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Charles Darwin

On TV: The Genius of Charles Darwin: Presented by Richard Dawkins
note: I've added Part 3
Richard Dawkins examines the legacy of Charles Darwin. The three part programme will be broadcast on Channel Four at 8 pm on Monday 4th, Monday 11th and Monday 18th August.

Part 1

Quicktime Video 67 MB | Duration: 47'13
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Part 2

Quicktime Video 67 MB | Duration: 47'52
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Part 3

Quicktime Video 67 MB | Duration: 48'08
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Thank you for taking the time, and providing the massive bandwidth required, for these high-quality quicktime videos. It is greatly appreciated, especially by those of us who loathe the low quality of YouTube / streaming FLV.

Great series. Here are my thoughts from an Irish man living in America.

"An animals' entire life is devoted to surviving (yet life is a terminal disease). Little wonder then that they evolve. What choice do they have?"

This is a great line, Francis.

(yet life is a terminal disease).

Didn't you see the discovery of the jelly fish that can reverse their age? Scientists are theorizing they might be able repeat the process and be essentially immortal.

Interesting stuff.

Red Seven:

At the risk of sounding like a real conspiracy nut, this has always been one of my greatest fears.

Our planet is already holding 6.6 billion humans. Resources are running short, the temperature is rising, and life spans are increasing day by day.

Be it stem cells, or jellyfish, or cloning of organs, we stand perilously close to a medical revolution not seen since the day of Jonas Salk's polio vaccine.

And what then?

Red Seven:

At the risk of sounding like a real conspiracy nut, this has always been one of my greatest fears.

Our planet is already holding 6.6 billion humans. Resources are running short, the temperature is rising, and life spans are increasing day by day.

Be it stem cells, or jellyfish, or cloning of organs, we stand perilously close to a medical revolution not seen since the day of Jonas Salk's polio vaccine.

And what then?

Be it stem cells, or jellyfish, or cloning of organs, we stand perilously close to a medical revolution not seen since the day of Jonas Salk's polio vaccine.

Don't worry, only 1% of the world will be able to afford any of that. 99% of the world will still be dieing like crazy.

Didn't you see the discovery of the jelly fish that can reverse their age? Scientists are theorizing they might be able repeat the process and be essentially immortal.

Any links that talk about it? It seems interesting.

Couple things:

First, I love Dawkins, and thank you Norm for the fantastic Vids.

Second, I think Dawkins comes off as a prat here. Frought with Hero Worship and bringing up the God Thing over and over again. I know that it his point, but he makes it very poorly to 'believers'.

An example would be how Darwin finally published his book so he would not be scooped. Pride. He hated 'being beaten'. Pride. Dawkin's God (Darwin) it would seem is Prideful Knowledge, and the Tree of Knowledge is the forbidden fruit. If I had been a teenager in a class watching this, i would ask Darwin and Dawkins to "get a room".

There is also a margin of doubt from his presentation "although no macro evolution has been seen". And, introducing the breeding of animals as the way they evolve. A critical observer could assume God did the hand picking of Who Would Live, as it is assumed He does in human's day to day life.

So, I think he made several errors in his argument to THAT audience.

Please don;t think I'm casting my own doubt on his arguments, just pointing out how other could interpret them.

I'm also uncertain why people never bring up that a paper written by a bishop officially acknowledges that God used Evolution to Create The Species.

Darwin could then ask: "Do you think the Pope is lying?"


Side note: Humanity already ate of the Tree of Knowledge, and as the Good Book says, if we eat of the Tree of Life we shall become immortal and like the Gods.. or Jellyfish.

And then?

Good thing Virgin Galactic is getting off the ground soon.



DAWKINS could then ask: "Do you think the Pope is lying?"

And watch the look on the young faces.

Dawkins' goal is to kill God. I think that perhaps is his error here. This documentary would be more convincing if he asked "and why does belief in evolution kill God, if evolution, nay SCIENCE, is the observation of God'sCreation_?"

"Which do you think is a more powerful statement by God: two paragraphs in a book, or every fossil on the beach? Both were created by Him? Yes?"

