for the human species is essentially over. I have forgotten his rational for that statement. But it was not a frivolous remark. His credentials were outstanding, just in case you are wondering about the ability to make such a statement.

        • frank simões-pereira

          That’s precisely what I’m doing Tiger: wondering about his or her ability to make such a statement. Do you remember John Horgan? Your instructor sounds a lot like him in his book “The End of Science.” Maybe you recall how the scientific community reacted to the book. And it seems that John Horgan has changed his mind.

          • No knowledge of Horgan at all but as long as we are more or less on the same page I am good.

    • Eduardo Rocha

      “Sometimes men come by the name
      of genius in the same way that certain insects come by the name of
      centipede; not because they have a hundred feet, but because most people
      cannot count above fourteen.”
      Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

      • frank simões-pereira

        Should I take you as saying that Richard Dawkins is not a “genius” but just a mediocre (meaning “not very good” or “of only average standard”) individual? That’s what it sounds like since, as I understand, you are replying to Chris’ complimentary remarks about him. But if I’m wrong, please let me know.

    • ATM

      Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 cc. This has happened irrespective of habitat. 80% of humans in developed countries cannot perform basic math equations such as the following 3+4×5+6= even after 4 years of university. So my prediction is planet of the apes in 20,000 years.

  • Ben Rawner

    Do u ever think maybe we do not have the mental capacity or understanding to really understand what god is. I am no fan of religion, but doesn’t something as complicated as DNA show a higher “life” power that has a desire to live and spread that living, Especially since we have found it everywhere.

    • Jack

      No. DNA has only been found on Earth.

    • geraldfnord

      If we can’t understand what ‘god’ is, how should we deal with the endless and contradictory parade of people who claim to know this exactly?

      As for a ‘life power’ that has a ‘desire’ to continue and to spread, this is precisely that for which evolution is a simpler answer which can be tested and can be used to make predictions. We are made (by evolution for tools use) to see complicated artifacts as having been made by someone, and (by evolution for coöperation and competition both) to see intentionality in other someones. Large salt crystals are not made by tiny angels’ shoving ions into just the right place…and my computer and keyboard and screen don’t ‘want’ to make these characters on the screen….

    • Robert Thomas


  • catherine yronwode

    Michael, i think you have cheapened yourself by giving a platform to “the pederast priest of atheism,” a blatantly ignorant racist, a man so inconsistant that he condemns Muslims for their religion and lack of Nobel prize winners, and then says he should have compared them to Jews, who have won more than their demographic share of Nobel prizes — “but then, that’s an entirely different religion and culture.” He seems to be saying that religion is no good, but if you are Jewish, it’s okay. I am a Jew and i found this terribly illogical, despite its back-handed praise for my religion — and, truth to tell, i think the word he wanted was not “religion” or “culture” — it was “gene pool.”

    • Chris OConnell

      You say that this best-selling, award-winning brilliant Oxford Professor and leading scientist should not be given a platform on Forum. That’s your solution to ideas you disagree with, or find illogical?

    • geraldfnord

      I think it unfair to call him pæderast; he’s guilty of speaking awkwardly, as this

      discusses better than I could and at greater length than were appropriate here, but basically boiling-down to saying that he didn’t think his own being abused damaging but not its being relevant to others’ experience and reactions. (I was bullied a lot early in life, but believe that I was less damaged by it than were some bullied less than was I, so I I think I can understand his argument. This is as opposed to the ‘I could take it so why can’t they?’ statement to which many seem to be reacting, but which Dawkins never made.)

      Your point of his inconsistency of putting Jewish Nobel-winning down to ‘culture’ (he said explicitly that it weren’t gene-pool) while characterising a Muslim deficit to religion is a very good one…it reminds me of one of the blessing of a mixed economy: people can assign blame to the State or the Market for every ill while assigning praise for every good (respectively) to the Market or to the State, as desired.

      Thank-you for your editing work on comics I’ve liked.

    • KietaZou

      How tiresome, this open dishonesty of yours. And unoriginal – there are hundreds of you screaming with your fingers in your ears and hands over your eyes.

      Keep stuffing those straw men, then beating the stuffing out of ’em!

      • TrainedHistorian

        I found her criticism hard to follow and poorly worded, but how is it “open dishonesty”?

    • Slappy

      You do realize that the world of Islam includes Mongolians, Filipinos, Chinese, Arabs, Pakistanis, Fijians, and Caucasians, right?

      • TrainedHistorian

        Your point being?

    • chromaticfrog

      uh, you are aware that dawkins himself was the victim of said inappropriate touching when he was a child, and has never victimized anyone? that he would protect these actions in this present day just goes to show how horribly insidious such crimes can be: they influence you even when you’ve grown up, and that is the great tragedy of it. it’s a natural recourse for victims of sexual harassment to try and justify that what happened didn’t damage them, when in fact, it did. that you would accuse professor dawkins of something so callous and so cruel without even considering the mindset of a victim of sexual predation is truly ignorant on your part. perhaps, aside from reading his works, may i also suggest that you attend sensitivity training in regards to victims of abuse? you cannot accuse a person of being racist and bigoted while you yourself are guilty of the same callousness which you condemn in others. before you use an ad hominem, please be advised that your words may come back to bite you.

    • EvidenceBasedDecisions

      You have clearly missed his interrogations and criticisms of Judaism .

      Because he critisizes one religion in one place – it does NOT imply acceptance of others. He condemns all religions.

      When all religions are “bad” and a blot on society – trying to claim that your is less heinous than another , is unlikely to garner any (much) support amongst atheists.

    • lmern

      He has never ever said anything remotely similar to “…religion is no good, but if you are Jewish, it’s okay.”
      What the crap Catherine…. I mean really.

    • frank simões-pereira

      Regarding the widespread idea that the Jews in the whole are intelectually brighter than the rest of us, a reading of Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years, by Israel Shahak, might bring some new insights into the question.

