Fascinating conversation between Moira Gunn and philosopher Daniel Dennett at IT Conversations (podcast). Dennett is a renowned determinist, but isn’t talking along those line here. His book “Breaking the Spell” makes the point that religion has been — and is — one of the most important forces (for change, or its opposite) in the world. As such, it deserves to be studied objectively, from the outside, as thoroughly and as rigorously as the banking industry, as politics, as world demographics. “The spell” is what prevents that kind of study from taking place — the tacit belief that religion is somehow in a different category, and that it’s somehow disrespectful or taboo to study religion itself. Religions like to be studied from the inside — using their own scriptures or lore as a framework for study. But they tend to resist study from the outside – a spell that Dennett wants to break.
He also makes some fascinating observations about the biological/genetic triggers for religion, leading to some interesting speculation on its cultural origins. Another synopsis on Dennett at Salon.
Totally tangential: Not even The Archbishop of Canterbury believes that creationism should be taught in schools. SF Chronicle:
I think creationism is, in a sense, a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory like other theories,” the Most Rev. Rowan Williams told the Guardian newspaper. … My worry is that creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it.
England does not have an evangelical movement to parallel the one in the U.S.