Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Kindle Challenge

Amazon has just released what they claim to be a revolutionary e-book reader (and much else) called a Kindle, which Newsweek reviewed. It claims to be user-friendly and has cell phone like access to a huge number of books, magazines, and more. You can also search books with the technology. I wrote about the difference between the page and the screen in The Soul in Cyberspace, but Kindle is a bit beyond what I (or anyone) had in mind in 1997.

Well. For any wealthy Constructive Curmudgeon reader out there, I challenge you to buy me one for Christmas, so that I can blog about what I take its strengths and weaknesses to be. It only costs $399!

(The chances are small, since no one took the hint about my wishlist on Amazon. But, you never know...)

29 comments:

Abu Daoud said...

I read the Newsweek article and found it quite informative. I am excited about the possibilities for this technology in terms of missionary work actually. I mean, right now it is obviously quite expensive, but give it a another two or three years and I am guessing the Kindle will be about $100, maybe a little more.

Brandy said...

I love real books with real pages, just because I think they are beautiful. A screen lacks that, in my opinion. However, I see potential for it. We have friends with a child with Cerebral Palsy. One of the biggest challenges with such a child is the inability to turn a page without ripping it. He often reads on a computer screen, or from binders where the pages have been printed out and covered with plastic. For children like this, I could see kindle being the closest thing to a book they could experience...

Matt Proctor said...

Dr. Groothuis,
I don't know where your entry in regards to the Intelligent Design supporting Iowa State professor went off to, but I thought I'd make a few quick points.

first off, I am an ISU grad and now a Denver Seminary student. I had Dr. Avalos (one of the profs that sought to bring down professor Gonzalelz), and I can reaffirm that many ISU profs (especially Avalos) stand morally (if you can use that word for secular humanists) against any form of Christianity. (they do not oppose other religious expressions interestingly . . . just look up a previous issue in regards to a cross in an on-campus chapel)

On another side of the issue, I am frustrated that Christians have demonized the ISU faculty, President, and any nay-sayer who might suggest ID contains faulty science. I believe in ID, but I hold presuppositions that make ID possible. Since most of the scientific community remains atheistic in regards to scientific research, is it any wonder they would think Dr. Gonzalez is off his rocker in his "findings"? I know his work leading toward tenure was not primarily based on ID work, but it is not surprising that much of the scientific faculty at ISU would bemoan his tenure in light of their firm convictions based on science.

Is it his faith that they are attacking? Or is it (in their minds) his faulty presuppositions?

My prayer is that Gonzalez and the rest of the Christian community would respond in humility and grace on this issue. Christians are not supposed to wage a culture war (unlike what the pseudo-prophet Bill O'Reilly contends); rather we are called to live counter-culturally as light in the midst of a dark world in order that OUR behavior leads others to glorify God (Matt 5:16).

O Lord keep us from reacting in anger . . . let us respond in love and forgiveness, even to those who are at enmity with us.

Daniel said...

Matt--

"I believe in ID, but I hold presuppositions that make ID possible." You don't have to presuppose ID to make it true. Follow the evidence where it leads. Much empirical, scientific evidence points to ID, without merely having to presuppose it.

There are Den. Sem. students following this issue very closely. Go to this link and check out the comments at the bottom to see some answers to your question about the attack on faith.

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007712040375

Tony Lombardo said...

Matt,

I think you are confusing what some call scientific creationism with intelligent design. SC presupposes that a supernatural being created the world and that the Genesis creation account is scientifically accurate. ID does not presuppose either of these claims, but rather uses well-established empirical design detection methods in order to uncover design in certain features of the universe. Also, ID proponents do not attempt to identify the designer, since this would go beyond the realm of empirical science--it is a much more modest research program than most critics think.

While these ISU profs think they are embracing "pure science," they are really dogmatically embracing a PHILOSOPHY of science that refuses to admit intelligent causes no matter the evidence. So they are not attacking his faith, but rather his philosophy of science.

Christians need to stand up for Guillermo, as he is the victim of an institution's deceptive, conspiratorial, and secretive designs to marginalize his scientific work and deny him tenure. There is no contradiction between being a community of love and grace and fiercely contending for truth and justice in the public sphere. It's not about anger, but righteous indignation in the face of injustice.

apples and oranges said...

Tony:

Interesting comments, but I find them problematic.

1). If you reduce scientific naturalism to a philosophy you are obligated to do the same with ID, in which case it too is not science.

