Richard Dawkins addressed a sell out audience at Younger Hall on Thursday night.
Dawkins took to the stage to read extracts form his latest book Science in the Soul, an anthology of over 40 different pieces.
The event was held as part of the St Andrews Literary Festival, organised by Topping and Company Booksellers, which runs throughout October and November.
Speaking after the success of the evening, Katherine Harsant, bookseller at Topping and Co., said: “We had a really wonderful night last night with Richard Dawkins, he’s one of the most eminent scientists of our generation. He was here a few years ago so it’s wonderful that he was able to return to us.”
Dawkins was well received by event-goers who laughed along to his parody of Jeeves and Worcester, where the theory of evolution was comically explained, and marvelled at his vibrant observations of the evolutionary history of the Grand Canyon.
After his talk, the floor was open to the audience and questions ranged from how to engage with religious family members to what it would take for Dawkins himself to believe in a God.
Dawkins responded that: “Jesus would have to come down on a golden chariot from the clouds.”
Author of The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion, Dawkins has been met with admiration and opposition in equal measure throughout his career.
As recently as July this year, a California radio station cancelled an audience with the author after deciding certain comments he had made on Islam had “offended and hurt…so many people.”
Dawkins responded with an open letter accusing the station, KPFA, of failing to verify their sources and misinterpreting his views.
Thursday’s evening had no such controversy; instead it left many reflective and happy for a platform for open debate.
Nicholas Daly, a postgraduate student at St Andrews, said: “The Dawkins event made me wonder what he offers to people who think about literature and literary things but I think everyone should be able to talk, I would love to see more debates and more engagement.”
Another student, Anäis Durand said: “It shed some light on the things I believe in and have been engrained in me.”
The events run by Topping and Co. are sure to continue debate throughout St Andrews.
Looking ahead Harsant said: “We’re really happy to be able to attract such a variety of writers and we’re really looking forward to bringing more fabulous names to town as the Autumn progresses.”
For more information on author talks and book events follow this link: https://www.toppingbooks.co.uk/events/st-andrews/.