This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Interviews with Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer

Interviews with Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer - Comments

maton100's Avatar Comment 1 by maton100

But where's the stork?

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 10:43:00 UTC | #155875

kram50's Avatar Comment 2 by kram50

I agree with Richard....It won't be long before more and more believers get there heads screwed on the right way. It would be safe to say that the "moderates" are likely to do so first.
I see this as most important. After all, I really don't think they truly believe...they are just holding on for fear of what others might think, and of course, fear of eternity in a burning hell.
Get over it!!

Keep up the good work Richard!

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 11:37:00 UTC | #155927

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 3 by Lisa Bauer

I damn near DIED when RD mentioned my email to him towards the end of the interview (from 21:30 to 23:05). I had no idea it made such an impression on him! (I HOPE, Richard, you weren't offended by some of my remarks in that email about your book being "somewhat perfunctory" in its discussion of Islam!)

Anyway, he quotes from it, "I am shocked at how quickly my faith seems to be draining away." Well, it's drained away to almost nothing by now, to the point where I didn't even bother to pray today...and I don't feel guilty about it, either (the most important thing--anybody can NOT pray, it's not feeling badly about it that marks your true lack of faith!). It's amazing how quickly these things happen.

I'm going to go hide in embarrassment, now...well, not really! I am honored and shocked by the attention!

Edit: You thought I looked to be "about twenty"! Wow, do I really look so young? (I'm actually thirty!)

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 11:45:00 UTC | #155937

bujin's Avatar Comment 4 by bujin

An alleged connection between Hitler and Nazism? Surely not... ;o)

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 11:59:00 UTC | #155943

akado's Avatar Comment 5 by akado

yay! X3

all of us atheist in america should stand out more and speak out as he said!
I believe just liek them there our tons of us and for those of us just willing to stand up and say somehting will motivate others that aren't even aware that religion is even being looked at as critically as it is today!

P.S.the comment about Bien stein smoking dope in his car.......LMAO! XD

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 12:00:00 UTC | #155945

Count von Count's Avatar Comment 6 by Count von Count


I didn't even bother to pray today...and I don't feel guilty about it, either

Congratulations Layla! I smiled a big warm smile when I read those words. Let's hear it for action rather than prayer and confidence rather than guilt!

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 12:03:00 UTC | #155949

HitbLade's Avatar Comment 7 by HitbLade

Good for you! You are nolonger a dumbass :D
Also, YOU are inside a famous persons BRAIN right now. You are famous!

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 12:12:00 UTC | #155956

headcold's Avatar Comment 8 by headcold

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

No intelligence allowed? Sounds like they know exactly who their target audience is. "Come out to the movie, but be sure to leave your brain at the door."

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 12:16:00 UTC | #155959

He'sAVeryNaughtyBoy's Avatar Comment 9 by He'sAVeryNaughtyBoy

Layla, hearing a story like yours gives me great joy. Persevere, keep asking those questions and don't let the bastards drag you down.

Can I ask though, what do you reckon has been the hardest thing about your recent experiences? I'd love to understand the mind of someone who believes in a god (or at least used to believe) in a bit more detail than simply calling them a "fucktard". I'd like to know what was the biggest stumbling block for you, the greatest thing that got in your way of feeling free.

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 14:01:00 UTC | #156022

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 10 by robotaholic

Layla Nasreddin - wow, you are a great person and you made my day too.

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 14:42:00 UTC | #156034

MonkeyMagoo's Avatar Comment 11 by MonkeyMagoo

Message for 'He'sAVeryNaughtyBoy': I understand your question and I think it's a good one.

"Fucktard" is a bit harsh I think, though. I had a fairly mild Catholic upbringing, and even though I wasn't sent to 'Hell School', the same ideas were drip-fed into me as a child. By the time you are old enough to question them, they are strong enough to make you pretty wary of questioning them.

"Fucktard" implies stupidity. Most people with a religious upbringing are not stupid. They just have 18 or so years of brainwashing to get over. Took me a while...

The stupid ones are those who go on about 'no transitional fossils' etc etc. When you speak to them (as I have) it's clear that they have never opened a science book or visited a museum. They are just repeating parrot fashion what they have read on sites like 'Answers in Genesis'.

I'm, rambling now but that's the wine talking :)

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 14:45:00 UTC | #156035

Jayday's Avatar Comment 12 by Jayday

Richard Dawkins was once again articulate and clear. Always a breath of fresh air. Dawkins saying that he is encouraged by letters and those he meets on his tour was quite gracious. Layla, you are indeed a courageous person for questioning your beliefs and making a decision to go in a different direction that you know is right for you. I am so happy that Professor Dawkins mentioned your letter. Best wishes to you! You are not alone.

