Richard Dawkins argues that there is no rational or moral reason to believe in God or any other supernatural higher power. He says that because atheists are discriminated against in the United States they tend not to be vocal about their views, even though collectively they could be an influential political and social force. Professor Dawkins also reads selections from his new book, talks about his love for science, and answers questions from the Randolph-Macon audience.
Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He is the author of many books, including The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, and Unweaving the Rainbow.
Richard Dawkins is a world-renowned evolutionary biologist and author. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and, until recently, held the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. His first book, The Selfish Gene, was an instant international bestseller, and has become an established classic work of modern evolutionary biology.
He is also the author of The Blind Watchmaker, River Out of Eden, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, A Devil's Chaplain, The Ancestor's TaleThe God Delusion, and most recently, The Greatsest Show on Earth.
Professor Dawkins's awards have included the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London (1989), the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Award (1990), the Nakayama Prize for Achievement in Human Science (1990), The International Cosmos Prize (1997) and the Kistler Prize (2001).
He has Honorary Doctorates in both literature and science, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or divine beings. Unlike agnosticism, which leaves open the question of whether there is a God, atheism is a positive denial. It is rooted in an array of philosophical systems. Ancient Greek philosophers such as Democritus and Epicurus argued for it in the context of materialism. In the 18th century David Hume and Immanuel Kant, though not atheists, argued against traditional proofs for God's existence, making belief a matter of faith alone. Atheists such as Ludwig Feuerbach held that God was a projection of human ideals and that recognizing this fiction made self-realization possible. Marxism exemplified modern materialism. Beginning with Friedrich Nietzsche, existentialist atheism proclaimed the death of God and the human freedom to determine value and meaning. Logical positivism holds that propositions concerning the existence or nonexistence of God are nonsensical or meaningless.
Viewing the lecture i got an urge to answer the question about the origin of morality myself because i thought professor dawkins was a bit to "politically correct" when answering. Wel maybe he has to be, but i don't and i have more time to think of a response, so lets give a bit more sturdy reponse, since the question about the origin of morality also gave me a chalk on a blackboard feeling as dawkins was talking about.
The thing is that believers have as an argument against atheists that atheists wouldn't have the same unshakable sense of morality as they have, as their morality is placed upon them by an unimaginably smart entity, not by some earthly being writing a scripture of course, and i got the feeling that professor dawkins didn't confront this particular believer way of "thinking" clearly enough, especially given the insulting implication from this question that believers are somehow morally superior. But dawkins is a sly communicator, and he calmly did give a good response, athough i just want to thicken it a bit.
I would like to state that, and this is a scientifically based view aka based on the scientific method, which is the only way to take any view seriously, there is no such thing as a proven morality outside the heads of moral beings. Nature knows no morality, at least not proven, in a direct sense, but only indirectly as, for instance, a feeling inside the humans that live in it. Very correctly professor dawkins called morality a lust, or one could also call it a regulating feeling, as part of the higher, and relatively late developped, social functions of the brain.
To put it simply, if the biological machine that our body realy is, needs to re-energize, it gets hungry, if our body needs to exersize, it feels playfull, if our body needs to be strong, it feels angry, and... very simply, if our body needs to be accepted, and not attacked, by the bodies around it (since we are a social species) it needs to be, or at least pretend to be, morally correct, depending of it's social position.
This pretending is very important. I would state that pretending and acting is a major property of our species, because it has such evolutionary relevance. We lie consciously, unconsiously to both ourselves and others. Take religion, it's an example such a lie we make to ourselves and others, but there are many more examples, like for instance the evolutionary sound psychological tendency humans have to start to like their opressors. Also having to be carefull, about for instance the reality about morallity, is such a lie placed upon us by the social nature of people, some of whom just can't cope with reality, believers up front.
Being truthfull is dangerous.
Let me give a more clear example of darwinian evolution of moral, as oposed to the rather unclear "small village" concept given in the lecture. Let's asume i would want to get rid of somebody for whatever reason, and have no "moral", and just would bash in his brains. Makes perfect evolutionary sense right? Not realy, because i likely would get arrested (the social consequence, hence our brains have a social regulator in the front part of the brain) and maybe even executed, and this would seriously inflict on my abbility to raise offspring, which determines the road of evolution.
