Richard Dawkins appeared on Tuesday night’s edition of “The Daily Show” and told host Jon Stewart that the greatest threat to the human race as a species comes from the possibility of powerful technologies falling into the hands of religious fanatics. Dawkins was promoting his new book, a memoir titled An Appetite for Wonder.
Stewart began the segment by conveying a message to the author and scientist from a liberal Presbyterian pastor in the show’s studio audience, who asserted that Christian faith and respect for scientific principles can go hand in hand.
“Yes, I’m aware of that,” Dawkins said. “It’s a point I often make, and I often join forces with bishops and other friends to combat the anti-scientific tendency of fundamentalist religion.”
A common misconception among fundamentalists, he said, is that all religious people are like them, “and they’re not.”
Stewart said that he would propose as the topic of their discussion, the question of whether “the end of our civilization will be through religious strife or scientific advancement. What do you think will, in the long term, be more damaging to our prospects as the human race?”
Dawkins replied that the British Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees gives the human race a 50 percent chance of surviving the 21st century “and one of the reasons is he fears that the fruits of scientific advancement — the bad fruits, things like dirty bombs, things like biological warfare — could get into the hands of religious fanatics, who unlike all other terrorists, actually want to die.”
“So, to the question you asked,” he said, “probably both.”
Watch the full interview, embedded below via Comedy Central: