Monthly Archives: September 2012

Darwinism and its Discontents (part 2)

So I promised to take a look at some of the popular ideas opposed to Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. “Young earth creationism” or other schools of thought that try to read the creation stories of Genesis (there are two) as scientific texts just aren’t serious. I’ve only met one adult who believed in it so I […]

Darwinism and its Discontents (Part 1)

Looking back over some of these posts I see that I’ve mentioned the theory of evolution in passing a few times, usually during discussions of human nature or the meaning of life. I do not think you can talk about human nature without bringing it up. Some people wonder how we can still be having […]

Book Review: John Gardner’s Grendel

When I was in high school a friend of mine was gushing about a novel called Grendel. “It’s Beowulf, but from the point of view of the monster!” The rest of us, who had read Beowulf in class a couple of weeks before, laughed at him for enjoying what must have been just another sentimentalist […]

Book Review: Lake Wobegon Days

To bookish foreigners who are curious about America, I always recommend two novels: Huckleberry Finn and Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon Days. If you haven’t read any of Keillor’s work, just imagine William Faulkner meeting The Simpsons. Like Faulkner, Keillor invents a town and populates it with three generations of characters, but in Minnesota instead of […]

All about the Koran

There is growing consensus among scholars of Arabic that the line in the Koran promising 72 virgins  in paradise to those who die for Islam is actually a result of a scribal error. The original text would have read “72 raisins.” Raisins were a highly prized foodstuff in the ancient Middle East (moist, sweet and nourishing) so it makes sense. […]

Could a Caveman Recite Shakespeare?

A radio ad for home improvement loans has a couple of men saying “Me want mancave! Me want pool table and big TV!” This got me wondering: Why do we assume that cavemen were ignorant of articles or the proper use of personal pronouns? You would think language becomes more sophisticated with time, but that […]

We are all educated people here, right?

I’ll get to the chicken in a minute. First, I want to go back to a theme I mentioned in passing yesterday: Whenever we get into a debate with someone we all want to seem like the rational, educated person. But as the debate goes on we discover that the person we are arguing with […]