Summary / Transcript
The Full Interview Synopsis.
Starts with Dawkins background and family, were they religious (no); but schooling was C of E.
(4.00)The Eureka Moment
He says he realised the "deep incompatibility" of Evolution with the genesis account when he was 16 and he thinks the evangelicals kind of have a point - these are incompatible, whatever the Archbishop of Canterbury says.
Howard invites Dawkins to 'debate' the 'experts' on Rev Tv in future, and flatters Dawkins shamelessly.
Howard: "If evolution is a fact, then we are deluded and we are without hope."
Dawkins: "Ah, so all I've got to do is convince you of the truth of evolution?"
H: "And my job is to prove there is a god."
D: "Well let's get on with it then!" (clearly relishing the idea!)
H wants to know why 1/3rd of the global population (his stats) have an "innate" belief in god?"
D talks about the psychology of beliefs - comforting, even popular but untrue, segues into his argument about evolution might have favoured a obedience to parental authority. (the expanded thesis is that the meme of faith exploits this evolutionary behaviour in order to self-propagate.)
H: says he's a simply guy don't please confuse with your high intellectualism Richard! (I'm paraphrasing)
(10:00) D and H discuss reasons to be good (if you are an atheist), touching on heavenly reward and 'getting your morals from scripture' being bad reasons. D asks H about Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers.
H comes back with a classic "There are perhaps some things in there which can be misconstrued." H: argues that the laws on cleanliness (which cover wounds food preparation and women's fertility) should get
the credit for Ignaz Semmelweis seminal work on hygiene, disinfectants and infection control. D quibbles - modern science tells us this we don't need to go to the bible for that, or for anything else.
Steve from Essex: "the evolution of the eye and any difficult cases you know of that challenge you."
D - Discusses Darwin's discussion and refutation in Origin but points out the failure of rhetoric if your opponents shamelessly quote-mine you out of context.
D- discusses the nature of science, difficult unknowns is where science starts, not declares gosh that's hard. God must have done it.
H says the evolution of the eye is "top of his list" of things that bother him. The eye is so complex - how could it have evolved?" imagines creatures "bumping around in the dark"
D - begins his discussion of the slow, steady ramp of improvement in light sensitive cells, enclosure, pinhole cameras, evolution of lenses and evidence of graduated steps. D addresses the question of "only having half a (functional) eye in terms of conferred advantage
H - How long did this process take?
D - discusses geological time and the vast amount of change that can occur within that.
H - introduces trilobites into the discussion and their early compound eye structure with the howler "the trilobite is exactly the same today as it was then. It didn't evolve."(Do you think he knows they all went extinct? <huh>) A <rofl> moment.
D - discusses trilobite eyes and notes their presence in the geologic record as being 500 million years - or half a billion, which is still fractional compared to the age of the earth itself: 4.5 billion.
H - declares himself a creationist and a bible-believing Christian (referencing the sophisticate theologians have got it wrong discussion from earlier) and says he would obviously disagree with that number.
D - Oh, says Dawkins "based on what evidence?
H -The bible - the book of genesis - adam and eve is the accurate record *becuase* (wait for it) Christ talks about it in the NT.
D - looks incredulous.
H - changes the subject and goes back to the eye and reads out the email from John Macaky focussing on the reversal of the photo-receptors in the vertebrate retina . He gets mildly embarrassed reading out a quote from Dawkins in the email accusing god of being an idiot.
Email concludes "Will Dawkins admit he was wrong since he is not en expert on the eye - and the researchers (of a recent paper mentioned in the email are."
(This little piece of hubris is from the Director of Australian Creation Research Fundie Geologist John Mackay - Uncredited - remember...)
D - Says of course not. Discusses "sensible design" and Molluscs - where the retina is not reversed as it is in vertebrates.
Natural Selection works with what it's got, clunking mistakes and all - better eyes be evolved with "tinkering"
H - reverts discussion back to age of earth and when humans evolved - but brace yourselves it gets weird.
He wants to know when humans became as they are today, however instead of what might seem like a natural segue into the fossil record of the homo genus (including floriensis and neanderthallis - to extinct branches of the homo lineage of which sapiens (us) is the only surviving remnant. Instead we get what can only be described as an equal parts nonsensical and embarrassing discussion about the evolution of the bladder and urination.
I presume this is some sort of creationist fairy tale about the evolution of the bladder but Howard really makes an utter fool of himself in this section talking about toilet troubles.
He extracts himself from the excrement by repeating his mantra that he is a simple man asking simple questions.
