Richard Dawkins, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Black Atheists, and Your Chance to Win Dawkins’ Book! September 20, 2010

Richard Dawkins, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Black Atheists, and Your Chance to Win Dawkins’ Book!

The Secular Students at Howard University have some *very* exciting events coming up on Tuesday, September 28th. Both events are free if you pick up tickets at the box office. (Or you can get the free tickets via Ticketmaster, but you’d still owe them $7.50 $12.00 (says Frank in the comments below) in service charges. Punks.)

First, there’s a panel discussion on “Science and Faith in the Black Community,” featuring Richard Dawkins, Anthony Pinn, Sikivu Hutchinson, and Todd Stiefel. It’s an important topic that rarely gets discussed in a formal setting, so this should be interesting.

There’s also a discussion earlier in the day between Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson on “The Poetry of Science: Discussions of the Beauty of Science.” (Why isn’t Tyson on the previous panel?! That sounds like a natural fit, no?)

Still, Dawkins and Tyson? That’s pretty much a dream ticket for me. If only I could be there for the talk!

That brings up a fun question…

Consider all the atheists, philosophers, science advocates, scientists, and atheist-leaning comedians, past and present.

If you could pair any two of them up and hear them have a conversation, who would it be?

Leave your responses in the comments!

I’ll pick my favorite one a week from today and send that person the (just-released) paperback edition of Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth! (Thanks to publisher Free Press for the copy!)

You must be a U.S. resident to win. If you’d like to be considered for the prize, please put the word “spandex” after your comment! Otherwise, I’ll assume you just want to comment for fun.

(Thanks to Debbie for the link!)

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Kahomono

    Einstein and Voltaire.


  • Benny

    Einstein and Asimov

  • Claudia

    …grumbles about rules of residence….

    Darwin and Sagan

    Oh and the Science and Faith in the Black Community event sounds awesome. I can only assume Tyson not being there has to be due to some tragic scheduling issue. I hope they record and post as much of it as they can for those of us that can’t go!

  • Brittany

    I wish I could go!

    Alfred Kinsey and George Carlin.


  • Christopher

    Carl Sagan and Richard Feyman


  • Chase

    Jesus (if he actually existed) and Christopher Hitchens.


  • Christopher

    I think I got it:

    George Carlin and Ricky Gervais. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to breathe for most of it.

    I also think it would be great if they both would wear spandex.


  • Brendan

    George Carlin and Nietzsche.

  • I’d love to see Carl Sagan and Adam Savage have a conversation… They both embody such a great love of life and science.

    Spandex (really?)

  • Andrew T

    Bertrand Russell and Stephen Fry. Two inimitable gentlemen being classy as all hell.

  • Bob

    Actually, I’d love to see Jesus Christ (presuming, of course, that he is a real historical figure) debate someone like Jerry Falwell or Franklin Graham.

    At the worst, Jesus would affirm everything Falwell and Graham say; at best, he’d pull a moneychangers-in-the-temple-square job on them.


  • Ubi Dubium

    Mark Twain and Richard Feynman. Then I want everything they say to be set to music by Tim Minchin!


  • Bertrand Russell and Christopher Hitchens would be my choice.

  • Ricky Gervais and Father Guido Sarducci

  • Sagan and Tyson

  • muggle

    Annie Laurie Gaylor and Margaret Sanger.

  • Feld

    Mark Twain and Will Rogers, but they’d both have to have knowledge of what had happened since their death, especially the recent stuff.

  • Cheryl

    There are too many possibilities to decide.

    Dawkins and Darwin
    Sagan and Tyson
    PZ Myers and Greta Christina
    Hitchens and Mark Twain
    George Carlin and Adam Savage
    Daniel Dennett and Bertrand Russell

    The list is endless

  • Bob

    There was a nice debate at WorldCon in 1996, featuring writer J. Michael Straczynski (Atheist) vs. writer Ross Pavlac (Christian).

    Pavlac had a nice sheet of notes (which I’ve tried to find a copy of, no luck) that included Pascal’s Wager, but the audience determined that Straczynski won the debate – there was no God.

  • I’d be there for Ricky Gervais and Dawkins.


  • Dito

    George Carlin and Christopher Hitchens. Irreverence and intelligence squared. They’d tackle everything from the Problem With The Pope to why drugs and alcohol can be good things (in moderation). They could debate who’d look better in spandex – Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris. Or if we could expand the panel to four, I’d have Carlin and Hitchens debate Christine O’Donnell and Fred Phelps, the latter two being securely tied up in barber’s chairs, free to speak, but not to leave. As for the spandex, I imagine Ms. O’Donnell might not be too hard on the eyes, but the Rev. Phelps in spandex would certainly prove once and for all that there is No God.

    And once again,


  • RiftchaserMej

    Voltaire and Dawkins.

    I suspect that this pair would learn a lot from each other.

    While Voltaire may not have been an atheist by the strictest terms, as a dogma-attacking deist, he wasn’t a far throw from it. With the help of a more modern outlook, particularly on evolution and other mysteries of his time, he might have done away with divinity altogether.

    Meanwhile, Dawkins could learn a lot from Voltaire’s wit and eloquence (not to say that Dawkins doesn’t have a lot of his own, but Voltaire set a high bar). Voltaire managed to live a heretical life in a far less enlightened time, which would be a great perspective for modern atheists to learn.


  • Ibis

    Aristotle and Carl Sagan
    Galileo and Neil DeGrasse Tyson

    (not a US resident)

  • Nicholas

    I could also think of many mashups:

    Dawkins and Darwin
    Hitchens and Paine
    Einstein and Spinoza
    PZ Myers and George Carlin

    Though I think a conversation between Carl Sagan and Bertrand Russell would be quite interesting.


  • joe gaughan

    Christopher Hitchens and Mark Twain- 100 years separates them but what minds!


  • Jim H

    Lots of the comments above mentioned George Carlin. I am not one bit surprised. As his partner, I choose Aristotle.


  • Tim Minchin and Mark Twain

  • frank

    The tickets end up costing $12 per event online, not $7.50.

  • anatman

    dawkins and ingersoll. no doubt.

  • Thomas Paine and Richard Dawlins

    (it would be interesting to hear them discuss the concept of Deism)


  • Tink

    Isaac Asimov and Tim Minchin
    Magic would happen and the songs that inevitably rose from said conversation would be amazing. Technically I’d probably prefer a conversation between Asimov and myself, but that’s being selfish.

  • Kris Larsen

    Headliner- Harry Houdini and Penn & Teller

    Highbrow- Einstein and Spinoza

    Middlebrow- Freud v. CS Lewis

    Crowdpleasing- Mark Twain v. Pat Robertson


  • Jeff L

    I would love to hear PZ Myers and Phil Plait have a face-to-face discussion on the efficacy of their favored approaches to skepticism (including atheism)… while backing up their positions with citations from peer-reviewed studies on the topic, rather than anecdotes.

    And then perhaps the whole “nice vs. dick” argument could finally be laid to rest.

    (And if such studies don’t exist… why not? Surely a scientific study of the pedagogy of skepticism would be more useful than unsupported arguments over the “proper” way to be a skeptic.)


  • synergy

    Good grief! So many possibilities!

    George Carlin and just about anyone.

    Maybe George Carlin and Mark Twain OR
    George Carlin and Tyson.


  • Michael Waters

    I Second Robert Ingersol and Richard Dawkins

  • Rich Wilson

    My first thought was Dawkins and Darwin for their sake.

    But I love Gervais and Carlin for our sake. Just better have oxygen and piss bags handy.

  • ManaCostly

    You must be a U.S. resident to win.


  • Eve Leveille

    Isaac Asimov and Robert Sawyer.
    I’m a science fiction junkie, and would love to hear a conversation between my two favourite authors.
    You better damn well have read Calculating God, Hemant.

  • Justin

    😀 Good one Brendan. I second Carlin&Nietzsche

    Mark Twain and Carlin

    George Carlin and Dawkins

    Carlin and Bertrand Russell

  • steve

    james watson and charles darwin– how cool it would be for darwin to have been around for the discovery of DNA!


  • Hangnail

    I would say James Randi and George Carlin, that would be a great magic/comedy act, and nothing makes you pay attention and learn better then that stuff.

  • Robin

    I’m going for PZ (Spandex) Myers and Mother Teresa.

  • WishinItWas

    One would have to be David Cross!

  • Dawkins and Darwin would be fantastic. Darwin would have all that new evidence available to him and Dawkins would probably gush like a schoolgirl with a crush. Not that this would be a bad thing.

    Gene Roddenberry and Gary Gygax. I’m having a nergasm just thinking about it.

    Professor Brian Cox and Carl Sagan.

    Arrggh too many great choices.

  • Michael R

    Mark Twain and Adam Savage

    I feel like a lot of thoughtful talk could come out of it that would be accessible to a main stream audience.

  • Beauzeaux

    Richard Pryor and Carl Sagan


  • James Madison and Patton Oswalt


  • Bruce Lee and Richard Dawkins.

    I think given Lee’s views on philospy and Dawkins’ views on sciience it would be an interesting discussion.

  • bigjohn756

    Darwin and PZ Myers.


  • Penny

    Eddie Izzard and PZ Myers.

  • KM

    Bill Maher and PZ Myers.

  • Bill

    I would not be able to handle Carlin and anybody, my heat isn’t in that great of shape.
    I think Tyson and Dawkins, wait, Sagan and Dawkins, or maybe Attenborough and Dawkins, ARGH!! the possibilities are endless and the chance to learn is so great!

  • Oolon Colluphid (author of “Well That About Wraps It Up For God”)

    [or Douglas Adams]


    Thomas Jefferson

  • Hitch

    CS Lewis vs Christopher Hitchens


  • SecularLez

    Wow…Secular student org. at Howard?
    That’s great.

  • Icaarus

    Justin, you beat me to it (Twain and Carlin)

    Eve, I never would have thought of Sawyer and Asimov, but that sounds cool.

    Also Twain and Sawyer would be interesting don’t you think?

    I wonder how many of the above have already happened.

