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Actor Daniel Craig A Blond Bondshell

Blogophile is written by's Melissa P. McNamara.

Sure some bloggers doubted whether a blond Bond could make a good spy, but "Casino Royale" has won over the online naysayers. Plus, is the escalating violence in Iraq at the level of civil war? Find out what bloggers have to say. And sparks fly in the blogosphere following a forum on science and religion.

Blond. James Bond

"Casino Royale" premiered earlier this month, but the movie hit the Thanksgiving weekend jackpot, and is still one of the most talked about topics online. The movie is on course to pass 2002's "Die Another Day" to become the top-grossing Bond flick, and it's largely winning rave reviews from bloggers.

The movie has even won over some of those who had previously lost interest in the Bond films. "Anyone like me who went off the films should definately see this one if they want to rekindel there love of bond this film has it all heights, explosions, car chase, a bady with a scar (finally there back) and of course some good old fashioned gambling with steaks of £1000000 wow a million lottery tickets," a blogger at Comedy Stand Up writes.

Many attribute the film's success to the new Bond himself, Daniel Craig, despite initial trepidation that he could live up to his Bond peers. As Jeremy Barker at Popped Culture blogs, "The critics that were up in arms with the choice of Craig as the new face of 007 have been silenced." Cher Smith agrees. "For my money, Craig is perfect. He pulls off the action sequences with ease, humor, and a good deal of magnetism. And when he puts on a tuxedo, he looks as at home as Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan ever was," she writes at The Culture Beat.

Bloggers praise the actor's ability to breathe life into the character of James Bond. "Daniel Craig is the best Bond since Sean Connery. Connery created the part, but Daniel Craig brings him to life, a heroic task after decades and umpteenth Bond movies, a much more difficult task than Connery's," Fausta blogs. "This Bond is everything he should be: Cold, callous, egotistical, and most of all, dangerous. He has no qualms with killing," Justinian at Corpreform adds.

Others noted the lack of technological gadgets in "Casino Royale" compared to previous Bond flicks. But that's not such a bad thing, some say. "Casino Royale goes a bit low on gadgets, which is frankly a refreshing change from the recent Bond films and allows you to focus on the characters and the interplay of emotions and dilemmas," a blogger at Instacritic writes.

Is This What Civil War Looks Like?

The escalation of violence between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq, especially the Sadr City attacks last week, has many bloggers asking what separates sectarian violence from all-out civil war.

Sectarian violence in Iraq is at its worst level since the U.S.-led coalition invaded the country and toppled Saddam Hussein. Car bombs in a Shiite stronghold killed at least 160 last week in the bloodiest single attack of the war, pushing Iraq closer to anarchy. A state of emergency in the country has done little to quell the bloodshed.

As The Lady Speaks blogs, "Can we call it a civil war yet?" John at Independent Voice thinks if Iraq isn't there yet, we are about to see a civil war. "The mission is far from accomplished. An all out civil war is just around the corner," he blogs.

While bloggers continue to question whether the country is in civil war, NBC said it will now use the term, after studying the issue. It's a phrase the White House, and some other media outlets, don't use at this point.

But civil war or not, many bloggers expressed exasperation over the deterioration of the security situation. "The situation is Iraq is total chaos, with no apparent resolve. The Sunnis and the Shiites are fighting each other, we are in the middle fighting with both groups; how do we end this?" Emily blogs at MySpace.

And some, like Jeff at The Political Spectrum, see no light at the end of the tunnel. "I think all Americans have an obligation to be aware of the mess we created in Iraq. Especially as we give thanks for all the blessings here in America," Jeff blogs. "Many of us have been railing against this stuff for years now, but I still don't see the long-promised light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, it seems to be getting worse."

Many are angry about worsening conditions in Iraq. "The Iraqis have to live in their country, not us. They need to work out what is right for them, NOT US!" DarLen blogs at Warriors of Peace & Harmony.

But not everyone agrees. A blogger at The Bullwinkle Blog takes issue with Maureen Dowd's New York Times column, in which she said Iraq is the midst of civil war. "The fact is that the NIE (National Intelligence Estimate) states that if the jihadis can use an American withdrawal to claim victory, we'll see a rise in global terrorism," he counters.

Scientists Take On Religion

Can science and religion be reconciled? That's what some scientists set out to discuss at a forum at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The result was a heated dialogue about ways to counter the influence of religion in society, and an equally contentious debate over the issue in the blogosphere.

The New York Times' account of the discussion, "Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival," was one of the most discussed issues on blogs. According to their reporting, the forum "began to resemble the founding convention for a political party built on a single plank: in a world dangerously charged with ideology, science needs to take on an evangelical role, vying with religion as teller of the greatest story ever told."

Many of the conversations revolved around how science could win religious arguments about evolution without appearing to be just one more ideology, the New York Times reported. But many bloggers took issue with the tone of the discussion and the notion that science and faith never intersect.

Religion and science are not mutually exclusive, some suggest. "If you ask me ... a rational universe that is subject to measurements and study that yield consistant and ever sharper, more focused results in different labs and at different times does not preclude a Creator," Beverly Nuchols at LifeEthics writes.

Jennifer Thompson agrees. She says she is saddened that those attending the forum tried to "limit listeners to a false choice between religion and reason." "They claim stridently that religion causes only evil in the world, which is absurd. I hesitate to defend religion -- it is very easy to attack, I suppose -- but I think it does a tremendous amount of good, and we shouldn't treat it as worthy of nothing but angry contempt," she adds at Revolt and Resignation.

Others bemoaned the forum's tone. "A common line of attack on science from the right is that it destroys the foundations of right and wrong, treating people as no different in moral status than slugs," Cathy Young writes at The Y Files. "For science to actually start championing that viewpoint is not a smart thing."

James K.A. Smith agrees, and says it's disheartening those with different opinions don't speak to one another. "Is there any hope of people actually talking to one another in our polarized culture? Or are we doomed to live in tribalistic quadrants carved up by the polemic of talk radio, cynically preaching to our respective choirs?" Smith writes at Fors Clavigera.

A blogger at Existential Angst adds that even when in the presence of science, it's hard not to think about religion.

After watching the birth of his child, he says he felt an "overwhelming feeling of gratitude to God." "When existential stuff like that happens, who else do you thank? I mean, you can thank your wife, and the doctor, and the nurses, and the hospital and so on. But who do you really have to thank for the entire miracle and possibility of life? Doesn't really make sense to say a prayer of thanks to the concept of ultimate pointlessness, or the blind law of survival of the fittest," he blogs.

Perhaps the differences between science and religion aren't so distinct, after all. Brent Railey questions the assumption that only religion is based on faith. "Science claims to be on a quest for truth, but what truths have science brought us? What we know now by means of the scientific method is an estimate at best, and when this current 'knowledge' is replaced by a better one, is it still truth or knowledge?" Brent blogs at Musings of a Seminary Washout.

While the forum closed last week, undoubtedly this won't be the last discussion on the issue. "Clearly, it is unrealistic to expect a world without religion anytime soon or to expect that science will provide people with the meaning they currently find in religion. Perhaps our efforts should be both cautious and respectful," Atheist Revolution. Amen!

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Melissa McNamara

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