Evolution - Metaphysical Bigots
Post-Darwinist, Denyse O'Leary writes about an abstract by Clifford Solis for an upcoming conference. The main point of the abstract is the metaphysical nature of the conflict between Creation and Evolution Theory.
From the Abstract
I am a metaphysical bigot and you probably are too. What do metaphysical bigots think? We think that creationism is a historical hypothesis: it is not a hypothesis about the future. We come to the conclusion that creationism is not scientific because it, by definition, is a supernatural historical hypothesis. We come to the conclusion that creationism is probably not true because we cannot tell whether or not creationism is, in fact, true.and Denyse comments
I will note, however, that irrespective of bigotry, Darwinian evolution, by its very nature, is just as much of a "historical hypothesis" (and not a "hypothesis about the future") as is creationism. So there is nothing there to distinguish it from creationism here.Indeed. As the abstract continues
We believe that the theory of evolution is a historical hypothesis, like creationism...The theory of evolution is also a hypothesis about the future: it is probably going to tell us how life is going to evolve over time.Clifford fails to note that the Theory of Creation also has implications for our future evolution, as to its limits and also the diversity of life on the planet. In so far as the difference between Creation Theory and Evolutionary Theory and the future, it would seem that Creation Theory is better as all evidence seems to indicate a current downhill trend in the quality of our genetic structure.
What is even more ironic is the following statement from a supposedly 'enlightened' person.
We recognize that our unjustified commitment to naturalism has determined our answer to these questions. The fact that we are aware of this fact makes us enlightened and distinguishes us from ordinary metaphysical bigots, such as creationists.What an all out load of crap. Creationists have been openly proclaiming the main different between the two theories hinges on metaphysical assumptions for many years. Intelligent Design advocates also have been saying this from the start. Now that some evolutionists have finally realized their bias, the attempt to arrogantly claim they are enlightened compared to creationists because of it is rather pathetic.
Sosis also makes a few more interesting statements about truth and worldviews
We are aware of the internal coherence of the way we justify our claims, and we are also aware that other belief systems, can be coherent, though we do not believe in them, in a literal sense. We value consistency and coherence.Here Sosis seems to be claiming that the way he justifies his claims are internally coherent because he assumes, unjustifiably by self-admission, that he is able to determine truth. But what of the creationist claim that seems to be more consistent and coherent as the ability to determine truth is not in and of itself an unjustifiable belief, but a logical conclusion of being created to explore the natural world. It seems that creationists have a better claim to coherence.
The fact that it is true, we contend, is due to the fact we have the unjustified metaphysical commitments that allow us to talk about the truth, and that if we did not have those commitments, we would not be able to talk about the true.
Finally, Sosis makes a bad mistake when he claims
If asked whether or not our world-view is “true” we can say, “Yes, in a sense, but only against my theoretical or metaphysical background.”His theoretical or metaphysical background IS his worldview. His answer of 'yes, in a sense...' is essentially saying that, yes my worldview is true if you assume it is true. This is a completely pointless answer and doesn't address the many glaring difficulties with his worldview. (Such as where the universe came from, or why anyone 'should' behave in any particular way if his view is true etc)
Ultimately, Creation versus evolution is a clash between 2 very different metaphysical assumptions. Unfortunately for naturalists, proving a negative is much harder than proving a positive. A single clear experience of the supernatural existence is enough to prove them wrong, and for those of us who have had this sort of experience there is little 'faith' involved in knowing they are wrong.
Christianity - Open theism and God
Tim Challies has an informative post on the recent idea of 'Open theism' that is becoming popular.
This is a definition I have adapted from Monergism.com. "open theism is a sub-Christian theological construct which claims that God's highest goal is to enter into a reciprocal relationship with man. In this scheme, the Bible is interpreted without any anthropomorphisms - that is, all references to God's feelings, surprise and lack of knowledge are literal and the result of His choice to create a world where He can be affected by man's choices. God's exhaustive knowledge does not include future free will choices by mankind because they have not yet occurred."
Tim gives a great overview of Open theism and finishes with his thoughts about the idea.
Needless to say, I find this doctrine wholly incompatible with our knowledge of God as presented in His Word. While open theism contradicts the understanding of God in every Judeo-Christian tradition, it is most completely at-odds with the Reformed understanding, which teaches the highest view of God's foreknowledge and sovereignty. This doctrine undermines our confidence in God and erodes our trust in His promises that He always has our best interests in mind. It is a dangerous, pernicious doctrine.
I would have to agree with Tim that open theism has come bad consequences for Christian thought. It also does not gel with many of the statements of God in the bible about his power and our ability to have faith in his ability to know what is best for us.
One more thing that seems to be overlooked is that if God cannot accurately predict or control what human free will is going to choose, then God's own confidence in any human decision to further his own plans would be incomplete. As an example... God could not be confident that Judas would indeed go through with the betrayal of Jesus, or that Pilate would crucify Jesus, or that a one world government will happen in the future and be controlled by the anti-christ. As another example, the criteria for telling a false prophet given to us by God is that if they make a prophecy that does not come true, then they are a false prophet and must be put to death. In open theism, there can be no certainty that a prophecy that includes any human decision will happen. As such, being a prophet would kinda suck, because if God can get it wrong, then you can be considered a false prophet for giving God's message to the people.
Clearly, many absurdities are created by open theism that are wholly inconsistent with the bibles message. Hopefully, more people will investigate the ideas and consequences of open theism so that it will not continue to gain populatiry due to its superficial benefits.
Quick Links - Religious Discrimination
A bunch of articles have appeared in the last few days which seem to show the trend towards disciminating against christian belief.
Allstate Insurance in the US has fired an employee for writing articles on his own time at home about his views on homosexuality.
Andrew Bolt has an Opinion piece on how religious vilification laws are a farce, and are being used to subvert free speech in a politically correct nightmare.
A UK Bank has asked a Christian group to close its account because of their views on homosexuality.
A canadian teacher who was fired for his beliefs on homosexaulity that were not mentioned in class is being supported by the generosity of others.
And a group funded by the UN is suing to legalise abortion in columbia.
So much for no one enforcing their morality on others eh?
Blogging - Formating Issues
As anyone who takes even a modest look at my blog will be able to tell, there is a pretty obvious formatting issue. The nice people at blogger have informed me that it is a bug and they will be dealing with it. Suffice to say, it is part of the automatic css stuff that I can't do anything about, so my apologies for the hassles.
Life - Abortion and choice
Jivin Jehoshaphat has an interesting post on an article up at the Planned Parenthood website about a woman who mistakenly walked into a crisis pregancy center (CPC) instead of a planned parenthood clinic. JJ makes some good points about the woman's claims of objectional practices at the CPC.
This is where I started to wonder if this was some kind of parody site. A crisis pregnancy center that gives women a free pregnancy test, a free ultrasound, and offers to pay her medical bills and the baby's bills for a year or two isn't "any help at all?" Who's buying that hogwash?
Indeed. It seems the woman's mind was already made up....which is even more evidence by her comments
But I hope that at least other women will learn from my experience. I want them to know what their options are, and to know that places like this aren't any help at all.Obviously she didn't like the options the CPC gave her, but they are options. She wasn't interested in options, just getting rid of the baby. It is also worth noting that she was using condoms...she probably listened to all that great sex-ed that tells her how 'safe' it is.
Update: Imago Dei has a related post where Serge comments
It should also be noted what effect that this visit had on "Laura's" ability to procure an abortion. It had none - she had an abortion anyway. She simply had the opportunity to explore more choices before making that decision. No matter what side of this issue you are on, I cannot see why that is a bad thing.Which I agree with totally. However, I would suggest that the options for a pregnant woman are a) Have and keep the baby. b)Have and adopt out the baby and c) kill the baby as opposed to the list Serge puts up (Which are more like free help if the person chooses (a) or (b))
Science - Dark Chocolate Goodness
Yahoo is talking about recent findings that show that Dark Chocolate may be quite good for your cardiovascular system.
The investigators saw that an artery in the arm dilated significantly more in response to an increase in bloodflow. Chocolate consumption also led to a significant 7-percent decrease in aortic stiffness.Which is apparently a good thing...
Have you had your dark chocolate today?
