Saturday, April 28, 2012

Reading Liberally at the Restaurant

On Thursday we discussed Unscientific America by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum at the restaurant for Reading Liberally. The book depressed me because it paints a rather grim picture of the current state of the union, and I don't think there's much hope in it. On the other hand, I know it isn't that grim. Sure, there are way too many people who think Noah's Ark was real, but look how far we've come. The world is becoming a better place all the time. 50 years ago, black people had to sit in a different part of the movie theater in Staunton, and they had to enjoy a different park, too. If that's not moving toward a more enlightened public, I don't what is. There might not be very many people who care about science, and there probably should be more, but aren't there more today than there were 50 years ago? Mooney says no.

I disagree. I was looking forward to his chapter called "Bruising their Religion" because I wanted to know how a Bright can speak with a person who believes in the demented idea that a magic man in the sky made humanity from mud. I often think that I am more like a "New Atheist" than I am anything else. But it occurred to me while reading this book, that I haven't had to talk about evolution in ages and there isn't any way to talk to insane people who refuse to accept facts. Maybe I'm not confronted by crazies as often as I was in Orange County, CA, but maybe there are just fewer people in general who actually believe the Old Testament is real. Why do I even need to think about that part of science. I'd rather trip out about cool space stuff and talk with people about sci-fi things that look like they might be the coming reality. I talk with my friends about RadioLab and Science Friday and NPR and politics and technology and wine and coffee and tea and beer and all sorts of things that are awesome. I know some people who go to church, but we never talk about Jesus except that, yeah, I read the Bible, and I think it was a good book and can engage on some level in the same way I engage in discussions about Moby Dick.

Anyway, I am writing this right before the Friday night dinner rush, so I have to go. It's really very cool to host Reading Liberally at the Darjeeling Café, and I hope if you live in Staunton, you can come discuss the next book with us: The Wealth of Nature. The one after that (June's) will Drift by Rachel Maddow. Good discussions will follow. I love this part about owning a restaurant.

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