Dawkins clip

For those curious about Dawkins’ documentary, “Root of All Evil?”, you can find a short excerpt of the segment with Ted Haggard online. Haggard is extraordinarily creepy—keep some Pepto-Bismol handy if you watch it.

(via Leiter Reports)


  1. #1 Sean Foley
    February 24, 2006

    What an unctious little snot. (Haggard, not Dawkins.)

  2. #2 Jeremy
    February 24, 2006

    About halfway through, I was still okay with Haggard. I’m always willing to give people I don’t know the benefit of the doubt.

    And then he claimed that the Bible doesn’t contradict itself.

    And then he referred to the 4.6 billion year old age of the earth as “some of the views that are accepted in some portions of the scientific community as fact.”

    My impression of the clip was that Haggard came off as tremendously naive, but he may have been pushed a little by Dawkins, which was obviously the point of the whole exchange.

  3. #3 Kristine
    February 24, 2006

    Yeah, I need a drink (and maybe Pepto-Bismol for a chaser)! I don’t know how Dawkins controlled himself–what a man. Someday Haggard’s grandchildren will watch that clip and cry.

  4. #4 D
    February 24, 2006

    Well…earlier in that program Dawkins compares Haggard’s church to the Nuremberg Rallies. I’d be pissed too.

  5. #5 Greg
    February 24, 2006

    I think the documentary can still be obtained via bittorrent. Try searching for ‘root of all evil’ on

  6. #6 Sean Foley
    February 24, 2006

    Well…earlier in that program Dawkins compares Haggard’s church to the Nuremberg Rallies. I’d be pissed too.

    Haggard didn’t seem to know what the Nuremberg Rallies were. I doubt that’s what set him off.

  7. #7 kyle
    February 24, 2006

    It really seemed what set him off wasn’t the Nuremberg comment. He seemed to ignorant to understand it. I doubt anyone who knoew what Dawkins was refering to would be able to let that stand.

    But given the magic of editing and the fiesty nature Dawkins often has we can’t really be sure what set the man off. If we are to take Dawkins’ word it was simply the mention of evolution. But that’s probably standard “this interview is going badly time to sieze on any point and get indignant.” Nothing gives you an out faster than feinging offense: it’s a technique that Bill O’Reilly has mastered.

  8. #8 D
    February 24, 2006

    Actually, I find it a bit hard to believe Haggard didn’t get the Nuremberg reference – Dawkins says “Dr. Goebbels would be proud.” I thought I saw Haggard struggling to be polite, passing it off by making a comparison between his sermons and rock concerts. I think most people would agree that is a somewhat more apt comparison.

    Yes, the man is frighteningly ignorant and the fact that he talks to Dubya every week is just plain scary. Even so, calling him a Nazi then expecting him to NOT explode at some point is a bit much. What’s astonishing is that Dawkins actually plonks the whole segment down without editing it, thinking he comes off looking well. With a friend like this…

    PS: you can find the whole program on youtube

  9. #9 BC
    February 24, 2006

    I thought Dawkins looked kinda like a jerk, and I think he did fall into the category of appearing arrogant. I think Haggard also looked like a jerk and came off as arrogant. I thought it was funny when Haggard accused Dawkins of arrogance because Haggard was playing the same game. Of course, most people fail to see themselves through other people’s eyes. The “I’m right, you’re wrong, our grandchildren are going to laugh at you” stuff that religious people often pull is arrogance, they just can’t seem to see it. (It reminded me of an interview I had heard with a preacher who was branded a heretic in Oklahoma. He said that, now that he was an outcast from the church, now that he was on the outside, he was stunned to see just how arrogant and pushy religious people could be – now that he was on the receiving end rather than being the person proselytizing it was stunningly clear.)

  10. #10 Steve LaBonne
    February 24, 2006

    Complaining that both Dawkins and Haggard are arrogant is rather like complaining about your hangnail to a friend who has terminal cancer.

  11. #11 Rocky
    February 24, 2006

    I’ve GOT to get this CD! Mr. Dawkins, if you are reading this, please put it on the net for sale!
    And, for those interested in the “accuracy” current I’ve found a very readable book titled:
    Misquoting Jesus : The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why by Bart Ehrman. It’s written by a “now reformed evangelical” shows in detail that many sections of the bible is full of misquotes and additions. Key things Christians believe don’t even hold up in their own history, written LONG after to make a good story. Good read!

