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. Once again, it is amazing what people will believe. In his own words, he states that "evolution happened", yet spends the rest of the time calling it properly a "theory". However a have yet to find any real answers to the fundamental questions behind evolution.

    While honest scientists grapple with impossibilities, and admit they don't have answers, Michael Shermer is willing to state it is all true?

    I am struggling with whether I should buy the book or not. On one side perhaps there will be answers in it... but more likely it will join my collection of pro-evolution books that fails give all but superficial answers to real issues with the theory. After buying 3 books and getting 1 for free, I'm thinking a 5th book will do no better.

  2. 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,

  3. 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.


  4. I have been reading (even last night) "Why People Believe Weird Things", and I am still not through with it. The book provides great insight into many different things... However, as it relates to evolution, the simplistic debate style responses do not square with real science and the more I investigate it, the more it is clearly a house of cards, many of which are falling.

    Check out "Homology: An Unsolved Problem", "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis", "Methodological Issues in Evolutionary Theory", "Darwinism: The Refutation of Myth" and dozens more. Further look up www.dissentfromdarwin.org, in which "respected scientist in the world" have said:

    “I signed the Scientific Dissent From Darwinism statement, because I am absolutely convinced of the lack of true scientific evidence in favour of Darwinian dogma,” said Raul Leguizamon, M. D., Pathologist, and a professor of medicine at the Autonomous University of Guadalajara, Mexico.

    I do not cling to religion, or what some TV preacher says... I cling to truth. Just the truth. Every time someone challenges me on the truth of the Bible (not some dude on TV, not a Rabbi, not what some religious person who wrote a best seller book said) just the Bible, it has come out true. Whereas, evolution... sorry, but it has not come out true.

    And as far as the many scientists who do believe in evolution, most admit there are many unanswered questions. Further the fact they believe it doesn't sell me. If there is anything I learned from your gracious gift of "Why People Believe Weird Things", it is that smart and intelligent people can believe in something completely wrong, whether it's UFO, contacting the dead, or that the Holocaust never happened. In fact did not Michael Shermer himself say people believe because they want to? Could that apply to evolutionists?

    I will let you be the judge. As for me, I'll save my money.

  5. 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.