John Lennox: 7 Days That Divide the World (Transcript)

Full text of John Lennox’s talk titled ‘Seven Days That Divide the World’.

Eric Metaxas and Socrates in the City present an evening with John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, at the Union Club in New York City on January 31, 2013.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here:


ERIC METAXAS: Well, good evening, and welcome to Socrates in the City. You can applaud. It’s great to see—no, no, that’s really not appropriate, please.

But it’s great to see so many of you here. As you know, we were totally sold out for this event, in fact, just because of sheer stupidity on the part of my staff. Not me. No. All right. I admit it. It was I who was sheerly stupid.

And I have to tell you, we oversold this to the extent that you got an email yesterday, I think, saying if some people wouldn’t mind staying home, we’d be very, very grateful. So anyway, you know that we tried to tempt a number of you, like the airlines, to sort of trade your seat for a meal voucher or something like that. And obviously, a number of people took us up on that. We really have no intention of honoring that, but we’re just glad that they didn’t show up. We just go on to the next town. They’ll never hear from us again.

Now, seriously, some of you were turned away mostly because there was simply no room. Others—and we won’t say who, but we just dislike you. But because everyone who wanted to be here could not be here, we promised we would get the video of this evening online as soon as possible. So hopefully in the next few days, it’s our intention to get these evenings out to a wider group than can fit in these wonderful rooms. And we are happy to do that with this talk as soon as we can.

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So stay tuned to or for a video of this event as soon as we put it up. And by the way, if you are watching me say these words on video right now, there’s no need to stay tuned.

Yeah, because you’ve already found the video, I think.

All right. Anyway, happy that many of you will be watching this online and that some of you are watching it online right now. We know that you are. We hope that you’re watching this online. And we will try to approximate in the video what it is like to physically be in this room right now to the extent that we can. Of course, if you are watching this online, you cannot possibly smell the lovely smell filling this room right now. I believe that’s corned beef and cabbage. Am I getting that right? That’s in honor of our Irish-born speaker. It’s just lovely. And those of you watching this online, you couldn’t possibly pick that up.

Now, I know that’s a cheap ethnic stereotype, but you really can’t have an Irish speaker with lots and lots of green beer, and that also is the smell filling the room. Isn’t it lovely, though, ladies and gentlemen? It’s lovely. Yes, yes. And some of you have drunk a wee bit too much, and we can smell that some people have gotten sick. It’s very embarrassing. So maybe you’re glad that you’re only watching this online. Yes, yes.

We want to bring in the cheap Irish ethnic stereotypes. We’re very used in New York to a homogenous group. So when foreign Irish people and so on and so forth, people born in Ireland, it’s just very exotic for us. Most of us are of simple Dutch stock in this room, and we’re just… we don’t know where to go. Yes.

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Anyway, I have to explain this to Dr. Lennox. He’s never been insulted in that way before, and I do apologize in advance. Most of us have literally never seen an Irishman before. That’s just the way it is in this room. We expected a big six-foot-five, called a big shocker, red hair and freckles all the way back to Killarney, don’t you know? And so that’s just who we are. We’re simple New Yorkers.

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