Exploring Science and Religion with Richard Dawkins

Post Date: 26 July 2015

Listen now:

Season 6, Episode 28

Credit: Photo by David Andrako.

Credit: Photo by David Andrako.

Are science and religion compatible? That’s the question Neil deGrasse Tyson explores with evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and in-studio guest Rev. James Martin, SJ. Join us as we look at both sides of the issue, from whether rational thought is an evolutionary benefit, to the astronomical contributions of Jesuit scientists at the Vatican Observatory, to the question of contemporary scientists believing in a supernatural power. Martin, a firm believer in evolution, asks why scientists who are content with unsolved mysteries like what came before The Big Bang, or those that exist in quantum physics, are any different than people of faith who are content with an incomplete understanding of God or the universe? Dawkins discusses how a scientist’s appetite for wonder and understanding leads science forward, and explains why pre-Darwinian scientists like Isaac Newton saw a designer’s hand in creation. And of course, no discussion of this subject would be complete without addressing Einstein’s repeated use of the word god and Galileo’s persecution by the Catholic Church and their eventual, albeit ridiculously late, pardon. Plus, Bill Nye rants about rocks and evolution and co-host Eugene Mirman explains why Pope Francis is the first “Fun Pope.”

Eugene Mirman, Comedian

Richard Dawkins, Oxford Professor Emeritus, evolutionary biologist, author
Rev. James Martin, SJ, Jesuit Priest, author, editor-at-large of America, The National Catholic Review
Bill Nye the Science Guy

Science is Religion” – The William Blakes
Science and Faith” – The Script
Black and Gold” – Sam Sparro
Eternal Life” – Jeff Buckley
Losing My Religion” – R.E.M.
Imagine” – John Lennon
Hallelujah” – Rufus Wainwright

  • Eric Holp

    I wish that Neil would realize that the whole “non-overlapping magisteria” was BS.

  • W.E. Bondurant

    Neil, I have tried to post this before. I see the reference to where Nye ranting about rocks. Please consider this. Gen 1:1 :In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. There is no day, month, year etc related to this verse, unlike the “creative days” that follow. The universe and the earth can be millions or billions of years old according to the Gen 1:1 in the bible. Science cannot say for sure and the Bible does not tell any age. v2 says the earth was formless and void and begun to be molded to support life. Again, is no time span reference here either, the earth can be very old. The creative days that follow are for sure not 24hr days as some think. They were a day in the sense of “the day of the dinosaur” and could be 1000s of years each. If a Supreme being created the universe, the physics and science, science should agree with the bible should it not. The above shows that agreement is true. Many noted scientists have seen a organization or an intellect in the physics and organization of the universe have they not?

    • Audi Étoffe

      “The creative days that follow are for sure not 24hr days as some think. They were a day in the sense of “the day of the dinosaur” and could be 1000s of years eachs” Thats taking a huge liberty with the “word of God” Its goes against the bible and empirical data.

      • W.E. Bondurant

        Audi….Gen 2:17 “for in the day you eat from it you will certainly die” Now how old was Adam when he died? If he lived 930 years that was a pretty long day was it not?? Gen 2:4b “in the day that God made earth and heaven” This verse lumps Gen 1&2 along with the creative days into ONE day. It is commonly known that the word day can mean part of a day, (daytime) or 24 hours a day, or a period of time (your grandfather’s day)

        • dr

          It’s always fun to read religious explanations like this, because it’s essentially like a nerd explaining the lore in a comic book. Just change anything to what you want it to be, because since none of it is true, anything goes. Batman can totally beat Superman.

          • Taxil Necrobane

            Actually, he has done it before and it is perfectly logical too in how Batman beats Superman. I can see you have never read those comics.

          • W.E.Bondurant

            DR…I can beat Superman….just get me some Kryptonite…:) Oh wait, is that on the Periodic Table? oh wait DR is getting his reasoning from funny books. never mind

        • Audi Étoffe

          The book that you just claimed wasn’t literally accurate told you this as well. And now it is accurate to the year? What?

          • W.E. Bondurant

            Audi….Many do not accurately understand the Bible because they cannot discern what is literal and what is figurative. When you go into your back yard and see the stars in the sky and the Hubble telescope says the light is 13 billion light years away and in some closer stars its a 100 million light years away. Can you really think the earth and universe is only a few thousand years old. This is what drives poor Bill Nye crazy when people think the Bible says the earth is just 5-6 thousand years old, when it can be millions or billions of years.

    • Lerkero

      What period did God create bacteria and viruses that can kill the animals and plants he created? When were dinosaurs created? The Bible conveniently leaves out scientific details about life, particularly the details humans didn’t know about at the time so they couldn’t add them to the Bible.

      Religions that originate in non-European cultures also reference how Gods created the world. Do you dismiss those accounts of creation?

    • Logic

      Stop reaching. Your book is garbage and is as far from scientifically sound as one could get. Plus, these guys, Neil and Richard alike, have gone over this kind of crap before, they’re seriously not even gonna think of answering your question. But, if you’re saying the days are accounting for the different eras, extinctions, or any certain amount of years, you’d need either dozens more “days”(Since there’s dozens of different eras and time periods) or only 5 (There’s only been 5 extinctions), not 6, or 7. Also, science does not agree with the bible, and nothing you said is fact, so the above does NOT show the agreement to be true, an stop saying many noted scientists, you religious folk keep throwing that out there but you know what? You can’t name more than 5, 10 if you’re lucky, without google. An the majority of you creationists’ versions of “scientists” are not credible, reliable nor have any outstanding credentials what-so-ever. They also usually look at science from a biased, faith-based pedestal, which makes every experiment and result already useless. Once you admit you know there’s a god, you admit you don’t value the scientific method, and you shouldn’t be labeled a scientist.

      • W.E. Bondurant

        Logic….Lets consider that science cannot explain the beginning of the universe with any satisfying answers or certainty. Neither can they explain life on earth with any real certainty. How about aliens brought life to earth or blew here in solar winds? On a primitive earth, an oxygen free or oxygen atmosphere would have destroyed any cells trying to form, so they now want to say the first cells formed at the bottom of the ocean. Personally I like the alien story….:) Antony Flew preceded Dawkins as the “high priest of atheism” and as the “worlds leading atheist”. Flew denounce his atheism as a result of the years of advancements in the scientific study of DNA’s complexity and became a Deist. DNA being much too complex to occur by chance. For example, the strands of DNA in your body if linked end to end would stretch to the sun and back. I don’t want to upset you any more so I will leave it here.

        • dr

          You’re making a lot of assumptions. They’ve got plenty of good evidence for how the universe started, the beginnings of life, etc. They only come to those conclusions *after* observations and evidence are gathered, both of which become better and more accurate as time moves on. Religion, on the other hand, is the opposite – make a claim, then scrounge for evidence to support it. That’s why it’s so weak.

          Also, you don’t know what you’re talking about. For example, the earliest creatures on the planet didn’t require oxygen. They ran off the sun, and their byproduct was oxygen. They’re called cyanobacteria. That oxygen then killed off a lot of life that couldn’t live in such an atmosphere, but those that could kept evolving, etc.

          Don’t you see how poor your argument is? You guys never try with evidence, it’s either talk, talk, talk, or go with the “he said there’s a deity, so there!” thing. We’re also understanding things DNA better every day, to the point at where we’re actually beginning to store information in DNA form. You don’t realize that we learn and get better as our knowledge advances? “Complexity” is a subjective term.

          Here’s your problem, and I know this is true because I used to be deity-nut like you: your belief is attached to your ego. You won’t accept any evidence against your belief, no matter how overwhelming it is, because then you’d have to admit that your comfortable view on the world is wrong. And that’s why science is so powerful against religion, because there’s nothing to attach an ego to. If your evidence/theory is wrong, then you scrap it. You don’t fight or kill others to make it stay “true”, you have to change your view. That’s why scientific knowledge keeps advancing, while religion stays stagnant.

          • Taxil Necrobane

            Just go back to what you just said. That is a prime example of ego. Other people can tell the smugness from how you wrote your post.

          • W.E. Bondurant

            DR… Can you be honest and point out how much of your reply is from “theory” with no real evidence available? Can some new discovery can throw your theory out the window tomorrow. Let’s just go back to life coming from advanced alien beings or spores being blown to earth by solar wind. :) You really dodge the issue of DNA and its complexity. The issue is not if man can store data on a thumb drive but is DNA and its complexity able to occur by accident or chance? Before you auto-respond and say “yes”, keep in mind that many consider the human brain to be the most powerful communication factor known. So, please just remember your DNA programed and formed your brain with it’s 100 billion neurons, (same number of stars considered to be in the Milky Way). Who is your daddy now?

  • M. Pat Wright

    I’d love to hear their take on the Thirty Meter Telescope controversy on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

    • Kevin W

      Poli’ahu has not as yet uttered a single word of disapproval

  • Steven Castillo

    Is there a video of this? Or will there be one?

    • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

      Steven, this is one of our podcasts that was also an episode of StarTalk TV on the National Geographic Channel. So there is a video. Here’s where you can find it:

      StarTalk TV is available with a cable subscription the day after air on TV-VOD and TV Everywhere platforms, including NateoTV.com, Xbox1, Xbox 360, Samsung Connected TVs, Roku and Apple TV. It is available for purchase the day after air on channels including Apple, Xbox, Vudu, Amazon, Google, Sony and on DVD at the end of season. Finally, each episode will be available on Hulu plus with subscription and classic for free, 30 days after air.

      • Steven Castillo

        Thank you very much for taking the time to answer, i appreciate it deeply.

        • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

          You’re very welcome, Steven.

          • Taxil Necrobane

            Is there a Youtube address we can see it at?

          • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

            No, Taxil. You can listen for free, but to watch it you need to go with one of National Geographic’s options listed in my earlier reply.

          • Taxil Necrobane

            Really? Nearly everyone uses Youtube these days. I would have thought by now that Ether Nat Geo or Neil would have one by now.

          • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

            Taxil, we didn’t say we didn’t have a YouTube Channel. We are very proud of https://www.youtube.com/user/startalkradio filled with lots of our content, even some full episodes of the podcast. But National Geographic is not posting the TV episodes on their YouTube channel, instead preferring to allow fans to see the show in the methods I mentioned in my reply to Steven.

  • William A Barros

    Religions are Disgrace. If you know a litter History your see how Religion Blocked Sciences Discovers. Giordano Bruno was murder, Galileu almost. And many others! That History even wrote about it!!! Today, Religion justified SLAVERY (Remember US Supreme Chief Justice “Black guys are 2/3 of a man”, without soul). Religion justified the Apartheid in South Africa (The chosen People by GOD). And even today. Guys/Lesbians, LGBT are going to hell. These Religions leaders are RACIST!! They Misinform their poor cattle. They should think more. Study more History!!! this pope francis are NOT an exception. Why do they consider girls as sub-species? Pure DISCRIMINATION!!!! That is their S**T, EXCREMENT, F**KING god!!!!

