MUST-READ: Hugh Hewitt interviews Richard Dawkins on his new book

Transcript here. (H/T Muddling Towards Maturity)


HH: On the person of Jesus Christ, did He exist?

RD: I suspect He probably did. I suspect there are lots of itinerant preachers, and one of them was probably called Yehoshua, or various other versions of Jesus’ name, but I don’t think that a miracle worker existed.

HH: How do you rate the evidence for Christ’s existence, manuscript evidence, eyewitness evidence, things like that?

RD: As I said, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if a man called Jesus or Yehoshua existed. I would say the evidence that He worked miracles, He rose from the dead, He was born of a virgin, is zero.

HH: Well, you repeatedly use the analogy of a detective at a crime scene throughout The Greatest Show On Earth. But detectives simply can’t dismiss evidence they don’t want to see. There’s a lot of evidence for the miracles, in terms of eyewitness…

RD: No, there isn’t. What there is, is written stories which were written decades after the alleged events were supposed to happen. No historian would take that seriously.

HH: Well, that’s why I’m conflicted, because in your book, you talk about the Latin teacher who is stymied at every turn, and yet Latin teachers routinely rely on things like Tacitus and Pliny, and histories that were written centuries after the events in which they are recording occur.

RD: There’s massive archaeological evidence, there’s massive evidence of all kinds. It’s just not comparable. No…if you talk to any ancient historian of the period, they will agree that it is not good historical evidence.

HH: Oh, that’s simply not true. Dr. Mark Roberts, double PhD and undergraduate at Harvard, has written a very persuasive book upon this. I mean, that’s an astounding statement. Are you unfamiliar with him?

RD: All right, then there may be some, but a very large number of ancient historians would say…

HH: Well, you just said there were none. So there are some that you are choosing not to confront.

RD: You sound like a lawyer.

HH: I am a lawyer.

Read the whole thing.

Now, obviously, Hugh is not an expert and he is going about his defense all wrong by trying to argue for general reliability of the gospels, instead of arguing for several specific “minimal facts” passages that pass standard historical criteria. But Dawkins is not going to call him on it. For a good debate on the reliability of the gospels, try Richard Bauckham versus James Crossley.

Related posts

My previous post on Richard Dawkins, including my opinion of his intellectual capability and honesty. Here’s another atheist, Peter Atkins. And did you hear Craig’s debate with Arif Ahmed? These are all Oxford University atheists, just like the one Greg Koukl is debating in Calgary on Friday.

18 thoughts on “MUST-READ: Hugh Hewitt interviews Richard Dawkins on his new book”

  1. I’ve been reading for years how you guys think that Richard Dawkins should stay out of philosophical and religious debates. Well he did that, and wrote a book that is purely science. Now you’re cheering on a talk show host for grilling him on the Bible?

    He’s a biologist.


  2. Ryan, when anybody makes claims regarding a subject, they put themselves in position to be legitimately criticized on those topics, regardless of their area of expertise.

    If Dawkins does not wish to be interviewed regarding the Bible, he ought not make claims that affect the factual understanding of that Bible.


    1. Don’t forget he cited G.A. Wells, a professor of German, as an authority on the historical Jesus! As an authority for the view that Jesus never existed! He did not mention the fact that Wells was a professor of GERMAN to his readers, though, just like like he didn’t mention that the embryo drawings he uses as evidence were known to be fraudulent since the 19th century!

      So now he has to take the kickback for misleading his hordes of true-believers.


      1. First, on Wells: G.A. Wells holds a degree in German, and teaches it at a university. He also holds degrees in philosophy and physical science (whatever that is). He has been doing research and writing books on Jesus specifically for 40 years. So just because he also teaches German, he is now not qualified to speak on Jesus? I don’t really know if he was right, and I’ve never read any of his work, but he’s a little more than a German teacher.

        Second, on Dawkins. Your view that he uses Haeckel’s embryos as any sort of evidence for evolution is so wrong, it does not deserve a response. He has spoken of them many times, always acknowledging they were exaggerated. Haeckel’s theories were dead wrong anyways. His exaggerated drawings were an attempt to prove a theory that was completely different than Darwin’s.