  12. #12 Cinatyte
    February 24, 2006

    I think Dawkins was certainly baiting Haggard at several points, but if Haggard didn’t think that this was going to happen, he’s a complete fool. That said, I had to turn away from the computer at several points, mainly because Haggard’s lips freaked me out. Finally, congratulations to Sean Foley, for making the best Franklin W. Dixon reference any of us will see all day.

  13. #13 Rocky
    February 24, 2006

    Molly, the easy but unsatisfactory answer is that they “believe”. If their religious leaders told them horse-poo was cake with icing, they would unflinchingly gobble it up. Over and over, I’m sure you’ve read and seen how intelligent persons point out that they have corrected “misnomers” that creationists make, but their, and my personal experience is belief, however idiotic or irrational wins out for them because the minister said so. It’s very sad

  14. #14 CS
    February 24, 2006

    I’ve been in several conversations with religious right-wingers, and it took very little to set them off. There’s a constant siege mentality. The outburst was often in the form of a non-sequitur (a la “you called my children animals!”). Part of the non sequitur is in the tension between the angry words and the plastic smile.

    Dawkins spares no sympathy even for more “legitimate” religions. So I don’t think he was baiting Haggard … just being himself.

  15. #15 Brian
    February 24, 2006

    Holy crap. I thought for a second there that Dawkins was going to pop him one.

  16. #16 386sx
    February 24, 2006

    I didn’t understand until I saw this clip. The person who should be showing them that charity–their minister–is one of the people hosing them.

    Right. I don’t think the Jesus of the Bible would have kicked Mr. Dawkins off His property like that (if we ignore the parts of the Bible where Jesus kicks the money changers’ butts and some of the other parts of the Bible where Jesus tells people to wipe out whole cities, and other parts where He drowns the whole planet and a bunch of other bad stuff like that.) If Mr. Haggard were on the “up and up” he would pay more attention to the WWJD stuff. Sweet Feathery Jesus!

  17. #17 CanuckRob
    February 24, 2006

    I don’t know who edited the show but i did not think Dawkisn came of all that well. There were times it looked he was simply trying to bait these idiots (who of course are dumb enough to rise to it. there is no doubt that the Haggards’ and their ilk looked the worst but I thought that Dawkins was trying to appear a bit disingenous.I would have liked Dawkins to expand on the fact that in America religion is free enterprise. This is likely one reason it is so strong in the US, only the strong survive in the capitalist version of natural selection.

  18. #18 Bored Huge Krill
    February 24, 2006

    I must say I’m in two minds about this.

    For sure, no believers will be remotely swayed by anything here. In fact, it will reinforce their beliefs that “evilutionist scientists” are arrogant and insular; the argument made by Haggard, however incoherent, will be heard as making sense.

    It doesn’t matter that it is Haggard who is claiming to have all the answers, set in stone for eternity, whilst simultaneously berating Dawkins for… claiming to have all the answers.

    Absent prior knowledge as to the veracity or otherwise of what is being said, I expect many people will react simply to the emotion – and the Nuremburg comment (whilst exactly on point, by the way) – really doesn’t help Dawkins’ case, I’m afraid.

    I liked his barb (right at the beginning) that “there seemed to be a lot of money being spent here today” which appeared to go right over Haggard’s head…

  19. #19 CBBB
    February 24, 2006

    I have to say that I think Dawkins was being a bit of an jackass with that whole “Nuremburg” comment, I mean he’s right in a way but I still think it makes him look like a jackass for saying it.
    I don’t think Haggard is a Nazi; Clearly Haggard is just your standard religious huckster who’s milking a bunch of unthinking sheep for all they have.

  20. #20 Bored Huge Krill
    February 24, 2006

    I don’t think Haggard is a Nazi; Clearly Haggard is just your standard religious huckster who’s milking a bunch of unthinking sheep for all they have.

    I completely agree that the Nuremburg reference didn’t make Dawkins look good, because of the unavoidable emotional response it generates – but his point was well made.

    The implication wasn’t that Haggard is a Nazi; rather the implication was that he is using psychological tricks on the audience in order to create the desired mass hysteria effect. And he is.

