Archives for July, 2008

Karl Giberson offers up the usual cliches of the genre in in this essay for Salon. Those mean ol’ atheists are trying to make a religion out of science, but savvy clear thinkers like him see the problems with that little project. Blah blah blah. P.Z. has already spanked Giberson in this post. Nonetheless, there…

Haggstrom States it Plain

Continuing my perusal of the new Notices of the American Mathematical Society, I came across this review (PDF format) of John Allen Paulos recent book Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up. The review is by mathematician Olle Haggstrom. Paulos’ book has been sitting on my shelf for a…

What is Multiplication, Really?

Via Mark Chu-Carroll, I just finished reading this article by mathematician Keith Devlin. He writes: Let’s start with the underlying fact. Multiplication simply is not repeated addition, and telling young pupils it is inevitably leads to problems when they subsequently learn that it is not. Multiplication of natural numbers certainly gives the same result as…

Movies

Time for lighter fare. There are some really good movies out there… Warning: A few minor spoilers ahead.

Mt. Improbable?

There’s an interesting discussion going on between Larry Moran and Richard Dawkins. The subject is the title of Dawkins’ 1996 book Climbing Mt. Improbable. It started with this post over at Larry’s blog. He included Dawkins in his list of good science writers who were nonetheless excluded from Dawkins’ recent anthology of science writing. Along…

James Carse directed the Religious Studies Program at New York University for thirty years. In this interview with Salon, regarding his new book The Religious Case Against Belief, he gives us a taste of what he learned from all that study:

Is Modern Mathematics Reliable?

The new issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society turned up in my mailbox today. It features an interesting, if slightly disturbing, editorial (PDF format) by CUNY mathematician Melvyn Nathanson. He wonders about how confident we can really be regarding the proofs that appear in our research journals:

Locked Room Mysteries, Part II

For Part One, go here. Let us return now to the weighty topic of great locked room mysteries. In Part One I focused on the works of John Dickson Carr, who is certainly a central figure in the history of the genre. There are plenty of other works to be acknowledged, however, and we turn…

Sullivan’s Double Standard

Andrew Sullivan was not amused by P. Z.’s post: It is one thing to engage in free, if disrespectful, debate. It is another to repeatedly assault and ridicule and abuse something that is deeply sacred to a great many people. Calling the Holy Eucharist a “goddamned cracker” isn’t about free speech; it’s really about some…

Crackergate

As I was mulling over what I wanted to say about the PZ Myers / William Donohue kerfuffle, I came across this post (via Bora) by Jeff Fecke, that said perfectly exactly what I was thinking. Go read it.

Locked Room Mysteries, Part One

Somehow I’m not in the mood for a heavy post today. So how about an essay on another of my favorite topics: Locked Room mysteries. Here are the first two paragraphs of what I regard as the finest detective story ever written:

Baseball and Evolution

Let’s see. An op-ed in the New York Times entitled “Doubleday and Darwin”, with the following opening paragraph: As I sat in my high school math class one day, my teacher asked a question that I doubt will find a consensus opinion in my lifetime: “Was math invented or was it discovered?” To this day,…

Arguments for God

Remember a few posts back, when we saw Michael Ruse lecturing Richard Dawkins as follows: 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. Saint Augustine, one of the…

During my recent trip to the Creation Museum I picked up a copy of David DeWitt’s book Unraveling the Origins Controversy. DeWitt is the Director of the Center for Creation Studies at Liberty University. It’s been a while since I’ve read an actual YEC book, and I was growing nostalgic for the experience. And wouldn’t…