#1366 - Richard Dawkins

Oct 21, 2019

Richard Dawkins, FRS FRSL is an English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and author. He is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, and was the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008. His latest book "Outgrowing God: A Beginner's Guide" is available now.

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my guest today I've been looking forward to this one for a very long time very difficult to get them on but I'm honored I have been a fan of his work for a long time he is an evolutionary biologist and an author just an amazing person please give it up for Richard Dawkins

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The Joe Rogan Experience Train by day Joe Rogan podcast by night all day

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all right here we go mr. Dawkins thank you very much for being here really appreciate thank you I'm a huge fan of your work and we have a new book out outgrowing God it when does it come out is it out now it is out it is not like this week right last week I think I read The God Delusion in preparation for the ski pole that microphone right up to your face just get it about a fist away from your face you have to move okay microphone move for you I'm a huge fan of your work and I always wanted to ask you if you you go so hard against religion and you

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for so long as there ever been a time where you've gotten fatigued from this we like I just leave this to somebody else well obviously not because I just fix other Watchmen it's not so hard as you think I mean you remember it as hard but actually if you read it again I think you'd find it was not as hard as you remember I didn't mean hard in a negative sense I mean you push your you okay you're so enthusiastic about your amethyst yes dick yes I'm also humorous I mean I'd like to think it's a funny book

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but a lot of people do think it's hard in the other sense and sometimes when they read it again they realize actually no it's more humorous it's not so not so edgy not so hard hitting as they think as they originally thought it was why I think that's probably because you had some interviews in the past we have talked to some fiercely religious people and you've had some cantankerous interactions with them I think maybe so they associate you with having this almost aggressively

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dick stance yes well it perhaps you're thinking better Riley out of not where I mean he's aggressive all right yeah and then the other way I did once had to tell him will you please stop interrupting me and let me talk and and so that might give this slight impression that I'm addressing it was that BBC documentary that you you had done or you're either done several the one where you had gone and interviewed a bunch of different religious people yes that was not BBC that was channel for which is the

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Marshall station and yes I interviewed Ted Haggard yes and a guy who ran a thing called hell not hellholes help he'll houses where they hate you they tried to care if I children I mean freak them out with horrible little play little playlist yeah the devil coming on with horns and glowing eyes and I actually participated in a reenactment of that play in Los Angeles back in the

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a a comedy reenactment Bill Maher was in it yes bunch of other comedians were in it and we read word for word the the script and we acted it out in front of a live audience so people would come through the hell house yes haunted house but instead it was people knew it was all comedians reading and they like is this really the words that they said it was so Preposterous that it actually without being a parody it actually played out like a common well when we filmed it we filmed them doing the play

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and then we fit the film me interviewing the perpetrator Michael somebody or other yeah and I said to him what's your target audience and he said 12 and I said really are you are you really serious that you liked it he said he'll is such a terrible place that anything I can do to persuade children not to sin and they must acknowledge acknowledge Jesus and so on is is worth it I thought that was a deeply immoral thing to say but I think

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he was sincere I would agree with you is it's it's very disturbing that that was a there's a great documentary on it as well for someone who wants to see like the thought process behind them creating this but one of the things I really enjoyed about The God Delusion is that you kind of outlined every single possible argument against atheism and then how to counter to it in advance like if you you know you you have a soft position look at chapter 1 if you look at

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this look at chapter 2 and you outline that in the preface before you got into it yes well I tried to be as persuasive as possible the new book out going God is sort of aimed at a younger audience and I like to think that could be read at any age but being aimed at a younger audience is bit shorter and perhaps a bit easier to follow I'm not sure why is it that you think that there are so many religions and that basically every

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all civilization throughout human history has had some sort of deity some sort of higher power it's amazing the way they split and Divergent Divergent Divergent says though they somehow can't get along with each other and maybe new leaders arise who have a leadership complex or something and want to find their own sector time and time again you have Breakaway religions Breakaway faiths I

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you know what the psychological reason for it is but they what I have noticed is that they usually hate the religion which is the closest to their own more than they do more distant ones and that has a certain biological ring to it too that was kind of makes sense to it to a biologist taking it diverging species we're almost seems like if you were studying human beings if you were something that was completely alien to our civilization our culture and you were looking at this this strange tendency to believe

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even something that there's no proof of and devote a massive amount of energy into defending that put it into your songs and put it into you know your Pledge of Allegiance and all these days which of course was not until the 1950s but all the different things that people have done in so many different cultures with in regards to religion it almost seems like a natural aspect of being a human being you are right that they put an enormous amount of energy and effort and expense and time

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and and cost in sharing some of the extreme sex which whip themselves with portable weapon actually bleed scar their own backs it's very very surprising to a biologist you do you think we would think that they would be more interested in surviving and reproducing but no there's something about religion that makes them go to extremes of costliness and I don't get it I must say do you I've thought about this so many times

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times do you think that it is in some way a counter to the sort of existential angst that comes from being a finite life form from being a finite a thinking conscious finite life form that's aware of its own demise it where it's coming so it has to formulate some purpose and some meaning and hope of an afterlife is yellow yes that is the purpose and meaning right yeah yes I suppose that's right yes I think that's that's right I can understand why people

