By Tomson Calland, produced for online by Jessica Riga
Concerns surrounding security are growing when evolutionary biologist and celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins visits Brisbane this month ahead of his lecture Science in the Soul.
The controversial figure promotes free speech and critical thinking, but is also a vocal atheist, and his views anger many people of faith.
In previous speeches Mr Dawkins has said, “I’m offended by chewing gum, I’m offended by backwards pointing baseball hats. But I don’t try to get a version of the blasphemy law passed to prevent people chewing gum or reserving their cap”.
His Brisbane lecture will be hosted by Thinkinc at the Southbank Piazza later this month, a venue that could create security issues.
Thinkinc owner and director Suzi Jamil is optimistic ahead of Dawkins visit, and hopes it will encourages open mindedness.
“Some people have ideas that change and challenge the way we see the world and a part of our mission is that people have a platform to speak,” said Ms Jamil.
Some have labelled his criticisms of religion as “hate speech” and past events involving Dawkins have been the target of protests.
In fact, similar events overseas have even been shut down due to violence, but event organisers say they are taking all necessary steps to ensure a safe event for everyone involved.
“At every single one of our shows there is definitely a security presence and we ensure that in certain situations we get bag checks done and they’re definitely always security guarding our talent and ensuring that our patrons are safe,” said Ms Jamil.
In his talk, Dawkins will weigh in on the current state of anti-scientific affairs and then engage in a question and answer session with attendees.
School head of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland Professor Richard Devetak may not agree with everything Dawkins says, but does agree we need to have safe spaces for expression of opinion.
“I think the key really is how to allow both the individual whose been given an invitation to speak and the protestors to do what they want to do without causing undue problem.”
The event takes place on Wednesday May 16 at the South Bank Piazza.