Month: April 2008

Berlinski strikes again

David Berlinski, the “agnostic mathematician” associated with the Intelligent Design movement, has just published a short piece online called “The Scientific Embrace of Atheism.” It’s largely a set of distortions. For example, The great physical scientists — Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Clerk Maxwell, Albert Einstein — were either men of religious commitment or religious sensibility. Berlinski strikes again

Mecca Standard Time

According to the BBC, at recent conference in Qatar, “Muslim scientists and clerics have called for the adoption of Mecca time to replace GMT, arguing that the Saudi city is the true centre of the Earth.” Indeed, “A prominent cleric, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawy, said modern science had at last provided evidence that Mecca was the Mecca Standard Time

What about improbable events?

In some corner of the multiverse, there exists a universe-bubble with physics close enough to our own to be recognizable, but different enough to make colonizing the stars feasible. In some point in this universes history, there was a Galactic Empire that ruled over many zillions of humans with an iron fist, imposing its religion What about improbable events?

Global Rebellion

Secular nationalism might not take a stand on supernatural beliefs, but it restricts the public role of religion. Citizens are expected to have an allegiance to a modern state and its political process, while their specifically religious commitments get relegated to private life. Legitimate coercion, including violence, and the task of imposing public order are Global Rebellion

Expelled Exposed

The National Center for Science Education, the premier creationist-watching organization, has put up a new web site, Expelled Exposed. It criticizes Expelled, the creationist movie about to appear in theaters very soon. It’s worth a look, as Expelled seems to be getting good press in some conservative Christian circles. It’s bound to help the “Christians Expelled Exposed

Davis controversy

There’s a minor uproar going on among secularists about Illinois state representative Monique Davis scolding an atheist activist, saying What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous . . . it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Certainly an obnoxious outburst. But I also have a sneaky suspicion Davis controversy

What do you mean by “meaning”?

Last year, a student told me that he could never accept evolution because that would destroy his faith, and without his faith, life would have no meaning. I think I remarked that that was interesting, and left it at that. I teach science, but I figure sorting out meaning-of-life issues is beyond my capabilities and What do you mean by “meaning”?

Missouri and “academic freedom”

I teach at a rather nice Missouri university, and Missouri, like many (most?) states in the US, gets quite a bit of conservative Christian pressure on state-supported science education. The feeling of being persecuted has deep roots in creationist movements. It’s partially true, for that matter. Within the scientific community, the small minority of creationist Missouri and “academic freedom”

Berlinski’s new book

David Berlinski, the intelligent design proponent, is out with a new book, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions. Another hatchet job on Richard Dawkins & Co., by the looks of it. And the blurb for it online is not promising. Here are a couple of its bullet points: Has quantum cosmology explained the Berlinski’s new book