Is the following transcript between Richard Dawkins and Justin Brierley genuine?

Justin Brierley: When you make a value judgement don't you immediately step yourself outside of this evolutionary process and say that the reason this is good is that it's good. And you don't have any way to stand on that statement.

Richard Dawkins: My value judgement itself could come from my evolutionary past.

Justin Brierley: So therefore it's just as random in a sense as any product of evolution.

Richard Dawkins: You could say that, it doesn't in any case, nothing about it makes it more probable that there is anything supernatural.

Justin Brierley: Ultimately, your belief that rape is wrong is as arbitrary as the fact that we've evolved five fingers rather than six.

Richard Dawkins: You could say that, yeah.

I haven't read or watched an awful lot of Dawkins' work, but it seems a little out of character for him. I would have expected him to talk more about the ability of humans to engage in rational thought.

I tried googling for mentions of this discussion, but I could only find Christians mentioning it, rather than atheists or neutral sources mentioning it.

Is the above transcript accurate (or largely accurate), or is it fake or misleadingly edited?

  • 1
    It's a transcript from this 10 min long radio interview (excerpt above starts at 05m:29s)
    – Oliver_C
    Oct 28, 2012 at 13:55
  • @Oliver_C: Is that not an answer?
    – Oddthinking
    Oct 28, 2012 at 20:50
  • @Oddthinking - The problem is, how does one proof the interview wasn't "misleadingly edited"?
    – Oliver_C
    Oct 29, 2012 at 10:29
  • 1
    @AndrewGrimm Actually quotemines are quotes taken out of context, not just ones that have been fabricated, edited or truncated. I would suggest listening to the entire discussion (particularly what Dawkins says just before the transcript), and then imagining what we would consider normal if we were descended from bedbugs. The entire context of a quote is important, not just whether or not it was truncated.
    – Tacroy
    Nov 2, 2012 at 0:48
  • 1
    Actually, (IIRC in the Selfish Gene?) Dawkings explicitly discussed rape in the context of evolution. Basically, due to the fact that the freedom to choose a sexual partner for gene propagation is among the most important choices a living organism can ever do, rape is "wrong" as far as subourning that terribly important option. Not directly related to the substance of the above quote, but a valuable context.
    – user5341
    Nov 29, 2012 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


The conversation did certainly take place in the interview linked to by Oliver_C. There is no sign on the interview of any editing, misleading or otherwise.

It's a transcript from this 10 min long radio interview (excerpt above starts at 05m:29s)


As a pure materialist who has often stated that everything is a product of time, chance and the laws of physics, Dawkins really doesn't have much choice but to agree that morality fits into that category too.

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