Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins dug into religion, science and politics Sunday in front of a packed audience at Lisner Auditorium.
The renowned author of “The God Delusion” criticized parents for “indoctrinating” their children with certain religious beliefs like creationism, and called forcing a religion on a young person “child abuse.”
“Religion robs young people of being educated in just how thrilling the universe is,” Dawkins said, adding that atheists are “up against people who believe that to be a good person, you have to be Christian.”
But the author also said he needed to be “more seductive and less in-your-face” when delivering his messages. Despite his enthusiasm for more atheists to “out” themselves, the 72-year-old Englishman said he mostly wants to be remembered for his contributions to the scientific community.
Dawkins visited campus to read excerpts from and sign copies of his memoir, “An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist,” and discuss his career with radio host Jamila Bey. The autobiography details his early childhood in colonial Africa, time studying at Oxford University and rise to fame with his bestselling books, such as “The Selfish Gene.”
The talk brought attention to the GW Secular Society, which relaunched last year and now boasts more than 100 members. The organization presented the event with the D.C.-based Center for Inquiry and the Richard Dawkins Foundation.
Monica Perez, president and co-founder of the GW Secular Society, said the group aims to provide a supportive community for non-believers on campus.
Bey, a journalist with a focus on issues concerning the separation of church and state, called for “another scientific renaissance” despite “a strong streak in anti-illectualism” in U.S. politics.
Lisner, which seats 1,490, sold 1,350 tickets Sunday night, including 150 to students.