2) Both ID and secular science believes in evolution, the age of the earth, etc... the major difference is whether a supernatural being(s) guided such a process. This doesn't seem to impinge on most of the science that is done except in the introductory lecture of some Frosh bio class where the teacher says: "we can't fully explain the beginnings of things. It could point to a deity or we may not have a limited understanding."

3) If ID purports to be so scientific, why do a bunch of untrained apologists go around defending it. It seems more like a lay movement driven by non-specialists.

4) Why do you insist that Christians stand up for him. Is it because he supports a Christian agenda (which mitigates the modest goals of ID), or is it because you want to stand up to (perceived) injustice? The latter is an admirable goal.

Please respond DIRECTLY to my questions. You need not qualify your answers with extra information.

Matt Proctor said...

My dear Tony (fellow ISU alumnus and brother in Christ):

Your words, "There is no contradiction between being a community of love and grace and fiercely contending for truth and justice in the public sphere. It's not about anger, but righteous indignation in the face of injustice." Jesus' trial before the Sanhedrin and Pilate was a test-case of injustice . . . but grace DID require acceptance, love, and non-retaliation.

Christians ought to boldly proclaim truth in the marketplace of ideas. But when we are overlooked, ignored and persecuted, what should be our response? Retaliation? Or acceptance and grace (and then count it all joy)?

Tony Lombardo said...

Apples,

1. My point is that all science is pervaded by philosophical assumptions. Would you say that methodological naturalism exhausts what is meant by "science"? Of course not. Materialistic science AND the ID research program are focused on empirical observation of the universe; the issue is: What causal entities may be appealed to in providing scientific explanations of what we observe empirically. The methodological naturalist wants to rule out, a priori, intelligent causes and attempt to explain everything according to undirected natural causes; the proponent of ID wants to be open to where the evidence leads, even if that means admitting intelligent causes.

2. I don't see a question here, so it is hard to "respond DIRECTLY to it." But I'll offer this as a response to your comment: ID is not, in and of itself, concerned with the origins of the universe--you are thinking of scientific creationism. I would recommend reading some material by proponents of ID, like Dembski and Gonzalez, to become familiar with the distinctions.

3. Untrained? You mean like Gonzalez, who has a PhD in astronomy--or Dembski, who has two PhD's (one in math, one in philosophy) and an MA in statistics? The list of HIGHLY trained specialists could go on here, so it's unclear where you are getting this. Further, again, the central issue in the ID debate concerns the PHILOSOPHY of science, so we really need philosophers of science to weigh in on the issue (like Dembski, Richards, Ruse, etc).

4. I thought this was very clear in my original post. Guillermo is the victim of injustice, thus Christians should stand up for him, just as they should stand against injustice wherever it is found.

My brother, Matt,

I'm failing to see standing up for Guillermo as necessarily retaliatory in nature. Of course, some Christians may respond out of anger and a vindictive spirit, but this isn't the only way to respond against injustice. There is another option beyond retaliation or quietism, namely, righteous activism. I appreciate your caution here though.

apples and oranges said...

thanks for the banter Tony.
My point about "untrained people" defending ID certainly has exceptions. There are a few that you mentioned and some others (e.g. Behe) who can assess the data--but I hope that you'd agree with me that the vast majority of people defending ID don’t.
The philosophy undermining both systems is certainly needs examination, but I find it ridiculous that people like Groothuis try to defend ID without actually performing research themselves. He intentionally misleads people into thinking that he can actually deal with the problems when he cannot. It’s academically dishonest and brings shame to Christ to speak authoritatively on topics on which one is almost entirely ignorant without admitting their ignorance.
I just finished my PhD from Stanford in Bio Chem and I know a little something about the problems. I came to this website because I thought about attending seminary to study philosophy, but was so disheartened by the sophistry of Groothuis (and Moreland) regarding science that I felt I needed to speak up. Moreland has some training in science, but some (not all) of arguments are woefully outdated—he might as well argue against a flat earth at times.

I actually support ID, but faulty, inane arguments hurt the cause. Honestly, though, from a empirical perspective unless I presuppose my religious heritage the argument for ID can't really be made. I applaud the work of Demski as one of the most important defenders of the Bible, though. He is also very honest in his limitations BTW.
Grant G.

In the end, Matt's perspective is a much better witnessing tool to us scientists than sophistry or ignorant anger.

Tom Hinkle said...

Note to Matt, Daniel, Tony, and Apples:

Do you people have some kind of pathological inability to stay with the subject? This post was about Kindle, not your obsession with arguing about Intelligent Design. Why don't you get your own blogs instead of hijacking others? If you came over to my blog and couldn't stay with the subject, your comments would be promptly deleted and you would eventually be banned.