Any links that talk about it? It seems interesting.

I don't remember where I read it.

Here are two links, enjoy.


I think Robinson missed the whole point of what Dawkins is talking about.

thanks for the quality videos, norm. in general, as a "pbs baby" i love this kind of stuff. i like dawkins and his general thrust which makes it difficult to bitch about him, which is what i'm going to do (again). or do you need more people writing in telling you how brilliant he is, and how brilliant you are for posting him? (hmm. after reviewing the comments, maybe you do, at that.)

it's because i agree with (what i think is) his basic "thang", which is that science should be taught properly in schools, and religion should not be presented as an alternative to it, that i feel i must call attention to that which most obviously detracts from the power and effectivness of his arguments over and over, and in a glaringly repetetive way here, namely: his constant use of the weakest of straw man arguments against religion itself as part of his case for teaching evolution as fact.

first, attacking religion at all confuses the issue and is unnecessary to make the point, imo. i think he should keep his "religion is dangerous" arguments and his "kids should be taught science properly despite the fact that some lunatics claim the earth is 6000 years old and god seeded the planet with fossils as some kind of cosmic joke" arguments should be kept seperate.

his straw man problem is that his definition of "religion" entails belief that the earth is 6000 years old and god created immutable species, etc. this is not only untrue, but so far from the truth that i can only call it a straw man when he uses it, which is about 10 times just in the first clip above. i understand his mistake is a result of his own limited understanding of "religion", having to do with his anglican upbringing, etc, and no, i don't expect him to be an expert in religious dogma in order to be qualified to argue against it. and truthfully, i doubt the kids in the film noticed this distinction- but again, they too are the products of the same narrow religious upbringing as he is.

my point is that anyone with say, slightly more knowledge than those particular kids about world religions is going to be constantly asking themselves, as i do, " he's right about everything he says having to do with science. he's not too bad with history and philosophy of science, either.(my own particular area of interest)but why does he keep bringing religion into it in such a simplistic way as to disqualify him from even speaking about the subject? and, more importantly, if he can be so wrong about such a basic thing about religion as a whole, maybe he's mistaken about science as a whole sometimes too? and if he's a mere polemicist pushing his own "religious" agenda, why should we listen to him on matters of educational policy?

i'm not sure i'm being clear. my problem here is the same one i've had before with hitchens and chomsky, for instance: sir, if you're going to argue for my side, i don't want you to compromise your own effectiveness by straying into territory with which you are less than familiar. it's just like listening to some preacher talking out his ass about science.


I agree with you completely.

In my experience, most religious people consider the bible, at best, a rough guide and enjoy the goodness that science brings without question. This vid pitches science as being anti-religion and his observations of religious people are bordering on characature. As if his 'smart brain' can barely stand the thought of such early tribal rantings.

It is a weak way to convince people.

I also think (being from Kansas) that teaching Evolution is far more important than abolishing religion and by painting Religeous People into a corner, he fails to change minds. He sets Evolution up as The God Killer instead of being like any other observation of science and teaching it as such, and so plays into the hands of the Anti-Evolutionists everywhere.

Exerpts of this video could be used out of context to convince the Religious that Evolution is Evil-ution, Prideful, and sacreligious. perhaps the work of satan! (ex: Fossils were put by the devil so atheists could point to them and ignore God.. see how easy that is?)

So, love Dawkins, but this is my least favorite program I've ever seen him in and I think pushes people further from the scientific truth.

My personal way of teaching religious people science is to talk true history, use the REAL name of Jesus (Yesua bin Josesph), explain why it changed through the greek and roman days. Why the bible was compiled by a pagan-Roman king whose empire was falling, and that if you really Love Jesus, you owe it to Him to find out the truth of his life. From that, if you really love God, Study The Creation, and that is EXACTLY what science is. There is no quarrel between the two.

Also, to tell GOD how HE made the world (quoting a single 3000 year old paragraph) is VERY arrogant. Let God do it any way he wants.