  • Chris OConnell

    I love this guy. I can listen to him forever, especially with a good interviewer (like the present one).

    • frank simões-pereira

      Yes, Chris. Richard Dawkins is a truly remarkable individual. Who doesn’t like to listen to a man like him? Well, some don’t, as we all know. My question is “why”?

      • Chris OConnell

        His mere words cut as sharp as a knife, so if you don’t like what he is saying, I guess it hurts. But they are only words, and not vituperative.

  • Robert Thomas

    Dr. Krasny, I’m interested in Professor Dawkins’s opinion about why Darwin’s Natural Selection caused more consternation among the Western religious establishment than ever did the arguably more blasphemous and confrontational concept of Deep Time, as developed by geologist and naturalist James Hutton and others.

  • Ritea Raj

    A question about belief systems: What does Dawkins think about Hinduism? It’s one of the more peace-loving belief system, unlike the bloody history of the Christian Crusades or Islam?

    • KietaZou

      You need to learn more about Hinduism. It’s not all M. Gandhi – in fact, hardly any of it is.

    • TrainedHistorian

      It has its negative sides too: ever heard of caste?

  • Jesse

    For professor Dawkins,
    In your interview with Ben Stein in “intelligence not allowed”, you postulated the possibility of earth life being seeded by an extraterrestrial civilization. To me this idea seems strange from an atheist. Your view could be well from some form of deism, certainly in line with “intelligent design”. What’s the deal?

    • Paul Johnson

      The notion that life could have been seeded on Earth by an extra terrestrial civilisation is not in the slightest within the realms of deism and certainly not intelligent design. Deism is the idea that there is something there, probably a god-like figure, but people don’t necessarily have a universal claim on what it is, unlike organised religion. Intelligent design is a form of anti-evolution creationism which tries to argue that because life on Earth seems to be so well designed at a first glance, therefore “God did it”, a ridiculous idea that is destroyed once you know the history of elements in the cosmos and evolution theory, about how nature actually favours simplicity, not complexity.

      Watching the interview, it is clear that the interviewer either has no idea what he’s talking about, or is a very talented spin-doctor. He equates extra terrestrials seeding life on Earth as being the same as intelligent design. It isn’t, at all. At most, said extra terrestrials either seeded the first self-replicating molecules on Earth, or helped such molecules come about to begin with, and let it go from there. If life really was designed (which evolution theory has disproven) then it was an extremely poor job. Either he has no idea what intelligent design actually relates to in terms of the supernatural, or he just assumed as such beings would have to be highly-intelligent forms of life, and then said “there, an intelligent designer”, knowing people would interpret it in the wrong context – immediately jumping to intelligent design creationism.

      Dawkins very clearly and quite adamantly said in the interview, that even IF extra-terrestrials did seed life on Earth (which, while there is no evidence for it, does not require the suspension of the laws of physics and nature to believe, unlike an eternal, omnipotent, omniscient god), the aliens themselves would have had to have evolved through some kind of Darwinian means, because Darwinian or Darwinian-like evolution is naturally occurring, and does not require intervention.

    • John Stone

      I believe Stein pressed Dawkins to posit conditions which he could accept some sort of “Intelligent Design.” I don’t believe that was Dawkins’ sincere understanding of human evolution.

    • Guest

      read some science

  • Ritea Raj

    I disagree with Dawkins about telling children that “they’re not their parents’ religion”. I think a firm sense of rootedness dispels a lot of anxiety about their identity and roots for a lot of people (not all, conceded) but don’t diss religion as a great tool to root identity.

    • Robert Thomas

      I question whether a teacher ought to respond at all to such questions from five-year-olds, other than to encourage the children to ask their parents.

      With respect to “rootedness” whatever that means and whether or not it’s even desirable, why should it be an object of instruction in such a milieu? Why should we presume that children in school have anxiety about identity? What evidence is there that this is problem of prominence? If it is, why is school the proper venue in which to address it?

    • PNullifidian

      Dawkins is quite right to make this distinction, as children are too young to make an informed decision between belief and nonbelief, just as they are too young to decide which, if any, political party to support. The most important anxiety reducing factor in the life of a child is demonstrating unconditional love, and forcing a religious identity on a young child is much like forcing a gender identity or sexual orientation. Children do better when allowed to grow into their own skin.

      • TrainedHistorian

        I dispute that you are forcing a religious identity on a young child simply because you take them to a family church. Yes, if you tell children that you will disown them (or worse) if they leave your religion, that of course is bad. But very, very few Christians in the Western world do this any more. (Dawkins is a bit of a wimp: going too much for the easy targets, i.e. Western churches or the Bible, rather than Muslim-ruled societies, where there is outright persecution of those who leave Islam and where literal interpretations of the Quran are far more widespread than literal interpretations of the Bible). Children are “forced” to be schooled–is this a bad thing?— and every school I’ve ever been to “forces” a secular national identity on children: Why the double standard condemning religious identities but not other non-evidence-based “tribal” identities?

        Dawkins himself proves that you can be raised in a religion as a child, and feel free to leave it if you choose when you get older. Dawkins might consider that he benefited educationally (better understanding of English history and Western society in general) by being taken to C. of E. as a child.. I benefited educationally from being “forced” to go to my parents’ church (Unitarian) during the school year, and being expected to either attend a mainline Christian church in the summer, or read the New Testament with parents. My brother whined about having to go to church with the family as a teen, but my parents had a wise response: when you leave home, you make your own decisions. Going to church was also one of few “family things” my somewhat uninvolved father did with us kids. Most of my friends went to mainline churches (Methodist, Episcopal) with their parents as children and turned out fine. In fact, I think they are better-grounded than my children’s friends, only one of whom attends a church (also mainline, i.e. non-fundamentalist).

