Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dawkins Lecture

Richard Dawkins giving a lecture based on his ...Image via Wikipedia

As many of you know I went to see Richard Dawkins speak at the Wharton Center on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing yesterday. The title of his lecture was "The Purpose of Purpose". When we arrived we were greeted just outside the door by fundies passing out fliers which basically just had a bunch of the same worn out crap that they think proves their invisible man is real. I might share some of this in a later post; some of the wording is good for a few laughs. Anyway, after that we made our way into the building and up to the center of the second to last row in the huge auditorium and waited for Dawkins to start.

His lecture began with how natural selection isn't bullshit and how even though some think Intelligent Design is correct, they are most certainly wrong. To elaborate on this point, he played the following video by Ray Comfort.

After the laughter died down, he then went into how animals in the wild are survival machines and basically everything they do is so that they survive and pass on their genes. He then pointed out how humans are different and we do things that actually hurt our chances of passing on our DNA, such as adopting other peoples' kids or using contraception. We have goals beyond just surviving and passing on our genes. He then explained that this is due to the fact that our brains have evolved to be flexible, and therefore we are able to change our goals away from just survival mode. He also showed that we weren't the only ones to change our minds about our goals. Sheep dogs have done the same thing, which is evident when you see that the way that they herd sheep and the way that wolves hunt their prey are identical.

He then gave examples of ways that we have subverted our goals in the areas of hunger, sex, parental roles and a few other areas. After that there was a short question and answer period. There really weren't any really hard questions or questions that I felt were particularly insightful.

Overall I felt that this was a great lecture and was very happy that I had the chance to go. The only thing that I have to complain about was the fact that the audio wasn't delayed properly so we heard a major echo effect that, coupled with Dawkins' thick accent, made it difficult to hear parts of the lecture.

I hope that those of you that have yet to see Dawkins live will get the chance to do so when he is in your neck of the woods.
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