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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dispatch From the Saving Darwin Tour

FROM KARL GIBERSON: This morning I had my coffee in Penn Station, watching New Yorkers—who seem very nice—and listening to Coldplay on the speakers overhead, which is also very nice. I came to New York yesterday on the train for a special evening at The Harvard Club devoted to my book Saving Darwin, which argues that there is room for God within the grand narrative of evolution. The organizers brought Michael Shermer, the author of many books and the founding editor of Skeptic magazine, to interview me in front of an audience of 120 or so New York media people. Shermer doesn’t think there is room for God within the grand narrative of evolution, or anywhere else for that matter.
Shermer was expected to be a bit aggressive with the interview. After all, he edits a magazine dedicated to proving that sensible people shouldn’t believe things without adequate evidence, and my belief in God was certainly in that category. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a guy who hangs out with Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, who had been at the previous event at the Harvard Club. But Shermer was delightful. He had read Saving Darwin carefully and prodded me on the difficult points—divine action and the nature of consciousness in particular.
He asked good questions—a mix of philosophical and personal issues. Why do I believe in God? (Because I always have, and nobody has convinced me I should stop.) But what are the reasons to believe in God? (It makes a richer worldview and grounds the goodness of the world in something other than mere titillation.) So you believe in God for emotional reasons? (Yes, but not merely emotional reasons.)
I was especially flattered when Shermer encouraged the audience to read my brief narrative of cosmic history near the end of the book, a passage that he described as the “equal of anything that Carl Sagan had written.” Shermer is an outstanding writer and a compliment like this was deeply appreciated. Over dinner later, we talked about writing. Like me, he loves to write and is always happy when the research is done and he can get down to writing. I mentioned that Ed Larson felt the opposite; he told me once that he loves the research but finds the actual writing tedious—hardly what one would expect from a Pulitzer Prize winner.
When I got up this morning, I checked the Amazon ranking of Saving Darwin to see if the audience members had all hurried home and order copies. The overnight improvement in the ranking indicated that one copy had sold.


Anonymous said...

Shermer is intelligent and good-natured. But I'm not surprised that the event didn't help sales significantly. You really need to be interviewed by Rick Warren if you want improved sales!