Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Shermer Coming to Kepler's!

I am already jittery at the thought of meeting author Michael Shermer, who will appear at Kepler’s Bookstore Sept 9 at 7:30pm to sign his latest book, Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design. I hope to be more articulate than my last encounter with a celebrity atheist.

Shermer is the editor of Skeptic Magazine, and founder of the Skeptics Society. He contributes a monthly column to Scientific American, and hosts the Skeptics Distinguished Lecture Series at Caltech, having featured Stephen Jay Gould, James Randi, Jared Diamond, Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett. He produced the Fox Family TV series Exploring the Unknown, and he has written many life-changing books on science, including The Science of Good and Evil, Denying History (deconstructing Holocaust denial), The Borderlands of Science (debunking pseudo-science), Teach Your Child Science (a fun gift for parents), and—my first exposure ever to critical thinking—Why People Believe Weird Things.

An excerpt of his latest book is available here, in which Shermer explains logically why, according to a 2005 Pew Research Poll, 42 percent of Americans express strict Creationist views. Rather than try to un-convert the converted, Shermer proposes to reconcile evolution with theology (in a gesture that I find overly appeasing to superstition).

In fact, Shermer has long been an effective champion of fostering science education, which has come under fierce attack by Intelligent Design advocates, who all coincidentally happen to be highly vested in their religions. (Shermer, raised a Christian Creationist, had the intellectual courage to step out of line.) He should be encouraged by this week’s profile of brilliant skeptics titled The New Naysayers that appears in Newsweek, which has long pandered to the church.

I hope to see you at Kepler's on Saturday!

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  1. Andy

    There is nothing inconsistent about a theory being true. Do you challenge gravitational theory on the same basis? Evolution happened as surely as things fall when you drop them. Your "pro-evolution" books may not compel you, but they compel every respected scientist in the world who isn't conflicted by religion. If, more than anything, you wish to cling to the religious fantasy that the evidence is lacking, by all means don't read Why Darwin Matters.

    I had personally sent you that free copy of Shermer's book Why People Believe Weird Things because you expressed to me seemingly real interest in an open and critical look at things. It was only later that you demonstrated your agenda of evangelizing Gospel to me. (No need for that--like Shermer, I am extremely well versed in the Bible.) Had I known you value faith over fact, I'd have saved us both the bother.

    Thanks for reading,

  2. David:

    as someone who's lack of religion was influenced by Judaism along the way to finding atheist conclusions, I share your views on evolution and have more or less agreed with most of your postings and comments on the subject.

    That said, I think that your response to Andy's comment is somewhat slanted. You wrote:

    "Your 'pro-evolution' books may not compel you, but they compel every respected scientist in the world who isn't conflicted by religion."

    ...but who decides which scientists are or are not conflicted by religion? It would be easy for the group “not conflicted” to appear self-selecting.

    Anyway, I think that I just might so up to Shermer's talk and if I happen to see you there, I'll look forward to introducing myself.


  3. Anonymous7:22 AM

    David -- thanks for this. Shermer, since he seems to agree 100% with me, looks like a hell of a smart guy!

    On a more serious note, I've long been intrigued by your self-description: "Jewish atheist". Now, I may be evincing the somewhat typical goyische inability to comprehend "Jewish" as an ethnic/cultural versus a religious identifier, but if it isn't *too* presumptuous, I'd like to hear you elaborate on what you mean.