Video Game God

halosandavatarsCraig Detweiler, director of the Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture at Pepperdine University, has edited a new collection of essays that explore the theological implications of popular video games like Halo 3 and Resident Evil.
As he explains in the introduction to the book, Halos and Avatars:

With the arrival of James Cameron’s all-digital Avatar, more people have begun wondering how to navigate virtual worlds and video games. … Those searching for a cautionary tale will be disappointed by this book. Halos and Avatars aims to demystify the gaming universe and dignify the passions of the most active gamers. We believe in the theological possibilities contained within even the most debased pop culture.

Darwin Gets Graphic

Take a peek inside Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation by Michael Keller and illustrated by Nicolle Rager Fuller.

Happy Anniversary, “On the Origin of Species”

originofspeciesFrom the British Council, some facts about On the Origin of Species, first published 150 years ago today:

• All 1,250 copies of the first edition sold out in one day, and 21,500 copies were sold in Darwin’s lifetime. Six editions were published before Darwin’s death in 1882.
• It’s the 2nd most translated science book ever, available in 31 languages.
• It was written for the general reader, not just scientists.
• Darwin was not confident about the success of the book, writing to John Murray, “I have done my best, but whether it will succeed I cannot say.”
• The Rev. Whitwell Elwin, having read the manuscript, adopted geologist Sir Charles Lyell’s view that Darwin should complete his work on pigeons and put On the Origin of Species on hold—“Everybody is interested in pigeons,” he wrote to Murray.
• No mention was made of evolution, or God, or the origins of man in the first edition of the book; “originally breathed by the creator into few forms” was added into the second edition. In the fifth, edition “survival of the fittest” appeared. Only in the sixth edition in 1872 did “evolution” appear.

Sarah Palin Is a Creationist

Sarah PalinIn her new memoir, Sarah Palin recollects explaining her creationist views to Steve Schmidt, a top aide on John McCain’s presidential campaign:

“But your dad’s a science teacher,” Schmidt objected. “Yes.” “Then you know that science proves evolution,” added Schmidt. “Parts of evolution,” I said. “But I believe that God created us and also that he can create an evolutionary process that allows species to change and adapt.”
Schmidt winced and raised his eyebrows. In the dim light, his sunglasses shifted atop his head. I had just dared to the mention the C-word: creationism. But I felt I was on solid factual ground.”

Yet journalists Shushannah Walshe and Scott Conroy say Palin’s version of the conversation contradicts what they heard in the course of reporting their recently released book Sarah From Alaska:

“I’m the daughter of a science teacher. My father showed me fossils. I know about evolution, and I accept evolution,” Palin said, we report in our book. “That doesn’t mean that God didn’t set everything in motion.”
In Sarah From Alaska, we reported that contrary to Palin’s description of a pair of sunglasses shifting ominously atop Schmidt’s head, both Schmidt and [another top McCain aide Mark] Salter were actually quite satisfied with Palin’s answer, which dovetailed with the theory of intelligent design.
Two former McCain aides each independently maintained that Palin’s recollection of the conversation in Going Rogue, was inaccurate.
“If she had been, ‘I am a creationist,’ she would not have been the nominee,” one former aide said. “McCain wouldn’t have gone for that.”

Atlantic associate editor Marc Ambinder offers an explanation for why this (false) distinction would matter:

The American people are finicky about their creation/evolution debate. Even though a majority of Americans clearly believe at least a thin form of “intelligent design,” about a majority staunchly opposes something called “creationism”—even though it is, in the real world, indistinguishable from creationism in its animating principles and aims. What this means is that Americans accept the chronology of evolution without accepting the science of evolution. Disproving evolution to scientists would mean finding a rabbit fossil in the Burgess Shale. Disproving “intelligent design” to most Americans would mean disproving the existence of God. And Americans aren’t willing to give up God. But they’re not willing to ignore at least parts of the evidence. Sarah Palin—she is.

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