Here Finny Finn Finn

In which the cat is set amongst the pigeons… SK asks a question:

Have read Mere Christianity. Will do so again on regular basis. Have noted numerous references to other Lewis works in recent posts. Can you and/or Ilk recommend Lewis reading list and in what order (if relevant) his works should be read?

I would start with the Chronicles of Narnia, then read the Screwtape Letters, then Mere Christianity and The Abolition of Man. After that, the Space Trilogy. I wasn’t that impressed with either The Problem of Pain or Miracles, but they’re worth reading; at this point I think one is better off delving into GK Chesterton. Lewis is, without question, a great writer. But over time, I have gradually reached the conclusion that he was more skilled at portraying the core truths of Christianity in a highly accessible manner than he was at delving into its depths. This should not be taken as a criticism, for it is a rare and enviable skill indeed.

Which reminds me. You will never see a child more excited than the little girl who was walking through the Italian airport and noticed that there was a flight to NARNI. “Narnia! Oh Daddy, please can’t we go there instead?”

I have to admit, I was tempted. After all, the wardrobe isn’t the only way into Narnia.

New Stross

The third novel in Charles Stross’s Laundry series, The Fuller Memorandum, is out.

“Like the majority of ordinary British citizens, I used to be a good old-fashioned atheist, secure in my conviction that folks who believed—in angels and demons, supernatural manifestations and demiurges, snake-fondling and babbling in tongues and the world being only a few thousand years old—were all superstitious idiots. It was a conviction encouraged by every crazy news item from the Middle East, every ludicrous White House prayer breakfast on the TV. But then I was recruited by the Laundry, and learned better.

I wish I could go back to the comforting certainties of atheism; it’s so much less unpleasant than the One True Religion….

I’m a believer. And like I said, I wish I was still an atheist. Believing I was born into a harsh, uncaring cosmos—in which my existence was a random roll of the dice and I was destined to die and rot and then be gone forever—was infinitely more comforting than the truth.

Because the truth is that my God is coming back.

When he arrives I’ll be waiting for him with a shotgun. And I’m keeping the last shell for myself.”

Oh yeah, I’m definitely going to get into this one as soon as I finish Mattingly’s Armada. I’ll post a review when I finish it. In my opinion, Stross is BY FAR at his best when he delves deeply into the squamous, the rugose, and the darkly divine.

Science vs religion: a bet

PTQ claimed that science has a vast track record of correct predictions while religion has none. “Science has produced zillions of correct predictions. Religion has produced none. A bigger winner-loser gulf does not exist.” Very well, then let’s place a bet on the matter:

Religion: The poor will be with you always.
Science: Global poverty will be ended by 2025.

From The End of Poverty by economist Jeffrey Sachs: “This book declares, at the core, that steadfast, science-based approaches can end extreme poverty on the planet. The benefits of modern science and technology which have reached Bulgaria and most of the rest of the world can work for the poorest of the poor as well…. the great challenge and possibility of our time: to end extreme poverty on the planet by the year 2025.”

Now, since this is far from the first time that the possibility of an end to poverty has been proclaimed; religion’s track record over the previous two millennia remains unblemished to date. But here we have a straightforward science-based claim that extreme poverty can be eliminated from the planet in 15 years. Science says it can be done. Religion, specifically the Christian faith, says it can’t.

If, as has been claimed, scientific predictions are so much more reliable than religious ones, obviously the pro-science side will have to give the pro-religion one the odds. I don’t think it’s necessary to go as far as demanding zillion to one odds; I’ll settle for 1200 to 1 and put up one U.S. dollar against one ounce of gold that the religious prediction is correct, the scientific prediction is incorrect and extreme poverty will not be eradicated from the globe by 2025.

Now, put your money where your mouth is, science fetishists. If you won’t, recognize that you are admitting you don’t actually believe that religion does not produce correct predictions despite those predictions having been made thousands of years before the scientific ones. The fact is that some religion is so much more accurate than science in certain matters related to human behavior that it can spot science the additional experience of 2,000 years of human history upon which to draw and still best it.