The New Horizon

A new world explored with a rational view

The Richard Dawkins FAQ

with 28 comments

Richard Dawkins, the author of NY Times bestseller – The God Delusion – has been interviewed many a times recently. The questions asked were mainly related to his book, the views on atheism, morality and present world. He answered all the question in a flawless and confident way. Each and every answer of him speaks about his passion and eagerness to explain his stance on every point. It’s an amazing experience to watch him speak. I have tried to pick up a few commonly asked questions and his answers on different topics.

Why are you against faith?

Because, I am a kind of person who cares about the Truth. The religion and any sort of dogma are the biggest obstacle against the Truth. Not only that, I am worried about the position religion enjoys in our society. You can attack other’s political view, criticise a football coach but cannot attack one’s religious faith. It’s a kind of immunity from criticism that religion enjoys, despite being proven to be mostly illogical.

There are billions of people across the world following their faiths and living their life. How do you describe them?

Of course, there are billions of people living their religious life and most of them are harmless people. But, they are carrying a virus of faith with them, that they transmit from generations to another, and could create a ‘epidemic’ of faith any time. As I said, I am a kind of person who cares about the truth and also want to see people following the truth. The truth is not a revelation, but truth that has been established though evidences and repeated experiments.

Even there are scientists who are religious. How do you feel about them?

Yeah, unfortunately there are many good scientists who do this. Although, I do not clearly understand their position in life, it seems to me, either they act like religious people consciously for some other purpose or compartmentalize their views based on the context.

Religious people claim they derive their morality from religion. Where from an atheist derive his morality?

Religious people do not derive their morality from religion. I disagree (with the interviewer) on this point. Almost all of us do agree on moral grounds where religion had no effect. For example we all hate slavery, we want emancipation of women – they are all our moral grounds. These moral grounds started building only a few centuries ago and long after all major religions were established. We derive our morality from the environment we live in, Talk shows, Novels, Newspaper editorials and of course by the guidance of parents. Religion might only have a minor role to play in it. An atheist derives his morality from the same source as a religious people do.

But, all the religious books have given moral guidance to the people, like not killing the neighbors. Why do you think they are still bad?

The religious books do talk about not killing your neighbors, at the same time they talk about not showing skins of women or killing the infidels. The God of the Old Testament, as I described, is not at all a good ‘person’. The God is certainly a lot better in New Testament. However, when you pick and choose the good verses out of a religious book, the parameters those you use, does not certainly come from the religion itself. For example, when you say New Testament is better, you are certainly not using Christianity as a judge. The parameters you use, are the effect of the morality that is already with you, assimilated from different sources in your life time.

In your book, you’ve said that God ‘almost certainly’ does not exist. Why are you leaving open the possibility?

Any scientific people will leave open that possibility, that they cannot disprove whatever unlikely the event might be. I would be the first person to acccept God once evidence comes in favour of it.

So you accept Science cannot disprove God. What is the problem if people follow religions till God is disproved?

Science cannot disprove God as well as they cannot disprove Apollo or Juju or Thor with his hammer or even a Flying Spaghetti Monster creating the universe. However, we do not believe them as they are unlikely to exist. We do neither believe in fairies of Hans Andersen although we cannot disprove them. To believe in an unlikely event or a deity only because we cannot disprove it, sounds foolish to me.

Why don’t you thing that the Universe, huge, complex and mysterious, is not a creation of a Supreme Being, where we see all complex things are in fact created?

First of all if you assume that all complex things are created, then a God, capable of creating such a complex Universe, should also be a complex being and should also has a creator. On the other hand, if you follow the Darwinian Evolution path, you’d see how a complex organism can be built upon relatively simpler beings by the process of Natural Selection. And it is far more logical to believe that we and the Universe in general, started from a simpler start that a complex creator starting it up.

When you stand on the top of a mountain doesn’t the vastness of the world strike you? Don’t you feel charmed by the beauty of the nature, and the mysterious laws of the vast Universe?

