Dawkins in Minneapolis

Richard Dawkins came to Minneapolis and gave a talk, sponsored by CASH, the primary atheist/humanist group on the UMN campus, on “The Purpose of Purpose.”

Before the talk, several of us got together at Annie’s Parlour. It was harmonic convergence, in a sense, of numerous independent groups all planning to go to Annie’s and ending up at the same table, including but not limited to Amanda and myself, PZ and his wife and daughter, Stephanie, Mike, Mr. and Mrs. Linux in Exile, Lynn, and a few others who don’t have links. After the talk, we spent close to an hour hanging around with Amanda and a teacher colleague of hers and his wife, Kristine and Mr. Kristine (Oh, and Kristine regaled us with her famous Jerry Falwell/Richard Dawkins/Galapagos story), and Lynn, conversing about the talk. Also attending in our group was my friend Lizzie and a couple of her buddies. All in all, it was a great social event that I wouldn’t have missed for the world!

Oh, and somewhere in there Richard Dawkins gave this talk, and I enjoyed it a great deal.

I have three bad reviews, one by this guy and two that came in to me after the talk via cell phone from academics who were in attendance. All those people are showing their own lack of grounding with these negative reviews, really. Dawkins came to give a talk to the public about certain ways to look at the complexity of evolutionary process and society. As an academic who actually studies this stuff, I could easily say that Dawkins talk was trite, same-old-stuff we’ve all been saying all along slightly re-wrapped, self evident, and so on and so forth. But I guarantee that Dawkins did not come all the way across the Great Pond to give talks in Michigan and Minnesota and elsewhere for the benefit of Ed Brayton, me, or any other PhD toting scholars. This talk was for the interested public, they’re the ones that packed about four thousand people into Northrup Auditorium, and they are the ones for whom this talk was crafted, and I think Dawkins did an excellent job.

PZ Myers gave a very well crafted and entertaining introduction, by the way. And here is his blog post on the event.

I’ll probably write up a bit more about Dawkins talk and a few further thoughts I have about it. But right now I’m off to bed. It’s a school night!!!!

Oh, and here’s Dawkins on our local public radio show this AM.


  1. #1 AK47
    March 5, 2009

    Your Mom sounds angry. You can come to my place for Thanksgiving instead this year.

  2. #2 Stephanie Z
    March 5, 2009

    Actually, AK47, Your Mom (and aliases) sound increasingly desperate. It’s kind of cute–in a sad, pathetic way.

  3. #3 Scott Hatfield, OM
    March 5, 2009

    Bunghole be damned. You’ve got Richard Dawkins this month. Here in Fresno, we’ve got Ben Stein.

  4. #4 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    March 5, 2009

    As per your review, I would have thought you would have a few areas of disagreement in regards to his venturing into anthropology. But you are right. It was geared to a larger audience, and entertaining.

    Of course, Banaman made his appearance via video.

  5. #5 Dizzlski
    March 5, 2009

    My only complaint was living 10 minutes from the U meant I should have left at around 5pm due to the B-ball game and the craptasticness of the traffic.

  6. #6 pzdummy
    March 5, 2009


    i think this will be more effective:




    and CRUSHED the entire atheist movement…

    and PZ too….

    predict the future too!


  7. #7 Brent
    March 5, 2009

    I was just going to e-mail you this but I see you are well aware!

  8. #8 elle
    March 5, 2009

    I missed a good one! I spent the day at a 7 km long dipole antenna in -98F windchill. You had ice cream with Richard Dawkins. huh.

  9. #9 tizod
    March 5, 2009

    I didn’t realize the traffic would be that bad either. I actually hoped Dawkins would have spoken about the depravity often felt by those who fail to feel purpose. or something about how people are more inclined to turn to religion in times of a depressed, meager outlook.

  10. #10 Ed Brayton
    March 5, 2009

    I think Greg is right about the talk not being for folks like us but for an audience that hasn’t read all this stuff for years. After I wrote my review I talked to several people who were there who didn’t have the background in the subject that I do and they all thought it was very informative and made them think about the issues in a new way. So clearly he succeeded in what he intended to do.

  11. #11 SplendidMonkey
    March 5, 2009

    I attended with my family including my 12 and 15 year olds. They were both able to enjoy and understand most of this talk. I’m happy Richard doesn’t talk to the highest common denominator but perhaps purposely reaches for the middle. Excellent!

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    March 5, 2009

    I must say, and this may become a whole blog post later, that there was a moment last night when we were on our way from Annie’s to the location of Dawkins’ talk when I almost sold a couple of extra tickets I had to a guy looking for tickets to the basket ball game.

  13. #13 Linux in Exile
    March 5, 2009

    It was great to get together last night and see everyone. Thanks!

  14. #14 Bruce Honnigford
    March 5, 2009

    Greg, I suppose we haven’t been introduced before but I am “Mr. Kristine” aka Bruce. I have been a member of MN Atheists for many years and have been on the board a couple of times. I was the host of Atheist Talk before Mike took over. Kristine and I enjoy these kinds of events so we will be seeing you more so in the future. You can visit my blog at http://www.aredant.blogspot.com. It was an excellent and ditto with the Bell museum event a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for everything Greg!