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VIDEO: Richard Dawkins Lecture Spawns Debate, Controversy

Famed author raves about his R-MWC experience

10/24/2006 9:42:06 AM


Richard Dawkins, the Charles Simonyi Professor in the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, electrified an R-MWC audience of more than 900 in Smith Hall Theatre reading from his new book, "The God Delusion," and then engaging in audience Q&A for an hour and a half.

Prior to the lecture, Dawkins spent time with R-MWC students. He recounted the experience in his blog, saying that R-MWC "has a strikingly elegant campus, and the evidence suggests that the quality of the education, and of the students, lives up to its promise. A group of about twenty bright young women hosted a lunch for me with no faculty present, which was a great pleasure and an honour for me. These students were humorous, intelligent, enthusiastic."

Dawkins further said of the R-MWC students, "They will go out into the world and influence it for the better."

Dawkins with R-MWC students

Professor Dawkins' newest book was the lead review in the New York Times book review on October 22, the day before he spoke on campus. He is featured in the cover story of the November 13, 2006 issue of Time magazine.

Dawkins' lecture was broadcast on C-SPAN's "Book TV" program.

News Coverage of the Event...

Darwinian scholar shares views, takes jabs
By Darrell Laurant, News & Advance
Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Most speakers offer their question-and-answer period as dessert, a small slice of audience participation sandwiched between the conclusion of the lecture and the clearing of the hall.

With Richard Dawkins at Randolph-Macon Woman's College on Monday night, however, audience participation was more like the entree.

A short, dapper Englishman who is one of world's leading Darwinian scholars and recent author of a book titled "The God Delusion," Dawkins delivered the annual Philip Thayer Memorial Lecture to a packed Smith Hall auditorium, then gleefully awaited verbal combat.

"I'm keeping track of how many people walk out on me," he said earlier.

Actually, few did. And the exchanges between Dawkins and his listeners, who included a sizable contingent from Liberty University, were intellectually polite until the subject of LU's creation science museum came up.

Told that dinosaur bones in the university were said to be 3,000 years old and the age of the universe was estimated at 6,000 years, Dawkins pounced.

"They're off by a factor of a million," he said. "That's not a small error. It's equivalent to saying that the distance between New York and San Francisco is 28 feet. All evidence suggests that the universe is several billion years old.

"That's an educational disgrace, and I would encourage any members of Liberty University who are here to leave and go to a proper university."

Earlier, Dawkins read from several chapters of "The God Delusion," beginning with his declaration that "the God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of literature: cruel, capricious, jealous, vindictive and unjust."

With Dawkins, nothing was sacred - literally.

"Fear of God," he said, "is

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