  21. #21 Shygetz
    February 24, 2006

    The “Nuremburg Rallies” comment was over the line. If he wanted to accuse Haggard of leading a cult of personality, then there are much more constructive ways of doing it than playing the Nazi card right off the bat. I personally thought Dawkins was an ass. He was right for the most part, but being correct does not excuse being an ass. Of course Haggard was a blithering moron who was apparently very vindictive once the conversation actually reached his brain; however, this could have been a decisive PR victory for rationalism. I think Dawkins’ attitude made it into an intellectual win (talk about punching below your weight!) but a PR draw, if not a loss. Unfortunately, we already have a huge intellectual lead; what we need is better public perception of rationalism.

  22. #22 Squeaky
    February 24, 2006

    “whatever involuntary outrage the rightwing Christian community might have once felt at the Holocaust (and I have to say this can only be infintesimal in the first place, killing Jews is one of the most hallowed traditions of Christianity) has long since faded.”

    Hmmm…I’m not sure how well this comment jives with the fact that some of the strongest supporters of the state of Israel are fundamentalist Christians…

    My understanding of the documentary from what people have said in the past is that Dawkins focuses on the radical elements of the religions he explores. No, I haven’t seen it, but if this is the case, the documentary is biased to portray and strengthen his point of view. Not very balanced reporting…

    As for Haggard–I agree…ewww. But I also agree with many here that Dawkins didn’t come off looking any better than Haggard. Perhaps he would have if he had kept an even tone. Haggard was truly struggling to keep his composure with that permagrin firmly in place, but the facade was clearly cracking. As for the Nuremberg comment and the comment that there was a lot of money being spent in his church–Haggard reacted in the same way to each of those comments. He was trying to be polite. Although I don’t have much respect for him, I don’t think he is so stupid as to have completely missed that comment.

  23. #23 Dr. Marco
    February 24, 2006

    Is there a way I can get Dawkins’ documentary “The Root of all Evil” in DVD? Region 1, if that is not difficult

  24. #24 SEF
    February 24, 2006

    It’s a BBC documentary

    No, The Root Of All Evil was not a BBC thing. The BBC aren’t that good or brave any more. Instead they are the gullible ones falling for the pretended offense-taking of the offensive religious people.

    That particular one was a C4 thing (both C4 and 5 having overtaken BBC in documentary quality in the past decade on occasion). Though there was a (somewhat poor) recent BBC Horizon programme with both Richard Dawkins and David Attenborough.

  25. #25 Dustin
    February 24, 2006

    P.S: If you ignore the lunatics and the congestion, Colorado Springs can be a nice place to visit.

  26. #26 Dustin
    February 24, 2006

    P.P.S: Upon downloading and viewing all of part II, it seems that everything that wasn’t filmed on the other side of the pond was shot in Colorado Springs. The good news is, Dawkins has discovered the marvel that is the Boulder Street Coffee shop. (I used to deliver bagels there). The bad news is that this whole documentary has left me a little embarassed for my hometown.

    Also, does someone have a link to part I that has some seeds?

  27. #27 NelC
    February 25, 2006

    You know, I’ll give points to Dawkins for suffering through Haggard’s rally for however long it took and then only appearing slightly ruffled during his interview with the reverend afterwards. From this end of the boob tube it looked scary to be surrounded by that host of believers being played like an orchestra by Haggard. It feels to me as though Dawkins came up with the Nuremburg reference spontaneously because that’s what it felt like.

    As to Haggard, with his ludicrous “If you knew the scientists I knew” line and the frankly patronising “You don’t know everything” approach, the man clearly had no idea who he was talking to. I think he thought that Dawkins was just some guy, and when the interview was over somebody in his entourage clued him in, which is what prompted the “animals” outburst.

  28. #28 Samnell
    February 25, 2006

    “It feels to me as though Dawkins came up with the Nuremburg reference spontaneously because that’s what it felt like.”

    Having sat surrounded by a similar, if much smaller situation, that’s how I read it too. Figure he probably sat there three or four hours and got to hear them chanting about how they were born to obey and so forth.

