Tickets have started to sell for [intlink id=”46″ type=”page” anchor=”Evolutionary”]Evolutionary[/intlink] in the Adelaide Fringe, especially on the cheap nights (opening night and Tuesdays), so be sure and book in early via FringeTIX if you want to get in! Note also that the venue is the Basement Bar, not the Lounge Bar as originally advertised, though I’m still at the Lizard Lounge.
In other news, did I ever tell you about the research that suggests bats have an evolutionary trade-off between brain mass and testicle mass? A survey of bat species showed that the larger their brains, the smaller their testes, and vice versa.
I think there’s a message in that for all of us.
In case you haven’t heard, Evolution Sunday is the latest part of the Clergy Letter Project, a collection of clergymen who are standing up to be counted and insisting that Darwinian evolution via natural selection is perfectly compatible with Christian faith. On Evolution Sunday, preachers from around America spoke to their congregations about Darwin and his theory in a positive light.
One day, we’ll look back on this and wonder why it was all necessary. Seeing something like this makes me wonder why I spend so much time and energy promoting the idea of evolution, but the answer I always come back to is that it’s wonderful. It’s an elegant, beautiful, powerful idea that makes such amazing sense. I find wonder in it without any sort of religious connection, but I’ve no bone to pick with those who find wonder in both. The bone has always been with extremism – both the Creationist kind, and the kind that uses natural selection to justify rascist, classist or otherwise -ist nonsense. Slowly the power of that extremism is ending in America, though there’s still plenty where it came from.
Adelaide is two weeks away. Get yourselves ready.
The Man in the Lab Coat isn’t all smiles and japes, oh no. He’s serious about science’s place in the world, and its perception. This was brought to mind today when I was asked if I was convinced by a book I was reading on evolution (Daniel C. Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, an excellent philosophical study of evolution, very well worth a read). I like the fellow who asked me, though I didn’t know – and still don’t, since we didn’t get to have much of a discussion – what his education, background or philosophical stance is, but it took me a moment to realise that I’d just been asked – for the first time – if I “believed in” evolution.
I told him truthfully that I was already very much convinced before I started reading the book, and that I was learning more about its philosophical implications. I was all ears to hear my friend’s story of his last trip to Turkey when he was offered a “visitor’s book”, produced in English and offered free to tourists (he told me charmingly that he’d asked in Turkish if he was still allowed one if he spoke the lingo), which advised them of the evils of Darwinism.
I’d never heard of such a thing – nor can I easily imagine why someone would spend all that time and effort to do it – but I readily agreed that some people had certainly misused Darwinism for evil purposes. Our discussion was cut short as we had to go back to work, but I learned something valuable: I’m ready for that kind of question. I know what I think, and why; and I was ready to listen, ready to be patient, and definitely not ready to try and destroy anyone’s beliefs, only to challenge them to think about what they believe and why.
But while this is all very serious and lovely and life-affirming in its own self-aggrandising way, I should say that I will still kick the arse of anyone who comes to my show and challenges me on home ground. I wouldn’t do the same to Father Bob, say, or even a nutter minister; it’s not cool. My show is, despite its content and message, still an entertainment, a one-man show, not a debate.
On the other hand, if you want to come to the bar afterwards and supply me with drinks, I’ll happily talk to you about whatever you want for as long as you like…