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people might want to believe a priest who comes along and tells them you don't have to worry about death because you're going to survive it I'm less understanding of people who make up stories to comfort either themselves or other people I mean a made-up story should not be comforting I don't understand how a made-up story can be comforting of course if you make it up and persuade somebody else then they could find it comforting on the other hand is an afterlife really all that comforting when you think about half of them believe

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I got to go to hell so is anything but comforting and also even if you're not going to hell if you're going to have an eternity in heaven I mean sitting up sitting in in heaven for not just billions of years but trillions of years I mean these are these are time spans beyond our comprehension how unbelievably boring it would be well it though I mean I don't know I enjoyed life but if I had to live my life

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over and over again infinitely if I had an infinite number of this exact lives I don't know how I'd approach that in the moment I can enjoy it I could do is maybe 200 years but after that now I mean I think I think that eternity is what's frightening about death and Eternity is best spent under a local under a general anesthetic Hmm this is what's going to happen right Gonzo

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I'll kill the lights maybe yeah or maybe not have you had any experience with psychedelics oh no you have any interest in that I've been offered to be accompanied on the trip by a very nice woman friend yeah and I've never so far dead take her up on it how come

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I asked advice of a cousin of my father who just recently died who was a major expert on psychedelics and I think he was the one who introduced Aldous Huxley to mescaline for example and he judiciously advised against he said the horrors of a bad trip was so awful that he wouldn't he wouldn't advise somebody to go into it my friend who's offering me this this trip says it would be a

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a relatively low dose and she would take another load there so she could kind of accompany me yeah and stop me jumping out a window or anything well there's so many stories in so many ancient religions is seem to originate with the consumption of some sort of a psychedelic yes and you know there's many including gianmarco allegro's the sacred mushroom he's Jesus was a mushroom yes I mean you can see the connection if you were a primitive person with

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no access to science and you found some mushroom growing under a tree and consume didn't have this unbelievable experience you would assume that you've transcended this life and gone into this other realm where we're God exists I once thought that I would try a psychedelic when I was on my deathbed that's it but what if it was amazing and you're like I could have gotten so much done with this okay if I had maybe I'll try this out when I was 30 yes maybe they're right I I don't you know I don't think anybody should

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I'd do anything I mean I used to I used to encourage people to do things all the time now my thought is do whatever compels you whenever you feel like it but I would think that a person like yourself who has this sort of rigorous belief that the lights go out and then that's it I would think that that would be attractive to just at least dip your toes in yes yes well don't you think the lights go out I don't know you know I don't know I've had some pretty profound psychedelic experiences that make me wonder what

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what thoughts are and what Consciousness is and whether or not there's some way that it transcends when I wonder what Consciousness is but it's pretty clear that it's to do with brains and brains Decay and so I I wouldn't hold out much hope if I were you well you might be right out he might be well certainly Consciousness does have to do with brains and we know brain damaged severely perturbs Consciousness but there's some interaction with certain chemicals and that makes this experience far

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different than what it is when we're on the natch I know all right now still brains the Mmm Yeah still bright but that's it reductionist nothing wrong with reductionism nothing wrong with it and I'll say there is do you what is the the fiercest opposition that you've ever had to to your work

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fiercest almost cogent well uh let's try both fiercest meaning the most who has become the most angry at your work and most Podium Ted Haggard maybe that guy really yeah well he's such a Preposterous person for folks who don't know he was a guy who he was he was pretty anti-gay right and then it turned out he was smoking meth and having sex with gay prostitutes and you know

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the whole deal and which is whenever someone to me is ridiculously anti-gay I always assumed that their guy always assume well this guy's he's just trying to like divert divert attention yes well he was very hostile and

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in a very weird way it sold on television it was before his scandal

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oh yes you got a hold of him before the Scandal yeah yeah he was he was very hostile with you I remember that he was aggressive like Angry he almost tried to run us over in the in the car park after afterwards I think he didn't know who I was when he interviewed me and I think he went away afterwards and Googled me was their Google back that I don't think there was I think that's get Navigator without maybe they made it well yeah that's so he was the the fiercest in terms of his reaction yeah there

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I'll stay smiley face and and he looked at the fiercest yes yeah what does anybody had a good debate with you about it where they had some good points not good points no I mean I've had very amicable debates with religious people Bishops archbishop's and people like that Rabbi Chief to the chief Rabbi of Britain very amicable and the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams

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he's such a nice man and intelligent in the literal sense that he finishes your sentences for you and so he clearly understands exactly what you're trying to say gets there before you finish the sentence but then for some weird reason doesn't agree with it and then

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yeah that is that is the conundrum super intelligent people who are deeply religious and who believe everything everything from the resurrection to the Virgin Mary to everything I assumed that he would believe but possibly in the resurrection because they regard that as a kind of non-negotiable part what surprised me was that he turned out to believe in all the other Miracles as well which I thought sophisticated theologians just don't do I thought they

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I said oh that's just a metaphor or didn't really happen or that's not important just symbolic or something like that but he really believed believes in the whole lot what was his interpretation of things like death by adult for adultery and things along those didn't ask him about that I thought I simply don't know well what's fascinating to me is not just the old religions but really the young religions the young religions to as I've gotten older or more