Creation - Dinosaurs get a tooth ache
Eureka alert and Live Science.com have released details of a nasty to blow to the big story of dinosaur evolution. As the Eureka alert article says
"Because the teeth look like those we know from herbivorous ornithischians, people assigned them to the dinosaurs," said Randall Irmis, a graduate student in the Department of Integrative Biology and the Museum of Paleontology at UC Berkeley. "We think we've shown that you can't rely on the dentition to determine what is an early dinosaur, which casts doubt on all the ornithischians from the Triassic of North America."
Essentially, much of the 'early' ornithischian dinosaur (1 of the 2 main dinosaur groups) evolutionary story was built on fossil teeth. This is the story that has been repeated countless times to countless students for many many years. All on the evidence of some teeth. Now they have found that the teeth thing is maybe not the best for inference and their cherished story has to be completely revised...but don't worry... that will be a 'fact' too.
Of course, this also changes Crocodile evolutionary tales, as Live Science.com says
"This find is a great thing for the crocodilian record, too," Parker said. "Here's this totally unrecognized group of possibly herbivorous crocodilians," Parker said.
The similarities are a result of what scientists call convergent evolution, when unrelated species develop similar traits independently
Yup. It doesn't fit into our evolutionary tree so it must be convergent evolution. Yeesh. Clearly the blind faith of evolutionists ensures that they have fixed the conclusion (Evolution is TRUE!) and interpret the data to fit with that conclusion.
(HT: Creation Safaris)
Perspective and hypocrisy
Joe Carter over at the Evangelical Outpost has an interesting post on Anti-Christian bigotry being the new anti-semitism. From the post
“Jim Jones [the 1970s cult leader who led followers in a mass suicide] has gone mainstream!" warned journalist Katherine Yurica. "Today we are living in a nation governed by an unholy cult!" Yurica claims that the Republican Party had gained power through "Hitlerian tactics” and that evangelical leaders from Billy Graham to Jerry Falwell "had to have read Hitler's Mein Kampf." Her explanation for such an audacious claim: "I say this confidently because anyone who has learned to quack like a duck has studied ducks!"...Upon hearing such drivel, most orthodox Christians simply sigh, shrug, and politely point out how such remarks grossly misrepresent Christian belief. The time has come, though, to say enough is enough. Several decades ago anti-Catholicism became the new anti-Semitism among "intellectuals." But now the hatred and disdain has broadened to include all conservative, orthodox Christians. This is the “new” new-anti-Semitism.What is really interesting is the comments of many of Joe's regular responders...Patrick says
"I think you've got your collective heads stuck in the sand. I guess no one likes to think that others think that they are at times evil and cruel. And perhaps justly so. Instead of complaining about the media, why don't you do something about Dominists and other fanatics?"Mumon says
"Good people of any faith, who look at the evidence cannot but admit that there is indeed a small but powerful contingent of people who have stolen the name of Christianity to subvert the liberties of those whose beliefs differ....Now I don't want to tar all self-avowed Christians this way. I think it's as unfair to do this as it is for Christians to tar non-believers. But this contingent exists, and instead of getting on a soapbox and professing denial, it would help to restore dialog to admit that this Klan-nurtured, hateful theology and sects exist, that they prey upon well meaning Christians"Boonton said
"In all the examples given the so called hate has not been against Christians for being Christians but for some Christians advocating policies the speaker disagrees with."
What I find amazing is that these responders still don't get it. Somehow, people being anti-christian means that christians have to do something about other groups? If it wasn't for those 'extremist' groups then the likes of Patrick, Mumon, and Boonton would never show any sort of anti-christian bigotry? I don't think so. I think Boonton's statements show quite clearly that the real problem is that Christians advocate policies that they don't like. This will always be a problem as christian's are not big fans of killing defenseless unborn humans. The real issue is that they disagree with Christian's and instead of holding a rational discussion, agreeing to disagree and live in a nice polite democratic society where everyone gets a voice, they have to engage in accusation and insult.
What is is more unbelievable is the hypocrisy that those on the left show. I don't remember a huge outcry when Senator Durbin compared the US troops in iraq to Nazi's, yet they are up in arms because Karl Rove painted them as weak. Somehow it is okay for Senator Durbin to use the terrible happenings in Iraq for politics, but if Karl Rove uses Septemeber 11 for making a political point they scream bloody murder.
It seems that liberals are not able to take the same rhetoric they constantly spout...
Update: Melinda Penner at Stand To Reason has a post on the hypocrisy of an anti-christian that also relates...
The irony here is that he's worried about a theocracy while he is proposing an atheocracy. And his opinions are the very things often projected onto Christians portrayed as narrow-minded and intolerant, while the shoe is actuallyon the other foot.
Update 2: Michelle Malkin and The Cassandra Page are also talking about the Hypocrisy on the Left regarding Karl Rove
Life - Roe vs Wade on the move?
Focus on the Family's Citizen Link website is reporting a senate hearing may lead to overturning the roe versus wade decision. From the article
"A number of legal scholars both from the left and the right believe that Roe v. Wade is badly decided law, so we're going to start going at the core issue of Roe and this decision," Brownback told CitizenLink. "I believe you'll see Roe v. Wade overturned."
This will push the decision back onto each of the states, which If I remember correctly, around 33 have laws on the books that would outlaw abortions for convenience.
Communism - The Arab link
For several months I have had the nagging feeling that much of what we see in the Arab world has eerie similarities to communism ideas. The depiction of the US as the 'great satan' is a mirror the cries of evil imperialist that often came from the soviets. The continued portrayal of the US as a zionist supporter or stooge is also a cry that I have heard from many on the left. The guerilla tactics that muslim terrorists use also has much in common with the methods the chinese originally created. All in all, it was just a nagging feeling which I have supressed because other than the feeling, there was no real support for it.
That was until this article over at the National Review by ex soviet spy chief Ion Mihai Pacepa caught my attention. Not only does this implicate the UN as a worse than useless bureaucracy, being detrimental to the US and its allies, but also it specifically claims that the attitude of the arab world against the US and its allies was specifically fostered by communist agents. From the article
I spent two decades of my other life as a Communist spy chief, struggling to transform the U.N. into a kind of international socialist republic. The Communist bloc threw millions of dollars and thousands of people into that gigantic project. According to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, all employees from Eastern Bloc nations were involved in espionage. The task of this espionage army was not to steal secrets but to use the U.N. to convert the historical Arab and Islamic hatred of the Jews into a new hatred for Israel’s main supporter, the United States. The U.N. became our petri dish, in which we nurtured a virulent strain of hatred for America, grown from the bacteria of Communism, anti-Semitism, nationalism, jingoism, and victimology.
Truly, I think people everywhere continue to under estimate the effects and influence that communism has had on history and even our current circumstances.
In reading the reviews of Ion Mihai Pacepa's book 'Red Horizons' at amazon I also came accross this statement. As it is a review, I cannot account for its correctness, but I will keep looking into it.
One very interesting piece is where Pacepa relates a conversation in 1978 with Constantin Munteaunu, a general assigned to teach Arafat and the PLO techniques to deceive the West into granting the organization recognition.The plot thickens. I wonder if there where any other 'instructional' sessions?
Update: This article at NewsMax also seems to bear out what was said in the review. Dr. J. Michael Waller, from the Institute of World politics is quote in this article saying..
This was all done as the core of the international terrorist network under Soviet sponsorship. And by the 1970s, as the Soviets were actually arming the PLO and providing weapons for surrogates to all sorts of international terrorist groups. They did this through their surrogate states like Iraq, Libya, Syria, Cuba, East Germany, Bulgaria and other countries.
Quick Links - Various ramblings
Graeme Hunter at Right Reason looks at a response by Stephen Eric Bronner to a Pope Benedict XVI statement. I have to wonder whether Stephen has bothered to look at the history when he makes comments like 'The most durable democratic societies were created by nations that most self-consciously divided church from state and that refused to identify any private belief with the public good.'. Considering the framers of the US constitution used their 'private belief' about God and the nature of man in creating the form of the US, it is somewhat ironic to claim that they 'refued to identify any private belief with public good.'. Read the rest
Summit has a good article up on the often repeated claim of the New Testament being influenced by pagan religions. It is well worth your time.
Telic Thoughts links to a brilliant book review by Del Ratzsch (PDF) of Niall Shanks' 'God, the devil and darwin'. Okay, it is more like a dismantling, not a review, but Del makes some really important points, specifically responding to the oft heard anti-ID complaints of 'who designed the designer' (knowing who designed the designer is not required to make knowing something was designed useful) and 'ID is just creationism repackaged' (The founders of ID were not creationists). It is a long article, but contains a lot of great comment and insight.
