Richard Dawkins on The Late Late Show


To sit in front of a room full of believers and tell them they are deluded takes some guts and conviction. I haven’t watched all of this video yet but Dawkins answers questions from the audience…

Update: I *realy* wish the program had had time for Richard to answer the questions posed by the audience.

Of course, he has already answered these questions (and many just like them) many times.

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Software developer by day, scale model builder and wargamer by night.

Posted in Atheism, Creation vs. Evolution, Evolution
4 comments on “Richard Dawkins on The Late Late Show
  1. Keta says:

    Richard,
    Eventhough I said I wasn’t going to post on your site anymore, I still read it, and I’ve been reading a book that made me think of you and I wanted to share some of it with you. Before I get into it I would like to say that I watched part of the clip (about 10 minutes or so)and I thought it was pretty funny that one of the reasons that Richard (is that the guy’s name?) used for evolution being true and a creator being wrong was that evolution was a simple answer and for there to be a creator is just too complex, and not a simple enough explanation. So I was just wondering, since when does something being complex make it non existant? Anyways…thats not why I got on. so here’s what I wanted to share with you. Its a few excerpts from a book called “Be intolerant because some things are just stupid” by Ryan Dobson.
    I’m assuming based on all the things you’ve said that you are a moral relativist. Meaning that there is no absolute truth, and morals are basically whatever is right for each individual person. So here you go.
    “Moral relativism doesn’t work…it doesn’t even make sense. And the only way people can hold on to it is by not stopping long enough to really think it through… Was Hitler wrong to try to kill every living Jew? Of course. Although Hitler believed he was doing the right thing for him and for the Nazi party, even the most tolerant among us would speak out against his reign of terror – if only because he was the very model of intolerance. Likewise, if you beat up your roomate, he’s probably going to say what you’ve done is wrong. Or if you steal his wallet. Or if you say you’ve got a problem with the way he treats his girlfriend. Or especially if you go out with his girlfriend – even when you tell him that it ‘feels right for you.’ There are actually lots of things (and people) that a moral relativist won’t tolerate. It’s an intolerant kind of tolerance, you know? It’s a system with no right and wrong – except that it’s right to believe his way and wrong to believe any other way. He’ll tolerate you as long as you’re like him. If you don’t think, dress, talk, and believe exactly as he tells you, you won’t be tolerated… He hates it when a Christian tries to force his faith on him, but he doesn’t mind cramming tolerance down everyone’s throats. What’s that if not hypocrisy? Except that if you live in complete opposition to what you say your central belief is, then I say you’re more than a hypocrite. You’re a liar. One of the foundations of moral relativism is that there is no unchanging standard of right and wrong. And yet the moral relativist lives every day according to a very strict and unchanging set of right and wrong – a rigid code of behavior. What do you call a philosophy that forcefully and consistently violates its own central pillar of belief? Broken. Unstable. False. In other words, wrong.”
    Next… You are always asking for proof. So when I read this part of the book, I thought of you and I have to share it with you. Its proof.
    “If I can prove that the Bible is divine in origin, wouldn’t that mean that everything in it is true?… The key is prophecy. The old testament lays out 332 distinct (very specific) prophecies or predictions about the Messiah, Jesus Christ. These include the place, time, and manner of His birth; His betrayal by a trusted friend; the manner of His death, suffering, and burial; and hundreds more. ALL 332 were literally fulfilled in Jesus…. In a famous little book called Science Speaks, Peter Stoner looked at the probability that JUST 8 of the 332 predictions of the Messiah could’ve been coincidentally or accidentally fulfilled in one man, much less a man who actually proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah… His mathematical conclusion, verified by the American Scientific Affiliation, was that the chance of all eight being accidentally fulfilled in one man was 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000…. To help us even grasp such a small probability, Stoner came up with this illustration. Take 100,000,000,000,000,000 silver dollars and lay them out across the state of Texas. They would cover the entire land surface of the Lone Star State two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars – paint it red – and toss it into the stack. Mix it up real good. Finally, blindfold a guy and tell him he can walk across the state as far as he wants, but then he’s got to bend down and pick up just one silver dollar. And it has to be the red one on the first try. That’s how likely it is that eight messianic prophecies could’ve been randomly fulfilled in anyone, much less the one who claimed He really was the messiah. Multiply this out to 332 Old Testament predictions that were precisely fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and what do you have? You have proof of the divinity of Old testament prophecy.”
    Now I already know that after reading that you already disagree with me because I am using the bible to prove itself right. But historically, there is more proof that the bible is true than many other books that we accept and teach as history.
    Just one other question… If Christianity is just a made up thing and Jesus didn’t really exist… why is it so hated? The world is tolerant of EVERYTHING EXCEPT CHRISTIANITY. No other religion is hated the way Christianity is. Why? Because it’s the only true one.
    Don’t worry…I already know you don’t agree with anything I’ve said. I know this doesn’t prove to YOU that there is a God. Atleast not now anyways. But I believe that the truth of God and His word do not return void. And I think that someday, all this will make sense to you. but for right now, you WILL NOT be proved wrong (by your choice). You refuse to see. Its like if I were to stand in front of you, and your eyes were closed. No matter what arguments you make that I’m not there because you can’t see me or whatever else, it doesn’t make it untrue that I am standing in front of you. But until you are willing to open your eyes and accept that I am standing in front of you, nothing else will matter.
    Take care. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.
    Keta

