CREDOS : Dawkins on God — V

If you had to name top sources for optimism what would they be?

I think there is something glorious in the universe, in contemplating the Milky Way galaxy, in contemplating the fact that this is only one in billions of galaxies, contemplating the fact that at the beginning of the 21st century, humanity really has gone a very long way toward understanding the universe in which we live and the life form of which we are a part. I find that a truly inspirational thought.

You’ve criticised the idea of the afterlife. What do you see as the problem with a terminally ill cancer patient believing in an afterlife?

I would never wish to disabuse or disillusion somebody who believed that. But if I could have a word with a would-be suicide bomber or plane hijacker who thinks he’s going to paradise, I would like to disabuse him. I wouldn’t say to him, “Don’t you see what you’re doing is wrong?” I would say, “You’re not going to paradise. You’re going to rot in the ground.”

You talk about how your words have been twisted by religious people in the past. Which words of yours have been twisted?

Whenever I begin an argument by saying something that sounds as though it’s creationist, something like “the Cambrian Explosion is a sudden explosion of fossils almost as though they

had no history,” I’m obviously saying that as a prelude to explaining why. But these people quote selectively. It’s a demonstration of their fundamental dishonesty. — (Concluded).