Thursday, April 8, 2010

LECTURE NOTES: Not Enough about Einstein's god, too much about Tippett

*****In retrospect: IF I had read the book before attending the lecture I would not have had the following reaction to it, since I would have already heard what she had to say on Einstein.****

Krista Tippett who hosts the National Public Radio show "Speaking of Faith" gave a lecture on Eintstein's God in New Haven tonight.

$30 was way too much for the lecture - unless you went because you are a Tippett fan and most people there were by the sound of the thundering applause. I went hoping to hear a detailed lecture on Einstein's concept of god, (which Tippetts did at least say was an impersonal overarching nature) --  and I was very disappointed there wasn't more on that subject. Though I guess she had covered it already in her book. And it is my fault for going without having read it....

So unfortunately the talk wasn't just about Einstein, nor actually about god either. People fans, had submitted a bunch of questions about Tippett and she endeavored to answer them.

She also quoted a few scientists, including Einstein and Darwin, and kept saying that religion and science were compatible -- apparently through the mechanism of a sort of new age niceness with a little scientific awe thrown in for good measure. Compatible as long as you don't mention specific doctrines, as long as you are talking to the theologians, who prefer verbal fencing, to strap-on bombs. As long as you are alluding to passages in scientists writings that sound vaguely spiritual or that refer to beauty or infinity. Still I doubt many main stream theologians would count that as 'god' even with a little g.... Sure its all compatible as long as nobody talks details. The devil is in the details they say. For good reason they say that..

Of course asking people about their faith is what Tippett does for a living. She wants her guests on her NPR show to reveal their journey of belief - yet she did not welcome a question about her own belief during the Question and Answer session. Her reply referenced her need to get people to interview for her show. (I guess all these fair minded religious folks she chooses for her interviews might not talk to her if they thought she was really a non-theist.) So in the end -  it's about continuing her personal mission in life,  which she can't do without the other people, ( not a bad thing I guess all in all)  and maybe selling her book Einstein's God. Can't blame her for that I guess.

I thought she gave rather a too high regard for the scriptures of various religions, ascribed wisdom to them without any qualification. No mention of cutting off the hands of thieves. Or subjugating woman. Wonder how she defines wisdom.... and I wonder if it includes forbearance -- during the Q&A Tippett called Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins bigots.  Live, In the Shubert Theater . Hmmm. I guess niceness only goes so far.