|Richard Dawkins and Ben Krishna|
Here are a few highlights - by no means intended to be a full transcript of the event, but just some things that I liked.
Naturally the recent results of the Isos Mori poll, (see here and here), sponsored by the RDFRS, were first on the agenda. Much of the discussion mirrored the conversations that many people in UK will have heard on radio and TV recently. Dawkins mentioned that most vicars and bishops were nice people who you might like to have tea with. He said "I have only met one nasty bishop . . . quite recently actually" presumably in reference to his debate with Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali on BBC's Newsnight programme last Tuesday.
He recommended a new book by Steven Pinker, called "The Better Angels of our Nature" which sets out to demonstrate that the past was a much nastier time than the present.
He also suggested that it would be possible to date almost any book written in the last century to the nearest decade simply by analysing the morals contained in it. These morals come from somewhere complicated, and it is not fair to think of humans as intrinsically good or bad. However, christianity is very good at assuming that we are intrinsically sinful
Speaking about his latest book Dawkins said that The Magic of Reality is not an atheist book - but if you read between the lines and you are a child of some intelligence you might begin to get the message.
When one of the audience questions went on longer than welcome - Dawkins replied politely "Thank you. There's quite a lot there." and then he went on to answer the salient points.
Asked about whether his outspoken views on the burqa were helpful or not, he answered that he personally had a visceral hatred of it, and that it was abusive to women. He said that he refused to hold back from criticising merely for fear of being branded islamophobic.
Another questioner said that he had two questions, and when asked by the chairman to choose just one of them he asked it. Dawkins said "Oh no! Not free will! What is your other question?" which brought a round of applause.
A good evening! Maybe this has given you a taste of what it was like to be in the audience. When the video is released - as I am sure it will be - I will post a link here.