Can I complain? School's starting here and it's still impossibly hot. It's hard to write lectures when you're sweating. But the good news is that a new crop of graduate students will soon be practicing press criticism. The better news is that will enable us to update more frequently.
Unlike my colleague at Get Religion, I found no fault with Amy Harmon's story on a high school biology class in Florida. Writes Mark Stricherz, “My problem with Harmon's story was its presentation of evolution. It posits scientific consensus on this idea. Is that true? I have my doubts. Three years ago, Michael Powell of The Washington Post wrote a fair minded and balanced story about Philip Johnson, the father of the intelligent design movement. Harmon's story does not address those doubts.”
That's exactly the point: Intelligent design is not science—at least according to recent court decisions. As Harmon notes: “The Dover decision … dealt a death blow to “intelligent design,” which posits that life is too complex to be explained by evolution alone, and has been widely promote by religious advocates since the Supreme Court's 1987 ban on creationism in the public schools. The federal judge in the case called the doctrine “creationism relabeled,” and found the Dover school board had violated the constitutional separation of church and state by requiring teachers to mention it.”
Kudos to Marty Kaplan, a USC colleague, for his Jewish Journal piece on race and religion in the Obama campaign. Marty argues that the widespread misconception that Obama is (or was) Muslim is a way for white Americans to express discomfort with his race.
“The Muslim issue is a way to talk about race without talking about race, and without having to squirm about saying that race is not an issue. To enough voters that it matters for the outcome of this election, Muslims are as other, if not more so, as blacks.”
I'd meant to give a shout out to Marty last week when he tackled quantum physics, string theory and the God particle. In both instances, his eloquence and insights sucked me in and left me the wiser for it.
Lastly, anyone who doubts the importance of abortion to American politics has been snoozing for the last 30 years. So I'm wondering why so few legacy media outlets made much of the pro-life sentiments at the Democratic Convention in Denver. M.Z. Hemingway took note of the goings on in the National Review Online as did Electa Draper at the Denver Post. But few others did.
That's too bad because the Democrats decision to (finally) allow alternate voices—Bishop Charles E. Blake of Los Angeles spoke against abortion during a prayer service and Sen. Robert Casey referenced his opposition during a convention speech—are surely noteworthy (even for those who deem it too little too late).