Biologist Richard Dawkins talks evolution, religion


Famed atheist Richard Dawkins spoke about his new book "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution" Monday evening at the IU Auditorium. Dawkins first gained popularity with his 1976 book "The Selfish Gene." Thomas Miller Buy Photos

and his claim about the absurdity of creationism.

Dawkins, a professorial fellow of New College in Oxford, is known for his promotion of “militant atheism." He has authored 10 books, including bestsellers “The God Delusion” and “The Selfish Gene.”

The free lecture was a part of the Fall 2009 Themester: “Evolution, Diversity and Change,” sponsored by the Secular Alliance of IU and the Indiana Memorial Union Board.

Dawkins began the lecture by reading excerpts from his latest book, “The Greatest Show on Earth: the Evidence for Evolution.”

According to an online interview with Dawkins, some 40 percent of the U.S. population doesn’t believe in evolution.

“That’s an educational disgrace,” he said in the interview, “and the majority of those people couldn’t possibly believe that, if only they were exposed to the evidence.”

Outside the auditorium, individuals with views opposing Dawkins handed out books and business cards.

These kids believe that there is an intermediate fossil record in museums, said Protestant Roger Drake from Dana, Ind., “but it’s simply not true. These kids are being told lies.”

Addressing the intermediate fossil record, Dawkins said creationists will lump prehistoric man into either the ape or human category, ignoring that they are intermediate links between ape and mankind.

We don’t need fossils, Dawkins said, “the case of evolution is water-tight without them. It is paradoxical to use gaps in the fossil record as though they were evidence against evolution.”

During the questioning section of the lecture, freshman Adam Bobeck — who identifies himself as an atheist — brought up his lingering fear of going to hell after being raised as a Roman Catholic.

“I sympathize with you,” Dawkins said.

He then expressed his concern of introducing the concept of hell into the minds of young children.

“It’s disgusting, evil, wicked and self-serving,” Dawkins said.

“Hearing you speak made me wonder if you see anything at all as legitimate to intelligent design or creationism,” asked one audience member.

After a long pause and a big sip of water, Dawkins plainly replied, “No.”

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