  • Hemant –

    Order Processing Fee($4)

    Ticket Fast Delivery($4.75)*

    Regular Processing Fee ($3.25)

    Total $12

    Each ticket (noon and 6:30) are rung up separately… or you can physically go to Howard and pick up the tickets for free.

    – Shelley

    *needed to have tickets mailed in time for next Tuesday.

  • Nordog

    Edith Stein and Whittaker Chambers.

  • Julie

    Question: What exactly is Dawkins doing on a discussion panel about science and faith in the black community? He isn’t a member of the black community, he isn’t an anthropologist, the most you could say is that he’s a biologist and therefore can contribute to the topic of “science” in general, but not as it pertains to the specific context of this topic.

    Honestly, I think this is what people mean when they talk about Dawkins speaking outside of his field. I cannot see anything that he could contribute to such a discussion. He seems to be there strictly as a name on the marquee to bring in an audience.

  • Rich Wilson

    How about Penn Gillette and Glen Beck?

    See Glenn’s comments about Gillette (starting at 5min mark):

    But neither of them in spandex, please!

  • Mark Twain and Douglas Adams — two brilliant observers of what humans get right, and what we get wrong.

  • Austin

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Robert Ingersoll.

    Hard to leave out Paine and Twain, for me. But these are two of the most commonly overlooked. She stood up for women, African-Americans, and the nonreligious – who else can claim to have led three major civil rights issues? Ingersoll, too, was an excellent orator.

  • Librarian

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Elizabeth Cady Stanton

    Amazing women who took on overwhelming battles against religion.


  • StarScream

    Galileo and Tyson.

    I’m sure Tyson would love it as much as we all would.


  • janson

    Ayn Rand and Eddie Izzard


  • Murdoc

    Socrates and George Carlin, assuming they can understand eachother.


  • Newton and Tyson, because Tyson raves so enthusiastically about how great it would be to talk to Newton, the only way it’ll fail to be interesting is if Newton turns out to be a jerk. Although it was normal in Newton’s time for white Europeans to regard nonwhites as inherently inferior, hopefully Newton could readjust his attitude once he actually meets Tyson.


  • Togii

    Mark Twain and Douglas Adams — two brilliant observers of what humans get right, and what we get wrong.

    Oh good call, Peter.. I was drawing a blank, but I’d be there for that one.


  • Craig

    Baron D’Holbach and Christopher Hitchens
    Giordano Bruno and Neil Degrasse Tyson
    David Hume and PZ Myers
    Joseph Shivers and Lady Gaga


  • Stephen Fry and Mark Twain. Both intelligent, thoughtful, and painfully funny. I was going to say Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, but that’s happened already. A lot. I’ll also say George Carlin and Patton Oswalt. Carlin was and is a hero of mine since I was seven and saw Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. (A goofy-ass movie which nonetheless gave voice to one of the driving principles of my entire life: “Be excellent to each other.”) The reasons for my opinion got a little more informed once I hit my teenage years, but in some small way, he’ll always be Rufus to me. Oh, and…


  • Kandy

    Sagan and Tyson!


  • Ausfahrt

    Samuel L. Clemens:Mark Twain and James A. Baldwin

    PS: thanks for the HU and CFI lecture tip; I’ll be there.

  • Mark Twain and Ricky Gervais would definitely be worth watching, but two people with a penchant for humor does not always an interesting conversation make.

    Instead, I would go with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and Sir Ian McKellan. Vonnegut brings humor and wit to the conversation, while McKellan brings a very deep intellect and rationalism.


  • Ross Cunningham

    I’d have to say Galileo Galilee (considering he died for science, I’d call him a science advocate) and Stephen Hawking. Just being able to see Galileo’s reaction to all of the knowledge discovered since his time would be an amazing experience. Also, spandex.

  • Rob

    Richard Dawkins and Doug Stanhope


  • Kris Larsen

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Jonathan Edwards (of the “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” fame) would give plenty of fireworks for an evening’s conversation.


  • You must be insane if you think that just because you asked I would myself look really foolish by ending my comment with the word spandex.


  • Matt Larimer

    Isaac Newton: “The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion on an intelligent and powerful Being.”
    Robert Boyle: “If the omniscient author of nature knew that the study of his works tends to make men disbelieve his Being or Attributes, he would not have given them so many invitations to study and contemplate Nature”

  • One of the best suggestions i’ve seen is Sagan and Russell, but Sagan and Dawkins would be good, as well as Sagan and Brian Cox, but also Will Self – I think he’s quite droll and he has a wide knowledge base, but he’s rarely tested by other commentators in TV appearances. He’s usually the only reasonably intelligent person involved in the discussion, which is a sad indictment of modern television. Carlin is a good suggestion as well, but that’s sort of where i’d leave it for entertainers (okay Tim Minchin and Seth McFarlane for the younger viewers).
    Other names include Karl Popper, Peter Medawar and Jacob Bronowski, and those are the relativiely recent ones.
    I quite like Bryan Magee from The Great Philosophers TV  programme, and Paula Kirby.
    I sort of like Stephen Fry but only in small doses.

error: Content is protected !!