Richard Dawkins Answers Questions

The Independent has a question and answer session with Richard Dawkins in which readers sent in the questions. Here are some of the questions:

What is there to distinguish your intolerance from that of a religious fanatic? TONY REYNOLDS, By e-mail

It would be intolerant if I advocated the banning of religion, but of course I never have. I merely give robust expression to views about the cosmos and morality with which you happen to disagree. You interpret that as ‘intolerance’ because of the weirdly privileged status of religion, which expects to get a free ride and not have to defend itself. If I wrote a book called The Socialist Delusion or The Monetarist Delusion, you would never use a word like intolerance. But The God Delusion sounds automatically intolerant. Why? What’s the difference?

I have a (you might say fanatical) desire for people to use their own minds and make their own choices, based upon publicly available evidence. Religious fanatics want people to switch off their own minds, ignore the evidence, and blindly follow a holy book based upon private ‘revelation’. There is a huge difference.

Einstein, Newton, Bacon, Kepler, Pascal, Boyle and Faraday all believed in God. Does it bother you that such eminent scientists might not have been ” deluded”? BEN TAYLOR, by e-mail

It was hard to be an atheist before The Origin of Species. Einstein is the only member of your list who was born into the post-Darwinian world, and it is no accident that he was also the only one who didn’t believe in God. He declared: “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. ”

Are people who advocate intelligent design stupid, and do you think natural selection will operate to remove them from future generations? ADAM KHAN, The Hague, Netherlands

The majority are ignorant, which is not the same thing as stupid. Natural selection will not remove ignorance from future generations. Education may, and that is the hope to which we must cling.

You backed an anti-war candidate in the last election. Would you be happier if Saddam Hussein were still in power? ANTHONY SHEEN, Macclesfield

Oh, how silly of me. You see, I had this foolish memory that Saddam Hussein was given an ultimatum on the eve of war that if he surrendered his weapons of mass destruction war would be averted. Silly me, I thought that meant the purpose of the war was to remove his WMD. Oh, so now I understand. All along, the purpose of the war to to remove Saddam Hussein. Oh, I see (copyright: J Cleese). Now the Taliban are coming back to power, because Bush and Blair took their eye off Afghanistan and charged into Iraq instead. You know, horrible as Saddam Hussein was, I believe I’d rather have him than the Taliban. Last week in Afghanistan, a teacher was disembowelled and torn to pieces by four motorbikes pulling in opposite directions, for the religious crime of teaching girls algebra. I don’t think even Saddam Hussein executed people for teaching girls algebra.

Is global warming a threat to the human species? ROBIN THOMPSON, Oxford

Yes. You could say that the human species is a threat to the human species. I recommend Al Gore’s film on global warming. See it and weep. Not just for the human species. Weep for what we could have had in 2000, but for the vote-rigging in Jeb Bush’s Florida.

If you died and arrived at the gates of Heaven, what would you say to God to justify your lifelong atheism? VALERIE JACKSON, Richmond

I’d quote Bertrand Russell: “Not enough evidence, God, not enough evidence.” But why is God assumed to care so much about whether you believe in him? Maybe he wants you to be generous, kind, loving, and honest – and never mind what you believe.

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1 Comment

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    john connore says:

    Dawkins is a genius, it’s a shame most people that have succumbed to religious brainwashing will never understand how intellect is far better than blind faith. Now more than ever this world needs to start thinking, Bush is a perfect example of how we’ve averting this.

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