Scott Simon interviews Richard Dawkins on NPR

While driving to the grocery store this morning, I heard National Public Radio’s Scott Simon do a short interview with Richard Dawkins, which took place the morning of Wednesday’s event in Washington, D. C.

Click on the screenshot below to go to the link where you can hear it. Of course it’s all about atheism and terrorism; there’s not a mention of Richard’s thoughts on evolution.

Simon asks the usual semi-aggressive questions, including why religious people show up at tragedies but “organized groups of atheists” don’t. The problem with this is that nonbelievers who do humanitarian work don’t have visible signs of their nonbelief, but a nun or priest does.

Further, Simon says (LOL!), “I do wonder. . . am I just not seeing the world correctly to see large numbers of well-motivated atheists lending their lives to better the world. Let me put it this way. . .  are they more concerned with just being right—intellectually? 

Now that is simply an ignorant question that totally misunderstands atheism and atheists. Richard answered it properly: “Oh I don’t think so at all. If I may say so, you haven’t looked hard enough.”

And Simon asks that question three times.  He’s incredulous that atheists could actually want to help people.

As I’ve written before, Simon is a bit of a faithhead, but of the worst kind: he tries to force himself to believe what he doesn’t really think is true. Here’s part of a conversation he had in an interview with filmmaker Sheila Nevins:

JAC comment: Scott Simon went into some detail about his personal theology in an interview on today’s show:

NEVINS: Do you know where you’re going? I don’t believe in heaven or hell. So…
SIMON: No. I know what I tell myself, but do I know that for sure?
NEVINS: What do you tell – what do you say?
SIMON: Oh, I – you know, I believe in a heaven and I’ll be reunited…
NEVINS: You think that?
SIMON: I’ll be reunited with my parents and with my lost sister and with, you know, every pet I’ve ever had and loved. And I’ll be up there waiting for my wife and children. Is that for real? Of course not. But that’s what I tell myself to get through the day.

I pity Simon if he can’t get through the day without trying to fool himself with superstition!


  1. Gemma Jillian
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I heard the piece, too. Simon is disgustingly ridiculous in his faithy whinings. Wanting something to be true so’s he talks himself into it. At least for “the day.”

    Children from their git-go, on a lotta lotta deals of their lives now and in their futures, need to be taught the beauty of knowing, believing, accepting and WORKING, whether for themselves or for others including others in need, only through reality. Parents, many anyhow, anger me. Needing to be eradicated: inherited religion.

  2. Heather Hastie
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    What a dreadful interview by Simon! What a complete a$$ho£€!

    I think he needs to do some work on his ignorance and bigotry, at the very least.

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I think of Daniel Dennett’s quote, posted on WEIT recently, about how “organized atheists” have more in common with scuba diving clubs, or gardening clubs, than churches or congregations.

    I also think the notion that atheists are supposed to appear/look/feel identical to religious groups is the naive view of an individual who, as Dawkins suggests, has not really thought seriously about it all. And everyone has every reason to think about it all, not just atheists – in case the notion that atheists are only interested in thinking and being “right”.

    and I do think it is worthwhile thinking about why Simon only ever sees religious groups organized around tragic events. It has to do with (A) where and what Simon is looking for/at, and (B) the nature of religion to latch onto things and get heard…

    oh boy I’ll stop now…

  4. Sastra
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    There’s a lot of variety to “Faith in Faith” — the idea that being the type of person who has faith is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Faith makes people better. This version here involves the motivation and means to help others. Simon’s right that churches often have a readily available group where you can join with your friends, help others, “live according to God’s love,” and, all to often, convert people- either passive aggressively through example, or aggressively through proselytizing.

    A lot of atheists who focus on altruism simply join organizations which don’t make religion an issue. What’s frustrating though is that when atheists DO band together in a group which makes their nonbelief explicit, the fundamentalists don’t want to deal with them — and the liberal theists simply whine about how atheists obviously can’t just help others without shoving their beliefs in people’s faces like the fundamentalists do.

    We can’t win.

    • Les Faby
      Posted May 27, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Excellent analysis, as usual.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    SIMON: … I believe in a heaven and I’ll be reunited … with my parents and with my lost sister and with, you know, every pet I’ve ever had and loved.

    Whenever I hear something like this (especially from someone who, unlike Simon, actually seems to believe it), I can’t help but wondering about all the complications. Like what about all the in-laws nobody wants to be reunited with? Or what if people want to be reunited with their grandkids, but their grandkids would rather be with their own grandkids. The whole thing sounds as fraught and tension-filled as a wedding reception where both principals have invited all their X-es.

    • Gemma Jillian
      Posted May 27, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Plus, too Mr Kukec re “actually seems to believe it,” also this wholly angers me: “O ya’ know doncha’, she is now IN A Way Better Place. She’s with her Father, ya’ know.”