Tom Hinkle said...

Oh, by the way, concerning Kindle, it looks great. I have a lot of books that just take up space after I'm finished with them. This would certainly solve that problem. But it's a bit expensive for now.

apples and oranges said...

"Do you people have some kind of pathological inability to stay with the subject?" [sic]

Ironic.

Not only are you harsh, but you're also hypocritical. How are you not guilty of this indictment?

That's enough "tarradiddle Tom."

Lord: "Please give Tom a heart of love, compassion, and grace."

Tom Hinkle said...

Apples,
Thus the reason for my second post which I guess you conveniently ignored.

Daniel said...

Tom,

Good thing this is Groothuis' blog and not yours and I don't see him deleting our comments. Perhaps you should police your own blog instead of someone else's. Just a thought.

Tom Hinkle said...

Daniel,
What do you think of the Kindle?

Doug Groothuis said...

Apples needs to produce the goods.
What have I written that is specious or sophormoric? Or JP for that matter?

I am not a research scientist, but a philosopher. We need philosophers to think about science. Just having a doctorate in science does not mean you are giving good arguments. Produce the arguments, instead of engaging in ad hominem attacks. I am not intimidated by your Ph.D. I need arguments, not insults. So do all rational people.

I don't claim to break much (if any) new ground on ID. I take the arguments and present them in book reviews, editorials, lectures, debates, and articles. I give the design inference. What is fallacious about it?

apples and oranges said...

Thanks for the response, though I wish you responded with kindness. Let me deal with your weakest point first.

1. You said that I made an ad hominem argument. I did no such thing. I did not say that since you have an harsh temper that your arguments are false. You are mean, but your arguments might very well be true independent of your character.

You later wrote "insults"-which suggests a type of paranoia. Brother to brother, I know that you suffer from depression, and you need to recongize that this makes you lash out against the Church and others. Sorry for the rebuke, but you need to work through these issues and seek counseling and develop deeper, more authentic relationships. Soon. Please don't confuse logic for sadness.

2.

You wrote show me what is specious or sophormoric. I actually claimed that your writing was full of sophistry regarding ID (good alliteration, though!). The problem is that you are using weak, outmoded, or equivocal arguments to support ID. If you really want me to point those out, and how you can learn to evaluate why they are weak I'd be happy to. But I'm afraid that it requires a level of techical expertise that you don't possess, currently. Would you like me to point you to some textbooks/course of study that will prepare you to deal with the issues? I'd be happy to.

3. You admitted that you don't know how to deal with the data and that you simply summarize. If such is your standard for promulagation then I'm afraid our standards are different. I've published several papers; none have been in the area of apologetics.

Like I said, I was interested in studying philosophy but you stumbled me. Rather than trying to rectify the situation, you confirmed that I'd be better off at a place like Boston College or Yale Div. The lord does answer prayer!

Lord: "I pray that you would give Doug a spirit of humility and that he would seek to further your cause in areas in which he can be a witness with kindness and love."

Grant

PS. The Kindle seems expensive. Now I'm in the clear, too, right Tom? :)

Sarah Scott said...

Apples,

I hate to respond, as it might encourage your haughtiness, but I can't (rather, won't) restrain myself.

You said: "Thanks for the response, though I wish you responded with kindness."

After re-reading your supercilious beginning statement, do you not find your following comments to be ironic? You are letting yourself get in the way of any sort of good argument.

Further, you are confusing science with philosophy of science. As a scientist (in biochem, nonetheless), you should be well aware that it is difficult (but not impossible) for professional scientists to have any time outside of their specialized (micro) research field to contemplate the "big picture" and far-reaching implications.

This is where philosophy of science is absolutely vital. As Dr. Groothuis said, we need philosophers to think about science.

apples and oranges said...

Sarah:

Thank you for the response; your point is well-taken, but I feel as if you also are trying to impugn me by saying "supercilious." I don't mean to come across that way and there is no reason to sling such stinging daggers. Maybe I'm misunderstanding your choice of words, though.

I guess we've all acted like arrogant animals by choosing harsh, cutting language. Let's all repent and beg for God’s forgiveness. There's no reason for us to respond out of anger.

I don't think there's quite as much ignorance among scientists as you suggest. Sure we're busy, but so is everyone else. The suggestion that people in the scientific community are ignorant of philosophy is precisely what I find maddening about apologetical responses to science. Most of my classmates read widely in philosophy, including the classics (e.g. Descartes, Hume, Wittgenstein, Locke, etc...). Sure some of my classmates are myopic, but to suggest that scientists are unaware of philosophy is a bit of a straw man. We are not men without chests. But that's only my anecdotal experience at Stanford and H. Mudd.

