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O'Reilly vs. Atheist Author Richard Dawkins

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 9, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, author Richard Dawkins is a committed atheist. His new book says evolution should be taught to every child and faith-based beliefs like intelligent design are hooey. His book is called "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution." I spoke with Mr. Dawkins a few days ago.


O'REILLY: Now, when we last left you, Mr. Dawkins, you were selling your book "The God Delusion," big best-seller, based on atheism is good and those of us who believe are kind of sappy. Now, I want to show the audience the key part of that interview, and then we'll get to your new book. Roll the tape.


O'REILLY: I'm throwing in with Jesus rather than be thrown in with you guys, because you guys can't tell me how it all got here. You guys don't know.

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RICHARD DAWKINS, AUTHOR, "THE GOD DELUSION": We're working on it. Physicists...

O'REILLY: When you get it, then maybe I'll listen.

DAWKINS: Well, if you look at the history of science over the centuries, the amount that's gained in knowledge each century is stupendous. In the beginning of the 21st century, we don't know everything.

O'REILLY: All right. When you guys figure it out, then you come back here and tell me, because until that time I'm sticking with Judeo-Christian philosophy.


O'REILLY: Tell me where I'm going wrong here. I believe in creative design. I believe in evolution, but I think it was overseen by a higher power, because as we just stated and you acknowledged, you guys still haven't figured out how it all began.

RICHARD DAWKINS, AUTHOR, "THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH": There's a great deal that science hasn't worked out, and we don't know how it all began. But it's the most extraordinary piece of warped logic to say that because science can't answer a particular question, you're going to throw in your lot with Jesus. And there's no evidence that he did it either. You would never get any evidence with either of them. Throw in your lot with science which at least is working on the problem.

O'REILLY: Well, here's the problem that I have with throwing in my lot with science. Science doesn't advance the human condition in any moralistic way, and Jesus did. See, my thesis is that if everybody followed the teachings of Jesus Christ, that we'd have peace on earth, love your brother, everybody would love one another, and we'd almost be an idyllic civilization. Now, am I 100 percent sure that Jesus is God? No. But I choose to believe that, because the man was so extraordinary in what he did in his 33 years on earth, still resonates to this day. That, I think, is more powerful than your belief that, "Hey, some day we might figure it all out but, in the meantime, we're not going to believe in any deity."

DAWKINS: Why would you muddle up the question of giving you a moral compass for life, which is important, with the other question, which is explaining the nature of the world, the nature of life, the nature of the universe? That's what science is about.

O'REILLY: OK. And I understand that, but I don't think that my belief system contradicts science. And I believe there is a higher power and, in my life, I can point to it. I see it. But what disturbs me about you guys — and I'm putting you into this category, perhaps unjustly — is that you seem to look down on believers.

DAWKINS: Well, there is a problem when you guys, if I could turn it back on you, try to say that, because you believe what you do, because of a holy book and because of the way you've been brought up, therefore that entitles you to go into science classes and tell teachers what they can or cannot teach. You may think that God oversaw evolution, and that's a point of view that you could probably defend, but leave it out of the science class.

O'REILLY: It's not fair to leave it out of the science class if the science class is incomplete. And you, by your own admission, say we don't know how it all began. So if the science class is going to say evolution only, but I really don't know how it started, that gap has got to be explored.

DAWKINS: You must see that it's quite remarkable peace of illogic to say that because science cannot fill a particular gap, therefore we have to turn to Christianity.

O'REILLY: You don't have to turn anywhere. You have to present it. You don't have to turn to it; you present it.

DAWKINS: Will you listen to me and stop shouting at me?

O'REILLY: Well, turn your ear piece down. I'm not shouting; that's the way I usually talk.

DAWKINS: OK, I know it is. I've been warned about it. Just because science has a gap in its knowledge, that does not entitle you to turn to any other particular alternative. Pick on a better science.

O'REILLY: No. That's — that's fascism. For you to say that you can't mention...

DAWKINS: Fascism?

O'REILLY: Yes, for you to say you cannot, in a public school classroom, a science classroom, talk about brilliant men, and I know brilliant, smarter than you, who do believe in a higher power, who do believe that there was an overseer of the universe, and you insist you can't even mention it, that is fascism, sir.

DAWKINS: What you called fascism was my statement that, if science can't answer something, you should therefore turn Christianity.

O'REILLY: Not turn. Discuss.

DAWKINS: If a particular scientific theory doesn't work, do some better science.

O'REILLY: No. You present in the science classroom all the alternatives that are legitimate. Now, Adam and Eve, you don't have to do that, all right. That's for the Biblical portion of a theology class. But, as I said, there are more believers than nonbelievers, and that should be presented. I'll give you the last word.

DAWKINS: Science is unique in that it does base itself upon evidence rather than upon superstition, upon authority, upon holy books or upon revelation.

O'REILLY: All right. The book is "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution." Mr. Dawkins, I'm sorry I was a little loud. But you know how Irish guys can get. And we appreciate you coming on.


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