Of course I do. And I have mentioned about it in the first chapter of my book as the spirituality followed by Einstein. He was so charmed about the mysteries of the world and it was such an exciting experience to explore it. It’s a kind of spirituality that does not require God, a personal deity to explain the mysteries of Nature. It is quite different from a religion centered around a God who can read mind, keeps track of sins, judges people after death punishes the disbelievers and rules the Universe.

What is your opinion about Stalin and Hitler as Atheists?

I have said in my book that Hitler is not at all atheist, as he was religiously biased against Jewish people. Stalin was following communism dogmatically. I have already said that none of us, in effect derive our morality from religion. Stalin, in fact, used the dogmatic communism as his source of morality – if we call it morality at all. Being atheist does not ask you to become dogmatic or communist, but only ask you not to believe in God. A person working in a Mafia group can also be an atheist although it will be illogical to say that atheism pushed him to the Mafia group. There are other colleagues working with him who are religious.

Why do you link religion with ‘Child-abuse’?

I link the marking of children as ‘Jewish boy’ or ‘Muslim child’ as a child abuse, since, in childhood they are yet to choose their religious views. Not only that, they are brought up in a way that he gets separated from other religious groups and views so that he is forced to follow the religious faith of his parents. Obstructing the view of children clearly comes under child abuse.

Your ambition is that people reading this book should abandon their faith. Isn’t that?

There is no harm in aiming high and you can say that is my ambition. But, in practice, we want the people who follow the middle ground, who never have thought deeply on this topic, to think twice and consciously reject God. Also, I can see that in United States 10-15% people are Atheists, larger than any minority religious groups. However, they don’t have any political power or a lobby compared to strong Jewish lobby. I want Atheists to come together and establish a God-neutral political view, a view of their own, for a better balanced world.

References
1) Interview with Jeremy Paxman on BBC.
2) Interview on CNN on Darwin Day.
3) TV Ontario interview (part 1, part 2 and part 3).
4) The Hour interview, (part 2).
5) The debate – part 1, part 2 and part 3.
6) RichardDawkins.net for more video/interview resources.
Atheism, Religion, Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion.

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Written by Diganta

May 25, 2007 at 7:32 am

28 Responses

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  1. Hope there wont be a day when Dawkins has become a prophet of a new religion and people have started worshipping him.

    bachodi

    May 26, 2007 at 3:43 am

  2. Not at all, but he is able to provide the threshold that atheists needed to tie up together.

    horizonspeaks

    May 26, 2007 at 3:47 am

  3. I guess me too. Because if he becomes a prophet of a new religion, than he will betray his views in a major way! 😀 HAHAHA

    Brian

    May 26, 2007 at 7:06 am

  4. He’s neither a god or a prophet, and he will never be, but I hope that people who thinks like you do, could see his purpose. He just want you to be rational, and I think he’s very brave to get in the media and get exposed like he does, I hope he get’s recognized one day… unfortunately on this day he’ll probably be dead… but his ideas alive!

    Newton

    May 27, 2007 at 6:34 am

  5. His ideas are alive and will be for long long time …

    Diganta

    May 27, 2007 at 11:28 am

  6. Dawkins is THE man.

    Avan

    May 28, 2007 at 12:44 am

  7. I have been a fan of Richard Dawkins writing ever since I read The Selfish Gene so many years ago. Dawkins is great at explaining evolution to the non-scientist. I have read many of his books including The God Delusion, The Blind Watchmaker, and most of his others. Recently, I saw a 5 or 6 part YouTube BBC show from the 90s that was great – it was meant for children I believe, but I really enjoyed it.

    uPgRaD3 Z3R0 0n3 A

    May 28, 2007 at 4:29 am

  8. I’ve seen them too – they are indeed great.

    Diganta

    May 28, 2007 at 4:39 am

  9. “We derive our morality from the environment we live in, Talk shows, Novels, Newspaper editorials and of course by the guidance of parents.”

    I’m sorry but I found this statement rather ludicrous… morality from talk shows and newspaper editorials??? As someone who is suspicious about the media’s influence I find the example a bit worrying since the ‘examples’ I’ve seen so far have not been very commendable.

