Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Patience of a Saint...

I've been reading Richard Dawkins' newest book The Greatest Show on Earth for the past few days and enjoying every page of it. Regardless of what The God Delusion may have done to advance the cause of atheism, Dawkins is at his best when he's writing about science. In much the same way that Sagan's works fill the reader with awe at the scope of the cosmos, Dawkin's writings about biology leave the reader dumbstruck by the sheer scope and majesty of life.1

It's hard for me to envision any intellectually honest person who is doesn't want to explore the origins of the life (and indeed the cosmos itself), but experience has taught me that such people are lurking about everywhere. One such head-in-the-sander is Wendy Wright, one of the top brass of the conservative religious organization Concerned Women for America. On pages 198-202 of The Greatest Show, Richard Dawkins discusses a conversation that he had with Mrs. Wright while filming a documentary about Darwin. She is, to say the least, philosophically hostile to the idea of evolution and this distaste leads her to make rather vacuous claims about the supposed paucity of evidence showing evolution by natural selection.

Embedded below is first of seven videos which show the entire discussion between Dawkins and Wright. The full exchange lasts slightly more that an hour, during which time Mrs. Wright makes exactly two arguments: a.) Social Darwnism is bad (Which is true) and b.) "Nah-nah-nah, I can't hear you. If transitional fossils existed I'd accept evolution, but they don't."2 She repeats variations of these two talking points for over an hour while Dawkins attempts to explain genetics, comparative anatomy, and the fossil record. He may as well be talking to a cat. Check it out.3

What superhuman patience on the part of Richard Dawkins! Seriously, that lady is irritating just to watch.4 How he stood there for an hour talking in circles with her without either having an aneurysm or turning into the Incredible Hulk is beyond me. Science is lucky to have such an eloquent spokesman as Dawkins. Meanwhile, Wright is precisely the caliber of spokeswoman that the anti-intellectual fundies deserve.

1.) Indeed, I think
all good science writing inspires such feelings of amazement and wonder.

2.) If I may be so bold as to say so, Mrs. Wright's got her internal reasoning reversed. She doesn't accept evolution, and ergo she refuses to accept that transitional fossils exist.

3.) I watched all 7 parts in a sitting. It was a test of endurance the likes of which I've not encountered in years.

4.) In addition to flatly denying the entire existence of human transitional fossils, Mrs. Wright utterly ignores Dawkins' mention of theistic evolutionists (Such as Francis Collins and Ken Miller) who believe in God while still accepting, and indeed celebrating, the complicated and wondrous processes through which modern species have come about.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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