While he didn’t share Real Time host Bill Maher’s thought that Pope Francis is secretly an atheist, biologist and staunch atheist Richard Dawkins opined that at least two U.S. presidents fit that description.
“Like many people, I’m sure that [President Barack] Obama is an atheist,” Dawkins told Maher. “I’m sure Kennedy was an atheist. But I doubt Pope Frank is, no. He’s obviously a nice man, therefore a dangerous man. We don’t want nice men in the Vatican.”
Dawkins also pushed back against descriptions of him as a “militant” atheist, which Maher also said he did not believe.
“I think people mistake militancy for clarity,” Maher, also an atheist, told Dawkins. “I think you’re very clear on what you believe, and they misinterpret it as hostility.”
“Interesting you should say that — I actually think exactly that,” Dawkins replied. “Not in respect to me, but in general: clarity is threatening. People can’t bear clarity. They want you to weasel around and obscure. But if you’re clear, if you stand up and say clearly what you think and what you’re saying, then they will think you’re being threatening, aggressive, strident, shrill.”
“Even if you’re a shy Oxford professor,” Maher said in agreement.
The two men also discussed the revelation that a set of skulls discovered in 2005 were reported this week to be around 1.8 million years old, with Maher musing about how the Texas Board of Education would handle the news.
“How could a skull be 1.8 million years old if the Earth is only 5,000 years old?” Maher asked in jest.
Watch Maher’s interview with Dawkins, as posted online on Friday, below.