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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Topics: Science

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  1. Johnny Nis

    How was the collective conscience then at the time you began your crusade for science when you held the inaugural chair of Professor of Public Understanding of Science? How did you learn to write so accessibly? Who were your greatest non-scientific (mainly literary) influences?

    September 25, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • Prediction

      Bad jokes are simply those who mutation has not come.

      September 25, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
  2. Kerry

    It is given that there are enormous differences in cognitive abilities of humans. Belief in the supernatural is one example, where people that use reason, logic, and evidence to guide their thinking on the matter are vastly different than those that use faith an testimony as their guide.

    Could such differences be explained by evolutionary processes, where those for whom reason and logic is compelling are in one DNA family tree and those who use faith are in another?

    September 25, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  3. Law

    Prof. Dawkins,

    Do you acknowledge that the method of understanding known as "science" provides an imperfect and evolving model of reality only and is not reality itself – that science is only one possible method of understanding reality? If not, then please explain your conclusion. If so, then do you also agree that scientific method and the model derived from it apriori excludes the existence of God, and therefore cannot logically be used to deduce the existence God? If not, please explain. If so, then please explain why you illogically wrote a chapter called "The God Hypothesis" and why you also illogically use and profess to use scientific method for coming to your atheistic conclusions.

    September 25, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  4. patterson

    Is the rate of mutation subject to control by selection? Is it possible, without invoking group selection, to imagine a mechanism that maintains some non-zero rate of mutation? Can natural selection produce mechanisms capable of modulating rate of mutation (say, to increase mutation rates during periods of metabolic stress)?

    September 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  5. Sethu Karthikeyan

    Dear Dr. Dawkins

    I have read The Selfish Gene and The extended phenotype; I understand the process of natural selection, and it is, as you repeatedly point out, wonderful! I am equally interested in the idea of 'strategies'-evolutionarily stable strategies. Would it be reasonable to consider personality types-say, the big five, conscientiousness, openness, agreeableness, neuroticism–as strategies favored by evolution, that is, mixed strategies that can coexist? With the recent focus on mental health issues resulting from the gun crimes in the US, I think it is an appropriate topic to discuss.

    September 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  6. Question

    Why are atheists so arrogant and deprived of compassion?

    September 25, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • JT

      This could only be asked by a Christian.

      September 25, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Trevor

      I have far more compassion than any "christian" I've ever met.

      September 25, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
      • grandpa gary

        Trevor...God bless you for your compassion just as God blesses me for my faith. Grandpa Gary 🙂

        September 25, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  7. Chuck

    Why does atheists are saying that God do not exist when their only researches are based on what they've found in the bible? The lack of evidences in the bible are not enough to conclude that God is nonexistent.

    September 25, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • Trevor

      You does not speak good. Do's you know that?

      September 25, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
      • grandpa gary

        Now now Trevor...and here I thought you were a man of compassion...tsk showed no compassion for Chuck – in my rational judgment. Grandpa Gary 🙂

        September 25, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • JT

      Atheists do not lack a belief in some sky god because a 2000 year old bronze age text written by sheep herders is absurd but because of a lack of evidence. The same as you (I hope) lack a belief in fairies.

      September 25, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
  8. Einstein

    Mr. Dawkins, i would like to have a public discussion with you someday about your view on religion and your God delusion theory. I think i have the right arguments to make you think differently.

    September 25, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • Kerry

      But Dawkins and Einstein have a similar view about deities, they find no evidence or persuasive logic to support the existence of a deity.

      September 26, 2013 at 12:53 am |
  9. Bill the Science Guy

    In the Selfish Gene you said that humans could rebel against their genes and memes. When others pointed out that such rebellion would require free will and a supernatural source you changed your mind (without any apparent change in the evidence) and said that humans are robots. Then you said robots might have free will (which is an inherent contradiction in terms). Natural phenomena cannot have free will because it would require the principles of science to be violated in order for the choices to be truly free (choices not based on prior causes and correlations) and not just probabilistic or random. So do we have free will and souls? Or are we robots without free will and everybody, including atheists, are not free thinkers? And how can we have moral responsibility without free will? And what evidence do you base your conclusions on?

    September 25, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  10. John

    Why is it so difficult to explain to people that god does not exist? Where is the evidence other than a book, be it bible or koran. How can we help these humans to live a better life by relying on a book of false misgivings. Do they really have a figment of their imagination?

    September 25, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Einstein

      You're the one who denied the existence of God based on what you've read in the bible. That's the only proof you have to say he does not exist. Making a conclusion such as " God do not exist" based on a book written by men is a failed attempt from the atheists community.

