Noble clashes with Dawkins this Saturday

The “How the Light Gets in Festival” will be featuring a debate between my mentor, friend and scientific hero Denis Noble and renowned atheist Richard Dawkins.

They throw down at 10:30 AM BST Saturday June 4.

A description of the debate topic is below. You can watch live by going here

And scrolling down to “Online Tickets.” You can purchase the package that best suits your needs.

If you prefer to watch the recording later…you can view it at with a subscription.

The Gene Machine:

Dawkins‘ Selfish Gene has been hugely influential, both within evolutionary biology and in the wider public sphere. It’s a beautifully simple story: genes and not organisms drive evolutionary change. But critics argue the story is simplistic. The effect of a gene is not always the same and as is dependent on its host and the cell environment. DNA does not come neatly divided into individual genes. And in 2010 the renowned biologist EO Wilson and others revived the case for group selection. Some are now arguing that the Selfish Gene paradigm is holding back medical research.

Is it time to move on and acknowledge that Dawkins‘ theory is not the whole story? Might his theory be making a fundamental mistake in reducing humans to machines? Or does the Selfish Gene remain a remarkably powerful and accurate account of who we are?

World-famous scientist Richard Dawkins goes head-to-head with celebrated biologist Denis Noble as they lock horns over the role of genes over the eons

Seize the day,

Perry Marshall

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3 Responses

  1. Neal Kendall says:

    Perry, I will tell exactly how this will go. Noble will start talking about the “third way” evolutionary processes i.e. what you have referred to as “Evolution 2.0 features” and what James Shapiro calls “Natural Genetic Engineering” and Dawkins will ask how those marvellous evolutionary features came to exist. At that point Noble either has to admit that these Third way/Evo20/NGE features evolved through neo-Dawinian processes (piecemeal incremental mutation and natural selection) or invoke intelligent design. There is no other alternative. He won’t attribute them to design and neither would Shapiro…they are engaged in a fool’s errand…Dawkins included.
    Thx for setting it up. I will tune in.

  2. Sui Huang says:

    Unfortunately, I missed this discussion because of time-zone difference…

    @Neall: I appreciate your comment and the naming of “alternatives”.
    But I think it is wrong to talk about alternatives when Third Way and Evolution 2.0 do strictly not exclude key tenets Neo-Darwinian principles, despite the provocatively named to suggest some some sort of “replacement”. They are not mutually exclusive. All can be reconciled. It is hence wrong to talk about “alternatives” and that there is “no other alternative” to neo-Darwinian processes. It is more wrong to adhere with religious fervor (yes even atheists are not immune to that) to Neo-Darwinian ideas only to stretch them to unrecognition in order to explain new findings of biology.

    The implication that Neo-Darwinism explains everything (since “there is no alternative”) is troublesome, for a theory that explain everything, explains nothing.

    • Neal Kendall says:

      Hello Sui thanks for the comment. It is possible that I did not make the point about “no other alternative” clear. What I meant is that either purely naturalistic processes (such as neo-darwinian processes) constitute a set of sufficient causes to produce all the life forms and their specific features or they are not sufficient. And if natural processes are not sufficient to account for all the life forms and features then you must invoke some form of teleology, i.e. some set of causes beyond natural causes. I think the Third Way/Evo2.0/Natural Genetic Evolutionfeatures are correct. The problem is how did they come to exist? Were they created by some purely naturalistic processes (i.e. neo-darwinian) or were there some category of causes that are beyond natural processes, e.g. intelligent design ?

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