This episode in honor and memory of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is about the relationship between science and religion. It kicks off with an ammonite fossil, examines how several great religious thinkers have confronted the reality of fossils, explores The Map that Changed the World and Your Inner Fish (by Simon Winchester and Neil Shubin, respectively), and delves into the dialog carried on between Rabbi Sacks and Prof. Richard Dawkins.
Material is quoted from the 2012 Think Festival debate hosted by the BBC (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roFdPHdhgKQ) and a Premier interview with Rabbi Sacks (https://www.premierchristianradio.com/content/search?q=rabbi+sacks). We also discuss Jordan Peterson who was interviewed by Rabbi Sacks (https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p06k5vn2).
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Our theme music was arranged and performed by David Frankel (https://classicalguitarisrael.com/).
The cover art for this episode includes an image of an Ammonite fossil from Madagascar, by Antonov, on Wikimedia Commons.
Some great quotes from the episode:
"Where I think I disagree with Richard is that Richard sees religion and science as inevitably in conflict, and I see them as two different things altogether. Science can tell us about the origin of life; religion tells us about the purpose of life; science explains the world that is; religion summons us to the world that ought to be.”
"I think we agree on the integrity of science, on the power that it has given us, and the immense dignity it that it represents. Richard accepts that as a fact. I accept that's what the Bible means when it says God made us in His image. But nonetheless we both cherish science as one of the great human achievements. And it is my belief that we will always need a sense of that which is beyond us in order to never lose sight of human dignity."
"The first lesson any philosophy student ever learns is facts are one thing and values are another. When all the facts are in, the question of values still remains. And we will never get that from science which is brilliant at establish facts but cannot ordain values; and therefore for that, we have to look, ultimately I think, at the Ultimate itself, God Himself, or at the very least, if you don't believe, at least accept the wisdom that has been honed and refrained through three and a half thousand years and has brought and freedom, dignity, and hope to the world."
"He goes around hitting religious people once in a while, and we probably need to be hit. God sent Richard Dawkins for a reason because we are too complacent, we believe 6 impossible things before breakfast, we're too credulous, and we accept too much as the will of God which we shouldn't accept. So just as Richard Dawkins sees religious people as part of the wonderful Darwinian plan of random genetic mutations, so I see random genetic mutations like Richard Dawkins as part of the divine plan. We each make space for the other in our universe, but he's a great man."
Prof. Dawkins: "I see enormous social value in the contributions of individual religious people; I do not see social value in religion itself...” Rabbi Sacks responding: “… faith does make a difference in where we see human dignity where nature doesn't see human dignity at all."