The Problem with God: Interview with Richard Dawkins

The renowned biologist talks about intelligent design, dishonest Christians, and why God is no better than an imaginary friend.

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That is staggering ignorance of what evolutionary science is about; if they think that's what evolutionists believe, no wonder they're skeptical of it. How can a civilized country have adult people in positions of leadership who know so stunningly little about the leading biological concept?

You said in a recent speech that design was not the only alternative to chance. A lot of people think that evolution is all about random chance.

That's ludicrous. That's ridiculous. Mutation is random in the sense that it's not anticipatory of what's needed. Natural selection is anything but random. Natural selection is a guided process, guided not by any higher power, but simply by which genes survive and which genes don't survive. That's a non-random process. The animals that are best at whatever they do-hunting, flying, fishing, swimming, digging-whatever the species does, the individuals that are best at it are the ones that pass on the genes. It's because of this non-random process that lions are so good at hunting, antelopes so good at running away from lions, and fish are so good at swimming.

There are intelligent people who have been taught good science and evolution, and who may choose to believe in something religious that may seem to fly in the face of science. What do you make of that?

It's certainly hard to know what to make of it. I think it's a betrayal of science. I think they have a religious agenda which, for reasons best known to themselves, they elevate above science.

What are your thoughts about the despair some people feel when they ponder natural selection and random mutation? The idea of evolution and natural selection makes some people feel that everything is meaningless--people's individual lives and life in general.

If it's true that it causes people to feel despair, that's tough. It's still the truth. The universe doesn't owe us condolence or consolation; it doesn't owe us a nice warm feeling inside. If it's true, it's true, and you'd better live with it.

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  • However, I don't think it should make one feel depressed. I don't feel depressed. I feel elated. My book, "Unweaving the Rainbow," is an attempt to elevate science to the level of poetry and to show how one can be-in a funny sort of way-rather spiritual about science. Not in a supernatural sense, but there are uplifting mysteries to be solved. The contemplation of the size and scale of the universe, of the depth of geological time, of the complexity of life--these all, to me, have an inspirational quality. It makes my life worthwhile to study them.
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    Interview by Laura Sheahen
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