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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Teach the History, Dembski!

Well, well, well, lookie what I found in one of my readings for grad school! (Little wonder Ann Coulter doesn't like librarians!)

I highly recommend Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles, a truly gifted and even poetic writer in the best sense. Tracing the history of the library from its earliest manifestation in Nippur to its highly controversial contribution to the volatile proliferation of letters and pamphlets in Jonathan Swift's day, Battles explodes many myths (such as the legend of the Muslim conqueror Amr's famous, but probably apocryphal quote "If what is written in the books in the library at Alexandria agrees with the Quar'an, they are redundant; if they disagree, they are undesireable. Destroy them therefore!"). Yes, the (several) burning(s) of the Library at Alexandria make for a compelling drama, but the situation was far more complex.

However, there is an even more compelling drama that Battles demythologizes.

If one is familiar with William Dembski's body of work and thoughts, one knows that Dembski blames the spectre of atheism on naturalism, "materialism," or what could be called strict scientific empiricism. However, after the founding of the Anglican Church in England, it was scientific empiricism and biblical literalism that were allied:

But after Cromwell's death and the Restoration, the intellectual complexion of England changed, and Bacon's influence became polarized. In 1664, the Dissenters, Protestants who questioned the pomp and authority of the Anglican Church, had been forced out of the universities, thus closing to them the surest routes to power and position. Dissenting ministers in turn set up their own academies, in which Puritan theology and Baconian science held sway over the classical curriculum of Cambridge and Oxford. The mixture seems an unlikely one today, in our time of battles between the sacred and the secular, between creationism and the theory of evolution. But to the seventeenth-century mind, biblical literalism and scientific empiricism were cut from the same cloth; both followed Bason in their reliance on the authority of the evidence as it lay before one's eyes. This was in strict contrast to the more secular classical curriculum, where the authority of tradition and the salutary value of imitation and emulation were taken, as it were, on faith.

It is exactly this mentality of imitation and emulation of a pre-Darwinist classical curriculum that Dembski now espouses!


Blogger Doctor Marco said...

I never understood why atheism can be blamed for anything. The sole name "atheist" is negative for most people. However, if a so called scientist, is afraid of atheism, then we are in trouble!

Katrina, I usually send an email alerting about a new post, now that I am posting less frequently. I could not find an email of yours. If you want to leave one to me, you can use the email that is accessible in my blog's profile

Take care

September 22, 2006 12:30 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Hey, you must have read that "tornado that is my life" comment I posted! :-) I've been getting called "Katrina" lately!

I'll send you an e-mail.

September 22, 2006 12:47 PM  
Blogger Doctor Marco said...


September 22, 2006 5:57 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Don't be sorry, friend. Good to hear from you again.

September 22, 2006 6:08 PM  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Ann Coulter... *shudder*

September 24, 2006 7:30 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Don't worry, BeepBeep. By the time I've become a librarian/information scientist, Ann Coulter will need a librarian to find her own dust-laden books, after she's turned into the forgotten, botox-frozen, cosmetic-surgery addict that she's likely to become.

Annkimbo Coulter lacks feminine dignity, doesn't have intellectual depth to speak of, and she'll get hers--obscurity.

September 24, 2006 5:19 PM  

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