Full disclosure: as I have said elsewhere, I never got the “hang uv” being a Christian, and consider the multiple decades I spent beating my head against that particular brick wall as time merely pissed away. I still believe that. But that is only half the truth. The other half is that it is equally true that I could never get, have never gotten, the “hang uv” being an atheist. I am no more successful as a “creedal” atheist than I was as a “creedal” Christian. My admiration for, e.g., Sam Harris, the late Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, Julia Sweeney, and Daniel Dennett is undiminished. Nothing I say in what follows should be interpreted as disagreeing with their contention that religious statements should be subject to the same critique as other statements. Religio
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
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