When I entered the I.U. auditorium on Monday Oct. 12, I was excited to hear the learned and engaging theories of noted novelist, scientist and atheist, Richard Dawkins. Packed into rows of crushed velvet seats sat teams of the intellectually astute; realist masses dejected from mainstream religion and hungry for a prophet.
It only makes sense that this growing population would seek a leader. Many people in attendance sported t-shirts and other memorabilia identifying themselves as either atheist or agnostic. Dawkins speaks to these people, preaching the gospel of science and reason over superstition and religion.
Near the begining of the question and answer portion of his lecture Dawkins refered to the need for scientists to convert the middle of the road creationists to evolutionary thinking. While Dawkins is intelligent and charismatic, he is not the person to change other's views on evolution. He is too brazen, intellectual, and mocking of religion. He would not be able to sneak past the defensive walls of even a "moderate creationist."
What he can do beautifully, however, is reinforce the ideas of existing evolutionists. He is even able to make atheists and evolutionists come together - strengthening both their beliefs and identity as a whole.
Dawkins is a brilliant man. He commands his audience, extracting laughter and thought. He has become more than a mere scientist in the eyes of his loyal followers. He has become a secular prophet. One audience member expressed this phenomenon best when he took the microphone and proudly announced: " Mr. Dawkins, I am an atheist - but to me, you are my God."
Richard Dawkins' new book is The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.