  2. Richard@Home says:

    Hi Keta, glad to here your still reading 🙂

    “So I was just wondering, since when does something being complex make it non existant?”

    I don’t think Dawkins was given a chance to explain himself in that video (if its the same video I think you watched). Dawkins explains: Everything can be shown to come from simpler origins. Everything. The fossil record for example, although incomplete (we haven’t found that illusive missing link yet) does show one thing very, very clearly. As we progress down through the layers of sedimentary rock (an therefore through back through time) we see the fossilized remains of creatures getting simpler and simpler.

    As we gaze back in time through space (for example, when we look up in the sky at the sun, we see it as it was 8 minutes ago – that’s how long it takes for the light to leave the sun and hit our eyes) we can see how the universe was billions of years ago (that’s how long it takes the light to reach us from the furthest stars we can see). We can see the formations of stars and proto-planets.

    Now, the important thing about what Dawkins was saying is: The Creationist argument is always along the lines of, “Ok… What happened before the planet earth was formed? And before that? And before that? Don’t have an answer do ya!”

    Dawkins point is, the Creationist argument is flawed because their ultimate answer is “god lit the fuse” which is doesn’t work because who made god? If the creationist argument is that you can always go back to a time before an event, then their must be an event that created god.

    Dawkins states that for god to have created something as complex as *everything* he would have to, by definition be at least, if not more complex than *everything*. And, as we can show, all complex things have simple beginnings.

    Another very, very important point is: Dawkins has never said that god doesn’t exist. It’s just the likelihood, given the evidence is that it is very, very unlikely. So unlikely that the probability approaches 0.

    Onto your next point: Morals. Ahh, this old chestnut 🙂

    Creationists argue that without a god their would BE no morals. We would all run around murdering, raping and stealing to our hearts content.

    Darwinian theory has a simple answer to this too. I recommend you watch this excellent documentary ( http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8068309038544717701&sourceid=docidfeed&hl=en ) about how altruism can be explained using Darwinian theory.

    In a nutshell, being altruistic gives a species the best chance of survival, even if some members of the species are selfish.

    The major flaw with the creationist argument that without god we would have no morals is this. There are countless Athiests (or Brights as they prefer to be called) who DON’T go around killing and maiming people for the heck of it. In fact, for example, in the US jails, a much higher proportion of its criminals claim to be Christian than claim to be Atheists.

