Richard Dawkins at UVA

books-richarddawkinsFriday night photo update: Dawkins speaks and Dawkins signs.

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The world-renowned author of The Selfish Gene and the 1.5-million-selling The God Delusion comes to Charlottesville for a talk in support of his latest best-seller. He is evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, and his latest is called The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. ~ He speaks at 4pm, Friday, October 16, in Gilmer Hall at UVA (a big science building on McCormick Road).

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16 comments

Dawkins is a jerk. I've watched interviews with him several times. Its not that he believes in evolution (which I do also), its the way he arrogantly dismisses any other point of view. Even when acknowleding evolution can't explain everything, he nonetheless any aspect of religion as stupid.

Religion and evolution are not necessarily mutually exclusive

Wow!! I agree, not to be missed. Didn't know he had a new book out. Of course, it is like beating a dead horse to thinking people...the evidence for evolution is so strong, even if some of the details are still being worked out.

Wonder if there will be a demonstration ?

we are speaking on different levels, you and I.

You are like the blind man eloquently describing the elephant.

I am merely pointing out that you are touching nothing more than part of an elephant.

You better believe there will be demonstrations! YECs wouldn't miss it for the (3,000 year old) world!

Does anyone know if a video of this event has been posted anywhere?

Not to be missed. Thanks for the notice

Soren, The fact that the universe cannot be easily explained is meaningless.

Scientists will forever be attempting to describe reality. So what? It is not so easy to "prove" theories regarding the nature of reality (space/time).

We are part of the universe. We cannot step outside of the universe and establish a control.

Uncertainty is certainly not evidence of the existence of god, is it?

Clearly intelligent minds can design both codes/languages that describe the way the world works and inventions to alter the world; moreover, the design inherent in DNA has a code/language and intelligence inherent to it which governs living and thinking beings by means of DNA's effects. The mystery of that intelligence and whether it might be said to constitute some form of, an as yet, poorly understood transfinite mind is something more intriguing to me than the relatively obvious verity that the metaphor God has caused and perpetuated a lot of delusion and even suffering at the hands of those motivated by power to manipulate humans by means of fear or irrational, but comforting myths.

An intelligence, possibly inter-dimensionally connected and transfinite - that is, able to separate and reproduce itself into self-similar transfinite intelligences, that governs what we subsume by the notion of evolution?

Surely we need not and can not now decide to decide all that or the question of the origination of the universe but instead, focusing on the questions that Dawkins raises about the theory of evolution and the God Delusion that suggest that there is no purpose - that is, no choice or agreement or task governing and which fatefully sets our lives into motion, no soul, no afterlife, no superintending intelligence for life and consciousness, that a set of rules that may be known by which to be mutually happier need leave soul and God out, and no mind over matter phenomenon exist, we might suspect that not only is he missing some of the fun but he likes destroying that fun or happiness in others - even relishing in a demonstration of his sense of superiority and smashing that which sustains people in the face of death: that the universe is overseen by some form of superintending benevolence that administers by means of universal principles or laws that are knowable.

The paradox of his view remains that an intangible set of [apparently enduring, if not transfinite] rules, codes, and thoughts govern the physical world, life, and even consciousness itself. The mathematical physics, with its consistent, relevant, repeatably demonstrable and predictively powerful hypotheses [laws] or principles that governs the physical world, is known, discovered, or rather recreated within the mind of the knower. The universe, or at least our portion of it, supports living processes and beings, and knowing, discovering, and altering of that universe, life, and even consciousness itself by the beings with minds within it. Leaving the metaphor God aside, at least god-imitating in that it is possible for human beings to exhibit creativity and alter the world according to laws that appear, until proven otherwise, to be universal.

That human minds have been able to alter their lifespans - especially since the renaissance - with the discovery and application of physical priniciples governing: medical science, nutrition, and agriculture etc. suggests that humans are not simply impotent particles incapable of knowing, let alone altering their world. Human minds demonstrate creativity and the creative application of intelligence with the "creation" and discovery of the periodic table of elements, for instance, - something clearly ludicrous to those who would deny that man might know the laws that govern his world and deny the science of chemistry that facilitates its alteration or the increase in longevity.

In the end, there are also all of those credible life after death and near-death experiences and childhood recall of past lives that suggests we might pause, before so quickly dismissing with Dawkins that there is an transcendant as well as immanent intelligence over and above, in-between and all throughout evolving life and consciousness.

While it is certainly clear that evolution is not a theory, but observable scientific fact, it is, however, demagogues like Dawkins that lead us backwards in our understanding. Many prominent astrophysicists and scientific theorists suggest that we live in a fine-tuned universe, and as such, it very well may be that evolution and creationism are not necessarily at odds with each other to the degree that popularists like Dawkins suggest.

