Friday, October 09, 2009

Greatest Show on Earth

I went to Hec Ed Pavilion last night to see the eminent evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, talk about and read from his latest book, The Greatest Show On Earth, in which he lays out what he takes to be the best evidence for what he’s taken to calling the “fact” of evolution.

What impressed me most was the throngs of people—five thousand strong, I’d say—who showed up to hear an academic, admittedly a very famous one, talk about science at a university basketball stadium.

Dawkins was his usual charming and erudite self, offering up some really simple, yet powerful examples for responding to biblical literalism, and apart from a weird comment at the end of the question-and-answer period where he seemed to be implying that France’s immigration policies are too lax, his lecture was measured, persuasive, and intellectually stimulating.

I did, though, find the tone of the evening just a bit too smug, especially the MC for the event, a sharp young man who was the past president of the sponsoring organization, the UW Secular Student Union.

Still, I was glad I went and it made my heart happy to see that at least a handful of my students from Cascadia showed up, even though the material won’t be on the test.

That said, my favorite part of the night was after the talk, cycling around Lake Washington to Seward Park in an unsuccessful attempt to hook up with the Pointy-Threes; as it turned out, I got your typical Thursday bike ride, including the route straight up Rainier from Columbia City, only instead of en masse, I was all by myself which—despite being kind of lonely—made for plenty of pedaling on an unusually warm and dry October eve.

In the end, I doubt any of it conferred an adaptive advantage on my selfish genes, but it was nice that from so simple a beginning, such endless forms most beautiful and wonderful evolved.


Anonymous lm said...

It was cool to be able to see someone I have great respect and admiration for, similar to going to a concert. His opening line was priceless, "Kirk Cameron" triggering a roar of laughter.

I wasn't too fond of the MC either...The theme song question was doubly offensive for being asinine and getting
Beware the Believers stuck in my head...

I saw you and John as I was leaving. I wanted to say hello but I lost you guys to the tide of people flooding the corridor.

7:23 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home