Education - OZ State education pushing the homosexual agenda
Kevin Donnelly has an article on online opinion showing how several of the main public education institutions are actively promoting the homosexual agenda. Our hard earned tax dollars used to undermine our own sense of morality.
Media - How do you spell irony?
The New York Times recently ran an opinion piece entitled Two Top Guns Shoot Blanks, by Frank Rich. This piece essentially asks the question as to why George W Bush has lost the war of public opinion about iraq.
Now, considering the rampant liberal bias in the media , you might think that some mention of the constant campaign of negative media about iraq might be mentioned. I mean, when it is a blogger who has to constantly provide information as to the good news from iraq, you would think the media might involve itself in a modicum of self reflection? But no... Frank Rich, intellectual extraordinaire blames George W Bush for losing public opinion. The irony is somewhat pervasive don't you think.
Evolution - Academic Freedom and Spin
David over at He Lives has a very informative post about a recent violation of academic freedom at Ohio State University. I have been hearing a bit about this for a whilst, and it is good to see someone actually addressing some of the 'spin' that is coming out from evolutionists about how this is just a case of having an inappropriate thesis committee.
David makes a very good case that this is more about a zealous belief in evolution as truth than a procedural problem.
Commenting on my criticism of the premature designation of substandard, another commenter on Myers's blog rose to his defense, writing (comment #15):
Proposing a program of science education based on non-scientific concepts IS prima facie evidence of doing "substandard work". He was obviously ignoring actual DATA that invalidated his thesis.
Which I think rather nicely sums up what is going on here. Leonard has the audacity to write a thesis that questions evolution's claim of unassailability on all fronts. He must not be allowed to pass, under any circumstances, no need to bother with the incovenience of reading his thesis.
A further, insightful OSU faculty complaint from the Inside Higher Ed article
…objected both to the idea that Ohio State appeared to be on the verge of awarding a Ph.D. for work questioning evolution.
No, we can't have any questioning of evolution. Slash. Burn. Fail. Then shout, over and over, this has nothing to do with academic freedom.
Yup. It is another case of anyone who doubts evolution MUST be wrong. Add this into the same boat as 'creationist and ID people do no publish in peer reviewed journals', because it is the same thing...No questioning of evolution is allowed, and so the question is not the standard of work, but merely whether it supports evolution.
Evolution - AIG vs Australian Skeptics Debate
The debate over at Margo Kingston's Web Diary between Answers In Genesis (AIG) and the Australian Skeptics (AS) is continuing, with both sides releasing their second statements. You can find their first statements here. There are certainly some interesting observations that I would like to make, and perhaps the most informative would be to say that I am amazed that the Australian Skeptics continue to ignore evidence, even when presented to them in a debate. I was lucky enough to be able to catch a debate between Paul Willis and Carl Wieland in late 2003 in which Paul Willis kept repeating the claim that Carl Wieland had not shown any evidence the earth was young, when Carl had indeed given several evidences. We see that again in this debate (whose 'speakers' include Carl and Paul again), where the AS again proclaim that
If someone who claims that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old is going to debate the science of the claim, then those arguments should include evidence to support the claim. Instead, what we get from creationists is obfuscation, misrepresentation and logically fallacious arguments which purport to prove that an alternative theory is worthless because it is not perfect. That there are flaws in the evidence for a very old Earth and universe does not in any way validate the theory that the ages must be very short. Still, when you have no evidence you have to do the best with what you’ve got.in response to the AIG comments in the first statement which said
The evidence for a 'young' earth/universe is, by definition, evidence for biblical creation, because naturalistic evolution, even if possible, would require eons. There is much evidence consistent with a relatively young age of the universe, such as the decay of the earth's magnetic field, including rapid paleomagnetic reversals; fragile organic molecules in fossils supposedly many millions of years old; too much helium in deep zircons; not enough salt in the sea; carbon-14 in coal and oil supposedly many millions of years old; polystrate fossils that extend through strata supposedly representing many millions of years; inter-tonguing of non-sequential geological strata; the small number of supernova remnants; magnetic fields on 'cold' planets; and much more ...)
The Australian Skeptics don't deal with the evidence, they just pretend it is wrong or doesn't exist. This is because their presuppositions about (i.e. faith in) naturalism FORCE them to ASSUME that young age evidence MUST be wrong. But notice how AIG has provided many links for people to backup their claimed evidences, whereas AS provides none in their first statement and some fairly useless links in the second. We are apparently meant to accept their claims on Authority.
What is even more bizzare is that the AS first statement
The scientific position makes the following claims, again among others:and then as AIG responds to these claims in their second statement, AS proclaims in its second statement
• According to the latest research, the universe is about 13.7 billion years old. The conditions and events which initially brought the universe into being are unknown at this time, but not necessarily unknowable
• The Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old
Self-replicating molecules first appeared on the Earth about 3.5 billion years ago
• All life on Earth is descended from these molecules, although there may have been many originations at different times and in different places
Before going on it would be worthwhile to say what evolutionary theory is not about. It neither requires nor denies the existence of a god. It is not about the origin of life. It is not about the origin of the universe. It is about the journey which has brought us from there to here; whether that journey was initiated or guided by God is outside the realm of scientific investigation. To say that evolution cannot explain the Big Bang or abiogenesis is no criticism of the theory at all and is just a logical fallacy. To say that evolution is predicated on the non-existence of God is to talk nonsense and attempt to couch the debate in religious rather than scientific terms.A pitifully transparent attempt to portray AIG as ignorant of evolution if they attempt to address the first statements claims from AS.
Notice also however that they seem to be saying that these facts are irrelevant to evolution. But are they? The manner in which the universe and life was caused is vitally important because they speak to both the age of the universe, and so the age of the earth (perhaps some rapid process created the universe and all in it) and to common descent (More complex creatures are assumed to have 'evolved' from less complex as the less complex creatures are more likely to have been generated by unguided, naturalistic processes). So it seems these issues are very important to evolution and it is somewhat disengenious to pretend otherwise.
AS in this one short passage also trot out the oldest equivocation in the book in saying that evolution is not incompatible with 'god'. But which 'god' are they talking about. Quite clearly, evolution can not be compatible with all gods as they make contradictory claims. (E.g. the God of the bible claims that he made man and woman at the beginning, not 14.7 billion years after the beginning).
Even more transparent is when the AS talk about
predicting what creationists are likely to say is not considered to be a psychic power. In 1997, Michael Shermer published a small tract named How to Debate a Creationist in which he lists 25 arguments used by creationists and the answers to those arguments.
Answers in Genesis offered 14 of those arguments in their initial statement, and of the other 11 several do not apply here because they specifically relate to the teaching of creationism in schools. This suggests that creationism has not advanced since 1997 and that lessons learned back then have been forgotten.
Talk about a load of rubbish. Much of creationist works deals with dismantling the claims of evolution. Is it that suprising that they would mention mutations? Yet the AS people seem to think they are so 'bright' when they proclaim 'Again, it is almost impossible to imagine discourse with creationists without the matter of mutations coming up.'. But what follows next is even more informative...
The fact that evolution doesn’t require mutations (although they are a useful source of genetic change and diversity) has been explained many times, and will no doubt have to be explained many times againEssentially, they appear to be saying that it is not necessary to know of a naturalistic method of generating genetic variation in order to believe in evolution. They don't care about whether it is possible, they are just happy to assume it is possible. And they say that creationism is faith based? Hello... Pot. Kettle. Black!
I will leave the rest as the AIG people will more than likely respond in their third statement.
Quick Links - Serious AND fun
Joe Carter over at the Evangelical Outpost has an informative post on how using the arguments that are being used against the Intelligent Design movement would result in not being able to conclude that anything at all is designed, even if it is your computer.
The Euro currency is looking more shaky every day.
If you want aircon, but would prefer to not pay through the nose, this website explains how to make your own air conditioner for a pittance.
News.com.au reports a new memo implicating Kofi Annan in the Oil for food UNScam.
Evolution - AIG debates Australian Skeptics online
Margo Kingstons Web Diary is hosting a debate between Answers In Genesis and the Australian Skeptics on the question of "Did the universe and life evolve, or was it specially created in 6 days?". The opening statements are up, and I will provide some commentary tommorow. Check it out.
