I’m a little late to the game on this one, but I found the Dawkins/O’Reilly discussion to be quite interesting for a number of reasons. First, I should probably say that I’m not a big Dawkins fan (The Ancestor’s Tale was great, but sometimes I feel he can be a bit of a jerk) and I dislike O’Reilly even more, but I actually liked Dawkins during this interview. I think he carried himself well and responded fairly, definitely not as confrontational as other interviews I’ve seen with him. O’Reilly, by comparison, acts like a schoolyard bully, taunting and teasing, ultimately making a fool of himself (although those inclined to agree with him, his cronies out there in TV land, won’t make that distinction).
What I found curious was O’Reilly’s stance that atheism=immorality, and unfortunately many people hold this view. I remember speaking to some Christians once and saying how when I was an agnostic in my teens, I wasn’t “evil”; I just didn’t believe. Their response was that I was in fact evil then, because I was an “enemy” of God when I didn’t believe. Along with the idea that homosexuals choose to be gay, the idea that agnostics or atheists are inherently more immoral than the rest of society is 100% bullshit, but yet it continues to be a common belief.
O’Reilly also makes the mistake, very early on I might add, of invoking natural theology; he apparently can’t fully comprehend why we have tides or why the sun goes up or down, so therefore there must be a God. Many religions thought the same (Neptune & Apollo anyone? Cattle that draw the sun across the sky and die at sunset? No, no takers?), but I find it curious that O’Reilly says “Sun goes up, sun goes down” as if that is actually what our nearest star is doing; is the earth flat too Bill? The sun doesn’t go up or down any more than the moon does, and O’Reilly is right about one thing; he doesn’t understand what he’s talking about at all.
I also found it interesting that during the interview, the ticker on the bottom said “Milestone in mistaken lockups… Chicago inmate becomes nations 200th person to be exonerated by DNA evidence.” Isn’t it ironic that so many people reject important scientific ideas like evolution, but never say a word about news stories like this that rely on information gained from science? We depend on science for so much, and just as long as it doesn’t conflift with our beliefs/preconceived notions/delusions there’s no quarrel, right? Sure, you can use DNA in court, but you can’t use it to learn about anything involving evolution, no sir. Yet scientists have to listen to all the bogus claims, read all the creationist books, and bend over backwards to make anti-science folk feel like they’re being understood while none of them make the effort; how many creationists ever pick up a book about evolution outside of trying to find something to quote mine? I don’t want to paint all creationists with such a broad brush (I’m sure there are some who do take some time to learn more), but in my experience I’ve generally found the effort of educating yourself is awfully one-sided (guess which side?)
Hat tip to PZ for the video.