Peregrinations

April 21, 2010 • 6:23 am

This Sunday I’m travelling to Vancouver to give a science talk at UBC.  I’ll be there 2 whole days, and am looking for good restaurants in town. By “good,” I mean “Chinese”.  I cook Szechuan food myself, and am looking for the real thing, which of course can be Cantonese or other regional cuisine. (I know about Sun Sui Wah but would be glad to hear your take on the place if you’ve eaten there.)

Tomorrow (Thursday) I’m heading to Adlai Stevenson High School in the Chicago suburb of Lincolnshire, where I’ll address the students about, among other things, careers in evolutionary biology, what it’s like to be a scientist, what’s new and exciting in evolutionary biology, why I wrote my book, and opposition to evolution.  Teacher Brett Erdmann and his students have a blog on my book (this is totally student-run) on which, over the past two months, they’ve discussed WEIT and other issues about evolution.  The students have also compiled a long list of questions for my Q&A session, and they’re good ones (although not a “magnet school,” Adlai Stevenson has a great academic reputation).  Here are some questions I’ll face:

“To what extent do you view our social mores as a result of the cooperative behavior of our evolutionary ancestors?  Or are they completely separate entities altogether?”

“Why are you such a staunch atheist?  I don’t have a problem with it, but I feel it would be easier for the general public to accept evolution from someone who believes in some sort of god (Ken Miller) than someone who goes denying the existence of Him.  If you really want evolution to be taught, why don’t you lighten up a bit on your atheist rhetoric?”

41 thoughts on “Peregrinations

  1. I think I have the answer to the second question and it is a no-brainer: it simply won’t help. The likes of Ken Ham and Casey Luskin are as dismissive of Keneth Miller as they are of Richard Dawkins.
    But there is a second reason: it would be dishonest and self serving of scientists to self-censor in the interest of a social agenda. It wouldn’t be a good idea even if it did work.

  2. These sound like smart students — I almost said “kids”, but they sound pretty mature.

    Have fun in Vancouver.

    Ah, Lincolnshire — where I first saw the musical play “Chicago” 25 years ago, before it became famous.

  3. Being invited to speak with a group of high school students about evolution and religious accommodation – what a great opportunity! More of this should be happening around the country, around the world. Thanks for you efforts and public engagement.

  4. “Why are you such a staunch atheist?…”

    Has any other advancement of understanding been so resisted by so many for so long in human history? And has the resistance been based to such a degree on lies and distortions? Those are the lines I’d take in trying to formulate answers, anyway.

  5. “Why are you such a staunch atheist?…”

    Because the milquetoast accommodationist atheists accomplish very little.

    1. “Because the milquetoast accommodationist atheists accomplish very little.”

      You don’t actually know that, do you. As far as you know, things might be even worse in the English speaking countries if the pro-evolution movement took its cue from folk who are as openly contemptuous of all religion and all religious persons as Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers, for examples, are.

      You might make the case that it isn’t clear that the milquetoast accommodationist atheists together with non-atheist advocates for evolution have accomplished more than the hostile atheists would if their approach were followed, but that is all you can actually demonstrate from the evidence. And, remember, you are supposed to be all about the evidence and believe nothing without a solid evidentiary basis.

      I occasionally wonder why our host did not pepper WEIT with the sort of invective common here. Perhaps we can look forward to a revised edition along those lines.

      1. Richard Dawkins published his first book in 1976. Christopher Hitchens rose to prominence in the late ’80s/early ’90s. PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne are much more recent. Before all this it was almost all milquetoast faitheists. With little to no progress.

        The graph linked below shows a rise in “non-religious” and drop in Christian religion in the U.S. during the Hitchens/Dawkins/Coyne time.

        How ’bout that?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bsa-religion-question.svg

        1. Thanks, mk. It also is obvious to anyone who has been paying attention to the trends of the last several years.

          1. I think the question is a bit irrelevant since the idea that evolution is synonymous with atheism has been the most promoted by protestant Christians. Therefore if someone like Jerry says evolution leads inevitably to atheism, the literalist bible thumping crowd will simply say ‘see, that’s what we have been saying all along’.

        2. mk: your graphs are plain to even a blind but conscious observer:
          More has been achieved in the past 4 years of “New Atheism” than has been achieved in the last 4,000.
          Accomodationists, Faitheists, and all manner of Pearl-Clutching Goddly-Coddlers will not, and can not make a dent in religions’ vile effluent, as has been shown by at least 2600 years of history of their attempts.
          Yet, look at it: 4 or so years of mild “no-tolerance-for-privilege” atheism has got us further than any other movement in millennia.
          The faitheists are just flat-out intercoursing WRONG.

  6. If you really want evolution to be taught, why don’t you lighten up a bit on your atheist rhetoric?

    So you are wanting meetings of government officials to be opened with statements assuring the citizenry that there is no god and that the meetings will instead be conducted based on reasoned and thoughtful dialogue?

    A standard of science is that it strive for truth and honesty, the theory of evolution reflects that standard and should not be compromised with an injection of christian mythology.

  7. I don’t have a problem with it, but I feel it would be easier for the general public to accept evolution from someone who believes in some sort of god (Ken Miller) than someone who goes denying the existence of Him

    Counter-questions to make them think:
    – Does it matter who delivers the evidence, if the evidence is sound? Isn’t that an important lesson to teach in and of itself? How could I teach that by hiding my atheism?

    1. “Does it matter who delivers the evidence, if the evidence is sound?”

      In a perfect world it wouldn’t matter. To borrow from millions of impatient children over the aeons: Are we there yet?

