Thursday, November 02, 2006

There She Goes Again, Again, Again

On January 19, 2006, I published a post with the title "There She Goes Again," about Cornelia Dean and her habit of repeating in every article the editorial comment that there is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution. She may rephrase it somewhat, but the idea stays the same and she seems to always stick with the "no credible scientific challenge" phrase.

On October 27, 2006, Rob Crowther published a post with the title "There She Goes Again: New York Times Reporter Blind to Evolution's Pitfalls," about Cornelia Dean and her habit of repeating in every article the editorial comment that there is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution.

I am confident that there was no intentional copying, and do not really care if there was any subconscious copying. I simply think Crowther and I had the very same natural reaction to Dean's "cut and paste" editorializing.

More posts about Cornelia Dean can be found here and here, or search her name in the search field at the top of this blog.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"I Want Atheism To Be True": Why It Matters

In my last post I discussed the following comment by Thomas Nagel:
I believe this is one manifestation of a fear of religion which has large and often pernicious consequences for modern intellectual life. . . . I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. . . . I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that.

And elsewhere he states:
The fear of religion leads too many scientifically minded atheists to cling to a defensive, world-flattening reductionism.

I do not raise this in order to promote an inquisition of atheists. Quite the contrary. We would be better off if motive inquisition played less of a role in the debate. However, the mainstream media have developed the bad habit of looking very closely at the religious beliefs of Darwinian skeptics and proponents of intelligent design, and deeming irrelevant the religious beliefs of proponents of evolutionary theory. Such a discriminatory double standard makes no sense and is not conducive to civil debate.

For a good example of a New York Times article demonstrating this discriminatory double standard, see this post, a follow up post here and a previous post here. Judge Jones exhibited the double standard in his Dover opinion, which is one of the many reasons why that opinion should not be followed by other courts.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Even Wired Magazine Agrees

Even Wired magazine agrees: Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett are "fundamentalists":
MY PILGRIMAGE is about to become more difficult. On the one hand, it is obvious that the political prospects of the New Atheism are slight. People see a contradiction in its tone of certainty. Contemptuous of the faith of others, its proponents never doubt their own belief. They are fundamentalists. I hear this protest dozens of times. It comes up in every conversation. Even those who might side with the New Atheists are repelled by their strident tone.

. . .

Where does this leave us, we who have been called upon to join this uncompromising war against faith? What shall we do, we potential enlistees? Myself, I've decided to refuse the call. The irony of the New Atheism – this prophetic attack on prophecy, this extremism in opposition to extremism – is too much for me.

The New Atheists have castigated fundamentalism and branded even the mildest religious liberals as enablers of a vengeful mob. Everybody who does not join them is an ally of the Taliban. But, so far, their provocation has failed to take hold. Given all the religious trauma in the world, I take this as good news. Even those of us who sympathize intellectually have good reasons to wish that the New Atheists continue to seem absurd.

If only the mainstream media could see the fundamentalism in the passion and intolerance of the Darwin only lobby.