        One big drawback to all this hostility to attending church (even the mainline ones) in the contemporary West is that the cultural understanding of those never taken to any church can be appallingly low. Knowing some basics of Christianity does help you understand Western culture generally, as I learned from teaching medieval/early modern history for many years. (So much time doing remedial education with people who hadn’t even a passing familiarity with the Bible or what Christianity is). I also find that those folks extremely hostile to all forms of Christianity (even the very tolerant forms) are too alienated to understand so many of the important figures of American culture and history.

        • PNullifidian

          Dispute if you wish, but I didn’t say that taking a child to church is forcing an identity—of course, it all depends on the church. But looking objectively at the repetition of forms, the rituals, the kneeling and bowing of heads, the congregational reading and singing, and so forth, clearly reveals these practices, as used by most religions, are designed to indoctrinate—it’s a form of brainwashing. The clergy know that they have the greatest chances of keeping people in the pews, the younger they can start with them. In any case, I’m sure you’d agree that taking a child to church isn’t like taking them to the zoo or a museum or the beach—activities with far greater benefit than any church.

          There’s a helluva lot of deprogramming that must take place when you’re brought up in a religion, especially an orthodox one, trust me on that one. The Unitarian faith is rather exceptional, and you’re somewhat naïve in thinking that very few Christians in the West “disown” their nonbelieving children. That is most certainly not the case in the United States. There are tens of millions of ‘true believers’ in this country who feel that the worst thing a child could do is rebel from the faith of his parents. I was raised in such a church, attending parochial schools of the same denomination from pre-school through college, and am ashamed to say that I know the Bible much better than Shakespeare. But I left this all behind me years ago. And yet it never really leaves you—still recovering from it. That Dawkins was able to move beyond his religious upbringing is a testament not to Dawkins, but to his laissez-faire religion. The same may be said for you, it appears.

          We should all condemn double standards and shun non-evidence based identities, but non-religious (or secularist) thinking covers everything else besides religion, and as such, cannot be “forced” on anyone. Church attendance is never a substitute for a good secular education, and if we’re going to bemoan the lack of cultural understanding in this country, religions are part of the problem, not the solution (read Richard Hofstadter, Susan Jacoby, Charles Pierce, et al). I didn’t even learn about Charles Darwin or evolution until I rebelled from my church. The negative experiences with religion that many of us have had often leads us to authors such as Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, et al, whose arguments against faith in general, and the monotheistic religions in particular, resonate powerfully with those of us who’ve experienced firsthand the negative impacts of a religious upbringing.

          • TrainedHistorian

            Of course secular identities like nationalism, ethnic identities etc. can be forced on someone! In public schools this happens a lot.. Even in the US, where this is less intense than elsewhere, most us us had to say pledge of allegiance, to the US flag at school assemblies, and so forth..
            By disowning I do not mean the narrow meaning that parents leave you no money–which is not exceptional in the US because in our common law tradition there is no obligation to leave non-minor children anything–I mean the complete shunning that some one like Ayaan Hirsi Ali has experienced from her family.I have never met any American Christian who was treated by their parents the way Muslim apostates like her are treated (cf. FaithforFreedom and “Muslim apostates speak out”), and I was raised in the so-called Bible belt of the rural Midwest, where Christian identities are stronger than elsewhere. It really is absurd to compare the pressures from Western Christians (whether through the family or politics) in contemporary Western societies to religious pressures in Muslim-ruled ones today. It’s a false equivalence.

            It is silly to be “ashamed” of knowing the Bible better than Shakespeare. The Bible is considerably more influential, and thus more culturally important than Shakespeare (even if the literary style of most of its books is less impressive. partly because its translated, partly because much of it e.g. the Gospels was meant to appeal to all educational levels). Shakespeare has not had that much influence outside the English-speaking world, whereas the Bible has influenced all Western cultures. (The only other corpus of works with comparable influence are, arguably the Aristotelian and Platonic texts.. One wouldn’t argue that there is no point to reading them because their scientific ideas are, for the most part, factually wrong). I would suggest that instead of resenting your Biblical knowledge, you should find a positive use for it while remaining a non-believer if that what make you happy: knowing the Bible well is helpful for art history, and literature and pre-modern history. Learn Greek or Hebrew. You might be surprised with what you see in the Bible when you do. As Byzantinist, I often find myself wishing I knew the Old Testament prophetic books, most of which I found dull and thus hard to retain, better, because of the many allusions and quotations from them in the texts I read.. .

          • Positivist_Nullifidian

            Secularism and nationalism don’t occupy the same set of a Venn diagram. Nationalism, as you’ve described it, is a form of ideology akin to a religion, and with the same potential for harm. The dictionary defines secularism as: “the view that public education and other matters of civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element.” A position of neutrality should not be seen as forcing anything.

            Naturally there are degrees of harm or pain inflicted by religious parents on their questioning children. Secular societies don’t tolerate the physical violence we see in some honor cultures, where a Christian in Nigeria, for example, may be treated just as poorly by her parents for being an apostate as her Muslim infidel counterpart. It is far from absurd, but rather instructive to compare the attitudes, behaviors and tolerance levels of religious cultures, not only geographically, but temporally as well. It wasn’t that long ago that Protestants violently defended their children from Catholics, and vice versa—consider Northern Ireland. Today the pain is psychological, which may not leave obvious scars, but it can be just as harmful over time, as the pressures brought to bear against children for “straying from the faith” can be horrendous, as I have witnessed firsthand. In the shunnings I’ve observed, the unbelieving children have been told that they “left behind” and will burn in hell, while the parents will watch from heaven. They are not welcome at family gatherings, not even invited to weddings, and when attending funerals, they must sit in a different pew. The emotional distress is acute, and impacts not only the children, but the grandchildren as well. The point here is that none of this is necessary, and religion is behind all of this physical and emotional pain.