Life Site news highlights the censoring of the scientific evidence of the abortion, breast cancer link at the Halifax Conference.
Mark Steyn shows a high level of optimism on communist china collapsing and also highlights recent censorship by corporations such as microsoft for their chinese web-sites. Roger Simon has more on the censorship. China is also requiring registration of bloggers, clearly an attempt by the communist party to keep control of information.
James Lilek's shows just how stupid all the leftist screeching on US torture really is.
Doug Tennapel has a comic strip showing just how ludicrous it is when people argue that the fetus is not a human life.
Finally, Memri has an exerpt from an interview with an egyptian 'historian' showing that some people are just plain nuts.
Life - The revenge of the fatherless
In the last 100 years, there has been many focused efforts to degrade the role and importance of fathers in child rearing. Karl Marx speaks of the dissolution of family in the communist manifesto, claiming it is just an extension of the class war.
On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution.and when the 1995 Moynihan Report came out, issuing this solemn warning:
The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital
From the wild Irish slums of the 19th century eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations about the future -- that community asks for and gets chaos.feminists and liberals decried it as 'patriarchal' and 'blaming the victim'. Even the American Psychological Association got into the act in 1999, releasing a paper called deconstructing the essential father with the authors stated purpose being
Our goal is to generate public policy...that supports the legitimacy of diverse family structures, rather than policy that supports two-parent, heterosexual, married family.Yet study after study consistently shows the vital role that fathers play.
For instance, The National fatherhood initiative has compiled related resource in a book called Fatherhood facts which lists some of many problems with fatherless and single parent households, including significant increases in crime, drug abuse and child abuse. Father Mag reports some very scary statistics
# 5 times more likely to commit suicide. other studies have also added significant findings such as an increase in sexual promiscuity and teen pregnancy and the lack of fathers and the correlation between broken relationships with fathers and homosexuality (and an recent related study linking homosexuality with an increased incidence in crime). It also seems that many famous militant atheists have a lacked a father or had a detached father.
# 32 times more likely to run away
# 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
# 14 times more likely to commit rape
# 9 times more likely to drop out of high school
# 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
# 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution
# 20 times more likely to end up in prison.
So how did we get to this? Probably the biggest factor was the sexual revolution of the sixties. With the increase in divorce and extra-marital sex, the proportion of fatherless households has increased roughly 400% (Even with contraception, sex education and abortion). Child abuse is up around 1400%. Thanks to people like Herbert Marcuse, who took Communism and infused Freudian psychology creating the sexual revolution, life has taken a definite downward spiral. Feminists, such as Betty Friedan also played their part. Clearly, Karl Marx's words at the start of this post were taken to heart by many leftists and sympathisers and today we are reaping the results of those ideas.
So my question is this...why do we continue to follow such obviously bad ideas when scientific and sociological research clearly indicates it is harmful?
Science - Frauds and falsehoods
The Washington post and MSNBC are reporting a new article in the latest Nature magazine which highlights the widespread dishonesty in science. From the article
One-third of scientists surveyed said that within the previous three years, they’d engaged in at least one practice that would probably get them into trouble, the report said. Examples included circumventing minor aspects of rules for doing research on people and overlooking a colleague’s use of flawed data or questionable interpretation of data.
And we trust them because????
Evolution - More on priveledged planet review
David Heddle at He Lives has also gone over the pitiful review of the priveledged planet by Prof William Jefffreys that I addressed a couple of days ago. His is probably a lot more readable than mine, so I suggest you do just that.
Evolution - James Pinkerton peddling fallacies and falsehoods
Instapundit recently linked to an article on the Evolution/Creation Debate and Intelligent Design by James Pinkerton. James apparently feels that as a Columnist and a Lecturer in a graduate school of management he is qualified to make bold pronouncements such as one of the oldest canards in the book, that "No serious scientist believes the literal Biblical creation account". This is commonly known as the 'No true scotsman' logical fallacy and is patently and demostratively false. Answers in Genesis (AIG) and the Institute of Creation Research have a number of staff that do serious scientific research. AIG has a list here of such scientists. Note that I am not saying anything about the proportion of scientists who believe anything, merely that serious scientists belief in the biblical creation account. This is enough to show that James is peddling an insulting falsehood.
James continues to poison the well as he goes on to say
And ID, of course, is religiously inspired....But that "intelligent cause," which the IDN does not further identify, is by definition some sort of metaphysical -- or, if one prefers, divine -- Creator.James is trying to appeal to the concept that any non-naturalistic explanation is religion, but restricting explanations to naturalistic causes is not. Both are metaphysical claims, and so both a essentially 'religious'. Essentially, James is spouting materialist bigotry.
And while religion is at the core of ID, its proponents generate lots of science-y arguments.'science-y'? Maybe we should start calling James work 'professional-y'? That James is committed to evolution as explaining all things is evident by his next comments
Behe argues that it just isn't possible that random evolution could have produced the flagellum -- the propeller/tail -- on a bacteria. Such an organ, he concludes, is "irreducibly complex," which is to say, only a Master of Complexity could have created it.
But it's a fallacy to argue that just because one person -- or even all the people of an era -- can't figure out how something works,
Actually, Michael Behe's arguement is not an argument from ignorance, as James seems to think. Behe's argument is made from the knowledge of how chance and natural law works. It seems however that James is the one arguing from ignorance as he claims that "And so it is with science: eventually, some scientist will figure out how the "trick" of the bacteria's flagellum is done." I.e. It must have happened via naturalistic causes, even though we can't understand how it is possible. James is promoting a naturalism of the gaps argument.
So to defend their particular religious worldview, they must undercut the work of Charles Darwin.Just how many times will James continue to show his materialist bigotry. As if he and darwnists are somehow not trying to promote their own worldview. This is known as hypocrisy in most circles.
James goes on to contradict his own article by bring out another faithful canard of the evolutionist.
As TCS's own Nick Schulz, a certified non-leftist free marketer, observes, "There's plenty of room for God in a Darwinian universe. Darwin operates on different plane altogether from theology."Of course, as James previously said that "No serious scientist believes the literal Biblical creation account" it is quite clear that he does not think that science and theology operate on a different plane, and indeed have implications that affect each other. So which is it James?
James has obviously read the evolutionist playbook and is using it play by play, because he continues with yet another standard myth...
And that's the problem with ID: it's simplistic. To argue that complex biological phenomena are "irreducibly complex" is to abandon the scientific quest.Sure, and a forensic scientist deciding that a particular event was caused by a human agent stops scientific investigation too. Oh, and an archaeologist who concludes an artifact was made by humans 4000 years ago is stopping science...
As Schulz suggests, religion is simply on a different plane than science. The whole point is that you take it on faith: you either believe or you don't. In fact, the Catholics put Mysterium Fidei, the mystery of faith, at the center of their belief system. Which is fine, but once again, it's not science.Again, James creates a false distinction between science and faith. His own faith in materialism has been clearly shown throughout his article, yet this materialism CANNOT be proved by science. Clearly, science relies on assumptions that are accepted by faith.
So enough on what might be called RID, for Religious Intelligent Design. One can either believe in it, or not, but if one does, it must be taken on faith.You have to wonder why James thinks science can determine intelligent causes in many fields, but not in evolution. Clearly, he is taking this on faith himself. The real question however is this. If we cannot detect design with scientific methods, then how can we detect non-design (i.e. things caused by chance and natural law) with scientific methods?
Well, James seems to think Intelligent design can be scientific, and he indicates when he thinks it is....
But here's something coming that's real, replicatable, and thus inarguable. Let's call it SID, for Scientific Intelligent Design -- that is, designed here on earth by mortal, tangible human beings....Consider, as one example of early SID in action, our best friend, the dog. Gazing down at a Chihuahua next to a Cocker Spaniel, it's hard to believe that those different breeds are the same species, Canis lupus familiaris. And all dogs, however cute, are descended from the fierce wolf, Canis lupus. Yes, these interconnections are hard to believe at first, but biologists can prove them.Bzzt, Sorry James. But history cannot be repeated. You may be able to show that it was 'possible' that it happened a certain way, but you cannot show that it DID happen in that way. And as any scientist should tell you, 'proof' is for maths, not experimental science. What is most ironic though, is that those wacky creation scientists, you know, the ones who don't have any 'serious scientists' have been pointing out the examples of dogs and wolves being releated for many years...well before biologists 'proved' it.