    2. “Does it matter who delivers the evidence, if the evidence is sound? Isn’t that an important lesson to teach in and of itself? How could I teach that by hiding my atheism?”

      Deen, were you implying that the promotion of the Doctor’s atheism is required to teach that?

  8. I concur with Norm. The place is called Hon’s and it’s definitely good, real Chinese food. Looking forward to your talk.

  9. Any chance you want to meet up with the local heretics from CFI and Skeptics in the Pub, we can likely arrange something on short notice.

      1. No, that’s just Michael De Dora. Most CFIers are just local skeptics and atheists. Our group is pretty firmly on the religion and alt-med is bad for you camp.

    1. Crap! You are at U-dub? I was in Seattle a couple of weeks ago for a conference. If I had known I would have sent a FB message. A friend went to U-W to scrounge thru their archives while we were there. I like the redo of Butterflies and Wheels btw. It looks good.

  10. I’ll second Ian’s invitation from the Vancouver Skeptics in the Pub and CFI community. We’d be honoured if we could put together an event for you while you’re here. Is there an evening that works best for you?

  11. Some of the best Szechuan cooking I’d had was done by a guy from the Philippines who’d worked as a chef in HongKong for many years (interesting how he was keen on Szechuan while in Kowloon) – unfortunately I couldn’t try out more of his cooking since he was in Papua New Guinea and I was only passing through. I’ll admit it’s difficult to find good Szechuan cooking; I’d estimate less than 10% of places I try are of adequate quality or better. Even in Chinese restaurants which I know have good authentic recipes (for some particular style), if they don’t specialize in the cuisine of a particular region I generally don’t even try a dish from that region – I stick to the ones I know they get right.

  12. About a block away from the Blue Horizon Hotel on Robson (if memory serves) there is a great Chinese (same side of street) – not that they are hard to find in that area. Canada invited Hong Kong to move there in the late 90s so good Chinese not hard to find. Excellent Indian too, if you want to expand your horizons.

  13. Dim Sum, if you are in town, and visit the Sun Sui Wah best opt for dim sum (great seafood, the dumplings especially), and there are many many other good dim sum restaurants in the Richmond area (not far from UBC, and near the airport), and in Vancouver (whose names I always forget, I will see what I can dig up). There are a couple of restaurants with aires, one I recall with good food but a horrible manager who yelled at everybody.

    Best greasy spoon though is probably the On Lok on E. Hastings… I don’t think it ever closes, so if you’re hungry at 3am…

    You might also consider the Liliget Feast House on Davie (and a walk on the Sea Wall after)… this is local aboriginal (somewhat updated fusion) cuisine… and you won’t find it anywhere else.

    If you’re at UBC, ask for Patricia Schulte (Dept. of Zoology), she knows her fish, and I bet could recommend a good salmon feed (like the Salmon House on the Hill). She’s true Science Scout, and dead “brilliant” to boot.

  14. “Why are you such a staunch realist? I don’t have a problem with it, but I feel it would be easier for the ignorant indocrinated public to accept evolution from someone who believes in some sort of juvenile fantasy (Ken Miller) than someone who goes denying the existence of fӕries. If you really want evolution to be taught, why don’t you lighten up a bit on your realist rhetoric?”

  15. Jerry,

    Here’s some recommendations from my good friend Ann Mac in Vancouver:

    Hi Stu,
    Unfortunately, there wouldn’t be many asian restaurants in the UBC area but if your friend is willing to go downtown or Richmond, then there are quite a few:

    Golden Spring (Szechuan) Restaurant
    160-4200 No. 3 Road, Richmond, BC V6X 2C2
    (604) 273-3388

    for Shanghai food:
    Su Hang Restaurant
    100-8291 Ackroyd Road, Richmond, BC V6X 3K5
    (604) 278-7787

    for dim sum: (they actually have one in Richmond, 2 in Vancouver, 1 in Coquitlam and 1 in New Westminster)
    Kirin Mandarin Restaurant
    102-1166 Alberni Street, Vancouver, BC V6E 3Z3
    (604) 682-8833 – (604) 682-3038 – (604) 688-2812 (Fax)
    http://www.facebook.com/l/9cd1c;www.kirinrestaurants.com

    For some yummy japanese tapas:
    http://www.facebook.com/l/9cd1c;www.guu-izakaya.com
    They have a few locations in Vancouver and Richmond

    For good sushi:
    http://www.facebook.com/l/9cd1c;tojos.com/Splash.html
    http://www.facebook.com/l/9cd1c;www.toshi.ca/
    http://www.facebook.com/l/9cd1c;mikurestaurant.com/
    http://www.facebook.com/l/9cd1c;www.octopusgarden.ca/

    Lemme know if he has any other requests =) vancouver is THE place for good asian food!!

  16. Will you post a report on your Stevenson talk? I have a nephew (2007) and niece (2008) who are alumni. My nephew wants to tech middle school science – he wants to beat back the forces of ignorance. I gave him a copy of WEIT right after it came out.

  17. Vancouver eats:

    Dai Tong restaurant, 1050 Kingsway (near Knight)

    Red Star restaurant, 8298 Granville St. (Dim Sum is nice, diner is $$$ for Vancouver)

    Szechuan Chongqing Restaurant, 2808 Commercial Dr. (they have seafood house too)

  18. Would you mind mentioning what time is your talk?
    It’s not up on the site, and is not on a regular day, so desperately curious whether or not it conflicts with my final that day…o_O

  19. Thanks to all for your food suggestions! I’m going to Sun Sui Wah on Monday and will pick among the suggestions for Tuesday dinner.

  20. Great talk, my high school students who came seemed to enjoy it, and your talk was very much at a level they could grasp.

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