    Ashish

    May 28, 2007 at 5:02 am

  10. Morality from talk shows and newspaper editorials? – It is true if you consider that morality tells you what is right and what is wrong.
    For example, when an Israeli fighter plane attacks Gaza, you read and watch reports of the event. The way the describe the event, do definitely bias you towards one side or the other. Moreover, the analysis also comes within a short period, to influence you further. All these contributes towards your judgement – whether you’d think that Israel is right or Palestein is right.

    Diganta

    May 28, 2007 at 5:21 am

  11. If morality came from a holy book, then how does the religious person explain why they are opposed to slavery and stoning people to death, …. How do you know those are wrong? They are all in the Bible, and God is supposed to be perfect. The answer must be that you pick and choose the “good” stuff. That good stuff must come from outside the Bible – since God unambiguously says that stoning and killing for violation of many of his repulsive commandments and other laws are to be the punishment. The Bible must not be perfect, but was written by primitive men. It is full of repulsive and sick stuff.

    uPgRaD3 Z3R0 0n3 A

    May 28, 2007 at 6:24 am

  12. Question for Mr. Richard Dawkin.
    You say that every complex being eveloved from a simpler being. i.e. all the living beings today evolved from a single celled organism. (Darwinian theory)
    You say that this single celled organism came from a combination of physiological processes.
    You have all the chemicals that a bacteria, virus, etc is made of.
    The day you or any scientist is able to “create” even a simple being like a bacteria i.e create life from chemicals, I would be accept your beliefs.
    But, you see Mr. Dawkins, LIFE comes from LIFE.
    You cannot create life. Even clones come from living cells and tissues.

    I beg Krishna to show his mercy to you.

    Your servant,
    Rajeev Gadre

    Rajeev Gadre

    May 29, 2007 at 9:41 pm

  13. “I beg Krishna to show his mercy to you” …
    Another good example of regional based belief systems. Why didn’t the Indians know about Christ and why didn’t Europeans know about Krishna? Normal, inteligent, rational human being response: Human beings evolved as social animals. We would expect creation myths to be localized.

    Biology makes no sense, except in light of evolution. New animals do not “pop” into existence from nowhere, nor is there any evidense of a supernatural force of any sort. The evidense for evolution is overwelming.

    “LIFE comes from LIFE” – yes, not from supernatural entities, but from natural chemicals.

    “The day you or any scientist is able to “create” even a simple being like a bacteria i.e create life from chemicals, I would be accept your beliefs.”
    Why do you not require the same stringent requirement for simple supernatural phenomina? Show me an animal that just “pops” into existense. Walk on water, or do something that can not be explained through natural phenomina.

    uPgRaD3 Z3R0 0n3 A

    May 29, 2007 at 11:03 pm

  14. Virus has alreday been created in labs. That too starting without DNA. Starting with DNA will can create normal small multi-cellular living beings – the experiments are all done in 60s.

    Diganta

    May 30, 2007 at 4:14 am

  15. Then there is Synthetic Life:
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=0009FCA4-1A8F-1085-94F483414B7F0000
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20051219.wxlife19/BNStory/specialScienceandHealth/
    Synthetic DNA
    http://www.azonano.com/details.asp?ArticleID=1346

    Of course, the mere existence of DNA was predicted by evolution, since Darwin predicted that there must be a mechanism. That is why is was looked for by scientists to begin with.

    In a way Nuclear Fission was predicted by Darwin, since he knew there was a problem with the age of the sun. Without nuclear power, the sun would not burn long enough to allow for the length of time needed for evolution.

    The list of discoveries confirming evolution from multiple disciplines is in the in the millions.

