[ExI] Richard Dawkins Lecture & Aubrey de Grey, too!

John Grigg possiblepaths2050 at gmail.com
Fri Apr 18 19:03:05 UTC 2008

I went to a Richard Dawkins lecture at ASU and it was excellent. I was not
quite sure what to expect of the man but I found him to be mild mannered (I
somehow expected the angry atheist stereotype), charming in that classic
British gentlemanly way, and at times extremely funny. He started off with a
statement that occurred to me many years ago, "why do children usually
follow in their parent's religion, and why does that particular religion
just so happen to be the only true and right one?" lol I personally believe
in God but it was good to have him put my beliefs up to a mirror for closer
examination. His slideshow presentation was the focal point of his humorous
asides. And yes, Monty Python was excerpted at several points!

Dawkins surprised me by declaring that he is agnostic and not a 100% atheist
in that he feels there is a very small chance of their being some sort of
powerful deity/super being out there. He just sees no current evidence for
it. The other surprise was that Dawkins (reminded me of the Star Trek 5
plot) considers it an actual duty of science in the decades/centuries ahead
to "track down and contact" God, should such a being actually exist, but be
hanging back and waiting for us to reach out to it. I can envision people
being brought back from cryonic suspension and getting told, "oh, Seti
contacted intelligent alien life decades ago, and now they are trying to
make contact with God!" heehee

He also made the Greater Phoenix/Tempe community proud by saying, "in ALL
his travels to speak, he has never spoken to a crowd as large as what ASU
produced for him!" The crowd cheered and clapped wildly at that! lol The
Gammage Performing Arts Building can seat over 3,000 and only a tiny handful
of seats were empty! I wanted to shake his hand and get an autograph but the
line to see him was several hundred feet long and I had to work the next day
(the man is surely a celebrity and I was glad to see police standing behind
him, just in case). I finally gave up on waiting! lol

Since taking in his lecture I have seen the several crazy episodes of
Southpark where he made his "guest appearance." The teaching of evolution in
public schools was the major plot point and done as only Southpark does it!
Dawkins is shown as a very kind and proper gentleman, but what the writers
"did with him" really floored me. In an interview Dawkins stated that if
there was a serious point to the episodes that he could not discern it! And
he was also bothered by the fake British accent "he" was given by the voice
actor who played him.

The Dawkins lecture started at the very same time as a debate across town
starring Aubrey de Grey "up against" Jay Olshansky. Arghh! lol I chose to
see Dawkins. Aubrey thought this was the right choice (I bumped into him the
day before at ASU, he had both a Christian Bioethics Conference and a
Methusalah Mouse meeting to attend!), and he said his debate would likely be
recorded and I could get a copy.
It was a pleasure to learn more about each of these great men.

John Grigg  : )
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