Home » Culture, Evolution, Philosophy, Science » Terry Gross interviews Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins

Terry Gross interviews Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins

Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins are at it again, however not face to face this time, but as guests on alternate days on NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ with Terry Gross. She asks pertinent questions but as always, remains objective, taking no position on either side. In Wednesday’s interview, Dawkins takes a moment reading from page 15 of his book, to clear up any question of Einstein having theistic views, but rather, as he himself embraces, having merely a breathtaking admiration and respect for the Cosmos, but from purely naturalistic origins.

Dawkins paints a picture of mankind’s progress, with science and culture at the forefront, providing a humanistic view of what we have achieved, and stating that it is “demeaning, to retreat from that to a medieval view that simply says, ‘God done it’, which is so cheap, so trite, so simple, so parochial, and so impotent … ” He goes on to launch an assault on religion, trotting out his usual chorus of criticisms of religions in general, but Christianity in particular, and their proposed negative effects on the world. If you’ve read the God Delusion, or listened to other interviews you’ve heard it all before.

Terry mentions Francis Collins’ position that the genetic code is an example of God’s design, to which Dawkins answers,”That makes God superfluous. I mean that here we have an excellent explanation of how life comes about, starting from simple beginnings, and that makes God redundant. Francis Collins and others want to smuggle God back in (to the picture)… ”

The Collins interview gives many personal glimpses, as are found in his recent book, “The Language of God”. He mentions how full his email box gets, with an ongoing assault both from fundamentalists who question his support of evolution, although ‘guided’ as he states, and from scientists who question not just his faith, but his admitting it publicly. He walks a tight rope within the scientific community, and is at odds with many peers, Dawkins included.

The Richard Dawkins interview:

The Francis Collins interview:

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8 Responses to Terry Gross interviews Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins

  1. Richard says

    “I think it’s important that children should not neglect the Bible, I think they should be taught the Bible as a work of litterature … otherwise you can’t appreciate the culture in which you’re brought up.”

  2. Richard also says

    “Biology has become a sort of branch of computer science, genes are just long computer tapes, and they use a code which is just another kind of computer code, it’s quaternary rather than binary but it’s read in a sequential way just like a computer tape, it’s transcribed, it’s copied and pasted. All the familiar metaphors from computer science fit. This is a complete turnabout from the way biology used to be, where one talked in terms of a vital fluid. …. Now we’re becoming wholly mechanistic when talking about life. It’s a great revelation to all of science. It’s a most thrilling and exciting time for a scientist to be alive.”

    If “all the familiar metaphors” fit, then is there a programmer? Should we really be calling ID, IP?

    Maybe Richard’s next book should be “The Blind Programmer”.

    Of course, Darwin predicted something like complex computer codes would be the basis of simple life. That warm pool swirling with phosphoric salts was a metaphor for computer code forming spontaneously at the same time the computer formed so it could be read. That was a stroke of good luck in the same pond at the same time!

  3. “…NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ with Terry Gross. She asks pertinent questions but as always, remains objective, taking no position on either side.”

    She may have been objective in this interview, but I would never call Terry Gross “objective”. She may try, but its clear where her sympathies lie on any political/cultural issue.

  4. “Biology has become a sort of branch of computer science, genes are just long computer tapes, and they use a code which is just another kind of computer code”

    As has been mentioned here before, a few courses in computer science should be mandatory for anyone planning a career in biology. How can ID be the science stopper when a Darwinist can gaze upon the most complex computer system ever made and be content to assume it “just happened” and make up fanciful stories to promote their foolish notion? It’s downright insulting. I think ID is becoming the only voice of reason, stuck right in the middle of madness.

  5. I finished reading Dr. Collins book today, and to be honest, i dont remember he claiming he believes evolution is guided, i remember he saying that since God is omniscient, he would know the, lets say “end result” of the process.

    Anyway, though he seems honest and sincere, no wonder YECs are mad at him, he totally misrepresented the whole thing.

    In the end, his argument shows he is very confused and didnt really searched around to see if there are, for instance, answers to the whole TTSS dispute.

    Unfortunately, this is not a book worthy of someone prominent as he is, quite a disapointment.

  6. Lee and idnet,

    Thanks for your post and comments. I especially liked:

    Biology has become a sort of branch of computer science,

    Richard Dawkins

    Biology is now a mere branch of the field of computer science. Dawkins made my day. He has now shown that we engineers at UD can speak with equal authority with evolutionary biologists over various matters biological. Biology is not a subdiscipline of evolutionary science, but rather it is a subdiscipline of computer science, which is itself a subdiscipline of engineering and math.

    Dawkins has put us engineers and computer scientists on a more authoritative position to offer authoritative opinions about biology even more than evolutionary biologists. After all, biology is a mere branch within the broader discipline of computer science. :-)

    Thank you, Richard Dawkins.

  7. MaxAug commented, “I finished reading Dr. Collins book today, and to be honest, i dont remember he claiming he believes evolution is guided, i remember he saying that since God is omniscient, he would know the, lets say “end result” of the process.”

    Good point, and one that is ‘key’ to how evolution works. I haven’t read Collins’ book, but from the reviews, I perceived that he believed life was ‘preloaded’ to evolve over time, and as omniscient, would know the result.

    My comment was based more on what he said to Terry, which was:

    [14:10](FC)”There’s really no conflict. It was all His plan. He just carried it out using the tools of evolution.”

    (TG)”Is that what you mean when you use the term of ‘theistic evolution’?”

    (FC)”Most scientists who are biologists, who are also believers, have come to this same kind of synthesis, often without knowing what name to put on it. I arrived at this same kind of conclusion after becoming a believer in my 20′s, and trying to figure out how that fits together with the science I was learning in genetics. It also suddenly made sense … God had the intention of creating life.

    Who are we to say that evolution wasn’t a way He wouldn’t have chosen. It’s an incredible elegant way to achieve this.”

    I personally believe that the preloaded premise, and some conjecture that that preloading would even go back to the ‘Big Bang’, is not only illogical, but untenable. Collins, and even our friend Ken Miller, have stuck with that to avoid treading in the dangerous water of an ‘interactive’ God.

    So is Collins moving toward openly admitting to a personal and interactive God? I feel that he already has. But ‘Interactive’ in the process of evolution falsifies RM/NS, which doesn’t win points with colleagues. Thus, according to Collins, evolution is true. Common descent is true. Granted, but Natural, Guided, or both … still remains as a perplexing question.

  8. I liked both interviews and found both to be interesting. My favorite part is Dawkin’s pronunciation of Evolution; I perceive it as Evilution.

    I admire Collin’s genuine faith, sometimes that is hard to discern amongst intellectuals. I honestly fear that some intellectual will use ID (or religion) as a disguise to push their own agenda that is actually quite the opposite.

    Dawkin’s really doesn’t have anything new; he is constantly trying to force a split between science and religion. However, I will say that his arguments are quite appealing to the average college student (e.g. me), but his smug attitude actually drives me away from some of his arguments. He claims we should use rationality in our discernments of truth, yet a lot of his arguments imbue an emotional fervor. You don’t need to raise your voice; you don’t need to treat people like idiots, if you are right wait for the truth to sink in. I sometimes wonder if he really believes what he says.

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