Richard Dawkins Responds to a Muslim Intelligent Designer

How I wish I could’ve been at the World Atheist Convention in Dublin, Ireland this weekend…

When a Muslim Intelligent Design advocate asked Richard Dawkins if he “could be honest” and admit that even if all the evidence pointed to a designed universe, he would continue to say it came about by “chance,” Dawkins let the guy have it.

The smackdown is beautiful :)

I was expecting Dawkins to scream back, “Haven’t you read any of my bestselling books where I explain all this in detail?!”

But I guess we all know the answer to that question.

(via Skeptic Money)

***Update***: Rich Wilson provides a rough transcript of the video:

Muslim questioner: about science, he said that even if all evidence pointed to an old earth he would still believe in a young earth becuase scripture says so. I would like to ask you to be honest today and even if all evidence pointed to a designed universe, you would still go for chance, because in your book, you accept that the universe appears to be designed. In one of your interviews which I watched today you accept that there is design in the universe. So, would you like to be honest today [chuckling starts in audience] and say that no matter how much evidece points to design [audience starting to anticipate reation "he is upset"] you would still go for chance

RD: [strongly, cutting off question] How DARE you say, [pause for applause and laughter] how dare you ever accuse me of explaining life and the illusion of design by chance. Darwinian natural seleciton is the very OPPOSITE of chance, and if you think it’s chance, you don’t understand Darwinin natural selction [applause] However to answer you question

MQ: So, do you beleive this universe was designed.

RD: No.

MQ: So, how did it come about?

[laughter]

MQ: I’m a student, I’m trying to learn, would you like to try to explain

RD: Let’s divide the question into two

(I’m going to start paraphrasing here)

There’s how did the universe come about, but I’m a biologist so I can only give an ameteur answer.

The 2nd question is how did life, which has a much much more powerful illusion of design. The universe it self doesn’t have a very powerful illusion of design.

Richard then says yes, he would accept evidence of design, but he can’t imagine what that evidence would be.

“Since you have announced yourself as a Muslim”

and he talks about visiting the very prestigous Muslim girls’ school where the science teacher said that not only did she not believe in evolution, but every single pupil didn’t either.

“So, this is a REAL problem in Muslim schools in Britain”

[some more back and forth]

ME: “You seem to be accepting the notion of design in interviews”

RD: [cutting off] It’s the ILLUSION of design! A powerful ILLUSION of design!


  • Steve

    Watch the guy next to him. He is trying not to laugh and already anticipating the epic smackdown that he knows will follow. Some in the audience too, judging by chuckling

  • Linda Gulley

    Dawkins, you are brilliant, correct, and awesome.

  • Akheloios

    I’ve quite liked the reports of the Muslim attendance at the Atheist International Convention. They seem to have been civil and intelligent, hopefully their attendance, and repeated smackdowns for their woolly thinking, will let them move past their anti-evolutionary ignorance.

    More importantly, as the videos and audio from their questions go up, maybe their followers will be able to see how empty their arguments are when faced with proper answers by scientists.

  • Steve

    The issue with the guy is not that he didn’t believe in evolution, it’s that he doesn’t even understand it and that he misinterprets Dawkin’s argument (not so much the chance, but the “appears designed” thing)

  • Wes

    You know, if he actually READ any of his books, rather than most likely going off of summaries he found elsewhere, he would know that the reason everything appears designed is because organisms evolve to better maneuver their environments. The environments seem tailored to the organisms, when in fact it’s simply the opposite. But to not be able to do his homework, and willfully accept that rather pale illusion, he showed his intellectual ineptitude, or at least unwillingness to learn.

    Ugh and if I hear another person say evolution or existence or anything like that came about “by chance” I might seriously bust a blood vessel!

  • myownpersonalvenus

    lol, the dude to his right gives dawkins the look of “bitch, please!”

  • Annie

    As a science teacher, it was so disheartening to hear Dawkins’ description of the Muslim school teacher not accepting evolution, and thus passing that on to her students.

    If and when these students get to a point where they understand the science behind evolution, even on a very basic level, how can it not make them question other things about their religious upbringing?

