Oregon or bust

Get ready, West coast: in two weeks I’ll be in Ashland, Oregon, speaking in the Meese Room, Hannon Library, at Southern Oregon University, at 7:00pm on 23 April. If you aren’t a student, you’ll have to pay a whole $10 to hear me — that’s more than I’d pay to see a Michael Bay movie, and I won’t have any car chases or explosions! This is a talk sponsored by The Jefferson Center, and you should check them out if you want to know more. There may be other events around that date — I know I’m doing a radio program one morning, and I’ll be there for a few days.

The subject of the talk is the legacy of Charles Darwin, and I’ll be specifically talking about “Darwin and Design“. It’s one of the annoyingly ahistorical properties of creationists that they don’t look at the evidence, forgeting all the arguments that went on before, and they don’t seem to realize that Darwin’s Origin is fundamentally one long argument against design and intent in nature. I’m going to talk about both the history of the argument, from Paley to Darwin, and the modern evidence that demonstrates the dysfunctional uselessness of this repackaged theology called “Intelligent Design creationism”.

It should be fun. It should be even more fun if a few of you Oregonians who read the blog can make it.


  1. Phaedrus says

    Any chance of you coming to the dry side of the mountains? We’ve got an extra room and would love to show you around the high desert :)

  2. Todd says

    Personally, I think a biology talk with car chases and explosions would bring in a larger crowd. *snicker*

  3. says

    Arguing against the vestiges of ignorance hanging onto humanity like an infected appendix.

    Of course, cultural evolution is also messy and often counterproductive, hence evidence can only have a minimal impact. It can have that, though.

    Glen D

  4. Marcus says

    Yeah and Sacramento would like a visit too. Come down here and you get to go have beers with Arnie. I’m sure Ashland doesn’t have any movie star governors in residence.

  5. Goldenmane says

    For the sixth time, what do we have to do to get you over here to Aus?

    I’ll shout you a beer, if that would help…

  6. says

    I like the Oregon high desert, and made several trips there before.

    I should warn you, though, that every time we visited Bend, it rained. It was so consistent it was getting a little creepy. I think I should only come if there is a drought, and I should charge extra. A lot extra.

  7. says

    I’m so easy. Cover the cost of my travel, and I’m there — I don’t care if it is Australia or Uzbekistan. And I’m going to be very, very flexible after mid-May, since I’ll be on sabbatical…as long as all of my time doesn’t get eaten away with travel, I’m good.

  8. michael says

    Surely you will come to give a talk somewhere in Portland? Hmmmmm I wonder if I can arrange for my university to invite you on such super-short notice…

  9. says

    I spent many years in Ashland, beautiful town. If you have any extra time pop down to Mt. Shasta,CA and visit the Lemurians. It should be beautiful this time of year. Stop by Stewart Hot Spring for a nice soak. Amazing to think that that big ol’ mountain sprouted up in just 6000 years.

  10. says

    Come to think of it, it is a volcano. It actually could have sprouted up in a lot less time than even the creobots could imagine.

  11. Scott from Oregon says

    As long as you promise not to talk about politics I may just mosey over.

    It is always a pleasure to hear someone speak about something that they have great insight into and passion for…

  12. says

    PZ, you really should give The Jefferson Center a stern talking-too. Their abundant usage of the comic sans font makes them look like a creationist organization.

  13. Michelle says

    Any chance you’d like to do a talk down in the Kansas City area? The creationist knuckleheads need a dose of this. I’d be in the audience for sure.

  14. says

    Makes me wish I hadn’t left Oregon for Colorado! I would love to be there.

    However, Colorado is a very acceptable substitute for Oregon. Except for the politics. :p

  15. NewEnglandBob says

    Michelle @16:

    The creationist knuckleheads need a dose of this. I’d be in the audience for sure.

    We could have a lot of fun with those two sentences. The latter might read “Critical thinking people who understand evolution like me will also be in the audience.”

  16. gin says

    Hey PDX-ers–I put the word out (on facebook, alas…the CFI group) to see about raising some funds to cover PZ’s travel costs; I can throw down a little cash, but only a little. Anyone willing to donate their milk money for An Evening With PZ? Aw, c’mon…

  17. madrone says

    Just emailed a request for a couple of tickets. Hope there’s nothing good on the TV that night.

  18. Phaedrus says

    They say Bend has 315 sunny days a year, but I haven’t seen it. Moved here from Flagstaff, AZ, and the initial feel of the town was similar – kind of a hip, progressive community on the edge of the desert – but the more I’m here the more I see the differences. Lots more money in Bend, none of the grungy, dank hangouts like Flagstaff had (though they’re doing away with those, now) and no University. The last one really makes a difference. The level of energy and culture that a University brings to a community, all the kids and all the egg-heads, can’t be overstated.

