Richard Dawkins to take readers' questions
September 25th, 2013
01:40 PM ET

Richard Dawkins to take readers' questions

Renowned evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins will be taking GPS readers’ questions tomorrow.

Dawkins, author of the Selfish Gene, The God Delusion and most recently An Appetite for Wonder, is known for his outspoken views on religion, and launched the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science to “support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world.”

So what would you like to ask? Please post your questions in the comments section below, and we’ll select some of the best questions to ask Prof. Dawkins this week.

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  1. flouik

    my question to Professor Richard Dawkins is.
    After reading the Selfish gene and the God delusion and watching few debates where you have participated in the past, I started doubting the God's existence profoundly even though I was born to a rather modern Muslim family and grew in a Muslim country Morocco.
    My question to you sir is How do I overcome the fear of if I die, what if I was wrong therefor I will perish in hell. I know it might be silly but it is the only thing that is stopping me from fully embracing atheism .
    Thank you

    September 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Reply
    • lunchbreaker

      I'm no Richard Dawkins, but the consequences relating to the question you pose are the same for believing in the wrong God or no God at all. But from my personal experience, fear of a possibilty does not make me believe in any one of the many possible God's that threaten eternal damnation. I could be wrong for not believing in a God, but I could choose the wrong God, assuming there is one and he gives a crap whether or not I belive in him. So I'm not going to waste the limited time that I am here in fear. I'm not saying I don't entertain afterlife possobilities, but until i can believe in one, I will not fear any.

      September 25, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Reply
    • mikeaceshadow

      Flouik: 2 things. One there is no God and no hell. Any hell you experience is based on your deeds and in this life not after you die. Secondly, once you are dead....you don't feel anything regardless of the temperature!

      September 25, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Reply
      • Bob

        Mikeaceshadow, your reply doesn't really help Flouik come to a better conclusion to his question, you're simply restating atheist dogma that he already knows...

        September 25, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • JMohammad

      I'm with you in my thinking and fight this battle in my mind almost daily. Here's where I end up, following logic: if there was a god, heaven and hell, where would my atheist wife, who is a way better person than I am, and my atheist children end up when they die.

      September 25, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Reply
    • Duggerdog

      Flouik,
      What was it like before you were born? Do you remember anything? Did you feel anything? It's the same thing as before you were born. Think about it. Best of luck in your journey.

      September 25, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Reply
    • JT

      All that you have been taught about god is from humans so it is flawed. If the god of the Koran or Bible is the true interpretation then he is psychotic and there's nothing you can do to appease this mentally unstable being. I am an atheist so I lack a belief in any supernatural force and realize my atoms simply are returned to the universe.

      If you must believe in some kind of god then this god has no concern for us as we have no concern for microbes underneath our own feet.

      September 25, 2013 at 9:40 pm | Reply
    • Bruce

      I do my best to live an honorable life. Whether I call myself a Muslim, Jew or Christian, I would not live less honorably. Therefore, if I pass away and find myself before God the character of my heart will speak for me. If God then decides to punish me solely because I did not label myself a Muslim, Jew or Christian, then that God is not honorable.

      September 25, 2013 at 10:18 pm | Reply
      • Just

        Amen.

        September 25, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
    • Chris

      Flouik: I think you have to remember that there are hundreds of gods that people have believed in. The one you were raised with has no more chance of being real than, say, Zeus or any number of gods from polytheist or monotheistic religions. You have to see that it just not possible for your particular narrative to be the true one, when human history shows that all societies come up with various gods. If you were to adhere to the religion you were raised in, it is just as likely that you would be choosing the wrong god anyway, since there are so many. The 'burning in hell' myth is made to frighten us into submission to social codes of conduct. It is a way of organizing society and demanding adherence to the shared rules, nothing more. It's the age old way of controlling people: fear of punishment.

      September 26, 2013 at 12:34 am | Reply
  2. Nophah Kingweigh

    How could a benevolent, almighty power allow the existence of Ted Cruz, Dick Cheney, John Boehner, all of Texas and North Carolina, and Fox "news"? Are the presence of these sub-humans proof of the absence of god?

    September 25, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Reply
    • Synth

      Texas is over half non-white, and N. Carolina is headed there.

      Calling them subhuman makes you a filthy racist.

      September 25, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Reply
  3. Joseph Gracey

    What would be an appropriate intelligent response to the many people whom assume that I share their faith, such as; God bless you, Jesus loves you, I will be praying for you, etc. My personal favorite, after I sold a large job for our company, the resident bible thumper exclaimed: Praise God! As if I had done nothing. I can only stare in silence.

    September 25, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Reply
    • KHS

      An intelligent response to an irrational person is a waste of time and effort. Just ignore it.

      September 25, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Reply
    • Just

      I just accept their good will. I see no hypocrisy in that, and it is usually not an appropriate time for a religious debate.

      September 25, 2013 at 11:36 pm | Reply
  4. Nimit Desai

    I already have bought tickets to see professor Dawkins on October 3rd at Northwestern. However, my question would be do you honestly believe in something out of nothing theory? If so, what interests you into believing that information?

    September 25, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Reply
    • commonvoice

      Where did the question "something out of nothing" come from and why are you hanging your hat on it? Dawkins himself has claimed nothing in that regard.

      In the Eastern Philosophies at least, the energy of the universe has been there forever! It only changes its "form" from one to another but has never been created or destroyed. The presence of an "external agent" to create it or destroy it or bring about changes to its form is not required; all the necessary powers required to bring about such changes is contained "within" the system itself. These schools of thought do not admit to something "outside" of our system imposing its will on our system.

      Now supposing you don't believe in Eastern Philosophy (it is perfectly fine not to) and you do not accept something existing forever as they claim. Then what greater reasoning are you going to replace it with? You can replace it by admitting to "some power" (calling it "God") who brought this universe out of nothing and make it disappear into nothing and is responsible for all its inner workings. However, that doesn't make it philosophically any easier to accept because this "all powerful Being" has then existed "for ever". Well, if you are going to accept "something" existing for ever, then why don't you admit the sum-total of the universe we experience everyday to be existing for ever?

      If you work it out you will know that your recourse to and all powerful "external God" being behind it all doesn't make it philosophically easier and doesn't alleviate our predicament in any way. It just "transfers" the problem from "this" set to "another". And after all that discussion you would have found the universe to be just as mysterious as ever.

      September 25, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Reply
    • Lisa

      A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss

      Dawkins wrote the afterword, so yes, I think he feels it is important. The book is well worth the read. Very accessible, even to the lay person.

      September 25, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Reply
  5. miles

    how can individuals with a naturalistic worldview engage supernaturalists without scaring them off

    September 25, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  6. Hiasibubi

    Idols occur in many forms. Since you chose to oppose religious thoughts, why do think that religious ones are particularly dangerous? And what are you trying to prevent from happening? What would happen if you didn't?

    September 25, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Reply
    • Just

      Why don't you ask what you really mean?

      What other "forms" do "idols" take?

      September 25, 2013 at 11:40 pm | Reply
  7. xyz

    Dear Sir,
    Have you read the Vedanta (the knowledge part of the Vedas). What is your view on this philosophy? It puts the human soul in the pedestal of God. It denies a personal God. You may question what is soul. Soul basically is the immaterial part in the material body.

    September 25, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Reply
    • Elliot Grove

      That is a contradictory concept; an immaterial part of a material body.
      That's like having the chocolate part of vanilla ice cream.
      it, by definition, doesn't have that.

      September 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Reply
      • xyz

        People who have not meditated cannot realize this.
        Like inventions, if you do not try to crack it you cannot get it.

