I thought that some ASA members might want to jump in on this.
>Below is a press release from the "Great American Think-Off" with an essay
>contest on the subject of "Which is More Dangerous: Science or Religion?" The
>question is so terribly flawed that I was tempted to ignore this press
>release. Both science and religion are ambivalent enterprises with good and
>bad manifestations. What is troubling, of course, is that the call assumes
>some fundamental conflict between science and religion and promotes a plague on
>both our houses. So rather than curse the darkness, let's light a candle.
>Meta is offering a $500 award to any winning essays that undermine the premise
>of the question. The essays will have to conform with the guidelines below,
>and of course, I'll also want to post winning essays on Meta.
>-- Billy Grassie
>Dangers of Science and Religion debated in Great American Think-Off
>New York Mills, MN - "Which Is More Dangerous: Science or Religion?"
>That's the question of the seventh Great American Think-Off, the annual
>philosophy contest held in New York Mills, Minnesota (population 972). This
>year's question probes the dark-side of two of mankind's great intellectual
>institutions: Science (which has given civilization medical and technological
>advancements, but has also yielded nuclear weapons) and Religion (which has
>provided civilization with it's moral and ethnical foundation, but has also
>invoked genocide and ethnic cleansing). Armchair philosophers from across the
>nation will use their pens and wits to battle-it-out, ultimately deciding which
>is more harmful to humankind. The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center,
>host of the Great American Think-Off, is sending over 2000 flyers to schools,
>factories, past participants, and politicians throughout the nation. Past
>contestants have ranged from age 7 to 89 covering a broad spectrum of
>backgrounds, occupations, and geographic locations--last year's contest drew
>over 825 entries from 45 states and also featured a live national broadcast on
>C-SPAN, with additional coverage by the New York Times, Today Show, and
>National Public Radio.
>The Great American Think-Off is based on the premise that philosophical
>thinking is not exclusively for the ivory towers of academia, and that there
>are current social concerns which require an honest dialogue between thinking
>citizens. The Think-Off, which has covered topics ranging from the nature of
>humankind, the meaning of life, and the death penalty, gives nonprofessional
>philosophers an opportunity to wrestle with meaningful questions in a
>straightforward, accessible format.
>The Great American Think-Off is open to everyone. To enter, simply write a 750
>word essay addressing the question "Which Is More Dangerous: Science or
>Religion?" Essays should be based on personal experience and observations,
>rather than on philosophical technicalities. Contestants should include their
>name, address, occupation, and age on the front page of the essay. Entries will
>be judged more on the strength of the argument than on spelling or grammar.
>Mail essays to: Think-Off '99, Box 246, New York Mills, Minnesota , 56567.
>Entries must be postmarked by April 5, 1999.
>Essays can also be electronically mailed to the Regional Cultural Center at:
>email@example.com. By entering, contestants agree that their essays may be
>reprinted for promotional purposes by the Great American Think-Off. Finalists
>must be able to attend the final debate on June 12. Travel and lodging stipends
>will be provided by the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center.
>A panel of professional and armchair philosophers will judge the entries and
>announce the four finalists on May 17, 1999. These contestants will meet at the
>New York Mills Sports Center on June 12 at 7 PM to battle for the Gold, Silver,
>and Bronze medals. The winner will be designated "American's Greatest Thinker"
>and will be offered a book publishing and promotion contract with Book
>Tech--sponsor of the Great American Think-Off. The four finalists will share
>$2,000 in prize money.
>About the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center
>The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center is an innovative not-for-profit
>organization dedicated to expanding the cultural and creative opportunities of
>rural Americans. Located in a small town in rural Minnesota , the New York
>Mills Regional Cultural Center offers a variety of programs including artist
>residencies, music concerts, literary events, gallery exhibits, classes, and an
>outdoor music festival. The Regional Cultural Center has achieved national
>recognition for quality and innovation in the arts. For more information call
>Footer information below last updated: 1/1/1999.
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>promoting the constructive engagement of science and religion. Subscriptions
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>"fair use" principles, and explicit permission should be obtained when needed.
>Except when permitted by "fair use," permission to duplicate or transmit any
>portion written by a contributor must be obtained from that author. - Copyright
>1997, 1998, 1999. William Grassie <http://www.voicenet.com/~grassie>.
Keith B. Miller
Department of Geology
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506