his dark materials, heresies and reciprocal hearsays

His Dark Materials trilogy
I don’t understand the irrational behaviour behind the condemning of the His Dark Materials trilogy (of which The Golden Compass or The Northern Lights is the first).

This is the age of free-will, of great intellectual discourse, of tolerance, of recognition of universal values (including human) and openness. We are led to believe that a certain way of doing things, the way that it’s always been done, is the right way. We are told to ignore thought and reason and believe blindly in the ways of tradition. We are also taught, because of science, to believe in reason and to question blind faiths and work towards the truth. Blasphemy as a word should not have any value in this age.

So, this sort of behaviour makes me suspective of the religious establishment. Agreed, there are two schools of thought colliding. My argument is that they don’t have to collide. Religion started with faith and should be about faith. It should not be about protecting the hegemony of “religious” establishments. Religion can also be about trying to obtain the higher truth, just as science can be about not blindly dismissing spirituality as unprovable.

Coming from both backgrounds, it seems to me, there’s gotta be a common ground. I mean, for god’s sake, didn’t we all come from a common ancestor?

Whatever works for people, I guess. I gotta say though, The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass are all excellent writing for both entertainment and food for thought. I am eagerly waiting for the rest of the movies, if they ever get made.


root of all evil

Richard Dawkins created, what I believe to be, a brilliant documentary about religion and it’s effect on humanity. Channel 4 (is that based in the U.K. ?) aired the documentary and has several pages on it’s web site about the two part documentary. Some of the people you hear on the documentary make you cringe. I almost withdrew with disbelief, not because I heard about religious fundamentalism for the first time, but because of one more affirmation of something that I believe is already happening in the U.S. and elsewhere. It’s truly absurd that we keep pointing at the middle-east as a prime example of religious zealotry, completely ignoring our own backyards and what’s brewing there.

Each part is about 45 minutes, suitable for airing on the one-hour time slots on American TV. Surprising thing though, is that I haven’t heard of or read about it being aired anywhere on American TV. Maybe my googling for it is not enough research.

If you want to watch it, the two video files are available as bittorrent downloads. They’re avi files encoded in divx, so you’ll need a divx capable media player.
part 1 on mininova
part 2 on mininova

If you consider yourself a rational animal and like rational pursuits, then you’ll like this documentary.

Richard Dawkins is the same person that authored The Selfish Gene.

Thanks to Lispmeister for pointing the documentary out.

What I would like to see is Richard talk with folks from the Baha’i Blog. They seem religious and rational enough to warrant a debate.

PS: If you know me personally and/or would like a copy of the video, let me know, I’ll burn you a copy. I’m probably transgressing all known legal boundaries on video distribution. But hey, it’s a worthy cause. If you know I am doing so, let me know and I’ll cease and desist.

several takes on religion and science

On slate, John Horgan writes ..

Four years ago, I joined a Buddhist meditation class and began talking to (and reading books by) intellectuals sympathetic to Buddhism. Eventually, and regretfully, I concluded that Buddhism is not much more rational than the Catholicism I lapsed from in my youth; Buddhism’s moral and metaphysical worldview cannot easily be reconciled with science—or, more generally, with modern humanistic values

The article is a revelation. It touches on a subject that has been avoided in the west. Funny that I came across this a day after I listened to Sam Harris’s lecture. Serendipity I guess.
The lecture was aired on KQED as a Radio Special program on Dec 22, 2005 at 8 pm and organized by the Long Now Foundation. They don’t have a downloadable copy yet. It was an amazing lecture about faith and science and incompatibilites between them and the current state of the world in terms of religious fervor etc etc.. Mindblowing stuff. I probably couldn’t have come up with something like that in a hundred years.

a hurrah for evolution and science

A federal court has decided against Intelligent Design in the classroom.

It’s one matter to acknowledge the possibility of different origins and to scientifically study the subject. It’s another matter to completely forgo the scientific tradition of proofs, repoducibile experiments and rigorous dissection of proofs by peers. On top of that, they want to instill in young people’s mind a burgeoning distrust of the scientific tradition from early on.

I’m sure this matter is not yet closed. The creationists will keep on trying to take this country backwards, maybe they’ll even take it to the supreme court.

washington post reporting on how the judge’s arguments against ID in the Dover school board case may have repercussions beyond just the schoolboard in question.

Also, if you have any doubts and are an ID proponent, here’s a good place to start learning about the facts on evolution so you can better prepare to present more intelligent counter-arguments in your defense of ID. You might do well to read the above-mentioned article as well. If you do get your hands on a copy of the judge’s report, please send one my way. I’d cherish it.