    • W.E. Bondurant

      WIlliam I agree with you in that most religions are a total disgrace. First of all, the Hell of fire that is taught is false and is an influence of the river Stix in mythology and other pagan influences. as well as the immortality of the soul being false. A soul “is a person”, a person does not have a soul that flies to heaven or a hell of fire at death. When you die you are dead, lights out. Jesus taught a hope in a resurrection or a return to life. I feel sorry for many people, atheists, agnostics and other simply honest hearted people who look at religions (like the Catholic Church and many others) and reject God and the Bible because of what they see and what churches teach. Many take the doctrines of the pagan influenced Christian religions as accurately hearing what the bible teaches and what God represents and rightfully or inadvertently want no part. Its like if you start with the wrong premise you cannot come to the correct conclusion. I myself rejected church teachings as a teen when my father died because of things I knew about how he lived. (besides he only went to church a couple times a year) I had been taught to think he was being tortured in a hell of fire for eternity. I rejected that notion as not a loving or just God or just not right.
      Like Karl Marx said “religion is the opiate of the masses”. Giving them religion its like giving them a powerful drug. People will commit egregious acts, slaughtering members of their own church and/or others because they are told it is duty to the nation and God is directing them. Where is the brotherhood in that? Christmas and Easter are both converted pagan holiday from solstice/equinox fertility and sun worship observances. They don’t teach you this is in school :) Madelyn Murray O’Hare used to send “Solstice Cards” to Christians instead of Christmas cards, to try to mock them, however her being an atheist and by doing that she implied she observed the holidays of pagan gods. A lot of confusion on both sides.

      • Taxil Necrobane

        It’s truly Ironic that you used Karl Marx in so much that he willingly and knowingly set up government and mindsets that committed acts of vile evil that this world had never seen before. I have witness enough of the nature of humanity to say that religion/faith/belief is an ingrained part of our nature. If you try to remove that from humanity, it will be replaced with another form of religion/faith/belief in time.

        Mr. W.E. Bondurant,I do not know of you or your father. But if what you say is true and what you are implying that He was a good or at least a decent man but did not boast about his deeds. Then do not worry for what others say for you know the truth of his deeds. Jesus did say that if others who do good deeds even if they are not doing it in God’s name (I.e. Being a Christian) is still doing good things/God’s will wither they know it or not. God still knows of it and will reward him in the afterlife. In ending, if you know your father lived a good life and did not go to church often, he is still a good man no matter what others say.

        • W.E. Bondurant

          Taxil…..My Father was a gambler, a drunk, and unfaithful to my mother. He was a good man in some respects. I never saw the “good ol’ boy” redemption in the Bible. He was a general contractor and also moved numerous houses especially during the Eisenhower interstate building boom. I know for sure he is dead, not just living somewhere else. I have the hope the resurrection would include him. Until then he is dead, he knows nothing, like a dreamless sleep. The wages of sin has always been Adamic death. He died and has paid the price. Thank you for the regards.

          • Taxil Necrobane

            Your father sounds like he had his good and bad points. Again, I will admit I do not know of him personally and I will not judge him. But I can tell that you love him still. All I can say that I believe that someday you will see him again on better terms. I know I am not perfect nor do I know everything, but I try to be merciful and do right by others as I can. Be at peace Mr. W.E. Bondurant, for this world is harsh enough and tearing each other apart will not help anyone.

      • William A Barros

        W.E Bonduant These Religions are for IDIOTS. See, jezsus resuscitated a man – Lazarus. There was a prophet who was eat by a whale! All those histories, guide me to a simple conclusion. I BELIEVE in SANTA CLAUS!!

        • W.E. Bondurant

          William A….Perhaps unbeknownst to you, the account says Lazarus had been dead for 4 days and had begun to decompose (smell) would have to have been a bit more than resuscitation don’t you agree??

    • Taxil Necrobane

      You sound so angry. No worries, I will pray that some day you will let go of all your hate, venom, bitterness and bigotry so that you may find peace.

  • linus1943

    If one says this is a fact, then the evidence must be presented to support that. Ergo: Science. If one says the Bible is fact, then…..

  • natorT

    Ugh. Those are the same tired old arguments for God’s existence that have been countered a billion times. Disappointed that the Jesuits haven’t come up with better ones, or don’t realize how bad they are. He’s better than a Creationist but not by a whole lot.

  • Justin Brown

    When talking about belief, whether it be belief in measurements from quantum phenomena or belief in religious or spiritual truths, I feel we must define what we mean by belief, and for this I look to pragmatist philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce who defined belief into several possible categories based on where your source of truth derives. One source of truth is your own dogma, and no matter what others say or do there is no convincing you otherwise what you already know, even if it directly contradicts this known “truth”. Another source of truth is an authority, whether it be religious, political, government, etc. and what the authority says is truth is the only objective truth. The problem with authority-based and dogma-based belief is that there will be other authorities and other dogmas that directly contradict these and therefore one or both must be false; there must be other ways to validate which one is correct (this is assuming we agree there can be no contradictions in the universe, which I stipulate must be the case). Enter observation-based belief. Once we doubt what we know, we can then move on to observation and validate (or invalidate) a hypothesis formed from the observations through experimentation and analysis of results (through induction and deduction) and with an agreement with a broader community who has repeated this process with the same results (to alleviate any possible errors or statistical anomalies), and we can form a belief. Repeated doubt/observation cycles allow us to form a habit based on this belief, which we can call our knowledge. Truth, however, can never be fully realized, as new technologies or methods of data collection or analysis may result in different conclusions based on observations about the universe. We can only ever know the closest proximity to truth based on as objective as possible methods in our empirical processes. Any other claim to truth can only be said to be a hypothesis yet to be validated with evidence, which is perfectly fine and many have and do live perfectly content in this, but it is reasonable to say that a hypothesis that cannot be validated by evidence must eventually be discarded (or at least tabled) in favor of time and energy spent in other hypotheses that can be. Therefore belief in measurements from quantum phenomena is one based on observations of the universe, whereas belief in spiritual or religious matters requires an appeal to authority as a source of truth, or a reliance on one’s own dogmatic nature, neither of which hold up to close inspection once you begin to doubt what you know (which I stipulate any reasonable person can and should be able to do to be able to justify one’s beliefs).

  • William A Barros

    Ohh and in time This Shit god is a censor too!!!

  • Joe Ferrara

    Nonetheless I believe in G.O.D. The generator of diversity. Our failure to live up to Divine Truths do not impute to God and it is vain and desultory to do so in my opinion

  • axnyslie

    For the umpteenth time nothing in science requires “faith”. Not the big bang, dark matter, quantum physics, evolution, etc.. nothing!

    • David Laird

      of course science needs faith.. what keeps the scientists going when experiments keep failing? Blind faith is different.

      • Patrick Francis

        Are you serious? Faith is variously defined as belief, confidence or trust in a person, object, religion, idea or view.

        The scientist doesn’t keep going with experiments “believing” that it won’t fail. When an experiment fails, you learn something. Then you re-do the experiment to make sure you get the same result each time. Then maybe you change a few variables and do the experiment again. Faith has nothing to do with it, Tests are designed in a way that the result will give data.

        • Manu Jim

          Try to get funding saying that. Nowadays most of the science needs applications in order to be funded. And maybe faith is not the most appropriate term because it is related to religion, but in the end you are promising something and some people (sometimes politicians with not much science education) are trusting you are the right person to handle it. I think we overlook the human factor in science, which of course is less important because in the end things have to work, and science has tools that allow it to check claims. But still we see things like homoeopathy being disguised as science. Test are designed in a way that the result will give data but someone still trusted i.e. had faith that you are fair to your data and you are not cheating. Of course eventually if your research is important enough it will be cross-checked but you cannot imagine how far you can go in “science” by obtaining the faith of others (and therefore funding). Again, science is led by humans and we share the same problems we see in society, with the difference that our theories can be refuted. A very important difference that does not remove the faith factor.

    • Manu Jim

      And what about a working and profitable fusion reactor i.e. ITER?? It is not close to faith keep putting money in this project? I mean, maybe we need a better term, to not confuse it with religious faith, but something similar to faith is present in every aspect of human interaction. Maybe we should use the word trust instead mixed with a bit of “intuition”? I am not sure, but I can tell you that in science there is similarity to faith in certain aspects but the difference is that faith in science can sustain a project for certain time but not 2000 years. Eventually your success or failure will be detected by others normally in less than 100 years (depending how many scientist care)

      • Wilhelm Guggisberg

        It’s not faith, is reasonable expectations based on a logical theoretical thesis with components of past supporting evidence.

  • Boffin DA

    And lies the true problem with a concept of god(s). People may interject their diety at any point in time left undiscovered. As we heard, the priest breaks his rule in order to say god has always been then argue cause and effect which would break down yet again because we as humans know that the cause of being created is from the effect of being made. The entire argument reads down and we run cir les because of the negative being argued. Even when asked what God might Dr. Tyson have been called to, the question is diverted.

    To answer the priest about God’s words to Richard regarding faith, I’d say, why do you need faith, what kind of twisted horrible being creates a world where some much evidence suggest a diety doesn’t exist and then come back to exact horrible punishment because the said diety left this absolute law in the hands of human that used for their own purposes and then claims you have to have faith. You know who does that? All signs point to humans, the very root of god/gods in my opinion. So yes priest, I’m very confident I’ll be ok on my death bed.

    The more and more I hear modern religious people the more I am starting to understand their gods as giant question marks for what they don’t know. Anytime mysteries are solved, they interject god into the next big mystery. As an atheist, when I hear god, I hear “I don’t know and this is my explanation”.

  • Boffin DA

    W.E Bondurant, that explanation only holds true if an Abrahamic god created world. There are many creation myths in the world which are all equally just as valid as yours. This is the problem with religious beliefs being used as explanation.

    • W.E. Bondurant

      boffin DA My favorite is the one where the earth sits on the back of a giant turtle. In my way of thinking this must not be one of the “valid” ones you refer to. Not too fond of the egg or chaos ideas either. There are a lot of myths but I cant really think of one I would call valid. However it is interesting that so many cultures would hold to some form of a creation, possibly handed down from the same event with details getting lost in the hand offs.

  • Tracie Holladay

    Would rather hang out with Fr Martin instead of Dr Dawkins. I’m female; I’d get more respect from Fr Martin than I would from Dr Dawkins. Dawkins would hate me because I’m female.