Clearly, this is just another example of a committed materialist evangelising his faith and pretending he somehow believes in the 'default' postion.
Evolution - The priviledged planet and logic
William H Jefferys from the University of Texas has reviewed the Priviledged Planet, the book on which the film at the center of a Darwinist tornado for being shown at the Smithsonian. The book/film, by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards, argues that the unlikely placement of earth, the makeup of the universe AND the ideal conditions that exist here for scientific discovery is evidence that it was designed that way. Dr Mobley has a longer overview of the film here.
In general zealous darwinist fashion, William makes numerous mistakes in trying to convince anyone who listens that the concept of Intelligent Design is both irrational and non-scientific. From his review...
The Privileged Planet is based upon the odd notion that the more unsuitable our universe is for producing intelligent life, the more likely it is that our universe was "designed" to produce intelligent life by a "designer" of indeterminate nature...What is 'odd' is that William fails to understand that how we determine some object is designed is by the combined knowledge of the complex and interdependent parts of that object and the knowledge that non-designed explanations are unlikely to generate the object.
It is clear from his example that he is creating a straw man of the films argument...
We know from experience that this is not how human beings, the only intelligent designers of which we have any experience, work. We know that a human designer of a factory does not design a factory so that it will only occasionally, if ever, produce a car, or a computer, or whatever the target object is; rather the factory is designed to produce the largest possible amount of product consistent with the constraints: cost, physical reality, whatever.You see, William is assuming in this analogy that the designer wants to create a universe in which life is produced in many many places. Essentially, william is deciding upon the goals of the designer (A non-scientific assumption) before evaluating the evidence as to whether something was designed. This is as opposed to understanding that precise, complex and interdependent parts are naturally thought by people to be designed. Just as in William Paley's original watchmaker hypothesis.
The fundamental error made by Gonzalez and Richards, as with most creationists (including "intelligent design" [ID] creationists),...
Once again, we see an evangelistic darwinist attempting to claim that the intelligent design movement is 'creationist'. This pitiful cry is the refrain in almost every article against ID in a transparent attempt to poison the well.
...is that they imagine that they can prove the existence of their "intelligent designer" by merely alleging evidence against a particular strawman naturalistic scenario, and, without clearly specifying an alternative model, simply assert that the only other explanation possible is that everything was created by a "designer". Under this strategy, no details are specified about what we would expect to see if the "designer" existed, or why we would expect to see that and not something else. It is, as we shall see, not a scientific theory. It is instead nothing but the usual fallacious Argument from False Dichotomy.You would think that the darwinists could come up with a better line than this. William either has no idea about what ID actually says or he is willfully spouting falsehoods. Intelligent does indeed 'specify' what we would expect to see...As can be evidenced by Dembski's specified complexity and Behe's irreducible complexity. I.e. Complex and interdependent parts that natural law and chance cannot explain. It seems the only straw man around here is the one that William is creating.
Notice how Professor William provides no explanation about how the film is alleging evidence against a particular 'straw man'. This of course seems to be his general method of operation. Unsupported claims that I can only assume are meant to be accepted because he is a Professor and we should 'trust' him. This is known as the logical fallacy of appealing to authority.
Of course, we know why ID creationists don't want to talk about the nature of the "designer". If they were to do so, they would undermine their claim that ID creationism has nothing to do with religion. They do admit the nature of their designer in private, among friends, but not before school boards or state boards of education.Ah yes. Those dastardly ID scientists. They keep the nature of who they think is the designer out of their science, so instead darwinists are forced to whine about how the ID scientists don't mix religion and science. It is quite interesting to note that ID scientists have many different beliefs about the nature of the designer and that the only people trying to bring the nature of the designer into the debate to support their case are the darwinists (See Professor William's comments at the start of this article).
Since the real point of ID is to slip religion surreptitiously into the public school classroom, they can't reveal the true nature of their "designer" in any arguments intended for public consumption (as this book is).What Professor William seems to be really concerned about is that these dastardly ID scientists are trying to bring in a hypothesis that is contrary to HIS religion.
Gonzalez and Richards don't realize that unless they can show that what we actually see is more probable, given that an "intelligent designer did it," they have no case. This is because a basic rule of inference is that one has to compare the likelihood of observing evidence E under all relevant hypotheses H1, H2, ..., Hn. Then the hypothesis that has the greatest likelihood is the one best supported by the evidence. Obviously, if you don't say what your hypothesis is -- in this case by specifically describing the nature of the "intelligent designer" and the consequences for the real world if that entity exists, so that actual calculations can be made -- then it is impossible to compute the likelihood of observing E under your hypothesis, and your hypothesis never even gets to the starting gate.
Unfortunately for Professor William, if his statement were true, then he himself could not get any naturalistic explanation 'to the starting gate' as we cannot make any sort of real calculations without knowing the initial state of the universe (before the big bang) or the possible states of the universe.
But notice also that the good Professor William seems to think that we need to know the nature of the intelligent designer before being able to calculate any probabilities. This is a somewhat ironic claim. You see the nature of the intelligent designer only has to have 1 requirement...that it is intelligent.
Of course, it seems Professor Williams has a great sense of irony, because he continues
One wonders what Gonzalez and Richards would say if the evidence were otherwise. They talk about the fantastically small probability that our universe would give rise to intelligent, inquisitive life, but what if it were the opposite? What if we had observed that the universe was actually quite conducive to the existence of intelligent, inquisitive life? Would Gonzalez and Richards then conclude that the probability of observing such a universe, given that it was designed by an "intelligent designer", was small? I hardly think so. In such a case they would surely be pointing to the fecundity of the universe as evidence for the existence of their "intelligent designer". In other words, the assertion of a "designer" is a no-lose position. Whatever evidence one observed would by this fallacious reasoning support their "designer."Unfortunately, once again, Professor William has shot himself in the foot. This is because the hypothesis that non-design explain our observations about earth would not be refuted if it was not so priveledged. It seems the assertion of non-design is a "no-lose" position. Professor William seems to be blinded by his own religion to the simple fact that any logic he uses to try and refute ID as science applies quite easily to non-design.
Unfortunately, it means that the ancient argument from design (of which this book is just a modern example) is scientifically useless. There is no conceivable evidence that could, even in principle, refute the notion that everything happens as a result of an unconstrained, very powerful "designer". This is because such an entity can be invoked to explain any evidence whatsoeverIt seems William has gone back to his Straw Man again. ID does not suggest that we should conclude design in every instance, but only in instances where there is strong evidence that make non-design extremely unlikely. Most ID scientists who I have read are quite willing to accept that many things were not necessarily intelligently designed (i.e. that chance and natural law probably caused them). Professor William cannot seem to understand this simple reality or prefers to attack straw men.
But notice again how this argument can also be applied to non-design. If we cannot conclude design scientifically, then obviously everything must be explained by non-design. If everything must be explained by non-design, then there is no evidence, which in principle, can make us scientifically refute non-design. (Of course, one has to wonder at things like SETI, forensic science and archaeology. If we are unable to scientifically detect design, then what do these people do?)
Real scientific hypotheses have to be vulnerable to evidence. It must be possible to imagine evidence that would undermine themAgain, I have to ask. Why does this not equally apply to non-design? Clearly is seems Professor William is not really worried about science here, but about his own cherished philosophical assumptions. This is even more obvious as he continues...
Sober and Ikeda and I pointed out that the relationship fails to take into account our own existence. In other words, we are here (we know this, and could not be making any arguments if it were not so), so any discussion must take this fact into account. Thus, the correct comparison is between (A) the probability that "the constants are right" given design and our own existence, versus (B) the probability that "the constants are right" given a naturalistic universe and our own existence. Since in a naturalistic universe our own existence implies that the constants must be right, this means that (B) is equal to 1. What about (A)? Clearly, since probabilities are always less than or equal to 1, (A) cannot be larger than 1, so the ratio of (B) to (A) must be at least 1. This means that observing that "the constants are right" cannot undermine the naturalistic hypothesis.Notice how the non-design (naturalistic by his own words) hypothesis is given a probability of 1. Essentially, Professor William is saying that no matter how complex and purposeful the universe appears to be, his philosophical assumption will never be refuted. Essentially he is saying that as we exist, we must have come into existence naturally...pure philosophical assumption, not science. For an indepth refutation of Professor Williams point you can check out Dr Willliam (how many william's can we cram into one post?) Lane Craig's response to almost this exact point. It is also important to note however that the Priveledged Planet goes past simple fine tuning arguments and focuses on how the earth seems placed in such a way as to facilitate scientific discovery. As such, Professor William's criticism of the argument from fine tuning does not apply.
