No, never thought it would happen. But here’s principal witness, Darwin and Dawkins follower Sue Blackmore:
I was invited to give a lecture on memes by the “Oxford Royale Academy”, an institution that has nothing to do with the University of Oxford but hosts groups of several hundred 17-18 year-olds for two weeks of classes and, I guess, some kind of simulation of an ‘Oxford experience’. I was told they were of 45 nationalities and I assumed many different religions. So I prepared my lecture carefully. I tried it out the day before on my husband’s grandson, a bright mixed-race 16 year-old from Paris, and added pictures of the latest craze for ‘Fatkini posts’ and more videos, including my favourite Gangnam Style parody (Python style), but I wasn’t going to avoid the topic of religious memes – religions are an example, par excellence, of memeplexes that use wicked tricks to ensure their own survival. I simply made sure that my slides included many religions and didn’t single one out.
Looking back I should have seen trouble coming early on. I began with a pile of stuffed animals on the desk that I use to illustrate natural selection. Many laughed at my ‘dangerous predator’ eating them but at the word ‘evolution’ a young man in the second row began swaying side to side and vigorously shaking his head. I persevered, trying to put over the idea that evolution is inevitable – if you have information that is copied with variation and selection then you must get (as Dan Dennett p50 puts it) ‘Design out of chaos without the aid of mind’. It is this inevitability that I find so delightful – the evolutionary algorithm just must produce design, and once you understand that you have no need to believe or not believe in evolution. You see how it works. So I persevered.
Yes, she should have seen the trouble coming. Stuffed toys are not life. She was offending people in what followed.
She basically trotted out all the usual stuff but with—here I speak partisanly, perhaps—twisted messages.
The Canadian free speech movement – to which I proudly belong – is not against the Muslim religion (some of our number are Muslims). We just say people must have the legal right under English Common Law to discuss and criticize its teachings without fear.
But that isn’t an academic lecture, either, let alone a serious theological argument.
Instead of offending people with her ridiculous evo psych theories, Blackmore should defend her ideas against a Christian, Muslim, or Hindu apologist.
William Lane Craig?
Added: Isn’t the real takeaway message of this story that media-friendly Darwinbabble no longer sells like it used to? Did those people riot or beat the speaker up? Tell me if this is wrong, but they just walked out. Like you or I would walk out of a dull show or change the channel. – O’Leary for News.
Follow UD News at Twitter!
Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose