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Richard Dawkins is Playboy’s September interview

Here. Longish.

Doubtless, Dawkins’ comments on why keeping a mistress and lying about it are okay were meant to tie in.

The Playboy interviewer, Chip Rowe, is a total rollover groupie; he endorses rather than challenging his subject, but what would you expect?

Excerpt:

PLAYBOY: You’ve had a lot of fun deconstructing the idea of the intelligent designer. You point out that God made a cheetah fast enough to catch a gazelle and a gazelle fast enough to outrun a cheetah -

DAWKINS: Yes. Is God a sadist?

PLAYBOY: And bad design such as the fact we breathe and eat through the same tube, making it easy to choke to death.

DAWKINS: Or the laryngeal nerve, which loops around an artery in the chest and then goes back up to the larynx.

PLAYBOY: Not very efficient.

DAWKINS: Not in a giraffe, anyway.

From page 2:

PLAYBOY: What is your view of Jesus?

DAWKINS: The evidence he existed is surprisingly shaky. The earliest books in the New Testament to be written were the Epistles, not the Gospels. It’s almost as though Saint Paul and others who wrote the Epistles weren’t that interested in whether Jesus was real. Even if he’s fictional, whoever wrote his lines was ahead of his time in terms of moral philosophy.

PLAYBOY: You’ve read the Bible.

DAWKINS: I haven’t read it all, but my knowledge of the Bible is a lot better than most fundamentalist Christians’.

[Note: Part of the part Dawkins might not have read must be Paul’s spelling out for early Christians that Jesus not only lived but died, and was raised from the dead as a matter of fact, leaving no room for an orthodox “symbolic” interpretation: And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (1 Cor 15:14) See what we mean by “rollover groupie”? Anyone could have found that out and challenged him on it.]

On Stephen Jay Gould’s “non-overlapping magisteria,” beloved of Christians for Darwin:

DAWKINS: That’s pure politics. Gould was trying to win battles in the creation-evolution debate by saying to religious people, “You don’t have to worry. Evolution is religion-friendly.” And the only way he could think to do that was to say they occupy separate domains. But he overgenerously handed the domains of morals and fundamental questions to religion, which is the last thing you should do. Science cannot at present—maybe never—answer the deep questions about existence and the origins of the fundamental laws of nature. But what on earth makes you think religion can? If science can’t provide an answer, nothing can.

On National Center for Science Education’s (the US Darwin in the schools lobby’s) strategy:

PLAYBOY: Some scientists say that you should stop talking about atheism because it muddies the waters in the debate over evolution.

DAWKINS: If what you’re trying to do is win the tactical battle in U.S. schools, you’re better off lying and saying evolution is religion-friendly. I don’t wish to condemn people who lie for tactical reasons, but I don’t want to do that. For me, this is only a skirmish in the larger war against irrationality.

[Note: When we say those things, people think we are making it up. This should, but of course won’t remove all doubt. Too many Templeton grants are at stake ....]

From page 3: On arresting the Pope,

PLAYBOY: Do you believe, as Christopher Hitchens did, that the pope should be arrested?

DAWKINS: Hitchens wrote me suggesting we should arrest him, but we soon gave up on the idea of literally making a citizen’s arrest by creeping up with handcuffs or something. Instead we asked Geoffrey Robertson, a distinguished human rights lawyer, to speak about the legal case against the pope for covering up pedophilia. He also looked at the alleged immunity of the pope from prosecution as the head of a state, calling into question the notion of the Vatican as a legitimate sovereign state. I responded to the pope’s uncalled-for truculence when he landed in Edinburgh. The first thing he said was to blame atheists for Hitler. Although I don’t blame the pope for being a member of the Hitler Youth, as he was very young, I felt this was pretty cheeky, really. If I were him I’d keep my head down over Hitler.

[Note: Dawkins claims earlier that Hitler was a Roman Catholic; presumably he means by birth; no surprise, as he was born in Austria. To the extent that Hitler espoused any clear creed, it was not a theistic one. As for the “citizen’s arrest” suggestion, it’s like we said before: The concern about new atheism is not that it is in conflict with traditional religions/philosophies, but that it is in conflict with liberal democracy and civil society.]

From p. 4: Some sense of the quality of the world famous atheist’s thinking habits can be gained:

DAWKINS: Of course there are gaps; fossilization is a rare event. But if we didn’t have a single fossil, the evidence for evolution would be absolutely secure because of comparative anatomy, comparative biochemistry, geographical distribution. The gap before the Cambrian explosion is interesting because it’s a big one. But if you think about it, there are major groups of animals that have no fossils. For example, today we saw in the natural history museum an almost microscopic creature called a tardigrade. They don’t fossilize because they’re soft. Presumably before the Cambrian, most of the ancestors of the Cambrian creatures were soft and small.

PLAYBOY: How do we know they existed if there are no fossils?

DAWKINS: That’s not quite the right question, is it? Their descendants existed in the Cambrian, so unless you seriously think they were created in the Cambrian, they must have existed. You may say that’s not evidence, and I’m saying you could say the same of any soft creature for which we have no fossils. How do we know it wasn’t created in 1800? It doesn’t make sense.

[If, indeed, we “didn’t have a single fossil,” the whole edifice would be a theory only and lack any reference to physical reality. It would be proper to ask, how can we know that this theory is correct, if we find no fossils? Obviously, we should find them. It is somewhat like being certain, for good reasons, that Schmeazle murdered Schmoe, but not able to place him at the scene of the crime at the time in question. Great theory, but no case.

Unless you are Dawkins. Not finding soft-bodied fossils is hardly the same thing. Notice that, once again, the Playboy interviewer just rolls over and moves on.]

The interview has the feel of an interview with the dictator of a rundown republic somewhere, by the social editor for the state media. So the main question it raises is, what if the interviewer had asked Dawkins some questions that were not just pushbuttons for his talking points? We can think of a few, but maybe our readers should “Chip” in first:

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11 Responses to Richard Dawkins is Playboy’s September interview

  1. Dawkins claiming to understand the Bible? Sketchy evidence over whether Jesus Christ existed? I propose we have him committed before he hurts himself (or someone else) further.

  2. The “bad design” argument always amazes me. Dawkins ought to know, and probably does know, that he is using metaphysical speculation to support his position. Further, it is very naive argument. It is akin to me looking at a 747 painted pink and stating that it couldn’t possibly have been designed since it wasn’t painted a more “optimal” color for airplanes such as white. Dawkins couldn’t possibly know what an Intelligent Designer had in mind when he crafted LIFE. For a representative of the human race who has not even taken a whiff of what makes living things alive, it is the height of ignorance and arrogance to throw out such speculation.

  3. News:

    Now we know just how little homework Mr Dawkins does before holding forth:

    PLAYBOY: What is your view of Jesus?

    DAWKINS: The evidence he existed is surprisingly shaky. The earliest books in the New Testament to be written were the Epistles [--> c. 50 - 65 for most, including the excerpt of the official testimony in 1 Cor 15:1 - 11 that traces to c 35 - 38], not the Gospels [~ in the main c. 55 - 65 (Lk is almost certainly based on research and writing done 57 - 62 and Mk is used as one of the reliable sources), with John c 90 - 95]. It’s almost as though Saint Paul and others who wrote the Epistles weren’t that interested in whether Jesus was real. [--> Please read 1 cor 15:1 - 11 on what is of FIRST importance, then onward on what Paul had to say about the importance of on the ground fact, not to mention the overall context of standing up for the truth int eh teeth of threats and loss of life at the hands of hostile authorities, cf Ac 3 - 4 for instance] Even if he’s fictional, whoever wrote his lines was ahead of his time in terms of moral philosophy. [--> CRD apparently cannot bring himself to accept that the best explanation for a Jesus movement and a Jesus teaching like that, in such an era, is a Jesus, who came "not to overthrow the Law and the prophets, but to fulfill them." His almost Gnostic dichotomising of OT and NT is revealing]

    THAT is how he treats eyewitness lifetime record of a significant public individual who founded a movement that possibly by c. 49 and for sure by 64 AD was making waves in the capital of the Roman Empire.

    Such tells us all we need to know about sobriety in handling evidence, on his part.

    None of it good.

    KF

  4. Wow,…

    Well now Im going to buy the mag issue just to read the articles! no Really! :)

  5. Dawkins is so absurd it is incredible. It is painful to watch him opine on this stuff. The poor readers’ IQ’s have taken a dive just from being exposed to his interview.

    Coincidentally, we’ve been discussing the bad design issue in detail on another thread recently. Dawkins is almost certainly aware — after many years of being exposed to the issues — that the argument against overall design by pointing to bad design is invalid. Surely he can’t still be so clueless as to be putting forth a sincere argument? No, the unfortunate conclusion is that he is being intentionally deceiptful.

    But, hey, he’s sure made a lot of money peddling this drivel. Not about to change his tune at this point. Nope, just keep beating the same old drum and picking up new adherents. After all, there’s one born every minute . . .

  6. On March 30/04 Dr. Paul Maier (recently retired Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University) said on the 100 Huntley Street telecast:

    “And you realize that 99.9% of scholars across the world will acknowledge that Jesus is an historical person. They may not say that Jesus is the Son of God, but they will say there was an historical figure named Jesus of Nazareth. But Tom [Harpur] has very grave doubts about this, so he claims. Now that floored me right there. Because, we have copious evidence for Jesus’ existence. If you don’t like the gospels, go to the Roman historian, Tacitus, who talks about the great fire of Rome and how Nero got blamed for it. To save himself, he blames the Christians. This Roman historian says that they are named for a Christus, who was crucified by one of our governors, Pontius Pilate. What more do you need? That quote alone would establish the historicity of Jesus. Suetonius mentions Christ in connection with the riot of those for or against Jesus across the Tiber. Pliny, the younger, Governor of Asia Minor, says that these Christians get up on Sunday morning and sing hymns to Christ as to a God. The Jewish rabbinic traditions mention Jesus of Nazareth in their own language. Whatmore do we need of witnesses? Josephus mentions Jesus twice.
    I want to point out that Christian faith is based upon fact and not on fiction. The problem nowadays is that so many people are trying to turn fact into fiction.”

    And from April 2011:

    Easter Discussion — Dr. Paul Maier — 1/2

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBmAWwpZqXk

    Easter Discussion — Dr. Paul Maier — 2/2

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....0&

    Dr. Paul Maier
    http://www.paulmaier.com/

  7. http://youtu.be/lbLRE_SIMMU

    Start at 08:37 mark.

    Why waste time talking or even thinking about Dawkins?! I was interested in Lennox and happened on the above video. Next time Playgirl interviews Dawkins, will News spread it?

  8. Unfortunately for Dawkins, he will always be connected to his “South Park” character.

  9. I’m sure their next issue will have an interview with Nicki Minaj explaining the Higgs boson. ;-)

  10. OK, here’s what I’d really like to ask Richard Dawkins.

    “Professor, I understand you’re a great fan of Rev. William Paley’s work, Natural Theology, which Darwin continued to speak highly of, even after he believed he had refuted it. Indeed, you even described yourself as a “neo-Paleyan” in The Blind Watchmaker. Paley, as you’re well aware, contended that unguided natural processes were incapable of creating what he called contrivances – by which he meant systems (whether natural or artificial) that were distinguished by the properties of “relation to an end, relation of parts to one another, and to a common purpose” – to quote Paley’s own words. In modern parlance, we might define a contrivance as a complex, co-ordinated arrangement of parts, all subserving a common end. For our purposes, it does not matter whether this end is intrinsic or extrinsic, natural or artificial.

    “What Charles Darwin did was to put forward a mechanism (natural selection) which he argued was capable in principle of explaining how one complex, highly co-ordinated system of parts assisting an organism’s survival could, over millions of years, gradually evolve into another complex system serving an altogether different purpose, through an undirected (“blind”) process. What Darwin did not show, however, is how the fundamental biochemical systems upon which all organisms rely for their survival, could have came into existence, in the first place. We might refer to these fundamental systems in Nature as Paley’s ‘original contrivances.’ These contrivances cannot be explained away as modifications of pre-existing biological systems, since anything that preceded them was non-living.

    “Now, I understand that some biologists have hypothesized that autocatalytic reactions, by creating more and more complex arrangements of parts, could have given rise to these ‘original contrivances’ over millions of years. But it seems to me that this proposal ignores the most fundamental characteristic of living things: their teleology. A contrivance is a complex, co-ordinated arrangement of parts subserving a common end. So my question is: how did these arrangements of parts that are supposed to have arisen through autocatalytic reactions billions of years ago ever come to subserve a common end? A telos, after all, is not the sort of thing that comes in halves; a biochemical system either has one or it doesn’t.

    “Would you care to comment, Professor?”

  11. “Science cannot at present—maybe never—answer the deep questions about existence and the origins of the fundamental laws of nature. But what on earth makes you think religion can? If science can’t provide an answer, nothing can.”

    Actually, science does not make moral or value claims on anything. Science can explain how the Earth rotates around the sun and how black holes work, but not why they exist in the first place.

    Whenever I read Dawkins, I am reminded of this scripture at Psalms 10:4 – ‘The wicked one according to his superciliousness makes no search; All his ideas are: “There is no God.”

    That is the core of Dawkins’ problem. He makes no search, that is, he isn’t even looking for evidence of the existence of God. Why? Because of a quality here called ‘superciliousness’, which means coolly and patronizingly haughty (Merriam-Webster).

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