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things like Mormonism and more particularly Scientology which is even more Preposterous probably the most Preposterous one that we have those are really interesting to me they are interesting but because they're so young that we can see how they grew up you've got ya actual process Mormonism I'm depressed by how successful it is actually thought I told you as well but Mormonism since we know Joseph Smith was a charlatan everything about him screams

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I'm charlatans and yet

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plenty of respectable people including presidential candidates men in suits appear to believe it in the case of I'm not discuss it in our growing God in addition to the Book of Mormon Joseph Smith purported to translate another book called The Book of Abraham which was in a different language as I'm ancient Egyptian language and he published his full translation of the book of Abraham which was he said was all about

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Abraham's J Joni to Egypt and lots of detail about Egypt and Abraham in Egypt and things the original manuscript was were destroyed in a fire in Chicago and so he was safe from anybody exposing his translation it was discovered that in some of these manuscripts are divided survived and they had not been destroyed and modern Scholars who actually knew the language

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including some moment Scholars translated it again a true translation had nothing whatever to do with Abraham or Egypt this is absolute cast-iron demonstration that Joseph Smith was a complete fake and charlatan this is fully documented and yet they go on believing that he was a prophet

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he was 14 to and he came up with it which is even more bizarre see ya eighteen twenty fourteen years old I didn't know that I was a little kid yeah just a boy with a fantastic imagination it sort of caught fire yes the Golden Plates which disappeared yeah the Seer Stone into a hat and it's just so strange to me that it persists but the people that practice the religion are so nice they are some of the

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his cult members I've ever met in my life yes I suppose so Mormons my face they're my favorite yeah okay absolutely my favorite even when they come on your doorstep and sort of they haven't okay if they did maybe I'll change my tune I'm also very interested in the Pepsi of the even more recent things like the cargo Cults of hmm the Pacific where again these actually arose in living memory and I was of the worship of John from in

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in some of the islands in the Pacific where you can see what happened hmm and this gives you an insight into what must have happened with Jesus where you know the gospels weren't written down until decades after Jesus death if he ever lived which he probably did and so having seen how easily the cargo Cults arose people who worship John from worship Prince Philip believe that cargo planes were sent

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the ancestors and would build dummy airfields with dummy control towers and radar dishes and dummy planes on the Airfield and things this is all within living memory mmm and something like that it just soak transparent that something like that went on in the early church well the Scientology story to me is the most bizarre because it was literally I mean if you wanted to have a crazy religion like what would be the most ridiculous really

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and for people to believe in well and he even announced he was going to do it I still believe it but if you're going to have the most ridiculous religion we would say well get a fiction author particularly bad one a bad science fiction author who walked around in a jacket with metals on that he gave himself and have that guy create a religion a guy who was really self-diagnosing his own psychological issues and trying to deal with him through this concept of Dianetics yeah I'm sure you read Lawrence Wright's book

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go ahead we read it but I mean I know the story the book is fantastic yes it's just so crazy it's so it's so strange that to this day people are clinging to it and it makes you wonder like what is it about these systems of belief that are so intrinsically attractive to people so uniquely a part of being a person these belief systems I think I guess it when the childhood indoctrination involved with in the case of Scientology some of the celebrities who joined it that's not childhood in the know

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and that's just share rank stupidity I think there's also an element of being a part of a tribe yes that especially the celebrity thing because I've met quite a few of them out here especially in the early days the 90s before the internet came along and sort of exposed a lot of the stuff and South Park before they came along and exposed it there was quite a few people that thought there was a career advantage to being a part of Scientology there was so many successful actors that were a part of Scientology and they were they seem to

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to be disciplined and focused and they were avoiding drugs and all the pitfalls of Hollywood Fame and stardom and they also seem to be helping each other that Hollywood directors who were also scientologists would look towards hiring scientologists producers and actors it kind of Freemasonry that yes yes there's some strange thing that we are all very attractive attracted to being a part of a tribe and being a part of

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even if the belief system is ridiculous if we are in a group that subscribes to this belief system it's very attractive to people it's a very important point and tribalism is a very important part of human human nature a very it very bad part I think yeah and but rewarding part as well I suppose so Steven Pinker you probably had him at some point he makes the point that so much of what we believe we humans generally believe is not about

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yes but is about is this part of my tribe right what does my tribe believe that yes and Jonathan haidt also makes the same point about Republicans and Democrats yes there's a fierce tribalism going on and it's accounts for so much of what people believe as opposed to actually looking at the evidence they Center for inquiry which my Foundation is just merged with is of course all about trying to get people off

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that sort of thing that of irrationality and to instead evaluate claims on the basis of evidence critically evaluate its scientific evidence but it's hard because people have other motives like emotion tribalism things like that where people find great comfort in these belief systems it gives them sort of I've often said that it gives him some sort of like a scaffolding for their just their structure of the world their ethics there more

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all's they can use religion as some sort of a mechanism to help them get by something that they can climb on to ease some of the confusion of the unknown show that's true but I don't understand why anybody therefore thinks therefore the religion is true why would you think that because it provides you with a scaffold you couldn't climb on that makes it true I could understand you erecting a scaffold that was say gymnastics

