Saturday, June 26, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Different Sensibilities

One of the last dinners before the close of the Templeton-Cambridge seminars for my fellowship took place at Trinity College. Along with my co-fellows, I was delighted to see (again after a space of 20 years or so) the Rev. John Polkinghorne, and also to meet for the first time Keith Ward, who was to be our last official speaker the next morning, on unity and diversity in world religions.

Polkinghorne is 80, and working on a new book. I hope I look as fit as he does when I reach that age. We had a chance to chat about his former colleagues, including Steven Weinberg.

Now, one should not take too seriously what one banters about over the dinner table, but after introducing myself and getting a chance to talk about his experience teaching and writing, I asked Keith Ward how St. Thomas More was regarded in the UK these days. Now, Ward's not a Catholic, so I wasn't expecting a great deal of enthusiasm, but he thought that very few people seem to be aware of More at all at any level in the UK, historical or otherwise, in spite of the popularity of films like Man for All Seasons in the U.S.

Peter Akroyd did write an excellent biography of More, not more than 15 years ago, and one which I enjoyed and thought was, on the whole, pretty fair to More. But Ward, after thinking about it for a few moments, sort of shrugged and told me with a wry smile, he thought More was a 'bit of a nasty piece of work.'

Perhaps it depends on your sensibility.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


One of my Templeton co-fellows, Qanta Ahmed, was kind enough to send me this snap she took of me chatting with Rev. John Polkinghorne during the dinner last week at Trinity College. He just turned 80, and he's writing another book.

A Question of Pace

Blogging may be light for the next month or so as I work on my essay and presentation for Templeton. What little I do post will probably be on sporadic excitement with the hometown baseball team and links to other posts in the blogosphere.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Science and Religion on the Cam

My 2010 Templeton-Cambridge co-fellow Chris Mooney writes up his thoughts on the Fellowship as this first part of the program comes to a close.

Part I.

Part II.

Well worth reading.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Literary iPad Apps?

This sounds good to me:
Lindenbaum continued: "We want to help independents get on to the device, to put their catalog in an app. We're going to be licensing our platform to any independent that's interested. They can just email us. We want to help them get on the iPad.

He concluded: "The licensing fee is going to be very minimal, because we are interested in leveling the playing field. We don't want it to be the case where Random House and Macmillan are the only publishers that have enough money to get on this device. Instead of spending $10,000 on an app as an indie publisher, you could work with us to add a couple hundred bucks on the end of your printing costs."


The Inimitable Thony C. on the new film Agora, which apparently is still looking for a US distributor:
The NANAs* Larry Moran at Sandwalk and Murdo MacMeasly at Pharyngoogoo have got their collective knickers in a twist because they haven’t yet had the chance to see Agora the Spanish film, staring Rachel Weisz, about the life of the fourth century Alexandrian mathematician Hypatia.
Now personally, I’m not really bothered that I haven’t seen the film as there is a strong possibility bordering on certainty that the film is both historically and scientifically crap! Now you may argue that as I haven’t yet seen the film how can I make such a statement? Well let’s start with one of the reasons why the NANAs* are so eager to see it, the film blurb claims that Hypatia was an atheist. There is no evidence what so ever that Hypatia was an atheist and in fact what little we do know strongly suggests that she was anything but. This brings us to the main point , how much do we know? The known facts about Hypatia wouldn’t fill up the back of a postage stamp let alone a 90 minute film script so virtually everything in the film is going to be a product of the script writer’s imagination.

 * NANA = North American New Atheist.

Emily Pfeiffer

Hunger that strivest in the restless arms
Of the sea-flower, that drivest rooted things
To break their moorings, that unfoldest wings
In creatures to be rapt above thy harms;
Hunger, of whom the hungry-seeming waves
Were the first ministers, till, free to range.
Thou mad'st the Universe thy park and grange,
What is it thine insatiate heart still craves?

Sacred disquietude, divine unrest!
Maker of all that breathes the breath of life.
No unthrift greed spurs thine unflagging zest,
No lust self-slaying hounds thee to the strife;
Thou art the Unknown God on whom we wait:
Thy path the course of our unfolded fate.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Jason Rosenhouse can't let the slightest criticism of atheists go by without comment. John Pieret thinks he should think a little harder first.

Darwin's Plots

This afternoon's speaker, Dame Gillian Beer, is the author of a book I very much want to read now, coming as I am (or have been for what seems an eternity) to the closing pages of a novel I've been working on myself.

