photo by Steve
From the TTBOOK
LOSING FAITH, FINDING MEANING
Here to Listen
In the roiling debate
between science and religion, it would be hard to exaggerate the enormous
influence of Richard Dawkins. The British scientist is religions
chief prosecutor -- Darwins rottweiler, as one magazine
called him and quite likely the worlds most famous atheist.
Speaking to the American Humanist Association, Dawkins once said, I
think a case can be made that faith is one of the worlds great
evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate.
Not surprisingly, these kinds of comments have made
Dawkins a lightning rod in the debate over evolution. While hes
a hero to those who cant stomach superstition or irrationality,
his efforts to link Darwinism to atheism have upset the scientists and
philosophers who are trying to bridge the gap between science and religion.
Yet, surprisingly, some intelligent design advocates have actually welcomed
Dawkins attacks. William Dembski, for instance, says his inflammatory
rhetoric helps the ID cause by making evolution sound un-Christian.
Dawkins outspoken atheism is a relatively recent
turn in his public career. He first made his name 30 years ago with
his groundbreaking book The Selfish Gene, which reshaped
the field of evolutionary biology by arguing that evolution played out
at the level of the gene itself, not the individual animal. Dawkins
now holds a chair in the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.
Thanks to his tremendous talent for clear and grace ful writing, hes
done more to popularize evolutionary biology than any other scientist,
with the possible exception of Stephen Jay Gould. Dawkins has a gift
for explaining science through brilliant metaphors. Phrases like the
selfish gene and the blind watchmaker didnt
only crystallize certain scientific ideas; they entered the English
vernacular. And his concept of memes ideas themselves
evolving like genes -- spawned a new way of thinking about cultural
Dawkins latest book turns to his more recent
passions. In The God Delusion, Dawkins fulminates against
religious moderates as well as fundamentalists. He argues that the existence
of God is itself a scientific conjecture, one that doesnt hold
up to the evidence. And he dismisses the entire discipline of theology:
I have yet to see any good reason to suppose that theology (as
opposed to biblical history, literature, etc.) is a subject at all.
Richard Dawkins talked with Steve Paulson about
the dangers of unquestioned faith and why he thinks atheists are among
the most intelligent people.
Dawkins & Steve Paulson Interview
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