He sets Evolution up as The God Killer instead of being like any other observation of science and teaching it as such, and so plays into the hands of the Anti-Evolutionists everywhere.

bingo, exactly my point. but the rest, from here

My personal way of teaching religious people science is to talk true history, use the REAL name of Jesus...

i have NO idea what you're talking about. it's certainly not how i'd "teach religious people science".

in english, btw, the hebrew would be "yesHua bEn yosef".


Sorry I didn't look up the spelling beforehand. *8(

My point with teaching the idea of accepting science to religious people is simple, really:

1) The Bible is not the ultimate authority on Jesus.

2) Example A (name), B (stories added in the middle ages by monks 'he who is without sin casts the first stone), C (origin of the Bible).

3) Conclusion: If you want to know Jesus better, look beyond the Bible and LEARN.

Christians who say they don't want to learn more about Jesus look like fools, so they come along, and in turn lose the "Bible says it so it HAS to be true" defense.

So, it allows science to be the illuminator instead of instigator.

Does that make sense?


if you really Love Jesus, you owe it to Him to find out the truth of his life. From that, if you really love God, Study The Creation, and that is EXACTLY what science is. There is no quarrel between the two.

becker:from here..."My personal way of teaching religious people science is to talk true history, use the REAL name of Jesus..." i have NO idea what you're talking about. it's certainly not how i'd "teach religious people science".

Me either. I have no quarrel with teaching the truth about Jesus (and I'm sure both of you know more than I do about Jesus ... I've found the entire subject to be uninteresting for a long time), but it doesn't have anything to do with religion. Robinson, if what you mean is that your way of teaching religious people about science is to open their mind about accepting the truth about their religion as a prerequisite to opening their minds about everything else in the world, well, I'm fine with that. But you haven't started with the science yet, of course.

I do agree with both of you as to Dawkins's strategy - he won't change the mind of a single fundamentalist - he will only arm them with their favorite charge - he's "dogmatic" about his atheism (as ill-founded as that charge is in that it rests on a deliberate misconstruction of the word "dogmatic"). He will turn off fence sitters as well.


You are right, open their mind to a greater world (science et al) using their religion.

Then you could start wherever the party was most interested in...

Oddly, Free Will is uncomfortably close to "can God make miracles". That is, if people have free will, then they can somehow influence things at an atomic level. If humans can, then what rules out human minds working together to act as a 'god' and make large scale changes at the same level? If the Observer rule is bent enough, probability stretched, then science would be unable to detect the change and it would seem mundane. That is, people would (sort of) 'see what they expected to see' anyhow.

[above is VERY rough, don't beat me up for abbreviation of theory, just an interesting idea]

Evolution? God killer. Sigh...

God is dead. Long live the God.

In the Hyperborean countries, the Horse was once sacred. Was once "God". Close enough. Skinned, stretched, (di)splayed:

God was (is) a dead horse, many times over. The modern morph of "God" is as absurd as the search for the "greatest" number (give it up, let go). Cantor mixed up his signs, or His Signs, maybe it's the same thing, solipsism, and His Shadow, don't know, or care. Imagine complexities which get around your flatlandish bigotries. Or else keep up the mouth to muzzle resuscitation. I'll build horse-skin drums. Blink, but ink don't blink. Dawkin's genes are Ayn Randishly selfish. His memes too.

Ashes to..., well,

Dust to...uhh,

Death to Death.

As if. Dualism though, Chalmers, charmer he...

norm, thanks so much for posting all this stuff. really checking it out takes a good deal of time and i don't know how many of your readers actually watched all three of these clips, but i wanted you to know that somebody did, and appreciated it.

i mentioned i was a "pbs baby", and my emotional connection to this KIND of thing was brought home forcefully in the last minute or two of the 3rd clip, where dawkins and his team make cinematic reference to a well known high water mark of the pbs documentary style- namely, jake bronowski's "you have to touch people" sequence from the "ascent of man" series from the 70's- which i believe you have also posted here before. (maybe it's time for a rerun?)

i have much else to say about this series of clips (after all, its over 2 hours of material) but i don't want to abuse your hospitality. if anyone wants to discuss mr. dawkins and his points here, i'm willing. maybe on your new "forum". :)

sorry, wouldn't want to contaminate anyones mind with little feat. bronowski:

Hey thanks for these norm!

Really enjoyed them. I wish more people could see it. I wish more people would just open their eyes.

For me personally it's quite hard, being almost alone in my unbelief. Parents very religious, and mom, despite having a BSc is now into woo like homeopathy.

At least my sister is coming over to the rational side now.

Your site is a beacon of hope. Thanks dude!

Yeah, thanks again Norm. great Stuff.

Dawkins puts it best:

"Evolution is also a demonstrated fact. The truth really is out there. It's not a matter of opinion...Evolution is the plain truth."

All of you offended by Dawkins and his methods for presenting evolution to close-minded religious folk are missing his point entirely. It is religion which is trying to kill evolution. Religious hicks would love nothing more than for scientists to halt all work regarding evolution (and concentrate on making more effective boner pills, I suppose). Evolution doesn't need to kill religion; religion doesn't enter into its realm. It is only religion's hostility to evolution that offends Dawkins.

As far as convincing religious zealots, that's also not his point. The facts are out there and these people are too lazy, intellectually, to seek the truth themselves. They already have the answers, as far as they are concerned. There is no convincing or converting to be done. Instead, Dawkins solidifies the thinking of those who have already accepted science and truth (which to me means rejecting the superstition and ignorance of religious doctirine).

I agree with Leftbanker when he states that it is not science (or Dawkins) that is hostile to religion as much as religion is hostile to science.

Dawkins has always been an eloquent and brilliant public intellectual, and this series is well done. When he reads from Darwin's work it almost sounds poetic.

Unlike what some commenter stated above, Dawkins’s video essay on Darwin is not hero worship of the man, or even a veneration of his ideas, but is instead a celebration of what humankind on its own can achieve by the sheer will of its own intellectual gifts and determination.

Religion relegates us all to the status of subjects of some deity or other, the dictatorship of the almighty, so to speak, while science and the rise of reason has proved that we are--and can be--the masters and shapers of our own destiny.

If people want to believe in ancient religious myths and other forms of superstition, that is quite fine, but eventually the truth will prevail and humankind will finally put aside its barbaric and ignorant past in favor of a more enlightened future.

I think the approach Dawkins takes as a public intellectual, science advocate, and religious iconoclast, is both immensely brave and also immensely necessary. We atheists and humanists who believe in the brilliance of scientific method couldn't ask for a better spokesperson.

Dawkins doesn’t need to pull punches or tread carefully when he attacks the narrow-mindedness of religious authority and dogma, nor does he have to worry about who he “offends” with his iconoclasm. His goal is to advocate science and reason and destroy the last vestiges of the religious mythology and authority that still tries mightily to dominate the secular world. If this makes religious people feel stupid or marginalized, so be it, they should feel that way as long as they cling so foolishly to belief systems that reject modernity out of fear and stupidity and promotes the kind of ignorance Dawkins is combating so eloquently and with so many facts and proofs and overwhelming evidence.

Make no mistake, I don't give a rats ass if Dawkins is offensive, nor to who. HIS stated goal is to convince religious people to not be religious by using evolution.

Jon and I believe that not a single (hard nose, uninformed, uncurious) religious person would be changed by seeing this program. Thus, HIS goal fails.

I argue that there are better ways of changing people. Better arguments, better approaches.

Sure religious needs a hard slap in the face. I agree, but Dawkins isn't being effective to his intended audience.

I also believe that Evolution and Science are FAR more important than stopping the subject from believing in religion. As Bill M. states, religion dies hard and slow.

So thus, it is better to encourage scientific interest, curiosity.

At every turn Dawkins almost has to close his eyes to ward off the disgust he feels for 'stupid' religious people. If a lawyer had the same presentation to a jury, his client would hang every single time.

Also, please remember that I think Dawkins usually kicks ass. He is one of my favorite speakers and his debates are simply brilliant.

LOL! here is a video of another great: Dyson, telling Dawkins exactly my point at Beyond Belief.

I agree with Dyson fully here, and Dawkins' short reply is BRILLIANT.

Dawkins in part three:

Isn't it better to embrace reality, bleak as it sometimes may be, then to avoid it and live a lie?

What a brilliant line. For a liberal/humanist/atheist, this is more or less a guiding principle. It is definitely not the easy intellectual path and leads to a life of doubt and skepticism, but it is better than living in a dictatorship of certainty like the religious do.

I certainly doubt Dawkins will reach the fundamentalist fanatics with his message, but there are millions out there whose minds he will penetrate with his brilliant discourse. So I see no reason to doubt his methods as long as his message is clearly correct.

I like Dawkins, because he knows that science has limits to its vision, too. Dark Matter, Quantum Physics, etc., Things jsut beginning to enter the mainstream meme.

While I think that most organized religions are designed to control people, make money, etc., I very strongly believe that there is quite a bit ou there we don't know yet. I'm not saying 'god' but I am saying that there are energies in the human body we can't measure yet (Ki, Chi, Qigong) and there are things in the universe vastly more interesting than we will ever understand.

But, we should still try. Look, test, etc.


check out this vid:

Also, there IS a feason to doubt his methods if he only communicates to the converted and his point is to convert people. Or mat, are you saying you are smarter than Dyson? (grin j/k, but I'm in Dyson's corner)

PS: "dictatorship of certainty" is wonderfully stated.


Freeman Dyson is a theoretical physicist and mathematician, famous for his work in quantum mechanics, solid-state physics. Neil deGrasse Tyson is the astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History you've been linking to.

Thanks Tim, been a fan of Dyson Spheres since I first read Ringworld. Never been good at names, even screwed up the Lord Almighty above. (Man, he's gunna be PISSED.) grin

that would be "lawd a'mighty". technically. :)

I re-watched the entire series again last night, Robinson, this time paying more conscious attention to when Dawkins injected his atheistic philosophy into his scientific discussions.

I certainly don't think Dawkins produced this series to convince fundamentalists to embrace Evolution. I think his purpose was to reach out to the millions of undecided religious and non-religious folks who probably hear an inordinate amount of religious mumbo-jumbo aimed at debunking Evolution. He is presenting sober, rational, and provable truths about how every year Evolution is being proven with more and more concrete evidence in a multitude of scientific fields (and not just one or two), and also at the same time showing how ridiculous the religious intrusion into science has become.

I think his arguments are quite convincing, and any reasonable thinking person will be easily convinced of the validity of Evolution science. People possessing a more myopic intellectual view, such as religious fundamentalists, wouldn't change their minds no matter how convincing the arguments, so Dawkins needs not vanquish his anti-religious arguments to "target" an audience he isn't going to reach anyhow.

Dawkins is one of the few public intellectuals who doesn't tread lightly around the issue of religious authority's intrusion into science. People may not appreciate his style or that of PZ Myers, mainly because they are tremendously impolite to religious fanatics, but then again by being too polite to these people you lend credence to their extremist and highly fallacious viewpoints when all they should warrant is ridicule and scorn. You seemed to think Dawkins tried very hard to mask his contempt for the religious wackos he interviewed, and meanwhile they didn’t mask their contempt at all for science when they spewed out their ridiculous religious arguments "debunking" Evolution.

Dyson Spheres

Ahh, infintite growth, developement, HUBRIS!

Paul Ehrlich, Malthus.

Dyson Sphincters, terraforming Mars, what are we, swarming insects? Sipapoo ants? Err, the question...

jelly fish that can reverse their age? By fasting? A goy yoga, piece of (let them eat) cake.

perhaps from a different angle: dawkins is demeaning science by making it all about evolution, and demeaning evolution by making it a mere rebuttal to something as banal and misguided as creationism. he compounds his mistake by equating creationism with religion as a whole, contaminating the evolutionism/creationism battlefield (a battle which could be won relatively easily, imo, without such contamination) with the question of the damage caused by religion as a whole- a very different battle requiring very different methods and a lot more subtlety. he would be much more effective on both fronts if he could make this separation, instead of always going for the shocking soundbite gauranteed to increase his personal notoriety which, in the game he's in, is essentially equal to his personal stock or worth. so, i'm afraid that no matter how "right" he may be, to use a boxing metaphor, he's accepting a payoff to throw the fight. and although this may be entertaining to watch, (requiring, as it does, a great deal of histrionics, drama and overacting) it's bad, overall, for the sport itself, which really SHOULD be about religion itself. the creationism thing is a poor man's sideshow, and he's wasting time there for lucre, and what david gerrold called "ego-boo". i find it disappointing, as he really does have tremendous skills.


