Richard Dawkins is a former Oxford professor, a big brainy dude who has made the case for evolution and the case against God. And he just loves his iPhone beyond all reason.
Dawkins has the enthusiasm of a teenage geek for new technology. “I love my iPhone,” he confesses. “I’m on my third already.” Then he shows me another phone app, this time simulating Darwinian natural selection. As each generation of a populace is born, the appearance of the group of individuals on screen varies.
All in all, he is an intriguing combination. He has the beady-eyed, fiercely scrutinising gaze of the Oxford professor inviting you for interview, and at the same time a warm and generous enthusiasm for science and all its manifestations (including those of Steve Jobs and the Apple corporation).
What follows is off-topic but I found it intriguing. It’s an excerpt from that new book in which Dawkins argues that creationists are worse than just harmless cranks. It’s worth clicking through and reading the whole thing.
Imagine that you are a teacher of Roman history and the Latin language, anxious to impart your enthusiasm for the ancient world — for the elegiacs of Ovid and the odes of Horace, the sinewy economy of Latin grammar as exhibited in the oratory of Cicero, the strategic niceties of the Punic Wars, the generalship of Julius Caesar and the voluptuous excesses of the later emperors. That’s a big undertaking and it takes time, concentration, dedication. Yet you find your precious time continually preyed upon, and your class’s attention distracted, by a baying pack of ignoramuses (as a Latin scholar you would know better than to say ignorami) who, with strong political and especially financial support, scurry about tirelessly attempting to persuade your unfortunate pupils that the Romans never existed. There never was a Roman Empire. The entire world came into existence only just beyond living memory. Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Catalan, Occitan, Romansh: all these languages and their constituent dialects sprang spontaneously and separately into being, and owe nothing to any predecessor such as Latin.
Instead of devoting your full attention to the noble vocation of classical scholar and teacher, you are forced to divert your time and energy to a rearguard defence of the proposition that the Romans existed at all: a defence against an exhibition of ignorant prejudice that would make you weep if you weren’t too busy fighting it.
Much love to Dear Reader Phil for the tip.