D - queries the implication that the bladder evolved suddenly - or that there was a time when it didn't exist but the function for it did, so instead he does the sensible thing and drags the topic back to the previous discussion of the eye how it gradually formed, and he asks H, was that convincing to him.
H - Not really.
D - Why not? Reviews the idea of gradualism and discusses the light-sensitive spot, basic cup, pin-hole camera etc. as they occur in modern animals as a demonstration that these structures are not hypothetical they do exist in nature and they work as functional 'half-develop' (by our standards) eyes - which was Darwin's argument in Origin.
H's reply is rather revealing. It demonstrates what we've long come to suspect that believers don't think for themselves and beg the question - all the damn time!
"Let me tell you what was going through my mind I was thinking of the book of genesis where god says he created everything according to it's kind and we stayed within those groups and we didn't evolve."
D - seizes upon this admission "so what you are saying is the book of genesis takes precedence over science?. It segues onto the historicity of the bible, who wrote it,
H - picks up on the bible comment and suggests the The Book of Genesis was written by Moses. According to "bible scholars"
D - "Moses? Really Moses? Which Bible scholars do that, can you name them?"
H - "No I can't at this time. But that doesn't stop me believing in god." (Dawkins: 1 Moron: 0)
H - now switches to move the conversation away from such "intellectual arguments" (did I fall asleep and miss a bit?) Asks Dawkins if he has ever read the bible.
D - says he hasn't "not all the way through"
D - "Have you read the Qur'an?"
H - "Not all the way through."
D - SO if you had read the Qur'an first, you might be a Muslim?"
H - "Possibly" he admits, failing to see how much this undermines the case for the bible to be the obviously inspired word of god, true in every divine detail.
(Dawkins:2 Moron: 0)
Howard's Anecdote of Receiving The Holy Fire.
I've had supernatural experiences - that's why I believe in genesis."
It really comical - Clearly he thinks he's got the sceptics whipped. He stresses there were witnesses. and goes on to discuss the first time "it happened" but that it's happened again since "more as he's got older."
It starts with him as a volunteer missionary with some Christians working in Haiti and Dominican Republic on a missionary ship.
H is not a fan of Pentecostals - writhing around on the floor and shaking the Benny Hinn Shove form of receiving the holy fire - because "he's an English gentleman" - a quality he says he sees in Dawkins incidentally in more cack-handed flattery -
H says the scene of people being prayed for to receive the holy spirit "looked a bit fake." and he "wasn't in the mood that day." "and yet I'm supposed to believe some of this stuff."
I can't decide if he's being disingenuous here or really brave - either way I'd love to know what reception those remarks got amongst his fan base - but pressing on...
He goes up to the preacher sends a silent prayer heavenward "If you are real prove it."
"This electrical force went into the small of my back, it went through my torso and it was like thousands of volts. My body started to burn inside - it felt like a burning. It's like I was in my death throes, like I'd been hit by a bus, all my joints were quivering. I'm struggling trying not to let this affect me.
The preacher says "you can't withstand the power of god."
H says "Oh yes I can I'm an Englishman."
(*ahem* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYrHx6dj0mU )
H says it took him many hours to recover from this powerful energy.
The next day he was praying with someone and a bolt of the "electrical power" leapt from him and shocked the other person. But still I wouldn't accept it. They said that yesterday they had seen the power of god enter him as a "being who emerged from the ceiling and went into Howard's back."
D - I'm not very impressed with anecdotes.
H - Let me finish!
H "I went out into one of the villages - there was a young girl covered in boils and terrible sores. I prayed "Lord make her well."
She sat bolt upright I read the scriptures and gave her water.
The woman by the door broke from her weeping and said her daughter had died hours before.
THAT'S RIGHT - HOWARD RESURRECTED THE DEAD!!
H - How do you explain that, Richard - am I deluded?
D "Probably, yes." (Dawkins: 3 Moron: 0)
D: there are thousand of such stories, ghosts, demonic possessions from many different religions - it's just not impressive. Instead he asks a devastatingly obvious question. "even if it were true what you say why does that make you believe genesis is accurate, given that ALL the scientific evidence is against it?"
H - Now switches into biblical prophecy including a non sequitur about women being emotionally stupid creatures. ("Prophecy impressed me. As a man I wasn't so emotionally into the bible as my wife would be ..er.. has been. I wasn't then "in love" with Jesus, I needed facts.")
H - There were prophecies in the bible that were fulfilled.
D - Like what?
