Well, Richard Dawkins had his little run-in with Bill O’Reilly tonight. No doubt surprised to have an A-list guest on his show, O’Reilly managed to keep the stupidity to a minimum (though, as we shall see, he certainly did not manage to eliminate it entirely). He was also on his best behavior. Since Fox News, unlke MSNBC, does not make transcripts of its shows freely available, I have taken the liberty of providing one for you. Should tide you over until the video turns up. There were places where the two were talking over each other and other places where words were garbled, but I will do my best.
O’REILLY: In the personal story segment tonight, do you believe in God? Increasingly fewer Americans do. According to a Pew poll 12% of us do not have a belief in a higher power, up from 8% in 1987, and that group includes agnostics. In Europe the rise of atheism and agnosticism is stunning. According to a Zuckerman study, in Sweden as many as 85% of the population are nonbelievers, in Japan its 65%, France 54%, and in Britan 44% do not believe in God in Great Britan. With us now is a man who understands that position, Richard Dawkins the author of the mega-selling best book The God Delusion.
I think it takes more faith to be like you, an atheist, than like me, a believer, and it’s because of nature, you know, I just don’t think we could have lucked out to have, the tides come in, the tides go out, the Sun go up, the Sun go down. Don’t think it could have happened.
DAWKINS: We have a very full understanding of why the tides go in and the tides go out, about why the continents drift about, why life is there, science is ever more piling on the evidence, piling on the understanding –
O’REILLY: But it had to get there, I understand that, you know, the, uh, physiology of it, if you will, but it had to come from somewhere. And that is the leap of faith that you guys make. That it just happened.
DAWKINS: Well, a leap of faith. You don’t actually need a leap of faith, you’re the one who needs a leap of faith, because you are actually, the onus is on you to say why you believe in something. There’s an infinite number of Gods you could believe in, I take it you don’t believe in Zeus or Apollo or Thor, you believe in presumably the Judeo-Christian –
O’REILLY: Jesus! Jesus was a real guy, I can see him –
DAWKINS: Yeah –
O’REILLY: You know, I know what he did. And so I’m not positive that Jesus is God, but I’m throwing in with Jesus, rather than throwing in with you guys, because you guys can’t tell me how it all got here. You guys don’t know.
DAWKINS: We’re working on it [garbled] –
O’REILLY: When you get it, then maybe I’ll listen.
DAWKINS: Well, I mean, if you look at the history of science, over the centuries –
O’REILLY: Yeah –
DAWKINS: the amount that’s gained in knowledge each century, is stupendous. And at the beginning of the twenty-first century, we don’t know everything, we have to be humble, we have to in humility say there is a lot that we still don’t know –
O’REILLY: You know, being humble is a Christian virtue.
DAWKINS: Well, whatever else it is – [This phrase was hard to understand, I may have it wrong]
O’ REILLY: All right, when you guys figure it out then you come back here and tell me, because until that time I’m sticking with Judeo-Christian philosophy and my religion of Roman Catholicism, because it helps me as a person –
DAWKINS: Ah, that’s different. If it helps you that’s great. That doesn’t mean it’s true.
O’REILLY: Well, it’s true for me. See, I believe –
DAWKINS: You mean true for you is different from true for anybody else?
O’REILLY: Yeah, absolutely –
DAWKINS: It’s got to be either true or not true.
O’REILLY: No, no. I can’t prove to you that Jesus is God, so that truth is mine and mine alone, but you can’t prove to me that Jesus is not. So you have to stay in your little –
DAWKINS: You can’t prove that Zeus is not. You can’t prove that Apollo is not.
O’REILLY: I saw Apollo, man, he was down there and he was not looking good. Now, we also differ in the sense that you feel that religion has been a bane, B-A-N-E, to civilization and I feel atheism has. And I would point to the worst mass murderers in, uh, modern times. Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, all confirmed atheists. All people who wanted to wipe out religion. Now I know you can point to the Crusades, and you can point to Al Qaeda right now, I mean it’s there, there’s no question. But I say I’m throwing in with the Founding Fathers of the United States, which saw religion and spirituality as a moderating influence. As a good thing when people embrace the true tenets.
DAWKINS: The Founding Fathers of the United States were secularists above all. Some of them were religious, some of them were not, but they were above all secularists and believed in keeping church and state separate –
O’REILLY: They had to, because of the oppression in Europe.
DAWKINS: That was what they were – precisely – [There was some crosstalk here.]
O’REILLY: Almost all of them, they all said a prayer before their deliberations. In their letters, and I have almost all their letters, they all referenced the deity. Our Declaration of Independence references, heavily. But they saw it as a moderating influence because the federal government at that point couldn’t control the country, and they said, you know, if people follow Jesus then the country’s going to be better.
DAWKINS: It may well be a moderating influence. As for Hitler and Stalin, and so on, I mean, of course, Hitler by the way was a Roman Catholic.
O’REILLY: He never was. He was raised in that home. He rejected it early on.
DAWKINS: We can dispute that. Stalin was an atheist, no question. Uh, but Stalin did not do bad things because he was an atheist, I mean Hitler and Stalin both had moustaches but we don’t say it was their moustaches that made them evil.
O’REILLY: I don’t think they had any moral foundation, any of those guys.
DAWKINS: I don’t deny that.
O’REILLY: I will say your book is fascinating, congratulations on your success, thanks for coming on in here.
DAWKINS: Thank you very much.