Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Richard Dawkins on Al Jazeera

Richard Dawkins, the outspoken critique of religion and known as being part of the New Atheists, has been interviewed at Al Jezeera. Muslim journalist Medhi Hasan presents some interesting questions and holds his own quite well in what turns out to be a fascinating exchange. The interview is described by Al Jezeera as follows:
Fanaticism, fundamentalism, superstition and ignorance. Religion is getting a bad press these days. Much of the conflict in the world, from the Middle East to Nigeria and Myanmar, is often blamed on religion.

But how are things from a different perspective? Defenders of religion claim Adolf Hitler was an atheist. Communism under Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot or Mao Zedong banned religion, but also massacred millions. And science brought incredible and amazing advances, but also pollution and the atomic bomb.

A critic of religious dogmatism, Professor Richard Dawkins revolutionised genetics in 1976 with the publication of The Selfish Gene, which explained how evolution takes place at the genetic level. He has since written 12 more bestsellers, including The God Delusion which sold millions of copies, was translated into more than 30 languages, and catapulted him to the position of the world's foremost atheist.

Mehdi Hasan interviews evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins at the Oxford Union and asks: Is religion a force for good or evil? Can it co-exist with science? Is science the new religion? And why if god does not exist, is religion so persistent?
The program might have more accurately described the key question as to how religion is both a force for good and evil rather than as an either/or, but the interview is worth watching, and is a great example of interreligious dialogue. Click the Al Jezeera page for "Dawkins on Religion."

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