My quick capsule review of the Dawkins talk on Monday evening: pretty boring. His speech was called The Purpose of Purpose and the basic thesis was that natural selection has provided for traits and aptitudes in human beings that can be turned into something unhealthy in the human race as a whole. For instance, feeling kinship with our relatives is undoubtedly an adaptive trait that was selected for in our evolutionary past, but it can also be turned into tribalism that leads to wars and conflicts that are clearly non-adaptive and unhealthy.
He gave lots of examples of this kind of thing, but there was nothing in the speech that didn’t seem entirely obvious to me. Not once did he say something on the subject that made me think about it differently. It all seemed rather mundane and…well, obvious is the only word I can think of. Nothing innovative or unusual or intellectually challenging. But he is a very charming speaker and he was entertaining.
One little tidbit from the speech, though. He played the infamous Ray Comfort banana video near the start of his speech, because Comfort claims that the ridges on the banana were created specifically for humans to hold them and eat them. Dawkins pointed out, quite correctly, that modern bananas have in fact been artificially selected over centuries to look the way they do now; God had nothing to do with it.
He also mentioned, as the Worldnutdaily is relentlessly pimping these days, that Comfort has challenged him to a debate and offered $10,000 to him if he’ll agree to a debate with him. Dawkins said that he informed Comfort that if he’ll donate $100,000 to his new organization, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, he would agree to such a debate. No response so far.
By the way, I also just found out that Daniel Dennett is going to be speaking at Oakland University in Michigan on April 6th and I have tickets. That should be very interesting, I would think.