  29. #29 El Juno
    February 25, 2006

    Am I the only person that thinks that the main thing that clip was missing was Dawkins responding to Haggard’s ‘You haven’t talked to the people I have’ by screaming ‘I’m Richard Fucking Dawkins!’?

  30. #30 Dustin
    February 25, 2006

    You know, I’ll give points to Dawkins for suffering through Haggard’s rally for however long it took and then only appearing slightly ruffled during his interview with the reverend afterwards. From this end of the boob tube it looked scary to be surrounded by that host of believers being played like an orchestra by Haggard. It feels to me as though Dawkins came up with the Nuremburg reference spontaneously because that’s what it felt like.

    That’s just what it feels like, I don’t think Dawkins was trying to be an ass or anything. My grandfather is a pastor at Woodmen Valley Chapel (another of the Colorado Springs mega-warehouse-churches). They were doing something for him to honor his several decades in the ministry. I thought that, after 10 years of not setting foot in that church, it would be alright to make an exception for family purposes. I mentioned to my girlfriend that I’d be going, and I said that she wouldn’t have to if it made her uncomfortable. She likes my grandfather, and decided she’d tag along too.

    The main pastor (not my grandfather, thankfully) gave the most nauseating and disgusting sermon I’ve ever heard in my life (it was, of course, also an AV extravaganza). In it, people who have worked in any way to ban altogether or even restrict the proliferation of nuclear weapons were accused of having no morals and resorting to “the logic of darkness”.. The things that came out of this jackasses mouth were so vile that it made my girlfriend physically sick (I was pissed to the point that my right eyebrow was doing this involuntary twitching thing).

    I’ve noticed in the documentary that Dawkins likens Colorado Springs to the Vatican of evangelical christianity. It’s good to see that I’m not the only one who’s noticed that.

  31. #31 Jeremy
    February 25, 2006

    NelC: “Slightly ruffled?” Dawkins looked like he was going to be sick. The expression of disgust on his face was priceless.

  32. #32 Robert S.
    February 25, 2006

    As a former fundamentalist myself, I agree that Dawkins should be more careful throwing around the Nazi metaphors if he really wants to change minds, though I understand the urge to reach for dire mataphors when one is outraged. I think that if we really want to change minds, we have to approach people respectfully; mocking them only turns them away. Which doesn’t mean joking about or even mocking and satirizing superstitious belief is inappropriate. I find a great relief in such humor, as I can identify with it, and know that I’m not going crazy here in the South, just because so few people agree with my beliefs. It just doesn’t help to engage in that vein of discussion if you’re trying to convince “believers” of your position.

    I especially love it, though, when someone Dawkins is interviewing says something outlandish and you see Dawkin’s face start twitching! You can see he wants to bust in on them midsentence.

    I watched the 2nd episode, and I do think Dawkins does a *masterful* job of describing religion as a virus. Of course, this metaphor too is going to be a highly inflammatory one – especially since the word “virus” carries such a pejorative connotation. However, his case is strong, reenforced as it is by the illustrations of how children are raised with these beliefs and never given the opportunity to choose them for themselves. No, the beliefs are foisted upon them at the most impressionable of ages, when their minds take in and believe everything they’re given.

    One of the things that helped me leave my relgious beliefs behind was the gradual understanding that if I’d been born in another country, I might’ve been a Buddhist, a Confucianist, a Muslim, etc. Therefore, it’s possible the only reason I believed what I did was because I was raised that way. Astonishingly, it seems that perhaps the majority of our fellow humans do not come to this elementary conclusion.

    I’m not smarter than many of these folks, so what is the problem? We’re not teaching critical thinking skills in our schools? Or is it simply that different folks’ brains work in different ways, and I tend to be more skeptical in general than others? I suspect some combination of both.

  33. #33 I'm doomed.
    February 26, 2006

    AAAGH! How can people be this stupid!

    Anyway, can anyone tell me where I can get a higher-quality irony meter? Mine shattered after Haggard started ranting about how DAWKINS was supposedly “arrogant,” quite seemingly UNAWARE that he was describing HIMSELF!

  34. #34 Gary DeVaney
    August 29, 2007

    Many have asked – so – if the content of “The God Murders” found at can be of assistance in examining the Bible and Its God, feel free to use it as you wish.

    Gary DeVaney

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