Wednesday, March 19, 2008



How I spent my Wednesday evening. I turned up at 6:30pm for the 7pm lecture. The lines stretched across the UT campus - I was quite stunned by how many people had shown up. I bumped into a couple of people I knew towards the front of the line who mentioned that the queues started forming to get in around 3pm. I didn't have a ticket - I expected a half empty auditorium and a few unenthusiastic people picketing the event. I meandered to the back of the line and didn't expect to get a ticket or a seat. Eventually the word filtered back that the place was full, nobody else would get in. We shrugged and headed towards the car. Along the way we noticed more people than expected had also given up, leaving quite a shorter line, so we jumped back in towards the back. Somehow, some way, SJ batted her eyelashes enough to get us VIP entry tickets (apparently a red slash means a whole lot in these cases - take a red pen everywhere). We got to jump ahead of all the other people still in line. We got ushered past most of the already seated students down to a few rows from the stage. Funny how that works. The presentation was interesting but nothing new if you'd read the God Delusion - in fact I think this is probably a book tour, for the paperback release, in disguise. Dawkins is an articulate, engaging speaker, not unlike many of the professors I was lucky enough to learn from growing up. I do tend to think he's a better evolutionary biologist than an atheist evangelist, but that didn't seem to be what most of the audience were there for. The dribbley combination lock analogy for how natural selection works was painful. There's dumbing down then there's insulting the audience. Surely he has a better analogy in his many books ? I was amused to note quite a few disappointed looking members of the audience as I left - almost as if they'd been expecting some sort of religious experience. The highlight was possibly being one of the 5 people in the packed auditorium who knew who Ant & Dec were and why they should never be apart. No fights broke out. The questions from the audience were fawning and a bit rambling. All in all and entertaining lecture that I didn't expect to be able to get in to at all. Still the best argument:


John Tucker said...

Heh. Mr. Dawkins' timing is interesting: Right before Easter. Furthermore, the existence or non-existence of God cannot be summed up in such a simplistic fashion (his chart), for science cannot and does not explain everything.


Gordon said...

Thanks for commenting John. I suspect the timing is more mundane, the paperback was released mid-January and this is the middle of the book tour.

FWIW, the chart comes from the web comic xkcd and isn't really related to Dawkins. Though it does cut to the heart of his thesis, that the question of god and existence or not is a scientific question. Because it cannot be proved does not mean it isn't a question that can be asked.

Weather used to be controlled by Gods because we couldn't explain that, to use a simplistic example.

hlk said...

I knew of Ant & Dec as well! Quite proud of me.

SO envious that you got the VIP treatment! We were up in the balcony. Far away for photos. I'm waiting to be blown away by yours, as usual.

Actually, even the ticket photo kinda blew me away. Meh.