    We have morals because society would collapse without them, and a collapsed society would not survive to pass on its genes. Philosophical morals made by men. One of which I strive to live my life by: Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.

    Do you live a morally good life because god says “Do this or you go to hell” or because it is the right thing to do? If god told you it was Ok to fly a aeroplane into a building full of innocent people, would you?

    No, I am not a believer in “Moral relativism”. I do however believe, that whatever a person gets up to behind closed doors is their own business so long as no-one else gets hurt.

    On to prophecy. I will look into the claim that “The old testament lays out 332 distinct (very specific) prophecies or predictions about the Messiah, Jesus Christ. These include the place, time, and manner of His birth; His betrayal by a trusted friend; the manner of His death, suffering, and burial; and hundreds more. ALL 332 were literally fulfilled in Jesus….”

    I wonder how many didn’t come true?

    I can’t comment on that until I have researched further, but bear in mind the following:

    In the 16th Century, a man called Nostradamus predicted, amongst many other things, aeroplanes, the rise of Napolean and Hitler, the infamous Intel Pentium bug, the great fire of London, …

    The translation of the bible, particularly the old testament has been fraught with errors. Even in the new testement written in a relatively modern language errors have crept in. For example, (and I didn’t know this myself till Mr Dawkins pointed it out in the video), Mary wasn’t a virgin. It was a mistranslation of the original word meaning young.

    This error has been reinforced over the years until it has become a ‘litteral truth’.

    “But historically, there is more proof that the bible is true than many other books that we accept and teach as history.”

    No, this again is a common misconception or purposeful lie. The SETTING and some of the people are historically accurate but the events have not been recorded anywhere else.

    You’d think that some guy wandering around Galilee performing miracles and claiming to be the son of god would have got SOME press wouldn’t you?

    Remember, the Romans were in power at this time. They were prolific writers. Strange how Pontius Pilot never wrote home about him…

    Jesus, as far as I’m aware is mentioned in ONE book outside the bible. And its not even Jesus, its his brother that is mentioned. And the truethfulness of that one book itself is not certain.

    Ok, your last point: “If Christianity is just a made up thing and Jesus didn’t really exist… why is it so hated?”

    I don’t hate Christians, if I am honest I pity them 😦 I pity that they are blindly following a hotchpotch of dogma, 1/2 truths, lies and pre-christian myths with not one shred of evidence to back it up.

    I suspect that the majority of people don’t hate Christians, but they are starting to hate what they are allowing themselves to become. A political tool. Did your loving god REALLY tell President Bush to invade Iraq and murder his children who posed you no threat? If he didn’t, WHY haven’t the Christians risen up and put a stop to this nonsense. Or at least publicly distanced themselves from it?

    “Its like if I were to stand in front of you, and your eyes were closed. No matter what arguments you make that I’m not there because you can’t see me or whatever else, it doesn’t make it untrue that I am standing in front of you.”

    That, was a bad analogy and one which helps to prove my point. In this case, I would have the evidence of my other senses to confirm your presence.

    A scientist doesn’t not take things at face value. He comes up with a Hypothesis (that, for example, Keta is not stood in front of me) and then tries to disprove that hypothesis. (My ears can hear breathing, I can smell purfume, therefore: someone is stood near me).

    Note I said hypothesis, not theory. A theory (such as the theory of evolution) is what a hypothesis is after sufficient evidence has been gathered to prove the hypothesis is more than likely correct.

    Of course, if some new evidence comes along to disprove the theory a scientist will gladly go back to square one and try a new idea. So far, no-one has come up with any evidence that Darwinian Theory is wrong.

    Dawkins says this (I’m paraphrasing). If you had been born in Iraq, you most likely would have been a Muslim. If you had been born in Scandinavia in the year 1350AD you would most likely have been an Odinite. If you had been born in ancient Greece you would have been an handmaiden of Apolo…

    As a Christian, you already know how not to believe in any number of these other gods in much the same way as you don’t believe in father christmas or the toothfairy.

