RICHARD DAWKINS interviewed.
Tuesday 12th July 2016
Summary of meeting on 3rd July 2016
We were led by John Russell who showed us two short DVDs of the views of Richard Dawkins.
The first was from an interview on BBC1, Sunday 19th June at 10am called Sunday Morning Live; the interviewer was Naga Monchetti.
Richard remembers being brought up an Anglican but questioning what he was told from the age of 9. Different religions take differing views and they cannot all be right and theories show we can explain the world without any kind of design or designer. The Anglican church today is fine, but it has not been in the past. Generally religion is mainly evil, since it cannot produce evidence to support its claims. Children should not be labelled according to a particular belief system into which they are born; they should be allowed to think for themselves.
The second was from "Head to Head" on Aljazeera TV, together with "Upfront", both hosted by the Muslim journalist and very sharp interviewer, Mehdi Hasan.
Richard Dawkins said he was not interested in good and evil, but only evidence.
Science is based on evidence and that is all that matters absolutely, and since science cannot be decisive on right and wrong, then certainly religion cannot do that. In discussion afterwards, it was suggested by Geoff Locke that pure atheism leaves us without any authoritative moral code and atheists get their moral code from religion.
Terrorism is based on religion, Richard said, but when challenged about atheistic evil, such as that of Stalin, he claimed that atheism was not the cause. Discussion then was about other matters that cause war and he accepted that many modern wars had not been caused by religion either.
Among the surprising claims was one by Mehdi that Mohammed went to heaven on a winged horse and one by Richard that being brought up a Catholic is worse than being subject to child abuse.
There was also comment about the literal truth of the Bible and the type of God portrayed in the Old Testament.
This brings us to the more reasonable view that you can accept a loving God so long as you are also willing to accept that scientific evidence can change your view on other matters.
Richard insisted that religion makes people do evil things in the name of God and cons them into thinking they are doing good. However, he accepted that most religious people are good. He did not accept that science was a kind of religion since it does not have a holy book, nor tradition and it is constantly only interested in evidence. He said it was wrong for science to be dogmatic and wrong to impose atheism on people, but for all practical purposes what mattered was to forget about a god and look only to scientific truth.
In our discussions, contrary to Richard's emphasis on scientific evidence as ALL that matters, Ian Gregory stated that there is something in human beings about which science has little or nothing to say. Science does not admit of the possibility of there being a dual nature of reality, with both a material and a non-material realm; the latter, one could say, is the spiritual.
In practice, emotion, for example, is as real as material information.
Another example is intelligence; Voltaire said: "There is certainly some difference between the ideas of Newton and the dung of a mule. Newton's intelligence, therefore, comes from another intelligence."
As regards the big questions about existence, Richard thought that philosophers and theologians have been wasting their time. When challenged, he accepted that religion answers needs that science cannot, but was adamant that does not make it true.
We are grateful to John Russell for showing us the DVDs, since they were both brilliantly done.
(Nigel Jones, July' 16)