      Jebus! At memorials and funerals when I hear this (and you do – over and over and over from those there), I just wanna choke something! So that that Something CAN, as well, GO to a Way Better Place!

      The parents of the girl who refused to deny “her god” at the Columbine High School Library’s table and ended up so, so dead (as she may or may not have been IF she, when asked by The Shooters, if she believed her god ‘d save her – those parents, to this day, keep saying crud like that. About her. Online. At some “memorial website” because of her death. Crikey!

      • Gemma Jillian
        Posted May 27, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        me: Get REAL, Parents. By the time she was 16 or 17, you should have taught her what REALLY TO DO—to hide, to run run run, to break and jump out windows, to deny anything and everything if that may help, to try to do WHATEVER it may take SO THAT: AT THE END of the ordeal, the horror, the outrage (this was not a “tragedy” – Columbine / that sort of deal ? is an “outrage”), so that at its end: she is still breathing. THAT is what she should have been taught.

        • Frank Bath
          Posted May 27, 2017 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

          Will the pets be reunited with their lost families?

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted May 27, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink


            If Scarlett gets reunited with Rhett, does Mammy still have to keep house at Tara?

    • Richard
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      So if everyone gets re-united with their parents, how far back does this progression go? Back as far as LUCA?

      At what point do we draw the line and say “Nah, those ancestors, N generations back, aren’t actually homo sapiens”? I don’t want to sound species-ist here (well, actually I do), but I don’t want to have any specimens of homo erectus hanging around my heavenly mansion in this supposed afterlife. I suspect they would be difficult to house-train, and probably have awful table manners.

  6. Posted May 27, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Kind of dumb. Religious people doing humanitarian work are likely to mention their faith in conjunction with their work, but why would atheists doing the same work talk about their disbelief in God? I doubt that all, or even most, Doctors Without Borders are religious.

  7. Rita
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Of course these kinds of interviews are purposely designed to advance the ideas that theists have about atheism. They are NOT designed to actually impart any factual information.

  8. Alan
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    The idea of an afterlife may also partly explain why he sees more religious people in war-torn countries. I try to do good, but I would probably do more if I had a perpetual fear that if I didn’t do enough good I’d go to hell.

  9. Posted May 27, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Another ignorant who believes morality depends on religion.

  10. Johnw
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Based on his abysmal interview with Tom Wolfe, this morning was an unsurprising performance for Simon. He was a rude flaming sphincter…..

    • Filippo
      Posted May 27, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      Would you reasonably say that Tom Wolfe – to my mind (refulgently, exigently, as Hitch would say) convinced of the rectitude of his own opinions – himself ought to be reasonably, similarly so described?

      • johnw
        Posted May 28, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink


  11. Randy schenck
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I would just write the guy off as juvenile in his religion and likely to be the same with any atheists he comes across. A big family reunion in the sky which you earn by getting up on Sunday and going to a meeting where you can compare clothing with all your friends. Amen. He isn’t going to ask Dawkins anything about evolution because he does not care.

    • Tom
      Posted May 27, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      I would add “to hear about it” to the end that last sentence

  12. alexander
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    It looks like the interview with Dawkins has been taken off the web, you get a message “temporarily unavailable”

    • alexander
      Posted May 27, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      It worked when I tried again. Sorry.

  13. nicky
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    It is clearly wishful thinking, this being ‘reunited’
    But even then, it makes little sense. What do you wish for? Your mother died with Alzheimer’s? Would you like to be ‘reunited’ with that? Or would you reunite as she was before she gave birth to you? She would not even recognise you.
    And Simon himself (or any of us), would he like to reunite as a curmudgeonly old wreck, but knowing things, or as the ignorant a young man he is now (I presume he is still young)?

  14. barn owl
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Sounds as if Scott Simon’s beliefs about heaven and hell are similar to those portrayed in the movie What Dreams May Come. Your pets greet you when you arrive in Heaven, your son (who died in a car accident as a child) – disguised as your residency mentor – acts as your guide to All Things Heaven, and you have to rescue your wife from Hell because she committed suicide (and because God, apparently, is a massive jerk who is unsympathetic to depression and mental illness).


    • Posted May 27, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      I’d welcome the Caspar David Friedrich, but not an eternity spent with Cuba Gooding Jr.

  15. Zach
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Funny he mentioned Christopher Hitchens. Reminded of something Hitchens said in his debate with Tony Blair about the merits of religion:

    I knew it would come up, that we’d be told about charity, and I take this very seriously. Because we know, ladies and gentlemen—as it happens, we are the first generation of people who do, really—what the cure for poverty really is. It eluded people for a long, long time. The cure for poverty has a name, in fact. It’s called The Empowerment of Women.

