Subscribe during February and save 50%.

Elsewhere, September 5, 2010

Video games as art, God’s plan for the world, humanity as parasites, photography, Biology and Ideology, the Bible and scientific studies, and HTML 5.
(NYC WandererCC BY-SA 2.0)

Elsewhere: A collection of interesting links and articles that I’ve come across in the last week or so. Follow me on Twitter for more of the same.

Who says video games aren’t art?

Detractors can rightly argue that not every game technically fits the definition of art, or aspires to such lofty goals. Plenty of titles exist purely as profit-generating vehicles designed to cash in on TV shows, films and mindless pop culture artifacts.

But by letting us assume a variety of different roles, experience the world through new eyes and soak up scenarios from a fuller range of perspectives, many of the best games provide room for personal growth and individual interpretation. Capable of great import and splendor, at their best, video games can marry the aesthetic grace of painting, music and sculpture with the depth and gravity of film, literature and stagecraft.

For all the joy and sorrow these titles can bring, it seems a crime to dismiss them because we’re free to experience and interpret them in our living rooms, not some musty gallery.

God’s Evacuation Plan?

Matthew 24:37-41 is a key passage some Christians use to justify an escapist theology, approaching this world with a “Why shine the brass on a sinking ship?” attitude. In this passage Jesus likens “the coming of the Son of Man” to the time of Noah, when people “were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away.” Then Jesus gives two brief pictures of the effect of his coming: “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.”

These verses have been employed to support the idea that God will one day evacuate, or “rapture,” all the righteous people, leaving behind an evil world destined for annihilation. Therefore, the thinking goes, Christians should focus exclusively on seeking to rescue lost souls rather than waste time trying to fix things that are broken in this doomed world. This perspective is evidenced in a comment I read not long ago from a well-known Bible teacher: “Evangelism is the only reason God’s people are still on earth.”

But a closer look at the context reveals that in those pictures Jesus gave of men in the field and women at the mill, those “left behind” are the righteous rather than the unrighteous. Like the people in Noah’s day who were “swept away,” leaving behind Noah and his family to rebuild the world, so the unrighteous are “taken,” while the righteous are left behind. Why? Because this world belongs to God, and he’s in the process of gaining it all back, not giving it all up.

Science fiction has often compared humanity to parasites and viruses that portend naught but destruction

What are human beings, and what should be their relationship to the environment? Is the occasional critique of science fiction correct that we are a plague, a virus, a cancer on the planet? If so, what should be done in response? Science fiction and the broader realm of the fantastic can provide us with venues in which to reflect on these important questions.

Color, Photos, and One Fuzzy Little Boy in a Field

But, the real star of the show has to be that little boy standing on the left… He looks like he’s about my daughter’s age — maybe 3 or so.

He’s standing over there by himself, far enough away from the grown-ups (the image tells us) to be a little out of focus range. So he looks kind of fuzzy. But, Delano clearly framed and cropped the shot to make sure he was included.

But, he’s just standing there by himself. Three years old, standing in the sun, in the middle of a field that his family doesn’t own.

No chair. No shade. No juice box, Spongebob, or iPad. And, given the day of backbreaking labor ahead of the family who’d brought him, there’s certainly nobody to grab his hand, walk him over to the scant shade of that longleaf pine, and tell him his favorite story.

He just stands there. By himself.

Denis Alexander’s overview of Biology and Ideology — From Descartes to Dawkins

What Biology and Ideology — From Descartes to Dawkins brings out so forcefully is the point that there “is nothing new under the sun.” As soon as a scientific idea or theory becomes influential and prestigious, then the tendency is for its prestige to be deployed for uses that go well beyond science. And where those uses go in apparently polar opposite directions, as in the comparison between creationism/ID and ultra-Darwinism, the opposite poles are often more similar to each other than either side might be prepared to admit.

The ideological uses and abuses of science are bad for science education, because so often the science gets lost in the rhetoric. They can be dangerous, as this volume so powerfully illustrates. They are also bad for religion, because scientific theories are always provisional, open to refutation, and simply not up to the herculean task of deployment for pro- or anti-religious arguments. Darwinian evolution, for example, just happens to be the inference to the best explanation for the origins of all the biological diversity on planet earth. It’s a stunningly successful theory, but it’s best just to let scientific theories do the job that they’re good at, and not invest them with ideologies that have nothing to do with the science.

I’d say I’d like to add this book to my reading list, but my reading list is too long and my free time too short as it is.

Why is it OK to adjust our Bible readings to historical study but not to scientific study?

Can you tell me then why we can adjust our knowledge about the Bible from archaeology, historical studies, and social scientific studies, but the minute someone suggests that the empirical sciences, like evolutionary theories and the origins of life, are leading us to adjust how we read Genesis 1 – 3 they are accused of letting something other than the Bible determine what the Bible says and that such a procedure is wrong?

21 Ridiculously Impressive HTML5 Canvas Experiments

#9 — “Fake Floor Reflections” — is actually done in Flash. That being said, the remainder of the demos contain some pretty impressive animation and interactivity.

Enjoy reading Opus? Want to support my writing? Become a subscriber for just $5/month or $50/year.
Subscribe Today
Return to the Opus homepage