let me welcome you here tonight, and let me begin by
telling you what i\u2019mnot going to do, and what iam
going to do.
what i\u2019mnot going to do tonight is attack the theory of
evolution. that may surprise or disappoint some of
you, but i\u2019m not. neither am i going to defend six-day
creationism, nor the concept of intelligent design. that
again may be a surprise or a disappointment, but at
least you\u2019ll know not to listen out for it.
what iam going to try to do is to look at the impact of
an idea. and i\u2019m going to suggest that if this has a
generally negative effect on human life and humane
living, then there is something wrong, either with the
idea or with its application..
it\u2019s an approach which is actually used by writers like richard dawkins and the australian philosopher, peter singer (to whom i will also be referring), and others, so i think in the context it is fair to do this.
about the earth, the heavens, and the other
elements of this world, about the motion and
orbit of the stars and even their size and
relative positions, // (slide 3) about the
predicable eclipses of the sun and moon, the
cycles of the years and the seasons, about the
kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth,
// (slide 4) and this knowledge he holds to as
being certain from reason and experience. //
thing for an infidel to hear a christian,
presumably giving the meaning of holy
scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; //
prevent such an embarrassing situation, in
which people show up vast ignorance in a
christian and laugh it to scorn. (augustine,the
as regards the relationship between scientific
discovery and scripture, this is a very sound approach.
but remember, a lot of the science augustine was
referring to was in fact wrong. i wouldn\u2019t go as far as
scott adams, author of the dilbert cartoons (slide 7):
darwin may be triumphant at the end of the
twentieth century, but we must acknowledge
the possibility that new facts may come to light
// (slide 9) which will force our successors of
the twenty-first century to abandon darwinism
or modify it beyond recognition. (froma
scientific enquiry has no place for intellectual
arrogance. however, i\u2019m going to proceed on the
assumption that darwinism willnot be refuted, and one
of the reasons for that is the compelling simplicity of
darwin\u2019s original idea.
charles darwin\u2019s origin of species, published in 1859,
is over 480 pages long in the penguin paperback
edition. however, its important conclusions can be
summed up in a couple of paragraphs.
darwin had been struggling with this issue for several
years. amongst the things he noticed were that the
forms of plants and animals are adapted to their
specific needs and yet that some species had died out.
he also noted the uneven geographical distribution of
species \u2014 how some appeared in one location, but not
others. and, very importantly, he noted how many
creatures possess rudimentary structures with no
apparent usefulness, such as male nipples, and so on.
in addition, he was well aware that variations in plants
and animals could be produced deliberately, by
breeding. putting all this, together, the argument he put
forward was as follows (slide 11):
if ... organic beings vary at all ... and i think
this cannot be disputed; if there be ... at some
age, season, or year, a severe struggle for life,
and this certainly cannot be disputed; //(sl ide
Now bringing you back...
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