Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Richard Dawkins: "in so far as the general public ever uses the word fact, evolution is one"

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Richard Dawkins (who, we should note, celebrated his 70th birthday over the weekend), is interviewed in a Q&A with the German magazine Spiegel, to mark the release of his book The Greatest Show on Earth in Germany, where it has been given the rather more confrontational title The Creation Lie: Why Darwin is Right.

It's well worth taking a look at the full interview, but one particular section stood out to us here in the New Humanist office, as Dawkins delivers the perfect response to the standard contention that evolution is only a theory:
"There was a time when people thought the world was flat. Then it became a hypothesis that the sun was the center of the universe, and then there was the hypothesis that even the sun was not the center of the universe. In the ordinary language sense of the word "fact," is it a fact that the earth orbits the sun and the sun is part of the Milky Way galaxy. There's never a hard and fast line when something ceases to be a hypothesis and becomes a fact. You realize with hindsight, that something has become a fact. Philosophers of science, of course, will say that nothing ever becomes a true fact, that everything is just a hypothesis that can never be adequately proven and that we could all wake up one day and discover that everything was just a dream. But in so far as the general public ever uses the word fact, evolution is one."
Read the interview in full at Spiegel.
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