TV Picks: Friday night on HBO sees noted atheist scientists Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson headline the bookings on Real Time With Bill Maher Oct. 2.
The show airs Oct. 2 (10:00-11:00 p.m. live ET/tape-delayed PT), with a replay at 11:00 p.m., exclusively on HBO. Allowing Maher to offer his unique perspective on contemporary issues, the show includes an opening monologue, roundtable discussions with panelists, and interviews with guests.
This week, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is the top-of-show interview guest. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is the mid-show interview guest. The roundtable guests are writer Adam Gopnik, political strategist Angela Rye and editor Matt Welch.
deGrasse Tyson is a shooting star on TV himself, as he is considered America’s foremost science communicator, the heir to Carl Sagan at the helm of the Seth MacFarlane produced TV show “Cosmos.” Tyson has written columns and books, hosted podcasts, radio and TV shows. He has millions followers on Twitter and is generally viewed as the most sage scientific mind when TV news needs an expert to talk all things universal.
Dawkins is talking to the press about how religion could be influencing the course of human evolution.
Dawkins was discussing memes – a term he coined in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene to describe “unit of cultural transmission” – during an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Memes spread from one brain to another in a similar way to how genes spread from one body to another. Dawkins posits that cultural memes like religion could also influence the spread of biological genes, he told the Wall Street Journal, and therefore have an impact on human evolution.
“I think what you’re asking is whether [religion] also contributes to genetic evolution – whether the fact that we are evolving in an environment dominated by religion does actually affect gene survival,” Dawkins remarked.
Panel guest Gopnik penned a thought-provoking essay about Pope Francis for the New Yorker; an excerpt:
The key to liberal, and radical, Catholicism was the faith not that modernity was wrong but that materialism was never enough. A life devoted only to getting and spending and screwing and dying was unworthy of humanity, and it was the role of the Church to remind us of a larger mission. To make that case is the historical role of the Catholic Church—it is no friend, and will never be, to liberal politics or liberal polities, but it is a voice for values and virtues that may well elude the liberal millennium.
Monsters and Critics has hailed Maher as “a singular voice of pragmatic reason in a landscape of polarized pussies,” while Variety noted, “There may not be a more eclectic guest list on all of television.”
Maher headlined his first special on the network in 1989 and has starred in ten solo specials to date, including the hour-long presentations “Bill Maher: Live from D.C.,” “Bill Maher…But I’m Not Wrong,” “The Decider” and “I’m Swiss” (both nominated for an Emmy® in the Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special category), “Victory Begins at Home,” “Be More Cynical,” “The Golden Goose Special” and “Stuff That Struck Me Funny,” and two half-hour stand-up specials, plus the specials “30 Seconds Over Washington” and “Comic Relief VI™.” Maher is also an executive producer of the innovative news magazine show “VICE,” which returns for its fourth season next year on HBO.
Maher was the creator and host of “Politically Incorrect,” which was produced by HBO Downtown Productions and debuted on Comedy Central in 1993. The series moved to ABC in 1997 and ran through 2002. He also produced and starred in the 2008 feature film “Religulous,” the seventh most successful documentary of all time.
Other HBO playdates: Oct. 4 (3:15 p.m.), 5 (4:55 a.m.), 6 (4:45 p.m.) and 7 (midnight)
HBO2 playdates: Oct. 2 (2:00 a.m.), 3 (8:15 a.m., 11:30 p.m.), 5 (7:00 p.m.) and 6 (7:30 p.m.)
REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER is also available on HBO NOW and HBO GO.