Prominent atheist Richard Dawkins wants to move to 'ideal country' New Zealand

  • 09/05/2018

One of the world's most famous scientists has professed his desire to live in New Zealand - although he's disappointed he won't see any moa.

Richard Dawkins is an English evolutionary biologist best known for his strong stance against religion, which he wrote about in his bestselling 2006 book The God Delusion.

He told The Project that since Donald Trump took office, he's become more and more attracted to the idea of living in New Zealand.

And he thinks other people should think about moving here too.

"America had just gone mad, and Britain had gone mad in a slightly less dramatic way with Brexit," he says.

"I thought about half the population of America and half the population of Britain would love to go to a country where intellect might be appreciated. So I thought New Zealand might be an ideal country, low population. I would love to be invited to New Zealand and to live here, and for others to live here too."

The scientist was enthusiastic about the country's natural beauty, even though one of our most iconic species is long extinct.

"New Zealand is a fragment of the ancient continent of Gondwana, and a very precious one. Much of the fauna of New Zealand has been destroyed unfortunately.

"There are no moas left, for example. I would love to see a moa."

He was also full of praise for the "magnificent" glow worm caves in the South Island, describing how the creatures catch their prey by hanging down long threads and reeling them back up.

"It is a beautiful example of a purely instinctive piece of behaviour, built in by a natural selection of genes. The animal hasn't the faintest idea what it's doing, but it does it like a form of clockwork."

Guest host Mark Richardson wanted to know why Dawkins' new book is called Science in the Soul if he's an atheist, to which he explained the word 'soul' has two different meanings.

"It can mean the immortal soul which allegedly goes on after death. But it can also refer to a kind of spiritual, emotional feeling which I get and most scientists get when they contemplate the universe or contemplate life."

He says he's "worried" that people might misinterpret the title as being religious, as he says has happened to fellow well-known scientists like Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein who used the term 'God' as a metaphor for what humans don't understand.

Host Jesse Mulligan asked if Dawkins really believes that religion is all bad.

"The obvious answer is that an enormous amount of evil has been done in the name of religion, and still is of course," he explained.

"But I prefer the answer that the scientific view of the universe and of life is so exciting, so fascinating, that it's tragic if children are brought up believing in a rather trivial, frivolous, petty falsehood.

"The truth is so uplifting and so wonderful."

Watch the full interview on The Project.