        September 25, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  8. Tom

    I have always been fascinated by the evolutionary story of cetaceans. Manatees have a broad flat tale fluke, and dugongs have whale like tails. But apparently they are not even related to whales and dolphins? So do you have any theories about how these tail flukes evolved to look almost identical. Is it just convergent evolution? And it's not legs, it's definitely a tail. It just seems so difficult to understand. Could it be some ancient fish gene "flipped" sideways and re-activated? Or just chance mutation? I know ichthyosaurs had fish tails, according to the paleontologists. But they were supposedly once land dwelling reptiles that returned to the sea. I am having difficulty phrasing my question precisely, but I suspect you might get the jist of it.

    September 25, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Reply
  9. WolfingFood

    Prof Dawkins,
    If Humanity faced an existential crisis today, (asteroid coming our way and we can do nothing about it!!) would you agree that most people including atheists would probably pray for some other-worldly intervention? Is there any harm doing that?
    If so, would you agree that atheism is just a convenient fashion statement these days?
    If not, is Atheism just fatalism with a different name?

    September 25, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Reply
    • Phil

      He'll probably tell you that everyone wishing for something to be true doesn't make it so.

      September 25, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Reply
    • Just

      WolfingFood, if you don't believe in the God Poseidon, would you pray to him? That should enlighten you about your first question.

      September 25, 2013 at 11:46 pm | Reply
  10. Kirk

    I _LOVED_ him hosting Family Feud!

    September 25, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  11. Robert

    I first want to thank Professor Dawkins for personally helping me come to terms with my atheism. Through your writings you have helped me articulate how I feel about religion and its effect on not only me but the world. I was raised Catholic and always had doubts, but between your writings and others, I finally realized I was an atheist.

    So my question is in regards to being a prophet for atheism. Do you believe we should get out there and not only tell our side but to tell it to anyone who will listen. I have told my family of my beliefs and even many of my friends. But I have held back being pro-active and proselytizing my beliefs. It is proselytizing and espousing of religious beliefs that first turned me against organized religion to begin with. To do so almost seems heretical in nature.

    Thanks for your time,
    Robert.

    September 25, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Reply
    • Just

      Robert, you speak of being a "prophet for atheism" and "proselytizing my belief" as if to imply that Atheism is just another "belief" system. Atheism is not a belief system. Atheism is the ABSENCE of belief/faith. I don't think you're over your Catholic upbringing yet.... Or, you are quite duplicitous....

      September 25, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Reply
      • Robert

        Yea, I was waiting for that. Why is not believing in a God not a belief system? My belief system and how I go about my life is based on the belief that LIFE is the most important thing and that is LIFE without a God. Atheism is and in itself a belief system just as much a Catholicism.

        September 26, 2013 at 8:49 am |
  12. Kirk

    On a serious note: What's the point of proselytizing for athiesm if, the athiest's point of view, as John Keynes said, "In the long run we are all dead?"

    September 25, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Reply
    • Fred Evil

      Trying to help our fellow humans throw off the yoke of delusion.
      If your brother was living a lie, wouldn't you want help him see clearly?
      Very similar to the theists argument, actually.

      September 25, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Reply
      • Kirk

        "Very similar to the theists argument, actually." A thiest would feel a moral obligation to help. Why would an athiest feel a moral obligation to help? From the athiest point of view, why not let them believe (what you think is) a delusion if there's no down side? If they're happy, let them be. If they're not happy, let them be too – no reason to change it.

        Whether to be an athiest is a simple benefit / risk ratio calculation. If you pick a religion, ANY religion, you have a non-zero chance of it being right and going to Heaven ™. If you're wrong, then either you go to hell or nothingness. Hell sucks, nothingness not so much.

        On the other hand, pick athiesm. If you're right, no benefit. Straight to nothingness. Meh. If you're wrong, 100% chance* of hell. Oops!

        * You can lump the non-fire-and-brimstone religions in with athiesm for this calculation. Also, religions that believe in reincarnation don't really apply either because you get another shot at it (unless, of course, you come back as an athiest).