    Yeah, come to Bend and I can’t guarantee no rain, only a sunny welcome.

  19. Will Von Wizzlepig says

    Aw, maaan. Ashland is reeeeeally far.

    I’ll hedge my bets that something good comes up in Portland in the near future.

  20. says

    Oregon Is The Best State*. Darn to Heck the fate that has me in Multibore. Anybody know of any well funded cyanobacteria labs in Oregon looking for freshly minted Ph.D.s?

    I second (or third; either I lost count or the first poster posted twice) Standing Stone brewery. Their eats are toothsome too. Some pretty fine hiking just outside of town (e.g. a little ways up the steep roads into the hills).

    And take the time to walk in Lithia Park – keep your eyes open for ginormous squirrels and some cool, tall, hairless horsetails!

    Oh, and you know about the theatre stuff there, right?

    *You can quote me on that!

  21. Jesse says

    I live in Medford, just up the road– so I’ll be there! :)

    Local breweries I know of:

    * Caldera (Ashland)
    * Standing Stone (Ashland)
    * Southern Oregon Brewing (Medford)
    * Walkabout (Central Point)

    And a gaggle of wineries, great cheese, chocolate, etc.. You’ll have no shortage of gustatory options. Hope you enjoy your visit, and I’m looking forward to hearing you speak!

  22. Tim H says

    Oregon or bust

    And the pirate figurehead from yesterday.

    Do I detect a new cleavage obsession here? Or is it an old one I wasn’t previously aware of?

  23. DJ says

    If you think of it, would you please post audio of it aferward? If possible that is.

    Would be interesting to hear it, and I can’t attend since I’m nowhere near Oregon.

  24. Menyambal says

    That “who is your creator” spam in #25 is a link to yet another creationist website with the same tired nonsense, done up in the standard irritating colors and appeals to authority, quote-mining and evils-of-evolution. Jesus-ness is required, not hidden, so they get credit for bringing out the crazy, not just the fake science.

    The bitter irony of the site is that they argue that natural selection is not creative, but eliminative (well, Duh!), and yet they try their damnedest to eliminate evolution without providing anything creative about their fairy friends. Natural selection will eliminate natural selection, evidently, and arrive at truth.

    It reminds me of the Christian parable about wheat and tares, where God winnows out bad souls. Christianity is about separation of the fit from the unfit, eternal life or death and destruction, yet Christians squeal like stuck pigs at the concept of natural selection. Then they go off to a ball-game and cheer for their team to survive to the finals.

    One of the billboards the group sponsors says the site offers the chance to post your opinion about evolution, but the site itself doesn’t. My opinion is that the site sucks, and evolution works.

    BTW, a chimp isn’t a monkey, and that’s a fact.

  25. says

    Hey Jesse, my husband and I are also in Medford. If he can ditch class that night we’ll be there.

    I second everyone on Standing Stone Brewery in Ashland, it’s a must stop. And I’ll ask the hubbo about good trails in the area, if you do want to hike.

    And for the rest of you who might miss it, if that radio gig is on The Jefferson Exchange, which is the most likely, you can subscribe in iTunes or listen online http://www.jeffnet.org.

  26. Jyotsana says

    I’d love to be there too, but there’s just no way I can make it down to Ashland and back on a week night :(

  27. says


    I live in Vancouver, Washington, so I’m only about four hours away. The real trick will be figuring out how to get there.

    I’m fifteen, but my parents are serious Jehovah’s Witnesses. I mentioned it to my mom and she didn’t immediately shoot me down– /major/ progress. I’d like to see if I could get one of my parents to take me down to Ashland– maybe I could even get whoever takes me to sit in on it. That would be awesome, as they have a terrible view of what atheism is and they tend to use a lot of bogus arguments against evolution.

    Hmmm… that would be great. I’ll start working on them, lmao.

  28. Jason says

    I’m an SOU Biology student, and I wouldn’t miss this for the world!

    But the Meese Room is small… If our Darwin Week talks are any indication, the room will be overflowing. PZ, you should ask them if they can reserve the auditorium in the Science building instead!

  29. dave souza says

    Why only back to Paley? Almost a century earlier, John Ray started the natural theology kick, introducing species as static and fixed, their adaptation and complexity designed by God, with varieties showing minor differences caused by local conditions. The medievals seem to have much less fixed ideas about creation..

  30. M.J. says

    Hmm…that’s a six hour drive one-way from my part of the Oregon Coast. Hey P.Z., would you sign my copy of The Case for a Creator?

  31. UMM Rules says

    PZ, if you’re flexible, perhaps you could debate Dr. Charles Jackson at the real U. of M., or even in Morris. I understand he ate one of your proteges for lunch. He’s no Dr. Jeffery Simmons, so you’ll probably cower behind this excuse.

    (First post of this went to the wrong thread, my apologies.)

