Evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins, in an interview for the September edition of Playboy magazine, discusses a host of topics related to science and religion – and shares some of his favorite Bible verses.
Dawkins, who is known for ridiculing the different interpretations various religions have of God, noted that the idea of there being some kind of "creative intelligence" in the universe is at least more likely than there existing any one specific deity.
"I think a particular god like Zeus or Jehovah is as unlikely as the tooth fairy, but the idea of some kind of creative intelligence is not quite so ridiculous," he said.
On the subject of Christianity, the famed atheist admitted that he had not read the entire Bible, but knew it well enough to consider himself more knowledgeable on the subject than most Christians.
"My favorite book is Ecclesiastes. It's wonderful poetry in 17th century English, and I'm told it's very good in the Hebrew. 'Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.' The Song of Songs is terrific, and it's more bawdy in the Hebrew, almost a drinking song," Dawkins said of his favorite parts of the Bible.
As for Jesus Christ, The God Delusion author shared that the evidence for his actual existence "is surprisingly shaky," although he did not outright rule out Christ's earthly existence. He expressed, however, that he found the idea of the Son of God sacrificing himself to atone for people's sins to be "truly disgusting," because it would imply that God could not think of a better way to atone for mankind other than Christ being tortured to death.
Of his own faith progression, Dawkins shared that it was the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center that made him into a very militant atheist – noting that he blames the belief in the afterlife for the actions of the hijackers who crashed planes into the Twin Towers with expectations of being rewarded in heaven.
"Normally when an aircraft is hijacked, there's an assumption that the hijackers want to go on living. It changes the game if the hijackers look forward to death because it will get them into the best part of paradise," the author said.
Most recently, Dawkins was labeled a "snob" by a Scottish church leader after he declined an invitation to participate in a debate at the Faclan Hebridean Book Festival in Scotland, where he will be giving a speech in November.
The Rev. David Robertson, a Free Church minister in Dundee, said that he sees Dawkins as an "elitist snob, who once told me he would consider debating with me if I was the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope or Chief Rabbi."
Robertson added: "Dawkins considers, like so many of his fellow new atheists, that there is no debate and they, and they alone, have the truth. Ironically, such arrogance and intolerance of others is the very definition of the fundamentalism that Dawkins professes to hate. I suspect that Richard Dawkins' problem is that he is not a good debater."