Richard Dawkins Discusses Science, Religion, and Pope Francis on Real Time with Bill Maher

Richard Dawkins appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher last night and discussed everything from why people fear outspoken atheists to President Obama‘s supposed atheism:

I thought Dawkins came off remarkably well in that clip, at least compared to his poor performance on The Daily Show — Partly because Maher wasn’t antagonistic at all and partly because Dawkins got much more of a chance to explain himself and show off his passion for science. The only part that made me cringe was at the very end when Dawkins jokingly said that having the popular Pope Francis at the helm of the Catholic Church was a “dangerous” thing because “we don’t want nice men in the Vatican.”

Of course, he meant that having a welcoming Pope could draw more people into the Catholic faith and he didn’t want to see that as an atheist, but who knows how that statement will be spun by his critics.

(via Mediaite)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor


  • KeithCollyer

    1.27: truest thing Saul ever wrote

  • Mick

    Pope Frank is not being nice because he wants to be nice. His primary task is to keep stories about child raping priests out of the headlines. One way to do that is to create new headlines by saying nice things about Muslims, homosexuals and atheists and so far it’s worked a treat. People everywhere are talking about what nice things he says – but it’s highly unlikely that he means any of it.

    For example, back in March, 2013, he said …we also sense our closeness to all those men and women who, although not identifying themselves as followers of any religious tradition, are nonetheless searching for truth, goodness and beauty. [Sounds nice doesn't it?]

    But not long afterwards, in his Lumen Fidei encyclical, he said that if anyone strays from the teachings of the Catholic church then, it is impossible to tell good from evil [and] the road to our destination … take us in endless circles, going nowhere. (section 3)

    He also claimed that non-Catholics, fail to realize that goodness comes from God [and] their lives become futile and their works barren. (section 19)

    Nice? I don’t think so.

  • Houndentenor

    I’ll say it again. Dawkins should delete his Twitter account. He is too smart to distill important ideas into 140 characters. The longer he has to talk uninterrupted the more interesting he is and the more likeable he seems.

  • Daniel Maldonado


    Except for the fact that child raping priests still end up in the headlines. So this is an empty claim. What doesn’t end up in the headlines is all the good the Church does because that wouldn’t be beneficial for their purposes, right?

    People like you who blurt out ad hominems against people like Pope Francis give a bad name to atheism.

  • Sue Blue

    I’m convinced – although I don’t have all the hard evidence to back this up, so it’s just an opinion – that the Cardinals forced old Ratzy to resign to save the Church’s image in the heat of all the abuse and other scandals that had reached critical mass under his Popiness. Ratzy’s Nazi past wasn’t helping matters at all, and the old guy was just plain creepy. So the Red -Robed Cabal gets together, finds a guy that has much more charisma, and – bang – there’s a new pope. And while everyone’s smiling and laughing and feeling all warm and fuzzy inside toward the new guy in the pointy hat, the chicanery, sleaze, and bullshit still goes on as much as it ever has…but everybody’s too busy feeling good about Frankie to notice.

  • Carmelita Spats

    Child raping priests STILL end up in the headlines? Not in the Third World…We pick up the genital-free-celibate-slime that oozes from the open legs of American Catholic parishes once the heat is on and the Vatican wants to relocate the perverts…Our children are poor, hungry and desperate so using them as lubricated sex toys for “relocated pedophiles” is no big deal…We are STILL TWO DECADES away from exploding like Ireland…It is NOT an ad hominem to state that Pope Frank puts a wide-eyed smiley face on a vicious organized crime syndicate…All the “good” the cult does has a creepy-ass purpose, kinda like the narcos in Tamaulipas who build schools and funnel money into local charities…I’d prefer the brutal shoot-you-in-the-fucking-face honesty of Lucky Luciano any day. The Roman Criminal Church is a creepy cult. It can’t implode fast enough.

    U.N. wants the Vatican to come clean on sex crimes:

    Patrick J. Wall: Ex-priest and canon lawyer who has spent two decades chasing the consecrated animals:

    Runaway priests in the Third World:

    Matt Dillahunty saying “fuck you” to a crazy Catholic defending the creepy cult as a “force for good”:

  • The Other Weirdo

    I really don’t get this. After the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil Incident™, you would think we would be able to tell good from evil. If not, then what the hell was the point of that?

  • Suzanne

    Although I agree that Dawkins could have performed better on The Daily Show, I wouldn’t classify it as “poor.” For example, he made really strong points about the power of science for both the greatest good and the greatest evil, how religious terrorists actually have the martyr/death wish, and his point about why we don’t detect the existence of civilizations beyond Earth.

    Still, you’re absolutely right that the Maher appearance was much stronger. Maher let Dawkins talk a /lot/, making it much easier for him to get some excellent points in.

    As always, great article and commentary. Thanks!

  • Daniel Maldonado

    Thank you for all of those links. Call it a creepy cult all you want. I refuse to succumb to angry and belligerent people like you who wish to characterize the Church by appealing to this great evil that exists in it.

    We are, as a Church, just as hurt by it as those on the outside. To deny that we are a force for good in the world is an exercise in cognitive dissonance.

    I understand your anger at those who’ve abused their power and have probably scarred those children for life, I’m angry too. But this ISN’T a uniquely Catholic problem and that’s the problem with people who wish to identify the church as a whole with evil men or women within it.

  • Atheist Bunneh

    To assert that we are a force for good in the world is an exercise in cognitive dissonance.

    Fixed it for ya.

    Do many Catholics do good things? Absolutely.

    Does that make the Church on balance a force for good? Not a chance. There’s far too much blood on their hands.

  • Atheist Bunneh

    Religious officials raping children is not uniquely a Catholic problem (no one’s saying it is) but having a systematic cover up of the rape that extends to the one individual who would be at the very top of the heiarchy however IS.

    And that only magnifies the egregiousness of the problem. The cover up is far worse than the crime here.

    The problem is not that atheists are mischaracterizing your beloved church unfairly, its that we’re pointing out what the Church has done to herself because of hubris and ego.

  • Evan Rentz

    Nevertheless, I think it’s important to point out his contradictions. He’s likely at least trying to improve the reputation of the Catholic Church.

  • Daniel Maldonado

    That would be funny except for the fact that it isn’t true. You want to talk about balance? We can talk about balance.

    You’re entire paradigm operates from a premise of complete and utter skepticism to the point that even IF the Church did something good, you would fail to see it.

  • Daniel Maldonado

    Except for the fact that this pretend cover up of the person in the highest (which paradoxically is actually the lowest in the church) just isn’t true. It’s a myth perpetuated by those who wish to destroy the Church.

    Are there people there in high places that are corrupt to the bone? Yes, I wouldn’t doubt it. But this attribution to the Pope just isn’t true.

    We are battling this internal evil and at times it’s swift and other times it’s much too slow considering.

  • Daniel Maldonado

    What contradictions? He’s merely teaching what the Church already believes.

  • Atheist Bunneh

    Indeed why don’t we talk about balance.

    - AIDS in Africa
    - Coverup of child rape
    - Opposition to and suppression of science.
    - Homosexuality and “pray away the gay” (what, you think the Protestants came up with that crap?)
    - Magdelene laundries.
    - Inquisitions
    - Perpetuating myths and superstitions that are antithetical to our species’ future

  • Atheist Bunneh

    Sorry, I guess I assumed that someone who would pimp for their church on an atheist blog would have have half a clue about the history of their own religion, my mistake.

    Before he was Pope, Benedict (Cardinal Ratzinger) was in charge of the office that oversaw the investigation of these child molestation cases. The Vatican initially completely ignored the accusations for DECADES as priests were shuffled around to new parishes after molesting kids only to molest more. Get out of your Catholic cult’s bubble once in awhile and pay attention to the news.

    He did NOTHING until 2001, when all he did was order that all cases go directly to him, where he still did nothing about it. Ordering that all parties involved must remain SILENT about any accusations (re: say nothing to authorities in your countries) under penalty of excommunication is the exact opposite approach you want to take to send the message that you’re taking this seriously and will put a stop to it.

    The Pope is the head of the Church, and thus fair or not, takes on the credit and the blame for what goes wrong under his watch. Benedict did fuck all, and Francis has actually been worse; he hasn’t done fuck all either other than ostentatious displays of humility for PR. He hasn’t defrocked anyone for child sexual abuse, he hasn’t rebuked Benedict for what he did to stonewall inquiries for YEARS. If he wants to be taken seriously as a reformer, he needs to clean house; the Church over the years have tried the “God’s forgives us” shit for years while doing nothing. Seems to me like no organization is better at avoiding accountability than the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Do you still fund it? The RCC?

  • Art_Vandelay

    Dude, the last Pope is being harbored in the Vatican just to escape prosecution for crimes against humanity. They fucking admitted this!

  • Atheist Bunneh

    It would appear that way, but as far as I’m aware the Vatican has admitted nothing.

  • Art_Vandelay

    “His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenseless. He wouldn’t have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else,” said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    “It is absolutely necessary” that he stays in the Vatican, said the source,adding that Benedict should have a “dignified existence” in his remaining years.

  • Daniel Maldonado

    All of this came to a head in the secular press during the Pontificate of Benedict XVI. Naturally, he will be at the center of blame for those outraged by the abuse of minors in the Church.

    To be sure, those who have both committed the crime and purposefully covered up any abuse for ulterior motives, such as protecting the reputation of the individual priests deserve the fullest extent of punishment by law.

    But I think when it comes to Benedict XVI, there is actually little evidence that he purposefully covered anything up, if any at all. The “evidence” is more circumstantial and just as you mentioned in your comment, since some of this came to a head on his watch, he is naturally the one to blame.

    But dealing with this issue is complex, not simple. On the one hand there are allegations, which need to be investigated and on the other there are the investigations that prove the clergy in question guilty.

    I concede that the Church in many of these cases was much too slow to act and in other cases there has been cover up by certain bishops.

    But the Church doesn’t necessarily act in hegemony when it comes to ecclesial duty. There are layers of protection for some of these criminals that have left certain groups within the Vatican ignorant of what was going on.

    But Benedict didn’t cover anything up, at least no on purpose.

  • Daniel Maldonado

    You’re reading that through a lens where your presupposition is that Benedict XVI is already guilty of some explicit cover up controversy.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Are you being serious? There’s a fucking paper trail showing where he explicitly told every bishop to keep all accusation in house until the victim turns 18! Do they really keep you this sheltered?

  • Roy Radin

    Let the lines be drawn, let the battle commence, let the light meet the dark!