  32. Otto says

    Speaking of science talks, I was yesterday at Ken Millers
    lecture at the St Kates in St Paul.
    Ken is a fine speaker and quite funny. He did a fine job
    squashing intelligent design, with lots of neat examples.

    I am afraid the second part of the lecture about why there
    ought to be a god did not make much sense to me and
    strengthened my opinion that religion is a question of
    emotion and not reason.

    There was an IDiot during Q/A, a somewhat obnoxious guy.
    Ken did a great job of putting that guy down.
    Overall it was fun and I am glad PZ alerted us to the event.

  33. ESPness says

    Would it be difficult to get some video shot for those of us that would have to take a 12 hour flight to see PZ in the flesh (..so to speak)?

  34. Menyambal says

    UMM Rules, could you provide a link to your Dr. Charles Jackson? The only creationist one I found was pathetic.

    Or were you making a joke?

  35. Nanu Nanu says

    Literally the whole state away. :[
    Sucks so much. I read that you’re coming to Oregon, look up where Ashland is and see from a cursory glance at images it is on the coast no less! I go to google maps and I am then mocked by a line that cuts through the entire state.


  36. Menyambal says

    UMM Rules, you are a jerk. Did you not read that I found a Dr. Charles Jackson? I didn’t need your “let me Google that for you” link. Putz.

    The Dr. Charles Jackson that I Googled up is an idiot. He says that evolutionists think that crossing a donkey and a horse produces a new SPECIES of animal, but since mules are sterile and can’t possibly reproduce as a species, evolution falls apart. He doesn’t just say that, he cackles and ridicules while he does it, patting himself on the back the while.

    So I asked if that is YOUR Dr. Charles Jackson, or another, and are you joking or what?

  37. Ian says

    Born and raised Oregonian here, with in-laws in that area and my parents in the high-desert.

    I was hoping to be able to plan a trip down there to see this, but alas, my work schedule does not permit this.

    Is there anyway that this talk will be available in either video or audio format at some point?


    And when are you coming to Seattle, PZ?

  38. Menyambal says

    I still don’t know if UMM Rules was serious about debating Dr. Charles Jackson, but the first Dr. Charles Jackson that shows up in Google is at Points of Origins Ministries and is one strange fellow. He’s been speaking since 1975, which may be when they took the picture that makes him look like one of the Village People.

    Maybe “Dr. J” is bent–he does like the teens, and has a heartily jolly way of addressing the boys. I don’t think the Pope would allow him in the Catholic Church nowadays.

    This is the e-mail exchange that I found especially risible:

    Dr. J, this statement was in our local newspaper. Thought you would find it interesting.

    “If you have ever been around a farm or ranch you know if you breed a donkey with a donkey, you get a donkey. If you breed a horse with a horse, you get a horse; but if you breed a donkey with a horse you get a mule. That is evolution staring you squarely in the face.” Bryan

    Bryan, evo’s are never so wrong … as when they think they’re so right! Ha … this one’s easy! (My job is so much fun!) How is the donkey-horse hybrid … “evolution staring you squarely in the face”… when anyone who’s “ever been around a farm” knows … a mule … is … sterile??! Sterile! Doesn’t “evolution” have a bit of an … er … problem … if every “new species” it creates … can’t even make babies??! That kinda puts a screechin’ halt to evolution … doesn’t it? I’m screamin’ here … ha … I’m laughin’ … ha! … these guys are so lame-o. Don’t let’em scare you Bryan my brother. ‘Truth is … they got nuthin! Have nice day, says Doctor J.

    Ewww. Just in case one of the creep’s boys is reading this, the mule is not a new species. The mule is evidence that horses and donkeys used to be one breeding species that separated, and have now separated enough that fertile cross-breeds are no longer possible. A few million years back, they could produce fertile offspring, a few million years on, they won’t be able to cross-breed at all. A mule is a snapshot of speciation in process, and is stubborn proof of evolution.

    Ask yourself, boys, why on earth would God create two different kinds of animals that could make offspring at all, let alone infertile offspring? Think really hard before you say that mules are useful, so God made it possible for man to get them. God doesn’t just forbid the making of mules, He “thou shalt not”s it. Dr J doesn’t know that, of course.

    Here’s a question for you to ask the Creep Doctor: “How many mules did Noah take on the Ark?”

  39. clinteas says

    UMMrules @ 144,

    Kwok,is that you??

    I understand he ate one of your proteges for lunch

    To interpret the debate between Abbie and Jackson that way you either have to be biased braindead,or incredibly stupid,or both.
    Both,I guess.

  40. Platytude says

    I’ll be there. I lived in Ashland for close to 10 years. Thankfully, I don’t live too far way. Nothing could keep me away.

  41. Jimmy says

    Already have my ticket and am so looking forward to the evening. Ironic that you’re speaking in Ashland which is really the Woo Woo capital of southern Oregon.

