Richard Dawkins

  • Aired:  09/24/13
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"An Appetite for Wonder" author Richard Dawkins discusses the relative existential dangers of science and religion. (7:14)

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE GOD

DELUSION.

HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED "ANAPPETITE FOR WONDER."

PLEASE WELCOME RICHARD DAWKINS.

SIR --[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

THE BOOK IS CALLED "AN APPETITEFOR WONDER.

AND LOOK AT YOU.

LOOK AT YOU WITH THE MOP TOP ANDTHE -- YOU COULD HAVE BEEN IN A

BAND WITH THAT.

>> THAT'S WHAT I CALL THEGRINNING IDIOT PICTURE.

THE BRITISH ONE HAS THE RUPERTBROOKS PICTURE THE SIDEWAYS

POETIC LOOK.

>> Jon: YOU HAVE BOTH OFTHOSE, DO YOU?

FAIR ENOUGH.

THERE'S A LIBERAL PRESBYTERIANPASTOR IN MY AUDIENCE.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]WHEN I SAY LIBERAL, HERE IS HOW

LIBERAL HE IS, HE IS JEWISH.

[ LAUGHTER ]FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE, YOU

SEEM TO BE THE AVATAR FOR THEDIVIDING LINE OF THE

INCOMPATIBILITY OF RELIGIOUSBELIEF AND SCIENTIFIC BELIEF.

SOMEHOW YOU HAVE, THROUGH MAYBEYOUR WORDS.

>> I'LL TAKE THAT.

>> Jon: HIS QUESTION WAS: CAN>>YOU LET RICHARD DAWKINS KNOW

THAT THERE ARE RELIGIOUS

INDIVIDUALS WITH A STRONGBELIEF IN GOD WHO BELIEVEIN THE SCIENTIFIC

METHOD.

DOES THAT SEEM INCONGRUOUSTO YOU?

>> NO, I'M WELL AWARE OF THAT.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Jon: HE SAID ASK HIM IF

HE'S AWARE OF THAT AND I GO, I'MPRETTY SURE HE'S AWARE OF THAT.

>> IT'S A POINT I MAKE.

I OFTEN JOIN FORCES WITH BISHOPSAND OTHER FRIENDS TO COMBAT THE

ANTISCIENTIFIC TENDENCY OFFUNDAMENTALIST RELIGION. IT'S

ONE OF THE GREAT FALLACIES OFFUNDAMENTALISTS THAT THEY THINK

ALL RELIGIOUS PEOPLE ARE LIKETHEM.

>> Jon: HERE IS MY PROPOSALFOR THE DISCUSSION TONIGHT: DO

YOU BELIEVE THAT THE END OF OURCIVILIZATION WILL BE THROUGH

RELIGIOUS STRIFE OR SCIENTIFICADVANCEMENT.

WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE IN THELONG-TERM BE MORE DAMAGING TO

THE PROSPECTS OF THE HUMAN RACE.

>> THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL MARTINREESE AND PRESIDENT TO THE ROYAL

SOCIETY GIVES HUMANITY A 50%CHANCE OF SURVIVING THROUGH THE

21ST CENTURY.

>> Jon: WAIT, HOLD ON, I HAVETO DO SOME MATH.

OH, FINE.

[LAUGHTER]>> AND ONE OF THE REASONS IS HE

FEARS THAT THE FRUITS OFSCIENTIFIC -- THE BAD FRUITS

THINGS LIKE DIRTY BOMBS, THINGSLIKE BIOLOGICAL WARFARE COULD

GET INTO THE HANDS OFRELIGIOUS

FANATICS WHOUNLIKE ALL OTHER TERRORISTS WANT

TO DIE.

THEY WANT TO GO TO PARADISE.

THE QUESTION YOU ASK THE ANSWERIS BOTH THAT SCIENCE PROVIDES IN

THE FORM OF TECHNOLOGY, WEAPONSWHICH HAVE ONLY BEEN AVAILABLE

TO REASONABLYRESPONSIBLE

GOVERNMENTS WILL LIKELY BECOMEAVAILABLE TO NUTCASES WHO

BELIEVE THAT THEIR GOD REQUIRESTHEM TO WREAK HAVOC AND

DESTRUCTION.

