I just returned from The Amazing Meeting 9 in Las Vegas, NV where Richard Dawkins gave a talk centered around his upcoming children's book, “The Magic of Reality”. Dawkins discussed his book chapter by chapter with an emphasis on Chapter 9 which dealt with life elsewhere in the universe.
To discuss whether life could exist elsewhere, Dawkins discussed life on this planet. He listed the ways that life is unique and the ways that it isn’t. He also discussed the things that seem to be inevitable when life does spring up somewhere. I’m not going to go into any of that out of respect for the unpublished book, however, I do have a question that I was not able to ask during the lecture.
Is a belief in a higher power inevitable when intelligent life evolves somewhere? Do you, Richard Dawkins, believe whether it is more likely or less likely that life will evolve a necessity for a belief in a higher power at some point in their development?
I’m wondering what would have happened if the large civilizations that rose up 4-6 kya would have progressed in the science and philosophy fields sooner and more rapidly, would belief have been stomped out and not been so ubiquitous? What if the Romans had promoted a scientific society and had forced atheism on the lands that they conquered? Would it have been enough? Are we (intelligent life) destined to believe in a higher power? Will we ever be without some form of religion?
I’m assuming Richard Dawkins will never actually see this. For the five of you that are reading this, what do you think?
Written at Walden's Coffeehouse, Reno, Nevada. Home of Reno’s “Science Cafe” lecture series.