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In which Mike Flynn does another autopsy on the New Atheist creation myth that is Agora.
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This movie is something from three years ago that only came to the U.S. a year later, and then played in a dozen art house theaters in major cities for like one week. The entire American experience of this film consisted of Robert Barron (who I think saw it in Rome), a handful of other offended Catholic apologists, movie critics, and a double handful of hardcore Rachel Weisz fans.
Junk is junk, I guess that was the point.
Flynn mentions Donald Prothero, who seems to be a perfectly good paleontologist/geologist, but gets quickly out of his depth in human history. His book on the Cenozoic Era, “After the Dinosaurs,” has a minor howler when he mentions the great Cuvier being afraid of the Church in the 1790s. Cuvier was a Protestant and the Church was more or less illegal when Cuvier published his theory of extinction. Oops. But his major howlers come at the end of his book. Prothero has just spent pages and chapters telling us how through much of the Cenozoic, Belgium was tropical and Ellesmere Island (lattitude 78• N) was warm-temperate–but Global Warming Is Real and gonna get us. His solution? Contraception. There are other howlers too, where he attempts to make human history fit with various climate changes over the span of the geologic Recent, but the Population Bomb (he uses the term and mentions the Ehrlichs of less than blessed memory) is the howlingist of the howlers.
The usually perceptive Roger Ebert wrote a gushing review of Agora when it was released two years ago. It contains such howlers as this: “Hypatia herself is not interested in religion; she feels passion only for her ideas.”
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