Excuse me, Father, I need to photograph a Godless man


Linda had two requirements for the husband, aka moi, yesterday: go to the men’s group meeting at Trinity, and then photograph British scientist and author Richard Dawkins, who was speaking at Kepler’s book store to promote his book, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, for InMenlo.

Trinity men managed a record turnout – 29 – in part because it was a first opportunity to meet up close with new Rector, the Rev. Matthew Dutton-Gillett, whom I have found to be an interesting, intelligent and focused guy. We, the men of Trinity, were, by and large, some decades older than the new Rector.

As church affairs tend to do, the evening dragged on a bit, and my iPhone buzzer was overheating with text and audio from spouse, who was waiting in the parking lot, engine running, to ferry me to Kepler’s (this was an InMenlo assignment, and Linda is almost as serious about InMenlo as she is about church events.)

I excused myself (really) by saying “Excuse me, Father, I need to photograph a Godless man” – Matthew smiled and dismissed the meeting, and I think he would have come over with me except it was late, he’d had a very long day, and he’d been warned it was a mob scene. In any case, Matthew has read Dawkins.

We knew that there would likely be a large turnout for this event, but even we, old hands at over-subscribed Kepler’s events, were amazed – Kepler’s had cleared out almost the entire store, and still, it was an overflow, standing-room only crowd – I’m guessing at least 500, possibly more. It was the largest crowd I’ve ever seen at Kepler’s in some 20 years of attending book-signings there.

Natch, we’re old hands at navigating Kepler’s labrynth of stacks, and managed to get close to the front. I then played the gimp card to push through the standees, and still had to use the longest lens in my bag to snap this shot of Monsieur Dawkins. Clearly, secular reasoning would seem to be trumping traditional faith, judging by turnout numbers, and, then, by at least an order of magnitude. Interestingly, Matthew made just that point when asked to make ad hoc remarks at the men’s event.

As mentioned in previous posts, I have no problem with evolution – if you believe that God created All, then, de facto, anything one observes in this universe is Divine, which includes constructs like evolution and all of science. Dawkins is a particularly eloquent explicator of a subject that is, actually, pretty difficult, as is most of science. I’m a Dawkins fan and am enthralled by his eloquent explications of very complictead – and marvelous – mechanisms thereof, but uncomfortable with his vehemence regarding faith… I’m uncomfortable with the vehemently faithful, too… Can we all talk?

Photo courtesy InMenlo.

Photo courtesy InMenlo.


About Chris Gulker

Chris Gulker, a self-described Infuential Blogger, lived in Menlo Park, California with spouse Linda. He passed away in late October 2010.
This entry was posted in All, Photos, Taking Faith. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Excuse me, Father, I need to photograph a Godless man

  1. Rob J says:

    Dawkins is very articulate, good speaker. Heard an interview with him on kpfa this morning on my way into work.

  2. cg says:

    Without question, one of the best speakers and writers I’v experienced. Not often that multiple talents appear in the same person….

  3. Anonymous says:

    Was surprised there ever was any question about evolution, but suppose if there was the slightest controversy to be found, money would be made. However, as time goes on, we’re learning more & more of evolution is not random but hard wired into physics. Very little evidence for hard wired life is actually allowed in publication of course & merely suggesting a fundamental origin of life around a public school will get you imprisoned or worse.

  4. Dawkins is remarkable – I even get some satisfaction from his anti-religious vehemence. Religion has earned every criticism just about anyone can throw at, but it hasn’t changed a thing, and I don’t see why it would: it has highly evolved resilience. Or I’d have given it up too. I’m a big fan of your photo, an editorial in its own right.

  5. Always with the good headlines, Gulker.

    Ol’ Richard’s smartened up since I last saw him – some publicist must’ve told him you can’t go selling books in posh places like Menlo Park dressed like your audience.

  6. heidi says:

    Hi Chris,
    I empathize with your search for some middle ground between the vehement religious and the staunch evolutionist. I listened to an interview with religious scholar Karen Armstrong promoting her latest book on God and I felt like she offered some good responses to the question of how can evolution and religion co-exist?
    see you soon, the trip looks amazing,

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