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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wired Parish: Making sense of evolution

Jay Kelly of Wired Parish directs my attention to an item he did recently on intelligent design. Jay and I have had some excellent conversations, on and off air, and hope to do so in the future as well.

Jay is right, of course, when he wonders why the Polk folk (see the story) think that intelligent design is an alternative to evolution. Intelligent design theorists hope to make sense of evolution, by finding out how it really happens, rather than hoping that a tornado in a junkyard will somehow accidentally do the trick.

Note: I have just been informed that Wired Parish is now known as Leadership Buzz.

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Coffee break: The Onion salutes Wikipedia!

From time to time, various ID theorists have kvetched to me about terminally stupid entries on intelligent design topics at Wikipedia, but it took The Onion to finally do something about this kind of problem - laugh at it as it deserves.

In "Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years of American Independence," The Onion sends up wiki-nonsense beautifully:
"On July 25, 1256, delegates gathered at Comerica Park to sign the Declaration Of Independence, which rejected the rule of the British over its 15 coastal North American colonies," reads an excerpt from the entry. "Little did such founding fathers as George Washington, George Jefferson, and ***ERIC IS A FAG*** know that their small, querulous republic would later become the most powerful and prosperous nation in history, the Unified States Of America."

And much more. This stuff that reminds me, like totally, of the Wiki coverage of the intelligent design controversy.

Other posts here on this subject:

Competitor - Citizendium

Wikipedia seen as grudge factory

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New sci fi journal focuses on sci phi

Jason Rennie of the excellent SciPhiShow writes to alert me to a new journal, Sci Phi:
Sci Phi is a term that combines the ideas of science fiction and philosophy. I first encountered the term myself in Mark Rowland’s work, “The Philosopher at the end of the Universe”, a book I would highly recommend as a starting place to anyone wishing to delve into these ideas themselves.

[ ... ]

In fact we should expect science fiction to provide an excellent vehicle for these sorts of ideas because it is able to explore, through the vehicle of advanced technology and other worldly creatures, ideas that would be difficult to communicate otherwise. Consider a film like Total Recall that confronts us with questions of personal identity and what makes you the person you are, something that would be impossible to do in the way it is done without this technology that allows memories to be erased and implanted in the way they are in the film. Who is Doug Quaid and what has become of Hauser? Perhaps this idea could be explored through a regular movie set in modern times, but not so deeply, and almost definitely without all of the action we see in a film like Total Recall.

Rennie, is quite right, of course, that science fiction is an excellent medium for discussing issues in the philosophy of science (an idea that goes back to the time of Plato, actually, and animates films from Star Trek to The Butterfly Effect, as well as Total Recall). Incidentally, one person who understands that well is Canadian science fiction great Rob Sawyer, whose Calculating God I review here. Also, a defense of multiverse theory underlies the film and book What the Bleep Do We Know?, which I review here. I will get to the others eventually, preferably after I have another book contract and can consider it “work.” So when I am vegging out watching sci fi/phi films, I am really “working” on my next book.

Sci Phi is only $7 per issue, a bargain at the price.

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Service Note

Service Note

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?, or my book of essays on faith and science topics, Faith@Science: Why science needs faith in the 21st century (Winnipeg: J. Gordon Shillingford, 2001). You can read excerpts as well.

My other blog is the Mindful Hack, which keeps tabs on neuroscience and the mind.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

NEW! Here's my review of Oxford Mathematician John Lennox's God's Undertaker: Has science buried God? - an excellent riposte to the materialist view of the universe.

Intelligent design east: Intelligent design without God

Hollywood weighs in with pro-ID film, to premiere on Darwin’s birthday.

Animations of life inside the cell, indexed, for your convenience.

Anti-God crusade ... no, really! My recent series on the spate of anti-God books, teen blasphemy challenge, et cetera, and the mounting anxiety of materialist atheists that lies behind it.

Behe, Mike My review of Mike Behe's Edge of Evolution

Catholic Church A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

Collins, Francis My review of Francis Collins’ book The Language of God

Columnists weigh in on the intelligent design controversy A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

Darwinism dissent Lists of theoretical and applied scientists who doubt Darwin

Encyclopedia of ID topics Evolution in the light of intelligent design - look up intelligent design topics here.

Gilder, George A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

Intelligent design academic publications.

Intelligent design-friendly students should be flunked, according to bio prof Evolutionary biologist’s opinion that all students friendly to intelligent design should be flunked.

Intelligent design controversy My U of Toronto talk on why there is an intelligent design controversy, or my talk on media coverage of the controversy at the University of Minnesota.

Intelligent design controversy timeline An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

Intelligent design and culture My review of sci-fi great Rob Sawyer’s novel, The Calculating God , which addresses the concept of intelligent design.

March of the Penguins A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

Origin of life Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.

Peer review My backgrounder about peer review issues.

Polls relevant to the intelligent design controversy A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

Stove, David O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

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