Here’s a 15-minute conversation between Richard Dawkins and Ricky Gervais—apparently in a church! The caption on the YouTube video isn’t really accurate:
A surprisingly respectful yet critical look at religion and science. This is full interview. Snippets of this were used in Richard Dawkins recent documentary for more4.
It’s not all that “respectful”! Gervais evokes feelings of wonder, and claims that religion becomes harmful only when the faithful start making policy from their beliefs, but that’s about as respectful as it gets.
I like the “childlike” wonder that pervades the discussion, especially when Richard explains the neuronal impulses that are really behind their conversation. The issue of free will comes up, and Gervais professes uncertainty about whether we have it, but says that because he feels like a free agent, in the end it doesn’t matter. But it does, for whether our wills are “free” has profound implications for societal policies of punishment and reward.
At 10:20, Gervais explains why agnostics annoy him more than do the faithful. I don’t quite agree if you define “agnosticism” as “profession of no knowledge about God.” Scientifically, that’s the right attitude, and yes, one can (contra Gervais) be agnostic about fairies. All that means is that we have no evidence for fairies, and of course scientists never professes absolute certainty. As Dan Barker says, “agnosticism” is about lack of evidence and “atheism” is about lack of belief. You can, I think, be both an agnostic and an atheist, and some agnostics are nevertheless theists.