What could make the week at UConn where the men's and women's basketball teams both won their NCAA Division I national championships even better? The 2500 people that attended Professor Richard Dawkins' appearance at the Jorgensen Center for Performing Arts on the Storrs’ Campus of the University of Connecticut on his latest US tour and as part of the UConn President’s Distinguished Lecture series on Wednesday April 9th do.
UConn President Susan Herbst introduced Professor Dawkins with a brief history of his life and his more notable accomplishments. Following President Herbst’s introduction, Professor Dawkins took the stage alongside the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Jeremy Teitelbaum in a fireside chat format. About half of the questions posed by Dean Teitelbaum were related to topics of evolutionary biology while the other half were on the subject of atheism.
In his usual composed and soft-spoken manner, Professor Dawkins eloquently described how simplistic, irrational, and harmful creationists and religious fundamentalists are to society. When asked if he considered himself to be aggressive in his discussion on creationism, he disagreed. “I’m not aggressive. I’m passionate. Although, I am angry,” Dawkins said smiling. When asked what it was that angered him, he said “it’s the children that are being deprived of a proper education in the beauty of the scientific world by their parents, or their schools, or their churches that bothers me.”
Near the end of the discussion on creationism, Professor Dawkins reached for a flyer; prepared by Connecticut Coalition of Reason member Cary Shaw, looked at it, held it up and said, "If you have one of these flyers from the Connecticut Coalition of Reason, these are the good guys. Seek them out." Of course this elicited a thunderous applause from all the individuals of our member organizations and most of the audience.
Upon conclusion of the chat with Dean Teitelbaum, there was a brief question and answer session where Professor Dawkins fielded questions from the audience. Following the session, Professor Dawkins met with audience members in the lobby, where he held a brief book signing.
Photo credit – Jaf Chiang