Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dawkins Interview

I have not seen the Late Late Show for years. I guess I have an allergic reaction to the parochial nature of the interviews. Against my better judgement I let the channel changer linger on RTE last night and if it were not for the recognition of the face of Richard Dawkins I would have as usual swiftly moved on. Yet curiousity held back my trigger happy finger on the the remote.

Now Mr. Dawkins is an intellectual voice that I have great respect for. He has single-handedly taken on the God paradigm that most of the world's intellectals while agreeing with his views are slow to upset the cosy consensus of traditional religion. His greater contribution to human knowledge and understanding cmes from the domain of biological evolution of which he has been an unfettered champion. Well not not quite so unfettered - he has his critics both within and without his profession.

Within his own profession he has caused dissent by his strong advocacy of the idea of the selfish gene as the driver of all biological change. The arguments are mostly of an academic nature and do not hold the interest of the general public. What holds the interest of the general public is his struggle with the ideas of conservative societies mainly those of creationism. He has had gladitorial battles of many fronts in combatting the naievety of religious orthodoxy.

Dawkins found himself in such an arena of conservatism on the Late Late. I didn't get the full interview but I cringed at the level of questioning that was put to him. It reminded me of some of the people who when on first hearing that I professed no religious belief wondered how I could live at all. Their worldview was so enclosed that the narrow windows of their prison gave only the barest view of greater hugely diverse external world.

Mr Dawkins was gracious and accepted each question politely and seriously giving his best considered reply. Why he should have to answer questions about his own eventual demise remains a mystery but such was the level of discourse.

Admittedly my own admiration for this champion of evolution is not unbounded. Evolution is a theory and a good theory having had good evidential support. Yet like Newtonian dynamics it may yet be seen to be but a special theory that operates satisfactorily within its basis domain - bio-evolution. The grander theory may be based in the world of the quantum wherein the laws of physics and chemistry have their origin. Ironically I am criticising Mr Dawkins for being himself too parochial and conservative in maintaining a world view that stays within the confines of the living.

I have theorised elsewhere that it is memory and not genes that the cosmos strives to maintain. Biological evolution is a form of memory growth that has occurred in this infinitesimal part of our galaxy which is in turn infinitesimal compared to the group of galaxies of which it is a part least of all the entire cosmos. To really get to understand evolution we must travel in space and time and maybe in dimensions and in multiverses.

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