Very cool – Amazon.com apparently sells a Lego set with which you can build your own Stephen Hawking. And it looks awesome. Now adults have excuses again to play with Lego – who’s next? Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, or Albert Einstein? No, just kidding. I was stunned by the look of Lego-Hawking:
What are we looking at here? Perception and cognition together create the illusion that we are looking at Stephen Hawking, though in fact it’s just a structured pile of Lego bricks. Very interesting once one is aware of it. It provides another excuse to go and experiment with Lego…
One issue that fascinates me is the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Is there life out there? And if so, what does it look like? Is there another intelligent species somewhere? Moreover, what would be the implications of finding life elsewhere for the view we have of ourselves and our place in the universe? What consequences would finding life elsewhere have for philosophical anthropology and theology? Questions that at some point in time seemed pure speculation, but with the recent findings of (many) exoplanets, are again on the table.
Today I read about a British team of astrobiologists from Cardiff University who claim to have found fossilized remains of bacterial life-forms in a meteorite that was found last year in Sri Lanka. This proves, in their view, that extraterrestrial life exists, or in the researcher’s own words: “The presence of fossilized biological structures provides compelling evidence in support of the theory of cometary panspermia first proposed over thirty years ago.”
Scientists will probably fight over these findings – admittedly, the Journal of Cosmology that published these findings is quite controversial, as is Richard Hoover, one of the authors (see here for some potentially devastating comments about the findings) – and what the eventual consensus will be is as yet unknown. But this is interesting stuff!
One discussion that arises again and again is the one about the question whether atheism is a kind of faith or even a new faith. Personally, I find this a lame discussion that goes nowhere. But then I read Dawkins and I tend to agree that atheism is a faith.
I just came across a very nice video of Closertothetruth.com, an interview with British philosopher Julian Baggini about exactly this vexing question. And Baggini very nicely articulates, not only what religious faith is about (and it isn’t about propositions!), but he also articulates what atheism is about. In the end he gives a very decent, implicit, but strong criticism of the position of certain “vocal atheists” – a position Baggini calls “dogmatic” and of which he agrees that this position is very close to faith. Excellent video, well worth a couple of minutes of your time.
Just today I finished reading a big German book, Gert Scobel’s Der Ausweg aus dem Fliegenglas: Wie wir Glauben und Vernunft in Einklang bringen können (Frankfurt a.M.: S. Fischer Verlag 2010, 462 pp.). It’s a book that I can warmly recommend, at least for those who are able to read German (the newly released paperback edition is very cheap). I do hope though that an English publisher will be so wise as to translate the book into English…
Recently, the catholic theologian Paul Allen (Concordia University, Montreal, Canada) published a great book on theological method, titled Theological Method: A Guide for the Perplexed (T&T Clark 2012). For many, theological method indeed is something to be perplexed about. Is there really something like a theological method? Many atheists even argue that theology has no place at a university, because it has no method.
Allen apparently argues to the contrary. He gives a historical overview of how the development of theological method, describing key figures, both catholic and protestant. He shows how theological method has developed in a continous dialogue with developments within philosophy, science, and the wider culture.
So, to give readers an impression of what the book is about, I asked Paul some questions about his new book, about theological method, the relation between science and religion, and whether an atheist can be a theologian…
It’s as humorous as it is stupid. Brian Cox, the British astronomer and presenter of Stargazing Live, wanted to listen to a newly discovered planet live on BBC television. It was a planet that no one had listened to yet. However, Cox writes that he was notified that he was not allowed to do so….
On his personal blog, evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne has given his opinion of Thomas Nagel’s review of Plantinga’s book. To those familiar with Coyne’s rantings about everything religious, it will come as no surprise that Coyne has no respect for Nagel’s appeal to Plantinga’s position. However, if you read Nagel’s review and Coyne’s review of Nagel’s review, I hope you will notice that Coyne shows himself in his review to be no philosopher. Continue reading →