Personally, I cannot see that physics has accomplished anything too substantial towards the unification of relativity and quantum mechanics in what will soon be a century. Think about it--the world's top thinkers have done little to indicate that it is even possible to reconcile the two to a theoretically meaningful degree in all the time since Einstein's relativity. Relativity, but the way, like evolution, is not a theory, but is also an observable scientific fact. The curvature of space-time solved all the questions about the movements and exact shapes of heavenly bodies, and somewhat recently, Ed Fomalont and the team at NRAO proved Einstein right on gravity once and for all.

And then just in the past few days we hear that top physicists are puzzled that the Higgs boson particle seems reluctant to appear in specialized tests at the Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva. As Holger Bech Nielsen remarks, "Well, one could even almost say that we have a model for God.” It is the guess, he went on, ââ?¬Å?that He rather hates Higgs particles, and attempts to avoid them.”

What Dawkins does is attack religion more than the arguments for Creator or creators. The argument by design has been renewed by the easier understood notion that DNA is a complex programming code [as in Stephen C. Meyer's work], that suggests programmer[s]. To deny that is to suggest that for instance, codes with the complexity of C++ could arise without a mind to understand them, as if the mind itself, is actually an illusion and the result of chance.
Common sense and human history show that humans have an innate need for myths to live by. Hierarchy deploys those myths to help the underlings accept their position; in so doing, they are already behaving irrationally. Is it any wonder that these myths would also promote further irrational behavior if not superintended by people of the obvious superior intelligence of Dawkins?

"To deny that is to suggest that for instance, codes with the complexity of C++ could arise without a mind to understand them"

Your question is anthropomorphic in nature. There is complexity in the universe. The human mind is capable of complex thought. Therefore, the universe must have been created by a mind not unlike a human's?

In a word: No.

Our minds are PART OF the universe. The ASSUMPTION that the mind should be able to understand and describe the universe is ARROGANT.

DNA functions as a programming code or language that can be [partly] known and even demonstrably altered by the predictive power of that knowledge - one that allows altering the characteristics of organisms just as intangible thought may alter behavior. Common sense suggests that the DNA that makes for reproducing, living organisms is governed by principles and intelligence; that suggests a mind or intelligence unless you want to believe that we actually do not have a discrete being with a mind and imagine, like the Singularity enthusiasts that computers will one day soon be created that are indistinguishable and in fact no different in their thinking functions and in fact equivalent [I hope not] to human minds and even bodys.

Our intelligence may be used to understand and alter that DNA or create computer languages that are both governed by ideas. Similarly, physics is governed by laws that have mathematical equations [again intangible ideas] of predictive power that, when understood by a mind [in a capable body] may allow the world to be altered - for better or worse. All governed, experienced, and known by intangible ideas, that while they leave their mark, and require what we take to be a physical brain or means, partake of the infinite like the idea of a circle and the formula that governs its perimeter and area: intelligence itself; principles governing physics, life, and consciousness; mathematics; and programming languages.

In sum, it is not hard to imagine that some unknown form of intelligence, created, governs, and perhaps "lives" through all forms of DNA and may govern living forms with or through it.

The confusion comes from humans who are using the tricky metaphor God or arguments against the use of God for power-based, manipulative, even self-aggrandizing purposes rather than in the search for the underlying, possibly unifying basis of life and consciousness itself - doing so in order to become happier and help others to make themselves so by partaking in a kind of mutually beneficial self-interest, rightly understood, better of all possible worlds, and not just win arguments or sell books. Dawkins may be right that the metaphor God is causing more problems now than it might solve but the process of [r]evolution[s] may yet still be demonstrated to be a process of ongoing creating by a nested series of intelligences that are transfinite and of which the human consciousness, similarly transfinite, might be said to have a discrete being - a self-reflexive, dynamic monad that transcends & survives in a form as yet unknown, but one we approximate with the word soul, a soul, that governed happily by lawfulness and benevolence comes to know that happy reality.

No, agathon. The notion that the complexity that exists in the universe is proof of a "mind" that designed or created the universe is artificial.

You, like everyone else reading these words, are a mere particle inside of the universe. The notion that you or any other human could or should be able to describe the universe is inherently ludicrous.

re:" it is not hard to imagine that some unknown form of intelligence, created, governs, and perhaps ââ?¬Å?lives” through all forms of DNA and may govern living forms with or through it."

I will grant you that. It is not hard to IMAGINE that. However, simply being able to IMAGINE that and stating that that is true are two VERY different things, as I think you know.

Just thought I throw in my 2ct worth, but after living above ground level for a long time there is one aspect of atheism or whatever you want to call it, and most free thinkers will agree, letting your being be free of theisms and all the mind control, rules, rituals, beliefs and all the crap that goes with religeons, freeing ones self of all that is a very uplifting experience. Better than any mind numbing drug that comes down the pike, and Ive tried them all. The point is regardless of ones veiw of the universe and our perseptions therein, when your free at last you can see whats really important in life, and it aint no boogyman. Its the place we share with each other, our friends, our families our neighbors. Its right here right now, the theists can have their hippocracy, Ill keep my sanity.