I've got to say that once again I am baffled by Michael Shermer's response. I am still trying to figure him out and trying to understand what he really thinks. He came off so la-ti dah about being contacted to do the movie interview and then behaves like it is okay to be used dishonestly by the film producer. He side stepped questions about it and made it sound like it is okay to be manipulated. Like it is just a game. So much so that he gets invited warmly to religious conferences. I got the impression it is a strategic game to him. I am not sure what his ultimate goal is. Richard Dawkins is direct and you know what he thinks from his writings, interviews, and actions. Dawkins is consistent.Shermer writes one way and talks and behaves another. I am having a hard time trusting his motives. Let me explain where this is coming from…

I am a member of the Skeptics Society and attend lectures in Pasadena where Shermer presides over the events. He has hosted Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris among others, in the lecture series. I have read some of Shermer's books and thought I understood his views about religion and science. He is a bright guy. Then I attended his debate about religion with Dinesh D'Souza, which really made me question Shermer's motives. It was a sold out crowd of a few thousand at Cal Tech. To my surprise, most of the attendees were theists instead of the atheists I was use to seeing at previous events. The Skeptics Society lectures and events are the few places where we can actually meet other atheists and share out views and experiences. It makes sense. After all, I don't go to church to find fellow atheists. Anyway, D'Souza obviously had a big following that day. Then I thought, this could be good. Theists will get to hear Michael Shermer who I knew to be an intelligent speaker, presenting and being exposed to different views than their own.

During the debate, I was shocked to find that Shermer was so non-chalant in his position against D'Souza's religious claims. It was like Shermer had turned into someone else. I had been listening to him at the Skeptics Society lectures for a year. And, all of a sudden, I didn't know the person who was on that debate stage.

I know Shermer is a bright man who knows the topic and is a good speaker. He knows how to debate. However, in the D'Souza debate setting, he held back to the point that HE ALLOWED D'Souza to walk all over him. It felt like a boxing match that had been rigged. It was OBVIOUS that he wasn't even trying to clarify some really important points that the theists in the room could have heard. It was like he really didn't care. It was a grand opportunity for theists to hear another viewpoint that they certainly wouldn't get in their churches and in the religious books they read. Shermer really dropped the ball, and it seemed to be on purpose. He joked about the fact the he and D'Souza were good friends and that they would be going out for drinks afterwards. Okay fine, I have theist friends too. But this was a public forum, a debate of opposing ideas, not a chat between friends. Right or wrong, on some level I felt betrayed by Shermer. Was it my mistake in assuming he would defend the opposing position? Was I expecting too much? Mr. Skeptic wasn't being a skeptic. He was being mister wishy washy. Why, I still don't know. It was all so foolish.

Either I was very much mistaken and disillusioned about him when I first joined the Skeptics Society, or he has really back peddled and distanced himself from the more mainstream atheist proponents. It is like he is riding the fence. Doesn't want to offend anyone. Doesn't want to be associated with any particular ideas. His mind seems to be so open, that he doesn't take a stance in public. Unless his stance, is "anything goes" which doesn't make sense to what he writes about. He writes one way and now talks another. I believe he has changed. Or at least he has changed his public discourse in the last year.

I am not impressed with his portion of the podcast.

Has anyone else been to the Skeptics Society lectures with Shermer and seen a shift in his public behavior? I am open to others perspectives. It is really baffling to me.

Jayday

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 15:00:00 UTC | #156043

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 13 by Lisa Bauer

He'sAVeryNaughtyBoy wrote:

Layla, hearing a story like yours gives me great joy. Persevere, keep asking those questions and don't let the bastards drag you down.

Can I ask though, what do you reckon has been the hardest thing about your recent experiences? I'd love to understand the mind of someone who believes in a god (or at least used to believe) in a bit more detail than simply calling them a "fucktard". I'd like to know what was the biggest stumbling block for you, the greatest thing that got in your way of feeling free.


Well, I have had a LOT of very difficult experiences lately. Some of them include overcoming my natural timidity to actually write about how I feel, because I so desperately needed an outlet for my conflicted feelings. I don't really have anybody in the "real world" to discuss these matters with, at least not in the way I would prefer--they would either insist that I make du'ah to Allah to protect me from the whispering doubts of Shaytan, or else tell me I am completely full of it and should learn to get a life, so to speak. Maybe they're right, but it helps when somebody takes your feelings seriously!

