This has to be browsed, in detail, to be appreciated: a version of Dutch artist M.C. Escher's print "Relativity" made . . . of Legos ?

Yes, indeedy! In my college days I had a poster of Escher's print that I kept for years by the stairway in whatever townhouse I was squatting in. And here's the link to the Sci American article with a 'slide show' with similar works of 'artistic illusion' that led me to this.



In fact, just three weeks away. And already I have intimations that I will be a busy little bee. I don't want to toot my own horn too much, but I seem to be in demand locally as a commentator on the upcoming festivities. More on that later, when I have firmed up the details.

On the evening of the day in question, I'm aware that a local house of worship (New Covenant Community Church)* will be sponsoring an event with the Fresno chapter of Reasons To Believe, the 'old-Earth' creationist outfit founded by Hugh Ross that is greatly enamored of 'fine-tuning' arguments in astronomy and occasionally ventures opinions about biological evolution. Short take: Ross and company, like most creationists, don't think Darwinian evolution is sufficient to account for life's diversity, but they don't spend time railing against it as the 'root of all evil' like a Ken Ham seems prone to do.

Anyway, RTB house philosopher Ken Samples will be in attendance with a presentation entitled "Darwin's Doubt", which...but I will let their publicity speak for itself:

I think we can see where this is going. 'Darwinian naturalism' is not exactly a household phrase, but I think the phrase is essentially a gloss for 'Darwin's theory makes supernatural explanations for biological diversity superfluous'.....which is, of course, true as far as 'special creation' is concerned, and nothing especially concerning to me. Darwin's theory does not necessarily render supernatural explanations for the universe and its properties superfluous, of course, but that is the very definition of an irrelevant criticism. Darwin's theory is not a theory about the universe and its properties, after all. One might as well complain that how an elephant's tusk grows fails to explain the arrangement of piano keys.

What arguments might Samples employ? I'll hazard a guess or two: perhaps he will pish-posh the efficacy of natural selection by using probability arguments against abiogenesis (which is not, strictly speaking, a problem for Darwinian evolution). Along the way, he may trot out the 'Cambrian Explosion', the role of cosmic (and galactic, and local system) 'fine-tuning' for life, and the supposed insufficiency of chance processes to generate information. All pretty standard for this crowd. There is also a chance that he will focus on Darwin's uncertainty on all things theistic for much of his life, which is irrelevant to the question of whether natural selection causes evolution but always seems to be one of those things that people want to know. Or (and this intrigues me) he may want to latch onto this jewel, crafted by Alvin Plantinga.

Well, who knows what we'll hear? I'd like to keep an open mind, but I just got that latest issue of Time, and....owch!



Two loves of mine (evolutionary biology and comics) seem destined to combine.

First came Jay Hosler, whose tales of social insects (Clan Apis) and Darwin's theorizing (The Sandwalk Adventures) have already deservedly won awards. Jay is an entomologist and a professor of biology at Juanita College who has not only been honored by the comics industry, but by a grant from the National Science Foundation to develop more comics! How 'bout that!

Hosler has also collaborated with Jim Ottaviani, contributing six pages of art to Suspended In Language, Jim's love letter to the life and thought of Niels Bohr. I've posted about Jim's work several times before, most notably when I interviewed him at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con. Most of Jim's work builds initially off his background as a nuclear engineer, and so he has heavily emphasized physicists. But one of Jim's more recent work unites both historical fact and legends about the woolly days of paleontology (Bone Sharps, Cowboys and Thunder Lizards). A fascinating and multi-layered work, it deserves repeated readings.

But, still, in the year of Darwin you would think that there would be a full-blown 'Darwin comic' brewing somewhere....and you'd be right! As my brother (official 'Fud' holder and comics scholar Charles Hatfield) points out in an e-mail I've just read, Gurr Illustration is about to bring out such a tome. This illustration from their web site is such a tease!

In the meantime, here's a more detailed press release about the upcoming work. Another item I apparently have to add to my reading list! Boy, I hope it's good! I'll post more when I know more, obviously....SH



A sensible person will tell you that far too much is being expected of President-elect Obama, that no human being can possibly do all that his supporters seem to expect, much less all that has been apparently promised.

I know that. He is not the Messiah. But he is my President.

A conservative person (say, a patrician farmer schooled in the classics) will tell you that a 'stimulus' package is just a short-term panacea, and unlikely on its own to bring about economic recovery, and at worst just more wasteful government spending.

I know that. But real leaders don't sit on their hands and describe inaction as action, or the mere absence of taxation as policy. I voted for a real leader, and I know that he will lead. He is my President.

A person focused on the politics of race (and this is still depressingly common) might attempt to dilute the significance of his election by parsing his blood-lines. You know the type! They are the ones who, in an off-hand way, remarks that Obama really isn't black, but 'half-white', or that, in the words of one demagogue, "Just because you are our color doesn't make you our kind."

Well, I know that Mr. Obama is not, say, charcoal-colored. But I didn't vote for Mr. Obama to end the deferment of dreams for one part of the electorate, out of a 'white guilt' or a misplaced liberal sense of entitlement. He was my candidate, and now my President, because he is a uniter, not a divider like the pitiful folk who fret over his ancestry.

When I contemplate Obama's election, the implicit rejection by so many Americans of that aspect of our nation's past gives me great satisfaction. When I consider the future, I know that this moment fills me with great hope. And, for today, a sober, even grim determination to tackle a present that still is to some degree defined by cowardice, division and problems of awesome complexity: a landscape that defies any one man's ability to change things in a month, a year, an election cycle.

But the thing that those who downplay Mr. Obama, a mere man, do not understand is this: that it is not Obama alone who will triumphally assume power tomorrow in the nation's Capital, but in fact it is a nation of people like me. We have been empowered to reject the sinful politics of the last two decades, the politics of finger-pointing and character assasination, of foot-dragging and victimhood. We reject that cowardly and divisive way of doing business, and so our President represents a victory for all Americans, and indeed for all hearts that love freedom and their fellow man.

O Captain! My Captain!