Archive for Charles Darwin

When A Devil’s Chaplain Went Down To Auburn

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , , on February 12, 2014 by sometimesafoggynotion

The South’s reputation as the Bible Belt is unavoidable as well as the anti-scientific views too often common with biblical literalism in the region, particularly in the state of Alabama.  However, there is some real pro-science activity in the state of Alabama and a great instance of that happened back in 1996 when Richard Dawkins visited Auburn University in Alabama as an invited speaker.

Dawkins was invited as a part of the ongoing Franklin Lectures in Science & Humanities series at Auburn University and arrived with a prepared speech that he was planning to give.  But at some point he became aware of the “Alabama Insert” which was a piece of paper put into textbooks in Alabama public schools that basically denounced the scientific theory of evolution.  Once Dawkins became aware of this, he decided to put aside his prepared speech and write a new one addressing the contents of the Alabama Insert.

Dawkins called this speech “The Alabama Insert: A Study in Ignorance and Dishonesty” and the transcript of it is readable at this link: ( http://www.bikerman.co.uk/images/books/Dawkins/articles/The%20Alabama%20Insert%20-%20A%20Study%20in%20Ignorance%20and%20Dish.pdf
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Each section from the insert is in UPPERCASE and followed by Dawkins addressing each one.  All of the sections from the original insert are the typical attacks on evolution by creationists/ID-ers, so this is a good way to see how Dawkins addresses these still common attacks.

And Dawkins’ “Alabama Insert” speech was later published in the book “Charles Darwin: A Celebration of His Life and Legacy” by James T. Bradley and Jay Lamar of Auburn University ( http://www.amazon.com/Charles-Darwin-Celebration-Life-Legacy-ebook/dp/B00BCO9PH2/ ), which is a compilation of the lectures from the semester-long “Darwin Celebration” that Auburn University had back in 2009 on the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwins’ birthday and 150th anniversary of the publication of “On The Origin Of Species”

I’m proud that my alma mater actually invited Richard Dawkins to speak.  Of course, this was a decade before “The God Delusion” was published and Dawkins’ name was more (in)famous for his views on religion than for his accomplishments as a scientist, so it is now politically impossible for him to ever be invited back to Auburn.  But at least, for one shining moment, this happened.

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