    Life and the Universe looks exactly as we would expect if it had not been designed. The Bible looks exactly as we would expect if it were written by primitive men.

    uPgRaD3 Z3R0 0n3 A

    May 30, 2007 at 4:56 am

  16. //You can attack other’s political view, criticise a football coach but cannot attack one’s religious faith. It’s a kind of immunity from criticism that religion enjoys, despite being proven to be mostly illogical//.
    Couldn’t agree more. Religion is supposed to encourage tolerance but it has done just the opposite.

    pr3rna

    June 12, 2007 at 11:12 am

  17. […] to write in mother tongue. The article, already published in the mukto-mona site, is again on the interview of Richard Dawkins. I was always skeptic about my Bengali writing skill, but ultimately somehow managed to produce […]

  18. I have posted a rebuttal to the Dawkins interview on my blog http://puntocracy.blogspot.com/. It is much too long to post here.

    Royce

    June 20, 2007 at 4:09 pm

  19. I think that one of the things that Dawkins has failed or is unwilling to accept is that many of the people who believe in God have come to that conclusion based on a rational interpretation of the facts. He tends to lump all non-atheists in to the same group. He draws no distinction between a person who worships the God of the Bible and those who worship a frog or the moon. He accepts it on faith that the Universe has always existed but takes issue with someone who believes that God has always existed. Even if at some point in the distant past the Universe was nothing more than pure energy, which would seem to be the most simple form possible, there is still that question of how it is possible for anything to exist. We cannot comprehend how it is possible for something to come into existence when there was nothing (no Universe, no God, nothing). The rational conclusion is that there was never a time when nothing existed. Even though it is illogical, in our thinking, for us to exist, we do exist. The logical conclusion is that there is something bigger, something beyond our Universe and our comprehension. Dawkins has said that if he sees the evidence that he will believe. I hope that he someday will open his eyes and see the evidence. It is right in front of him. God has written it in a book and Dawkins has even read enough of that book to argue with it, but he has not accepted it as evidence.

    Timothy Fish

    July 9, 2007 at 3:15 pm

  20. He argued that it is probalistic minima to assume there is a God. By the way, which God are you talking about – Thor, Jeus or FSM?
    He has discussed against all bookish arguments in his book.

    Diganta

    July 10, 2007 at 3:42 am

  21. No…(!) it is a probalistic minima that two specfic molecules would interact in a vast space and time given the vast number of degree of freedoms… some external force must have brought them together…

    Claire

    July 11, 2007 at 10:54 pm

  22. Now the reason I came to your site is that an important message has been sent down, just like a News Update. I have a message to tell you about Revelation. The message is from God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. Sent in the Spring of 2006. It is about the meaning of First is Last and Last is First. The message is this:
    In the morning I go to Heaven. In the afternoon I live my life. In the evening I die, death. What does this mean? In other words this means Birth is Last and Last is Birth. To understand this don’t think from point A to point B. Think of this as a continous circle of life. Birth, Life, Death, Birth. God also said that Judgment will be before Birth in Heaven. As birth on Earth is painful so will birth in Heaven. Yes, God has recently made contact and he sent a messenger.
    This will help you understand this message better, Did you know that Mike Douglas died on his birthday? Melanie Steffen

    Melanie Steffen

    June 20, 2008 at 3:38 pm

  23. God also said that Richard Dawkins goes to Heaven. He said that he is an embarrassment, but he is fond of him. He thinks of him as a pet. So Atheists do go to Heaven. You don’t have to believe in God or Jesus to get into Heaven. Richard should have taken one more step in his book by concluding that parts of the Bible are the word of Man and not the word of God. Then he would have been correct.

    Melanie Steffen

    June 20, 2008 at 3:42 pm

  24. In the Year 2007, God had another message. The message is this:
    “We each die in succession, then we are born on the same day.”

    Melanie Steffen

    June 20, 2008 at 3:45 pm

  25. This has many meanings. One point is, there isn’t going to be one big disaster where God reaps people. Everyone has a normal life, then dies a normal death. Another point is that, God is says that no one has been born in Heaven yet. People are still waiting to be born.

    Melanie Steffen

    June 20, 2008 at 3:49 pm

  26. Melanie Steffen

    Here is one small piece of proof.

