This was the question: For a copy of The Nature of Nature , explain why either Richard Dawkins or Francis Collins is the cuter poster boy for selling Darwinism.
The question was first asked (that I ever heard of) by a prominent Canadian cosmologist, who wrote to a number of peers asking for feedback. He wanted a pollster to do a study too, but surely that would be a waste: We should only poll people on matters that will lead somewhere. Essentially, both these men are going to go away and do what they want, no matter what the tally, so why bother?
The winner is StephenB at 21, for clarity of analysis and precision of expression:
So, who is the better con man? In terms of gaining new recruits, I think Dawkins inspires more passion, but Collins probably gets better numbers. So, I give a slight edge to Collins. Whenever possible he avoids clarity of expression and practices the crafty art of “strategic ambiguity,” allowing potential supporters with widely divergent world views to read their own convictions into his message. Notice how, with maddening imprecision, he informs his listeners that there is “no conflict between religion and science,” prompting them to fill in the missing spaces with Christ and Darwin.
StephenB, write me at email@example.com.
Incidentally, among those who cast a definite vote, it was a tie (not just Dawkins’ “nicer tie”). More below, but watch for the next contest.
It was a hard contest to judge because I kept getting distracted by the hilarious comments, especially MedsRex at 7 (Yikes!) and 18 (on pungent clouds of a substance completely unknown at UD), Mung at 13 and Ilion at 14 on the crossbreeding potential (Yikes! Can we just create a hybrid avatar instead? – O’Leary) At 15 NZer points out that Dawkins has the nicer tie. That’s important, of course, in creating an image, but it rather reminds one of how long it’s been since he was a working scientist. Many other entertaining comments. Read the whole thing.
Other comments of interest
Barb at 1 (Collins): “Teaching evolution in school is not going to undermine strong faith; neither is threatening a scientist with loss of tenure or a teaching position at a university.” Hmmm. Good thughts but here is something to consider: Experience shows that creating victims and brainwashing does produce results, just not in everyone. Many’s emerges from tyranny morally damaged, and the story is all too familiar: Down with political terror!;then immediately, up with religious terror! Some people are not used to life without terror. Just some thoughts.
jurassicmac at 4 (Collins) recounts how he, as a young Earth creationist came to accept evolution (here I am guessing he means an old Earth) through Collins.