Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monkeying Around on Science Sunday!

For November’s Science Sunday, the UNCG Atheists screened an episode of The Life of Mammals (BBC).  Hosted by David Attenborough, this ten-part series is a magnificent exploration of the evolution and behavior of that remarkably variegated class of animals… mammals!  This class of vertebrate animals is characterized by “endothermy (internal regulation of body temperature, often known as warm-bloodedness), bearing live young (placental), and feeding their young with milk produced by mammary glands.”

Monkeys are differentiated from other primates in the following ways:

The cinematography of The Social Climbers is truly beautiful and mesmerizing. And David Attenborough’s narration is both poetically informative and highly accessible.   Attenborough is perhaps the world’s foremost film-maker of natural history, and has been at it for more than 25 years.  He is also a non-theist!  In an interview with Radio Times regarding hate mail and death threats from creationists, Attenborough stated that it never even occurred to him to believe in god, that the sermons he heard as a child sounded absurdly unbelievable, and that the cruel indifference of nature is “hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator.”

The film instigated a spirited group discussion regarding the nature of the emotional lives of non-human animals (with ethical implications as to how one should prioritize non-human animal well-being), and whether there’s somehow more than a naturalistic explanation for ‘love.’

Good times!

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