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Darwin’s pit bull not so aggressive in real life

Double-act Richard Dawkins and his wife give life to the evolutionist’s new book

By James Dacey

We are like detectives who have arrived on the scene after the crime has been committed; we find traces of evidence everywhere including DNA footprints.

A good scientific theory is one that is vulnerable to being proven wrong but has not yet been disproved.

Historically, religion has attempted to dispel confusion but science does this too and it does it better!

These were just three sound bites that stuck in my mind after going along to see Richard Dawkins as he delivered another dogged defence of the theory of evolution in Bristol yesterday.

Speaking at the city’s Festival of Ideas, Dawkins was accompanied on stage by his wife Lalla Ward, an English actress best known for appearing in the BBC science fiction series Dr Who where she played the part of Romana in the late 1970s.

According to Dawkins, the couple have been giving talks as a double act for the past few years — ever since Lalla stepped in when Dawkins lost his voice on a tour of the US.

The couple used the first section of the event to read extracts from Dawkins’ new book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. “This is not another anti-religious book – I’ve done that and got the T-shirt. Evolution is now a fact and this book will finally lay out all the evidence,” he said.

The thing that immediately struck me was that, despite all the sharp put-downs, Dawkins is actually incredibly mild-mannered in person. After reading his last book The God Delusion, I had assumed that the man they call “Darwin’s pit bull” had by now fully-militarised his atheist campaign and would appear slavering at the mouth.

Indeed, one of Physics World‘s correspondents had his own recent brush with Dawkins when the evolutionary biologist refused to get involved with his research project. Dawkins’ reason being that the project was funded by the Templeton Foundation – an organization that purports to fuse the ideals of science and religion but which Dawkins views as a “subversion of science”.

But the way Dawkins delivered his readings, equipped with a few funny voices, was more like a polished actor bringing to life a children’s book.

And according to Dawkins, he is not actually an atheist but agnostic. However, this is only because “technically we all have to be” as there is no such thing as an immutable fact. He said that a Christian God is “no more likely than Yahweh, leprechauns, or the flying spaghetti monster”.

Hmm, clearly he’s has not lost his sense of mischief.

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  1. TonyA

    “After reading his last book The God Delusion, I had assumed that the man they call “Darwin’s pit bull” had by now fully-militarised his atheist campaign and would appear slavering at the mouth.”
    Did you read the last book? Perhaps you meant to say, “After reading certain reviews of his last book …”

  2. Matt Haley

    He refused association with the Templeton Foundation just as any self-respecting scientist should. That organization has made a mockery of the Nobel Prize, funds right-wing think tanks, and generally corrupts science with religious ideology. I also have seen Richard Dawkins speak, and I agree that he is very polite and well-mannered, contrary to popular belief. I look forward to reading his new book!


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