    • Richard Seglenieks

      That’s an extreme claim, what’s it based on? The centuries of religious subjugation of women? Oh wait…

      • Taxil Necrobane

        It’s based on her own feeling and testimony. If she does not feel safe around Mr. Dawkins, she should not be forced to be near him. Is that too much to ask for, or is your anti-religious bigotry blinding you to her statement? On that matter, just what does that have any relevance to her concern? This is between her and those two Gentlemen.

        • Sonny

          Who said anything about forcing anything? She stated that “Dawkins would hate me because I’m female.” That is a bold claim and, it seems to me that it’s legitimate to question the basis of such a claim.

        • Tracie Holladay

          Given his tendency to harsh rhetoric, which he calls “good natured” but I in my American-ness don’t recognize as “good natured” at all, I would expect that harshness to be directed at me for almost any reason – maybe he doesn’t like the color of my shirt, he doesn’t like redheaded people, he doesn’t like women, he doesn’t like Americans, etc.

          Because I hear more bitching out of him than anything else, I really think he’d be a very tiresome person to hang around. His constant anger and unhappiness would just exhaust me after, say, 20 minutes in his company.

          Fr Martin as a man – not as the Church, as he is only one priest – comes off as far more pleasant, far more positive, far more flexible. He doesn’t seem *nearly* as brittle as Richard Dawkins does. I’ve read one of his books, and his experience as a Jesuit priest among some of the poorest people in some challenging settings seems to have really humbled Fr Martin greatly. I don’t think Dawkins has had anything close to this kind of humbling life experience – remember, he grew up as a white male kid in South Africa, where he would have been among the privileged class and he got used to being among the top dogs who could do or say whatever he wanted and get away with it. I find myself wondering if he’s classist as a result of his childhood life…..it’s possible….

          • Craig Cliburn

            So you would rather judge a message by its tone rather than its content?

    • Jamien C. Ousey

      If your looking for bigotry, then you need to look no further then the mirror.

      • Tracie Holladay

        Two things:

        First of all, most people here are bigots themselves – it’s just directed against Fr Martin.
        Second, I don’t have to like any of the same people you like. I’m free to dislike anyone or anything, for any reason. It’s actually ok to say “I don’t like that person,” believe it or not.

        But because there is such a strong push for orthodoxy among atheists, and very little room for actual free thought, I find all this very odd.

        I have always received nothing but kindness and warm hospitality from clerical types – whether Catholic or Methodist or Episcopalians or Lutherans, etc. My encounters with atheists over the last 20 years or so were not so pleasant, not even close.

        • Taxil Necrobane

          Mrs. Tracie Holladay, I completely agree with your statement. I would like to add that growing Atheists Orthodoxy is growing more louder and dangerously aggressive that I fear will spill into violence sooner than later.

          • Tracie Holladay

            I just now saw this comment somewhere on this thread: “Religions are Disgrace. If you know a litter History your see how Religion Blocked Sciences Discovers. Giordano Bruno was murder, Galileu almost. And many others! That History even wrote about it!!! Today, Religion justified SLAVERY (Remember US Supreme Chief Justice “Black guys are 2/3 of a man”, without soul). Religion justified the Apartheid in South Africa (The chosen People by GOD). And even today. Guys/Lesbians, LGBT are going to hell. These Religions leaders are RACIST!! They Misinform their poor cattle. They should think more. Study more History!!! this pope francis are NOT an exception. Why do they consider girls as sub-species? Pure DISCRIMINATION!!!! That is their S**T, EXCREMENT, F**KING god!!!!”

            ….and I thought, “Wow, and these people wonder why lots of folks think atheists are bitter, angry, hateful, dangerously aggressive people?!”

            I have had very serious concerns that if the likes of Dawkins and his fans reaches critical mass, there will be a new Final Solution, and it will be directed against ALL religious people (not just Jews) simply because they are religious and perceived to be a danger to society. At the very LEAST, they will be rounded up and sent to Stalinesque re-education camps and put to hard labor where they will stay until they indicate they have come around to the ‘correct’ atheistic thinking….or they die there. Hey, wait, this has already happened!!

          • David

            As an atheist, I’m afraid you are right that an atheist majority could lead to systematic persecution of religious people. I’m not just talking about the “no religious establishments on public property or laws” style of “persecution” that we’re seeing right now, either. The most vocal, iconic atheists think religions are the root of all evil (ignoring, of course, the good that yields voluntary participation), yet they fail to consider the core tenant of their beliefs: without gods, religions are a human creation; If religions are humanity expressing itself, what makes their non-deistic religion less susceptible to the same forces that have caused human suffering over millenia? Perhaps introspection and strong reflection on the First Amendment will save us? Perhaps a Church of Humanism? Perhaps atheism will never reach a majority?

    • lssplack

      Richard Dawkins is an outspoken feminist. I don’t understand how you’d expect to get more respect from Mr. Martin when women are not allowed to hold any high positions in the church and if he follows the bible… let’s just say that Yahweh sees women as property… on the same level as oxen and slaves.

      • Tracie Holladay

        Women can hold high positions in other churches. If the RCC won’t do it, the Unitarian Universalists will. Methodists will. Lutherans will. Episcopalians will; they once had a female Presiding Bishop. They now have their first black Presiding Bishop. There are independent Catholic bodies that have nothing to do with Rome that ordain married people, women, gay folks, etc.

        The RCC is but ONE Christian body. It does not represent them all. They speak only for themselves.

        RCC = Roman Catholic Church, for those who might be confused

    • Missthalie

      Ridiculous. Dawkins doesn’t hate females – Even if it must’ve been hard when interviewing Wendy Wright! He asks people questions and if that makes him arrogant then I’m an arrogant female.

      • Taxil Necrobane

        George Takei outed himself in his racism against black people, yet he covered it up well enough to have an interview with Neil just fine. I can not discard the possibility that Dawkins looks down on woman too. As for now, I will keep an eye on him.

        • Sonny

          I agree with you on the Takei thing. I don’t think he’s especially racist, but I did feel that his statement was racist and even worse, his excuses were vacuous. If he had said, I realize that wasn’t fair, and every person has the responsibility to evaluate their own heart and mind when it comes to racism and bigotry in general. Still, what did Dawkins say or do that would make anybody think he hates women?

    • Helena

      I am female too, why in the world do you see Prof Dawkins as against women?

  • Jerry Boyle

    Great program. A believe in God(s) is logical from my perspective while a believe in everything written in the Bible, Torah, Quran, et cetera being the Truth is illogical from my perspective. The last minute of this discussion is great.

  • Mark

    Can someone please ask the priest what his thoughts were about being saved if one did not believe ,and what would the consequences be?
    Neil did say there was so many other secondary requirements of religion,but few were mentioned. What were the priests requirements?Do we need to be saved? Why is it important for a god to assign me to heaven or hell?The questions are many,but I think the priest oversimplified-maybe belief in a god was good enough,but further invstgation would reveal many requirements from respective denominations to meet the standard.

  • Koalr Meavla Lslaam

    Great program. Although I have to give credit to the priest, for the great arguments and that he was very cool, calm and colected, they were as typical as all of them. I don’t see the compatibility of science and religion. Religion is the answer of the ones that do not want to engage in the dificult task of finding the truth.

  • PstlRFLP

    Ironic Professor Dawkins states “we shouldn’t discriminate because someone lacks religion”, yet won’t trust a scientist with a religion based on “principle”. When a biologist makes top grades; is recognized in Who’s Who’s, completes Master’s level Evolutionary Biology courses and Anthropology; then remains creationist, what difference does it make? That was me. I have no qualms doing research I do not believe in. Science is a collection of observations, research and data. The scientific process does not ask what one believes, rather what one observes. I applaud Professor Tyson for raising these issues, but I encourage others to rethink bias. Realistically, there are many of us out there. We remain silent, oppressed by bigotry and work place hostility. It’s likely you are working with a scientist of faith (even a creationist) right now, and in spite of the priest’s misconceptions we are not “ignorant”. As a female I have suffered far less sexual discrimination in comparison to the stigma of being a scientist of faith. From personal experience, women will never feel welcome if we continue to live as elitists in our ivory towers. As a young freshman I was told “I had to accept evolution for creation or I could not be a scientist”. Is THAT logical or welcoming? Many of my friends- brilliant minds- walked away from the bigotry and discrimination. Let’s come together with mutual respect, let go of the petty titles, end discrimination and revolutionize field of sciences. Keep the doors open for the future, and make science welcoming for all.

    • Taxil Necrobane

      Well said and from my own experiences is that the anti-religion is a growing and worsting problem in the world.

    • John Kinahan

      There is a long and continuing tradition of faith among scientists but rejection of faith is now so strong that you may well scupper your career if you admit to it, so take care. Leaving aside the “God bit”, it is the everyday observances of faith that are generally absent in the secular world of science: such as compassion and humility and I’d rather have those than the conceited strutting of Mr Dawkins. Another point: secularists often point to the decline of faith as if it were a global phenomenon when it might be more accurately described as a phenomenon of European and North American elites. Elsewhere faith is growing not declining; are we to conclude that people other than these elites are backward or stupid? No. Are we to conclude that the secular elites of Europe and North America are enlightened? No. The simple truth is that secularism is driven by material comfort (usually taken at others expense – remember compassion and humility?) not enlightenment. It is strange that in the western world, so taken up with political correctness, the one last remaining permissible prejudice is the prejudice against faith.

      • Taxil Necrobane

        That is very accurate in your statements. I also would like to point out that Christianity appears to be the focus of the secularists agenda to drive out or remove from the western world. I have yet to see them put any effort to remove Islam. Yet if the secularists win at their prime target, there is a high likely hood that Islam will replace them. I deduct that Islam will in turn drive out or kill off the secularists faction if Islam remains true to form. Please ponder upon that for awhile.

        • PstlRFLP

          Please don’t stigmatize other scientists of faith. We need to work together. I certainly do not ascribe tolerance for violent extremism (I’m a veteran who joined post-911), but I can say with certainty we can ALL use our 5 senses and the scientific method to advance the fields of science.

      • PstlRFLP

        I appreciate the concern for my career. Your concern is legitimate. I hid my creationist faith for a long time, because I witnessed the stigmas. It was common to hear, “they are ignorant. They will NEVER be allowed on our research teams. They cannot observe without being influenced by their prejudices.” I’ve heard it all. The whole time I was a “closet creationist” on their teams. I “came out” to my Evolutionary Biology Professor. He advised me to remain secret, but invited me to join his RFLP analysis course. Years later we remain in contact. For those struggling, I’ve found private sector work was far less prejudiced, and I find showing compassion and opening doorways in education serves as the best prevention. I applaud Startalk for bringing these talks forward. Thank you Startalk.