      September 25, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
      • Trevor

        I I do not believe in God because I consider having an imaginary friend as an adult to be evidence of mental illness.

        September 25, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
  11. Lisa

    There are several evidential modalities suggestive of consciousness surviving death, including near-death experiences, shared death experiences, out of body experiences, past life regression, electronic voice phenomena/instrumental transcommunication, mediumship (by those with proven ability, not the charlatans), between-lives and reincarnation research, after-death communications, and more. While part of this evidence is anecdotal, much of it has been verifiable, and many medical professionals are now grappling with the issue based on their own observations. Can you comment on this increasing body of evidence, and on how science seems to be lapping on the shores of spirituality?

    September 25, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Just

      Show us the "evidence."

      September 25, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
  12. contrarianrenaissance

    Dr. Dawkins,
    What, as a young person, can I do to further the positive impact of secularism in our world?

    September 25, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
  13. Jason

    I've always wondered what do you do to unwind after a barrage of cloaked daggers from metaphysical philosophers, pseudo scientists, and bible beaters?

    September 25, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
  14. JT

    Dr. Dawkins, do you agree that it's mostly fear that keeps people in the US and UK believing in the supernatural and denying science and evidence when it threatens their faith/delusions?

    September 25, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
  15. Richard Patik

    Do you think that we live in a world ready for people en masse to take responsibility (without appeal to some kind of handed down "higher" morals) for their own ethics and social behavior? If the drug of belief in some kind of God is removed, do you think our species can survive the growing pains and loss of direction and sense of meaning that would ensue? And how long might that take?

    September 25, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
  16. Sam

    Dr. Dawkins,

    Christianity as an exemplar for a large, well-accepted religion rose to popularity partially by being very welcoming to all. Contrast this with Mithraism, for instance, which was very exclusive. This is very likely why we are not arguing against the existence of Mithra today. Stealing a page out of the playbook of the Christians: Would you see a way to create a welcoming environment to draw the religious into a non-confrontational world of reason? Whether by force or other attraction, people did just this to come to Christianity (or any other religion for that matter). How do we appeal to the masses to come and accept reason?

    September 25, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  17. Eric

    Dear Dr. Dawkins,

    Modern humans beings do not seem to be subjected to the same evolutionary pressures as their ancestors. Indeed, children with defective genes are often cared for in Western societies and can produce offsprings and disadvantaged individuals can survive through a network of safety nets and have children of their own. If you agree that evolutionary pressures are different then would you mind speculating what the our species would evolve into in the future?

    Thank you.

    September 25, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
  18. Bryan Kirchoff

    On what logical basis do you believe that reality and/or existence consists only of those things that can be measured by the senses or by instruments that extend those senses?

    September 25, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • Just

      I suspect that it is based on the same logic that prevents you from believing in many things.

      September 25, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • Aleks

      That's the definition of reality. If it can be measured, it is real. In essence, if you feel something acting upon you, a force or a thought, it exists in this reality and can be measured and observed. Physics defines the various forces acting on us and thoughts can be measured as electrical activity in the brain. If something is immeasurable, then by definition, it does not affect anything in this reality. You can't say "there's a wind blowing, but you can't feel it and nothing moves because of it." That's not wind.

      September 26, 2013 at 12:48 am |
  19. Douglas Devereaux

    Dr. Dawkins: Dr. Dawkins: Please share your thoughts on whether the universe is infinite or finite. If you believe the universe is finite, what might that mean in terms of what is beyond the universe, an absence of matter and energy implies nothingness; can nothingness be infinite ? What is the relationship to time; is time likewise finite or infinite. Thank you

    September 25, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
  20. Bruce

    How can humans develop and maintain healthy communities in technologically advanced regions?
    Technology is altering interpersonal communication to a non-physical environment. We are remaining indoors with our electronic entertainment and communication centers, where we feel safe.
    In cities with high mobility it is becoming commonplace for people to live amongst strangers, with no opportunity to intermingle and become acquainted. Therefore, the street where neighbors look out for each other is disappearing; humans are becoming fearful of their own neighborhoods.

    September 25, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
  21. Bryan Kirchoff

    Religion is simultaneously criticized for the idea of eternal damnation (i.e. it is too frightening to be real) and for simply being a psychological blanket that protects us during suffering (i.e. it is too comforting to be real). Given that atheism allows one to live by whatever moral rules he/she can rationalize (for example, if one has convinced himself/herself that one's own pleasure fulfillment is the main imperative of life, then the objections of other people by definition do not factor in) and that there is no after-life punishment for wrongdoing, could one not argue that atheism is a sort of psychological comfort food?