            You may think it silly for me to be ashamed of my cultural ignorance due to Bible studies replacing good literature—Shakespeare is but one example—but I have found it to be a liability, and I completely disagree that the Bible is more relevant. I can’t tell you how many times in literature, theater, comedy and movies—even trivia games and crossword puzzles—I’ve encountered a quote from or reference to a work by the Bard, and others, and I’ve had play catch-up in learning where all of this comes from. The only good all my Biblical knowledge ever does me is as a category in Jeopardy. That said, the fact that the Bible has been more influential than any other book only reinforces the old adage that there’s no accounting for taste. As a nonbeliever I have little interest in learning an archaic language to read ancient myth-infused scrawlings and ramblings, whether apocryphal or canonical—I’ll leave that to the Erhmans and the Pagels of this world.

          • TrainedHistorian

            I did not say the BIble is more “relevant” than Shakespeare. I said it was more “influential”: witness that to understand Shakespeare’s many allusions, one has to be familiar with the Bible, but the reverse is not true. And this has little to do with “taste.” It has to do with history.

            Learning ancient Greek is not a waste of time as you imply, and it is not only useful for Christian believers. It is highly useful to understanding English better. The fact that you reference Pagels and Ehrmann,(particularly the former), is a indication of how limited your knowledge of these topics is. Both are pretty ignorant of Christianity in the later Roman Empire (fourth century and later) and have seriously misrepresented this (and a few other topics) in their popular writings.

            I already said that I think it is wrong if parents abusively shun children for not following their parents’ religion as adults. But it is not religion per se that causes such misguided or abusive parenting. Witness the fact that parents can be abusive or misguided over all sorts of non-religious issues: misbehavior or disobedience in general, curfew, dress,homosexuality, children not wanting to have children or to get married (yes many people who are not religious still disapprove if their own children do not want to get married or are homosexual.etc.) And you still have not given rigorous evidence that I am mistaken that shunnig an adult child over religion is very common among Christians in contemporary America. Where are your statistics? .

            I do not say one should not compare: that’s one of my points. Compared to Muslim-majority societies (or any society before c. 1800) today there isn’t that much really abusive treatment for rejecting family religion among Western Christians, and violence s forbidden by law in the West, although it’s getting more difficult to enforce in a very mobile world where people can abduct family members back to places like Pakistan or the Middle East, where apostasy is punished either by law or custom, more easily than before. One should not make false equivalences: all religions today are not equally bad. The religions, or rather the forms of religion that justify violence to enforce their norms or rule are worse than those that do not . It is not true, as Dawkins awkwardly implied, that faith itself causes suicide bombing, let alone more serious violence (such as the violent jihads Muslim armies waged against vast territories (Persian and Byzantine Empires)).. It’s the specific religious idea that it is right to use violence to impose your rule over non-believers (jihad) that is behind the current resurgence of jihadism among some Muslims. Mennonites of all stripes have very conservative theology and highly value faith over secualr knowledge, but they are not involved in suicide bombing or wider religious violence because their religion teaches them to be highly pacifiist, and to believe in separating religion from the state. (And many of them do shun children who leave the fold; sad, but’s this is not nearly as bad as religiously-inspired terrorism, using violence against apostates, etc.).

            Atheists and agnostics who value our separation of religion and state should consider that it was the fact that the predominant religion in the West is Christianity which led to the modern separation of church and state: the fact that the church was separate from the state in the beginning allowed Englightenment thinkers to convince Christians that they should return to their roots of being voluntary bodies that did not rely on state force. The ancient world before Christianity certainly had no such separation: it too had state-sponsored religions (local civic and imperial cults). And this separation has still not occurred in Muslim-majority societies yet because there is no such early history of separation.This is another reason why I say it is very wrong to condemn all religions equally. It is certain types of religion that are the big problem.

            I definitely agree with you that US public schools should not promote religion, and of course that is theoretically the law of the land, though the actual implementation of it varies. i originally objected to your use of the term “secularist” because it sounded like you were saying there was no such thing as forced secular identites. There certainly are. Aside from the indoctrination of national and ethnic identities, which is more dangerous in modern Western societies because schools, unlike churches are not voluntary, some explicitly anti-religious states have persecuted the religious. Dawkins sidestepped this, unfairly. It is true that more of the violence of Communism was over economic and political policies (collectivization etc.) rather than religion, but certainly not all. There certainly was explicit persecution of people for religious observance, and state-sponsored destruction of churches and religious art as there was under the Reign of Terror too. This is no better than persecuting atheists, heretics and minority religions. The state should strive to be as neutral as practical. My original point stands::to say that it is “child abuse” simply to take one to a family church is overstated. I’m glad you originally agreed with me on that your own way (“I didn’t say that taking a child to church is forcing an identity—of course, it all depends on the church”).. Dawkins has a way of overstating things,and his statement to that effect was one example. The fact that radio rarely allows time for clarification or qualification exacerbated the overstatement.


    • John Stone

      Parents could say “We and the people we trust to educate you provide you with theories and the tools to test them for yourself. But in the end, the responsibility to find the truth lies with you.”


    I agree with guest, my question for those religious zealots, If god is omnipotent and everpresent and wants us humans to behave as he wishes, why doesnt he let every human know exactly what he expects ??? why did he present himself to a few questionable “profits” , hundreds of years ago then stop???

    • Chris OConnell

      Great user name!

    • Kristian Alekov

      Because video cameras were invented… all miracles and talking bushes stopped after that. 🙁 Damn science, always spoiling all the fun…


        we had 2 talking “Bushes” in the last 20 years, I’m glad that they shut up!!!!

  • PHZ

    Dr. Dawkins, why is it so difficult for people to move away from belief in god?

    • KietaZou

      It isn’t, really. People believe in Thor or Jesus because of mental inertia and/or peer pressure – or threats.