Sports Break

I love this guy. He's going to be 44 soon, and he just keeps going. Through thick and thin, good times and bad. No matter how many pot holes he runs over.

I hope Tim Wakefield is pitching when he's fifty.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Not Exactly What I Had in Mind

There was no afternoon session today, so I took an hour after lunch to visit Heffer's on Trinity Street near King's College. I went in thinking I'd quite like to buy Christopher Lee's revised autobiography. But they didn't have it.

So, I wandled downstairs to the philosophy section. Ed Feser will be happy to know they had his Aquinas right there on the Medieval Philosophy shelf. (I don't think you can find a shelf dedicated to medieval philosophy at any book store in Boston.)

They also had the Cambridge Companion to Aquinas, On God and Evil by one of my heroes, Herbert McCabe. Brian Davies' Aquinas, and a new offering, Gyula Klima's new book John Buridan. (Mike Flynn, are you jealous?)

Not a bad haul. Although I may have to throw out some clothing in order to fit them into my bags for the trip home.

iPhone gets its own Book Store

Steve Jobs says the iBookStore will soon be available for iPhones.
iBookstore app for the iPhone works across multiple platforms. Over at Engadget, Jobs explained: "[Y]ou can purchase and download a book. It will download wirelessly. You can download the same book to all your devices at no extra charge. Buy it on your iPad, download to your iPhone. And iBooks will automatically and wirelessly sync your current place, all your bookmarks, and all your notes."

This should be fun to test....

Steve Matheson pens an Open Letter...

to Stephen Meyer:
3. Your Discovery Institute is a horrific mistake, an epic intellectual tragedy that is degrading the minds of those who consume its products and bringing dishonor to you and to the church. It is for good reason that Casey Luskin is held in such extreme contempt by your movement's critics, and there's something truly sick about the pattern of attacks that your operatives launched in the weeks after the Biola event. It's clear that you have a cadre of attack dogs that do this work for you, and some of them seem unconstrained by standards of integrity. I can't state this strongly enough: the Discovery Institute is a dangerous cancer on the Christian intellect, both because of its unyielding commitment to dishonesty and because of its creepy mission to undermine science itself. I'd like to see you do better, but I have no such hope for your institute. It needs to be destroyed, and I will do what I can to bring that about.

My own feeling, on good days, is that Casey Luskin is actually an embedded atheist. If PZ Myers was covertly paying him to write specious moronic press releases, carefully designed to make Christian arguments look as stupid as possible, it's hard to imagine how he could do worse....

Monday, June 07, 2010

The flotilla...

Jay Fitzgerald sums it up:
The Israelis could have and should have found another non-military option to counter a propaganda ploy. The leading "peace activists" could and should have known some among them were itching for a fight. ... But the bottom line remains: Israel botched this one. Big time. What did it gain? Nothing.

John Gray

Up for this afternoon's lecture will be John Gray on the New Atheists. A couple of years back he had a good piece in the Guardian, which I imagine will come up during the Q&A.
The influence of secular revolutionary movements on terrorism extends well beyond Islamists. In God Is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens notes that, long before Hizbullah and al-Qaida, the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka pioneered what he rightly calls "the disgusting tactic of suicide murder". He omits to mention that the Tigers are Marxist-Leninists who, while recruiting mainly from the island's Hindu population, reject religion in all its varieties. Tiger suicide bombers do not go to certain death in the belief that they will be rewarded in any postmortem paradise. Nor did the suicide bombers who drove American and French forces out of Lebanon in the 80s, most of whom belonged to organisations of the left such as the Lebanese communist party. These secular terrorists believed they were expediting a historical process from which will come a world better than any that has ever existed. It is a view of things more remote from human realities, and more reliably lethal in its consequences, than most religious myths.

"Omitting to mention" seems to be a habit of Hitchens. Theodore Dalrymple scored him on the same point when he reviewed his autobiography for First Things.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

How Advantageous

Speaking of, "it was only a matter of time", I see a lucky journalist has just signed a six-figure deal to write about BP.

Friday, June 04, 2010

It Was Just a Matter of Time

The Discovery Institute has not met a scientist yet, agnostic, atheist, Christian, or otherwise, that it hasn't been happy to lie about. Steve Matheson is just the latest.

Larry Moran discusses.