Richard Dawkins High Priest of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Church

Generally speaking I am most emphatically not a fan of science or in fact of scientists; apparently I am in the minority. Richard Dawkins on the “big screen” was chock-a-block and with a much younger, decidedly more alternative and dare I say, mannish audience.
Radio New Zealand National’s Sean Plunket was the chair and he cut an imposing figure, although I couldn’t help thinking how tired he must be and how surely this must constitute a late night for someone who has been up since 4am to do Morning Report with dear old Geoff.

The technology worked marvellously and the session combined both Dawkins and the release of the inaugural Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book of the Year Award, won by The Awa book of New Zealand science edited by Rebecca Priestly. Dawkins, wearing a fetching pink tie (or maybe zebra print), first talked of his desire for The selfish gene to be popular as he regards the communication of scientific concepts to be an important responsibility for scientists. His desire was to write books for both the general public and fellow scientists adding that “scientific papers were often incomprehensible even to other scientists”, and that the act of preparing complex scientific ideas for the consumption of the lay person further honed and clarified concepts.

Asked whether the controversy The god delusion had created was distracting either for Dawkins or other scientists in the evolutionary biology field he replied that ‘ the yapping chorus of ignorant dissent” and the debate with pro-religion detractors was generally time-wasting. That’s them told.

Sean Plunket suggested that perhaps the West was too tolerant of religion and faith,  Dawkins replied that nice, liberal people (yes you!!) bent over backwards to accept religious beliefs but that this exaggerated respect and acceptance of faith made it too easy for people who use their religion as a weapon. He believes that if faith allows an individual to become a suicide bomber in support of their religion then society is at risk.

Dawkins noted the decline in church attendance across Western society but didn’t see a correlating increase in rationality; instead he thought many were taking refuge instead in astrology, lay lines or voodoo. He himself went to an Anglican school but felt that generally the Anglican Church exhibited only a mild strain of the religious virus.

Plunket asked if Dawkins felt he was in any danger of becoming a Prophet for secularism or a High Priest of atheism, in reply Dawkins said he saw the danger but personally hated the idea of any cult or idolatry, wanting instead people to think independently and critically for themselves. Finally asked if on pain of death he had to choose a religion to follow what it would be, Dawkins replied he’d opt for the “church of the flying spaghetti monster”. Worra laugh!!

11 thoughts on “Richard Dawkins High Priest of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Church

  1. Damian 16 May 2009 / 9:20 am

    Wow, were we even at the same event?

    But I suppose your opening disclaimer might explain the variance of our experiences:

    Generally speaking I am most emphatically not a fan of science or in fact of scientists.

    I have to wonder why you would then bother to go to a science book award with an interview with a prominent evolutionary biologist and science populariser? Let alone review it.

  2. richard 16 May 2009 / 11:05 am

    We go to all sorts of events to learn and experience different things. I thoroughly enjoyed the session, but didn’t agree with all of it. Dawkins is a bit of a hero to scientists isn’t he?

  3. joyciescotland 16 May 2009 / 12:16 pm

    Ah well Damian I guess the answer to why I was at Dawkins is I was paid!
    But all nasty flippancy aside,the event was stimulating and thought-provoking although in my case Dawkins is “preaching” to the converted.
    The conversation at our brekkie table this morning was unusually lively as we discussed Dawkins and the “big screen” interview,I’m sure Richard would have approved. Surely debate must always be beneficial.

  4. Peter Sanders 17 May 2009 / 11:50 am

    “…the yapping chorus of ignorant descent”

    Oh dear, who is the ignorant one ?

    He said “dissent” although amusingly, the descent of their dissent is one of ignorance.

    And the tie is not pink, it’s a zebra patterned one.

    • richard 17 May 2009 / 2:08 pm

      Well spotted, we’ll take that one on the chin 🙂 Any other thoughts on the session itself?

  5. Lisa 17 May 2009 / 12:03 pm

    You’ll be pleased to know that Sean had a few days off MR so he wasn’t chairing after being up for 17 hours!

  6. Joyce 17 May 2009 / 8:28 pm

    Oh I am blushing to the very roots of my hair and have realised why writing and posting a blog at 2am is ill-advised in every way. Thanks Peter, I am off to get my eyes tested and bonce re-wired.

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