The Dawkins delusion Science writer displays small mind in ‘Potter’ put-down
Washington Times Daily, p. B1
November 7, 2008
Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist and “God Delusion” polemicist, recently offered a frightening glimpse of what might be called the reverse-fundamentalist worldview. Mr. Dawkins mused to a British television network that fairy tales and supernatural-themed books such as the “Harry Potter” series are “anti-scientific.”
“Whether that has a pernicious effect, I don’t know,” the 67year-old British writer said. “Looking back to my own childhood, the fact that so many of the stories I read allowed the possibility of frogs turning into princes, whether that has a sort of insidious effect on rationality, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s something for research.”
A new perspective on an old debate
by Colin Dabkowski (Arts & Entertainment)
The Buffalo News, p. C5
November 8, 2008
As literary nonfiction, the time surrounding the publication of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” surely makes for one of the most engrossing debates between religion and science in history.
As dramatic quasi-fiction, however, it loses quite a bit of its punch. That’s what we’re dealing with in Alleyway Theatre’s “Tromping on Sacred Ground,” a tightly written and well-constructed look at the fraught atmosphere in mid-19th century England, when Darwin’s divisive treatise had just come out and the entire country was embroiled in a crisis of conscience over the antibiblical nature of his work.
The show, winner of Alleyway’s annual Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition, is by playwright Suzanne C. Dickie, a retired professor of philosophy at Loyola University in Chicago. It centers around the British scientist Thomas Henry Huxley (Casey Denton), a vociferous exponent of Darwin’s work, and the debates — both personal and public — in which he engaged to defend the supremacy of science over religion. Dickie has fluidly transposed the public confrontations to Huxley’s personal life, in which the power of religion still has a firm grasp over his intellectually curious wife, Nettie (Kelly Beuth). Huxley is supported in his support, as it were, by fellow scientist John Tyndall (Christopher S. Parada) and vexed by the clerical assertions of Bishop Samuel Wilberforce (Dennis Keefe).
This was also reported in at least three other UK newspapers: The Daily Telegraph, The Herald, and The Journal.
Creationism should be taught as science, say 29% of teachers
by James Randerson
The Guardian (UK), p. 16
November 7, 2008
Twenty-nine per cent of teachers believe that creationism and intelligent design should be taught as science, according to an online survey of attitudes to teaching evolution in the UK. Nearly 50% of the respondents said they believed that excluding alternatives to evolution was counter-productive and would alienate pupils from science.
The survey, by the website and TV station Teachers TV, also found strong support for the views of Prof Michael Reiss, the former director of education at the Royal Society, who resigned in September over comments about including creationism in science lessons.
‘Darwin? That’s just the party line’
by Wayne Eyre
National Post (Canada), p. A17
October 31, 2008
We’re all familiar with Queen Gertrude’s dry observation in Act III of Hamlet that the Player Queen “doth protest too much.” Gertrude’s point, of course, is that the Player Queen’s over-insistence of her love for her husband makes her declarations highly suspect.
I often think of Gertrude’s line when I see how vehemently many A-list scientists and fellow-travelling literati lash out at anyone who does not embrace their insistence that no deity is behind either the creation of our universe or plant and animal origins on Earth.
For example, Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, says that anyone who doesn’t believe in evolution “is ignorant, stupid or insane.” Oxford professor Peter Atkins, another ardent atheist, recently denounced theology, poetry and philosophy and concluded that “scientists are at the summit of knowledge, beacons of rationality and intellectually honest.”
Dawkins’s warning on fairy tales to children
by Martin Beckford and Urmee Khan
The Daily Telegraph (UK), p. 2
October 25, 2008
Professor Richard Dawkins, the prominent atheist, is to write a book aimed at children in which he will warn them against believing in fairy tales as well as God.
The evolutionary biologist is stepping down from his post at Oxford University and will instead research whether “anti-scientific” novels about spells and wizards such as the Harry Potter series have a “pernicious effect” on young minds.
Prof Dawkins, the author of best-selling The God Delusion who this week agreed to fund a series of atheist adverts on London buses, said his new book would also set out to demolish the “Judeo-Christian myth”.
“The book I write next year will be a children’s book on how to think about the world — science thinking contrasted with mythical thinking,” he told Channel 4.
Board’s actions could put students at a disadvantage
by Alan I. Leshner
The Houston Chronicle, p. B9
October 23, 2008
Texas has earned a reputation as an innovation powerhouse in fields ranging from agriculture and life sciences to high technology and space exploration.
But in a report issued this summer, a panel of Texas business, education and government leaders warned that without “critical changes” in state schools — especially in science-related instruction — the state will lose its global competitive edge.
It appears, however, that some members of the State Board of Education are working on a different agenda. Last week, they appointed three anti-evolution activists, including a leader of the “intelligent design” religious campaign, to a six-member panel that will review proposed new science curriculum standards.
Missing from the news item below, is that the money raised is being funneled through the British Humanist Association!
Thank heaven for a British faith in bet-hedging
by Jemima Lewis
Sunday Telegraph (UK), p. 28
October 26, 2008
It must be lonely, sometimes, being an ardent believer in nothing. Where do atheists go to meet their fellow irreligionists? How does one feel a part of something that has no meeting house, no rituals and no shared faith except in the absence of anything to have faith in?
So thank something – a random series of atomic events leading to the creation of human intelligence, perhaps – for the internet. This is where like-minded folk of a nullifidian bent come together, as demonstrated by the extraordinary success of a campaign to raise money for Britain’s first atheist advertisements.
The idea was first mooted by Ariane Sherine, a 28-yearold television scriptwriter, on a website. Having had her atheist sensibilities offended by an advertisement on a London bus bearing a quotation from the Gospel of St Luke, Sherine decided the time had come for nonbelievers to fight back. She asked readers to donate towards the £23,000 cost of launching a bus advert with the slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
COUPLING OF SCIENCE AND RELIGION
by Peter McKnight
The Vancouver Sun (Canada), p. a15
October 28, 2008
In May 2008, Bloomsbury auctions announced the sale of a letter by Albert Einstein, in which the famed physicist railed against religious beliefs as “childish superstitions . . . the expression and product of human weaknesses.”
The letter was something of a curiosity, not because it suggested Einstein harboured a certain hostility toward religion, but because the sentiments it expressed seemed markedly at odds with Einstein’s much friendlier public pronouncements about religion, including an exceptionally famous quote about the relationship between science and religion: “Religion without science is lame; science without religion is blind.”