Professor William does attempt to address this point near the end of his article where he says
Finally, I turn to Gonzalez and Richards's notion that our earth is uniquely designed for its inhabitants to do scientific exploration, and that the universe is similarly designed for us to do that scientific exploration. They point to a number of phenomena that have aided our scientific enterprise, such as the transparency of the earth's atmosphere, the fact that we have a moon that is just far enough from the earth to produce spectacular solar eclipses, and so on. Of all the arguments in the book, I find this the weakest.Hang on a second? If this is the weakest argument, then obviously the other arguments have more strength (and so have some strength?). Yet Professor William seemed to indicate the other arguments had no strength at all.
It puts the cart before the horse. For suppose it were not so; if we existed on another world very different from the earth, then we would surely be doing something. We would be doing whatever was possible for us to do under the circumstances in which we found ourselves. If we accepted the Whiggish reasoning of the authors, we would be just as justified in concluding that our planet -- and our universe, if we could see it in this alternative reality -- was designed so that we would do whatever we happened to be doing at the time or find interesting at the time (as diverse human cultures have always done).And yet Professor William provides no likelihoods of the various features from which to peform this analysis and yet concludes quite happily that there is nothing to see here..move along. In effect he is stopping investigation that could explain why a series of unlikely occurances.
To summarize, the little that is new in this book isn't interesting, and what is old is just old-hat creationism in a new, modern-looking astronomical costume. It is the same old shell game. It's too bad that Guillermo Gonzalez (whom I know from his tenure as a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Texas's Astronomy Department) has allowed himself to be sucked in as an advocate for this ancient argument. The Argument from Design is 200 years old, if not older, and it has not improved with age. It hasn't resulted in any new knowledge in all of those years. Modern astronomy is constantly producing new knowledge and understanding of the universe. Guillermo is a promising young astrophysicist, and I hope that he doesn't throw away his career on such nonsense.
Finally, Professor William's ironic statements take an even more amazing bent. EVERY new bit of scientific knowledge in the last 200 years was caused by the belief that the universe was designed. Science arose out of the Judeo-Christian worldview and as such, his 'modern astronomy' is built on that foundation. (Of course, one has to wonder who good his new 'knowledge' really is if his theories require to invention of 96% of the mass of the universe to make the equations work.) I think Professor William should take his own advice to the authors and apply it to himself as the author of this horrible piece of logic he calls a review "The authors could learn much by studying a little anthropology and a little history."
Education - US Judge understands lack of neutrality
In a post yesterday, I decried the NSW teacher's federation pushing a sex-ed plan that asked children to visualise being kissed by a member of the same sex and pushed other value judgements on the children about sexuality. The idea that their view of morality is unbiased or neutral and should be the one taught is patently false.
Today, Human Events Online has an article by Phyllis Schlafly regarding a US Federal judge who has just ruled that teaching of only one moral opinion in sex ed violates the 1st amendment.
Judge Alexander Williams Jr.'s decision found that the curriculum "presents only one view on the subject - that homosexuality is a natural and morally correct lifestyle - to the exclusion of other perspectives." This "one-sided information," he said, threatens parents' and children's First Amendment rights.
It seems that at least some judges and parents are waking up and realising that the lie of relativism is being used to teach a completely different value system to their children. It is also good to see that the Judge here recognized that the secular humanist values being pushed onto kids falls under the 1st amendment, ie is religious. A glimmer of hope
Quick Links - Interesting Info
Creation Safaris highlights recent research that has invalidating a long standing evolutionary assumption about natural selection.
The UN is looking for better, 'safer' abortion drugs.
The AP has an informative survey of religion and politics in 10 countries. It seems many christians still believe the secular humanist lie that they shouldn't mix religion and politics.
After the recent federal ruling affirming the federal right to pursue medical marijuana users, pot clubs vow to continue breaking the law. One has to wonder why states who think abortion should be illegal are forced to keep it legal when the medical marijuana users are allowed to ignore federal laws they don't like?
A great new invention is on the way allowing peope to breath underwater without an oxygen tank by taking oxygen from the water.
Kevin Donnelly has an article about the lack of true values education and our shift from the original concept of a liberal education to a watered down relativistic one. It seems many of the commentators fail to understand his point.
Education - The teachers federation agenda
I just came accross this article in the Daily Telegraph talking about some of the sex education being done in New South Wales schools.
The minister's action followed revelations in The Daily Telegraph that students as young as 14 had been asked at school to place themselves in an imaginary world dominated by homosexuals and lesbians.
Ms Tebbutt banned the program used at a western Sydney high school in which Year 9 children were told to visualise themselves being kissed by a member of the same sex.
The controversial lesson, branded by critics as "brainwashing and social engineering", provoked an avalanche of letters to The Daily Telegraph yesterday.
The Teachers' Federation wrote to Ms Tebbutt stating it was "appalled" by her decision to cut the program.
Absolutely shocking. The objective sounding teachers federation is 'appalled' that a minister would stop teacher's forcing children to visualize being kissed by a member of the same sex.
The NSW Teachers federation (The Union for State school teachers in NSW) responses can be viewed here and here.
Note the automatic slanderous use of 'homophobic', a common tactic by the homosexual movement.
The teachers federation response lists many important things that should be dealt with, for instance stopping bullying and suicides of homosexuals, yet even with the curriculum guidelines do not indicate that students should be visualising that sort of thing. Clearly the teachers federation has an agenda, and it seems quite strongly the homosexual agenda.
Notice also the curriculum
affirming diversity[of all sorts] is promoting someones idea of morality. Multiculturalism, that all cultures and beliefs are equally valid, is the catchphrase of the secular humanist morality. This is what Australian taxpayers money is going towards; Indoctrinating our children into someone elses vastly different ideas of morality and the world. Clearly, something needs to be done.
Homosexuality - Fruit flies and choice
J. David Velleman at Left2Right has a good post on recent scientific findings on the topic of sexuality. He makes some good points about choice and morality.
The discovery that the purely instinctual behavior of fruit flies can be manipulated via a single gene cannot lead to the conclusion that the corresponding behavior in humans is not a matter of choice.and
Scientific studies have indeed indicated that variation in sexual orientation among humans has some heritable component.1 But these studies also exclude the hypothesis that sexual orientation is fully determined by genetics. To begin with, virtually all research on sexual orientation relies on something like the "Kinsey scale", which measures orientation on a seven-point scale (0 to 6). The lay conception of homosexuality as an all-or-nothing trait has no basis in scientific observation. And the best-designed studies of identical twins have found that in over two-thirds of the pairs that include a homosexual twin (scoring 1 or higher on the Kinsey scale), the other twin is not homosexual.2 This finding decisively rules out the possibility that sexual orientation is genetically determined, though further statistical analysis shows that it is indeed significantly influenced by genetic inheritance.
However, one thing I do take issue with is the following statement....
Dr. Weiss is hoping for a scientific discovery that will "take the discussion about sexual preferences out of the realm of morality." Now, I too believe that sexual preference should not be moralized. In my view, the moral issues in sex have to do with consent, love, mutual respect, honesty, faithfulness, and responsibility for consequences, not with the anatomy of the partners.
The problem here is that when you talk of love and mutual respect you cannot divorce this from the harmful acts of homosexual sex. Study after study reveals this to be the case. Yet how is it loving or a sign of respect to intentionally harm the one you supposedly love and respect? Clearly, you cannot escape 'moralising' on sexual preferences by appealing to such other factors as they are clearly linked.
Life - The Stem Cell Debate
Steve Chapman at Real Clear Politics has an article up exposing some of the myths of frozen embryos in the Stem Cell Debate.
Glenn Reynolds, over at Instapundit continues his advocating of Embryonic Stem cells, with great reasons for killing off human life as
I actually think that eventually adult stem cells will do all the work. But I don't know that, and ruling out research involving embryonic stem cells now might keep us from getting to that point, or get us there much later.and also links to a Washington Post story outlining that
In recent months, a number of researchers have begun to assemble intriguing evidence that it is possible to generate embryonic stem cells without having to create or destroy new human embryos. . . .
