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Dan Dennett brings laughter and “memes” to BHA’s second Darwin 200 event

Eminent philosopher Dan Dennett addressed a packed-out Conway Hall last night, as he spoke in the second event in the British Humanist Association’s Darwin 200 series of events.

BHA Vice President Professor Richard Dawkins chaired the event, and described Mr Dennett as one of the “great explainers”. This description was quickly realised as Mr Dennett embarked on a fascinating lecture on ‘A Darwinian Perspective on Religion’, in which he drew on and developed the
“memetic” approach – in a way that was understandable even to the beginner.

Taking an historical and multi-discipline perspective, Mr Dennett explained how the evolutionary process of adaptation was the only way to explain not solely life, variety, species and so on but language, communication and, crucially, religions.

Religions have developed in many ways and different parts of religion have evolved for different reasons. In an analogy with Dumbo’s “magic feather”, religion was described as a “crutch”, it is an illusion that we need it in order to have morality, or to make sense of the world and so on. Mr Dennett encouraged us to get rid of that crutch, just as Dumbo got rid of his feather and found he could still fly without it.

Mr Dennett powerfully – but typically humorously – concluded his lecture with explaining why religion and the promotion of it is harmful and damaging to the rational, scientific world in which we live.


For comment or information, contact Andrew Copson, Director of Education, on 07534 248 596.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing the interests of the large and growing population of ethically concerned non-religious people living in the UK. It exists to support and represent such people, who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs.

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