    • ColtsHeadBen

      Yeah I’m not a fan of Dawkins on that point. Luckily he’s not the Pope so I’m free to disagree with anything he says that doesn’t make sense. If atheism were a religion, I might be in trouble, but luckily, I can just agree that he’s wrong on that point, and that’s that!

    • RGlenCheek

      It is also important to note that some people are Creationists only in the philosophical/theological meaning of the word, but still believe in evolution and a largely naturalistic pattern of behavior for the universe.

  • gr

    If there was any sort of decent, loving being out there, then it wouldn’t be hiding while it watches/causes drama for things that had no choice in being made. That’s a psycho. At best, if there was some ‘real’ deity, then it needs to be stopped at all costs.

    • Taxil Necrobane

      Amusing. When there is a growing part of the population more or less tells God(s) to go bugger off for they don’t believe in them nor want them around. I can see the God(s) going all ‘Alright then, It’s all on you now humanity. I’ll be right over here. Just give me a call when you had enough.’ And then you blame the God(s) for all the drama that happens when you don’t even believe in him. I for one would rather put my trust in god. I have seen that humanity can for more evil than anything ascribed to spiritual beings.

      • Le Hunt

        As a Christian, I often find that people expect too much from God — Why does He allow disease to exist, for example — or too little — He can’t do anything. I believe that God helps us in more ways than we can imagine, and that so much of what the ‘rationalists’ sluff off as coincidence, is actually God’s hand in there helping us. I also believe that God can only do good, He is unable to cause harm in any way.

        • Sonny

          So you’re saying “harm” does not, has never, and will never exist?

          • Taxil Necrobane

            No, I think he meant that God does not willing and/or knowingly cause harm. Lord knows much harm is due to random happenstance or we inflict it on our selves either directly or indirectly to one degree or another.

          • Sonny

            “He is unable to cause harm in any way” and “He caused the universe to exist and harm has occurred in the universe” are logically incompatible beliefs…ever heard of cognitive dissonance?

          • Taxil Necrobane

            Yes I have heard of it and no body cares about that. It’s not important and has no bearing here. Why? I think that humans and what we do is a mix of rational and irrational actions and thoughts. It’s what makes humans human.

  • George Lane

    The word “science” is from the Latin “scio”, meaning “knowledge”

  • Alex Rau

    very fun to listen to, although i think NDT interrupts him a little too often 😛

  • Bryan

    I don’t need faith – I have knowing. The evidence has been presented. I have been given the ability to see. I have been reborn and I know the word we have given to the infinite universe, the energy, the medium, the force, the creator, Nature, the great spirit is in fact what we call God. If you are also ready to know, to understand, to finally see the truth of life, to see the big picture… come take a look at one man’s vision of the unity of all of life. http://www.truthcontest.com It is an exciting time. Wonderful Star Talk Session…

  • Richard Seglenieks

    Interesting but ultimately disappointing. Neil, like so many, gave undue respect to some profoundly unscientific viewpoints.

    Underlying the argument that God wants us to have faith is the idea that believing something despite a lack of evidence (or even evidence to the contrary) is somehow ‘better’ than only believing those things which we have reasonable evidence for. If we should have faith and believe in things without evidence, how are we supposed to choose what to have faith in? Is it virtuous to have faith in Santa, Zeus, the illuminati or our universe existing only within the dream of an otherworldly being?

    • Digital.Gods

      The conversation really never got into religion itself, and I’m surprised that Neil did not jump on the opportunity to contest things like the virgin birth in detail, and so much more. One of my favorite challenges is the verse Matthew 17:20 “He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
      No one has ever done this, including Jesus. It is a preposterous thing to say to someone, and when Jesus spoke in parables, he usually let us know that. So this, we have to take as literal, because there is nothing to indicate that Jesus was in parable mode. I love to watch people dance around what is actually said in the Bible. Usually the excuse is, well he was just giving an example, shouldn’t take that literally etc. etc. Why would a God, leave so much open to interpretation, knowing full well that it would cause discourse, confusion, even violence? Or as someone once said, ” it’s amazing that when God finally decided to speak to the world, that he chose Greek, and that he didn’t speak it any better.”

      • RGlenCheek

        Dude, it is called ‘hyperbole’. Learn the language and you’ll be less confused perhaps.

        • Digital.Gods

          I assure you I do quite well with language, perhaps you should learn some manners? If it is hyperbole, then how are we to determine when someone is speaking literally, and when someone is speaking in a literal sense, and then of course there are the parables? So when the Bible says Jesus is the Son of God, is that hyperbole, or literal… and why do I have to take your interpretation, because you ‘dude’ claim you know when something should, or should not be taken literally? I’m thinking it is you who are quite confused.

          • RGlenCheek

            DG, the subject you are progressing toward is called ‘hermeneutics’, the systematic interpretation of text documents.
            The basic principles to any hermeneutical system touch on three areas: 1. Learn the culture and time of the author. 2. Take a text in context with the subject, style and literary form of the document, and 3. Interpret the text in question from the likely perspective of the author as much as reasonably possible.
            Number three is the truly tricky aspect to all of this, but ion this case when person A quotes person B out of context in such a way that person B seems absurd. It is also helpful to read the thoughts of others who actually promote the text in some way so one might understand an apologetic for it, instead of running away in glee swinging it over your head like some Chick tract.
            If you understand the use of hyperbole, then why should anyone have to explain to you how ‘faith can move mountains’ is hyperbole, while Jesus claiming to be the Son of God is not? Do you understand what is meant by the phrase ‘Son of God’?
            If I can be of any assistance, let me know. I am glad to help.

        • Digital.Gods

          Not confused at all, on the contrary. So since you seem to be thee expert on what is hyperbole and what is not…. Jesus is the son of God? He was born of a virgin? How about this

          Matthew 17:14-20 “And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. …”
          So Jesus cures an Epileptic by rebuking a demon and heals him ‘instantly’! Hyperbole @RGlenCheek?? Tell me again how confused “I” am?

      • Jesse Brown

        I dont think anyone was breaking this down that far to begin with because at that point wed all be arguing about contexts and other things that none of us can really know in the first place. I think that in our day and age now you can see Christianity slowly losing its grasp on many of its beliefs that were worshiped so faithfully for so many years. Like its beliefs on birth control. But for anyone to take a text with centuries of tweaks and misinterpretations and to word for word break it down philosophically seems somewhat moronic and a waste of time because we are breaking down something that has been broken down for so long, many of the followers of religion have realized to change beliefs because of science. I believe the point here is to show that science and religeon can coincide together respectfully because lets face it, science as we know it today got most of its validity from proving religeon wrong because people questioned teachings. I philosophically believe science wouldnt exist without the imagination required to make a religeon to begin with.

        • Digital.Gods

          I respectfully disagree. You can not believe in demons causing disease and science at the same time, and it is not just semantics either; virtually every claim made in religious texts have been proven wrong by science. Each day there is less and less to prove. At the end of the day, every religion will be reduced to nothing more than a philosophy, and that is certainly compatible with science, since science arose from philosophy.

          • Jesse Brown

            I’m saying in a roundabout way, religion was a catalyst for growth in the scientific communities of the past and even now. I disagree that science has proven everything wrong in religion as well. I am an atheist, and you cant tell me science has proven there is no such thing as creationism. That is kind of a big deal. I mean science is not as perfect and heartwarming as people make it out to be. Its as human as its embarrassing cousin religion. However I do believe that science and religion will find common ground. Where religion will have several contexts correct about our universe and I believe science at some point will rely on some sorts of fate. I may be completely wrong. All I know is the two have been battling over the same ideas for centuries and right now it seems science gets the award for accuracy. I hope modern religions evolve into modern places of research and understanding of the universe. What a beautiful humanity we would have then!

          • phauxnewz

            I can’t name anything in the Bible that is correct regarding the univers. Example? In the past, everything that could not be explained by science was given to “god”. As science continues to find answers to questions, “god” continues to become smaller.

          • Jesse Brown

            I cannot either! But if you have ever read any of Michio Kaku’s books you will understand that I am more referring to several religions. In fact if you want to properly understand Christianity you need to understand the religions Christianity borrowed structure from. So no the bible is not a great place to start. Then again you are taking the text out of its symbolical nature. Nothing is going to make complete sense from 2000 years ago especially because there was a lot less discovered in those times. My point is that religion had some pretty silly yet forward thinking of our universe. But those are only silly ideas because they were proven wrong by science. Before that there were entire civilizations of people who were taught something inaccurate. But how can you judge a text written by people with less info then we have today? Judge those who expect religion to be perfect. Religion is a way for our people to find structure in there lives who cant build that structure without having answers to questions that are unanswerable. That is what religion does. It answers our questions with philosophical ideas. Science takes those ideas and puts them to the test. Maybe I am crazy here but it seems to make sense to me! Sorry if I sound difficult.

      • Master Explorer

        Greek then were like English today. And I don’t think all of the Bible were written in Greek. I think that parts of it were written in Hebrew. Then again, I might be wrong.

        • Digital.Gods

          It doesn’t matter, it’s the point. Could have been Aramaic and Hebrew, the book itself is quite unclear on just about every point, and the language used is very imprecise. For instance, you would think a single commandment should be easy enough to convey right? Thou shalt not kill, or is it thou shalt not murder? The two are quite different in context, and most people were taught ‘thou shalt not kill’. The King James version says kill, but modern renditions say murder. In Hebrew the word Retzach can mean both, and it turns out to be how the word is used in context. If I were a God, I think I would want everyone to know exactly what I want, but to make matters worse there is also justifiable murder (killing) in Hebrew called Herem. Additionally, the word for Cain Killing Abel in Genesis is different than the word used in the commandment.

      • Sonny

        I agree with your premises and conclusions, but your example of moving the mountain is pretty tenuous. By your own admission hardly anybody believe that’s literal, and your counterpoint is “Oh well he didn’t say to not take it literally so we have to.” That’s a straw man. You’ve actually weakened your case.

        On the other hand, if somebody were to say, “You can literally move a mountain by saying it if you have a certain amount of faith” then you can ask, “Isn’t the point that a mustard seed very small compared to other seeds?” When they agree with that, then you can say, “So nobody in history has ever had even a very small amount of faith?”

        • Digital.Gods

          Tenuous it is not, for there are hundreds of examples where we take such verses literally or what is the point in writing them? For Instance:

          Acts 19:11-12
          “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.

          Should you take this literally? If not, a huge foundation of the religion falls flat doesn’t it? Why would This need to be in the Bible? Should we take this literally, and if not, why the lie? Is this any more believable than moving a mountain by will?

      • Nano

        funny because of this saying.. .“The man who moved a mountain was the one who began carrying away small stones.”

        • Digital.Gods

          That’s not what scriptures say, so what is your point?

    • Paul Mason Palmieri

      Exactly. Perfect point.

    • RGlenCheek

      There is evidence to believe in God and it falls into different forms of evidence. There is not only scientific evidence that helps us to learn about the Reality we live in, but there is also mathematical evidence, forensic evidence, epistemological and eye witness/ historical evidence.
      We know that a progression toward infinity cannot be completed in time because there is no final end point or condition. Say we are talking about shelling an infinite number of peanuts. It never ends and so never completes. There is similarly no possible way to have an infinite regression back in time. We cannot say that are here in the present after having completed shelling an infinite number of peanuts. The idea that there cannot be an infinitely regressing chain of causal events has been understood for thousands of years, and allowed monotheism to displace polytheism. This happened because we know that time itself had to have a beginning as a result of understanding that an infinite regression was a fallacy.
      With that, polytheistic systems were understood to be false as their gods were born in the flow of time while the Creator/Creative Force had to pre-exist the beginning of time itself. Hence the idea we have a Creator.
      The rest of it follows from there, exploring with simply reason to explore what is apparently true and not in the Greek Emanationists school of thought which predated Christianity by centuries.
      Belief in God is rational, there is evidence for it, but that evidence is not without any hints of doubt because one can always spin data to fit ones predispositions regardless of what the nature of that evidence is. The obvious ‘fine tuning’ of the universe for human kinds survival is not really answered in a plausible way by dismissing it as implied by our own existence. Were one to accuse a poker dealer of cheating because he gave himself five Royal Flushes in a row, he would not be considered to have answered well by observing that had he not gotten those five hands in a row one wouldn’t be doubting his veracity. It begs the question in both cases; Why is there this highly improbable set of data?
      The search for that answer has led the vast majority of people for millennia to believe in a Creator, and the atheists are fewer in number than those who believe the Moon landings were fake or who believe in Big Foot.

      • Richard Seglenieks

        Utter nonsense. Surely you understand that believing in an eternal creator is no less preposterous than believing in a timeless universe. You cannot logically use an argument of infinity to argue that one thing cannot be eternal but another can.

        By declaring that “The obvious ‘fine tuning’ of the universe for human kinds survival is not really answered in a plausible way by dismissing it as implied by our own existence” you are showing that you lack a basic understanding of the anthropic principle. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean a̶ ̶w̶i̶z̶a̶r̶d̶ God did it.

        Lastly, I seriously hope you don’t think that the number of people who believe in something in any way alters it’s truthfulness. That would just be the height of idiocy and display a total lack of independent thought.

        • RGlenCheek

          Why are my posts being deleted? Because I prove my points?

          • Alain

            Because they are so boring to read. They just moved your Mountain of text somewhere else.

          • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

            Alain, in RGlen’s defense, his posts did seem to be disappearing due to a weird glitch in notifications from Disqus.

          • Alain

            An act of God? :)

        • RGlenCheek

          Infinite regression fallacy is the fact that a series of events/causes cannot race back an infinite number of times, else one never arrives at the present. This is similar to the forward infinite progression fallacy which says one can never advance through to completion any infinite series of events, because there is no last event. And with infinite regression there is no first event to start things rolling.
          A thing/Entity that exists outside the flow of time is not subject to this limitation as it is not a causal event or produced by one since it exists outside the flow of time.

        • RGlenCheek

          The Anthropic Principle does not prove God exists, but from a philosophical or theological perspective frames the existence of God as more likely as it explains the fine tuning more plausibly.

        • RGlenCheek

          That a majority believes something does not prove a Truth, but it is a good ‘leading indicator’. For example, betting lines are better predictors than the best experts, with the latest UK elections being a prime example of that phenomenon.
          So while the rarety of atheism being in the fringe category does not prove atheism to be wrong, it does suggest that atheism is probably wrong.

          • Butterfly Christie

            The argument from popularity is a well known logical fallacy. It certainly does not prove something probably is true. Billions of people believe Islam is the true religion, and billions believe Christianity is. Another billion believes Hinduism is the true religion. Close to a billion believe Buddhism is the true religion. Buddhists technically are atheists. The religion does not make a claim of an intelligent creator of the universe. They are not rationalists, free thinkers, or humanists who are usually associated with atheism because they still believe in supernatural things.

          • RGlenCheek

            Butterfly Christie, I am not saying that the majority determines what is True, so I am not making an argument from popularity. I am talking about something else that people use in real life called ‘indicators’.
            What is an indicator? Well in trading stocks or currency pairs it can be when a 7 minute moving average crosses the one hour moving average. In sports betting it can be the ‘spread’. In geology it can be rising temperatures in pools of surface water and the release of sulfur from underground vents.
            These do not PROVE that something is going to happen, that is impossible, pretty much. But they do provide for a more plausible alternative or choice vrs a less plausible choice.
            If you are trying to catch a plane at the air port, the published schedule of departure times is a very good indicator of when it will actually take off, though it is not absolute, by any means.
            If the New England Patriots were playing the Washington Redskins and the betting line was 8 points in favor of New England, if you bet and take the Redskins then you should probably ask for the points to make the bet more fair because it is more plausible that the Patriots will win than that the Redskins will if that is what the ‘spread’ is suggesting. And who determines what the spread is? The various gamblers who place their bets push the bookies to ‘make book’ and set the spread so that bets are even and the bookie makes his money on the skim and not the gambling itself so much.
            The fact that over 5 BILLION people on the planet believe in a God of some sort makes the small under 2% of atheists look like a fringe group and IMO they are. I also believe that the more plausible claims are with the believers and not the fringe group atheists. Not saying it proves them wrong at all.

          • Butterfly Christie

            You are still using the argument from popularity. You are saying something is an indicator because most humans believe in a god. If I’m wrong then can you say what you are trying to say in a different way, rather than giving examples of other things? I also pointed out that buddhists are not required to believe in a god, which makes the people that don’t believe in a god a lot higher than 2%.

          • RGlenCheek

            Butterfly Christie, I am not making an argument based on popularity, but only an observation about plausibility and what is likely based on statistics in similar areas.

            For example, say I am trying to build a shed and want to know how to put in joists for the roof. If I go on the internet and find that 97% of people who comment on such things tells me to use technique ‘A’, but 3% tell me to use technique ‘B’ I have to choose. Maybe I go with ‘A’, or maybe ‘B’ or maybe I do something else entirely.

            Common wisdom is that if you are not privy to all the relevant information then going with what most people finds working for them is the smart thing to do and leave the fringe ‘B’ group to their own business. I don’t go arguing with group ‘B’ about why I think they are wrong. IF it works for them fine, but I choose for myself and if I have not mastered a topic enough to make my own independent valuation, then I go with the overwhelming majority.

            And Buddhists are not exactly atheists. They have Devas (godlings/demigods/gods) that live in 31 Śuddhāvāsa Worlds
            (alternate planes of existence) and they have the Lotus Sutra, or Eternal Buddha, and the Dharmakāya or “Buddha-body of Reality”. They are not monotheists exactly though either. It is a very mystical Eastern religion that kind of defies Western peg holes.

            The vast majority of atheists today are Chinese Communist Party members and that is merely professed. Who knows what they really believe in after the Party finally loses power? I think the number of actual sincere atheists who have studied what monotheism is, and few have, and then have rejected the idea of God or the Creator is really miniscule. For example, look at how many of them have no clue about the difference between polytheistic gods vrs the Creator monotheism God.

            Informed reflective atheism is almost extinct today.

          • MH

            Betting lines aren’t generated magically. They are generated by “the best experts.” The difference in their predictive power is that instead of listing the winner of every category, they break those categories down and give percentages that each candidate will win. Weather prediction is similar in this manner. When the National Weather Service in the US gives a 70% chance of rain, there really is a 70% chance of it raining. When you see this data interpreted by TV meteorologists, though, they feel that the end user would rather hear something certain like “it will rain,” and they end up being wrong 30% of the time.

            As for your argument from popularity, Butterfly responded adequately to that below, but I will just add that the MAJORITY of things which were once thought by the masses to have been true at one point, have in fact been proven either completely or partially false

      • Butterfly Christie

        The question of infinite regress does not address if the beginning of the universe was caused by an intelligence. That’s where your argument is jumping to conclusions. There is a lot we don’t understand about the beginning of the universe. The only rational answer is to say we don’t know until we have evidence that verifies what happened.

        Then you gave the classic watchmaker argument that has been debunked countless times on the internet. Neil Degrasse Tyson even debunked it. You can see it on YouTube if you search for “Stupid Design”.

        Most intelligent design arguments I’ve seen are counting the good things, and forgetting the bad things. They don’t mention how this universe seems to be more designed for black holes than it does for life. Most of the universe is extremely violent places and not habitable for life at all. Even on the Earth humans can only survive on land, and when it is not too hot, or too cold. When it is not exploding in a volcano, when it doesn’t have whirling tornadoes on it, when it doesn’t have earthquakes, etc.

        Before medical science, which developed only a little over a thousand years ago, half the babies being born didn’t make it, some took their mothers with them, or wound up with some kind of physical disability. People were lucky to be alive if they lived to be 30. Scientists have found that 99% of the species that ever lived have gone extinct. The list of these go on, and on. What kind of designer makes a universe like this?

        This could have come from a designer that doesn’t care about the life here, but it also could have come from circumstances which produced something out of incredible odds, it also could have come from a designer that wasn’t omnipotent and had limits, and even though they made a Universe where sentient beings suffer, there is some more important issue that needed to be done by making it. That god wouldn’t be omnipotent like the Quran says though. Also maybe our universe came from a wide variety of other universes each with random conditions, and ours was just happened to be made with the ingredients that allowed life as we know it to form. Maybe in other universes out there came to being with different kinds of life. We can only speculate.

        • RGlenCheek

          Yes, infinite regression only points to a necessary beginning of time and that something eternal must exist before time, outside of time. Other lines of reasoning can lead on to believe that this most likely involves a sentient being, such as the Emanationists of ancient Greece and Plato and Aristotle. When George Cantor developed set number theory and the ‘Continuum’ he felt he had developed a mathematical model for God, and I think he was correct. But whether it truly does ins some navel gazing way that each of us must decide for ourselves, the fact is that Cantor proved that infinite sets and numbers are a logical, rational topic, and not merely a flight of fantasy. Thus the concept of God is rational in and of itself.
          And yes, life is hard, but in the vast majority of the universe it is impossible. It should be impossible in the entirety of the universe except for some reason it isn’t. All the narrow ranges of what can allow life has hit the mark and the odds are ridiculous unless someone can prove it had to be this way, and no one has.
          And the ‘Watchmaker’ line of argument is so varied and nuanced by different authors and thinkers, I just seriously doubt that all of them have been disproven by anyone, no disrespect intended.
          It is persuasive to me as I just cant accept that a dealer would deal himself 5 Royal Flushes in a row entirely randomly without stacking the deck.
          How many times would a dealer have to deal himself Royal Flushes before you became convinced he was cheating?