My main beef is that among the scientific community it seems silly when non-specialists try to tell us how we are unaware of our worldview when they are almost entirely ignorant of the details of our field. If Doug shored up his scientific knowledge with a dozen or so classes in Bio, Chem, and Calculus we'd be able to discuss the details, at least conceptually. Otherwise it sounds like me giving a lecture on the philosophical difference between N. vs. S. European Renaissance art. I could summarize some views (e.g. humans in foreground = more humanistic, nature in foreground, etc..), but it'll sound silly and trite. I think it brings shame to Christ.

Lord: "Please call us to a higher standard. Your standard."

Tony Lombardo said...

Apples,

I am disturbed by the tone you take with Dr Groothuis. I saw nothing whatsoever "mean" or "harsh" about his response to you here. You accused him of practicing sophistry without providing any SPECIFIC examples. Is this really fair? He responded by asking you for specifics in engaging his arguments and you consider this to be out of line? Yet you say he "intentionally misleads people," practices "sophistry," has a "harsh temper," and is "mean" and do not provide any SPECIFIC reason to think any of these things--isn't this behavior completely inappropriate? What about "rebuking" someone "brother to brother" on a public blog--would you appreciate it if someone rebuked you on dubious grounds with a megaphone in front of hundreds of people? I simply ask you to think honestly about these questions.
Further, do all of us really need to read your prayer for Doug to the Lord? This makes me suspicious as to whether the prayer is truly to the Lord, or merely another barb thrown in Dr Groothuis's direction.

I watched Dr Groothuis debate an atheist anthropologist on ID, and, frankly, the scientist had no clue how rational argumentation works. In all seriousness, the scientist's "argumentation" was not very much more than textbook illustrations of informal logical fallacies. Dr Groothuis, on the other hand, kept his comments on point throughout, and even showed a segment of video that featured professional scientists explaining the relevant biochemistry for the audience. Doug's intellectual integrity was, and is, very clear. Again, the ID debate is fundamentally one concerning the philosophy of science; thus, in full agreement with Sarah, we are in desperate need of clear-thinking philosophers to engage this debate. I would simply ask you to please reconsider the practice of making accusations without providing any evidence for them.

Daniel said...

Tom,

I don't care about the Kindle, that's why I commented on Matt's first posting about ID.

Daniel

Doug Groothuis said...

Tony and Sarah:

Thank you. I need not say more!

The depressed, mean-spirited, ignoramus,who drives gifted scientists away from Denver Seminary, aka,

Doug Groothuis

Jon said...

Dr. G,

I think you hit the proverbial nail on the head in one of your comments:

Just having a doctorate in science does not mean you are giving good arguments.

Scientists are, by and large, very good at science. Those scientists I have read are, by and large, not very good at philosophy. I realize this is a sweeping generalization, but it is a trend I have noticed. Therefore science and philosophy need one another. Everything is not empirically verifyable, and "emperically verified" theories may still be erronious if the underlying presuppositions of the testers are fallacious.

Jon said...

Apples,

You wrote: Most of my classmates read widely in philosophy, including the classics (e.g. Descartes, Hume, Wittgenstein, Locke, etc...).

I am glad to hear it! You should tell them to write more! The science books that make their way to the populus (i.e. they're sold at B&N) are severely lacking in this regard.

Doug Groothuis said...

I am so sick and tired and disgusted by this "we scientists control knowledge and nonscientist know nothing" bovine excrement. It is fallacious:

1. It appeals to one's own authority without argument.

2. It begs the questions for one's viewpoint and against the benighted non-Ph.D's in science.

3. It makes hasty generalizations: Nonscientists are intrinsically unqualified to say anything about Darwinism.

4. It issues a false dictomy: scientists know; others do not.

One could go on, but I am weary of it.

apples and oranges said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Doug Groothuis said...

Apples and Oranges is hereby banned from this blog.

Jeff S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff S. said...

Whoo hoo!

And I thought I came to this entry to find out what a kindle was... I didn't realize we had a long ID thread going on here!

But since we are... I have a question: If tomorrow the Colorado lottery results came up as 1-2-3-4-5-6, would you think this mere chance or someone rigged the machine? And what scientific data might you produce to show it to be an act of agency? This sequence is specified as Dembski would put it, but is this only because our minds have deemed it so? Is it not the mind that makes the inference, not the data?