If You’re Looking for Proof, Look No Further 2

Want proof for evolution? Dawkins supplies the evidence. Watch and learn.

Pretty convincing, right? Of course, it depends on what you’re expecting from him, doesn’t it?

In 2009, I attended a live interview with Richard Dawkins at The Y on 92nd Street in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. There was a book signing after the interview for the book previewed in the clip above, The Greatest Show on Earth.

It was fascinating! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was only disappointed by one thing.

The proof, or the lack thereof.

At the beginning of the interview, Dawkins said that he was going to prove that evolution was true. That spiked my interest. I had my pen and paper ready, eager to write down his argument to prove that evolution was true.

That argument never came. My hopes of finally hearing proof for evolution were dashed. I left The Y, rather disenchanted, with a blank sheet of paper.

Maybe I was expecting too much. I thought he was going to deliver a demonstration. What Mr Dawkins delivered — very elegantly — was a description, or an explanation of how he believes evolution could have occurred.

His explanation was cogent and compelling. But he did not demonstrate that what his theory proposed actually occurred — though he did give some examples of micro-evolution that I found very interesting.

Evidence? Yes, he gave plenty of evidence. But not enough evidence to conclude “…and therefore, ladies and gentlemen, that’s how it all happened!”

He wanted his audience to believe he gave conclusive evidence to prove evolution — he used the word proof. But there’s a far stretch between supplying mounds of evidence and establishing a valid proof based on that evidence.

For example, you can give plenty of circumstantial evidence that an accused criminal committed a crime. Based on the evidence, you can construct a story, i.e., an account about how the crime could have been committed. Yet without substantial condemning evidence, you cannot convict the man for the crime.

This is how The Greatest Story on Earth ends: without sufficient evidence, and hence, without a proof.

In sum, Dawkins’ array of scientific evidence was fascinating and convincing (who am I to argue with science?). His theory — his account of how it could have happened — was even more captivating and very believable — I should probably say probable. His promise to deliver proof was a sad let down.

His latest book for children, The Magic of Reality, probably offers more of the same — I can’t say for sure, because I have not read it yet.

The video on his new book below features part of an interview, like the one I attended at The Y on 92nd. He says here the same sorts of things that he said there (to give you an idea of what I’ve been saying). His scientific account is reasonable, I think.

However, he says something in the next video clip that I cannot but disagree with, regarding whether there even was a first person (Like an Adam or an Eve). On the one hand, his explanation contradicts my theological beliefs (we’ll see what he has to say about that on Friday — it’s not nice). On the other hand, it does not square with my personalist views in anthropology (that’s philosophical, not social anthropology).

I’ll save those views for some other time. For now, just enjoy the video and see if you don’t find it both fascinating and, let’s say, plausible.

2 comments

  1. Yes, he’s an interesting writer and speaker, with perhaps a slight penchant for exaggeration. After all, there’s no way to *prove* historical facts from a priori principles–events are contingent. Hence the moon-landing deniers. Yes, the evidence for evolution is convincing, and it’s a shame that Dawkins couches his support for it in often caustic terms. Moreover, the “conclusions” about religion that he draws from science are entirely unsubstantiated.

    • After all, there’s no way to *prove* historical facts from a priori principles–events are contingent.

      Great point!

      Unfortunately, Michael, many listeners and readers take 2 things for granted: 1) That he’s right, because he’s a scientist who writes well and speaks well; 2) That you have to be an atheist if you accept his position.

      Thanks for pointing out the missing point!

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