          • Butterfly Christie

            Yes vague intelligent design arguments have more possibilities to be true than religious claims because religious claims involve an interactive god, and that’s testable. It has been tested, and shown to be nearly impossible. Intelligent design arguments deal with the unknown though, and I think it’s jumping to conclusions to say it’s probable an intelligence was involved because, like your example, if someone was getting a lot of royal flushes you would think they are cheating, but that’s because you know the processes behind it. You know how often royal flushes are able to happen, you know humans, and they way you can interact with them, etc. When we are talking before the big bang, beyond time, if there is such a thing, we don’t know the processes behind it. So we can’t predict what is probable, or improbable. We don’t know how probable it was for a universe to appear that had conditions which allows life to happen.

            This also is not royal flushes. Humans nearly went extinct several times in the past. There is a reason humans don’t have different breeds. It’s because the human race bottle necked in the past to just a population of a couple thousand during the Toba eruption, which was a super volcano. It caused a global volcanic winter. We have different races, but they are not very different compared to many other species.

            As far as Georg Cantor’s continuum hypothesis goes, adding infinity to infinity is meaningless because math is just conceptual, and infinity is just a word applied to the meaning “never ending” since we have never seen this occur in the real world it’s meaningless. It means it’s simply playing with the imagination if we don’t have examples of it in the real world. Infinity is the cardinality of a set, and not a number that can be used arithmetically.

          • RGlenCheek

            Again, I question the use of the word ‘argument’ in that what I am discussing is in a general way an argument but not a syllogism or anything of that sort. It is simply an observation and appeal to ‘common sense’, which may or may not be persuasive to a person. What we see in the universe is a set of conditions that make human life possible for whatever reason. Some think it is a random result, but others perceive a pattern and purpose that suggests an intelligence behind it. That is not really an argument, just a nuanced observation. I think it is persuasive as do many other people, but not by itself, but when combined with many other similar observations regarding morality, demographic growth, the nature of power and survival and thriving conditions for mankind, etc.
            And while we do not know ALL the factors regarding the origin of time and our universe, we do KNOW that time cannot be eternal and a few other factoids. Science is adding even more, such as the existence of other universes outside of our own universe, and similar such things that are tearing down the Kantian dichotomy of reality into the noumenal and phenomenal. Heaven is as likely as some great dusty void and just as ‘naturalistic’, so God isn’t necessarily even ‘supernatural’ any more.
            And saying that the Toba Extinction event nearly killed off humanity disproves a Fine Tuned universe is like saying that since a Royal Flush was ‘nearly’ missed when the Dealer dropped a card there thus is no mechanic to the deck shuffle. No, it actually supports the claim even more.
            And just because something is conceptual doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Sine and Cosine are still real, though conceptual. And he didn’t add infinity to infinity, he simply observed that some infinite sets are larger than other infinite sets because some of them have members left over when you draw a one-to-one correspondence between the two sets. He suggested this meant a cardinality of some sort, and from there he proposed the Continuum of an ‘infinity of infinities’ the set of all possible sets. And having a real world example of or use for a number system is not a requirement because it may be that we just are not yet acquainted with the use for it, like Imaginary Numbers were found to be useful for analyzing electrical circuits. The only valid test is whether the system is internally consistent or not.

    • The Angry Turtle

      I think the point the Priest was trying to make was that you should believe in things that are proven scientifically like evolution. And at the same time you can have a spiritual side for things that are unknown. As far as what to have faith in… well I don’t think it’s anyone’s place to tell another person what religion or faith is correct. As long as they aren’t harming themselves or others and we don’t let it get in the way of progress then I don’t see what the problem is.

    • Brett costa

      Couldn’t it have been simply, to avoid confrontation and continue to have a pleasant an open dialogue. You do not have to agree with things, but should always be polite. The show is really a conduit of speaking with freely flowing groups of information, and in this instance as is the case for most religion arguments, there is not very much in the line of actual evidence or tangible proof. so by keeping an open mind and maintaining an enviroment that allows comfortable speech, I would say is similar to the scientific method.

  • George Steele

    Uncaused Cause — If there ever was a nothing so empty there were no causes … just time running but nothing changing … apparently something happened: Ultimate Complexity or Extremely Low Entropy take your pick.

  • Patrick Francis

    Anyone else get annoyed when James Martin uses clearly flawed logic and no one corrects him?

    I’m sitting here listening to things like, the heart takes over when you are in Love, instead of logic. And I’m hoping Neil says something to counter and instead he switches to a new topic.

    Neil is too nice of a person lol.

  • Digital.Gods

    I’ve been a computer programmer for decades, and I’m pretty good. My math skills past algebra are pretty poor. My logic skills are what matters 99% of the time, and so I believe that math and logic are not necessarily locked together, i.e. you can be good at either but not necessarily both.

  • Missthalie

    Go Neil ! When contemplating the cosmos at night and feeling the spiritual meaning of it, that’s all that it should be – not some “divine” experience and surely not some “calling”. Make sure that during that moment, if you start hearing voices, consult your doctor right away.

  • OddPlaceToMeet

    Not a fair debate challenge but still great, the Vatican helped develop and still adds to the tools and reference libraries used by the sciences. You should discuss the Vatican schools optical spectrometry history and it’s additions to the sciences. The Roman Catholic church is still working to fit this all in the bible stories. The Calendar was adjusted and tuned long before any current gods association was ever developed.
    How does a Young Earth scientist reconcile the instrument he uses helps prove the true age of the planet?
    I would like to know,

  • Paul Mason Palmieri

    Re: the priest’s comment about Dawkins at the end of his life: If god is omniscient and gave people the capacity for reason/logic, and in addition using this reason to acknowledge that “divine revelation” cannot be supported because it cannot be proven, then god should have no reason to expect anyone to have faith.

  • Johnny Le

    The question isn’t whether God exists but whether any of the religions accurately represents God if God does exist. My conclusion is no, and therefore, there is no need to enroll in any of the faiths. Just be a good person and you wouldn’t regret at the end whether God exists.

    • Sonny

      Assuming God is not an asshole. Christians and Jews seem to assume he is :)

  • http://www.deviceindependent.com Nate Klaiber

    “I don’t understand people who can’t believe in evolution. I don’t understand people who don’t look at the carbon dating and fossils and things like that…” – James Martin (41:30)

    I found this to be an interesting quote, given all of his other special pleading.

    • ryan

      Right? That confused me too. How can he say this while believing in adam and eve, and like you said, all his other special pleading?

  • Sir Loyne

    A complete disappointment. While I didn’t expect to hear the sound thrashing religion deserves, I don’t feel like my mind was as blown as Dr. Tyson’s was at responses like “I don’t know, maybe god did it.” Both Dr. Tyson and Mr. Mirman were obviously walking on eggshells lest they offend. It’s a topic that should have never been introduced if they had no intentions of bringing up counterpoints to such absurdity as “you’ve got to have faith”. The podcast has been on a steady decline ever since the TV show began, and this was it’s lowest point yet.

    • Martin

      I have to agree with that. The podcast has became much worse in this last 7 months (e.g. the inclusion of “extended classics”) and then the kind of “theatrical” way we hear whenever this is in front of the live audience (I don’t mind massive occasional events, but not this).

  • Kokamantratarius

    Richard Dawkins clearly underestimates what people brag about being ignorant of because I have worked with inept morons who not only bragged about not reading but made fun of the fact I did.

  • Siobhan Adams

    I cannot and will never support religious organizations. From the beginning religion has been BAD for women and girls. Go team Dawkins

  • Duncan Webb

    What a treat to hear a relevant discussion about the role of human wonder, imagination and efforts to satisfy curiosity in science.

  • Donna Andreozzi

    I hope I do not have to be versed in Science to reflect here ..So here are my thoughts… To me Science is concerned with Natural Laws pertaining to the workings of the Universe . The study of what is Actual … These Natural Laws are not subject to change … What changes is our further understanding of them ; how they actually work and how do we better utilize that evolving information. .. As axnyslie states Natural Law is not influenced by Faith . Faith would be more associated with an Individuals Growing and evolving Reality; which ,to me represents a Persons view of Actuality … That is a different animal altogether.

  • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

    Really, William? I rarely jump into this personally, but since I’m the dictator that censored you, I thought I’d indulge myself. We have a great community that has had no problem discussing this issue without resorting to the level of obscenity that you use in your comment. I didn’t edit the content, simply * a few of the letters in your obscenities. As I have done with this comment. We welcome your comments, and even your vitriol. Just keep them clean.

    • William A Barros

      Tks, for your words I appreciate it. But what is obscenity? Everybody go to bathroom. You know, for me obscenity is the case of Sandra Bland. Racism! and those words even little kids knows. your BAD god is BAD. Why censor SEX Education? We all have penis, vaginas, butt!!! And a got really angry when listen there religions leaders that do not know History. Obama is in Africa. In countries that put gays, as sick persons. Or put them on jail. Just to be guys. RACISM, Remember when the USA Supreme Chief Justice in 18xx wrote that Black skin men were 2/3 or a white men!!! What was ITS (not his) Religion!! I bet CHRISTIAN. – jezsus, got is a SHIT, EXECREMENT – Glory The SATAN 1st Amendment (including freedom of speech)!!!!

  • Patrick Delifer

    Listened to this yesterday. The tone of this debate was very mellow and friendly.
    For many atheists, you might think that Neil didn’t debate enough when the subject or remark was clearly open to a scientific challenge.
    I believe there is a good reason for that.
    I think there is a shift in the direction the scientific world wants to approach the issue, and I felt it was clear in the debate.
    Let’s forget about the usual heated debates between atheists and believers (ex: Dawkins, Krauss vs some religious committee)
    which in fact don’t lead anywhere and will rarely persuade a change of opinion. They tend to cause more stress and anger on each side.
    Neil’s position is to take only baby steps challenging only the fundamental points that are scientifically proven
    but still disregarded by religious groups, like creationism or dismissing the earth’s 4.5 billion years age or evolution.
    This would explain his exposé on how the Vatican is scientifically versed be it from priests astronomers, the Vatican Observatory, etc.
    His Jesuit guest, repeatedly affirmed his support for evolution, the big bang, the earth’s age, and argued against those who
    did not believe this.

