- (Photo: REUTERS/Altaf Hussain)
Famed atheist biologist Richard Dawkins had a surprising "oops" moment during an interview yesterday, when he forgot the title of Charles Darwin's most famous book.
Dawkins was debating the Rev. Giles Fraser, former canon chancellor of St. Paul's Cathedral in England, on BBC Radio 4 when the evolutionary biologist could not remember the full title of Darwin's famous book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
Dawkins and Fraser, of the Church of England, were debating because of press releases from the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science that had claimed that Christians in Britain tend to be more secular then the "Christian lobbyists" who speak on their behalf.
The author of The God Delusion defended his foundation's decision to showcase these poll findings, saying that maybe people who self-identified as Christian who could not name basic aspects of Christianity were not Christian. Fraser countered by demanding that Dawkins state the full title of Darwin's Origin of Species; otherwise, Fraser argued using Dawkins' reasoning, Dawkins was not truly an evolutionist-believing atheist.
"On the Origin of Species…Uh…With, oh, God, On the Origin of Species. Um…There is a sub-title with respect to the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life," responded Dawkins.
Fraser called Dawkins "the high pope of Darwinism" after he struggled with the title and then noted how few people who believe in the theory of evolution could get that question correct.
"If you asked people who believed in evolution…that question and came back and said 2 percent got it right it would be terribly easy for me to go 'they don't really believe it after all,'" said Fraser.
Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, wrote an opinion column for the Telegraph noting how badly he believed Dawkins was countered by Fraser.
"It was a golden minute of radio. But as well as being hilarious, it was hugely symbolic," writes Pollard.
"In The Daily Telegraph yesterday, Baroness Warsi highlighted the militant secularism on the march in Britain. But as Dr. Fraser revealed, the atheist army is led by an embarrassingly feeble general. The arrogance and intolerance of the atheists, exemplified by Prof Dawkins, is their Achilles' heel."
This is not the first time Dawkins has found himself in an embarrassing media situation. Years back in 1998, a video was circulated by the creation science organization Answers in Genesis showing Dawkins being stumped after being asked by an interviewer if he could "give an example of a genetic mutation, or an evolutionary process, which can be seen to increase the information in the genome?"
Dawkins and others, however, denied the authenticity of the video, saying that the video had been manipulated to make it appear that he did not answer the question.