Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Perhaps authors should be judges

I used to read a fair amount of science fiction - if you Google my real name, you may even find a reference to a short review of a book by Robert Heinlein I wrote for an SF magazine in the dim and distant past. One of the last SF authors I came across was Orson Scott Card. I only read two of his books - "Ender's Game" and "Speaker for the Dead". At the time, I thought they were pretty good - particularly the second one. I didn't read any other of his books - and on the basis of reviews that there are around, perhaps that was for the best ....

By the way, if you think that science fiction is stuff like Star Wars, then you need to read more. Star Wars and similar tend to be referred to by "true fans" as "Skiffy" - a distortion of the media label "sci fi", which is never used in polite conversation by people who know what they are talking about. Think more "Minority Report", "Bladerunner", "The Matrix".

I read them again last year, and they were mind-blowing. The first thing that amazed me was the theological depth of the characters - not just that Scott Card understood Christian theology, but understood nuances of different branches of it, and the tensions between them. Then there was his prescience of various aspects of technology. It would be fair to say that my "Exiled from GROGGS" handle and much of the content of this blog has been influenced by "Demosthenes" and "Locke", who set out to change the world through "the nets" in Ender's Game. Then there's the viciousness that children are capable of, the philosophical implications of alien species (which are, in a very un-skiffy way, not humanoid and not at all easy to communicate with).

Aaaanyway, the reason for the plug of his books today is that I just came across an essay that he published earlier in January. As with Scott Adams, he has been able to see through the anti-ID bluster from darwinists to the heart of the debate. He is not a creationist - indeed, he has little time for creationism - neither is he likely to make speeches defending ID. But he understands the scientific challenge that ID represents, and also sees quite clearly that the responses thus far from the anti-ID community don't constitute a scientific refutation. In this essay he demonstrates a greater understanding - and a greater humility - than Judge Jones showed in his judgement in the Dover vs Kitzmiller trial. He also proposes an educational agenda which is far more sensible than almost any that have grown out of the American public school system so far.

Hat tip to Panda's Thumb for the heads-up. I wasn't in the least interested in their commentary, though - I've heard it all before, and it's claptrap.