I saw most of this the other day: Star Talk hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, talking to a Jesuit priest and playing sections from a taped interview he did with Richard Dawkins. (There was also a comedian but he didn’t get to contribute much.) It was pretty entertaining.
One bit was very funny, when Dawkins was explaining something about why he challenges religion or some such thing, and he said he “good-naturedly ridicules” people’s odd beliefs. I burst out laughing at that, and laughed some more when Tyson gently said the people might disagree about the “good-natured” part. Dawkins chuckled amiably, but…you could see that no dent had been made.
So I guess that really is how he sees himself? As good-naturedly ridiculing people’s beliefs, as opposed to waspishly or sharply or harshly or brutally?
The Jesuit priest was predictably frustrating. He pretended to be perfectly reasonable and like a scientist and trying to figure things out just like Tyson and yadda yadda. He said he likes to ask people why there’s something rather than nothing, and Tyson said he answers he doesn’t know, and he’s happy with that – later amended to not happy in the sense of not wanting to try to find out, but in the sense of not letting it force him to answer “god.”
I liked that, but I also wished he had pressed the Jesuit – James Martin, his name is – on why “god” is any kind of answer to that question anyway. I also wished he had pressed him to say exactly what he meant by god, especially when he (Mr Jesuit) kept offering different versions of god, all of them much nicer than the fascist daddy-figure. I wished he had asked how any of that makes sense together.