        September 25, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  13. skb8721

    Dr. Dawkins,

    I often hear deniers of evolution state that there is no evidence for instances of evolutionary change on the macro scale. Is this essentially true, but only because all evolution takes place as a series of minute changes that add up to macroscopic evolution only in the aggregate?

    September 25, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Reply
  14. Chukwuemeka

    If there is no God, how then are we alive?

    September 25, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Reply
    • mikeaceshadow

      Your mom and dad made love and you became alive!!

      September 25, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Reply
    • Naxos

      Honestly? Did you honestly say that? Go to your church and pray for forgiveness. There's nothing for you here.

      September 25, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Reply
  15. NorthVanCan

    Imagine how it must feel to recognize religion as nonsense at he age of 8, only to watch in frustration as the entire world dies, kills, and wastes valuable time dreaming of fairytales . Is it any wonder we were cave man only a short time ago?
    So my question to Mr Dawkins is....'Should 18 and older be a law to enter a church?'

    September 25, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Reply
    • mikeymo74

      Professor Dawkins, seeing as you are perhaps the most prominent advocate of atheism in the world, do you feel as though you have taken on the role (perhaps thrust upon you) of being a spokesperson/representative for atheists? If so, do you feel you should have any added responsibility to be more mindful of how you present and frame your arguments so as to provide a more positive representation of atheists?

      September 25, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  16. newagescholar

    Will you ever write a book criticizing Islam or its prophet before you die?

    September 25, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Reply
    • Naxos

      Martin Amis is doing that for him.

      September 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Reply
    • Martin

      What's the obsession with having to criticize people including Islam? If you're getting a high off it then there is something wrong with you and you're not a good human being.

      September 26, 2013 at 9:39 am | Reply
  17. Synth

    Did you intend to minimize the wrongness of the molestation you suffered while at school?

    September 25, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Reply
  18. Kirill

    Did you ever have to admit to your opponent in a debate that you were actually proven wrong by them?

    September 25, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Reply
  19. Paul

    What anticipated discoveries in your field have you the most excited?

    September 25, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  20. Synth

    Will you acknowledge significant biological/cognitive differences between racial groups?

    In a chapter of "The Ancestor's Tale," you tried to deal with the "difficult subject of race," but not very successfully. You twisted and turned in an effort to remain within PC confines.

    It was still an excellent book, though.

    September 25, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  21. Bendy Gadget

    Do you think there is a correlation between the rise in secularism and religious extremism?

    September 25, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  22. herchato

    Do you believe it is possible that any part of us (consciousness of any kind) is alive after our body dies?

    September 25, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Reply
    • e coli

      The large number of bacteria in your body will carry on and reproduce before it is cremated or whatever. Your atoms and molecules will go back into the environment with some of the latter broken down to simpler forms. We are biological creatures, not much different from slime molds and tape worms. Everything is recycled in one way or another. There is beauty in that. Who needs a soul or ghost?

      September 25, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  23. mikeymo74

    Professor Dawkins, seeing as you are perhaps the most prominent advocate of atheism in the world, do you feel as though you have taken on the role (perhaps thrust upon you) of being a spokesperson/representative for atheists? If so, do you feel you should have any added responsibility to be more mindful of how you present and frame your arguments so as to provide a more positive representation of atheist

    September 25, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  24. mikeaceshadow

    Question follows:

    60 million died in world war 2. IF there is a God, he created the Devil and all the insane people who caused death and destruction. If there is God who created the creation, why would he be in need of humans loving and obeying him? If they don't, then he will punish them. In the 21st Century, we still have a lot of idiots scared of the invisible God who does not exist.

    Question for Dr. Dawkins. Is there a simpler way to explain in layman's language to the brainwashed religious people; that there is no Personal God? Thanks.

    September 25, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Reply
    • dave

      Not to mention that people can escape said punishment if they believe that he sacrificed himself to himself.

