Scott Burdick Interviews Richard Dawkins


This is one of the dozens of interviews I did for a documentary on Reason that I’m currently editing. Because I’ll only be able to use a small part of this interview in the documentary, I thought I’d put up the full interview on youtube since the conversation I had with Richard Dawkins was so interesting in its entirety. 

Our dialogue was pretty free-flowing so doesn’t have any overarching theme or direction, but was more akin to a back-and-forth chat one might indulge in over diner. I threw a few images in to add some visual fun, though they are only loosely related to what we discussed. 

Interviewing this celebrated scientist and author was certainly a high point for me, personally, since Richard is one of the modern thinkers that have greatly influenced me since I first read his books “The Selfish Gene” and “The Blind Watchmaker” in High School and Art School. If only they were required reading, the critical thinking skills of our graduates would be honed to a sharper degree than is currently the case.

Three cheers for Reason!

Scott Burdick 

Written By: Scott Burdick
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  1. Damn that’s good.  Scott’s art work is so impressive and RD was so relaxed and open with his comments.  Has this been set for TV distribution or did I miss that somewhere?

  2. I really enjoyed this. Loved seeing the footage of the Reason Rally.  I’m hoping we’ll have another one next year!

  3. Richard Dawkins is a really inspiring guy, one of those that is really needed in our society. I always get more and more excited about evolution and skepticism when read/hear him. I actually became a scientist on human healthy and evolution because of his books. Just imagine how the society could be better if people just stop to doubt about EVERYTHING, the politcs, science, religion, media and so on…

  4. Excellent. Scott Burdick was already one of my favourite artists before I knew of his involvement with the atheist/skeptical community, so this interview and the documentary he created earlier (“In God We Trust?”) added yet another dimension of respect I have for him.

  5. Superb interview. One’d almost forget that it’s possible. I’m just feeling a little bit sad about the world being blown apart by quantum fanatics.

  6. You go Scott! Excellent job. Just keep doing your artwork too. Beautiful portrait of Richard at the end. I assume it is yours and not Susan’s.
    I was wondering how you deal with all the religious/spiritual stuff that people/artists say. A few years ago I sent you an email, overjoyed and refreshed by your article “Holy Cow.” I usually overlook comments if they are personal in nature or take their words “symbolically,” but some are particularly disappointing. I have run across comments from representational/realist artists that highlight the return to quality, beauty, meaning, truth, rejecting deconstructivism, and “essentially” a return to God. I listened to a podcast  in which parts of what was said was encouraging, but it seems as if some people/artists cannot seem to understand that “reverence” and appreciation for life is not dependent on a belief in a higher power. Seeing that the world has no meaning but recognizing that we create meaning and reverence, seems too much of a stretch for some. Thoughts? If this is off topic, maybe we could start a discussion topic – if you like.

  7. Thank You, Scott Burdick.
    I enjoy seeing RD calmly discussing, with another rational human, various features of ‘life, the universe, and everything’.  It’s always refreshing to hear him expand on what we do know, and don’t know, about the wonders in us and around us.

    What we do know is that those who claim absolute knowledge are wishful thinking, and that there’s a lot of loonies out there dragging down the average level of human fitness, intelligence, and competence.  Indoctrination and gullibility have a lot to answer for.

  8. Very enjoyable interview. Religion is evil. Charlatans are cancers on mankind. Surgery and therapies are indicated.

  9. In a con, a small group of con artists tell lies and make extravagant promises to the marks. The gullible marks give the con artists money or other valuables. The con artists do not make good on the promises. The best con artists are so smooth and practiced their marks never notice they have been had. Is that not an accurate description of what goes on in every religion you have ever heard about? Religion is the original and most polished con. Though religion is a superstition and an error, more fundamentally it is a con. 

  10. I agree, Scott was a brilliant interviewer.  His own ideas were equally interesting to Richard’s. His questions induced Richard to show off at his best.

  11. The interviewer talks a bit about why scientific explanations are often considered less fascinating than mythical or religious explanations, which is a topic that Dawkins is trying to deal with in his latest book. 

    I think there’s a problem with trying to make scientific explanations as fascinating or interesting as mythical or religious explanations that I have not yet seen discussed in this regard. I think the main reason is that people like to create their own images and ideas of how the world is like. 

    As an aspiring novelist this is something I think about a lot when writing my stories. I don’t want to give away too much. I don’t want to give the reader all details in every single instance. Besides that being impossible it also takes away a large part of the fun. People love mysteries. We all love the feeling of not knowing how something’s going to end. The reason, I think, is because in the midst of this process we can fantasize and make up our own stories and scenarios. We are a part of the story, as much as we are our own storytellers. That is why the ending is the hardest part of every story which is most likely to disappoint people and leave them with a feeling of dissatisfaction. Just like horror movies tend to become less interesting the moment they show the monster, the most fascinating moment of any story is while the plot is still building and there are countless of directions any given story could turn to. 

    Science is usually presented in the form of complete explanations that in detail explain how things work. Although to some degree this is inevitable I think it’s a horrible way to teach science. We should concentrate more on the mysteries and the unsolved questions that scientists deal with. I remember as a child when my father bought me a book about the cosmos. What fascinated me the most was not the facts by themselves but all the mysteries and big questions. What is a black hole? What would it be like to visit other planets or galaxies? These questions inspired me and gave me the motivation to learn all the facts. Because I wanted to get an answer to these fascinating question. I might be wrong, but I think this is how most people are like. The facts are usually not all that interesting by themselves. We are all little explorers deep inside and we want to be inspired by fascinating mysteries and questions. No surprise that many find religions fascinating. Although the fact that religions provide comforting answers (however simplistic) to important questions can’t be ignored as a big part of why religions are attractive, I think we often forget the other part. As said, people love mysteries and all religions deal with the mysterious. All this talk about some supernatural creator or life after death, etc… Except from fundamentalists most religions don’t give any clear answers and I think they would not be nearly as attractive if they did. They inspire people to imagine (within a narrow framework of course). People can put whatever face they like on this creator or imagine life after death in the way they find appealing. Or make up the most gruesome horror stories about hell and demons. All the stuff that make stories come to live and become interesting. 

    I think the failure to take into account the basics of story telling is one of the main reasons why science is perceived as boring by many. If we want to compete with religions we have to be able to inspire people to think about all these mysteries and big questions that science deals with on a daily basis. I think we should not concentrate as much on the fact when we communicate science as we should on presenting all the wonderful mysteries and questions we are trying to solve.

  12. Richard didn’t know (Gregory) House!  By all means, Richard, watch it, it’s really funny!

  13. Thanks for the link to the double-blind acupuncture needle. I hadn’t heard about that and it will be so interesting to see what the results of a true test are.  Also thanks for the kind words on the interview.

  14. I can’t say enough about this interview. I really dislike it when people in the U.S. or the U.K., for that matter, dismiss the opinions of the expat. We share a language and so much of our culture. RD clearly understands the politics of the U.S. Congress and wasn’t thrown a bit (other than to be surprised by a great question about whether free speech and Jefferson’s wall of religious separation would be ratified under today’s political climate). What an important discussion to hear!

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