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Biologist and Atheist Richard Dawkins on Charles Darwin

Tickets for Event Were Free But Limited, Drawing Over 800 Students and Locals

There may be no other academic figure alive today who can match the celebrity of Richard Dawkins. That certainly seemed to be the case at UCSB’s Campbell Hall on Wednesday, where Dawkins lectured to a packed crowd on what he called “Darwin’s Five Bridges.”

The “bridges,” a metaphor for the historic inception and development of the theory of evolution, illustrate the incremental theoretical achievements of Charles Darwin and his contemporaries. For example, while some of his fellow biologists managed to cross the first and second bridge—grasping the insight that natural selection’s force was not only to weed out unfit individuals but also to drive morphological change—Darwin, seeing further, crossed the third and fourth bridges, recognizing not only that natural selection explained the workings of all organic life but also that such a grand story ought to receive the treatment only a full-length book could provide.

In 1859, that book turned into Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, a book which, in Dawkins’s words, “struck the Victorian solar plexus like a steam hammer.
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