Richard Dawkins interview

BBC News has an interesting and in depth interview with Richard Dawkins. I’ve read almost everything he’s written over the years, so I guess that makes me a fan. Personally, I much prefer it when he talks about science than religion, but that certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t always interesting. Here’s a highlight:

As the observance of religion in our particular country has declined, we’ve seen the rise of perhaps what (laughing) you might call more irrational beliefs. I mean I’m talking about astrology and crystal gazing and things of that kind. It seems perhaps from that, to argue the need for religion, that there is never a vacuum in human ideas, that focus around religious notions.

Yes, that’s an interesting point. My prejudice is that those things are even worse than religion. As for whether you’re right that they signify a vacuum that needs to be filled, I’m not sure about that. I suppose the human mind is complicated, it has all sorts of desires and things that satisfy it. If there are people who seem to need either religion or astrology and crystal gazing to satisfy them, I would like to have a go at giving them an alternative, and just to see whether perhaps it might work better as a satisfying agent. And that would be understanding of the real world, and understanding of why you exist, where you come from, what the world is, what it’s all about.

I think that is such a satisfying thing to have in your head, that I find it very hard to believe that anybody would prefer astrology, crystal gazing, or religion. And so my suspicion is perhaps there is a vacuum that needs to be filled, and it may be that scientific rationalism just hasn’t got its act together enough to fill that vacuum, and if it did, it would fill it.

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