    September 25, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  22. Bryan Kirchoff

    God is often criticized as allowing suffering and other things that "I would never allow", i.e. atheists tend to evaluate God as a peer. If an atheist entertains for a moment the possibility of an Intelligence capable of creating space and time, is it possible that our suffering fits a bigger picture that we cannot understand, akin to four year-old children having no idea why their parents make them eat awful foods and allow strangers in white coats to stick them with sharp objects?

    September 25, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Just


      September 25, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • Aleks

      Be careful with that line of thinking. Saying that there's a "greater plan" allows you to justify pretty much any atrocity. Millions of people killed? God's plan.

      September 26, 2013 at 12:17 am |
  23. Theodore Hyczko

    In the book of Genesis God promises man dominion over all animals on the earth all the fish in the sea and birds in the air.
    Name me one animal that man has not changed or effect their behavior or living space. Man decides whether a forest stands or whether it becomes firewood. If you don't believe in God's promises how do you explain man position in the world

    September 25, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Alex

      Name one ? Malaria parasite and tuberculosis bacteria. Human is obviously not ruling them very well because they kill millions of their "rulers".

      September 25, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • Bruce

      Your premise is that because a species is able to dominate a region it proves the existence of a God? That argument is poorly constructed.
      Throughout the ages, there are numerous examples of a species dominating a region. The dominance is for a short period, because nature resets itself and the dominant species is always weakened.

      September 25, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
  24. Alex

    Why is Dawkins so obsessed about Cosmological Natural Selection / multiverse theories ? These theories have no more evidence than gods and fairies.

    September 25, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
  25. Bryan Kirchoff

    Atheists often maintain that religion causes war and mass murder, while history's atheist tyrants never killed specifically in the name of atheism. However, have not most of the so-called "religious" wars been over land, resources, and political power, rather than actual theology? Conversely, were not the beliefs that human beings are meaningless accidents of the cosmos and that there is no reward or punishment for actions after this life critical enablers that allowed figures such as Stalin to justify killing millions?

    September 25, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
  26. Bryan Kirchoff

    If God is man-made, why did we make Him so demanding? Wouldn't humanity have created a deity much more likely to endorse pleasure-seeking, rather than lifestyles of self-denial?

    September 25, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • Alex

      The divine ruler Jehovah / Allah was modeled after real rulers, who had tendency of being ruthless despots back then.

      September 25, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • Just

      The evidence says otherwise. So, again, no.

      September 25, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
  27. Bryan Kirchoff

    Tradition holds that eleven of the twelve original Apostles were martyred. Even if the number is half that, why did they persist to their own deaths, even though the founder of their “cult” was long gone and they could have easily disappeared in the foreign lands to which they relocated? Authors like Lee Strobel have noted that people will die for things they believe to be true (Nazi SS troops were willing to die over their belief of German supremacy), but they will not die for things they know are not true (noting that, if Jesus was a fraud or embellished, the Apostles would have been in the best position to realize it).

    September 25, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Alex

      So you must also believe that David Koresh was a holy prophet, because much more 11 people were willing to suicide for him ?

      September 25, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
  28. Bryan Kirchoff

    Atheists suggest we should “do good for goodness’ sake” rather than for reward, but do they practice that in its truest sense? If making a donation to Haitian earthquake victims who are not special creations of God, do nothing to advance one’s own gene pool, and cannot pay one back, is the atheist doing it for the satisfaction of doing good (emotional reward), the idea of making a difference (emotional reward), or to support a giving culture that might provide for him/her in an hour of need (self-interest)? Or can something be defined as “good” apart from its rewards to humanity?

    September 25, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
  29. Bryan Kirchoff

    If the atheist ceases to exist at death, does that render his/her achievements in life meaningless? After all, if the non-existent being has no way of sensing, knowing, or remembering, does that not mean, for all practical purposes, that the rest of existence effectively ceases along with him/her? Is “legacy” a manufactured concept that people use to give life meaning, as religion is often accused of being? If so, why do atheists worry about legacy?

    September 25, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • mikeaceshadow

      Bryan you have way too many posts! If you can't explain yourself in a few sentences, you have a problem!

      September 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  30. Bryan Kirchoff

    God is accused of allowing terrible suffering, but why does the unplanned universe of atheism have pain, violence, and destruction? Why did the physical laws not optimize toward a system of neutral and positive stimuli to encourage correct behaviors, rather than neutral, positive, and negative?

    September 25, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
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