Glenn continues his warped logic by saying that killing human life sped up the process of adult stem cell research, so it was justified. Of course, all those extra funds and researchers that could of been focused into adult stem cell research did nothing to slow things down?
Science - Exercise less but harder
In a argument along the lines of more weights or more reps for wieght training, a recent study has found that doing a mere 6 minutes of high energy exercise a week is as good as doing 6 hours of lower intensity training. From the article
Just six minutes of intense exercise a week does as much to improve a person's fitness as a training regime based on six hours, research has found.
The two-minute workout, to be undertaken three times a week, requires cycling furiously in four 30-second bursts and guarantees the same overall fitness level as moderate training regime, with three two-hourly sessions.
It will be interesting to see if this study is repeated by others with the same results. Of course, this study did have a few short comings that should also be dealt with. A control group who does the initial and concluding tests, but no exercise in between would have been good (as the initial test was exercise itself), as would have doing the study on something other than simple bike riding (Cardiovascular fitness may be improved, but what about other types?).
It is interesting stuff though...one of a slew of recent scientific findings that have been overturning conventional wisdom...Good thing scientists aren't dogmatic at all....Well, except for those evolutionists...
Evolution - Soft tissue for bird brains
Creation Safaris discusses the recent study of the soft-tissue discovered in supposedly 70 million year old fossil bones. Rather than study whether or not such soft tissue could possibly last 70 million years (an extraordinary claim that I assume skeptics would want extraordinary evidence for?) the scientists involved instead delved into the mysteries to find out the T-Rex skeleton was female and ovulating, based on finding a similar bone type to current day ovulating birds.
Talk about burying your head in the sand. These bird brained scientists seem to be too chicken to follow the evidence where it leads. I guess they need to scratch up the pluck and stick their beak where most evolutionists think it doesn't belong before we get any real progress.
Life - When does life start
David Wharton over at A Little Urbanity has a very well written post on when human life begins and what right to life is there.
So, back to the question. When did I start being me? Well, some of the things that make me who I am are my inherited traits, which include not only eye color and hair color, but also, apparently, higher-level traits like personality and sexual orientation. Twin studies seem to bear out the idea that personal identity is intimately intertwined with genetics.
Then when did my personal genome come into being? My high school biology tells me that it happened when a sperm cell from my father fertilized an egg from my mother, and they shared genetic material. Thus my personal genetic code had its first, distinct instantiation in a zygote.
Indeed. Human life begins at conception. That is because the zygote is a distinct and living member of the species of homo sapiens. The only reason this simple biological truth is ever questioned is that someones ideological beliefs wish it was not so.
Read the whole thing.
Law - Spirit or the Letter
Many of Jesus's harshest pronouncements were on the Pharisee's who had continually focused on the letter of the law to thwart the spirit of the law. In the bible, the spirit of the law is summed up by 2 commands, love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbour as youself. (Matt 22:37-40)
With these 2 sentences, and an understanding of man's nature and the world, you can get to every law laid down by God. In Australia and the US we have millions of words written for our laws simply because we have forgotten or intentionally disregarded the difference between the spirit of the law and the letter of the law. This is why, year after year, loopholes are found and 'legally' exploited and have to have even more legislation written to close them. A couple of years ago, Queensland (the state where I live) introduced smoking laws to govern where people were allowed to smoke in restaurants and the like. However, because of a gaping loophole, most places could safely ignore the legislation. The letter of the law had thwarted the spirit of the law.
Strict adherence to the letter of the law also causes other problems. Judges have less and less leeway to use their own wisdom and common sense in rulings. The latest example of this comes from Napa Valley in the US, where a judge has ruled that
Despite warnings that police will be at risk, a Sonoma County judge has decided that uniformed officers cannot cut in line for security, saying it would be unfair to everyone else.Never mind that
"Standing in line with known or unknown suspects in front of and behind officers for an extended period of time is contrary to officer safety training and is a recipe for disaster," the April 8 letter stated.
Common sense has taken a backseat to adherence to the letter of the law.
Whilst it isn't always a bad idea to have clear understanding of the purpose and scope of the law, strict adherence to the letter of the law causes problems.
Science - Dangerous new discovery
The washington times reports that scientists have discovered that inhaling a hormone called Oxytocin more the recipient more trusting.
Could unscrupulous stores pump the air full of oxytocin to boost sales?
Perhaps, said University of Iowa neurologist Antonio Damasio, but advertising already uses tricks to get people to trust a brand that probably work "exactly the same way."
Talk about naive, this is another extra boost to peoples ability to manipulate others. We already outlaw spiking of drinks, especially with date rape drugs....hopefully this will be put in the same category. Although preventing administration of a scent is a lot harder.
Media - Spilling state secrets for profit
I'm not sure about the laws in the US of A, but certainly this New York Times piece which spills the beans on a secret CIA operation is the worst kind of journalism. the CIA is not doing anything immoral here, just trying to protect america and this profit mongering newspaper pathetically blows the operation. No noble reason, no honorable action, just anti-american rubbish at its best.
Treason? Illegal? Does anyone know?
Morality - A look at consequentialism
OMFSerge at Imago Dei has a good post disecting the consequentialist theory of moralty.
Let me offer a scenario that, unfortunately, affects the way I perform in my career every single day. There is no greater honor that I have that my patients trust me to give them anesthetic medications and perform surgery while they sleep. I believe it is a great crime, worthy of great punishment, when that trust is broken in cases where a patient is inappropriately touched while anesthetized by a doctor like this. To be specific I am discussing a scenario when a doctor fondles a female patient while they are asleep for surgery. I believe this is one of the most immoral acts a doctor can perform.
I would also add to the post in that the idea of consequences being good or bad is in itself a moral judgement, so any consequentialist moral theory is inherently circular. For instance, Kevin proclaimed
The most moral act is the one with the best moral consequences.
But what is a moral consequence? Well according to consequentialist thinking it must be the best moral consequence....repeat ad infinitem. Unless someone agrees with what you state as a 'moral consequence' you have no rational way of judging between alternative moral opinions. For instance, I could say that the best moral consequence is where I get as much pleasure as I desire, irrespective of its effect on anyone else. Obviously this is a completely consistent consequentialist moral system.
Ultimately, this means that unless you can claim some objective grounding for what a 'moral consequence' is, you merely spiral into irrationality.
Read the whole thing, and notice Kevin T Keith's poor attempt at degrading rules-bound moralists...
Quick Links - Interesting tidbits
The Barna research group has a list of books that are influencing pastors these days. Consider how view are science, philosophy or apologetics based. More balance is required. (HT: Stand to Reason)
Steve Pavlina has a blog on personal development with lots of useful advice on such things as how to become an early riser and how to give up coffee (Yes, they are related). Steve writes from a secular perspective as far as I can tell, so when he talks about having a purpose, he sorely misses the point about purpose. (HT: Evangelical Outpost)
The fight over gay marriage is still hotting up. Lifesite has a slew of articles from around the world.
George Galloway, British politician has shown his support for and solidarity with anti-american and anti-british muslims in fine communist rhetoric. George is currently under investigation for participating in Saddams oil for food scam.
Scientists still have no clue about Quasars and still don't know how the apparent linkage between the quasars are other stars can be explained in light of the vastly different redshifts between the two.
In other astrological we don't have a clue type news, the Andromeda galaxy is apparently 3 times bigger in diameter than previously thought. THREE times. Scientists have also discovered a massive star cluster in our galaxy (200,000 stars) and have made a fantastic prediction that we can test in 40 million or so years. Way to go guys! Sure, we KNOW the galaxy is 15 billion years old...want to by some swamp land in the andromeda galaxy? It is going real cheap.
Evolution - Natural Selection is not Evolution
One of the most common problems in looking at evolution is that the word is used in too many different senses. In one sense, evolution is definitely a fact. Evolution, when defined as changing allele frequencies in a population over time is observed every day. Indeed it is a trivial claim, as any variation within a population coupled with mortal creatures will show this to be the case. The problem is when Evolution is defined as the theory that chance mutation and natural selection operating over time has caused all life as we know it to evolve from a common ancestor by creating new functional dna (big "E" evolution)).
The latest release over at Science new daily continues in this great tradition of equivocation. From the article
Researchers Trace Evolution To Relatively Simple Genetic Changes
In a stunning example of evolution at work, scientists have now found that changes in a single gene can produce major changes in the skeletal armor of fish living in the wild.
Wow...evolution in action?? A beneficial mutation that creates new functional information?
