One of the world's most renowned evolutionary biologists returned to Randolph College this fall to encourage students and the community to appreciate the "magic" of science.
Richard Dawkins, once deemed "Darwin's Rottweiler" by Discover Magazine, spoke to a standing room- only audience in Smith Hall Theatre a day after his newest book, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True, was released in the United States. Before the evening lecture, which drew about 800 people, Dawkins spent time visiting with students, faculty, staff, alumnae, and alumni in addition to giving multiple local and national media interviews. Unlike many of his other books, The Magic of Reality was written and illustrated to be understood by children and adults. Each chapter discusses myths that have been used to describe the world's mysteries, followed by scientific explanations.
"I hope you'll enjoy the science that comes after the myths," Dawkins said. "The truth is magical."
During his lecture, he explained that the theory of biological evolution does not require a belief that the human species is the result of random chance; but rather, that natural selection over millions of generations brought about life.
Scientific inquiry is needed to answer the questions science has not answered yet, he added.
"We shouldn't rest until we've improved our science, until it can provide an explanation."
Dawkins spoke at the College in 2006 while promoting his book The God Delusion. He believes liberal arts and sciences institutions like Randolph College can play a key role in helping more people understand and appreciate science.
"Although we need practicing scientists who actually can do research in science, it's also a good thing if everybody, whether they're professional scientists or not, appreciates science at a poetic level," he said. "You can't really live a complete life unless you understand why the world you live in exists."