The year’s best reads

I found the following extraordinary:

Clausewitz in Wonderland, by Tony Corn

“Amateurs talk about strategy, professionals talk about logistics.” In the five years since the 9/11 events, the old military adage has undergone a “transformation” of its own: Amateurs, to be sure, continue to talk about strategy, but real professionals increasingly talk about — anthropology.

And the Open Letter to the Pope, by a group of eminent Islamic scholars

… we thought it appropriate, in the spirit of open exchange, to address your use of a debate between the Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and a “learned Persian” as the starting point for a discourse on the relationship between reason and faith. While we applaud your efforts to oppose the dominance of positivism and materialism in human life, we must point out some errors in the way you mentioned Islam as a counterpoint to the proper use of reason, as well as some mistakes in the assertions you put forward in support of your argument.

Honorable mention. I wore a smile that lasted for a long time after I read God’s retort to Richard Dawkins. Nothing extraordinary, just workmanlike stuff (like Galilean carpentry, I suppose), and for that reason effective.

Happy New Year, everyone.



Filed under Notes on Readings, Readings in Politics, Readings in Religion

3 responses to “The year’s best reads

  1. Jeg

    In a recent ‘science and religion’ conference in November, Richard Dawkins was berated by anthropologist Melvin Konner when Dawkins and author Sam Harris started getting shrill. Konner said, “I think that you [Harris] and Richard are remarkably apt mirror images of the extremists on the other side, and that you generate more fear and hatred of science.” Another scientist, astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson told Dr. Dawkins, “I worry that your methods, how articulately barbed you can be, end up simply being ineffective, when you have much more power of influence.”

    To be fair to Richard Dawkins, he replied, “I gratefully accept the rebuke.”

    Me, Im just amazed that conferences such as that one are necessary at all. There is only conflict between science and religion when religion is taught as science, and science as religion.

  2. Thanks, Jeg. I didn’t know about that exchange. Interesting stuff. The thing is, there is a journalism fellowship, the Templeton, that I am keenly interested in; it’s like a two-month wallow in the waters linking science and religion. So those “unnecessary” conferences sound like great fun to me.

  3. Jeg

    I was thinking of getting Richard Dawkins’s book The God Delusion when I came upon this review by evolutionary biologist H. Allen Orr from the New York Review of Books website. (Link:

    In summary, he says that as a scientist, Dr. Dawkins’s credentials are impeccable. As a writer, he is engaging. But as a philosopher, he sucks. “Indeed, The God Delusion seems to me badly flawed. Though I once labeled Dawkins a professional atheist, I’m forced, after reading his new book, to conclude he’s actually more an amateur.”

    After a review like that from someone in Dawkins’s own camp, instead of buying the book, I just borrowed a copy.

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