    Like I said earlier, the Holy Spirit talked to me, besides his message about First is Last and Last is First, he had something to say about “Who Killed JFK”. Christ tells me that the man who shot JFK is a policeman. He also tells me the name of the shooter, but it is in a jumbled word. The word is “Fritters”. I see the name F. Ritter right off so I think that is the name of the killer. Now God has lots of other messages for me to figure out, so I put “who Killed JFK” on the back burner for over a year. A year or more later , just recently, I have more time to look for F. Ritter. I can’t find a policeman with that name who lived in Dallas, Texas in 1963. So I am searching for information about who killed JFK and there is a picture of a policeman by the name of JD Tippit. Now Tippit kind of looks like Ritter. Now I unjumble the letters of Ritter to TIRRET. Now TIRRET looks more like TIPPIT. Now I make the R’s stand at attention, I get TIPPET. One problem is that the I and the E are not the same. So I do some research on the family name TIPPIT. Turns out that in the late 1800’s JD Tippit’s grandfather changed their name from Tippett to Tippit. So the next step I change the E to I. So Tippet is now Tippit.
    Now I have FS Tippit and JD Tippit. The first two initials are not the same. Next I go to Wikipedia there I find; “Some thought that J. D. stood for Jefferson Davis. However JD does not stand for anything. That means his name is just J D. So the initials F S, do not stand for anything. I just have two initials that do not stand for anything. Are you following me?

    Next what does FRITTERS mean. If your following my thinking here, God is going to tell you what happened to JD Tippit after he was shot. Fritters are a dough that is deep fried. Bread also means body, like in the last super Christ takes the bread and says this is my body. Look in the dictionary, PIT means HELL. TIP means money paid, gratuity. There are other meanings to.

    JD Tippits body (dough) is placed in the deep fryer (lake of fire). Now I think this clue (Fritters) was ingenius. After all God came up with it. I think he does have a sense of humor too. Kids now have a new game to play. They can play God. Pilsbury dough boy fry’s in the lake of fire. You get HELL! fry baby fry!

    If you think this is just crazy. Remember I am just the messenger. Jesus is the one that had to talk about JFK. So he had a reason for doing that. Chirst is telling you who killed the president so that you will believe that his messages are from God. Remember only God knows who killed JFK. He told me and I am telling you. I had forgotten about the case years ago. This is a cold case now, it been 45 year since the shooting. Nov. 22 is the anniversary.

    I also read the part about giving false prophesy. God says false prophets go to Hell or something like that. I only repeat what God told me. Now what I wrote above is from God. He told me who killed JFK in 2006. The above is not a lie or a joke and I am going to HEAVEN without fear.

    Before I forget. Gods messeges usually have more than one meaning. F S could also stand for “Fence Shooter”.

    Who are the co-conspirators? Turns out that there are two policemen named Tippit, and one other Tippett working in the Dallas police Department that same year(1963). Back to the clue word Fritters. That is plural, you know about plural. We have two fritters. The co-conspirators name is Gayle M. Tippit.

    Now the Dallas Police Departtment obviously covered up and framed Oswald. He was the Patsy. They did it cause it is very possible that one of the other police officers rushing to the scene saw Tippet fleeing the scene carrying a rifle. They covered it up because of the embarrassment of one of their own was the man that killed JFK? And the Warren commission must have also figured that out so they stuck with the Dallas Dept. story saying that it was Oswald. It could have been a National embarrassment. Now if you look at the evidence like I did. It is easy to see that the DAllas Police Dept tampered with the evidence over and over again. And they did a very bad job of it too.

    Now this is my opinion, not Gods. I think God is behind the creation of the Internet. I could never have been able to figure out a lot of his messages without the use of the Internet. People on the Net have been a big help to me. God talks to other people too, they just don’t know it. God let me know it was him.

    This is proof because it is impossible for any one to do what I did with the clue word FRITTERS. I made it look easy. I can do that over and over again in all of God’s messages. It is impossible for anyone to do what I do.

    Gods Messenger, Melaine

    Melanie Steffen

    February 23, 2009 at 1:52 am


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