      Can you really believe in the utter nonsense of the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the Raising of the Dead, etc., etc., etc. and then think Thor’s Hammer silly in comparison?

      Belief in God is a cancer on many basic, good human qualities.

      • Robert McHugh

        I love that phrase “mental inertia”! I’ve never heard it before but it is so perfectly fitting! It seems like that is pretty much exactly the concept that Slappy’s response was getting at too, the people who don’t want to admit that such a big part of their life was wrong so they just keep on deluding themselves.

    • Slappy

      In my view, the reason is because people don’t like the idea that they’ve spent their entire lives believing in what essentially amounts to a lie. Admitting that to oneself would probably deliver a severe blow to their ego. People, by nature, are egotistical.

    • Chris OConnell

      Dawkins has addressed this as a question of a possible evolutionary advantage of heeding authority figures like parents and adults when we are children. So we are told about the lions, tigers and bears and their danger. We are told not to touch the hot stove by our parents and not to cross the street without looking. As very young children, heeding this type of advice is crucial and so there could be a built-in tendency to believe in and follow authority figures. Because our parents give us so much crucial advice, it becomes hard to reject their religious beliefs and what they told us is the Truth.

    • frank simões-pereira

      Maybe for the same reason why it is so difficult for people to move away from belief in the devil. How many people you know who believe in the former and do not believe in the latter?

  • A man who put logic into the discusion.

  • Mickstertor

    Great interview! Thanks for sharing!

  • Pádráig O’Gáirmléadháigh

    Re the assertion that Dawkins disrespects religion; religion does not deserve respect. It is plain and simple anti human. and has stymied human progress for the last 2000 years…..

    • Slappy

      In all fairness, some great scientists were Christian monks who were actively seeking to understand the world around them. That said, I must say that one would be hard-pressed to find religious zealots studying physics, mathematics, or engineering at a university…

      • Fady J.

        Those earlier scientists were indeed christians, but you know why they were so: They had no choice.

        • TrainedHistorian

          Gregor Mendel certainly lived in a society that did not force him to be a Catholic monk….

      • EvidenceBasedDecisions

        Some MIGHT have been christians, but when the “wrong” answer to the question “what is your religion”, had you tortured or executed (or both), one cannot say with any degree of certainty whether any of those scientists really was religious.

        As an atheist, had i lived in those even more dark religious ages I (almost) certainly would have acknowledged the existence of a god.

        • TrainedHistorian

          There certainly were and are Christian scientists in the 19th and 20th and 21st century Western world. Note to Evidence: one was not executed or tortured if one did not choose to be a Christian in the 19th, 20th and 21st century Western world.

      • TrainedHistorian

        That you equate all religious people with “religious zealots” is part of the problem.

      • Hardly. In my college experience some of the brightest minds were also among the most devout. It’s hard to understand but they pushed on with their studies with no problems.

    • Perhaps, but don’t you wonder sometimes, as do I, about humanity’s need for a diety and the associated liturgy?
      It is so easy to dismiss the church and its trappings as rubbish. But where does that leave you? People are no more willing to abandon their religious ways after your action than they were before. And, in fact, they may see you as the infidel and decide that you and I should be burned at the stake. That troubles me. Because, for now, the believers vastly outnumber the non-believers in our culture. Galaleo (sp.) walked at narrow line and ultimately paid the price.

      • PNullifidian

        Humanity may appear to need a deity and a liturgy, but for different reasons. A deity is an expression of our “big person attachment” which gave primitives a reproductive advantage, nothing more. The liturgy, on the other hand, offers the catatonic monotony of the familiar, the false comfort of future reward or punishment, the psychological crutch of group participation and the emotional appeal of submissive acquiescence. Thankfully, more and more of us have looked behind the curtain, wiped the dust from our knees and broken the spell, and as we continue to evolve, the human race is gradually outgrowing these primitive needs.

    • TrainedHistorian

      Too simple. Depends on the religion and what it brings at a specific time. and place. On balance I would say Christianity brought more positives than negatives to pre-modern Northern Europe. For one thing, literacy. There is a reason.why the N. Europeans,Coptic. Armenian, Georgian, and Syriac speakers had no literature before Christianization: the Romans and Greeks looked down on their “barbarian”languages. To be educated one had to learn the high literature of Latin or Greek, so there was no concern to develop writing and a literature for the “barbarians.” Because late antique Christianity wanted to expose those who spoke what pagan Romans thought were “uncultured” languages they brought along with the Bible and other religious literature the positive custom of writing and reading more generally. And on balance, the church improved the treatment of women (by banning polygyny and unilateral divorce by N. European males) up until the 19th century. (Only in the late 19th c. when technology first allowed women to control their reproduction could women move to greater heights than the church’s egalitarian but strict model of monogamy and indissolubility for both sexes).The Enlightenment separation of religion from the state was a good thing, but this does not mean Christianity was always unprogressive and that Northern Europe would have been better off with the sexual and political ethics of AD 13.

  • KietaZou

    It’s unsurprising, yet somehow amazing to me, how EVERY anti-Dawkins comment here (and pretty much everywhere) reveals a person who didn’t bother to listen to this interview, or anything else by R.D. And never would.

    • frank simões-pereira

      That’s a nice idea. In my experience most of those who criticise (in the disapproving sense of the word) Dr. Dawkins, have never read a single article he has written, have never watched a single lecture or interview he has given, and have never read any of his books. Most of them concentrate on the fact that Dr. Dawkins is an atheist and, as such, he must be “cut down.” And very frequently they make an inordinate fuss about The God Delusion, which isn’t, by any means, in my view, the best of his books. They have never considered his scientific seriousness by reading The Selfish Gene, Climbig Mount Improbable or The Greatest Show on Earth. And maybe worse of all, they have never tasted the beauty of his prose in a book like Unweaving the Rainbow. Most of those who harshly criticise him, do it for a single reason: they don’t know the man.

