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Prominent atheist Richard Dawkins coming to Rochester in June

Prominent atheist Richard Dawkins coming to Rochester in June

(THE MED CITY BEAT) - One of academia's most outspoken critics of religion will speak to a crowd in Rochester this summer.

"An Evening with Richard Dawkins" is scheduled for June 9 at the Mayo Civic Center. Tickets for the show went on sale Wednesday.

Dawkins is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford and was the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008. He is well known for his criticism of creationism and intelligent design — and frequently travels across the world to speak in support of evolution.

He came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, which popularized the gene-centred view of evolution and introduced the term "meme." The first few lines of the book say all you need to know:

Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence. If superior creatures from space ever visit earth, the first question they will ask, in order to assess the level of our civilization, is: ‘Have they discovered evolution yet?’
— Richard Dawkins, "The Selfish Gene"

Other notable book releases include: The Blind Watchmaker (1986), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996) and The God Delusion (2006). His most recent book, An Appetite for Wonder, is an autobiography.

His around-the-world speaking tour is the focus of a recent documentary, The Unbelievers, which also features appearances by Woody Allen, Stephen Colbert and Stephen Hawking.

Dawkins frequently cites Charles Darwin as having a strong influence on his life and education. He told the National Geographic Channel Online in 2009:

Darwin told us why we exist and that’s not an easy question to answer. It’s not just us, it’s all living things. The living world is incredibly complex and staggeringly improbable – unless you understand where it came from; it looks as though it’s been designed; everyone thought that it was designed; but Darwin showed that it wasn’t. That’s the importance of Darwin.

Dawkins will be joined by special guest Julia Sweeney, a film director, author and comedian who worked on "Saturday Night Live" from 1990-94.

General admission to the show is $34. VIP tickets are $249, and include a pre-show reception with Dawkins from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. (show starts at 7 p.m.).

Tickets can be purchased at the civic center's box office or though Ticketmaster.


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(Cover photo: File / Steve Jurvetson / Creative Commons)

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