All entries by this author

Review of Debating Design *

Jan 26th, 2006 | Filed by

Cambridge University Press gives Dembski and ID more academic cred than they should have.… Read the rest

Religious Groups Shape History Textbooks *

Jan 26th, 2006 | Filed by

Historical accuracy can conflict with ‘enhancing the pride and self-esteem of believers.’… Read the rest

When Theology Met Postmodernism

Jan 26th, 2006 | By Edmund Standing

Obscurity and vagueness of expression is always and everywhere a very bad sign: for in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred it derives from vagueness of thought, which in turn comes from an original incongruity and inconsistency in the thought itself, and thus from its falsity … Those who put together difficult, obscure, involved, ambiguous discourses do not really know what they want to say: they have no more than a vague consciousness of it which is only struggling towards a thought: often, however, they also want to conceal from themselves and others that they actually have nothing to say.

Arthur Schopenhauer

While the narrative and interpretation are my own, all the block quotes in the essay that follows are … Read the rest

A Mingled Yarn

Jan 25th, 2006 7:43 pm | By

Norm has commented on my comment on his comment on why not mention the good of religion as well as the bad. So I want to see what I think about what he thinks.

First the more minor, contingent issue – my claim that because there is a lot of unmixed criticism of atheism (and rationality, science, secularism) around, people like me don’t always feel like giving mixed criticism back.

I see no reason why opposition to religion, forthright, outspoken opposition to it, cannot, as with anything else, recognize the virtues in what it opposes if there are any.

No, nor do I. It can. But I’m not convinced that it always ought to. I can see plenty of reasons … Read the rest

George is Out *

Jan 25th, 2006 | Filed by

Left to a chorus of boos.… Read the rest

David Bromwich on Eagleton on Terrorism *

Jan 25th, 2006 | Filed by

‘The nice balance of anarchy with absolutism strikes me as a literary man’s conceit.’… Read the rest

PZ Myers on Another Religious Assault on Education *

Jan 25th, 2006 | Filed by

The Vedic Foundation and Hindu Education Foundation go after California textbooks.… Read the rest

Stupid Extra Words Are Bad and Stupid *

Jan 25th, 2006 | Filed by

Would you like a nourishing beverage with that?… Read the rest

Does Liberalism Need Multiculturalism? *

Jan 25th, 2006 | Filed by

The politics of recognition focuses on groups and cultural belonging. … Read the rest

The Kitzmiller Decision

Jan 25th, 2006 | By Dawkins, Dennett, Kurtz, Jones, Ridley, Forrest, Haack

B&W is asking various rationalists, scientists, biologists, zoologists, philosophers and the like for their reactions to the Kitzmiller decision. New ones will be added as they come in, so keep reading.

Susan Haack


The question before Judge Jones, of course, was not whether “Intelligent Design Theory” should be taught in Dover public schools, but whether the School Board’s proposed “evolution disclaimer” is constitutional. His arguments on this point were, for me, a lesson in the complexities of Establishment-Clause jurisprudence. His belt-and-braces approach results in a convincing argument that the proposed evolution disclaimer constitutes an improper state endorsement of religion, and that both its purpose and its effect would be improperly to advance religion.

But what I … Read the rest

But Surely -

Jan 25th, 2006 2:15 am | By

Let’s celebrate, shall we? Oh yes, do let’s. Let’s celebrate diversity, and plurality, and variety, and mulitpicity, and multitudinity, and difference, and variosity, and culture. Let’s celebrate culture. Here, have some confetti. Let’s party.

A national festival to promote Muslim culture which is being partly funded by the government has refused to stage an event designed to highlight the lives and experiences of gays and lesbians…Promotional publicity states that the festival will feature the “diversity and plurality” of Muslim cultures, but gay Muslims say they have been refused permission to present an event.

Well of course they have. They’re not plural, you see. They’re not diverse. They don’t fit in, they don’t match up, they don’t belong. How can … Read the rest

They’re after the school curriculum again…

Jan 24th, 2006 10:44 pm | By

Well this came as a shock. How had I managed to miss it until now? And is there never going to be an end to this kind of nonsense?

The State Board of Education, California, is currently engaged in approving the history/social science textbooks for grades six to eight in schools, an exercise undertaken periodically. The Hindu Education Foundation and the Vedic Foundation (based in the U.S.) have used the occasion to push through “corrections” in the textbooks approved. Shiva Bajpai, who constituted the one-member ad hoc committee set up by the Board, succeeded in getting virtually all the changes requested by these organisations incorporated into the textbooks. Professor Emeritus at California State University, Northridge, and a Hindutva-leaning adviser

Read the rest

Report Says Reform Will Lead to Segregation *

Jan 24th, 2006 | Filed by

Research suggests selectivity in school admissions would increase social segregation.… Read the rest

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Radio 4 *

Jan 24th, 2006 | Filed by

‘I wanted a chance at a life where I could shape my own future.’… Read the rest

Kristeva to Lecture in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem *

Jan 24th, 2006 | Filed by

‘In Kristeva’s view, clarity and direct logic are not a sought-after value.’… Read the rest

Festival of Muslim Cultures Refuses Gay Event *

Jan 24th, 2006 | Filed by

Director says festival is non-ideological and non-political and non-sectarian. Eh?… Read the rest

Friends of South Asia v Vedic Foundation *

Jan 24th, 2006 | Filed by

Repetition of recent attempts in India to inject sectarian doctrines into history books.… Read the rest

Historians and Hindu Nationalists in Sacramento *

Jan 24th, 2006 | Filed by

Disagreeing over revisions to history textbooks.… Read the rest

Salman Rushdie

Jan 24th, 2006 2:15 am | By

Stewart gave us a report on seeing Salman Rushdie at a reading on Friday, and I thought I would make it more visible. Hit it, Stewart:

He had a few nice obvious laugh lines like his reply to the question as to why he now lives in the States: “Well, you know, of course the real reason is I’m an enormous fan of George W.Bush.” Also, a somewhat unnecessary disclaimer that got the reaction he expected: “Let’s just be clear: I’m not in favour of Islamic terrorism. I mean, in case there was any doubt about that, that’s not my view.”

He mentioned his grandmother being “scary” and followed up with: “And my grandfather was the opposite. My grandfather was … Read the rest

There is a Reason

Jan 23rd, 2006 7:55 pm | By

Norm quoted a question the other day that I’ve been thinking about on and offishly. It’s from a theologian or professor of ‘divinity’ (wot?) called Keith Ward (who wrote a presumptuous godbothering book called ‘God is Better Than Science’ or some such thing which I’ve read and disliked very much). He wonders why Richard Dawkins can ‘only see the bad in religion’. (He means ‘see only the bad,’ but never mind). That’s what I’ve been pondering, as a general question, not a specifically Dawkins-directed question. Why do some atheists ‘see only the bad’ in religion? Or, at least, why do we (because I’m one, although I do in fact sometimes note what one could call ‘the good’ or at least … Read the rest