“Dawkins and the Greyest Show on Earth”‏

“But behind all this, the circus is a massive machine whose very life depends on discipline, motion and speed — a mechanized army on wheels that rolls over any obstacle in its path — that meets calamity again and again, but always comes up smiling — a place where disaster and tragedy stalk the Big Top, haunts the back yard, and rides the circus train — where Death is constantly watching for one frayed rope, one weak link, or one trace of fear”. The Greatest Show on Earth – a 1952 film

Richard Dawkins (born 26 March 1941) is a British zoologist, author, and media commentator, famous for his popular science books on evolution and his views on religion, atheism, and memetics, or “cultural evolution”.

“I agree that it’s very difficult to come to an absolute definition of what’s moral and what is not. We are on our own, without a god, and we have to get together, sit down together and decide what kind of society do we want to live in. Do we want to live in a society where people steal, where people kill, where people don’t pull their weight paying their taxes, doing that kind of thing? Do we want to live in a kind of society where everybody is out for themselves in a dog-eat-dog world? And we decide in conclave together that that’s not the kind of world in which we want to live. It’s difficult. There is no absolute reason why we should believe that that’s true – it’s a moral decision which we take as individuals – and we take it collectively as a collection of individuals. If you want to get that sort of value system from religion I want you to ask yourself – whereabouts in religion do you get it? Which religion do you get it from? They’re all different. If you get it from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition then I beg you – don’t get it from your holy book! Because the morality you will get from reading your holy book is hideous. Don’t get it from your holy book. Don’t get it from sucking up to your god. Don’t get it from saying “oh, I’m terrified of going to hell so I’d better be good” – that’s a very ignoble reason to be good. Instead – be good for good reasons. Be good for the reason that’s you’ve decided together with other people the society we want to live in: a decent humane society. Not one based on absolutism, not one based on holy books and not one based on sucking up to.. looking over your shoulder to the divine spy camera in the sky” Richard Dawkins

“The word ‘mundane’ has come to mean boring and dull, and it really shouldn’t. It should mean the opposite because it comes from the latin ‘mundus’, meaning the world, and the world is anything but dull; the world is wonderful. There’s real poetry in the real world. Science is the poetry of reality”. Richard Dawkins

mundane (adj.)

mid-15c., “of this world,” from Old French mondain “of this world, worldly, earthly, secular;” also “pure, clean; noble, generous” (12c.), from Late Latin mundanus “belonging to the world” (as distinct from the Church), in classical Latin “a citizen of the world, cosmopolite,” from mundus “universe, world,” literally “clean, elegant”; used as a translation of Greek khosmos (see cosmos) in its Pythagorean sense of “the physical universe” (the original sense of the Greek word was “orderly arrangement”). Latin mundus also was used of a woman’s “ornaments, dress,” and is related to the adjective mundus “clean, elegant” (used of women’s dress, etc.). Related: Mundanely.

“The world and the universe is an extremely beautiful place, and the more we understand about it the more beautiful does it appear. It is an immensely exciting experience to be born in the world, born in the universe, and look around you and realise that before you die you have the opportunity of understanding an immense amount about that world and about that universe and about life and about why we’re here. We have the opportunity of understanding far, far more than any of our predecessors ever. That is such an exciting possibility, it would be such a shame to blow it and end your life not having understood what there is to understand”. Richard Dawkins

“If we ever talk to aliens, their civilisation will be far more advanced than ours (because of distances involved). They won’t be religious!” Richard Dawkins (20 July 2013)

“Human vanity cherishes the absurd notion that our species is the final goal of evolution”. Richard Dawkins