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or a certain diet or something like that but a belief about the universe that's either going to be true or not and it doesn't make it true just because it's comforting or provides you with a scaffold to climb on well it's almost like it's a spiritual system like a placebo effect like a spiritual placebo effect and by believing that this is true it gives you this comfort and allows you to condense your thoughts into a

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better path the placebo effect of course is very real and yeah and doctors know about it but did you know that the placebo effect works even if the patient is told it's a placebo yes in that I don't get I mean that credible incredible isn't yeah it's very strange well it's sometimes people doing things and knowing that they're doing things gives them this sort of feeling of momentum of accomplishment of of progress and I think so many people are just so adrift and don't

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Focus that even just telling them hey we're going to you're going to be a part of this program and it's programmed to treat XY disease whatever it is and here's this thing like just just focusing on it and that I think the main reason why so many people believe in Homeopathy which not only doesn't work but cannot work is the placebo effect then they they will it's part of they're going to get better anyway of course but it's also the placebo effect that homeopathic I would say dr. homeopathic practitioner yeah gives them

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nonsensical piece of medicine and they believe it's we're going to work and so it does and and so the placebo effect is important the CFI Center for inquiry has actually got a lawsuit going on at the moment against pharmaceutical shops selling homeopathic remedies alongside genuine ones we can't stop them actually selling homeopathic remedies what we can try and do is stop them putting them on the same Shelf

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as though there's no difference but between them but my colleague Nick Humphrey who was a psychologist very insightful one things you could actually even justify Homeopathy on the grounds that homeopathic practitioners are allowed to prescribe placebos they call them homeopathic but they are placebos whereas real doctors are not allowed to to describe they used to real doctors who subscribe to see was all the time but they're now no longer allowed to because it violates

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women rights but homeopaths are allowed to bizarrely because they don't call them placebos if they did they wouldn't be allowed to well I have a similar thought about Chiropractic work that chiropractors you know do relieve pain from some for some people but there's no reason why it works I would not be totally surprised if it worked I don't have looked into it enough I would absolutely be surprised if Homeopathy works it cannot work because there's no active ingredient I can't Walter wait to tell you the story of

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chiropractic medicine that it was created by a guy who is a magnetic healer it was murdered by his own son and his son took over the business and started saying that it can cure everything from leukemia at a heart disease every all by manipulating the spine yes it was made done in the 1800s and there's no science behind it at all but yet so many people have found pain relief and chiropractors today it's weird to lump them all in together but many chiropractors today do do good work because they incorporate live

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legitimate modalities in terms of like Rehabilitation really like cold laser and all these different massage remedies and all these different things that actually physically work I know a woman who is a horse chiropractor she does oh Christ but I wouldn't but I'm trying to make is that whereas it's an empirical question whether whether chiropractic works in the case of Homeopathy it cannot work right because the dilution is such that the there's nothing there physically

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right there's no chemical reason one of the things they well they say it can work because water has a memory but if they could prove that water has a memory they'd get The Nobel Prize for physics and they're not going to one of the things that I really enjoyed about your book was when you explain to people that everyone who practices a religion is an atheist you're just an atheist in regards to Zeus or Paulo 999 other gods yes and that that

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that's a home run yeah but this Arc is because of just go one God further yes yeah but that really is a home run because this is this concept of you know I me and my friends jokingly what would always say praise Odin when anything would happen it was a pretty good oh cool yes we say praise Odin and I started doing it online and people really got into saying praise Odin about certain things rather like that yes some people get mad at me they actually got mad that I was you're mocking Christianity by saying pretty close to you are

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why not listen even really I was just having fun yes I was having fun because Odin seem like a cool God you know it's a old school God I mean it's the god of the Vikings Douglas Adams fresh and lovely book called The Long Dark teatime of the Soul which had in which the Norse gods are part of it and Odin in that in that book has got old and senile and he's just lies in bed all the time and asking for clean sheets every day and and Thor is out

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they're doing Mischief with his great hammer and that one over one point Odin sees gets thought super glued to the floor and things as wonderful Story the vast number of different religions they mean the incredible number I mean how many how many actual religions are there Austin's thousand yes I did I forget how many thousand and many of them share similar belief systems and it's really interesting when you see how they're like you know the Noah's Ark

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story is very similar to The Epic of Gilgamesh and there's so many that you see like oh they probably told this to someone else and these people moved and goes yeah it's traveled on and it's it's just a amazing that that concept is alien to people when I was a boy I was raised Catholic and I had an aunt who was Jewish and my uncle married my aunt and he had a convert to Judaism and it was like a big deal in the family everybody we talked about it and it's there was no anger everybody

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I loved my aunt she's great lady but it was just strange that he was converting to the sides or other religion I remember I was five years old when this was going on and I was like wait maybe what do you mean another religion yes classic what's going on yes and they're like oh she's Jewish I go what what does that mean what do you mean she's Jewish yes and they had explained it to me yes like okay but she believes in God like yeah that they believe in God okay so why is it a different thing well they believed Jesus was a different kind of a thing it was they don't they don't necessarily