  • kamrul

    This my request to Richard Dawkins if( it possible by him) to motivate the western power to promote the scientific truth politically to international media and also not to give support the organize religion ?
    The western.power contribute so many thing for human civilization?
    I.hope if they sincere without playing political double stranderd strategy ?our world will.progress tremendously .

  • timholton

    He’s trying to use rationalism and empiricism to interpret parables. Dawkins seems to think he can boil religion down to nothing more than bad science that’s now been proven wrong and can be disposed of. Can’t we step back and consider for a moment what an extraordinarily arrogant and absurd proposition that is? What’s called religion is an immeasurably vast and varied set of traditions of thought, expressed mostly in parable and metaphor, grappling with existential problems of justice, truth and reverence for life. Even explanations of how we got here were never intended as empirical scientific explanations but as ways of framing a universe far beyond human comprehension (and still far beyond our comprehension) but toward which we should live in humility and gratitude for our existence. Has humanity often screwed up in this effort? Has it allowed religion to be abused and exploited? Yes, obviously it has, and so we have reactionaries eager to throw out the baby with the bath water. But the implied proposition that we should quit struggling with such problems and purge ourselves of those traditions that do — traditions now so deeply entrenched in the thinking of the world’s 7 billion people that we couldn’t possibly rid ourselves of them even if we tried — and categorically dismiss religion and refuse to carry on wondering about what is truly good, holy and worthy of our reverence is madness. But this appears to be the aim of a man who prides himself on being rational.

    Truth is, Dawkins is as religious as anyone. He famously said that science doesn’t have all the answers “but we’re working on it” (just as he’s working on purging 7 billion people of religion). If that’s not a statement of faith, I don’t know what is. Dawkins believes in god; his god is the human mind. He’s extremely reverential toward the universe, but he’s placed human reason at the center of it and lives for that heavenly judgement day when he’ll have it all figured out. He’s smart but we all have our blinders, the results of our particular place and moment and history. A truer faith would acknowledge these blinders and strive for a bit less hubris and a bit more humility — two things religion at least grapples with, even if it doesn’t always succeed.

    • Chris OConnell

      “What’s called religion is an immeasurably vast and varied set of traditions of thought, expressed mostly in parable and metaphor, grappling with existential problems of justice, truth and reverence for life.”
      Religion – at least as far as the big 3 monotheistic creeds – has absolutely nothing to offer on problems of justice, truth and reverence for life as we have had to discard their prior answers as incompatible with our evolving morality and scientific understanding of the world. For morality, we have to (for the most part) turn away from the barbaric, old Books as evidenced by our rejection of slavery, polygamy, etc. The Bible imposes the death penalty for taking God’s name in vain! There goes more than half of humanity!!!

      “…and refuse to carry on wondering about what is truly good, holy and worthy of our reverence is madness.”
      Obviously you have not read Dawkins since in several books he very much does concern himself with what is truly good and worthy of our reverence. As for “holy”, that is just nonsense.

      “Truth is, Dawkins is as religious as anyone.”
      Finally, it is absurd and childish to call him as religious as anyone. That he says Science is working on the answers to what it does not know is hardly a statement of faith, but one of fact. It doesn’t mean they will find it all but they are working on it. You show him evidence that his beliefs or positions are wrong, and he will renounce them at the drop of a hat. He doesn’t believe anything on faith, he wants evidence and this by definition goes against what it means to be religious.

      ” …strive for a bit less hubris and a bit more humility”
      P.S. You might want to consider a little more humility yourself as you all-knowingly denounce a man who has heard and considered the points you make many hundreds of times while apparently not even reading one of his books or giving him a fair hearing. But that’s the wonder of internet message boards.

      • timholton

        I’d be more interested in a reply to my post that was based on a reading of my post — you got it mostly wrong — and in an opinion of religious texts that was based on religious texts. This I can’t make sense of except as a generalized rant (“childish” to call him “religious”???). I agree with you on this: internet message boards don’t bring out the best in us.

    • Linards Berzins

      Comon, religion is nothing more than a bad science, otherwise he would not say that. You’re a bit ignorant person, how can he be religious if he’s considering himself an atheist or non theist, doesn’t matter. What matters is that “we’re working on it” means that the science is a extraordinarily complicated field of study, that’s why they are working on it, because most of people are not capable enough to even grasp a basics of any science, that’s why there is religion.

      thats absurd to think that the earth and the Universe was created and designed by some sort of unexplainable (to most explainable) intelligent being, that’s just pure madness. People cannot comprehend how huge the Universe is, and then again comes the religion to “explain it all”.

      I will go as far as say that religion is a waste of time, energy and human potential. We certainly would be better off without religion.


      • kippu

        Second this!

      • timholton

        Well, I guess eliminating from your own concerns the mess that is the great story of the human struggle to understand existence makes doing science a lot easier.

        Good luck! (Wait– sorry, that’s a religious expression.)

        • Linards Berzins

          Why? Because science is easy? and why is Good luck a religious expression?
          Each individual interprets the reality their own way, lucky ones with questioning minds.

          • timholton

            “Why? Because science is easy?” –As a reply, that’s a nonsequitor. What I’m saying is that science is EASIER if you eliminate inconvenient problems, like the many moral problems humanity’s faced and that have been the main concern of religion. (Those in the natural sciences have generally not attempted to address these problems, so it baffles me why they’d be offended by the suggestion that their science doesn’t address these problems.)

            “and why is Good luck a religious expression?” — a belief in luck, fate and fortune is…well, a belief. I’m sure you follow the logic. I’m saying that it’s part of a belief system that assumes forces external to our control and rational powers of prediction. Admit it or not as a part of religious tradition, those traditions have in great measure concerned themselves with it.

