Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion,” is on Midmorning this morning. I’m thinking people are going to need an outlet to react to what he has to say, so News Cut will step into the line of fire. Dawkins says atheists should be just as forthright in their views as those who believe God is real.
I’m not in the studio so please don’t use the blog to get questions to Dawkins. Use the comments section to discuss his assertions.
9:08 a.m. – Dawkins and Miller mix it up over her assertion that he’s recruiting people to become atheists. “In the preface I was stating my wildest dreams, but I hadn’t realized the extent to which atheists are in the closet waiting to be called out.” By the way, here’s his Web site.
9:11 a.m. – “Why is it so important?” Miller asks. “Truth matters,” Dawkins says, which brings up a constant struggle for me in matters of religion. Both sides of this equation say it’s “the truth.” But how we do know?
9:12 – Why does Dawkins choose to describe God as people’s “imaginary friend?” He says the claim of a universal power “who put things in motion” is an impingement on science.
Miller says the description of “imaginary friend” makes it sound “infantile.” Dawkins says it should.
9:17 a.m. “It’s not up to me to provide the evidence,” Dawkins says.
He says the idea that Jesus died for our sins is “obvious nonsense.” OK, where does this conversation go after that?
9:22 a.m. – Dawkins says believers mix doubt and belief inconsistently. “You have just suggested that somebody who begins by saying ‘I don’t know,’ then says ‘and I know Jesus was raised by the dead and born to a version…. It’s the Christians who say ‘beyond a doubt…'”
9:25 a.m. – “Why do you bother to call yourself a Christian instead of saying you believe in a higher power. He suggests it’s more intellectually honest to say one believes in a higher power but can’t be sure,” he says to a caller.
9:27 a.m. – A caller rejects the notion that beautiful things are a sign of God. “Why can’t they just be beautiful in and of themselves?” she says.
9:29 a.m. – There is growing evidence for a kind of universal morality which transcends different religious traditions.Things like The Golden Rule, are — if not universal — extremely widespread. There’s increasing evidence they’re part of our brain heritage.
9:30 a.m. – Caller: “We don’t all believe that there was a virgin birth etc., but those things aren’t required to believe in the message. You can’t lump all believers of God into the Christian fundamentalist camp.”
Dawkins, however, says mystery is something to be solved, not something to revel in.
9:33 a.m. – Says some mysteries will never be solved. Pressed on the question of what is “truth,” he says he’s criticizing the attitude that “I love mystery. You’re spoiling it for us.”
“Might it be an insolvable mystery?” Kerri asks.
9:35 a.m. -“I believe it’s worth working on,” he says. He says the answers may come from neuroscience and computers. “Computers are capable of feats of mimicry of mental process. We will have man-made computers that are conscious in the same way we are.”
9:41 a.m. Caller: “I’m sick of this nonsense called religion.” But says people who declare “God doesn’t exist” are as arrogant as those who say “God exists.”
“I am not certain there is no God,” Dawkins replies. “No scientist should say categorically, ‘there is no anything.’ You have to doubt everything and be open to evidence. There could be a supernatural being — I bet there is a superhuman being somewhere in the universe.”
9:46 a.m. Relays the story of the night P.Z. Myers got expelled from the Minneapolis screening of Expelled, a film about Creationism.
Here’s the NY Times version.
9:49 a.m. – Caller: What came before the Big Bang. Also relays a story about a near-death experience by a relative.
“I’m not a physicist so I can’t answer the question,” he said about the Big Bang. He says whatever came before is a big mystery and it’s not going to be helped “by postulating divine intelligence.”
9:51 a.m. – Kerri asks if Dawkins believes his convictions will be as strong on the day he dies?
I’m not convinced of anything. I can’t say categorically that there is no life after death. It seems implausible. Brains don’t survive death and they evolve over millions of years. He says it is implausible to say that when your brain dies, your spirit goes on.
Dawkins is speaking tonight at Northrup Auditorium at the University of Minnesota.
Audio of today’s interview will be available shortly.