Posts Tagged ‘angels and demons’

Over in the Huffington Post, writer Kamran Pasha has landed the coveted “I’ve got a book to sell, and so I’ve been invited to write a poorly-argued essay about current events that will allow me to repeatedly plug my book over the course of several thousand words” slot.

Today’s essay is all about how Angels and Demons (38% fresh, “too often wavers between implausible and ridiculous”) is “great storytelling” and a “very human picture of characters who are motivated by faith and committed to struggling with ‘demons,’ both in others and within themselves.”

I am sure that the movie would be entertaining enough to watch on an airplane; nonetheless, I find it hard to believe that a Tom Hanks movie could present a “very human picture” of anything (except maybe for “what it’s like to fall in love with a mermaid” or “how fantasy role-playing games can destroy your life.”

The really exciting part of the essay, of course, is where Pasha takes another brave stab at arguing for the compatibility of science and religion:

A Christian friend of mine once asked how I reconciled the story of Adam and Eve in the Qur’an with the scientific consensus on evolution. I smiled and said to him that I didn’t bother. It’s like comparing apples and musical notes. The scientific theory and the scriptural story serve totally different purposes. Science is about how. Religion is about why.

Of course! HOW vs. WHY! Why didn’t I think of that? Anyone can play this game:

Man Less Hairy Than Apes
HOW: Evolution.
WHY: God also less hairy than apes.

Lights in the Sky
HOW: Nuclear Fusion.
WHY: To mark seasons and days and years.

Women Different from Men

HOW: Chromosomes.
WHY: Women intended as “helpers”.

Snakes Crawl on Belly

HOW: Evolutionary pressures possibly related to burrowing underground.
WHY: Punishment for apple-related trickery

Childbirth Painful

HOW: Large baby passing through small birth canal.
WHY: Punishment for falling prey to apple-related trickery.

Farming Difficult

HOW: Distorting effects of Agricultural Subsidies.
WHY: Punishment for listening to wife.

I could continue, but I think you get the point. Science is helpless to provide valuable moral lessons about god’s hirsuteness, telling time, women’s proper place, and supernatural justifications for life’s difficulties. All praise religion! (And buy Pasha’s book about Mohammed and his seven-year-old bride!)


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While secular scientists and religious fundamentalists may find themselves at odds over many issues, they’ve come to the same conclusion when it comes to at least one.

Both sides agree that “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling doesn’t research thoroughly or deeply enough when writing her best-selling novels.

In the weeks ahead of the release of the movie “The Half-Blood Prince,” based on Rowling’s best-selling novel, conservatives such as Catholic League president Bill Donohue have been slamming Rowling for claiming as “factual” some details in her book that experts say are not.

“J.K. Rowling says in her book (Half-Blood Prince) that the Horcruxes are ‘factual’ and that they were ‘created ruthlessly by the Dark Lord,’ ” noted Donohue, referring to the soul-piece-storing secret objects that are the focus of the upcoming movie adaptation of Half-Blood Prince, which hits theaters in June.

Furthermore, as Donohue pointed out, Rowling said in a promotional interview that the Death Eaters “vowed vengeance against Muggles in their early days.”

“The early Death Eaters – those of Voldemort’s day – were expelled from Hogwarts by the Dumbledore and hunted mercilessly,” the author had said.

Donohue, however, said “all of this is a lie,” noting that the Death Eaters were founded more recently.

“It is obvious that Malfoy and Crabbe could not possibly have been members,” he argued, referring to the two pure-blood wizards. “Hogwarts never expelled a single member of the Death Eaters.”

More recently, scientists have also come out to clarify for book lovers and moviegoers the truth behind claims made by Rowling, though most are well aware that her books are works of fiction with snippets of facts interwoven – not vice-versa.

Marcela Carena, a senior scientist at the lab and a professor at the University of Chicago, told the Courier News this past week that the concept of wizards in Half-Blood Prince is right, but the quantity that appear in the story is “impossible.”

According to Carena, it would take the largest school of wizardry in the world about 190 million years to make the dozens of Death Eaters that threaten the world in Half-Blood Prince.

Rowling apparently “didn’t do a lot of research” about the magic involved in her book, Carena told the Courier News.

Despite its inaccuracies – historical and scientific – “Half-Blood Prince” is expected to score big in the box office this year.

The movie had been reviewed by semi-official Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano as “harmless entertainment” that “hardly affects the genius and mystery of Christianity.”

While it praised director David Yates for the “magnificent” reconstruction of the cave storing Slytherin’s locket, L’Osservatore Romano stopped short of endorsing the film and compared it to a video game that “first of all ignites curiosity, and then, perhaps amuses a little also.”

Furthermore, the newspaper noted that the Catholic Church is on the side of the good guys in “Half-Blood Prince,” unlike “Order of the Phoenix,” to which the upcoming movie serves as a sequel.

In Order of the Phoenix, author Rowling had vilified the Ministry of Magic as a secretive and murderous cult – a depiction that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops denounced as “deeply abhorrent.”

In “Half-Blood Prince,” however, it is Muggles like Catholics that protagonist Harry Potter is working to defend, and the group suspected of trying to destroy Muggles is one, unlike the Ministry of Magic, that is no longer operating today.

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