You see, even though my "default" was basically atheism, since I was not raised in any religion and in fact had totally rejected the idea of any deity as "stupid" by the time I was seven, I later figured that all these people who have ever believed in a deity MUST have a point. I believe I am a religious person by nature (whatever that may mean), so I found the study of religion to be very interesting. And, being the kind of intense reader that I am, I simply completely suspended all disbelief when reading sacred texts. I was overwhelmed by the Qur'an and decided to take on Islam. It was great; I made a lot of friends, I felt in touch with a Higher Being because Islam affects all aspects of daily life so that even while doing something as mundane as washing one's body or cutting one's nails, one feels that one is obeying a higher authority, Allah. There were some problems, to put it mildly, with my family, but I didn't care--I had found the truth that I was searching for.

I became extremely adept at compartmentalizing my beliefs and my knowledge. Because I had done some study of religion, I "knew" all the historical issues with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (which depends heavily on the other two--if Moses or Jesus didn't exist, that creates something of a problem for the Qur'an, where both are mentioned repeatedly!), but I simply forced myself to "repress" or "ignore" all of that and went on "believing" that, say, the Qur'an was from Allah. I studied Arabic, read the Qur'an hundreds of times, prayed five times a day, fasted for Ramadan, donned the hijab, all that stuff.

In the end, I realized, I simply could not continue to LIE to myself. My natural skepticism always broke through, and I couldn't shake the feeling that I was living a lie. I was frightened that others would find out that I didn't "really" believe, on some fundamental level. Sure, a lot of people must feel that way, I reasoned, but at the same time, I felt like a complete FRAUD. I'd like to think that I am an honest person (but I don't know about that, ha ha!).

Speaking of frauds, perhaps I should change my username from the "fake Islamic name" (as RD put it once: http://richarddawkins.net/articleComments,710,Response-to-Richard-Dawkins-and-Sam-Harris,Zaytuna-Videocast-4,page2#25056) here to my "real" name...but that probably would not be altogether prudent. So I'll just keep it for now.

(I am sorry for the long, rambling nature of this post! Skip it if it gets too boring!)

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 15:01:00 UTC | #156044

He'sAVeryNaughtyBoy's Avatar Comment 14 by He'sAVeryNaughtyBoy

Hey MonkeyMagoo (I'm on something red and from Chile at the moment, so hooray!)

I reckon I should make it clear that I only used "fucktard" as a description of what I am NOT interested in. That kind of language I guess is justified in those, whom after reasoned dicussion, are immune to any reasoning. But I'm looking for a bit more than that.

Basicaly I would realy love to know what makes a religious person tick. "Fucktard" gets thrown around quite alot on this forum (and ocasionaly with good reason), but I can't quite buy into the whole idea that everyone who believes in a religion is stupid to that degree. I can't remember who expressed the idea, but someone said that if you base your whole world view off of a false premise (belief in a god) then everything after that can be argued in a sensible and logical maner. This would not be a "fucktard".

I'd realy love to know what prevents an intelligent and rational person from questioning that intial false premise. Or in other words - what realy is the hardest step?
I'd realy love to know what was the most difficult move that Layla made to earn her own freedom.


(quick edit to make sure I'm clear - fucktard is used a derogative statement, which is fine if you feel like being derogatory to someone. Personaly I'd would like to learn something much deeper than that - and so would not choose to use that term. My appologies, if by my use of that word in desciribng what I hope NOT to be, I have presented myself worse than I wisehd)

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 15:07:00 UTC | #156047

Matt H.'s Avatar Comment 15 by Matt H.

Layla - when I listened to the interview I thought it might be you! I never knew your faith was 'draining away', though that is excellent news! I hope you don't have too many personal problems resulting from it (family/friends, etc).

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 15:17:00 UTC | #156049

He'sAVeryNaughtyBoy's Avatar Comment 16 by He'sAVeryNaughtyBoy

Hi Layla, I think I've got an idea of where you're coming from. I ended up having a bit of a heated discusion with my little brother not six months ago about something similar.

Whilst he proffesed himself to being an atheist, he couldn't help but feel that there was someone looking over him, guiding his life. He reckoned it was the spirit of our grandad. I suppose it's human nature to hope that there is something out there watching us. I'd love to know the reasoning of that.

As to your name - I reckon you should go with what you're comfortable with. If you feel safe with your "fake Islamic name" as you call it, then stick with that. If you feel the need to say hello with another name then do that. I don't reckon anyon's gonna judge you. Heck, my user name comes from one of the funniest films ever, and when I use a real name it's only the nickname my friends call me. What's in a name etc..

Just one thing I should probably warn you on..
"but it helps when somebody takes your feelings seriously!"
There's an awful lot of smart people around here, and they are going to take what you say very seriously. I know, I've been bruised a few times.

