Wow! That was excruciating to watch, even just the first part. It should be titled "Dawkins banging his head against a wall named Wendy."
I still can't get over her argument that the overwhelming scientific community as a whole only provides one "opinion" in the understanding of the natural world (in other words, "science"), and that outsiders (like herself & her theistic group) can provide an equally valid alternative "opinion"
. Ridiculous! Pick any of the possible outrageous analogies - architects claim that a building should be built a certain way based on factual/historical research, but an astrologer has a conflicting but equally valid "opinion" on building construction based on his interpretation of the stars.
To promote the public's scientific understanding, I often question the value of these interviews/debates that merely scratch the surface of the dispute. Obviously their purpose isn't to convince the opposing debater/interviewee (e.g., Wendy), which would be naive & hopeless. Their purpose is surely to convince the audience. Imagine from the perspective of an uninformed observer sitting on the fence - Dawkins seems to make reasonable claims about the existence of scientific evidence (including fossils & DNA) supporting evolution, but Wendy seems
to make reasonable claims which seem
to justify skepticism of evolution (history of scientific fraud, lack of evidence [especially of macro-evolution], censoring/discrimination of dissenting opinions, etc.). You & I know better, but it seems that to convince observers more factual detail is necessary. Dawkins started to provide some of the technical details of recent human evolution, but to the skeptical observer he might merely be pulling these terms out of his @ss
. It seems that a coherent and thorough presentation of the body of scientific knowledge is needed, which would require piles of academic documentation and probably hours/days to present (which clearly doesn't fit the interview/debate format). Also, each of Wendy's false/misleading claims would need to be specifically refuted and/or put into context. For example, any errors in the details of Darwin's findings from 150 years ago (or mistakes/fraud from the 1920's) don't represent the accuracy of modern evolutionary theory.
There has to be a happy medium between the two extremes of what it takes to believe something:
- On the one hand, a bystander with zero scientific knowledge needing to trust whatever anyone claiming to be a scientist presents to them. Obviously this doesn't work because some people with scientific credentials claim the evidence calls evolution into question & supports creationism. Other legitimate scientists claim that there's no debate that evolution happened, and state that the evidence overwhelmingly supports this fact. Who to believe?
- On the other hand, everyone could go get a PhD in biology and do decades of independent research, which presumably would completely convince them that evolution happened.
(related to this topic I recommend the book "True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society" by Farhad Manjoo. I listened to the audiobook from Audible.com and found it fascinating.)
My feeble attempt to convince doubters of evolutionary theory is to recommend two books:
- "Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction" by Eugenie Scott (Exec Dir of the National Center for Science Education
- I recommend joining!); this book does a wonderful job of laying out the facts, the history of the debate, and specific rebuttals of most Creationist claims.
- "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief" by Francis Collins (former head of the Human Genome Project and current Director of the National Institutes of Health); despite being a devout christian, Collins fully supports the bulk of modern scientific understanding and argues that point in this book (e.g., presents basically irrefutable evidence that humans & mice share a common ancestor); although he also argues that modern scientific understanding can live harmoniously with Christian belief, my hope is that this will give the author some credibility with Christians.
Along those same lines, the two DVD's I highly recommend are:
- "Evolution"; PBS 4-disc series narrated by Liam Neeson
- "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial"; PBS Nova series examines the trial of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (Kansas, 2005)