I have found it an amusing strategy, when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon Ra, Mithras, Baal, Thor, Wotan, the Golden Calf and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I just go one god further.
Every night of our lives, we dream, and our brain concocts visions which are, at least until we wake up, highly convincing. Most of us have had experiences which are verging on hallucination. It shows the power of the brain to knock up illusions.
It does not seem ever to have been satisfactorily answered why the two first operational atomic bombs were used—against the strongly voiced wishes of the leading physicists responsible for developing them—to destroy two cities instead of being deployed in the equivalent of spectacularly shooting out candles.
As a child, my wife hated her school and wished she could leave. Years later, when she was in her twenties, she disclosed this unhappy fact to her parents, and her mother was aghast: ‘But darling, why didn't you come to us and tell us?' Lalla's reply is my text for today: ‘But I didn't know I could.
There are quite a lot of YouTube clips of me that have gone viral. One that I think of is of a young woman at a lecture I was giving - she came from Liberty University, which is a ludicrous religious institution. She said, 'What if you are wrong?' and I answered that rather briefly, and that's gone viral.
In very different ways, the possibility that the universe is teeming with life, and the opposite possibility that we are totally alone, are equally exciting. Either way, the urge to know more about the universe seems to me irresistible, and I cannot imagine that anybody of truly poetic sensibility could disagree.
Next to the true beauty and magic of the real world, supernatural spells and stage tricks seem cheap and tawdry by comparison. The magic of reality is neither supernatural nor a trick, but – quite simply – wonderful. Wonderful, and real. Wonderful because real.
I suppose if you look back to your early childhood you accept everything people tell you, and that includes a heavy dose of irrationality - you're told about tooth fairies and Father Christmas and things.
Alister McGrath has now written two books with my name in the title. The poet W. B. Yeats, when asked to say something about bad poets who made a living by parasitizing him, wrote the splendid line, 'was there ever dog that praised his fleas?
Evolution by natural selection is the explanation for why we exist. It is not something to guide our lives in our own society. If we were to be guided by the evolution principle, then we would be living in a kind of ultra-Thatcherite, Reaganite society.
When you plant a fertile meme in my mind you literally parasitize my brain, turning it into a vehicle for the meme's propagation in just the way that a virus may parasitize the genetic mechanism of a host cell.
Whenever a controversy arises over sexual or reproductive morals, you can bet that religious leaders from several different faith groups will be prominently represented on influential committees, or on panel discussions on radio or television.
To try to make a man, you would have to work at your biochemical cocktail-shaker for a period so long that the entire age of the universe would seem like an eye-blink, and even then you would not succeed.
Show me a cultural relativist at 30,000 feet and I'll show you a hypocrite ... If you are flying to an international congress of anthropologists or literary critics, the reason you will probably get there - the reason you don't plummet into a ploughed field - is that a lot of Western scientifically trained engineers have got their sum right.
Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect, do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable.
Genetically speaking, individuals and groups are like clouds in the sky or dust- storms in the desert. They are temporary aggregations or federations. They are not stable through evolutionary time. Populations may last a long while, but they are constantly blending with other populations and so losing their identity.
An atheist in this sense of philosophical naturalist is somebody who believes there is nothing beyond the natural, physical world, no supernatural creative intelligence lurking behind the observable universe, no soul that outlasts the body and no miracles—except in the sense of natural phenomena that we don't yet understand.