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believe use the guy that we think he was but date but if it's been Hindu they'd have had to explain to they believe in hundreds of God Vishnu and yes yes yeah and then we'd have to go way back yeah it's just when you first hear that I mean that was put probably put the first seeds of doubt in my head when I was a young boy when I was like well there's more than one like I'll never forget that moment because we're all sitting around the dinner table and I was just a little kid and everything what do we do you mean there's another one

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I think that's a very powerful way of getting to Children is to just simply she tell them that yes tell him nothing but facts you're not indulge anything right you just telling them there are lots of different religions and Hindus believe in hundreds of gods and Jews will even one God and was leaving one God and they believe in Jesus and just lay out all the different religions that would be a very good educational exercise has there ever been a civilization that

► 00:38:11

existed without belief in a higher power I don't think that has no of course there are plenty of individuals who educated to do not believe in a higher power I think probably true to say that every every Anthropologist might contain might deny them and there might be some tribe that doesn't but I suspect they all do well there's been some tribes that worshipped animals and particularly oh yeah and also they survived off of yes yeah and and and and River gods and thunder gods and

► 00:38:41

and and moon gods and Sun gods and far gods and things yes when you look at human civilization and you go back to the origins of religion and you look towards the future do you envision a time where humanity is free of what you would consider irrational belief systems our belief systems are not based on fact I do I'm not sure it'll come soon but I do and I look forward to that time of course I think we're moving in the right direction and the figures bear that out

► 00:39:12

in Even In America which is Office of the scale of Western civilization's even in America the number of people who now subscribe to a religion is dropping dramatically and the number who say they have no religion is now about 25% that's a lot that is a deal and that compares to any one particular Christian denomination and yet

► 00:39:40

politically that group The the nuns the note the no beliefs have no Lobby they have no no powerful pressure group so politicians will go out there and suck up to I don't know the Irish Lobby the Polish lot Lobby the Jewish Lobby the Catholic Lobby etc for the atheist Lobby hasn't got his act together wasn't it only just now beginning to get his act together well politically I think people are terrified of the concept because it's such a such a

► 00:40:10

Long Branch to go out on one of the things you brought up in The God Delusion was the willingness of people to vote for a gay candidate for president a black candidate for president a woman candidate for president but then an atheist which is why I believe 40% they think they think that you've got to have a belief in some kind of higher power in order to be moral but the weird thing is that it doesn't have to be the same higher power as the one you believe in anyone will do right as long as

► 00:40:40

as long as there is one but if you don't believe in a higher power you must be amoral you and that of is totally ridiculous when you think about the horrible immorality of for example the both the Bible and the Koran which are which are horrific in the sense that if you believe if you actually got your morals if you got your moral values from the Old Testament or the Quran and they share them a great deal of course you would be stoning adulterers

► 00:41:10

trans is to death and stoning people to death for breaking the Sabbath and doing sacrifices human sacrifices and animal sacrifices all sorts of horrible things we've caused do go on now in Islamic countries especially gay people getting thrown off high buildings and women being the headed for the crime of being seen with a man not their husband and that kind of thing so that that we could see what you get when you

► 00:41:40

you get your morality from an abrahamic scripture and yet there are still people in this country who say you cannot be moral unless you believe in a higher power what do you think let's extract this this concept of a higher power let's let's get rid of it let's get rid of where where do you think people get their morals in their ethics from and that's a profound a difficult question we clearly don't get them from religion and yet we get

► 00:42:10

from somewhere and you can demonstrate that by the fact that the moral values of any particular Century a markedly different from those of other centuries even decades so in the 21st century we here now have moral values which are really significantly different from a hundred years ago or 200 years ago 300 years ago and

► 00:42:37

within any one of those centuries you could take people who are in the Vanguard of moral progress for example in the 19th century Abraham Lincoln Charles Darwin th Huxley would have been on the liberal Progressive end of the spectrum and other people to be on the opposite end but even Abraham Lincoln for example

► 00:43:02

made a speech for I quoted in our growing God in which he said of course nobody would seriously think that black people are the equal of white people nobody would seriously say that black people should be allowed to vote or should be allowed to marry white people this is Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves right and was as I say in the Forefront of progressive thought Charles Darwin again was in favor of freeing the slaves he was passionately anti-slavery but he too

► 00:43:32

I thought that there was no question about black people being equal of white people they obviously weren't and Huxley Thomas Huxley again Darwin's Bulldog thought the same way now those people were at the at the Forefront as I say today they would still be in the Forefront and they would be horrified to look back on what they said mmm in the 19th century well something is changing as the centuries go by I in our growing God

► 00:44:03

call it something in the air which of course doesn't explain anything but what I mean by that is that it's not literally hovering in the air but it's a concussion it's a can't collection of oh conversations between people dinner party conversations parliamentary decisions Congressional debates judicial Decisions by judges juries newspaper articles journalism

► 00:44:32

all these things together conspire together to produce something in the air something that defines a given Century or maybe even a given decade with the moral values of that of that decade the knowledge base which is just so Superior today in terms of what the general public has access to in terms of what we understand about human beings it's just different than it was back then and it

► 00:45:02

ten used to be different and now with the internet we have so much more access to these conversations it's not just about being a dinner table with the right people you can watch YouTube videos for myself debating religious Scholars or so that so the that that progress of something in the air as well as it were take on an accelerated Pace because of the internet yeah and I think that's a very hopeful sign of course the internet also can be used for the opposite purpose but the I think there's a kind of a symmetry there because especially

► 00:45:32

if you look at the United areas of the world like Afghanistan and Pakistan where until recently the idea of being an atheist was simply inconceivable was off the radar they didn't even consider it wasn't something that they thought was possible

► 00:45:50

now they do because they got the internet and we've got a project within CFI of downloading free of charge as PDFs several of my books including The God Delusion and will be outgrowing God as well and these are being downloaded by large numbers of people the first PDF download of the Arabic edition of The God Delusion was downloaded 13 million times Arabic Edition 14 million times so now

► 00:46:20

they are being exposed to the possibility of atheism with wasn't a positive of course there's still be the internet is also exposing them to Islamic propaganda but they've had that all along from imams mullahs and and their madrasa schools but now they've got they've got it coming the other way as well and I have great hope that the internet will Mark a turning point do you think that people need a structure and is it possible to give them a secular structure that mimics

► 00:46:50

certainly some sort of a community aspect yeah they just partially I don't feel that very strongly myself but I'm aware that many other people do and there are people who are interested in starting up sort of atheistic or secular meetup groups on Sundays and lectures yeah My worry is that that will become a sex cult oh yeah that always seems to have someone who gets in control who wants up having as religious cults yeah they do I mean there's

► 00:47:20

extraordinary stories that awful man what was he called who ended up taking his followers to a South American jungle and Jim Jones Jim Jones Diana and I mean he had this gigantic Harem of all mo the young women they always do yes Waco he can one that they'll do yes yeah well okay I mean I don't think that's happening so far with the secular not the worry is that once someone gets into position of being

► 00:47:50

the person who gets to speak the alpha the the one who's on the you know on the stage addressing people and giving them the doctrine that he becomes far too attractive for his own good well that that would not surprise any naive darwinian would say what another do you think do become the dominant chimpanzee becomes dominant for right that's what it's all about exactly there's got to be a way to avoid that though I mean maybe maybe the

► 00:48:20

exposing nature of the internet would be the the thing that the the actual yes thing that mitigates yeah I'm not personally that interested in meetup groups and community centers and things I'd rather people are mean I all I get really care about his scientific truth and and that's what I'm trying to propagate that's very admirable but I think for some people it represents bonding of the community and you could have concerts and lectures and book clubs and I think when they get together and they talk about all the values

► 00:48:50

Jesus proposed if Jesus is the higher power it gives them this sort of again moral scaffolding yes their life yes well Jesus would probably on the hill provide a fairly good moral scaffolding not totally but right he was ahead of his time anyway do you see you do think he was a real person

► 00:49:10

most of the scholars I've talked to say he probably was the evidence is not great of course but I think I don't think it's that big a deal actually because he I mean a Wandering preacher called yes you already how she what would it not be surprising I mean it's a common name were and there are plenty of rock wandering preachers what would be very surprising would be if he raised Lazarus from the dead and wounded

► 00:49:40

we'll turn turn water into wine at that of course didn't did not happen well why couldn't people just drink water either why do they have to drink wine he's trying to get people drunk like what's up that's a separate question but I mean I think it was the point I'm making is that it's a very big difference as they did he exists and maybe he did maybe didn't who cares really or as that's very different from saying that a miracle worker right who really did do Miracles rather than Conjuring tricks existed yes what was

► 00:50:10

is the you said that you wrote this it's a beginner's guide outgrowing god well it's for young people I'd rigidly wanted to write a book for the young children and Publishers didn't want to do that they so they kept pushing the age range up and so it it stabilized at about 15 but I think 14 well what the first chapter has been read by 110 year old might my acquaintance he loved it

► 00:50:41

and I think but really I'm hoping it'll be read by people of all ages there's one thing that does happen to some people that are indoctrinated very young that the experience is so so negative to them that they were bowel and they Rebel and then they seek out other ways of thinking and then you find them eventually abandoning them religion there's a woman named Megan Phelps do you know she has I think I do

► 00:51:10

ooh she's Fred Phelps from the yeah yeah yeah she was his granddaughter and yes amazing woman yeah she wound up communicating with people through all things Twitter yes and met her husband she rebelled against my father Yes I got a brother yeah she wanted leaving the church and wound up realizing that she was trapped in some sort of a Christian cult and a very hateful one yes they're the God hates fags be exactly and and the same was true

► 00:51:40

of Nate Phelps who was Fred Phelps his son mmm and he also escaped he escaped on his 18th birthday wow and became an atheist and and became I think he's actually spoken at some of our conferences from time to time

► 00:51:57

yeah there's there's hope in that yes when there is it's just when I like when people cans and she I've had her on the podcast she's such a unique woman and she's so kind and she's so thoughtful and intelligent it's hard to believe that she's only been out of this cult for a few years me Twitter's only been around for why wasn't she really invited thing right yeah why wasn't she ruined by and why she is so intelligent what how did she exists in that structure while being so intelligent

