Saturday, April 19, 2008

Video: Richard Dawkins on Bill Maher

Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist, militant atheist and inspiring science advocate might not be on top of all the complexities of the philosophy of religion, but I'm certainly glad we have him. In the interview embedded below (or click here) Dawkins covers a couple of familiar points but, amusingly, also calls Francis Collins (who led the Human Genome Project and became a devout Christian after seeing a frozen waterfall [?!?]) 'not a very bright guy' and contends the new atheist movement arose because people became fed-up that fundies insisted on shoving their imaginary friends down our throats.

An interesting topic Maher asks Dawkins about is the rate at which theists have been converted to atheist as a result of reading The God Delusion. Dawkins concedes the rate isn't very high (but some people apparently were, see "Converts' Corner" at Dawkins' website) but insists he has influenced a lot of people who were previously on the fence. In fact, reading Dawkins had an impact on me too (and I was not a fence-sitter): while I had been an atheist for a long time by the time I read The God Delusion and while few of his arguments were new to me, he inspired me to get off my arse and 'come out' to my family. (Previously I had been open to all my friends and some of my family members, but kept my true views from my more conservative kin). So, at least in one case, Dawkins had an impact even on someone who considered himself a "hardcore" atheist.

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