Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker get us caught up on the news, for instance the FFRF victory declaring the Ten Commandments unconstitutional at a Pennsylvania high school, a county clerk refusing to grant gay marriage licenses, group baptisms on the high-school football field, “In God We Trust” on police cars, a Jesus statue in a federal park, and a year-long nativity scene in New Mexico. Their guest is Kansas biographer Vickie Sandell Stang,l author of Etta Semple: Kansas Freethinker and “Ideal” Woman.
Plans for the rest of the show changed this week as I learned of the death of Cornell University Emeritus Professor of evolutionary biology, William B. Provine. Will Provine died at his home on Tuesday, September 1. He had been battling brain cancer for many years. Will Provine was a rare combination of intellect, courage and humanity who touched the lives of many students and colleagues during his decades at Cornell. He also became a nationally known figure from his public debates with prominent creationists and even some debates with his fellow evolutionists. He never swayed from the view, unpopular with most of his colleagues, that accepting evolution by natural selection as the engine of biological innovation and diversity necessarily implies the falsity of theistic religion and other cherished beliefs such as human free will. His scholarly contributions to the history of evolutionary biology for which he won many awards were equalled if not surpassed by the difference he made in the lives of his many students and colleagues. I interviewed Will Provine at his home in Marathon, New York in January of 2013. I will replay that interview for you today.