13 March 2008

Dawkins v. Heller, and Other Things I've Read, Heard, or Thought About This Week

Priest-Cosmologist Wins $1.6 Million Templeton Prize -- Richard Dawkins was in Madison Tuesday promoting The God Delusion. Suffice it to say, reading about Fr. Heller this morning was a significant change of pace from Wednesday's news. I'm grateful for the juxtaposition though, because in investigating it this evening I found a totally fascinating, though aging, Heart of the Matter called "God Under the Microscope" (1 2 3 4). Dawkins and Heller are both on the panel.

Three thing are certain:

(1) Dawkins has definitely gotten more combative since this special was produced almost twelve years ago. More specifically, he's taken aim at non-fundamentalists, seemingly abandoning his earlier comment that "It may be true that among sophisticated modern theologians, there is no conflict [between religious and scientific ideology]." As that last link (the Onion AV Club review of The God Delusion) suggests, what's most obnoxious to people in mainstream denominations (or at least to me) is that while he claims to be preaching to us now, he nevertheless can't lay off the occasional "'You're either with us or you're with the abortion-clinic bombers' dualism." It's as if he fought the fundamentalists for so long that he keeps forgetting he's moved on to other targets.

(2) I love the BBC. I shudder to think what a special like this would turn into on, say, CNN, especial twelve years later.

(3) I miss the old Richard Dawkins. The one for whom teaching people about evolution was the primary goal and arguing against religion still at least seemed like a secondary, though admittedly titular (or maybe sub-titular?), goal. Seriously, he's one of my favorite science writers. I just wish he'd get back to it.


For an Aspiring Singer, a Harsher Spotlight -- In continuing New York Times coverage of the Elliot Spitzer story, two staff writers for arguably the world's best newspaper spend half an article basically just reading us Dupré's MySpace page. Hey, everybody standing at the Engineering Hall e-mail kiosk: get your résumés together.


What's Behind the Gender Gap in Education? -- My friend Ryan's back in action on the Freakonomics blog. He got an interesting discussion started today, though I'd perhaps skip the comments if you can't afford periodic blood pressure spikes.


Episcopal Church Votes to Oust Bishop Who Seceded -- I'll confess to not understanding all the political and religious subtleties involved here (not to mention the legal ones), but what exactly was the point of this decision? It just feels like sort of a "screw you" to a guy who's already gone anyway. Don't get me wrong: a part of me I'm not exactly proud of definitely doesn't want him back, but wouldn't just leaving well enough alone have been a better option for the House of Bishops?


Researchers Show Off Laser-Guided Robot -- Best line of the day. So, what does this fancy-pants robot do? "It simply grabs stuff you point at with a laser." Wow, a robot that can grab stuff and detect what a laser is pointing at?! (I don't mean to make light of this story, though, since this robot stands to help a lot of people. I just thought the prose was funny.)

Editorial note: I managed to resist publishing a drafted four sentence rant that was basically a dangling modifier joke disguised as an editorial quibble involving the word
that--or rather the absence of it--in the quoted sentence. As you can see, though, I was unable to resist at least pointing out that there's a dangling modifier joke to be made. I swear, Aaron Sorkin has turned me into frickin' Roger Rabbit when it comes to dangling modifiers. Gotta be strong. [Deep breath.]

Will wavering...
aggh...powerless to resist...

But how can the robot grab stuff with a laser??!!

No comments: