1. Interpreting Deuteronomy - with sophisticated theology. How (some) theologians try to rehabilitate an offensive text.
2. Islam and "Islamophobia" - a little manifesto. This issue of what you can say about Islam, and what counts as Islamophobia, is obviously on a lot of people's minds, since the post sent my views through the roof (by this blog's very modest standards of what counts as the roof).
3. Coyne vs. Haught - advantage, Coyne. This was a long post on the kerfuffle related to the Coyne/Haught live debate (or whatever it was). Haught was out of line here, and rather precious. Jerry and I have different concepts of science, free will, and "fact" - but we don't get involved in fights about it. Perhaps it's true that our main disagreements are semantic, but, really, people are entitled to disagree. Haught seems to be someone who doesn't like being disagreed with and quickly makes it personal. I get the same flavour from his books.
I'll say it again: Jerry Coyne did nothing wrong in the discussion that Haught got so upset about ... and by getting so damn upset Haught made things worse for himself.
4. A very short introduction to non-overlapping magisteria. A perennial topic on this blog. I guess I'll go on criticising the surprising influential - but in my view utterly meretricious - concept of non-overlapping magisteria.
5. IQ2 debate on "Atheists are wrong" - the results (Lions defeat Christians). My initial report on this debate, which was a big thing in my life back in September. It was subsequently televised on ABC 1 and made available on video on the internet.
6. Jean Kazez on Gnude Clothes and shutting up. This issue is ancient history by now, and yet it still rankles. I need to say a bit about it.
I guess Jean and I are going to have to agree to disagree about some of this, though I wish I could persuade her, especially as my respect for her has risen immensely as the year has gone on. The way she handled herself over the issue that we don't talk about here was exemplary - if you want to see some actually useful discussion of, sigh, Elevatorgate, track down the relevant threads on her blog.
I suspect that we're not in total disagreement about the Mooneygate issues, etc. Like Jean, I do prefer civility, and I dislike personal attacks, pile-ons, and witch hunts. I'm happy to admit that I said some things that I regret in the thick of the battles over Chris Mooney, etc., etc., and I probably even owe Mooney an apology for some of it.
But please note this important point. Much of the anger against Mooney was based on his claim that some views should not be expressed in the public square even in a civil way. That may not be telling someone, directly in the second person, "Shut up!" But it is saying that someone should shut up because their views, even though they are arguable and civilly expressed, are politically inexpedient. I can't accept that.
For me, the argument has never been about whether we should normally try to be civil. Generally speaking, I think we should be. It's better for intellectual progress if a wide range of ideas can be discussed in a civil manner without people losing their tempers, provoking each other to lose their tempers, typecasting and dismissing each other as not worth listening to on the basis of their ideas, and so on. There is a place for satire and mockery of absurd ideas, but there's also an important place for listening to each others' viewpoints and welcoming thoughtful critiques of our own views.
What annoyed me so much about Mooney in the first place was the suggestion that we should not express certain ideas - at least in more public places like The New Republic - even in a thoughtful and civil manner (which is what Jerry Coyne did in the book review that Mooney objected to). Anyway... let's move on...
7. Some Saturday supervillainy: Zeus vs the Hulk. This brief post about heroism and villainy in pop culture attracts a significant number of readers month after month. It's obviously a hot topic for a demographic that I tapped into. And, hey, why not? It does less to raise my blood pressure than worrying about Chris Mooney or Wally Smith or