► 00:52:27

I agree but of course you I feel the same way about apparently intelligent people who believe obvious nonsense yeah and it's it's it's hard to understand it seems to be a part of what we are though it seems to be a part of what human beings are visiting exists in so many different civilizations yes but decreasing lie number decreasing numbers of actual individuals right and in places like Holland and scan

► 00:52:57

the naevia hardly anybody is religious really what are the numbers that apart from immigrant Muslims who still are but but mum them I don't know that their pathetically small is there any evidence that that is reaching the Muslim world as well and that people are well as I was saying the downloads of my books have been encouraging we have this thing called CFI has a thing called the translation project which is specifically in

► 00:53:27

just do that in order to take my books and we hope other people's folks as well and put them into PDFs and then have them available for free download and I hear evidence from Iran from Egypt from Saudi Arabia from individuals who say yes there's now a quite a substantial ground swell of anti-religious anti-islamic opinion and I think is going to increase and I'm really

► 00:53:57

encouraged by that one of the things about being Muslim in my eyes is very similar to being Jewish is that Jewish people there it's there are many Jewish people that are not religious but they are Jewish like I have a very good friend my friend Ari he is he's Jewish but he is an atheist and it's he identifies with being a Jewish person he has Jewish relatives his father is a holocaust Survivor but he looks at it

► 00:54:28

thing that he's a part of like a great long tradition that he's a part of but he doesn't observe now I understand that I think especially for it people of Jewish Heritage who have relatives killed in the Holocaust I think it could be a matter of kind of loyalty to their murdered relatives mmm I could easily get that and I think that there are probably

► 00:54:53

cultural Muslims who probably not the same degree of loyalty but I don't think of themselves as Muslims I suppose I meant cultural Anglican in the way I mean I sort of you know I can sing the hymns and live my family observes Christmas and he does just a result away when someone sneezes do you say bless you I never did say bless you actually but what did you say I know I don't say anything but I've no objection to saying

► 00:55:23

title because that was religious but not religious but they my college at Oxford had a fellow who was a famous philosopher famous atheist AJ are and he when he was senior fellow he used to say grace at dinner and when he was asked why he said I will not utter falsehood but I've no objection to uttering meaningless statements that's what I feel now when you set out to write this book and write it for young people how did you structure it

► 00:55:53

in your mind did you use did you address did you think of it as addressing young people with questions that are trying to talk yes it's in two halves the first half is debunking God it begins with what we were talking about earlier this year number of different gods and then moves on to the Bible and how unreliable source of information it is and both the Old Testament and the New Testament I get a chapter each and then there's a couple of chapters on morality and why you don't

► 00:56:23

what not only do not need religion to be moral you better not have religion if you want to be moral and then the second half of the book is about science because I think that one of the possibly the major reason people still cling to religion is a belief that the world is so complicated especially the living world is so complicated that it cannot be explained by purely

► 00:56:53

and if it means and so I've set out to disabuse them of that and to show how even the most radically complicated and beautiful and elegant pieces of animal design can be and are explained by science so that's most of the second half that's a weird one right the argument that it's too complicated for it to not be of the Divine well it's I'm not sure it's weird it's kind of understandable until you

► 00:57:23

about it for a bit because complicated things don't just happen complicated things like these cameras and just computer and things like that they if we all know they had to have an engineer designed them and factories to build them and they're very very improbable things to testicle e improbable the components of a computer or a camera if you jumble the up at random they wouldn't work obviously so it's

► 00:57:53

kind of pardonable that people should think there must have been a designer then you think a bit further and you realize that the designer himself would need just the same kind of explanation therefore the designer is not an explanation that flies and when philosophers before Darwin philosophers like Hume realized that but didn't have anything to put in its place Darwin came along and gave them that which you need to put

► 00:58:23

place and humid of Love Darwin if only he'd lived long enough to to meet him to to be decide years so I think we have to have sympathy for people who think that complexity must mean design but nowadays we know better and that's what the second half of our growing God is about who designed the designer that is that that's the big conundrum for people who believe in God yes it is and they shrug it off there's a oh well he

► 00:58:53

it did need a designer he was always there or but my favorite one is and why did he wait until six thousand I know yes I know exactly I thought that's even better his favorite favorite one we have in the center for inquiry a program it actually came over from the Richard Dawkins Foundation when we merged called ties the teacher Institute for evolutionary science which is teaching teachers how to teach Evolution because Middle School teachers in this country of

► 00:59:23

early are not don't have science degrees and they don't really know how to counter how to combat the pushback that they get from children and parents and school boards and things specifically against Evolution and so we are teaching teachers how to teach Evolution I mean we run workshops in I run one in every state of the union and that I think is one of the that's one of the projects of CF

► 00:59:53

by which is closest to my heart so back to this book sorry folks we little bit of technical difficulty what was your motivation for this you were just trying to figure out a way to sort of cut off these these Notions at the runes and yes I mean I'm worried about childhood indoctrination and the fact that

► 01:00:14

people who are religious almost certainly adopt the religion of their parents and grandparents and great grandparents and so we've got a kind of pseudo genetic inheritance going on and I really hate that I mean that that's wicked that's that's indoctrination of children so I've always wanted to try to break that chain

