It’s 9pm and I just got back from Oxford where Richard Dawkins (along with wife Lalla Ward) read excerpts from his new book “The Magic of Reality“.
The reading took the format of his new book, in that they presented short chapters posing a question, giving an explanation via a myth, then giving the real scientific answer. It highlighted the easy to understand nature of the book, clearly aimed at a younger reader, as well as the excellent visual nature of the accompanying illustrations via a huge projector screen on stage.
As well as the reading by the pair, Dawkins engaged the audience in an open Q&A session with wireless microphones passed through the auditorium. As you can imagine, the majority of people’s questions centred around religion and questions Dawkins has probably answered a thousand times before. Nevertheless, he answered all the questions in his usual intelligent way, and in some cases with some passion. On one occasion he was very firm in his answer, speaking loudly he said,
Never, in your presence, allow anyone to refer to a child as a ‘muslim’ child or a ‘christian’ child. Labelling children in this way is nothing short of child abuse.
He gave some excellent answers to a number of other questions, some of which (usually those admonishing religion) garnered a loud round of applause from the audience. The crowd, as you would expect, were partisan towards Richard and he received a very warm reception from start to finish.
A large number of people stayed behind afterwards to get a book or two signed by the great man himself. It was both pleasure and an honour to be in the presence of someone I idolise and consider to be a true genius, inspiration, and legend in his own time. Here are a couple of pictures of me having my books signed. I was a bit cheeky and managed to get him to sign 3 books. I would have been pushing it to try to get him to sign any more, as the queue was snaking out of the room and into the corridors.
Overall, an excellent evening, and a very exciting moment for me as I finally got to meet one of my all time idols. I highly recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in science or religion.