“If the alternative that’s being offered to what physicists now talk about – a big bang, a spontaneous singularity which gave rise to the origin of the universe – if the alternative to that is a divine intelligence, a creator, which would have to have been complicated, statistically improbable, the very kind of thing which scientific theories such as Darwin’s exists to explain, then immediately we see that however difficult and apparently inadequate the theory of the physicists is, the theory of the theologians – that the first course was a complicated intelligence – is even more difficult to accept. They’re both difficult but the theory of the cosmic intelligence is even worse. What Darwinism does is to raise our consciousness to the power of science to explain the existence of complex things and intelligences, and creative intelligences are above all complex things, they’re statistically improbable. Darwinism raises our consciousness to the power of science to explain how such entities – and the human brain is one – can come into existence from simple beginnings. However difficult those simple beginnings may be to accept, they are a whole lot easier to accept than complicated beginnings. Complicated things come into the universe late, as a consequence of slow, gradual, incremental steps. God, if he exists, would have to be a very, very, very complicated thing indeed. So to postulate a God as the beginning of the universe, as the answer to the riddle of the first cause, is to shoot yourself in the conceptual foot because you are immediately postulating something far far more complicated than that which you are trying to explain. Now, physicists cope with this problem in various ways, which may seem somewhat unconvincing. For example, they suggest that our universe is but one bubble in foam of universes, the multiverse, and each bubble in the foam has a different set of laws and constants. And by the anthropic principle we have to be – since we’re here talking about it – in the kind of bubble, with the kind of laws and constants, which are capable of giving rise to the evolutionary process and therefore to creatures like us. That is one current physicists’ explanation for how we exist in the kind of universe that we do. It doesn’t sound so shatteringly convincing as say Darwin’s own theory, which is self-evidently very convincing. Nevertheless, however unconvincing that may sound, it is many, many, many orders of magnitude more convincing than any theory that says complex intelligence was there right from the outset. If you have problems seeing how matter could just come into existence – try thinking about how complex intelligent matter, or complex intelligent entities of any kind, could suddenly spring into existence, it’s many many orders of magnitude harder to understand”. Richard Dawkins

McDonald: Now a lot of people find great comfort from religion. Not everybody is as you are – well-favored, handsome, wealthy, with a good job, happy family life. I mean, your life is good – not everybody’s life is good, and religion brings them comfort.

Dawkins: There are all sorts of things that would be comforting. I expect an injection of morphine would be comforting – it might be more comforting, for all I know. But to say that something is comforting is not to say that it’s true.

“If there is mercy in nature, it is accidental. Nature is neither kind nor cruel but indifferent”. Richard Dawkins

“The universe does not owe you a sense of hope. It could be that the world, the universe, is a totally hopeless place. I don’t as a matter of fact think it is, but even if it were – that would not be a good reason for believing in God. You cannot say “I believe in X”, whatever X is – God or anything else – “because that gives me hope”. You have to say “I believe in X because there is some evidence for X”. In the case of God – there is not a tiny shred of evidence for the existence of any kind of god.” … “There’s plenty of reason for hope in a Godless world. The universe is a beautiful place. The world is a beautiful place. To understand it in a clear-eyed, open-eyed way; to look out at the world and to really understand why we exist, what it’s all about – that is a hugely uplifting feeling; That really does give a sense of worth to life, even if life itself is finite, as I believe it is. Nevertheless, it is not a hopeless life without a god, and to re-divert to my earlier point, even if it were – then it’s just illogical to say that that gives you evidence for the belief in God.” Richard Dawkins

“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?” Richard Dawkins

“A fierce, primitive fighting force that smashes relentlessly forward against impossible odds: That is the circus — and this is the story of the biggest of the Big Tops — and of the men and women who fight to make it — The Greatest Show On Earth!”

The Greatest Show on Earth is a 1952 American drama film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille, shot in Technicolor, and released by Paramount Pictures. Set in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the film stars Betty Hutton and Cornel Wilde as trapeze artists competing for the center ring, and Charlton Heston as the circus manager running the show. James Stewart also stars as a mysterious clown who never removes his make-up, even between shows, while Dorothy Lamour and Gloria Grahame play supporting roles.

In 1952, Bosley Crowther called The Greatest Show on Earth a “lusty triumph of circus showmanship and movie skill” and a “piece of entertainment that will delight movie audiences for years”

“Don’t ask God to cure cancer & world poverty. He’s too busy finding you a parking space & fixing the weather for your barbecue”. Richard Dawkins (20 July 2013)


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