            “Each individual interprets the reality their own way, many with realistic, questioning minds.” — Interpretation depends on perspective, yes, and as humans none of us is capable of fully transcending the personal perspective. Thus positing a reality that exists beyond personal perspective is a matter of faith — one you probably share, or you’d find doing science impossible. But it’s a pretty realistic faith, isn’t it? Wouldn’t the opposite belief be thoroughly UNrealistic?

            You see how faith and reason, religion and science, are not opposites? I think the main problem in these discussions –and with Dawkins’ point of view — is that we frame them as if they are.

          • Linards Berzins

            it is the essence of science not to eliminate inconvenient problems, otherwise it would not be science. Human being is having morals, its not thought by religion. Morals have nothing to do with your holy book. Its passed to a child by natural parental behaviour. you’re totally wrong implying that non religious people are not with high moral standards, that is morally low.

            I think Natural scientists are preoccupied with explaining the nature, laws of physics and matter interactions, rather than morals of human being.

            Your argument about Good luck is absolutely invalid. As I said before you interpret it your own way, it’s just words. Luck can happen or not. Just because you assume the “Luck” has some belief, it does not mean it includes me.

            “Interpretation depends on perspective, yes, and as humans none of us is capable of fully transcending the personal perspective” — And that’s why the science is trying to “work on it”. I’m no scientist, but I have enough questioning in my mind, in order to simply believe something that has no proof, all religions share the same (no proof). In contrary sciences are accompanying with each other.

            “Thus positing a reality that exists beyond personal perspective is a matter of faith — one you probably share, or you’d find doing science impossible” — really?

            Words faith and belief are hijacked by religion, people not just believe in something just because they are religious.

            “You see how faith and reason, religion and science, are not opposites?” — No I see religion, faith has nothing to do with reason and science.

          • timholton

            I’m trying to reason with you, so I’m pleased you have such a strong belief in reason. But I think we can do quite a bit better.

            “it is the essence of science not to eliminate inconvenient problems, otherwise it would not be science.” “I think Natural scientists are preoccupied with explaining the nature, laws of physics and matter interactions, rather than morals of human being.” –You do see, don’t you, that these two statements contradict each other? The second one is my own argument that you’re repeating back to me. Natural scientists have never pretended that they don’t specialize in natural phenomena; they don’t claim to work in the realm of morality. So why should they be defensive against people who point out that they’re not considering moral issues? I agree that a true science, while admitting necessary specialization, would understand that all human endeavors operate within the totality of the universe –something beyond human comprehension. But modern science tends to be hyperspecialized

            “Morals have nothing to do with your holy book.” — A. This is so unsupportable that I can only conclude from this that you’ve never read a holy book. B. You seem to be implying I’m some kind of bible thumper or holy roller. That’s yet another common straw man atheists are prone to put up.

            “you’re totally wrong implying that non religious people are not with high moral standards” — Where did I imply that? I never did. That’s a straw man, and a failure in reasoning (which begins with true observation) on your part.

            “Your argument about Good luck is absolutely invalid. As I said before you interpret it your own way, it’s just words. Luck can happen or not. Just because you assume the “Luck” has some belief, it does not mean it includes me.” — Nonsense. We had an exchange about luck, which means the word has some meaning to you. I suggest it makes you uncomfortable because it doesn’t fit in with the rationalism you aspire to.

            Next– Where’s the proof that the universe will eventually be totally explained by science? There is none, so it’s a matter of faith. I have no problem with that. You’re the one who’s arguing against all faith, remember?

            Oh, wait…

            “Words faith and belief are hijacked by religion” — You’re giving me whiplash. This amounts to a concession to my argument: Science is full of faith and belief, it just doesn’t acknowledge it.

            “I see religion, faith has nothing to do with reason and science.” — You just said religion had hijacked faith from reason and science, so this is a contradiction.

            So we appear, in the end, to agree. You see, if you try to reason through it, atheism isn’t logical. That’s how I’ve arrived at a skeptical view of atheism–not by mass brainwashing, as atheists absurdly try to explain the existence of theists.

          • Linards Berzins

            Ok im fed up, not because I don’t want to reply to all of your arguments, but just because I have better things to do, and you are stubborn as a Dr. Theologist. Happy believing in absurdity. Peace

        • Guest

          Why? Because science is easy? and why is Good luck a religious expression?

          Each individual interprets the reality their own way, many with realistic, questioning minds.

    • EvidenceBasedDecisions

      In short – no.

      Epistemologically all (theistic) religions are predicated on the same nonsensical contradictory premise of “faith”.

      The obvious conclusion that religion is of no value, does NOT imply that one advocates an amoral society.

      In fact atheists derive their morals from the same place that theists do (i.e. contemporary society) – but theists still havent realised that yet, and still cling to the notion that they derive their morals from some mystical book; they don’t. Every theist that I have ever encountered , cherry picks his / her own phrases from such a book , rejecting the nonsensical parts (a substantial part) , then claims to be an adherent !

      So yes Richard is merely stating the obvious that if society is to progress, ultimately we must remove the shackles that religion imposes on us.

      • timholton

        “Epistemologically all (theistic) religions are predicated on the same nonsensical contradictory premise of “faith”.” — Please explain how Dawkins’s assertion that the entire universe and our moral behavior toward it and each other will SOMEDAY be fully explained by modern scientific method isn’t a statement of faith.

        “The obvious conclusion that religion is of no value, does NOT imply that one advocates an amoral society.” — I didn’t say anything remotely implying that it did. I’m guessing you’re replying to my assertion that religions comprise a history of grappling with moral questions — a tradition within which this very discussion is taking place — and that dismissing that entire tradition is both foolish and futile.

        “Every theist that I have ever encountered , cherry picks his / her own phrases from such a book , rejecting the nonsensical parts (a substantial part) , then claims to be an adherent !” — Apparently you fault religion for not providing one infallible guidebook to life and the universe — the one Dawkins perhaps is “working on.” Fortunately, most reasonable, responsible adults — yourself included, I expect — have not categorically dismissed all religious teaching, but have “cherry-picked” from those teachings the Golden Rule. You say this makes them (and you) hypocrites. This is confusing. Are you more bothered by people who cherry-pick from religion reading it critically and with an open mind, or people who don’t and are consistent but “shackled”? Or is it both because they’re fools for considering religious traditions, any message found therein, AT ALL? Is that not an extremist, dare I say puritanical, argument?

        “So yes Richard is merely stating the obvious that if society is to progress, ultimately we must remove the shackles that religion imposes on us.” — You’re not required to subscribe to everything you read. And if reading the literature and otherwise participating in traditions that address the ultimate problems of humanity are merely shackles to you, then science is no refuge. I also question your particular form of faith in progress, one which supposes that dismissing what someone else here called as “barbaric, old books,” promises to “unshackle” us to fly toward that inevitable heavenly future you dream of.

        My point is, we’re all — atheists and scientists included — creatures of faith. Atheists are just blind to that.

  • disqus_zXLbNfw1Yi

    Funny – the Santa Claus myth DID trigger my first doubts about religion.

  • TJ tiong

    First of all, I would love to say, brilliant interview. I greatly enjoyed the insights I gained from Prof. Dawkins. Secondly, I would say that giving one’s child the ability to think for oneself if fabulous, however in the society where teachers “serves” the general public, providing the child alternative ideologies may create many heated debate. The parents themselves must be the ones responsible for such ideals. That, is just my own opinion, please feel free to correct. XD

  • John Kimak

    Belief in anything is the strongest wall to overcome, just like most Americans do not want to believe that 9/11 was an inside job. It’s just to hard for them to look at the facts. No different than a person who believes in God.

  • you_uninformed_twit

    The nutbars certainly come out when RD is speaking. Reality is not their thing. Science is nothing but evidence based. Faith is gullibility.

  • Victor Laiviera

    I don’t see how you can say that Dawkins “turned evolutionary theory on its head” by “The Selfish Gene”. Rather he expanded on it’s ‘nitty gritty and explained how it works in more detail that Darwin did.

  • nuriaydodu

    I love you forever Richard Dawkins! You’re my natural selection. =) Best regards…

  • Steve Tapia

    KietaZou, this should answer your question. To know a person’s religion we need not listen to his profession of faith but must find his brand of intolerance. – Eric Hoffer

  • Aleks

    Any way of getting this either a podcast or an MP3 file?

    • Linards Berzins

      there is a link right above the Mr Dawkins image

  • Shawn W. Nippard

    Richard Dawkins is one of my heroes! I would love to meet him! He puts religion in its place! In the garbage where it belongs!

  • Eduardo Rocha

    It is clear that this guy is a an ignorant regarding to religion and his opinions are to the common sense as an illiterate giving opinion about algebra. Religion must be taught to children from early stages of development because you are not waiting to teach your child your mother language just because there are many other languages out there. We are not just a bag of bones. We have born with a soul that will last beyond our body. Therefore, it is much more important to take care of its developing also. You will not let your child decide for himself which language he wants to learn in order to start to speak and communicate just because there are many languages out there. On the other hand, it is clear that only a fool cannot discover God by studying his creation. The human being has never created anything by himself but just he has learned how to transform the things that were already created. Arrogant is the qualifier for a man thinking that he is the owner of the knowledge and the creation. I just only feel pity for this guy and his followers.

    “Sometimes men come by the name
    of genius in the same way that certain insects come by the name of
    centipede; not because they have a hundred feet, but because most people
    cannot count above fourteen.”
    Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

    • frank simões-pereira

      You are wrong, Eduardo, me thinks. I don’t believe any of us, admirers of Dr. Dawkins, is his “follower”. It just happens that the guy is good, his arguments make sense, and we feel inclined – just that – to agree with him. And we are free to disagree with him whenever it deems fit. You may be a follower of your particular brand of religious persuasion, but we are not followers of Richard Dawkins. Maybe you should forget Dawkins for a while and have a look at what other “members of the club” have to say. What about a guy like Daniel Dennett (I suggest Breaking the Spell), or Michael Shermer (I suggest Why People Believe Weird Things). Look around, broaden your views. And, if I can ask you that, start telling us what you think and stop preaching to us about what you believe. By the way, you have already answered my previous question. Thank you, sir… Oh, one more thing – as Lieutenant Columbo used to say – telling us that you “just only feel pity for this guy and his followers” sounds a little bit too much condescending.

    • Katie Younger

      And we should let our babies forage for the food that tastes good to them and not force them to eat only what’s in the pantry. Lame argument about language learning. Religious faith stands on its own. It’s not necessary for survival.

  • Eduardo Rocha

    “Sometimes men come by the name
    of genius in the same way that certain insects come by the name of
    centipede; not because they have a hundred feet, but because most people
    cannot count above fourteen.”
    Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

  • frank simões-pereira

    Most of the comments here are very interesting indeed. There are areas of disagreement, of course, but as far as I can see they are disagreements about the interpretation of facts, not about the facts themselves. For example, when one participant says that Dawkins is a deeply religious man, I agree with that. And I agree because Dawkins himself says it, and because I know in which sense he uses the word “religious.”. But others would disagree depending on what they understand by “religion.” and “religious. Those who fiercely disagree wityh Dawkins’ general worldview are certainly not prepared to say that he is a religious man. The subject is immensely complex and each one of us looks at it from a different perspective and start from different assumptions. Besides, most of us write at the spur of the moment without any sort of analysis we could call “painstaking.” But a general common ground can be found even in disagreements. As another participant puts it, “we are on the same page” though in differents parts of the page. Of course, some are on an entirely different page, and in this case a real disagreement exists because it stems from totally different assumptions and totally different sets of data.

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