Friday, November 15, 2013

On the Lighter Side: Richard Dawkins on The Daily Show

Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist and author of THE GOD DELUSIONand more recently, AN APPETITE FOR WONDER: THE MAKING OF A SCIENTIST, is very critical of religion, perhaps overstating the case. Jon Stewart, the well-known host of THE DAILY SHOW, holds his feet to the fire. Dawkins insists that religion entails faith without evidence; he warns that followers are “seduced to do bad things” because they believe blindly in its doctrines. Later in the interview Stewart asks: “isn’t the job of a scientist to have faith that there’s something out there that we don’t understand?” Dawkins counters that religion and science differ because science involves faith that is based on evidence. In a past post Carl Sagan bridges the two by calling science "informed worship," evoking a more mystical attitude towards exploring our place in the world. But we have to ask further what "informed" means in this context. For example, a dialogue recounted on the blog between Dawkins and Francis Collins, former head of the DNA project and author of THE LANGUAGE OF GOD: A SCIENTIST PRESENTS EVIDENCE FOR BELIEFpoints out how differently the same evidence can be interpreted. (Our next post will delve deeper into the nature of evidence, and how the standards of evidence are established.)