► 01:00:35

going down the generations so I've always wanted to write a book for young people and of course it's highly necessary when you see the enormous and pernicious influence of fundamentalist religion especially in this country actually yes now the science aspect of it this is I mean obviously when you're talking about the science of evolutionary biology and natural selection and random mutations and all these different things that lead to a thing becoming human being over the course of

► 01:01:04

millions of years it's such a complex idea for people to grasp how is it how do you condense it and sort of simplify the path and I introduced them to the works of these great scientists that have sort of established these these ideas for them it's actually a very simple idea but it plays out in very complex ways and I think the main problem from a didactic point of view

► 01:01:34

you is that the results are so complex that it's hard to believe that anything so simple as natural selection non-random selection of randomly varying genes could really be responsible for producing something as complicated as a human body and so it's a matter of

► 01:01:59

getting around beating that barrier of incredulity if the idea was more complex in a way it might be easier that's the fact that the ideas are simple I think that may be why it took so long for a Darwin to come on the scene when you think about it the middle of the 19th century is rather late 200 years after Newton did the face of it much cleverer things and yet it was another two

► 01:02:28

four years after Newton before Darwin came along I think the reason for that is that the idea is just too simple it's always ridiculously simple too

► 01:02:40

be big enough to achieve the feat of explaining the complexity of any part of an animal really don't know but let alone a whole animal is there any other really examples that you point to in nature where observable evolution is occurring because there have been some where we've seen observable Evolution over the course of you know the last yes I mean David himself made great play of domestication which

► 01:03:10

very fast and which is occurred in historical times a we we can see how wolves have been changed into Pekingese and poodles and Labradors and spaniels and and that's a very very major change to have occurred in only a couple of thousand a few thousand years and we see the same with cabbages and with roses and with horses and all sorts of other things that's artificial selection

► 01:03:40

they're not natural selection everybody knew about artificial selection of course farmers and gardeners wood pigeon fanciers all knew about it Darwin's great Insight was two shits share you don't need a human selector you don't need a human reader to do the transformation from Wolf to pump Pomeranian nature does it for you non-random survival is the equivalent of a human reader doing the breed

► 01:04:12

so that's what dot what Darwin did and as for examples of natural selection we do have some the famous peppered moths in Britain is one of them mosquitoes I think in the explain the peppered moth to be yes Peppa interesting peppered moths is the this is a moss called based on Battle area which is

► 01:04:35

Liz on tree bark it's on tree buggers perfectly camouflaged looks like tree bark so it's light colored and then the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries caused the woods around industrial areas like Manchester and Birmingham to become blackened and so the moth stood out they became conspicuous and they were picked off by birds but mutant moths were black

► 01:05:05

and the mutant black moths were not picked off by birds and so what happened was that the percentage of black moths in the populations around industrial centers like Birmingham Manchester it became much more numerous and the light colored ones became almost extinct in those areas but at the same time the light-colored moths in rural areas far from industrial pollution

► 01:05:33

like Devin and Somerset stayed with the are their original original color and this was worked out beautifully by a by a battle Oxford actually called Bernard kettlewell and and he showed you actually went and sampled in these different areas and also did experiments showing birds actually picking off light-colored mouth seemed dark areas and and vice versa

► 01:06:02

that's one that we can trace that we can trace yes because the Industrial Revolution was only a couple of hundred years ago

► 01:06:09

so that's an excellent example for people to see like this happens look at this over 500,000 years look at this over 10,000 years me this is this is what happens this is how random selection well this one happened over only 100 years or 200 years but that this is how a human being came to be that this same process yes that's right and the the creation is don't like the peppered moth story they say oh well that's just one gene they when they they try to say that the

► 01:06:39

same process will not give rise to major changes like from reptiles two birds or mammals also but it just is the same process over a much much longer period in what can be achieved in a couple of hundred years is more what can be achieved in a couple of thousand years is Wolf to Pekingese what can be achieved in a couple of million years is

► 01:07:09

Australopithecus to Homo sapiens what can be achieved in a hundred million years is shrewd human and a thousand million years would be bacterium to to human well maybe not maybe 2,000 million years but it's just a it when you live in the present and you're thinking of yourself and you're thinking of biological life it's it's hard for a person to see things on those scales which is one of the reasons why I think for many people that aren't

► 01:07:39

educated in these these sort of subjects to buy into this concept of of some sort of intelligent design yes well time scales are we have no concept of millions of years we can we could just about cope with and even thousands of years even going back to the ancient Egyptians we get a kind of free soul of all I didn't want it what it was like what the Epic of Gilgamesh what was it like then that's enough

► 01:08:09

nothing compared to Eeveelution retirement just know it's not even yesterday it's a couple of minutes ago it's ridiculously short time well you have a hard out at four o'clock in the time has come so I want to thank you for being here and I want to thank you for your commitment over the years to educating people and dis you have an amazing amount of endurance for this stuff and because of that a lot of people have shifted their ideas and gravitate toward science it's been a pleasure thank you very much thank you very much Richard Dawkins ladies and gentlemen buh-bye

► 01:08:40

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