Jerry on ‘Why Evolution is True’ at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside

December 1, 2009 • 10:30 am

by Greg Mayer

As part of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside’s Darwin 1809-1859-2009 series commemorating the Darwin bicentennial and Origin sesquicentennial (some of the earlier events noticed here and here), Jerry spoke on ‘Why Evolution is True’ on Sept. 9 of this year. Here’s the video of his talk; that’s me doing the intro. (I’m not mic’ed, and the volume starts out low, but Jerry is mic’ed, and the volume is fine for his talk.)

8 thoughts on “Jerry on ‘Why Evolution is True’ at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside

  1. I like it when Coyne speaks biology, not so much when he’s talking sociology.

    The fact is that the correlations are almost certainly very complicated indeed. For one thing, trotting out the comparisons of European countries, Canada, the US, and Japan ignores the fact that religious and not especially “healthy” societies like most of Latin America have in the past, and mostly still into the present (the increase in evangelicals there is changing the situation somewhat), not objected much to evolution. Perhaps theirs is not our favorite kind, being theistic, however it’s usually accepted up till the “soul” or some such thing, meaning that by far the most of the science is not troubled by religion.

    Anyway, I doubt that the measures of “health” of a society are rather subjective, and not particularly causal of religion, although I suspect they’re largely correlated. The Americas are fairly rootless mixes of immigrants and varying levels of natives, and seem to turn to religion to provide community. The mega-churches seem a good example of this.

    Well, the rootlessness of people in the Americas is likely to also be behind a lot of dysfunctions in society, but religion doesn’t noticeably proceed from the dysfunctions themselves (I’m not saying that they don’t at all, naturally). So I can see how causes in the US correlate with both American religiosity and societal problems, I just doubt that the latter are primarily responsible for the former.

    Obviously, acceptance of evolution depends upon the dominant religion of society and a host of other factors as well. Indeed, George McCready Price may be a significant factor in American levels of creationism (though he was Canadian), an individual who made a difference, if partially driven by Seventh-day Adventism and their prophet (another individual who couldn’t be predicted as such).

    I’m also not saying that Coyne was wrong much in what he said, it’s that there is really so much more going on.

    Glen Davidson

  2. Not meaning to hijack this thread, but if you’re not aware of it, Baldomero (aka Toto) Olivera is one of this year’s Hughes Holiday lecturers, along with Bonnie Bassler.

    Dr. Olivera’s work, on toxins from the many SPECIES of cone snails is spectacular on several levels. I imagine that his two streaming lectures, Dec 3 and 4, 10am ET & PT will have something for anyone of almost any age to remember. Highly recommended, and free, but it seems that registration is required:

  3. The first ~ 56 minutes of this talk is a shortened version of the WEIT book. The last 6 or 7 minutes is information presented on this blog and others in the last few months.

    One place made me shudder (34:30): when talking about the ~ 10 million year evolution of a mammal to a whale, Jerry said to compare that to the 7 million years “where we evolved from a chimpanzee…”

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