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Olson on Pullman

If nothing else, Philip Pullman has succeeded in getting quite a bit of attention for “His Dark Materials” and its associated movie release. In Hollywood they say that any publicity is good publicity, as long as they spell your name right. That said, I wouldn’t want to get on Carl Olson’s bad side:

On one hand, I don’t expect Pullman to be the second coming of Aristotle or even Hume, but since he has made so many public statements about his atheistic beliefs and understanding of religion, specifically Christianity, it seemed reasonable to take a look at what he has to say. Put simply, what he does say is underwhelming. It is notable for a glaring absence of anything remotely resembling serious study and thought, consisting mostly of clichés (“I’m for open-mindedness and tolerance”), vague silliness (“I think the world today is in some danger of becoming medieval again”), and angry insults (“For Tolkien, the Catholic, the Church had the answers, the Church was the source of all truth, so ‘Lord of the Rings’ does not touch those big deep questions”). He abuses the words “fundamentalism” and “theocracy.” In short, he is like a poor man’s Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens—a smart and clever man who writes well, but also writes far too much about something he knows far too little about. It would be like me pontificating about how to be a great opera singer or why global warming is a fraud/fact/fantasy.

Ouch. “[A] poor man’s Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens” … that’s positively scorching, in a reducing-to-ashes kind of way. Like I said, ouch.

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