  42. Bart Mitchell says

    Phaedrus, have you joined the local atheist club here in Bend? I signed up for their mailing list, and they are having a meeting at McMinamins pub (oh the irony. An atheist meet up in a catholic school converted into a pub)

    I wish I could swing down and see you PZ. Ashland is a bit far for a school night. Have a good time, Oregon may play second fiddle to New England on the secular scale, but we still know how to blaspheme with the best of them.

  43. Jimmy says

    I wonder if the creabots of Southern Oregon have found out about your talk yet, PZ. I’m sure that a greeting with pitchforks and torches (metaphorically) would tickle you right down to your cuttlebone.

  44. Kathy says

    Dang it. Can’t make it to Ashland on a Thursday, but if you find yourself in Portland (and I’m willing to chip in a bit for that), I’d definitely come (and bring the engineer husband with me)! He will happily drink microbrews with you, and I will be the designated driver.

  45. Jeanette Garcia says

    PZ, I hope you will make it to Eugene, or Portland will do. – Those of you that attend, please report back.

  46. genewitch says

    I was on my phone typing, earlier, so i’ll type more now!

    I was in Ashland a week ago looking for work as my last hope of finding a well paying tech job in this part of Oregon. I’m actually less than an hour away during the day, if i take the mountain pass in my truck.

    Klamath Falls, Medford, Ashland, Bend… they’re all worthless, except for the schools, i suppose.

    I’m moving out of Oregon at the beginning of June, so i’m glad i’ll get to hear you speak in a couple of weeks! Maybe i’ll get you to sign a picture of a ocean creature and have it converted into a bumper sticker!

    @61: I haven’t noticed that many creobots, more of the Republobots, which are like creobots without the bible thumping.

  47. genewitch says

    Ugh triple post, i apologize. Some people were asking about a video… PZ is it possible i could record it? i have some audio gear and a camera that records video… Would i have to check with the university or what?

  48. Ryan Egesdahl says

    Aw, nuts! I’m making a special trip to visit my family in Oregon around that time – but I go home on the 23rd!

  49. Zack says

    ah that sucks you are just a little too far of a drive from portland. if you came to portland i know you would have a very large turnout

  50. raven says

    NEAR the coast, okay; for large values of near.

    Also have to go over a huge mountain range to hit the coast, the Siskyous. It’s been a long while since I made that drive, think you go up to Grants Pass and take the Takilma-Cave Junction highway through survivalist country.

  51. says

    Perhaps all you Southern Oregonians (let’s hear it for the State of Jefferson!) want to meet up beforehand or after? I had no idea so many fellow Pharnygula readers lived near me! Woot!

  52. AngelWolf says

    Can’t wait to see you in Ashland! It’s not often we get really good speakers here in the southern hinterlands of Oregon.

  53. Everbleed says

    Such good news! PZ will be near! So it’s Oregon or bust for me too!

    Seeing PZ in person will be a thrill. I look forward to the talk and just hope I can convince my daughter to come along.

    I also have to convince my wife to make some of her famous Roasted Pecan Carmel Corn for PZ to enjoy and share with his long suffering wife when he returns. She will forgive him for his absence after the first crunchy bite.

    What great news to start the day….

  54. Everbleed says


    The Hannon Library at SOU does NOT list PZ’s talk on its calendar!

    Could any locals recommend a decent cheap hotel to stay near the campus?

    Plus can we buy tickets in advance? Does anyone know?

    We are traveling 5 hours to get there. We would love to chip in for a dinner/party/orgy for PZ.

  55. Jesse says

    Hey, Annie C!

    Table Rock might be really fun if PZ feels like a hike– there are as you probably know some unique wildflowers up there (as in, grow nowhere else in the world), and this is the best time of year to go IMO, if it isn’t raining.

    I hope to see you there!

  56. says

    Everbleed & other SOUs:

    Paper the campus with flyers (or whatever it is one does these days on campus). That’s my recommendation. Announce things on the campus radio. Access your local facebook network.

  57. says

    Apologies. I somehow got the impression that Everbleed was not 5 hours away, despite any explicit commentary to the contrary. So slap my face and call me a bacon eater.

  58. Everbleed says

    I chatted with the Hannon Library. The room seats 85 – 100 people.

    I spoke with a charming fellow named Robert Semes of The Jefferson Center. (Link above in PZ’s post) Tickets can be purchased in advance. Robert said he would get the event listed on the Library calendar.

    ALSO. There is a special benefit breakfast the next morning (April 24th) for the Center. Just $50… and that pays your $10 for the prior evenings event as well. We get to have breakfast with PZ. Damn well worth the drive.

  59. BjornFeuer says

    I was going to stay at my girlfriends’ house in Medford and swing down and attend… but she broke up with me last week AND I got layed off.

    I hope you come to Oregon again sometime : /