  • Ibis

    For those interested, here’s the visit to the Islamic school that Dawkins was talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEgnsQw74pM#t=5m43s It’s a great documentary & I highly recommend watching the whole thing.

  • Rich Wilson

    As a science teacher, it was so disheartening to hear Dawkins’ description of the Muslim school teacher not accepting evolution, and thus passing that on to her students.

    What’s worse (and I thought Dawkins was going to mention it) those same girls didn’t think salt water and fresh water would mix, since the Koran says they don’t. Dawkins has said he was so taken aback that he failed to ask “well, let’s try it shall we?”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeDzyikCXL8

  • http://www.plrsifu.com plr

    religion has overstayed its welcome, no doubt, but atheism isn’t the answer, folks.
    Dawkins is no authority on physics, and as far as hyperspace and interdimensionary planes is concerned. They satisfy mathematical predictions, and as far as god, the jury is still out. I myself am a spiritual deist. I’ve seen to much on “the other side” by way of astral projection. (yeah look it up and find out how people are actually having this experience have no reason to lie, and has been validated by psychologists) to remain an atheist.

  • Laura

    @plr, yes, the mind is an interesting place to explore! But that’s just it– the mind. I have yet to see any credible evidence that suggests that our self/conscious/soul is capable of leaving the body, but if you have any papers published by peer reviewed journals that suggest otherwise, I am sure there are many people who would be interested in checking that out.
    Until then, APs, OBOs and NDEs remain solely in our dreams.

  • http://juliescript.com Julie

    plr, atheism isn’t an answer for me; it’s the result of examining the evidence and picking the option that fits. I would love to see evidence that AP exists – the peer reviewed, reputable journal kind of evidence.

  • BobTheSpaceBuilder

    @plr
    Might I direct you to James Randi’s paranormal challenge. If these people(including you) where serious about these claims and have verifiable proof of these existence, why not get a million dollars?

    Link for more info:
    James Randi’s Challenge

  • Cortex

    plr,

    Can you provide us with some sources in support of astral projection? I don’t think it’s fair to just make a provocative statement, and then expect your doubters to find your supporting evidence for you.

    ‘Validated by psychologists’ doesn’t mean a whole lot if we don’t know which psychologists, or the methods of data collection and analysis they used.

  • Scott

    @plr – The three respondents that followed your comment summed up what I was going to say so I will only reinforce BobThe SpaceBuilder’s comment. You evidently believe in the supernatural (AP) so why not take up James Randi’s challenge? Do you have any valid or logical reason not to?

  • dauntless

    But James Randi is a dark sorcerer who interferes with other wizards’ magicks!

  • Ibis

    Rewatching the Islamic school segment, I feel much more sympathy for the creationists who confronted Dawkins, PZ & al. I mean, when a person’s science education has been so poorly done, it’s not surprising that they end up so befuddled.

  • http://amillionwordstogo.blogspot.com aynsavoy

    I’ve seen to much on “the other side” by way of astral projection. (yeah look it up and find out how people are actually having this experience have no reason to lie, and has been validated by psychologists) to remain an atheist.

    There is a difference between someone honestly experiencing something, and that experience being what they claim that it is. You can truly, honestly feel that your dead relative is watching over you or present in the room with you, but that doesn’t mean that he or she is really there. The experience is not the evidence.

    • Justin Carter43

      The evidence is that you can try astral projection yourself. It takes years of practice, but you do it in your sleep, so it literally cannot be a waste of any time. You can remain fully skeptical until it works for you. That’s what I’m doing. Its not an experience only a few people can have and then they say “you just have to trust me.” Its an experience either A) we’re all capable of or B) is complete BS. I’ve had one OBE but I may have simply been dreaming, so next time I’m going to spy on one of my friends and then find out if what I saw was correct, thus proving or disproving astral projection to myself.

      • Justin Carter43

        Oh, but I should probably add, one can still be an atheist and astral project. Atheism= lack of a belief in god. That doesn’t apply to things like a spiritual realm. If astral projection works, that does not prove a god in any way.

  • Annie

    @Ibis- Thanks so much for the video link. I just finished watching Dawkins’ visit to the Muslim school. The thing that left my mouth open the widest was the science teacher explaining that the students all form their own opinions about science.

    The one student who did most of the talking seems really bright. By having this alternative conception that there is room for opinion in science, however, will be a severe handicap as she continues her studies.

  • Dakota Bob

    @plr

    “Astral projection”? don’t make me laugh. spiritual deism isn’t any better or more believable than the religion you claim has overstayed its welcome.

  • jose

    Poor Dawkins. Creationists accuse him of attributing everything to chance, while, at the same time, biologists accuse him of not paying enough attention to chance.

  • melaka

    Um, would anyone care to transcribe the specific remarks referred to? it doesn’t have to be the whole video. not all of us have access to sound or video playing capabilities.

  • Steve

    Thanks for bringing that up Melaka, I was just going to ask the same thing. Though I do have a very high quality sound system, I’m now deaf, and video just doesn’t cut it for me anymore.

    I would really appreciate it if someone knew of a transcript source.

  • Rich Wilson

    @melaka which video are you referring to, the one Hemant posted or either of the ones in the Muslim girls’ school?

  • Rich Wilson

    Here’s a rough version of the first one. Anyone want an overview of the girls’ school too?

    Muslim questioner:
    about science, he said that even if all evidence pointed to an old earth he would still believe in a young earth becuase scripture says so. I would like to ask you to be honest today and even if all evidence pointed to a designed universe, you would still go for chance, because in your book, you accept that the universe appears to be designed. In one of your interviews which I watched today you accept that there is design in the universe. So, would you like to be honest today [chuckling starts in audience] and say that no matter how much evidece points to design [audience starting to anticipate reation "he is upset"] you would still go for chance

    RD:

    [strongly, cutting off question] How DARE you say, [pause for applause and laughter] how dare you ever accuse me of explaining life and the illusion of design by chance. Darwinian natural seleciton is the very OPPOSITE of chance, and if you think it’s chance, you don’t understand Darwinin natural selction [applause] However to answer you question

    MQ: So, do you beleive this universe was designed.

    RD: No.

    MQ: So, how did it come about?

    [laughter]

    MQ: I’m a student, I’m trying to learn, would you like to try to explain

    RD: Let’s divide the question into two

    (I’m going to start paraphrasing here)

    There’s how did the universe come about, but I’m a biologist so I can only give an ameteur answer.

    The 2nd question is how did life, which has a much much more powerful illusion of design. The universe it self doesn’t have a very powerful illusion of design.

    Richard then says yes, he would accept evidence of design, but he can’t imagine what that evidence would be.

    “Since you have announced yourself as a Muslim”

    and he talks about visiting the very prestigous Muslim girls’ school where the science teacher said that not only did she not believe in evolution, but every single pupil didn’t either.

    “So, this is a REAL problem in Muslim schools in Britain”

    [some more back and forth]

    ME: “You seem to be accepting the notion of design in interviews”

    RD: [cutting off] It’s the ILLUSION of design! A powerful ILLUSION of design!

  • Steve

    Thank yoo very much for that Rich. I really appreciate it.

  • bloomc

    I fear that many people are overlooking the historical fact that it was in fact Arab scholars, very devout Muslims, that the Europeans got many scientific, mathematical, and medical advances from. History has always noted the Arabs in this time to have been much more advanced in all these areas. Yet once again secular people won’t admit that it was a religious group that believes in God that contributed to much of what we know in these subjects today. Yep, that’s right, religious people are so very unintellectual. God laughs at man’s knowledge.

  • Steve

    Arabic science used to be very advanced in the 8th to 12th century because it of political and economical factors. It was a time of great stability in both areas. Trade brought lots of prosperity and the government actively funded science. Religion had nothing to do with it. Once those factors were no longer there it declined greatly. Mostly due to the Mongol invasions by Genghis Khan.

  • Stan

    bloomc,

    I fail to see the relevance of your point. It is undeniably true that Muslim scholars in the past contributed a great deal to our understanding of mathematics and science. It is similarly true that Christians have contributed tremendous amounts to those areas since that time. In terms of scientific learning, the problem is not religion per se, but the fundamentalist belief that the holy book (Bible, Koran, Torah, etc.) is literally true word-for-word.

    Whether science supports a religious view of the world is a different, and much more controversial, question.


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