The Alder Grove

"In my sleep thought that I was standing in an alder grove of the straightest and fairest trees which the heart of man could think of or imagine."

Science vs God

I finally did something I've wanted to do for *ages* ... I got to see Lawrence Krauss up close and personal at a live event. So, here's my disclaimer: it's entirely possible that I have a teeny tiny nerd-crush on Prof. Krauss. (And anyone who knows me is either laughing or snorting derisively...I know who you are!) Just because he's incredibly brilliant, handsome, charming, witty and I love not only his books but hearing him speak does NOT mean... (/p>
Fine, whatever. At any rate, it was a nice day for hoofing it around Toronto so I walked up for some food at Caplansky's (like I could pass up smoked meat and latke's) and got to the event fairly early. Proceeded to make new friends who were as masochistic as I was for standing outside in the chilly weather to get really good seats. We chatted about Prof. Krauss and his various partners in crime, the upcoming Reason Rally and Non-Conference, cool places to learn about science-y things and eventually went in to get seats. Front row with all my new peeps from the line to make sure the people who live in the real world were well represented. I have to admit that he had made a comment on Twitter that got me thinking a few days before the event, "What if I am alone in a crowd of religious zealots and creationist????" So, thankfully that was not the case!

It would have been much more enjoyable just to hear Prof. Krauss but this was a Science vs God debate so there was also a guy named Stephen Meyer going on about Intelligent Design and a creationist "scientist" named Denis Lamoureux. Same tired old claims from the creationist side and this ridiculous thing about combination locks from the IDer, though I will give Meyer props for struggling through the debate with a migraine. He gets credit for being a trooper but not for anything he actually said. And before he made his argument...Prof. Krauss just dismantled Meyer. It was pretty fantastic to behold. "Stephen will come across as an interested scholar, and I want to disabuse you of that right away." and just took off after that. (I'll put a link to the debate at the end, you should watch it.) I'm not going to go into the meat of the debate as you should see it and judge the arguments for yourself. I will just say that science wiped the floor with the religion based crap the others were spouting.

Unbeknownst to me prior to the even, there was a reception after the debate. I didn't have a lot of time between the end an the last bus out of Toronto but decided that I had to go. It could be ages before he's back in Toronto for an event, especially since it's likely going to be at least a year until his next book comes out. I was in there for a bit, signed up for CFI Canada membership which I've been meaning to do for a while -- goes well with my membership in the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science as well as in The Planetary Society. Then I noticed Prof. Krauss came in and had a small crowd around him.

Granted, I have a little nerd-crush on him...but he was also pretty important in changing my life. I wrote a blog post a while back about how important Richard Dawkins was (along with Christopher Hitchens) in exposing me to this wonderful world of scientific inquiry, skepticism and more reasonable thinking. But I don't think that I actually would have had the courage to actually even admit to *myself* let alone anyone else that I was an atheist without Prof. Krauss. He was this incredibly forthright and passionate communicator of science and critical thinking and unabashedly atheist. I'm not exactly sure what it was that really resonated so much with what he said but there it is. He's taught me so much about physics that I had NO idea about...made me so excited about things like gravitational waves and just gave me the feeling like I could be really honest about who I really was and how I really saw the world. So...when I was standing a few steps away from him and he finished talking to a cute little retiree about how Prof. Dawkins was doing I thought to myself, "I'm going to thank him for everything he's brought into my life...." And as he was going to go and get a drink, he looked at me and said, "Hey, I saw you sitting in the front row! Thanks for coming."

I probably looked like I'd been hit in the back of the head with a board right at that moment. Let's be honest, doesn't matter how embarrassing it is...I had one thought sprint through my mind. "Lawrence Krauss just talked to me." Granted I was sitting right in his line of view and I did have my RDFRS membership pic quite visible (and again, anyone who knows me also knows that I'm never the quietest person in any room. EVER) but I will take what I can get. And although I did not get to have what I'm sure would have been a very witty and erudite conversation between the two of us (hey, one can dream...don't ruin the little picture I have built up in my mind about that), I did get him to sign my book and to listen to him mentioning his current areas of research and talking physics with people. Plus, I did not say anything that I would be mortified about at a later date. Not yet anyway, lol. It was an amazing night and I'll look forward to the next time he comes back to Toronto for an event. I will end, giving the last word to him and not myself...

And a link to the debate -

Addendum: One thing that came out of this debate..and out of even following Lawrence Krauss' Twitter is that I seem to get in a hell of a lot more online arguments than I used to. Which it turns out can sometimes be fun. But if you are viewing the debate you are going to see me in the comments section calling a couple of people idiots. I think I've been drinking the Kool-Aid a lot. ;-)