Richard Dawkins : Religious Faith, Evolution, Science
(Top Posts - Science - 022509)

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Wednesday, February 25,2009

Speaking with a purpose

Richard Dawkins on what drives people - and
hijacks them

by Lawrence Cosentino
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Photo: Richard Dawkins in front of bus ad
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Two years ago, the distinguished Oxford don wrote
"The God Delusion," pivoting toward polemics after
a career spent researching and explaining the evolution
of life.


Are people ready to jettison, or at least question, religious
faith as a way to explain and manage the world?

"I'm starting to think the answer to that may be yes, and
very encouraging it is, too," Dawkins said in a telephone
interview from his office in London. "I haven't done a
proper Gallup Poll sort of analysis, but I get that feeling."

"I don't suppose we're converting any dyed-in-the-wool
religious people," he said. "But I do think we're embold-
ening people to come out and realize that this is what
they've thought all along, maybe secretly."

As Dawkins opens a U.S. lecture tour at Michigan State
University Monday, he is also buoyed by the prospect
of a new American administration that values science.

"The entire world is heaving a huge sigh of relief at your
elections," Dawkins said. "We were not able to vote our-
selves, and everybody in the world, practically, is delighted
that the American voters finally did the right thing."

President Barack Obama even gave a shout-out to "non-
believers" in his inauguration speech. "I was not surprised,
given what I know of him, and what an intelligent, educated
man he is," Dawkins said. "But slightly surprised, given
what American elected officials have to pretend in order
to get elected. In any event, it was an act of courage and
I salute him for it."

Despite his optimism, Dawkins has long endured criticism
that his scientific message is bleak. "If a scientific world-
view is depressing, that's just too bad," he said bluntly.
"You can't change reality."

But he was quick to add that it shouldn't be depressing.

"It's such an enormously uplifting experience to understand
why you exist, which is what science is pretty much now
capable of telling you."


Dive into any or all of Dawkins' books for an extended tour
of the staggering physical, chemical and biological processes
 ... From "The Selfish Gene" in 1976, through "Unweaving
the Rainbow," "The Blind Watchmaker," and "The Ancestor's
Tale," Dawkins has celebrated the origin and evolution of
life in lucid, compelling language ...

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