H - The Book of Micha talks about the birth of Jesus written 500 years before he was born saying that the messiah would be born in Ephrita or Bethlehem. And Herod believed it ...
D - Dawkins interrupts - "Surely you know the gospels were written in such a way as to fulfil those prophecies?"
H - "I knew you would say that."
D - Well that's what New Testament Scholars say, but in any case what has that got to do with The Book of Genesis? You say, don't you, that on the strength of the book of genesis the earth is only 6,000 years old, right?"
H - "Yes."
D - But why would you put your money on that when all the evidence shows the earth to be old about 4.5 billion years?
H - "why, well it's difficult with so much "so-called" (he even does the scare-quotes mime) evidence. I believe that Jesus did walk this earth and did the things that he did because there are manuscripts...
D - Dawkins interrupts again - "We're not talking Jesus, we were talking about Genesis."
H - "Jesus referred to genesis."
(There we have it! That's the reason!)
H - "Okay? He's not a liar and he's a man ... er.. or a being that I would trust and he said in the beginning was Adam and Eve and Colossians says he, Jesus, is the one who created all things."
H - "so if Jesus is the one I accept why should I deny the genesis account?"
D - Well - by wedding this belief to Genesis and this idea that the earth is only 6,000 years old you are in effect you making Jesus anti-scientific, I don't think he'd be very pleased about that! Certainly he was ignorant of science becuase he lived at a time when science was fully developed.
H - Jesus WAS NOT ignorant!!
D - "well.."
H - Jesus WAS NOT ignorant!!
D - You are tying Jesus to an error.
H - Many Christians disagree with me. You say man evolved over billions or millions of years but God says very clearly let us make man in our image, it's a plural so that's where Jesus comes into this becuase Jesus was there in the beginning as part of the god head he could refer to it in Colossians.
H - Jesus was Before. He Was, before he became a man. Do you see, Richard?
D - Dawkins ignores this scrambled reasoning and tries to bring it back to the question of evidence. He asks him "Do you know the evidence for why scientists think the world is billions of years old?"
H - "I hear the arguments. There are many of us. We are not super-intelligent. I am a simple man."
(I think that was supposed to be self-deprecating but he just described the entire creations / biblical literalist movement! <laugh>)
H - The first day of Genesis uses the Hebrew word "yom" which means a 24 hour day. I believe god created us and that we are intelligently designed."
D - "but you have no reason to be." Dawkins again goes back to his resting his entire case on genesis being true and this is becuase of the interconectedness of the entire bible but D points out the way the bible was written and organised goes against that idea that it is a complete and inerrant document. He notes there are many creation myths (eg Australian Aboriginals) He accuses H of believing the Jewish Creation myth just becuase Christianity grew out of Judism so it got included in the bible when it was cobbled together.
H - The very first prophecy is in genesis.
(trust me when he says what it is it's masterful bit of re-interpretation - but first we have another clanger from Howard about this time, intentional cruelty and torture...)
H - the whole foundation of our faith are in Genesis - the accounts of Abraham...
D - "Abraham? The one who nearly killed his kid? Not a very edifying moral story is it?"
H - It prefigures what the Lord did... um offered ... to his son.
D - "It does doesn't it"
H - "Yes."
D - "They are both as ugly as each other." (Dawkins 4: Moron: 0)
H - Well you might see it like that, H replies miserably. H says he looks at the life of Christ his great compassion. He healed the sick, he raised the dead (JUST LIKE HOWARD! :-p) He wept wit those that wept. Jesus is a direct representation of god.
D says some of what Jesus said and did seems alright - but the idea of dying for our sins is an unpleasant fiction. "The idea of the scapegoat."
Howard interrupts this time to introduce that prophecy. Grab your bibles, here it comes
H - Genesis 3:15 says "there will be a messiah who will be bruised in the heel you know almost put to death - but raised.."
D - Time and again you come back to a biblical quotation as if I am supposed to be impressed!
H - says he's not trying to impress you. I'm happy for you to have your belief in evolution and long -term development I just want you to consider my position.
D - Analyses Howard's position: "it comes from reading the bible, that there's no particular reason to prefer that Holy book over another - that Jesus was particularly important to Howard's beliefs becuase of the mirroring with Abraham in Genesis.
D - He asks why if god wanted to forgive us our sins it is only possible if Jesus was tortured to death, why not just forgive them?
H - "It's a very good question."
D - Well what's your answer?
H - "Genesis."
D - "How does Genesis answer that question?"
H - Because Adam was made perfect, was disobedient, it was a simple test and he lost that perfection for all of us. The need for another perfect being could only be the proper ransom for our redemption."
