Thursday, December 22, 2005

The World Ends Tonight

I'm linking to WorldNetDaily for the curious reason that I agree with Vox Day, for the most part. This bloweth my mind.

America was founded on the principle that it is right to sacrifice blood for liberty. It is telling that the Bush defenders make precisely the opposite argument, that it is right to sacrifice liberty in order to avoid the shedding of American blood. In this they are, like the Dear Leader, avowedly anti-American.

Would you like a glass of Chagrin with that?

So, d'you ever haul out the old blunderbuss, load it up painstakingly, aim it to perfection, and fire off a blistering round exactly at the wrong target? Yeah, me neither. But if I did, the experience might be something like this response I crafted to a blog comment that I later concluded must have been intended sarcastically. So, in the interest of retrieving the projectile and redirecting my fire at the proper recipient, here goes. Guest Blogger Ross Douthat, writing at Andrew Sullivan's daily dish, said of the so-called Christmas Wars:

"...the larger reality is that ... there is a significant chunk of this country - [the cultural elite] - that doesn't much care for Christianity, at least if it's practiced seriously and its basic dogmas are left intact."

Speaking as a fairly regular churchgoer whose views typically align with those of the so-called cultural elite, I think Douthat, and by extension those in the "Christianity under siege" community, seriously misunderstand how they are perceived. There is impatience with the gullibility of those who are taken in by such transparent buffoons as Bill O'Reilly, Pat Robertson, and George W. Bush. There is disgust with the hypocritical sanctimony that is all too often the public face of the "Religious Right." There is bemusement, sure, when you get cut off in traffic by a car with a bumper sticker proclaiming, "Christians aren't perfect -- just forgiven." There is horror and disbelief at those who do not appreciate what a blessing we have in the wall of separation between church and state. And there is annoyance with the missionary zeal that amounts to intolerance of anyone else's brand of spirituality.

With regard to the serious practice of Christianity's basic dogmas, well, if more Christians lived a life of humility, peacemaking, and genuine charity, I think even the jaded cultural elite would stand in awe.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

This is Instructive

From a Nightline interview:

TERRY MORAN (ABC NEWS): Are you troubled at all that more than 100 people in US custody have died, 26 of them now being investigated as criminal homicides, people beaten to death, suffocated to death, died of hypothermia in US custody?

DICK CHENEY (VICE PRESIDENT): I won't accept your numbers, Terry. But I guess one of the things I'm concerned about is, that as we get farther and farther away from 9/11, and there have been no further attacks against the United States, there seems to be less and less concern about doing what's necessary in order to defend the country.

A reasonable followup, alas, an up not followed: So, tell me, Mr. VP, just how many criminal homicides are necessary to defend our country? Are you saying we should be encouraging our armed forces and intelligence agencies to commit more criminal homicides, so we'll be even safer?

My question: If defending our country means throwing away the constitution, is it really worth saving?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It's Called Burden of Proof, Counselor, Or, When Snide Attacks aren't Enough

This op-ed printed recently in the Birmingham News just cries out for a detailed rebuttal. Since items from the News only stay online for 7 days (edit: it appears I'm wrong about this), I've taken the liberty of reproducing the entire piece here, except for the author's email.

Prove it or admit you can't
Sunday, December 11, 2005

The debate over evolution, natural selection, creationism and intelligent design seems to me mostly a jumble of intellectually dishonest arguments. As with so many of society's debates, polarization of political positions has resulted in mere thinly veiled, snide attacks on the intelligence of those holding the opposite position.

Darwin hypothesized two essential prongs for his theory of evolution: (a) that species "evolved" one from another through some process; and a bolder one, (b) that the process was exclusively one of natural selection (survival of the fittest). Many people, and apparently most scientists, have accepted both prongs as fact. (See National Geographic Magazine, November 2004.)

Some religious people - the creationists - are troubled by the first prong, because it appears inconsistent with a literal interpretation of Genesis' description of creation.

Scientists are dismissive of creationists because of the fossil and geological records of the Earth's development. Creationists are hard-pressed to cite scientific evidence opposing that record, and Darwinists then claim victory for both prongs of Darwin's theory. Here, the scientists abandon their intellectual honesty.

Most people uncomfortable with Darwinism find trouble only with the second prong of his theory - the more speculative theory that development of species occurred solely through a process of natural (random) selection, without input of any "supernatural" or "intelligently designing" force. These believers in "intelligent design," if they are religious, may view Genesis as allegorical and not literal.

On the second prong of Darwinism, however, "intelligent designers" have the widely held view (88 percent, according to National Geographic) that an intelligent force has been at work in the universe with a role in the development of species.

Darwinists who attack intelligent design have scant evidence for their second-prong theory - that change occurs exclusively by natural selection, in no way attributable to intelligent design. Their best argument is that slight variations appear in species that could in theory have occurred naturally.

Understandably, they are in the uncomfortable position here of proving a negative. Consequently, they most often resort to two other arguments, both fundamentally dishonest.

First, they often obfuscate the debate by falling back on the weightier evidence for Darwin's first prong. Second, they define away their proof problem. Since they cannot prove that intelligent design did not cause the changes or proliferation of species, they argue that such a notion is inherently nonscientific, and that such a causation is out of bounds in any scientific discussion.

A little intellectual honesty is in order. Having stated a theory that expressly excludes intelligent design, science should admit it is incapable of proving or disproving intelligent design. Such proof is simply beyond the tools available to mortal man.

Having admitted that, they should admit - to that extent - that Darwin's second prong, natural selection of species, is not proven fact and cannot be proved fact, but merely a valid scientific theory that cannot be proved to be the ultimate causation of development of species, to the exclusion of intelligent design. They may legitimately state it is the only "scientific theory," but they must be willing to admit clearly the implications of that phrase.

As a believer in intelligent design, and one with some training in science, I can live with schools teaching Darwin's theory so long as this truth is admitted clearly within the context of that teaching. It is not asking too much of science that it admit what it can and what it cannot prove.

Attorney David M. Wooldridge lives in Homewood. His e-mail address is [redacted]
© 2005 The Birmingham News

I'll offer my thoughts and snide attacks in the next post.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Now this is truly funny.

The Museum of Depressionist Art. Just go there.

Pictured, Buddhist Monk misses Nirvana due to Cell Phone Interruption.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

OK, Ready! Gimme an 'F'!

So the Fordham Foundation graded (almost) all the states' published science education standards and, oopsy, we Flagged it! Yes, that's Dear Alabama, right in that diagonal swath of failure extending from Kansas to Key West. Y'know, Toto, I THOUGHT we weren't in Kansas anymore, but now I'm not sure. Maybe if could espy a cadre of Discovery Institue scientists, we'd know for sure...

Oh! Here they are: