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Dawkins, Darwin and the rest!

20/07/2008

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Scoopit!

The Times has an interesting piece on Richard Dawkins.

Richard Dawkins - Times Profile

Richard Dawkins - Times Profile

Richard Dawkins is that rare specimen, a public intellectual, a knight of the mind who goes into battle against the ignorance and foolhardiness of the populace. Unlike the French, who worship their public intellectuals, giving them pet names such as les intellos, and airing them regularly on serious television and in print, the British like to shove academics into a musty corner, or laugh at them. This was not always the case: the Victorians, with their public lectures and royal societies, gloried in debate and celebrated the thrills of fresh knowledge. The nearest we get to this now is celebrating the thrill of Germaine Greer walking out of Celebrity Big Brother.

The article notes also:-

In these barren, thoughtless times, Dawkins gives people something substantial to chew on. His audience is surprisingly grateful, and also relieved to see someone slapping creationists about and tossing them into the primordial soup, as well as explaining atheism positively.

The article is well worth a look, as is the comments thread.

Dawkins of course is well known for his views on evolution:-

Dawkins says that natural selection is “the most important idea to occur to the human mind”, the slow change of species over millions of ideas disproving the religious theory of intelligent design by God.

That we are still trying to sell evolution to a large part of the public bothers him. “It is weird in many ways that natural selection is still debated,” he says. “But it is not debated by anyone who knows anything about it.” Indeed, Dawkins refuses to share a stage with creationists. “I don’t like giving them the oxygen of respectability, the feeling that if they’re up on a platform debating with a scientist, there must be real disagreement. One side of the debate is wholly ignorant. It would be as though you knew nothing of physics and were passionately arguing against Einstein’s theory of relativity.”

Later the writer notes:-

Dawkins has long been nicknamed “Darwin’s Rottweiler”, a reference to the Victorian biologist T.H. Huxley, who was known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” for advocating natural selection and sensationally debated the cause, in 1860, against the Bishop of Oxford.

That was then and this is now, yet what has changed? “In a Gallup poll 44 per cent of the American people said that they believe the world is less than 10,000 years old,” Dawkins says. “It’s a massive error. I’ve likened it to believing that the width of America from New York to San Francisco is 7.8 yards – that’s the equivalent error if you scale it up to the true age of the Earth, which is something like 4.6 billion years.”

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