    If we can get the religions to admit this, then this is a first Major step.
    Who knows what we can accomplish in step 2?

    • Sonny

      Right. Let’s not make the mistake of turning allies into enemies based on nit picking. If everybody thought like this Jesuit priest the world would be transformed compared to what it is today being in the grip of Bible worshipping crazies. We don’t all need to have the same worldview; we need to have the same standards of evidence.

  • Nick Dertavitian

    This felt like a debate, but it’s unfortunate that Richard Dawkins didn’t get the last word. Neil covered him on some points and I’m sure he didn’t want to get deep into it, but man.. this was painful and frustrating to listen to!

  • RGlenCheek

    While I empathise with Believers who do not believe in Evolution, the evidence is overwhelmingly in the favor of evolution occurring. They value of evolution as a concept is highly useful in a wide number of areas, not just biology, but in many kinds of competition, adaptation of all sorts, and socializing, just for starters. They have every right to choose a simpler faith view rather than delve into the complexity of a view of Creation that has evolution.

    And the idea that science, which is limited to purely natural events, can test the existence of something that is by definition beyond Nature and its laws is simply a basic limitation of science, not God.

  • ColtsHeadBen

    Oh man. This episode was hard to listen to. So let me just say:

    I have affection for Dawkins but he says and does a lot of things that I’m not 100 percent on board with, even on this episode.


    Rev. Martin did the cause of belief no favors with his constant non-sequiturs and self-assured arguments based on fundamentally flawed premises. Rev. Martin so easily rejects logical thinking as a route to understanding, and yet, when pressed, relies on logical thinking to defend his position…or, at least, seemingly logical thinking. I would find it so much easier to respect religion if I could meet one, JUST ONE, religious person that DIDN’T have to, at some point, revert to arguments for God that were shredded 400 years ago. Rev. Martin: please read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (Kant being a Christian) front to back, it’s not THAT long, and then never, EVER use the First Cause argument ever again. Please and thank you.

    Dr. Tyson: I know you reject Dawkins’ hardline atheist approach, and I respect you for that, but I hope this latest experience has shown you how much closer you are to Dawkins than even the most moderate, educated theist.

  • Sonny

    I understand the warm fuzzies one gets from thinking that there is somebody out there who started this whole thing, comprehends it (and us) and cares about it (and us). Forgive me if I’m assuming or projecting. I held onto something like that for a while. I guess ultimately for me such a belief served no purpose. I was effectively an atheist and related more easily to atheists but I was technically more of a panentheist. I had a profound respect for the philosophy of Jesus much like I would Gandhi but I couldn’t accept all the magical stuff…virgin birth, resurrection, performing miracles. There was just no reason for me to hold onto the belief other than to satisfy my own wishful thinking, and in some way that felt like a concession to the insane Bible posse that I came to loathe.

    • Adam1985

      Hi Sonny,
      Thanks for the response, as this issue is a great topic for conversation amongst mature adults. I think you and I are very close (hopefully I haven’t misread your position) in our tacit rejection of the more mystical elements of the conception of God. I read the Bible as the story of a man named Jesus who had some good ideas about how to live one’s life in a manner that wouldn’t impose upon or threaten the lives of others. Unfortunately, this story has been manipulated throughout history to serve political ends both altruistic (rarely) and malicious (frequently).

      I don’t conflate the concept of a creative force, where the limits of the English language confine such a concept to the word God, which is responsible for the Big Bang and all we see around us, with the concept of a particular religion. I often say that I am simply a believer of forces beyond human conception. Indeed, mathematics and physics allow us to examine the language of the Universe and therefore understand its various mechanisms. However, since it all breaks down as we approach the instant of the Big Bang, I have concluded (I think reasonably although I’d love your input) that the mechanism for the Big Bang is beyond our current capacity to understand and thus occupies the same mental space as a creator God. After all, we and everything around us owe our existence to this mechanism. While it gives me no warm fuzzies (awesome term :) ) to believe this as fact, it does give me some degree of comfort in the validity of Science which is constrained by human imagination and the tools of mathematics/physics. Since we exist within the space created by the Big Bang where this space is defined by physical laws, anything outside of our beyond this space would take on the characteristics commonly associated with God.

      To summarize, the Bible/Qua’ran/Torah/Gitas/etc. provide us with human created ideals of behaviour and try to provide incentives for following this proscribed path (heaven, virgins, etc.). When religion is deconstructed into its basic moralistic elements, I think most people can agree with one or more of these faith traditions. However, I believe that the force which initiated the Big Bang is more powerful (maybe not the best word choice) than we can conceive of and properly should be viewed as the Creator. Atheists, such as they are, have merely substituted the Science of what we now know into the position of God from generations past. I truly believe that Science’s greatest contribution towards the human condition is its relentless pursuit of the question why, to which we still have no answer. Atheists don’t actually believe in nothing, they believe in Science as the arbiter of the Truth, which I am prepared to accept as long as the rigors of the scientific method are followed. My acceptance ought to be met with their acceptance of the possibility that humanity will never unravel the entire picture of our Universe, and so that eternal idea of something beyond our reckoning being the cause will persist.

      Thanks once again for being reasonable…Also Big Shout-Out to NDT and the whole StarTalk family! You provide me with mind expanding topics and amusement for my daily 330AM commute upon which I place the value of priceless.

      • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

        We’re happy to help make your 3:30 am commute more survivable. I’m just getting to bed at that hour!

  • Glenn Johnson

    I was disappointed at this episode of Star Talk. I think the conversation with Dawkins was misrepresented since his part of the show amounted to about seven minutes. The rest of the time, the discussion with Rev. Martin kept reducing to “If you don’t have an answer, then:God” This is not science. Nor the scientific method. And Dawkins was not there to dispute anything Rev. Martin said.

  • Richard Seglenieks

    I’m not sure why you posted every idea three times in the same thread. Memory of a goldfish? Would explain why your points lack basic logic. I’ll just reply to this one post to keep things tidy.

    If God can be eternal then so can the universe, plain and simple. You can’t say it’s more logical for God to exist eternally outside of time yet influence that which exists within time than for the universe to exist eternally. It’s just like saying ‘time exists within the universe but the universe itself exists outside of the bounds of time and is eternal’. In no way does that require an infinite sequence of events. The amusing part is that I never said I think that the universe has existed eternally, and I don’t think that. You just constructed a straw man out of the fault I pointed out in your logic to try and shoehorn that argument towards a concept you think you understand.

    It’s actually quite funny that you use betting vs. polls compared with election results as a comparison for the likelihood of God existing. Of course human behaviour can be used to predict human behaviour. That’s not only blatantly obvious but also entirely irrelevant to the discussion. If human behaviour could alter the chance of God existing then, sure, people’s reported beliefs might be a useful predictor of God’s existence. Fortunately the universe doesn’t care what people believe.

    Regarding your comment in another post about the “anthropic principle … outside the context of science and in a philosophical or theological way of thinking, it does make the existence of an intelligent Creator more plausible.” I’m glad that you acknowledge that a ‘theological way of thinking’ is unscientific and that in a scientific way of thinking your conclusion is invalid. That you are happy to run with the conclusion drawn from unscientific thinking and accept the conclusions of unscientific principles draws a line across any opportunity for you to understand the scientific flaws in your thinking. I realise even engaging with you this far was probably a wasted effort but as you say, others reading will be able to draw their own conclusions from what we have said.

    • RGlenCheek

      Wow. You say you read my posts, but did yo actually think about what I wrote? I ask that because you say you read them, then say you don’t know why I repeated myself several times. I stated that my posts were getting deleted. Is that hard to grasp? Now they ALL are showing up, something I have no control over at all. I will do a separate post to each of your points just to try and navigate this ‘feature’ of this site.

      • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

        RGlenCheek and Richard Seglenieks:
        Sometimes the notifications from Disqus don’t all come through, especially when I am reviewing and approving comments on my phone. So in this particular case, RGlen, I saw your comment about your posts getting deleted, even though I knew I hadn’t deleted them, but I had no idea what you were referring to until I saw the rest of your comments and approved them. That’s why they’re all showing up. Let’s not let a technology glitch get in the way of the real issues we’re all here to discuss.

        • RGlenCheek

          Cool beans, and thank you for the explanation. All I knew was that I was posting and coming back later and they were mostly all gone.
          Glad you responded, thanks!

    • RGlenCheek

      Yes, the implications of the Anthropic Principle are well outside the parameters of science, but that does not mean that these arguments are therefore invalid. They are not valid science, but epistemology is not limited to science, dude.

      • MH

        I think you seem to have the polar opposite concept of the anthropic principle. Ken Ham and a few other apologists seem to have taken the term and used it to argue the inverse of what it implies.

        Essentially, the anthropic principle states that it is *not* surprising that we are here, because if we weren’t here, we wouldn’t be able to think about how we weren’t here.

        The way in which it relates to the fine tuning argument is that if there are infinite universes with infinite variations on all those tuning variables, you would ONLY find life to exist in those universes that were suitable for life to form. Since life wouldn’t arise in those other universes, there would be no intelligent life in them to think, “this universe is fine tuned for me.”

        In essence, we could only exist in a universe that supports life, so it is not surprising at all that we do. It would be very surprising, however, if we existed in a universe that wasn’t able to naturally support life.

        In a similar sense, the anthropic principle for beverages would state that you would only find beverages inside concave, non-permeable shapes that are able to hold beverages. When it rains outside, water only collects in locations that are suitable to hold water. Those areas are not necessarily ‘fine tuned’ to hold water– they just happen to. If water droplets were intelligent, only those which were lucky enough to have been spared absorption into the ground would be able to ponder their own existence.

  • Digital.Gods

    Yes, I’m a simpleton… I don’t understand the mustard seed, why you would assume I am less intelligent than you can only be explained by your prejudice. Clearly proverbial? Clear by who? You? Because you understand when the Bible goes in and out of the literal and into the figurative? As I have asked elsewhere on this issue, when the Bible says Jesus is the the son of God, is that literal? He was born of a virgin… literal or figurative? Let’s take a quote from Matthew 52The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.54Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”…

    So after Jesus died a bunch of people came out of their graves and walked around, and were even identified as Saints. So what part about the mustard seed do I not understand again?

  • Tracie Holladay

    Gee, I know religions that edify women, that ordain gay people, that are happy to perform gay marriages, etc etc etc

  • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

    Hi Tracie, this is Jeff, the StarTalk Social Media Director. I just wanted to answer that one: we did in fact get some negative feedback about His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa’s appearance on the show – although frankly, we got more about one of the other guests on that episode, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. We also got negative feedback about our guest from Autism Speaks, our political guests, our sex commentator guests, etc. And you should have seen the negatives we got about Joan Rivers! All I’m saying is that we’re an equal opportunity target.

