Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Teach the Controversy: O'Reilly vs. Dawkins

I might have got some of the words of this interview wrong, so you can see it yourself at this link. However, you can see several jump cuts in the video, indicating that some words may have been left out. But Dawkins comes off reasonably well in spite of it, so everybody's happy.

The Interview
Bill: I believe in creative design, I believe in evolution, but I think it was overseen by a higher power, because you guys still haven't figured out how it all began.

Dawkins: There's a great deal science hasn't worked out, and we don't know how it all began, but it's warped logic to say that because science can't answer a question, you're going to throw in your lot with Jesus, and there's no evidence that He did it either, you'll never get any evidence from any of them. Throw in your lot with science, which at least is working on the question.

My Commentary: Dawkins is referring to the earlier interview between them in 2007, Bill said that he was "throwing in his lot with Jesus". Unfortunately, Richard Dawkins is quite naive here in trying to get Bill to throw in his lot with science, because Bill only throws in his lot with making money yelling at people on television. Bill does not care either about Jesus or about where man came from, only what channel they might be watching right now.

What does Bill mean by creative design? It sounds like a mishmash of creationism and science. If he is referring to Intelligent Design, then Dawkins could rebut with the Dover School Board case that ruled ID had no place in the science curriculum.

Bill: Here's the problem I have with throwing in my lot with science: Science does not advance the human condition in any moralistic way, and Jesus did. My thesis is that if everybody followed the teachings of Jesus Christ that we'd have peace on Earth, love your brother, everybody would love one another, and we'd almost be an idyllic civilization. Am I 100% sure that Jesus is God? No, but I'd choose to believe that because the man was so extraordinary and what he did in his 33 years on Earth still resonates to this day. That, I think is more powerful than your belief that "Hey, some day, we might figure it all out but in the mean time we're not going to believe in any deity."

Dawkins: Why would you muddle up the question of moral compass, which is important, with explaining the nature of the world, the nature of life, the universe. That's what science is about.

My Commentary: Where Bill actually muddled things up was by saying the word Science when he actually means Atheism. That is enough to throw Richard completely off, and it does take a bit of time to figure it out, even reading the text. Let alone in a live debate.

Now if Dawkins was to defend Atheism, he would have to come back at Bill that Christianity has not produced an idyllic civilization, and Atheism has come a lot closer, with the concept of "Religious Tolerance". The main example being the USA. I don't know if Bill is doing this muddling of words on purpose or just out of ignorance. But I'll bet a lot of his listeners think atheism and science are two words for the same thing.

Bill: OK I understand that, but I don't think that my belief system contradicts science. I do believe that there is a higher power. But what disturbs me about you guys, and I'm putting you into this category perhaps unjustly, is that you seem to look down on believers.

Dawkins: Well there is a problem when you say that because you believe what you do, because of the holy book and because of the way you've been brought up, therefore that entitles you to go into science classes and tell teachers what they can and cannot teach. You may think that God oversaw evolution, and that's a point of view that you could probably defend, but leave it out of the science class...

Bill: But it's not fair to leave it out of the science class if the science class is incomplete. And you, by your own admission say you don't know how it all began. So if the science class is gonna say "Evolution only, but I really don't know how it all started" that gap has got to be explored.

Dawkins: It is a remarkable piece of illogic to say that because science can't fill a particular gap, that therefore we have to turn to Christianity...

Bill: You don't have to turn anywhere, you just have to present it!

Dawkins: Will you listen to me and stop shouting at me.

Bill: Turn your earphones down, that's the way I usually talk. Go ahead

Dawkins: I know it is I've been warned about it.

Dawkins : Just because science has a gap in its knowledge, that does not entitle you to turn to any other particular alternative, pick on a better science.

Bill: That's fascism. For you to say that you can't, in a public school science classroom, talk about brilliant men, and I mean brilliant, smarter than you, who do believe in a higher power, who do believe that there was an overseer of the universe, you insist that you can't even mention it, that is FASCISM, sir.

Dawkins. What you call fascism, was my statement that if science can't answer something, that we must turn to Christianity?

Bill: Not "turn", "discuss".

Dawkins: If a particular scientific theory doesn't work, then do some better science.

Bill: No, you present in the science classroom all the alternatives that are legitimate. Now Adam and Eve, you don't have to do that. That's for the biblical portion of the theology class. But, as I said, there are more believers than non believers. And that should be presented. I'll give you the last word.

Dawkins: Science is unique is that it does base itself upon evidence, rather than upon superstition, or upon authority, or upon holy books, or upon revelation.

My Comment: Bill got his chance to call Dawkins a fascist, probably the only thing he really wanted to get out of the interview. He also mentioned that there were men smarter than Dawkins who believe in a higher power. I would like to know exactly who they are, Bill O'Reilly for sure is not one of them. And are they smarter because they have a degree from a Bible College? O'Reilly also casually mentioned that there are more believers than non believers. This situation has never held back American science or technology in the past, but is it going to start now?


  1. O'Reilly proposes, '... if everybody followed the teachings of Jesus Christ then we'd have peace on Earth, love your brother, everybody would love one another, and we'd almost be an idyllic civilization.'

    Perhaps if the Christians themselves had a history of following the teachings of Jesus Christ, O'Reilly's argument might have a bit more credibility.

    Bear in mind that this is the man who has been quoted as saying (of his critics), 'You know, look, if I could strangle these people and not go to hell and get executed, I would, but I can't.'

    Now, isn't that just the essential 'Christian' paradox' for O'Reilly? If it wasn't for the threat of languishing in hell, he admits he'd readily commit murder.

    I'm not sure that augurs well for 'an idyllic civilization.'

  2. After reminding myself of the incredible persecutions of Jews by the "Christian" inquisition, I just wonder why Ben Stein could claim that hatred of Jews was all because of Darwin and the Theory of Evolution. (in his movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed".)

  3. I was not aware of Stein's contention that 'hatred of Jews was all because of Darwin and the Theory of Evolution.'

    That's a pretty tenuous contention, given that the Roman Emperor Constantine was persecuting Jews as far back as the 4th century and pogroms were being conducted by the Muslims in the 9th century, the Christians accusing the Jews of deicide and the Muslims considering them infidels.

    By the Middle Ages there were full blown massacres, blood libels and expulsions. Even the Nazis built upon a longstanding tradition of antisemitism in Northern Europe, going back at least as far as Martin Luther.

    Poor old Darwin! He's been blamed for all kinds of crap, like social darwinism and eugenics, which are, to put it mildly, misinterpretations of his body of work. Darwin's work contains no normatives, just observations and hypotheses.

  4. To be more exact, Ben Stein made a strong connection between Darwinism and the Nazi Holocaust in the movie. Partly based on Hitler's own reference to Darwin and "Survival of the fittest". And Stein was somewhat careful about how he phrased it in the movie, I forget the exact words he used to give himself a way out in case of criticism. Typical of dishonest propaganda. Anyway, I should have said the Nazi Holocaust, not "hatred".

  5. In an interesting turn of events, the creationists are now passing out free copies of The Origin of Species!