RICHARD DAWKINS IN MÜLHEIM: VISIT OF A GODLESS PERSONALITY
In front of the Ringlokschuppen in Mülheim, solidarity rules: the „I need a ticket“ sign is passed on to the next contender after the sign holder has been successful. And this evening, there is a huge demand for both, tickets and the sign.
Mind you, there is no hot band in town, no pop star performing, no literature Nobel prize winner is expected tonight. An evolutionary biologist delivering a speech of 70 minutes is the reason for this mass appeal. What is more: the topic should be little exciting, not really worth a discussion for any given pupil in this country. During the evening, most words are uttered to prove logically that Darwin’s theory of evolution is correct.
„Leader of the godless“
Why has this event been sold out completely for a long time? Why do young women and men desperately want to be there tonight? The answer is the name of the evolutionary biologist: Prof. Richard Dawkins.
Dawkins is a pop star, and not only in the field of science. He is considered the mouthpiece of a movement called New Atheism which has been arousing more and more public interest for some years now. Apart from authors such as Sam Harris (The End of Faith) and Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great), Dawkins has caused a plethora of reactions and discussions after the release of his work The God Delusion in 2006.
The German cardinal Meisner (who is often a bit off kilter regarding his rhetoric) called Dawkins the „leader of the godless“ and compared the theses of the Oxford professor with the Nazis.
In In cooperation with the Giordano Bruno foundation and the Literaturbüro Ruhr e.V., the professor and author was present at this exclusive evening in Germany for the lecture series Mehr Licht! Die europäische Aufklärung weiter gedacht (More Light! Following up the European Enlightenment) -which are held in the course of Ruhr2010- and introduced his most recent work The Greatest Show on Earth. Fans and interested people from all over Germany have come to take in the Brit’s insightful statements which are often peppered with amusing barbs.
„There is massive evidence.“
The lecture is a summary of his new book, including theses nobody in the audience would question generally – but nobody cares about that. Dawkins is spurred by the creationist movement in the USA, even though he admits he does not think he would be able to convince anybody being part of this circle – he considers his job being the reinforcement and education of the “curious”. Again and again he stresses that just 40 per cent of the US population believes in Darwin’s theory of evolution, and the other 60 per cent (often consciously) ignore or neglect solid and incontrovertible proofs, and thus the influence of the fundamental Christians on education, politics, and society was increasing and dangerous.
Dawkins sees science in the role of a detective for whom, even if arriving at the crime scene after the done deed, one thing was obvious: „There is massive evidence.“
Later, during the question-and-answer part, he gets more personal. Dawkins replies to even obscure questions regarding quantum physics or near-death experience with patience, humour, and a scientific perspective, demonstrating once more that he is not the agitating devil the religious party wants him to be, but also no ersatz saint, even if his followers worship him like that sometimes. He is simply looking for the truth - that this includes questioning traditional patterns of thinking and believing, is a given. As a person, he is often rejected, in a helpless, aggressive way, and his opponents’ reactions are often below the belt – which is yet another proof for the fact that the age of enlightenment is far from being at an end.
Dawkins’ statements are exciting and insightful and will spur further discussions – thus, they are an ideal fit for these literary/philosophical series of lectures.
Until the end of November, there are various events of More Light! scheduled.
Click here to get dates and more information.