Berlinski and the Unnamed Opponent in Beverly Hills

Tuesday night at the Beverly Hills Library, with David Berlinski debating an atheist before a mixed crowd of friends and foes of religion, I experienced a lifetime first. As a journalist writing about people and events, I’ve often had occasion to change or withhold someone’s name or otherwise disguise his identity. Almost always this is because the person in question never asked to be part of my story, is not a public personality and never sought to be, did nothing seriously blameworthy, but would be embarrassed by having his words or actions reported in public. So I don’t identify him. On Tuesday, listening to the debate, for the very first time in my experience I encountered a situation where someone Read More ›

Berlinski, Wells & ID Take Los Angeles

After having the premier of Darwin’s Dilemma canceled by the California Science Center, Avi Davis’s American Freedom Alliance really pulled things together in heroic fashion in Los Angeles. The AFA found a new venue, hardly inferior, where academic freedom may be less endangered: the University of Southern California. The sizable crowd on Sunday night of about 230 people was appreciative and intelligent. There were university students representing both sides of the Darwin debate, high school students from a church school in Santa Monica on a field trip, and a mix of other folks from the community. The film is a powerful document. The word that came to my mind watching it was “spooky.” Besides very lucidly and compellingly laying out Read More ›

Genesis and the Scandal of Jewish Indifference

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from an editor at a Jewish publication soliciting from me an article “related to creationism.” He asked that it be pegged to the coming Sabbath when Jews across the spectrum of Judaism begin a new cycle of Torah readings. That cycle begins with the account of creation in Genesis. The editor seemingly wasn’t aware that I’m not a creationist (i.e., a naïve Biblical literalist), or he didn’t know what the word means, or who knows what. Anyway, I wrote and sent off to him the piece he seemed to urgently want, suspecting even as I did so that it would never run in this particular publication. The Jewish religious world — Read More ›

Richard Dawkins’s Jewish Problem

The Anti-Defamation League, the country’s leading group dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, is rightly sensitive to the offense of trivializing the Holocaust. Why, then, has the ADL said nothing in protest against the Darwinian biologist and bestselling atheist author Richard Dawkins and his comparison of Darwin doubters to Holocaust deniers? The ADL has objected to attempts to inject Nazi imagery into the health-care reform debate (“Such statements only serve to diminish and trivialize the extent of the Nazi regime’s crimes against humanity”), the abortion debate (“Such analogies can only trivialize and diminish the horror”), the animal-rights debate (“the issue should stand on its own merits, rather than rely on inappropriate comparisons that only serve to trivialize the suffering of the six Read More ›

Irving Kristol, Darwin Doubter, RIP

If you’re ever given a choice between seeing one of two doctors about a health concern, with all else about them being apparently equal, you’d be well advised to choose the older one. Oh but won’t the young guy have all the latest techniques and therapies at his disposal, fresh from med school? Maybe or maybe not. What’s more likely, and more important, is that the seasoned practitioner will have wisdom and experience of the human condition. So too in the political world, where on the conservative side of the spectrum you have “neocons,” “paleocons,” and “theocons.” Those distinctions have always seemed a bit spurious, having to do more with preferences in personal style and social networking than anything else. Read More ›