my recent reads..

Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters; From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima
Power Sources and Supplies: World Class Designs
Red Storm Rising
Locked On
Analog Circuits Cookbook
The Teeth Of The Tiger
Sharpe's Gold
Without Remorse
Practical Oscillator Handbook
Red Rabbit

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Richard Dawkins at the Sydney Writers' Festival

I was very interested to hear Robyn Williams interview Richard Dawkins for a recent Science Show broadcast from the Sydney Writers' Festival.

The topic was of course Dawkins' The God Delusion. I've yet to read this, but definitely have it on my reading list now. I remember reaeding his The Selfish Gene many years ago, and being struck by its clarity and compelling proposition. It seems like The God Delusion is cut from the same cloth. Speaking of cloth, the following is I gather the foreward to the UK edition, and a nice bit of satire;-)

[The Courtier's Reply by P.Z. Myers]: I have considered the impudent accusations of Mr Dawkins with exasperation at his lack of serious scholarship. He has apparently not read the detailed discourses of Count Roderigo of Seville on the exquisite and exotic leathers of the Emperor's boots, nor does he give a moment's consideration to Bellini's masterwork, On the Luminescence of the Emperor's Feathered Hat. We have entire schools dedicated to writing learned treatises on the beauty of the Emperor's raiment, and every major newspaper runs a section dedicated to imperial fashion; Dawkins arrogantly ignores all these deep philosophical ponderings to crudely accuse the Emperor of nudity.

Until Dawkins has trained in the shops of Paris and Milan, until he has learned to tell the difference between a ruffled flounce and a puffy pantaloon, we should all pretend he has not spoken out against the Emperor's taste. His training in biology may give him the ability to recognise dangling genitalia when he sees it, but it has not taught him the proper appreciation of Imaginary Fabrics.

Oh, hail the Emperor!


loyora said...

Interesting to note that 2 of your fav books are on my list as well.

I appreciate both Dawkin's view of the universe and the satirical reply given by Myers. Both of them have been creative in their expressions and I see them as samples / proof points of the vast diversity and the creativity that nature set about in motion.

It could well be summed up as a Half open door = Half closed door argument.

Borrowing ideas from Philosophy while Dawkin's is getting down to the Fundamentals (Nirvana - literal meaning 'naked' in Sanskrit), Myers is clinging on to the otherside of the coin which is Imagination (Maya - literal meaning 'unreal' or 'magic'). Both these elements are as important to life, as plot and choreography are to the field of theatre. Otherwise, there is neither drama nor audience and no concept of time.

This certainly goes to prove that any well functioning eco-system is made up of all opposing elements.

There is a lot to write on this subject. Will reserve it some other time.

Paul said...

Interesting to hear your point of view .. especially since if I understand you correctly, I think my appreciation of the Myers introduction was quite different!

I read the introduction as a simple analogy to Hans Christian Andersens "Emporer's New Clothes".

i.e. Myers was likening Dawkin's to the boy who is brave enough to call out the obvious, to the consternation of the establishment who hold steadfast to a view of the world which is patently false.

In otherwords, Dawkins and Myers are in vehement agreement;-)