Archives for May, 2008

Why Dawkins Can’t Win

From Michael Ruse’s review of The God Delusion in Isis: More seriously, Dawkins is entirely ignorant of the fact that no believer – with the possible exception of some English clerics in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries – has ever thought that arguments are the best support for belief. From Terry Eagleton’s review of The…

Reviewing Ruse’s Review

In his book Indiscrete Thoughts, mathematician Gian-Carlo Rota spoofed a certain style of book reviewing: The bane of expository work is Professor Neanderthal of Redwood Poly. In his time, Professor Neanderthal studied noncommutative ring theory with the great X, and over the years, despite heavy teaching and administrative commitments (including a deanship), he has found…

They Grow Up So Fast

There are certain milestone moments in the history of any household that, while representing small triumphs, are also tinged with a bit of sadness. Baby’s first steps. The first visit from the Tooth Fairy. High school graduation. Each represents a passage from a comfortable and familiar phase of life into something new and unknown. An…

Dawkins’ New Book

There is something about Richard Dawkins that seems to drive otherwise intelligent people completely out of their minds. Dawkins writes a book called The Selfish Gene, and some scholarly critics actually go after him on the grounds that genes can not be selfish. Then he wrote The God Delusion, a badly needed bit of pushback…

This Just In…

According to former White House Press Secretary Scott McLellan, the Bush administration has been somewhat less than forthcoming:

This essay by Peter Bebergal is getting some bloggy attention. Chad Orzel liked it. John Wilkins calls it “lovely, lyrical and wistful.” P.Z. is less impressed. I’m with P.Z. Surprise!

Creation Museum Turns One

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the big Creation Museum in Kentucky. They grow up so fast, don’t they? To recognize the occasion, the Northern Kentucky Enquirer offers us this article. It’s a sadly typical representative of the genre.

Congratulations to Janet!

It seems I’m not the only one who’s spent the last year worrying about whether I needed to update my CV. My SciBling Janet Stemwedel got tenure! In philosophy no less. (You can have a career doing that?) So congratulations to Janet!

Blogging is Good for You!

Check it out: Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off. Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell…

No God But God

I’m about halfway through Reza Aslan’s book No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam, published in 2005. I’ve read enough to recommend the book whole-heartedly. Aslan is an excellent writer who presents some very dry material with a lot of verve. At times the book is hard to put down. On…

Indiana Jones

The big Monty Hall book has finally been sent off to OUP, so it’s time to get back to blogging. We begin with lighter fare. I caught the midnight screening of the new Indiana Jones movie last night. Did it live up to its billing?

Every once in a while Chris Matthews does a good deed. On last night’s edition of Hardball he had conservative radio talk show host Kevin James on his show. James was keen to pontificate on the nature of appeasement. Matthews’ other guest was Mark Green. What happened next was priceless:

The Stupidity of Dignity

That’s the title of a truly excellent article by Stephen Pinker for The New Republic. The subject is the 500+ page report by the President’s Council on Biotheics attempting to define what human dignity actually is. I despair of selecting just a few quotes, since the whole article is superb, but I will give it…

Bush on Sacrifice

What a charming President we have: For the first time, Bush revealed a personal way in which he has tried to acknowledge the sacrifice of soldiers and their families: He has given up golf. “I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf,” he said.…

Evolution and Atheism Revisited

Ed Brayton has an interesting post on one of my favorite subjects. It is based on remarks made by two of Ed’s commenters. Let’s have a look. Commenter Sastra begins with the following: