I have been reading for at least the second time, maybe the third, Richard Dawkins’ magisterial book about evolution, The Greatest Show on Earth (hereafter Show). Like the other one or two times I have read Dawkins’ book, it was an exhilarating ride. Until I read the appendix, which pertains to how the theory of evolution is, to this day, received in the US and non-Scandinavian Europe. That appendix to Show is a real downer. (I reacted similarly when I first read the book.) It turns out that, even in the supposedly enlightened First World – again, the Scandinavian countries are the blessed exception -- around 80% of respondents accept a theory of evolution that accommodates some kind of supernatural explanation, e.g., God did it all according to a literal reading of Genesis, chapter 1; o
My thanks to Rev. John Heagle for pointing out to me a New York Times link to cosmology, superstring theory, and "relative state" cosmology that led to this column. Fr. Heagle is a one-man instantiation of what the Catholic Church should be, in terms of integrity, spirituality, justice, inquisitiveness ... and just plain indomitable good humor. Being friends with him is like being friends with the late Thomas Merton.
I have been thinking a lot lately about landscapes. Now, by “landscapes” in this context, I do not mean physical landscapes like the ones painted by, e.g., Albert Bierstadt, members of the Hudson River School, or Monet’s haystacks, etc. I mean landscapes that result from the possibility that other Universes, other Kosmoi, may exist other than the one we see around us.
A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring :
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
-- Alexander Pope
I cannot remember when I first fell in love with the English language, but subjectively, it seems like I could have fallen in love with it in utero. (My parents tell me I talked at an exceptionally young age, and both times I took the GRE, I blew the top of the scale off the language-skills section.) So it always irritates me to no end to look at the way people misuse and abuse the English language. (It also irritates me when people misuse foreign words that are imported into English, like the German Weltanschauung and Angst, but these are rants for another time.) Sometimes the frustration cro