>> Jon: DOESN'T IT THOUGH LETSCIENTISTS OFF THE HOOK TO SOME

EXTENT TO SUGGEST THAT THEIRWORK COULD ONLY BE MISUSED BY

THOSE WHOSE MINDS ARE BOGGLED BYTRELIGIOUS FANATICISM, WHEN INBY

FACT, ISN'T THERE A STRONGPROBABILITY THAT WE ARE NOT

NECESSARILY IN CONTROL OF THEUNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

DON'T YOU THINK IT'S POSSIBLYMORE LIKELY THAT WE WILL CREATE

SOMETHING THAT THE UNINTENDEDCONSEQUENCE OF IT IS WORLDWIDE

CATASTROPHE?

>> IT'S POSSIBLE.

IT'S SOMETHING WE HAVE TO WORRYABOUT.

THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE, ITHINK IS VERY IMPORTANT.

SCIENCE IS THE MOST POWERFUL WAYTO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT TO DO.

IF YOU WANT TO DO GOOD IT'S THEMOST POWERFUL WAY OF DOING GOOD

AND IF YOU WANT TO DO EVIL IT'STHE MOST POWERFUL WAY.

>> Jon: I GUESS IT'S THE THIRDLAW FOR EVERY ACTION THERE'S AN

OPPOSITE AND EQUAL REACTION.

YOU SPLIT AN ATOM AND YOU CAN LIGHT

THE WORLD GOING THIS WAY.

AND IF YOU GO THIS WAY YOU CANBLOW UP THE WORLD.

IT SEEMS LIKE WE TRY THIS WAYFIRST.

[LAUGHTER]>> THERE'S A THEORY THAT WHY WE

>DON'T DETECT EXTRA TERRESTRIALCIVILIZATIONS

IT REACHES A POINT WHEN IT'SCAPABILITY OF BROADCASTING RADIO

WAVES WE CAN PICK UP THERE'SONLY A BRIEF WINDOW BEFORE

IT BLOWS ITSELF UP. THERE'S ABRIEF WINDOW BETWEEN DISCOVERING

THE ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY TOCOMMUNICATE BY RADIO AND

PRODUCING THE HORRIFICTECHNOLOGY WHICH THEN GETS OUT

OF CONTROL. IT MAY BE THAT ALLOVER THE UNIVERSE THERE ARE

CIVILIZATIONSWINKING INTO ACTION, BRIEFLY AND

THEN KILLING THEMSELVES.

>> Jon: WHY DO YOU THINK ITONLY TAKES THEM A FEW CENTURIES?

>> THAT'S JUST THE SPECULATION.

>> Jon: YOU FEEL LIKE WE ARELOW ACHIEVING WHEN IT COMES TO

DESTROYING OURSELVES?

>> NOT AT ALL.

IT TAKES MANY BILLIONS OF YEARSFOR EVOLUTION TO REACH THE POINT

WHERE TECHNOLOGY TAKES OFF.

BUT ONCE TECHNOLOGY TAKES OFFBUT THEN IT'S AN EYE BLINK BY

THESTANDARD OF GEOLOGICAL TIME.

ACCORDING TO THIS PESSIMISTICSPECULATION.

ONLY -->> Jon: AT THIS POINT THE ONLY

SPECULATION I HEAR FROM YOU ISPESSIMISTIC.

IT'S EASY TO LOOK AT THE DARKSIDE OF FUNDAMENTALISM AND THE

DAMAGE IT CAN DO.

SOMETIMES I THINK WE HAVE TOCHALLENGE OURSELVES AND LOOK AT

THE DARK SIDE OF ACHIEVEMENT.

I BELIEVE THAT THE FINAL WORDSMAN UTTERS ON THIS EARTH WILL BE

IT WORKED.

YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

IT WILL BE AN EXPERIMENT THATISN'T MISUSED BUT WILL BE A

ROLLING CATASTROPHE.

>> IT'S A POSSIBILITY.

>> Jon: A PRETTY GOODPOSSIBILITY.

>> I'M MORE OPTIMISTIC ABOUTTHAT.

>> Jon: ABOUT SCIENCE?

>> YES, YES.

>> Jon: IN TERMS OF ITSABILITY TO CONTROL.

CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT AND THECAT NEVER SAW IT COMING.

CAN YOU STICK AROUND?

>> OH, YEAH.

>> Jon: BEAUTIFUL.

"AN APPETITE FOR WONDER" IS ONTHE BOOKSHELVES NOW.

RICHARD DAWKINS, WE'LL CONTINUEOUR CONVERSATION ON THE WEB

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