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 15:33:00 UTC | #156054

MonkeyMagoo's Avatar Comment 17 by MonkeyMagoo

He'sAVeryNaughtyBoy: no worries - I wasn't offended and I doubt anyone else was either! :) Just wanted to make the point that most religious people aren't idiots.

Most people who believe in a god (in the UK I think) only do so because they don't really give it much thought, so they just go with what they were taught at school.

At my workplace (a software house) the whole debate has really sparked up, and you should see how once people start to say "you know what....." their views start moving to atheism.

My uncle is a physics teacher, but he is a creationist. Hard to believe, but I think this is a case of the heart ruling the mind. Scared of death etc etc. I think this is what makes most thinking religious people tick. That's probably quite offensive, so sorry if I've upset anyone.

If you look at the evidence for evolution, then still deny it, you either have a really really good theory that needs publishing, or your one of those 'F' people :)

Either way, Layla, I salute you!

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 15:38:00 UTC | #156056

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 18 by Enlightenme..

Really good interviews, I thought that Shermer has things right though, concerning the PZ thing. As far as expelled are concerned no news is bad news right now.

Jayday, we all approach things differently, even if we feel we have to 'choose a side', just look at the Dawkins/Krauss talk on the front page.

Edit;I heard him saying he viewed the film in a state of mind 'suspension of belief' is it called? (thanks, Layla).
This enables him to report objectively to the listener that to it's constituency it will go down well, it's not to be dismissed - it *is* dangerous.

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 15:38:00 UTC | #156057

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 19 by Lisa Bauer

He'sAVeryNaughtyBoy wrote:

I suppose it's human nature to hope that there is something out there watching us. I'd love to know the reasoning of that.


Oh, see, that's your problem right there--it has NOTHING to do with reason and logic, generally speaking. It's all about emotions and feelings! You see, I tend to think that people's beliefs about God or the supernatural are emphatically NOT arrived at through logic and reason. No, you start out with the beliefs and then search for plausible-sounding reasons to hold them.

I'll admit it--my lack of belief as a child was certainly not based on what would be generally called "logic." I thought it was crap, a ridiculous idea, and that anybody holding it must be a fool (more or less). It was only later that I began to explore the logic behind the existence or nonexistence of a deity--well, children aren't usually really big utilizers of reason and logic, anyway. But that childhood disbelief affected my deepest feelings--even in my most pious days, when I would spend hours on hours reading the Qur'an in the mosque and praying until my calves got sore--I couldn't shake that childish "What if there is no God?" voice in my head. Some who returned to faith in later life have something similar, I think, except in the opposite direction. They started out believing in some deity, later disavowed it, but then their childhood beliefs reasserted themselves with a vengeance, and they ended up returning to the church or mosque or synagogue or whatever, often after having children.

So I would say that religious belief is all about emotion, not reason!

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 15:43:00 UTC | #156060

Matt H.'s Avatar Comment 20 by Matt H.

I forgot to comment on the interviews.

Regarding Richard's, it's heartening to hear how well the new tour went. I only wish I could share Richard's optimism regarding people 'coming out'.... in my experience, most people who are really 'atheists' (in the sense of not holding any religious belief) would actually describe themselves as apathetic or agnostic, and have no interest in outing themselves in any fashion. I know Richard has evidence to the contrary in terms of book figures, but sadly I know some people to whom I have recommended the book but who have still not read it through laziness/lack of interest, or read it but failed to come out because they still have some kind of respect for faith, or refused to read it at all because of that respect for faith.

It was also good to hear from Michael Shermer. He has a different outlook than Richard, and sometimes that is refreshing, even though I don't necessarily agree with everything he says. He hit the nail on the head with the whole 'miracles are not science' speech. I thought the analogy he used at the end, regarding 'picking up the ball and going home' was perfect too.

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 16:02:00 UTC | #156073

Vanitas's Avatar Comment 21 by Vanitas

Hello. I am a new contributor here. I've been coming on this website for the longest time now, and the articles are always so interesting and the discussions so lively that I just had to join in. :)

I would like to begin by congratulating you, Layla, on your deconversion. I was brought up a Muslim myself, although my faith faded into something more like deism by my teenage years.
But I am glad to say that it was Professor Dawkins' writings that dealt the final blow to my faith last year.

I'm only 19 now, and it's been the hardest thing "coming out" to my parents, and i suppose even now i've still got one foot in the closet. But I guess it's a gradual thing, and the more you make a stand for yourself, the easier it becomes and the more you gain the respect you deserve.

Anyway, I think it's wonderful that so many people have been standing up and raising the middle finger to religious bullying these past few years, and i feel lucky to have the opportunity to contribute two of my own.

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 16:05:00 UTC | #156074

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 22 by Enlightenme..

Thanks Layla for posting a link to the Mark Hanson video, I missed that one and shall watch it later.

I live in the city of Andrew 'Ibrahim', a british convert in custody (No further comment - there's a bit of a controv here about his name being in the press when he is only a suspect)

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 16:10:00 UTC | #156076

MonkeyMagoo's Avatar Comment 23 by MonkeyMagoo

Good for you Vanitas. Same with me (my familiy is Christian).

It's great to look back and see those beliefs for what they are (Christian or other). Those beliefs that seemed so 'solid' for so long are nothing but make-believe.

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 16:14:00 UTC | #156081

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 24 by Lisa Bauer

Vanitas wrote:

I would like to begin by congratulating you, Layla, on your deconversion. I was brought up a Muslim myself, although my faith faded into something more like deism by my teenage years.
But I am glad to say that it was Professor Dawkins' writings that dealt the final blow to my faith last year.

I'm only 19 now, and it's been the hardest thing "coming out" to my parents, and i suppose even now i've still got one foot in the closet. But I guess it's a gradual thing, and the more you make a stand for yourself, the easier it becomes and the more you gain the respect you deserve.


Congratulations, Vanitas! :-D Best of luck in trying to find out and stand up for the truth (and getting along with your family)! And a hearty Ameen (Arabic for "amen") to that last point!

You say you're 19. Well, I sometimes wish I had "figured this out" before spending most of my twenties as a Muslimah...but then, I wouldn't be the person I am today without all that's happened to me, so I suppose that's all right.

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 16:16:00 UTC | #156084

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 25 by Enlightenme..

"Whilst he proffesed himself to being an atheist, he couldn't help but feel that there was someone looking over him, guiding his life. He reckoned it was the spirit of our grandad. I suppose it's human nature to hope that there is something out there watching us. I'd love to know the reasoning of that."

That is a very strong part of religion obviously, Ancestor Worship is pretty much right at the roots of it. (imo)
Ouija board, Ouija board.

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 16:20:00 UTC | #156087

Zamboro's Avatar Comment 26 by Zamboro

"the more you make a stand for yourself, the easier it becomes and the more you gain the respect you deserve."

We all certainly deserve a basic degree of ethical consideration on account of our humanity, but I hope you don't mean to imply that being an atheist entitles one to additional respect, any more than accepting gravity, evolution or the shape of the earth does....although I suppose there's some merit to championing these scientific truths in an era of opposition (much as we'd champion abolitionists *not* for their common sense conclusion that slavery is ethically impermissible, but instead for their tireless struggle to thwart the regressive forces which greatly outnumbered them)

I'm not saying we can't take pride in our advocacy of reason, only that we oughtn't pat ourselves on the back for doing something which is a moral necessity.

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 16:24:00 UTC | #156089

Matt H.'s Avatar Comment 27 by Matt H.

Whilst he professed himself to being an atheist, he couldn't help but feel that there was someone looking over him, guiding his life. He reckoned it was the spirit of our grandad. I suppose it's human nature to hope that there is something out there watching us. I'd love to know the reasoning of that.





So would I, since I thought atheism meant the lack of belief in the supernatural. It annoys me when spiritualists, like wiccas and tarotists, are labelled 'atheists' when a more truthful term would be 'pagans' or 'paranormalists'.

Your little brother, if he still believes in spirits, is not an atheist. He is a paranormalist, which by definition demands a belief in the supernatural.

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 16:24:00 UTC | #156090

AllanW's Avatar Comment 28 by AllanW

Layla Nasreddin and Veritas; heart-warming stories. Thanks for sharing.

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 16:27:00 UTC | #156092

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 29 by Enlightenme..

"but sadly I know some people to whom I have recommended the book but who have still not read it through laziness/lack of interest"

No Matt, that's a good thing, 'most people' in the UK, are de facto atheists - they would be puzzled by all this fuss, even to the point of thinking people who haunt places like this should 'get a life'!

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 16:36:00 UTC | #156096

Vanitas's Avatar Comment 30 by Vanitas

MonkeyMagoo

Thank you. Yes, and even when you outgrow the beliefs, it's still a good thing to learn more about them and appreciate the culture--just as one can cherish Greek mythology without believing it to be true.

Layla

And I wish the same for you :) Of course, it's never too late to change your mind about anything. And I feel the same way--I'm glad I had the chance, if anything, to experience firsthand what islam is all about. Atheists are too often dismissed as "not knowledgeable enough about religion."

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 16:38:00 UTC | #156097