Archive for 2010

Table 1

Dec 20th, 2010 5:34 pm | By

Returning to this question of the political nature of the conflict (or non-conflict) between religion and science, in Thomas Dixon’s reply to Eric –

I stand by my emphasis on the political aspects of all of this. Claims about the nature of reality and who has the authority to discover and describe it, and by what methods, are questions about power, and thus political. I don’t say that the Scopes or Galileo cases were nothing but politics, but I do say they were political.

They were, but speaking broadly (as we are, because the subject is religion and science as such, not just particular incidents touching on religion and science), science is not inherently political in the way that religion … Read the rest



Richard Holloway reviews Karen Armstrong *

Dec 20th, 2010 | Filed by

“Is she correct in suggesting that, au fond, the essence of the main religions boils down to compassion?” No.… Read the rest



Five years ago today

Dec 20th, 2010 10:57 am | By

It’s the fifth anniversary of the Kitzmiller decision, so perhaps you would like to celebrate the day by re-reading the contemporaneous comments of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Paul Kurtz, Steve Jones, Matt Ridley, Barbara Forrest (an expert witness at the trial itself, of course), and Susan Haack.

Enjoy.… Read the rest



Barbara Forrest offers a Kitzmas present *

Dec 20th, 2010 | Filed by

It’s the anniversary of the Dover decision, so here is this year’s testimony from 15 citizens of Louisiana who spoke up for science, and won.… Read the rest



Bangladesh: woman dies after caning *

Dec 20th, 2010 | Filed by

She was taken to a hospital with severe injuries a week after the beating, and died a month later.… Read the rest



This novel paradigm

Dec 20th, 2010 10:29 am | By

John C McLachlan, professor of medical education at Durham, points out that it’s a common ploy to make nasty things more attractive by dressing them up with new names, like for instance changing the name of “complementary and alternative medicine” to “integrative medicine.” (That seems like a tricky one – you gain the flattering implications of “integrative” but you lose the at least as flattering implications of “alternative.” Decisions decisions.)

When there is tricksy wordplay going on, it may be time for another Sokal hoax. McLachlan sent a proposal to an International Conference on Integrative Medicine to be held in Jerusalem last October. It included this exciting observation:

Recently, as a result of my developmental studies on human embryos, I

Read the rest


Ireland: two bishops have questions to answer *

Dec 20th, 2010 | Filed by

Was it really an accident that documents concerning allegations of abuse against 10 priests were not passed to the Ferns inquiry?… Read the rest



Abortion worse than al-Qaeda, says dim Royal *

Dec 20th, 2010 | Filed by

Nicholas Windsor calls abortion “the single most grievous moral deficit in contemporary life.”… Read the rest



Theism is mandatory in Indonesia *

Dec 20th, 2010 | Filed by

Its constitution says that “the state shall be based upon belief in the one, supreme God.”… Read the rest



George Packer reviews George Bush’s memoir *

Dec 19th, 2010 | Filed by
For Bush, making decisions is an identity question: Who am I?… Read the rest


Chuck is a spoilt baby

Dec 19th, 2010 4:31 pm | By

I pretty much never link to the Daily Mail – but just this once

‘We spend our lives here educating a new ­generation to understand that rational behaviour requires us to reach conclusions and make ­decisions by examining evidence.

‘Yet now we have the heir to the throne demanding — not in a ­throwaway remark, but in an entire book to which he has just put his name — that we should reject science and evidence in favour of following our instincts. This is surely disturbing.’

Then a bit from that book shows how and why it’s disturbing:

‘Having considered these questions long and hard, my view is that our outlook in the Westernised world has become far too

Read the rest


Michael Bérubé on the science wars redux *

Dec 19th, 2010 | Filed by

Some scientific questions now seem to be a matter of tribal identity.… Read the rest



Charles is too dangerous to be king *

Dec 19th, 2010 | Filed by

Immovably convinced of his own rightness, he views his ­critics with the weary resignation of an early Christian martyr.… Read the rest



A new Sokal hoax in “integrative medicine” *

Dec 19th, 2010 | Filed by

John McLachlan sent an absurd proposal to an International Conference on Integrative Medicine. It was accepted…… Read the rest



Jesus and Mo on neurology and religion *

Dec 19th, 2010 | Filed by

Or what Mo and Paul have in common.… Read the rest



Ricky Gervais on “Why don’t you believe in God?” *

Dec 19th, 2010 | Filed by

“I get that question all the time. I always try to give a sensitive, reasoned answer. This is usually awkward, time consuming and pointless.”… Read the rest



“The truth” versus the truth

Dec 18th, 2010 5:45 pm | By

I’m breaking it into pieces, because it’s a large subject. Thomas Dixon also said

 I stand by my emphasis on the political aspects of all of this. Claims about the nature of reality and who has the authority to discover and describe it, and by what methods, are questions about power, and thus political. I don’t say that the Scopes or Galileo cases were nothing but politics, but I do say they were political.

That’s true, but incomplete. That’s where the postmodern turn does its turning: in treating that idea (despite the disclaimer) as if it were complete, or if not complete then of predominating interest.

The claim itself is in fact political. It’s a useful claim; useful to people … Read the rest



Akpabio and the Child Witch Commission

Dec 18th, 2010 | By Leo Igwe

In what appears to be another move to combat the allegations of witchcraft and child abuse, the governor of Akwa Ibom state, Chief Godswill Akpabio, has inaugurated a six member Commission to inquire into witchcraft accusations and child rights abuses in the state. He charged them to recommend appropriate actions to be taken to protect children from being branded witches and wizards in order to guard against future occurence. The governor asked the Commission to determine the veracity of all the allegations of witchcraft against children and infliction of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment upon such children and to examine the role and culpability of all the allegations and abuses or practices and make recommendations.

He then urged the people … Read the rest



Metametameta discussion of science ‘n’ religion

Dec 18th, 2010 4:55 pm | By

Meta times 3 because commenting on Thomas Dixon’s comments on Eric MacDonald’s review of Dixon’s book. Dixon says, in reply to Eric’s reply to him, that it is becoming clear how their approaches differ.

I think the bottom line is that I’m not happy to generalise about ‘religion’ in the way that you want to, nor to treat all ‘religion’ as if it were at one, extreme end of the spectrum in terms of scriptural literalism and authoritarianism; nor to suppose that there is just one ‘paradigmatic’ singular relationship between religion and science.

The trouble with that is, for some purposes it is necessary to generalize about religion in that way. Granted, religions differ, and the word can … Read the rest



Chapter 19 of Murphy report: main points *

Dec 18th, 2010 | Filed by

“Walsh agreed to go to a psychiatrist and was ‘grateful that he had been given a second chance’.”… Read the rest