    An Athiest just goes one god more…

    Peace Keta 🙂

  3. Maurice says:

    Disclaimer: While I believe it is utterly futile and useless to use 3rd dimension rules and laws to understand the Supreme Being, I am nonetheless forced to respond.

    >the Creationist argument is flawed because their ultimate answer is “god lit the fuse” which is doesn’t work because who made god?

    That argument is perfect. If we live in a universe of laws of cause and effect then there must be some cause which itself has no cause or the whole cause/effect laws in our universe simply would not be. No matter how far back we push the envelope LOGIC clearly imply an unmoved “mover”.

    …all complex things have simple beginnings.

    That really depends on the observer. I would argue the starting point, the Big Bang, if there was such a thing, should be classified as complex. And the present stage of our universe is less-complex. Therefore, we have the prime event moving from complex to less-complex.

    Second, you have forgotten about Entropy. Things in the Universe are winding down not winding up. Some predict that even the atoms in all the molecules will fly apart and dissolve into nothingness.

    >Creationists argue that without a god their would BE no morals. We would all run around murdering, raping and stealing to our hearts content…..altruism can be explained using Darwinian theory

    Altruism is not the rule but rather the exception. Therefore, one cannot argue that we are “good” in our natural state. Mankind has had to struggle to create society, and set up laws, etc and it is a VERY FRAGILE thing. If we were naturally altruistic and good then there would be no need for laws, nor threats of punishment, etc. Indeed, society would form naturally and there would be no laws holding it up!

    >US jails, a much higher proportion of its criminals claim to be Christian than claim to be Atheists.

    Only because there are less atheists in the 1st place.

    >We have morals because society would collapse without them

    Correct – this is proof that we are not naturally “moral” because if we were, we would need no laws telling us to be good “or else”……

    >prophecies …..I wonder how many didn’t come true?

    Well lets look at how many did. You claim to be a rationalist. If the number that DOES come through SIGNIFICANTLY out-weight those that don’t then isn’t this an argument for something that is “statistically” significant? That is, not due to randomness?? And if it is so then shouldn’t your logical mind acquiesce to the evidence that this is Divine providence??

    >translation …. Mary wasn’t a virgin. It was a mistranslation of the original word meaning young.

    The Hebrew word “almah” literally means “hidden”. Unmarried females(of given age) in that culture at that time covered there faces in public. And if they were unmarried then chances are they were still quite young. This idea in Hebrew is conveyed as a “young girl” from a GRAMMATICAL PERSPECTIVE.

    Think of some modern Arabic cultures today. As soon as a girl comes of age she is immediately veiled as a sign of her chastity and to tell men “hands off”. Sure one could argue that the girl could still “technically” have had an experience but this is besides the point. The point is that the Hebrew grammar is meant to convey the IDEA in the purest form – that of chastity and purity. Thus the word is correctly translated as “parthenos” in Greek which means “virgin”.

    >but the events have not been recorded anywhere else.

    Check out Josephus’s reference to Jesus the “so-called Christ”. Josephus was a Jewish historian who basically wrote for the Romans. Of course some raise their doubts has to the genuineness of his writings but I have noticed this to be the case whenever Christ is mentioned anywhere; even disparagingly. Go figure.

    >Remember, the Romans were in power at this time. They were prolific writers. Strange how Pontius Pilot never wrote home about him…

    You are looking at history from a 21st Century perspective where everyone has heard of a person named Jesus and Christianity is a world-wide phenomenon. But Jesus was executed as a common criminal by the Romans. They didn’t bother to know who he was or what he stood for nor did they care. So from a Roman perspective, why would they bother to write anything about a common criminal among the thousands of other common criminals??

    >mentioned in ONE book outside the bible. And its not even Jesus, its his brother that is mentioned. And the truthfulness of that one book itself is not certain.

    Sureeee….of course there would be doubt! And why not??! Because it mentions the probability of Jesus – that’s why.

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