Is it bad to bash peoples brains in?
Not if the stars would have eyes, because they don't care, every moral consept only exists in our brain. Maybe not what a lot of people would like, but nevertheless a fact, for as far proven. Does that make somebody who has this vision immoral? No, it just means that person has reached a higher level of intelligence, or awareness, then people who can't face the truth.
When cats look into a mirror they see a cat, if a gorilla looks into a mirror he sees himself. We humans are now starting to see in the mirror of human social programmation (that realy is what religion is) and morality.
you know rpetty if you watch the the whole lecture you will see where he explains that. it amazes me how stupid people can be even if the proof is rite in their face.
RELIGION IS LIKE A PENIS.
It's fine to have one. It's fine to be proud of it. But please don't whip it out in public and start waving it around, and PLEASE don't try to shove it down my children's throats. ~Doug Stanhope~
They have a word for experience with the divine and its called delusion.How many times have you heard God came to me.More like schizophrenia came to me not God.It does not matter how many people believe in books that have magical bushes,talking snakes or riding a horse to heaven.Its still nonsense and worthy of the same contempt that they show to each others religions.The argument that just because you can not prove something does not exist means everything can exist somewhere in the universe.So we could therefore have in the universe talking cement,crosses that think,churches that walk, you name it we can not prove it does not exist.God is product of the stone age and that is were it belongs.
@sactownjudge - Dawkins tried to address this with Russell's teapot but I think he failed to take something into account: that God and the religious experience are monumentally significant in the minds of the religious, whereas Bertrand Russell's celestial teapot is irrelevent. However, suppose in place of the teapot I could suggest Hinduism. How can you doubt the existence of Brahma? All Hindu practitioners believe in Brahma just as fervently as you do in the Christian God. If you can't prove Brahma doesn't exist then your own faith is no more valid than any Hindu's.
By postulating a teapot orbiting the earth, that no-one can disprove, Russell showed how unreasonable the argument "disprove God or atheism makes no sense" is. It is religious people who are making the claim; atheists are merely saying "why should we believe it?"
Atheism is not a system of belief, it's the absence of belief in the supernatural, and once people have decided they don't believe in gods, they can choose to believe in whichever ideaology they find most rational. Even the most opposed Christian sects (such as Catholic and Protestant) all believe in certain fundamental ideas: the resurrection or the trinity and so on; atheists are not linked in the same way, in fact they could disagree on ANY idea.
Dawkins is not a "hard atheist". He calls himself a 6.9 atheist and says it can't be proven that God doesn't exist; that we can merely come to the conclusion that it is extremely unlikely he exists. Read his books before you critisize him.
"Hard atheism is one of the most critically unsustainable position on the market. Agnosticism is easy to understand. But to embrace hard atheism you need believe it's possible to prove the negative that God doesn't exist. It's amazing (and somewhat amusing) that men as gifted as Dawkins don't see this. It makes it easy to dismiss him/them as mere provocateurs since there is no solidly founded argument for such a relentless rejection of God."
Depending on where you look Atheism will normally be defined as one of the following:
The doctrine or belief that there is no god.
Disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
I have not met or know of one single atheist (apart perhaps from Penn Jillette, but I could be wrong) that prescribes to the first view (Dawkins included, as others have pointed out the book contains a chapter on this very thing). Our position is simple, if an idea is unproven (one way or the other)we do not believe it as truth however if proof was ever to surface we would rethink our position. If the evidence was good enough we might even believe the idea is true after all (perhaps believe is the wrong word, accept as fact would be better). We do not believe in god, this is different from "we believe god does not exist":
The reason for this is also simple, imagine any concept you can that has neither been proven to exist or not to exist (maybe a concept so strange that we are unable to). What should the default position on this concept be?
