The Dawkins-O'Reilly Instatranscript

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 -


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.


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I think that the explanation for Dawkins apprearing on this, and, some days ago, on the Colbert report, is book promotion. He knows that these are not going to be serious philosphical discussions, his publisher just wants the free advertising.

So far, it looks like Dawkins came out pretty good, considering the circumstances. I'm surprised that O'Liely (apologies to Al Franken) didn't rig things more in his favor.

And he didn't use the word "faith-head" once. :)

Thanks for the video links. Hopefully the transcript will be helpful to anyone who wants to quote from the interview. I'd hate to think I transcribed all that for nothing!

Transcription is a pain, as I well know. Your transcript is much appreciated and your effort is not for naught! Thanks!

I thought it was pretty funny that O'Reilly found it necessary to spell out "bane". What was that all about?

Hitler said it again at a Nazi Christmas celebration in 1926: "Christ was the greatest early fighter in the battle against the world enemy, the Jews ... The work that Christ started but could not finish, I -- Adolf Hitler -- will conclude."

In a Reichstag speech in 1938, Hitler again echoed the religious origins of his crusade. "I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews, I am fighting for the Lord's work."

Hitler regarded himself as a Catholic until he died. "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so," he told Gerhard Engel, one of his generals, in 1941.

oh....that aetheist!

I mean Hitler and Stalin both had moustaches but we don't say it was their moustaches that made them evil.

no that would be ... Thomas Friedman!

(also, can you add a remember me feature to the comments?)

Thanks for the transcript, Jason! There is another use for them besides quoting: they are way easier to follow than audio for us non-native speakers :-)

By dileffante (not verified) on 23 Apr 2007 #permalink

A video is also available on Richard Dawkins' own site.

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.

What? Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot?

I think we secularists need to take a little step back and see just how far we've come. Here is the ultra-right-wing, psuedo-fascist mouthpiece of our time, and he just said he wasn't positive Jesus was god. On national TV, before an audience of people he relies on for support.

Picture anyone saying that 300 years ago! Picture anyone in an Islamic country saying the equivalent ("I don't believe Mohammed was a prophet of Allah") today.

We've made progress. We still have a ways to go, but we've made progress.


By Duke York (not verified) on 24 Apr 2007 #permalink

Thanks for taking the time to transcribe this - read it and then watched the video. I only get to see these things via YouTube and the like and it never ceases to amaze me how generally ignorant and ill-informed talking heads like O'Reilly are. Why is it that they get so much air-time?

I thought Richard Dawkins came across very well as I expected much more shouting and bullying from O'Reilly. I guess he knew he was in the presence of a superior intellect and couldn't afford to open his mouth too wide.

Definitely, thanks for the transcript. I'm quite surprised
at how polite it all sounds; I'm definitely going to have
to watch the video though: I don't believe Dawkins has ever
said "Yeah" in his life! ;*)

By Peter Telford (not verified) on 24 Apr 2007 #permalink

"O'REILLY: Jesus! Jesus was a real guy, I can see him -"

Someone should tell him those autographed photos are not authentic.

Thanks a lot for the transcript- I don't have audio on my cpu, so youtube doesn't help me.

At least O'Reilly didn't try to explain to Dawkins what is and is not science ("There's 24 hours in a day--that's science!" as he explained to Paul Gross or some such evilutionist).

Oops--I see in the next post, you're familiar with the episode of the 24 hour day being science, and it was Michael Grant, not Paul Gross who was the guest. That episode was a much more foolish O'Reilly.

Thank you for the transcript. I was curious about this interview but was hesitant to watch the vidoe because listening to Bill O'Reilly makes my ears bleed and my doctor sais that is bad for me...

By Lou Doench (not verified) on 24 Apr 2007 #permalink

O'Reilly was the most civilized I think I have ever seen him be with a guest with whom he disagrees. He seemed to show some respect for Dawkins and even wished him well at the end. "Congratulations on your success." !!!

He frequently teares to shreds people with whom he disagrees less than with this emminent "ATHIEST."

Or underneath it all maybe he's really a right wing agnostic, just out to make a buck.

What a nothing interview. This comment sums it up:

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.

This sums up the theist's mindset. Tell us a story of how we got here, and you have my attention....but only if it fits in with the biblical story. We are not interested in any other story. And please, don't make me think. Only when you guys (scientists) do all the hard work & come up with definite answers will we agree with you, as if we ourselves had come up with the answers.

This sums up the theist's mindset.

No. It may sum up Bill O'Reilly's mindset but it does not sum up mine.

I'm a liberal, but o'reilly, I have to give you kudos for that argument