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Dawkins speaks to overflow Fairbanks audience about humans, religion

Thanks to Simon for the link
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-FAIRBANKS — It was a full house at the 900-plus seat Charles W. Davis Concert Hall on Thursday night as famed atheist, writer and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins took the stage to a standing ovation.

Outside, men attempted to hand religious pamphlets titled “God’s Bridge to Eternal Life” to people hurrying to get in the door. More than a hundred people who were turned away at the door were taken to an overflow room in the Gruening Building to watch the lecture on TV screens, while a live web feed was provided for those watching online.

For an hour, Dawkins explained his theories about the evolutionary advantages and disadvantages of belief in a deity.

He started the evening with a question: “Religion. What is it good for?”

Dawkins quickly ran through three possible explanations for religion’s existence: wish fulfillment; the social functionalist theory that religion sustains social order; and the intellectualism argument that religion attempts to answer questions. While these ideas are interesting, he said, they do not explain why religion exists.

Dawkins then explored his theory that genes propagate for the good of themselves. Behaviors and adaptations do not have to benefit the animal, the colony or the species, but need only to be good for the genes’ copies, Dawkins said. However, mistakes happen in nature and are sometimes passed on endlessly.
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