      September 25, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  25. Dan

    This question is not for Richard Dawkins, but for the believers who have posted comments to this thread:

    Do you believe your God to be omniscient (all knowing) and omnipotent (all powerful)? If so, how do you explain disease, famine and natural disaster - let alone child molestation, war, torture, et al? Is your God weak and ineffectual, apathetic or evil? Or...is Satan (in your tradition) more powerful than God?

    September 25, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Reply
    • Daniel Harnz

      If you are truly asking, then you should read the book, "The Problem of Evil – Selected Readings" by Michael E. Peterson. It does a good job at providing the arguments for and against the existence of God based on the question you asked.

      September 25, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Reply
    • Mohammed

      The answer: What's the difference between heaven and earth? None of those hardships exist in heaven. Earth isn't heaven. If there were no hardships here why would we be on Earth and not heaven? It's through hardship that a person's true character is discovered.

      September 26, 2013 at 9:42 am | Reply
  26. Gigantopithecus

    Given that evolution is powered by forms of reproductive selection that rewards certain traits at a greater rate than others over long periods of time and there seems to be no selction in reproduction today, has human biological evolution stopped?

    Where do you see humans in roughly 50,000-100,000 years?

    September 25, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Reply
  27. Annie B

    My daughter asked me the other day if I could rid of anything in this world and it would never come back, what would it be? For a moment I thought about saying "cancer" but I ended up saying "all religion". Do you think that if somehow, all religion was erased from the world, that we would survive as a species longer?

    September 25, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  28. Rob

    Richard,
    If you support the big bang theory (or something like it), then you believe that at one point our universe was in a state of nothingness. So how do you get from nothingness to a world so fine tuned for human life without a source of energy to create it? Thank you.

    September 25, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Reply
    • Dan

      Who or what created God?

      September 25, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Reply
      • AspieChick

        Humans.

        September 25, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      You're worried about where that energy came from, but have no questions re: God's source of power?
      The concept of a universe spontaneously existing being less 'believable' than the spontaneous existence of a deity with the power to create such universes at will boggles the rational mind.
      ONE universe vs INFINITE universes?

      Why did god stop at one? Did she?

      September 25, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Reply
  29. Retina

    Question to the Professor:
    One of the particulars of living systems, in contrast to most other laws of physics, is that they organize energy and genrally flow against normal entropic tendencies. Over time, this heavy buden might have been expected to curtail or even truncate life's very origination and propogation. just as we are also learning about dark energy and matter as unknowns and gaps in our scientific knowledge, do you think that there are additional physical forces and energies that we have yet to discover that might provide some of the missing "factors" that allowed life to originate and are still at play today that allow it to be sustained and propogated. This would certainly have implications regarding the possibility and probability of life outside of our planetary systems.

    September 25, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Reply
    • scourge99

      There are no RELEVANT additional forces or powers at a level above quantum mechanics. If they existed we would have observed them in atom smashers and other experiments. See the talks given my physicist Sean Carroll for more details.

      September 25, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Reply
      • Retina

        Where exactly did the atom smashers (which by the way are still not powerful enough to povide evidence of the particles that impart mass) show evidence of the forces of dark energy and dark matter? In many ways, the "proof" of existence of dark energy is due to the gaps of our understanding of "unexplained" and unobserved but necessary mass and energy. My point is that we do not even yet understand all the forces that govern our known universe, and until recently did not recognize dark energy. As scientistsl, it is OK to admit that there are still unknows out there that we may yet uncover. As of now, there has been no "human" experiment using all the known materials and energy at our disposal that have been able to impart the "force of life" into inanimate organic molecules. That doesn't mean it is not possible, but may imply that our technology to do so or our understanding in incomplete.

        September 25, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  30. mikeaceshadow

    Dr. Dawkins: How do you explain conscience? Some feel guilt some don't. Thanks.

    September 25, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Reply
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