D - focusses on this idea of the ransom - "why did it have to be the torture of his son, it could have been anything. Why if we accept your idea of 6,000 years did Jesus have to be tortured to death for the sin of someone else 4,000 years before? "Why didn't god just say "I forgive you?"
H - I see it that God loved the world so much he gave his only begotten son.
D - "You are quoting scripture again." "Why didn't god just forgive us if he wanted to since it is in his power to do so?"
H - He could have done (!!) but being the God that he is and giving us free will. Adam was disobedient and he knew he'd done wrong because he hid from god.
D - So because Adam was disobedient than sin reverberates down the ages and is inherited by all humans (Howard nods in agreement.) and was inherited by all humans and can only be redeemed by the son of god being tortured to death "What kind of a doctrine is that? What kind of morality is this?"
H - That's a very good question. Paul puts it like this in Romans Chapter 5...
D - Well Paul invented it, so he would! (Dawkins 5: Moron 0)
H - Paul says becuase of Adam's sin, death comes to all mankind because all have sinned and that's why we needed another Perfect Life.
The ransom had to be a perfect life - which is why he had to be born of a virgin and have no earthly father becuase of the bloodline.
D - Looks on unimpressed.
H - But we could argue about these things all day. But please Richard see my heart not my intellect because my heart is for mankind.
D - I can see that.
H - Is there something in particular that you really can't stand about god?
D - Well I don't think god exists so that doesn't apply - there's something I can't stand about Christianity - this really obnoxious doctrine of original sin - it's hideous, demeaning and vengeful it's the idea that one persons sin has to be paid for by another person which is a horrible idea.
H - Imagine a thief has gone before the courts and he's guilty but when he's sentenced the judges says you are guilty but I shall go to prison for you. That's how I in my simple way see it - that's how god could set up his son to be the ultimate sacrifice.
D - That would be persuasive if the judge said "you are forgiven" - that you could empathise with but he didn't say that he said "we are going to hang someone else for your crime."
H - No, the judge said "I would give you my son."
D - I think it would be disgusting.
H - I see it differently. That he loved us so much that he was willing to do that.
(Horward then briefly mentions the recent death of one of the Rev Tv's children in the accident and alludes to knowing how difficult it is to loose a child how much God must have suffered this loss. Decide for yourself if that's totally crass or not.)
D - That makes it even worse, given that he could have merely said "I forgive you."
H - Well you don't know. Maybe there was a conversation in heaven before Jesus came down between Father and son and Jesus agreed and said "I will do it" IT could have happened like that.
D - That presupposes that it was necessary.
H - There had to be somebody perfect.
D - But why have to sacrifice someone at all?
H - A life for a life.
D - A life for a life, exactly! (Dawkins 6: Moron : 0)
D - What kind of a morality is that?
H - I believe that helps us to lead a good life and respect for each other and stop if I was angry instead of taking a life, I would forgive.
D - I would forgive too but we are not talking about that We were talking about taking one life for another.
They then stop to tidy up some final viewer questions in the remaining minutes.
H reads out a viewer email - "evolution has not been observed if you've not seen it then it is faith. How is this belief different from what creationists believe?
D - "For interesting things to happen evolution take a long time", he says you do see it happening in small ways but of necessity the length of a human life-time limits it but the burden of the question is on "if you can't see something happening before your very eyes does it require faith? The answer is no, the evidence is what's left behind the traces, the remains the consequences I've likened it to when a detective comes on the scene of a crime, they can't witness the mugging or stabbing say *as it happens* it's already happened but they can examine the fingerprints, the footprints the blood patterns, any bodies that happen to be lying about to build up a picture of what happened. Fossils are of that type. DNA is of that type.
The minor difference is the sequences of the letters of the code - that form a family tree of nested hierarchies you can count the differences between each species - it's really quite remarkable - but this is massive quantities of evidence in every cell of every living thing and the rocks with fossils - this too is massive amounts of evidence that evolution occurs.
H - Richard, the complexities of the DNA speak to me of a very intelligent designer.
There the video ends.
Wow! Thanks so much for posting this - I was quite disappointed that the link was DMCA'd.
I love your running score points (Dawkins 5 - Moron 0)
But my fav is: "D - looks incredulous."
There must have been a lot of that!
Ally - check under my videos. The interview has been re-posted on youtube (comments disabled) so you can see the real thing and compare my commentary now.
I actually quite like the link to V for Vendetta.
Re: the "looks incredulous"
Here is my favourite screen-grab.