by Steven Colyer, Author of The Origins of the Jews by a Non-Jew: Ur in Babylon; the Mitanni Kingdom of the Hittite Empire; and Khazaria
As an American born in 1956, I and my contemporaries grew up in the 1960's and 1970's on the comedy of the husband-wife team of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, a Jewish-American husband and Irish-Catholic-American wife, and they were delightful. They made us laugh, in a more genteel and bygone age when words like "fuck" and "shit" were not necessary to get the joke across.
More famous though was their son, Ben Stiller, whose last movie may have bombed, but we'll always have "There's Something About Mary" and "Meet the Parents." Gaylord Focker, indeed!
Anyone know what Ben Stiller looks like lately? Is this him?:
Well, no, that's not him. That's "New Atheist" Sam Harris of California, author of "The End of Faith" and "Letter to a Christian Nation".
If you don't know who he is, you should. Click here to read his Wikipedia entry. Ten bucks says he wrote it himself. Whatever, he's an interesting cat.
Here's another interesting cat, Temporal Physicist Sean Carroll of CalTech, another "New Atheist" and author of "From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time", and the current front-runner in the ongoing "Who will Replace Carl Sagan as The New Great Popularizer of Science ?" contest:
Click here to read Sean's Wikipedia entry. Ten more bucks says he wrote that himself too.
I like both these guys, even though I disagree with them on many fundamental issues that they deem important, and which I've "been-there-done-that" with during the 22-yr-period when I too was an atheist (age 15-37). I also agree with each on certain issues.
So who are these guys, other than devout followers of the fastest growing religion in America and on the planet: Atheism?
Well for starters, each is a highly intelligent and knowledgeable man with a Dale Carnegie-esque, Cicero-esque ability to speak well in public. I would pay money to see them debate in person, right after I watch a live debate between Peter Woit and Lubos Motl on Superstrings theory.
More importantly, they are having an incredible debate with each other based on a short talk Sam gave at TED, which is included in Sean's dislike of that talk in a blog entry by Sean, here.
Sam was not amused by Sean's words, and responded with an ungentlemanly slur, the details of which, Sam's response, and Sean's response to Sam's response, can be seen here.
What are we fellow intellectuals to make of all this? Will this brouhaha ever end? Will we get around to real work someday, or is watching this much more fun and entertaining in an exciting way such as having a front row seat at Wimbledon at the net? And if so, will our necks hurt afterwords?
What I get is that just as in every last religion, its members don't always agree with each other. Shrug.
In any event, it's entertaining. Pass the popcorn, please, it looks like we're in for a hell of a ride.
It's great to be an American. :-)