Doubtless, Dawkins’ comments on why keeping a mistress and lying about it are okay were meant to tie in.
The Playboy interviewer, Chip Rowe, is a total rollover groupie; he endorses rather than challenging his subject, but what would you expect?
PLAYBOY: You’ve had a lot of fun deconstructing the idea of the intelligent designer. You point out that God made a cheetah fast enough to catch a gazelle and a gazelle fast enough to outrun a cheetah –
DAWKINS: Yes. Is God a sadist?
PLAYBOY: And bad design such as the fact we breathe and eat through the same tube, making it easy to choke to death.
DAWKINS: Or the laryngeal nerve, which loops around an artery in the chest and then goes back up to the larynx.
PLAYBOY: Not very efficient.
DAWKINS: Not in a giraffe, anyway.
From page 2:
PLAYBOY: What is your view of Jesus?
DAWKINS: The evidence he existed is surprisingly shaky. The earliest books in the New Testament to be written were the Epistles, not the Gospels. It’s almost as though Saint Paul and others who wrote the Epistles weren’t that interested in whether Jesus was real. Even if he’s fictional, whoever wrote his lines was ahead of his time in terms of moral philosophy.
PLAYBOY: You’ve read the Bible.
DAWKINS: I haven’t read it all, but my knowledge of the Bible is a lot better than most fundamentalist Christians’.
[Note: Part of the part Dawkins might not have read must be Paul’s spelling out for early Christians that Jesus not only lived but died, and was raised from the dead as a matter of fact, leaving no room for an orthodox “symbolic” interpretation: And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (1 Cor 15:14) See what we mean by “rollover groupie”? Anyone could have found that out and challenged him on it.]
On Stephen Jay Gould’s “non-overlapping magisteria,” beloved of Christians for Darwin:
DAWKINS: That’s pure politics. Gould was trying to win battles in the creation-evolution debate by saying to religious people, “You don’t have to worry. Evolution is religion-friendly.” And the only way he could think to do that was to say they occupy separate domains. But he overgenerously handed the domains of morals and fundamental questions to religion, which is the last thing you should do. Science cannot at present—maybe never—answer the deep questions about existence and the origins of the fundamental laws of nature. But what on earth makes you think religion can? If science can’t provide an answer, nothing can.
On National Center for Science Education’s (the US Darwin in the schools lobby’s) strategy:
PLAYBOY: Some scientists say that you should stop talking about atheism because it muddies the waters in the debate over evolution.
DAWKINS: If what you’re trying to do is win the tactical battle in U.S. schools, you’re better off lying and saying evolution is religion-friendly. I don’t wish to condemn people who lie for tactical reasons, but I don’t want to do that. For me, this is only a skirmish in the larger war against irrationality.
[Note: When we say those things, people think we are making it up. This should, but of course won’t remove all doubt. Too many Templeton grants are at stake ….]
From page 3: On arresting the Pope,
PLAYBOY: Do you believe, as Christopher Hitchens did, that the pope should be arrested?
DAWKINS: Hitchens wrote me suggesting we should arrest him, but we soon gave up on the idea of literally making a citizen’s arrest by creeping up with handcuffs or something. Instead we asked Geoffrey Robertson, a distinguished human rights lawyer, to speak about the legal case against the pope for covering up pedophilia. He also looked at the alleged immunity of the pope from prosecution as the head of a state, calling into question the notion of the Vatican as a legitimate sovereign state. I responded to the pope’s uncalled-for truculence when he landed in Edinburgh. The first thing he said was to blame atheists for Hitler. Although I don’t blame the pope for being a member of the Hitler Youth, as he was very young, I felt this was pretty cheeky, really. If I were him I’d keep my head down over Hitler.
[Note: Dawkins claims earlier that Hitler was a Roman Catholic; presumably he means by birth; no surprise, as he was born in Austria. To the extent that Hitler espoused any clear creed, it was not a theistic one. As for the “citizen’s arrest” suggestion, it’s like we said before: The concern about new atheism is not that it is in conflict with traditional religions/philosophies, but that it is in conflict with liberal democracy and civil society.]
From p. 4: Some sense of the quality of the world famous atheist’s thinking habits can be gained:
DAWKINS: Of course there are gaps; fossilization is a rare event. But if we didn’t have a single fossil, the evidence for evolution would be absolutely secure because of comparative anatomy, comparative biochemistry, geographical distribution. The gap before the Cambrian explosion is interesting because it’s a big one. But if you think about it, there are major groups of animals that have no fossils. For example, today we saw in the natural history museum an almost microscopic creature called a tardigrade. They don’t fossilize because they’re soft. Presumably before the Cambrian, most of the ancestors of the Cambrian creatures were soft and small.
PLAYBOY: How do we know they existed if there are no fossils?
DAWKINS: That’s not quite the right question, is it? Their descendants existed in the Cambrian, so unless you seriously think they were created in the Cambrian, they must have existed. You may say that’s not evidence, and I’m saying you could say the same of any soft creature for which we have no fossils. How do we know it wasn’t created in 1800? It doesn’t make sense.
[If, indeed, we “didn’t have a single fossil,” the whole edifice would be a theory only and lack any reference to physical reality. It would be proper to ask, how can we know that this theory is correct, if we find no fossils? Obviously, we should find them. It is somewhat like being certain, for good reasons, that Schmeazle murdered Schmoe, but not able to place him at the scene of the crime at the time in question. Great theory, but no case.
Unless you are Dawkins. Not finding soft-bodied fossils is hardly the same thing. Notice that, once again, the Playboy interviewer just rolls over and moves on.]
The interview has the feel of an interview with the dictator of a rundown republic somewhere, by the social editor for the state media. So the main question it raises is, what if the interviewer had asked Dawkins some questions that were not just pushbuttons for his talking points? We can think of a few, but maybe our readers should “Chip” in first:
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