To believe it without evidence? No
If we did this we would have to believe anything anybody could ever imagine until it was disproved
To believe that it is not true without evidence? No
As unlikely as the thing might be its unscientific to assert that something cannot be true without proof, this is the reason the atheist bus posters read "there's probably no god"
To say that its chance of existing is 50/50? No
Just because something is unproven does not make it at all likely, the flying spaghetti monster should do as an example here but feel free to come up with whatever crazy thing you can imagine.
To not believe it as truth but be open to change your views upon further evidence? Yes
If anyone can point out to me why this should not be the stance to take on unproven (and unprovable) claims I would like to hear it, I mean that genuinely if there is fault in my reasoning I would like to be made aware of it.
By the way did everyone else get that 1800 LOVE GOD advert at the beginning? Well done google ads another triumph!
START OF THE COMMENT In Ancient times there weren't so much killing, they didn't give a crap what who believed, as long as they payed taxes and obeyed the laws, after the land was pacified. BUT as since Roman Catholic Church started with Fashionable, killing of other Religious people, and of course, the trend continued, they started, and it spread around the world, and this crap is still going on and we are in 21st century, and it is all in the name of all loving, all knowing, all omnipotent god - - -
We've been to the moon, sent probes to Mars and advancement in science is remarkable, and we even didn't scratch the surface, and what are those idiot's doing, killing each other for "god", if I'd be god, and saw what people are doing in my name I'd be pissed as hell, and smitten all of them down with lightnings from my arse.
There's the proof, that god does not exist. The funny thing is, how people are STUPID, and BRAIN WASHED, and when you give them ARGUMENTS, I love their answers ( God Works in Mysterious ways, or GOD gave us free will ) - - So once I argument-ed this statement, I ended up by accident in some closed group of religious fanatics.
There was a guy that was Yapping about the god, trying to be all charismatic, alas he didn't act so well. SO he told: you are suppose to love God and he is our father and all that crap, and when we need him, he will come and help us, so Imagine that, if you please:
„A man, decides to go to the park, to find a woman, beat her, rape her and kill her – his free will - - - - A woman decides to go from work to her home, through the park, cos she wants to get home quick, she is tiered, and wants a nice bath, she believes in God, and has faith - - - her free will : : : : : : SO, He ambushes her, does what he wanted to do, my reasoning, her free will ceased to be, the moment he attacked her and done what HE decided.
. . .Where was her „father“, where was her GOD, if he sees, and knows everything, I don't want a father, that will leave me hanging, when I'll need him, screw him, I rather be an orphan“
So the guy told me, that then the god decided to call her to him, that's why he let her die, so she was her daughter and he called her to him, through rape beating and murder, again, a father that loves his children, does not let his children to suffer, and then reasoning, she had to have been sinned, so she had to pay for it.
Well didn't F. . . Jesus die on the F . . . cross for our sins, ergo, so even if she sinned, Jesus already payed for HER sins. . . Just a bit of logic, and there you have it, GOD is an Ass hole if he would exist, and I really couldn't care less of him, any GOD, Christian, Muslim or any other, it's all the same, The difference is in dictionary, and religion is the cancer on human soul . . .
As far as bible goes, religious people say, it is a word of god. HOW THE HELL can it be the word of god, if HE did not write it, and the one that is used today, was written in 367 A.D. And they chucked everything out, that made Jesus „human“, to make a martyr out of him, it condones Slavery, stoning, selling of your children to slavery.
I could go on and on here. It is a book to scare people, that if they do not DO as Church DEMANDS, then they will suffer, a typical scare tactics, for me it is the book that equals Hitlers „Mein Kupmf“,
It is a scam, a good scam, to get people under control, and it fought knowledge, it fought, the right for the people to be able to read the bible for them selves, it was interpreted by the priests, cos they knew, when people would start to think, and understand things, then they would figure out, that what they were told, and what is written, are two different things.
Control over life and death is the most powerful „drug“, and people having it, don't like letting it go, and Roman Catholic Church as an institution and all it's mechanisms, to control the world and people, for me they are the oldest, crime organization, that ever existed, and should be treated as such, I could write much more on the subject, suffice it to say, I completely agree with Prof. Dr. Dawkins . . . .