    If you give women control over the rate at which they reproduce, if you give them some say, take them off the animal cycle of reproduction to which nature and some doctrines, religious doctrines, condemn them, and then you throw in a handful of seeds perhaps, and some credit, the floor of everything in that village—not just poverty, but education, health, and optimism—will increase. It doesn’t matter, try it in Bangladesh, try it in Bolivia, it works, it works all the time.

    Name me one religion that stands for that, or ever has. Wherever you look in the world and try to remove the shackles of ignorance and disease and stupidity from women, it is invariably the clericy that stands in the way.

    • Blue mAAs
      Posted May 27, 2017 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Zach, for this statement of Mr Hitchens !

      I would, too, appreciate a website – citation of it — if you know of one / it.


      • Michael Fisher
        Posted May 27, 2017 at 9:29 pm | Permalink


        You can find the Hitchens/Blair debate on Youtube & it’s also available as a transcribed ebook on Amazon

        You can find the idea germinating in Hitch’s book on M Teresa

        You can find a version of it in his book “god is NOT great”

        The last time he used it was his best – Nov. 18th 2010: The Hitch at Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas [church cowards/liars took down the Hitch video on their church site because he rolled over the opposition like a tank – flattened ’em!]

        See here:

  16. Posted May 27, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Most, if not all, charity from religions goes exclusively to members of the religion or to proselytize to create more members.

  17. Les Faby
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I was infuriated by Scott Simon’s interview. NPR’s religion reporter, Tom Gjelten, is maybe worse.
    Thanks for reviewing the interview.

    • Filippo
      Posted May 27, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      I recently viewed Gjelten’s interview of Susan Jacoby at a book fair. Were he trying to get the best of her, it didn’t show, and in any event he didn’t succeed.

      I agree with your assessment of Simon in this particular case. Otherwise, I have not had much of a problem with Simon, part of the NPR “old guard” remnant composed of, among others, Bob Edwards. I can hardly stand to listen to the “cool,” snarky, smarmy, fatuous bloviations and reportorial opinionatings of David Green and Steve Inskeep.

  18. Michael Fisher
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Scott Simon asked a series of remarkably dull questions. I’m willing to bet he knows only the ‘public perception’ part of Dawkins’s bio & is uninterested in his WORK. He’s a lazy, lowest hanging fruit broadcaster who has got by on the strength of a mellifluous, relaxing voice.

    Much of his published output is focussed on himself, such as the experience of adopting two children. Another example – his tweeting of his convo’s with his dying mum as she lay in the ICU. He turned that into a memoir “Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime”

    Going off piste…

    I realise it’s my bias, but I can’t abide the practise of using named [or identifiable] family, friends, lovers as material for profit. Even Dylan, Lennon & Clapton get my frowny face for that! Keep it somewhat vague.

    • Florian
      Posted May 27, 2017 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      I feel the same and avoid NPR on Saturday morning. No matter how mellifluous Simon’s voice may be i can’t stand how he always seems to turn stories back to himself. (Although i’m not sure he did in this particular piece.)

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 27, 2017 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        I’d rather hear two hours of “Car Talk” reruns. 🙂

    • Posted May 28, 2017 at 5:35 am | Permalink

      Scott Simon is worse than useless; an un-journalist. He isn’t digging for information so much as trying to proffer a preconceived viewpoint. Ugh. +1 to what Florian said.

  19. Posted May 27, 2017 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Scott Simon is one of the biggest sacks of shit of all time. nuf ced.

  20. Benjay
    Posted May 27, 2017 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    …organized religious and left poli organized around tragedy whereas it takes something else to unite the Stoics and Introverts beyond analysis? Bad reading?

    how big is your pigeon
    Find a hole

  21. Posted May 27, 2017 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    SIMON: I’ll be reunited with my parents and with my lost sister and with, you know, every pet I’ve ever had and loved. And I’ll be up there waiting for my wife and children.

    I don’t know about “up there” but certainly every last damn atom is going to be floating around for sometime with every pet and family member for sure.
    Just mixed in with every narcissistic despot and ugly creature you care to name along with every nice deceased atheist you smirk about and poke your finger at.
    See you in the soup.

    • Posted May 27, 2017 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      By the way I’m not saying I’m nice or dead, yet.
      Crazy? probably.

  22. Posted May 28, 2017 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Well, i know that atheists do good deeds as a group…the AHA has. Atheists i know are caring and helpful and take time to aid those in need. I think we have to assume that atheists are people just like theists are. They donate their time and effort to different degrees. The difference may be in the motivation. Atheists do it because they feel an empathy for those they help. Theists seem to do it to gain points with god. That’s why they assume atheists have no incentive for compassion.

    I’m not sure if it’s necessarily harmful to have a personal belief in an afterlife. It’s all the baggage that comes with it that i would reject.

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