        How can you promote such ignorance? All of this information is so easily available.


          1. Haeckel’s embryo drawings show things that ARE evidence for evolution. He exaggerated some characteristics, but he didn’t make them up. Dawkins has acknowledged this exaggeration, and stated that the drawings should not be used in textbooks. I don’t know what else you want from him.

            As for Wells, I most certainly would allow a plumber to remove my cavity, as long as he was also a dentist. I have a friend who teaches archery. He also happens to be a neurosurgeon. The archery does not make him less of a doctor.


          2. So then you disagree with the link I provided earlier to the peer-reviewed journal Science in which the embryo drawings were revealed to be fraudulent. Fine. It’s your word against the peer reviewed journal Science. As Jonathan Wells documents in “Icons of Evolution”, the embryos provide evidence for evolution for a variety of reasons. Perhaps I will post about it later.

            Secondly, G.A. Wells, is not also a historian. He has NO degrees in history. He needs the PhD and publications in the field in order to be taken seriously by anyone who is interested in the truth. If truth is not your aim, then by all means, cite people with no credentials!


          3. The drawings were exaggerated, and yes, that DOES make them fraudulent. I never claimed they were correct, and neither did Dawkins.

            AS for Wells, he has been writing books about Jesus since 1970. That actually makes him as much of a historian than anyone. We don’t need to agree with him, but he’s somehow convincing publishers to publish his books – many of them.


    2. I mostly agree with that. He also does not seem to have a problem answering the questions, but he does not claim to be an expert on the intricacies of Christianity. He was criticized for The God Delusion for writing on a topic outside of his expertise. That may be valid, but now that he has gone back and written a book about something he knows better than just about anyone, the same Christian interviewers (and bloggers) seem now to be experts on biology. They are doing exactly what they criticized him for. You want to tell him there is a God, go ahead, but don’t challenge him on biology. You won’t win and you’re not qualified.


      1. I’m not the one he is fleeing from – that’s Stephen C. Meyer and William Lane Craig. Those are the people he refuses to debate.

        Anyway, I did challenge him on his use of fraudulent embryo drawings. Why is he using German professors to prove that Jesus never existed and faked drawings of embryos toprove evolution? And why won’t he debate anyone in public?


        1. Dawkins has been really honest about why he won’t debate them. He simply does not want to. He’s heard their arguments before, and they have heard his. These debates are not adding anything to the discussion. Neither side is interested in the arguments of the other.


          1. Let’s be clear. In his book he mentions none of the scholars who write against, and encounters none of their arguments. His side is not interested in debating for one reason only – because his side would lose. Our side is interested in debate, which is why we organize ALL of the debates that do take place. I know. I know the people who do the organizing.


  3. Hey wintery, I just read this book called Harry Potter, and man, he performs miracles just like jesus did. I even saw something on t.v. about him and I witnessed some of his miracles, so I think we should all worship him.

    I think anyone even remotely related to the criminal justice system will know how reliable I-witness testimony is. The masses in Jesus’s time were 99.9% uneducated and could easily be tricked into believing anything. Those before Jesus believed in Ra and all of his miracles. There have been, and continue to be, a multitude of gods and “miracles” – why do you only selectively believe those that reinforce your beliefs? Oh wait…I think I just answered my own question.

    I find it odd that as soon as we developed the scientific means to investigate miracles that miracles stopped happening…hmmmmm….makes one think doesn’t it?


    1. You should listen to actual debates on the resurrection instead of reading Harry Potter and using that to reject the historicity of the resurrection. I just had a long road trip and listened to the Crossley-Craig debate and the Hoover-Craig debate, as well as some of the Bauckham-Crossley debate on the reliability of the Gospels. I’m listening to more now. Plus earlier in the week I summarized the Bauckham-Crossley debate on how early Jesus was identified by the first Christians as being divine.

      I’m just saying that Harry Potter and Dan Brown may be fun, but they are fiction. A good debate is probably better for learning than fiction. Up to you. I find the debates fun, informative and excellent preparation for my own debates with atheists.


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