  • R_ Leakey

    I have problem with defining both religion and science! Who has authority to define?

  • lssplack

    I think the people attributing the beauty and complexity of the universe to the Iron-Age, Palestinian desert-deity Yahweh should read the bible from cover to cover. You will find that he is nothing but a bumbling, forgetful, capricious, megalomaniacal and petulant fictional character that cheats at wrestling. Giving fancy names, skirts and a platform to these charlatans that pimp their invisible product (tax-free!) on wishful thinking followers is an abomination in my opinion. The deity they depict to the public is a far cry from the cantankerous ogre featured in the bible. Question… If you believe the “creator of the universe” wrote/inspired, or has ghost written a book, why would you pick and choose which rules to follow, instead of adhering to them all? Of course, many religious people don’t read their “holy books,” they just want the cliff notes version from the evening gown wearing huckster onstage.

  • Butterfly Christie

    What the priest said was not profound, it was anti-intellectualism. Stop thinking, and just believe. Why do we have to understand something to believe in it? Honest belief by it’s very nature is a natural progression from understanding something. The two things can’t be separated. If you are trying to believe something you don’t understand you are just trying to tell yourself you believe it, rather than actually believing it. That is dishonest belief because you are being dishonest to yourself.

    Also we need to understand it because if we didn’t there would be no way to distinguish truth, from non-truth. There is no way to tell if it’s more real than other religions that claim you need to believe with no understanding of their beliefs, in other words have faith in it. Anyone can claim anything to be true if they say, “You just need faith”.

  • Christopher C Morrow

    I think you are unfair in pushing “God as explanation” on people of faith. I look at existance as the observable expression of God. Faith in God is the same in my mind as faith that your senses are giving you real information. Learning how the Higgs causes mass doesn’t mean the physical reality of it changes any more than not understanding it makes it unknowable. I also think that saying the miracles told of in the Crucifixion of Christ are unreal misses the point. Does it remove my ability to want to understand the universe? Pi is the example I use. If you write one digit on every particle in existence you will run out of particles. Yet we can.still understand the use and concept, at least as it fits into observable existance.

  • Richard Mcintire

    Religious people aren’t “idiots.” They do however Believe things with absolutely no proof whatsoever. Further, they demand others believe as they do or there will be consequences! Really bloody consequences too! Want examples?

  • Tracie Holladay

    Finally got around to listening to this show. I’m so glad Fr Martin was on it…and if you ask me, Dawkins came off as being unduly restrictive (by saying he’d not hire an otherwise perfectly qualified doctor to work in a hospital, simply because that doc had a specific “faith based” belief). My own physician is Catholic and he has had no problems treating me for anything from strep throat to diabetes. Sometimes I think Dawkins just doesn’t GET our American way of allowing someone the right to have their own beliefs and not using that as a reason to discriminate against someone in terms of hiring for a specific job or whatever. I’ve noticed that some people comment on Dawkins’ style of dress and how he “looks like he’s straight out of 1895″ or something along those lines. I’d be more inclined to think that Dawkins’ thought patterns are more 1895, and who cares about his wardrobe. To me, his way of thinking is just one or two steps away from “this person is a Democrat or Republican or Libertarian, etc, so I can’t hire him” or “she’s a feminist, so I can’t hire her.”

  • The Angry Turtle

    It’s pretty easy to be both scientific and have a spiritual side. It’s called being open minded. I’m sad to see that even though the Podcast was great and thought provoking, the commenters are just jumping into the same old Religion vs Atheism back and forth.

    I do love that Neil and I talk about our fait the same way. “I’m not going to give you a label to place me somewhere. If you want to know where my spirituality lies you have to have the conversation with me first and then you can call me whatever you want.”

    Personally I don’t really fall into any of the categories so I can’t really place myself.

  • David Gedymin

    I meant to post this earlier after I listened to this Podcast last week. I enjoyed the civility, but was disappointed at the end of the episode when clear refutations to a couple of Mr. Martin’s points. It was left in my opinion hanging; to some of the audience it would seem as though there weren’t a good andwer to these questions.

    First, he talked about the need for an uncaused cause. Neil’s idea that perhaps not everything has to have a cause and that our scientific assumptions might not apply at some point was interesting, but really not the best response. I will try to make a better answer. Mr. Martin claims that it is illogical not to believe in an uncaused cause of the universe. But there is a shortcoming in his own logic. Why apply the uncaused label to a god, rather than just applying the uncaused trait to the universe itself? Is that not the simpler, and therefore more likely, answer? Mr. Martin sees the universe, an entity we a part of and of whose existence we are aware, and decides that there must be a cause for it’s existence. But then he looks at God, and decides that this entity does not require a cause and whose existence he only asserts on faith. I understand that Neil brought my argument forth to a degree, but he did not have to say that he was departing from scientific thinking and he should have called out the Jesuit priests’ own flaw in logic. Why does his god not also require a god even higher up to ha e created it? How far does the regress go? Or why can there simply be no god? Speaking more broadly, it is better to assert that perhaps the human brain is simply not developed enough to comprehend the fundamental existence of the universe. The idea of infiniteness and non-causality could be concepts that are easily understood and accepted by higher minded beings.

    The burden of proof rests on the religious. They can point out that we don’t understand the origin/non-origin of the universe, but they cannot assert as undeniable that the explanation is a god who for an arbitrarily determined reason does not itself require a cause.

    I understand that Neil is trying to make a science program pallatable to the public, but if you’re going to have an episode like this you really need to be better prepared for common religious arguments like these.

  • The Angry Turtle

    I see what you’re saying but I’m not convinced that’s true.

    Whatever deity you believe in can be the guiding force behind those forces. If you believed in a deity that was intelligent enough to think up the laws of physics… I wouldn’t say that us exploring those laws is shrinking that deity or force. You in a sense are trying to get a better understanding of his/her creation by learning about the scientific forces they created.


    science & Religion are NOT apart from each other in my view.would like to add if interested.

    • http://www.startalkradio.net startalkradio

      Hi Mallik. This is an ongoing discussion and we would be happy for you to join in. (FYI, I deleted your previous comment which just consisted of your address and resume, which is not required for you to join this discussion thread and better left private.)

  • Jalaj Sawhney

    I feel like this was unfair to Dr. Dawkins. The only thing he had were clips that were made before this “debate” while the father was able to argue Dr. Dawkins after he made. Dawkins wasn’t able to make counter arguments that may have squashed some of the arguments Father Martin made. It was like a tennis match were Dr. Dawkins could only serve the ball while Father Martins could hit it back while Dr. Dawkins couldn’t retaliate. I’m no expert in evolutionary biology but even I could come up with strong rebuttles to Father Martin had I the chance.

  • Dan Weeks

    “Martin, a firm believer in evolution, asks why scientists who are content with unsolved mysteries like what came before The Big Bang, or those that exist in quantum physics, are any different than people of faith who are content with an incomplete understanding of God or the universe?”

    That’s easy. Scientists are not content with these unsolved mysteries. If they were, they wouldn’t be scientists. Having to accept a mystery due to technical or otherwise imposed evidentiary limitations is far different from reveling, as the faithful do, in ignorance, with confidence and self-righteousness.

    I’m still not sure why Rev. James Martin, who isn’t a scientist or even affiliated with any field of science, was chosen to address the question of science and faith. There are far better choices, such as Kenneth Miller or Francis Collins; practicing and important scientists who are also devout in their faith; who’d be far better suited to addressing the coexistence, if not the compatibility, of science and religion in the modern world. Martin, by contrast, plays the part of the theological apologist precisely as one would expect.

    Unfortunately, very likely due to his reticence to actively engage such theologians and their false equivalence arguments, Neil Degrasse Tyson seemed very ill equipped and ill prepared for the easily disprovable and dispatchable apologetics of the priest, whose responses to Dawkins were of one literally engaged in a debate with an absent opponent.

    Very disappointing, Neil.

  • http://r.je Tom Butler

    Why spoil a science show by inviting a guest with pseudo-scientific beliefs on?

  • Michael Manning

    This show was a little frustrating to listen through because it had that 24-hour news network sound byte feel to it. This side says this, the other says that and on to the next relevant topic. No true challenging of thought process or really going beyond the surface of a topic. Maybe it’s because Richard Dawkins was just getting in the way and small quotes were used to drive the conversation.

    I cannot count the number of times that the Rev. James Martin used God as a gap filler and in such a matter of fact fashion with little to no challenge. I understand that NDT wants to have his own approach and thoughts on the topic, but it was glaring that he wanted to be a good host and does not spend a ton of time arguing with theists.

    This is not the show to go looking for a good theological and existential debate. There are other ones for this and youtube can fill our minds up well enough so I would just give it a pass and avoid others like it.

  • MH

    The problem with that statement is that you claim that the universe exists within the flow of time, which isn’t technically correct. The universe is *responsible* for the flow of time. Outside of the universe, there is no time. Similarly, however, anything traveling at the speed of light does not experience time. If you could strap a stopwatch to a photon so that it could record the time between being emitted and later absorbed, that stopwatch would always show zero. The photon exists outside of time. Everything is instantaneous to the photon.

    The takeaway is that time is relative. Eternity is meaningless outside of the universe, because there is no such concept as time. Logically, anything outside of the universe must NOT be eternal in the sense that you mean it. Coincidentally this is one of the arguments for why there is a universe– because if it’s at all possible for a universe to form, it must form instantly.

  • Bangers Embrace

    I was excited at first but ultimately disappointed with this episode, as NDT let the priest get away with far too much nonsense…I get it, he believes in evolution even though he’s religious, good stuff, but he still spoke inaccurately on many other ideas and I was sure NDT would call him out and explain why. This would have been better if Dawkins was actually there, as he would have went forward and challenged Rev James Martin.

  • Colton Henjum

    I for one cannot see how someone could just assume from one book, which was written 2000 years ago, that every answer to life is explained in those pages. If you choose to believe the bible literally you can’t just take the good stuff that you like to be considered true. There are many cases where the bible is racist, sexist, pro slavery, ext. To me it is not acceptable to believe in something so far fetched as the bible. There are just way to many reasons for me to list to begin to explain how believing in god just doesn’t make sense.

  • Alex Christenson

    Gail Chord Shuler would not approve of these guests

  • Alex Christenson

    If God is an un-caused cause then why can’t the big bang be one as well

  • Nicholas H

    Rev Martin was talked over A LOT. He was barely able to get a word in the whole time.

  • Nicholas H

    So from Dawkins: I cant trust a doctor who believes in a stork. But, please trust me because I dont believe in God.

    There is something that sounds like hypocrisy here. Or did I understand it incorrectly?