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Richard Dawkins Is Playboy’s September Interview

August 20, 2012

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — “Hitler wasn’t an atheist; he was a Roman Catholic. But I don’t care what he was. There is no logical connection between atheism and doing bad things, nor good things for that matter. Anybody who thinks you need religion in order to be good is being good for the wrong reason. I’d rather be good for moral reasons,” said outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins in Playboy‘s September Interview (issue on newsstands and i.Playboy.com Friday, August 17, with the complete interview available at www.playboy.com/dawkins).

Dawkins, patron saint of non-believers, evolutionary biologist, and author of such best-sellers as The Selfish Gene (1976) and The Magic of Reality (2011), sat down with Playboy Contributing Editor Chip Rowe to share his thoughts on a variety of controversial topics. From his views on Jesus, pro-life, and the pope, to arguing theories of evolution and blaming 9/11 on belief in the afterlife, Dawkins revealed some rather shocking insights. Following are selected quotes from the skeptical scientist’s Playboy Interview:

On being a self-described “tooth fairy” agnostic: “Rather than say he’s an atheist, a friend says, ‘I’m a tooth fairy agnostic,’ meaning he can’t disprove God but thinks God is about as likely as the tooth fairy.”

On not completely ruling out the idea of a supreme being: “I think a particular god like Zeus or Jehovah is as unlikely as the tooth fairy, but the idea of some kind of creative intelligence is not quite so ridiculous. The odds are extremely low, but nevertheless it’s worth it because the reward is extremely high. But you may also be wasting your life. You go to church every Sunday, you do penance, you wear sackcloth and ashes. You have a horrible life, and then you die and that’s it.”

On his view of Jesus: “The evidence he existed is surprisingly shaky. It’s a truly disgusting idea that the creator of the universe–capable of inventing the laws of physics and designing the evolutionary process–that this protégé of supernatural intellect couldn’t think of a better way to forgive our sins than to have himself tortured to death. And what a terrible lesson to say we’re born in sin because of the original sin of Adam, a man even the Catholic Church now says never existed.”

On atheists and agnostics typically getting overlooked in political discussions: “If you count up the number of Jews, certainly observant Jews, it’s much smaller than the number of nonbelievers. Yet Jews have tremendous influence. I’m not criticizing that–bully for them. But we could do the same.”

On religion evolving as an “accidental by-product”: “Whenever something is widespread in a species, you have to reckon it has some sort of survival value. There’s probably no survival value in religion itself–though there might be–but value in lots of rather separate psychological predispositions such as obedience to authority. That has strong survival value for children. Because they’re helpless and don’t know their way around the world, they rely on parental wisdom. But they don’t have the means of distinguishing wisdom that is wise for survival from wisdom that is nonsense.”

On blaming 9/11 on belief in the afterlife: “Normally when an aircraft is hijacked, there’s an assumption that the hijackers want to go on living. It changes the game if the hijackers look forward to death because it will get them into the best part of paradise. But my point is these people really believe what they say they believe, whereas most Christians don’t. If you talk to dying Christians, they aren’t looking forward to it.”

On Christians giving up their belief in miracles: “Miracles are a naked encroachment on science’s turf. If you ask people in the pew or on the prayer mat why they believe in God, it will always involve miracles, including the miracle of creation. If you don’t allow religion to have that, you’ve removed the reason just about everybody who is religious is religious.”

On the pope’s apology for the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church: “Oh, big deal. He hasn’t handed over any records to the police. He apologized with great reluctance after enormous pressure was brought to bear.”

On the pro-life debate: “People who say they’re pro-life mean they are pro-human life. A four-cell embryo or a 64-cell embryo, or indeed one much larger than that, has no nervous system. You should have rather less compunction in killing such a creature than you would in killing an earthworm, because an earthworm has a nervous system and very likely can suffer. So objecting to the abortion of very young human embryos is utter nonsense. Objecting to older human embryos being killed is not utter nonsense. There’s no reason to suppose that their capacity to suffer is any greater than the capacity of an adult pig or cow to suffer.”

On the idea that he should stop talking about atheism because it muddies the waters in the debate over evolution: “If what you’re trying to do is win the tactical battle in the U.S. schools, you’re better off lying and saying evolution is religion-friendly. I don’t wish to condemn people who lie for tactical reasons, but I don’t want to do that. For me, this is only a skirmish in the larger war against irrationality.”

On the common belief that humans descended from apes: “We are apes. We descend from extinct animals that would have been classified as apes. We are a unique ape. We have language. Other animals have systems of communication that fall far short of that.”

On evolution being described as “just a theory”: “It’s better to use the word fact. Evolution is a fact in the same sense that the earth orbits the sun.”

On his hope that today’s youth will change traditional thinking: “I go on the internet quite a lot and read what young people are saying. I see a great upsurge of good sense, rationality, irreverence. I find it hard to believe that the Stone Age types are going to win in the end.”

SOURCE Playboy Magazine

Source: PR Newswire