Posts by Michael Ruse
May 29, 2012, 10:23 AM ET
An A Beka high school science text concluded that “much variety within the human race has developed from the eight people who left the Ark.” Another text, used in sixth grade, makes repeated references to Noah and the flood, which it calls the reason for both the world’s petroleum reserves and the...Read More
April 5, 2012, 10:03 AM ET
December 7, 2011, 08:30 AM ET
January 20, 2011, 05:14 PM ET
October 9, 2010, 10:00 AM ET
At the end of last month, I went to a conference in Marseilles in the South of France. As these conferences go, it went. It was not the worst I have ever attended. It was not the best. On evolution, it lasted four days, and basically consisted of one paper after another—some good, some less so—delivered at high speed in a limited space of time. To use a metaphor that the philosopher Gilbert Ryle once used about the literary style of one of my colleagues—many short sentences, crammed one after another—it was all a little bit like eating peanuts to a metronome.
There was of course a reason for the format. In Europe, as in America, if you don’t give a paper, you cannot get money to go to a conference. So everyone gets to give a paper, and the program is jammed full to accommodate all of the presenters. At least this French conference was not as bad as is promised...Read More
October 2, 2010, 12:56 PM ET
September 30, 2010, 03:24 PM ET
Tony Curtis is dead and a little bit of me has died too. He was one of the iconic male film stars of the 1950s. I suppose he was not as big as Jimmy Stewart or John Wayne, and he was certainly not an actor of the caliber of Henry Fonda or Spencer Tracey. But he had real star appeal and there was something truly endearing about the Bronx accent, especially when he was dressed up as a Roman slave in a short tunic. Above all, he was one of the stars—along with Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe—of the funniest American movie ever. I first saw Some Like it Hot in the summer of 1959, the year it appeared, and I last saw it earlier this year on DVD. I show it regularly in my film course, Philosophy and Film, alternating it with the funniest British movie ever, Kind Hearts and Coronets.
For those of you so culturally deprived as not to know the plot, like the best farce, it is...Read More
September 26, 2010, 11:06 AM ET
Those of us who work at secular institutions sometimes forget, or perhaps we were never really aware in the first place, how difficult it can be for our colleagues in church-affiliated institutions, especially when they want to go beyond the strict bounds of the comfortable norm. A good (if that is the right word) instance of that to which I refer is going on right now, with whistles and bells, at Calvin College in Michigan.
I have often said that I would have given my eye teeth to have been educated as an undergraduate at one of America’s top liberal arts colleges, and I have always thought of Calvin as a good reason why. Academically the faculty is top notch – I think the Philosophy Department is right up there with the very best in the nation – and the dedication to teaching is simply humbling. Add a great campus and good facilities and you know why I rate it so highly. ...Read More
September 17, 2010, 09:31 AM ET
The great British theologian John Henry Newman was born into a family in the evangelical wing of the Church of England. After he went up to Oxford, he moved up the scale, becoming a leader of the high-church faction in the Anglican denomination. He and others in the “Oxford Movement” began issuing a series of pamphlets, “Tracts for the Times,” in which increasingly they repudiated the Protestant Reformation arguing that their church stood in direct succession to early Christianity. Finally, Newman recognized the absurdity of his position, and made the move over to Rome. He took a number of earnest young men with him, but generally there was now a drawing back and in a sense a relief that the boil had burst and that now the rest of the Anglicans could get on with their lives.
It is hard now to realize what a dramatic move it was for Newman to convert. English Catholicism goes back...Read More
September 14, 2010, 08:30 AM ET
I don’t know how many people have actually read Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), but everyone knows the basic story. A kind and loving doctor, living and working in London, invents a potion that turns him into a fiend who follows the evil ways of that dark city. Eventually the doctor repents and tries to slough off his vile alter ego. But it is too late. He keeps changing whether he wants to or not, and finally commits suicide, ending his life as Mr. Hyde dressed in the clothes of Dr. Jekyll.
There have been many attempts at analysis. Most probably the story is intended as a reflection of the two-layered, hypocritical nature of late Victorian society, although plausibly (since Stevenson was a Scot and deeply immersed in the culture of his homeland) it is a meditation on Calvinism and original sin—the evil that dwells within us all. What it is not...Read More