I’d like to see how NOMA would cover this one…

17 07 2007

PZ has a review of the upcoming book Thank God for Evolution! by Michael Dowd, and it ain’t pretty. Here’s an excerpt from the book;

Speaking in tongues has been a significant part of my spiritual practice for half my life. Speaking in tongues has its detractors, but there are sound evolutionary reasons for its effectiveness. The following practice will REALize the act of speaking in tongues, because it doesn’t require you to believe in anything. It’s an experience available to anyone who tries it.

How I speak in tongues is simple. I pretend I can speak a foreign language; vocalizing nonsensical sounds in a gentle, melodic, or rhythmic way. I encourage you to try it, right now. Do it in whatever way comes naturally, for a few minutes or longer, until it becomes effortless. Now speak in tongues again, this time inaudibly, though perhaps still moving your lips. Then continue this “speech” without moving your lips; have it happen just internally. Whichever form suits you best, you should notice immediately that your awareness expands. You are more aware of what you see and hear and feel—without trying.

After this passage alone, I couldn’t help but “REALize” that Dowd’s book, while perhaps earnest, is likely to be little more than pseudo-new age/religious fluff that might help some evangelicals on the fence but will largely be panned by hardcore creationists and secular skeptics alike. What a tutorial about speaking in tongues has to do with evolution, I can’t say (although I should probably go and look up some of the psychological studies about what’s going on in someone’s brain when they’re so engaged), and given the current state of things I doubt that Dowd’s book is going to have any great impact. I may eventually read it (it would be unfair to pan it without having a look myself), but it would have to go to the back of a long queue of woo I already have waiting to turn my brain into mush. At least I now know that if Dowd’s book can get published, I probably have a halfway decent shot.

Speaking of books, yesterday an extremely abused and water-damaged copy of Cuvier’s The animal kingdom arranged in conformity with its organization (1831 edition) arrived, and as soon as I receive my copies of Mantell’s Medals of Creation and H.F. Osborn’s The origin and evolution of life: On the theory of action, reaction and interaction of energy I’ll have to put them all together in a safe spot (my little cat Charlotte loves to chew on my books). They’ll definitely keep me occupied for a bit, but I’m glad that I was able to acquire them. I am actually amazed by how many books, especially good books, I own that have been discarded by libraries. I’ll have to write up a post sometime of all the libraries that have unknowingly added to my collection by discarding books from their collection (i.e. The Lying Stones of Dr. Beringer is from the Ambassador College Library).


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