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Salon Interviews Dawkins
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An interesting interview with Richard Dawkins (the graphic made me laugh, though it's pretty silly).

On agnosticism:

It's said that the only rational stance is agnosticism because you can neither prove nor disprove the existence of the supernatural creator. I find that a weak position. It is true that you can't disprove anything but you can put a probability value on it. There's an infinite number of things that you can't disprove: unicorns, werewolves, and teapots in orbit around Mars. But we don't pay any heed to them unless there is some positive reason to think that they do exist.

Fair enough. Though I don't think the number of people that hold a belief necessarily correlates with the truth of that belief, in some cases it does hold. Many people, many smart people, have believed in god. I would think this is more cause to take the idea somewhat seriously than the existence of werewolves. But maybe not.

If atheism is at one end of the spectrum and hardcore religious belief at the other end, it is often assumed that agnosticism is smack-dab in the middle. I suppose my particular brand is much further on the spectrum toward atheism. I've heard a quote from Dawkins, "I'm agnostic about god in the same way I'm agnostic about faeries." I wouldn't go that far, but pretty close.

On Bush and Bin Laden:

That trend toward enlightenment has indeed continued in Europe and Britain. It just has not continued in the U.S., and not in the Islamic world. We're seeing a rather unholy alliance between the burgeoning theocracy in the U.S. and its allies, the theocrats in the Islamic world. They are fighting the same battle: Christian on one side, Muslim on the other. The very large numbers of people in the United States and in Europe who don't subscribe to that worldview are caught in the middle.

Actually, holy alliance would be a better phrase. Bush and bin Laden are really on the same side: the side of faith and violence against the side of reason and discussion. Both have implacable faith that they are right and the other is evil. Each believes that when he dies he is going to heaven. Each believes that if he could kill the other, his path to paradise in the next world would be even swifter. The delusional "next world" is welcome to both of them. This world would be a much better place without either of them.

Hah...I've never agreed with his poltics. This same point came up in another recent blog. Yeah, they both believe in god. But they're on the same side in that they both prefer violence to reason and discussion? Okay. I'd like to ask a follow-up to Dawkins about how a person or nation should respond when faced with an entity that uses force. Is the reciprocal use of force ever justified? Or is that just flat-out barbarism? I think he's on thin ice here.

Anyway, lots of other interesting stuff in the interview. He always does a good job of explaining in clear terms how and why evolution makes sense, how people who clearly haven't take the time to understand it mischaracterize it (e.g., saying that natural selection is random).

So again, I'd read the whole interview.

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