Excellent post. I'm going to review them myself today (thanks for the bandwidth Norm!)

I fully agree that religion has no place limiting science, btw. In my home state of Kansas, the board of eduction actually disallowed testing on evolution. Those men/women were voted out, and the next year normalcy returned, but that sort of censorship of a widely supported and easily demonstrable FACT of this world, simply because it goes against a SINGLE PARAGRAPH in a book translated a dozen times, written down from oral tradition, is utter (and complete) bullshit and must be opposed.

I mean, if evolution doesn't occur, then why do you need a new flu shot every year?

btw: phil's tone has the most mind expanding posts I've ever read. I no longer need my 'misdemeanor medication'. *8)

Nice points, Jonathan. You've been on a roll lately in this and other threads.

I do agree Dawkins does like stabbing prickly rhetorical barbs into religion even when going for a straight-forward discussion of his science. Does this harm his science? That's a tough question--and a damn good one--to be completely honest.

I myself have gone against the Creationism/ID circus when it came to my hometown in the mid-90s, where I was working as an engineer/research scientist in a factory there. In this case Creationism wasn't a side show, it was the main event: at stake was the science education of the children in my hometown in Indiana.

The goal of this circus was to "convince" the Christian parents in my hometown to force the public school system include Creationism in science curriculum. I and a couple of science professors at Indiana State University showed up for the big Creationism lecture by some yahoo named "Dr." Kent Hovind, and during his Q&A when he "dared" anyone to challenge his claims, the three of us systematically attacked his "science" with simple proofs and arguments, and by the end of the lecture lots of people in the crowd moved to our side simply because even Hovind's conventional science--chemistry, physics, geology, etc--was laughably wrong, let alone his take on evolution.

The next day--a Sunday--the local newspaper printed a long piece on the lecture and our attack of Hovind's "science," plus the three of us had letters we'd written printed in the editorial section. There had been no collusion on our part prior to the lecture: we were just three scientists who showed up and found Hovind to be a complete idiot and the worst kind of sophist. He certainly wasn't a man of science. One huge advantage I had over the college professors as that I was kind of well known in my town for being the guy who brought the modern age to a factory there with automation and computers and stuff way ahead of its time in small town Indiana. College professors can sometime be seen as arrogant elitists to regular people, whereas I was a guy using science for something tangible to them.

I see your point and it is easy to understand why you'd think this about Dawkins. I myself think one fights creationism merely with good science, but obviously Dawkins takes it one step further by also attacking the religion behind creationism, and I think his approach can make some people think he is using evolution to disprove god, which can be a barrier to some of the more devout people who DO buy into science and evolution, but just need to understand the science better. Therefore, on this point I am in full agreement with you.

At no point in my attack of Hovind did I ever even mention god or Jesus or religion. I just attacked his bad grasp of scientific principles one could find in high school textbooks, and I pointed this out to the large crowd at the lecture.

I think Dawkins serves science and evolution science well despite his propensity to attack religion and not just the bad science of creationism and ID. So on this you and I disagree. But I see your point clearly and it makes me think. I am a hard-nosed atheist and find little about religion to even consider, but that can also work to my detriment when talking to religious people about science, especially religious people teetering on the brink of enlightenment who just need a slight nudge to embrace evolution's beautiful concepts that are being proven more and more every day with good science.

So point taken here, Mr. Becker.

This New York Times piece illustrates the threat fundamentalist religions pose to science education in America, and how science teachers are fighting an uphill battle against ignorance and closed-minded thinking.

Dawkins said it best in calling it EVILution. Believe in intraspecies genetic variation, not interspecies genetic transition.


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