Just in case you think the article is not claiming anything about big 'E' evolution the article continues
"Our motivation is to try to understand how new animal types evolve in nature," said molecular geneticist David M. Kingsley, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the Stanford University School of Medicine. "People have been interested in whether a few genes are involved, or whether changes in many different genes are required to produce major changes in wild populations."New animal types evolving in nature...The news release had my attention... It continues
"It's rather like a military decision, to be either heavily armored and slow, or to be lightly armored and fast," Kingsley said. "Now, in countless lakes and streams around the world these low-armored types have evolved over and over again. It's one of the oldest and most characteristic differences between stickleback forms. It's a dramatic change: a row of 35 armor plates turning into a small handful of plates - or even no plates at all."Uhoh. Warning signs are flashing....this type of stickleback has evolved over and over again? That doesn't sound very random does it?
I begin to suspect that instead of some wizzygig new feature we are dealing with a loss of a feature or a variant gene that pre-exists and is merely selected for. The only other alternative is of course if the creatures were designed to evolve that way...but we won't go there...
But now we get to the real meat of the science release
Now, Kingsley said, "it turns out that armor plate patterns in the fish are controlled by the same gene that creates this clinical disease in humans. And this finding is related to the old argument whether Nature can use the same genes and create other traits in other animals."Obviously, the gene malfunctions nicely if this mutant becomes dominant.
The research with the wild fish also shows that the same gene is used whenever the low armor trait evolves. "We used sequencing studies to compare the molecular basis of this trait across the northern hemisphere," said Kingsley. "It doesn't matter where we look, on the Pacific coast, the East coast, in Iceland, everywhere. When these fish evolve this low-armored state they are using the same genetic mechanism. It's happening over and over again. It makes them more fit in all these different locations."
Because this trait evolves so rapidly after ocean fish colonize new environments, he added, "we wondered whether the genetic variant (the mutant gene) that controls this trait might still exist in the ocean fish. So we collected large numbers of ocean fish with complete armor, and we found a very low level of this genetic variant in the marine population."
So, he said, "the marine fish actually carry the genes for this alternative state, but at such a low level it is never seen;" all the ocean fish remain well-armored. "But they do have this silent gene that allows this alternative form to emerge if the fish colonize a new freshwater location."
Wow. Look at that...the gene existed all along? Good thing they are trumpeting EVOLUTION and 'new features'.
I was ready to leave it there...obviously natural selection operating on existing variation is not a support for big 'E' evolution, but, foolishly, I read on, and the article continues to astound
Kingsley said, "the mutations that we have found are, we think, in the (gene's) control regions, which turns the gene on and off on cue."...."And it turns out that the mechanisms are surprisingly simple. Instead of killing the protein (with mutations), you merely adjust the way it is normally regulatedWow, a simple mutation that destroys existing functionality (In this case the creation of armor plating).
Ultimately, a loss of existing functionality by a mutation switching off a gene is not useful to demonstrate the vast number of beneficial mutations creating new functional information that is necessary for evolution to be possible. We constantly get bombarded with cries of 'Evolution in action' and yet without fail they always fall short of actually supporting that claim. Where are the hundreds of thousands of observations that should exist in order to support the claim? They don't exist. Evolution is a fairy tale.
Morality - The basis of right and wrong
Derek Gilbert over at Weapons of Mass Distraction has an interesting piece on a conservative's claim to morality without God. Derek highlights nicely the inherent irrationality of morality existing in a world without purpose.
But that aside, how rational is a belief in “moral values” without the prospect of answering for one’s actions to an all-powerful, supernatural judge after death? If there is no God and no judgment, and we’re all just the product of blind luck, billions of years, and being the “fittest” at the game of survival, what benefit is there to loving my neighbor? What’s in it for me? Isn’t it more rational to “do unto others and do it quick, before they do it first”?
Read the whole thing.
Books - 10 most harmful books of the last 2 centuries
Human events online has a list of the 10 most harmful books of the 19th and 20th century, as rated by conservative scholars and public policy leaders.
The list is to be expected with Marx, Hitler and such, but I am suprised by the omission of Herbert Marcuse's Eros and Civilization or One dimensional man which virtually led the sexual revolution.
All in all it is a good list of books to understand and disagree with.
Morality – Motive, Relativism and definitions
In discussing morality, many different definitions of the same word seem to be bandied around. So in this post I want to explore the definitions of morality, and the various types of morality that people hold to.
In understanding morality, it is important to note that a particular action in and of itself is insufficient to decide whether an action was moral. This is the case for almost all strains of moral frameworks. To properly understand this point you need to divorce the action from all other considerations. As an example if I was to pick up a newspaper, you cannot rationally judge that action without any additional contextual information. If we get more information about the subject (in this case the paper), for instance that the paper belonged to a guy named Steve we get closer to being able to decide about the morality of my action. One final piece of the puzzle is required however, and that is motive. I could be picking up the paper for any number of reasons. It could be that Steve asked me to get it for him, I could think it was my paper, I could just want a paper to read. Clearly motive is important for deciding the morality of any action. Motive itself seems to contain two components, that of knowledge and intended outcome. Clearly, if I thought the paper was mine (with good reason to believe it was) then it would not be immoral to take it. (note that if this knowledge was corrected at some future point, then how I respond to the new knowledge could be judged immoral or moral).
Clearly, morality is not as simple as it first seemed. The same action can have a range of moral judgements placed against it depending on its context. A man shooting a gun would not be immoral if he was aiming at an unliving target on a firing range would probably not be immoral, yet the same man shooting at a human subject intending to kill him might by moral or immoral, depending on his motive. For instance he could be trying to stop the man from setting off an explosive that will kill a bus load of children or he could be trying to kill him so he can easily steal his belongings.
The waters get even muddier however when we start using words that already have moral judgements attached to them, or words that imply more than just a simple action. When people use the word ‘murder’ they are defining not just an action, but a subject and a motive (i.e knowledge and an intended outcome). If someone is ‘lying’ they are doing an action (speaking a phrase) with knowledge that it is untrue to communicate that untruth to a person.
It is here, where we use these words that are already morally loaded, that the confusion between absolute and objective morality lies. Absolute morality is not saying that a particular ‘action’ is always wrong, it is saying that a particular action on a particular subject for a particular motive is always wrong. Objective morality is saying that morality exist separate from the views and beliefs of conscious beings.
Whilst morality can be absolute without being objective (For instance, if morality was decided by an all powerful being whose views did not change NOTE: This is not the Christian position), I would suggest that objective morality would have to be absolute (as objective morality would have to be sourced from an absolute being – Which is a topic for another post).
So where does that leave us with respect to other types of morality, such as subjective, relative and consequentialist morality?
Clearly if morality was subjective (In the proper sense of the word, subjective morals are actually what is referred to in much philosophical literature as relative morals), then morality would depend on the views of an individual or culture (Or essentially whoever can force everyone to agree with their concept of morality). As there is no objective standard to judge against, there is no rational method to judge between different peoples or cultures morals (I.e. there are no wrong (or right) morals.) Morality essentially becomes a preference, much like a favourite ice-cream. As such, attempting to tell someone else that their morality is wrong is as logically absurd as saying that someone liking cookies and cream ice-cream instead of rum and raisin ice-cream is wrong.
A final type of morality I want to define is consequentialist morality, which includes utilitarianism. In this view, the consequences of an action determine its moral status (The ends justify the means). What this means is that it is less immoral to lie to a ice-cream vendor than to a grand jury and less immoral to steal from a rich man than from a poor. Indeed, it can even be considered moral to steal from the rich to give to the poor (Socialism anyone) or to kill 10,000 innocents so that 1 million people may have better lives (Communism anyone?). One important thing to remember is that consequentialist ethics changes what needs to be known about an action in order to determine its moral status; It is simply what the results of the action were. Considering this definition of consequentialist morality, it is logically possible for it to be absolute, objective, or even subjective (But as previously noted, subjective morality is essentially irrational because there are no standards to differentiate between moral principles)
So, in summary
- Objective morality means that morals are based not dependent on the views and opinions of conscious beings or culture.
- Absolute morality means that morals are dependent on action, subject and motive but do not change.
- Subjective morality (‘Relativism’) means that morals are based on personal preference or cultural preference.
- Consequentialist morality is that the morality of an action is based on the consequences of that action.
For further reading on the different types of morality you can visit the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.