Swedish Pastor Acquitted of Hate Speech
Swedish Pastor, Ake Green, has been acquitted by the Swedish Supreme Court on charges of hate speech for his talking about homosexuality as immoral and unhealthy for society.
In related news the Boston Archbishop, Sean O'Malley, has written a pastoral letter against not speaking out on homosexuality. He said we would be deceiving people if we did not say homosexual acts (and any other sexual acts outside of marriage) are sinful. And that we need to deliver our message with compassion and humility.
In marked contrast to what some people in Sweden are saying, the Archbishop makes it very clear that it is because we love people that we cannot accept their behaviour.
The full text of the Archbishop's letter is available here. It is should be mandatory reading for all Christians and stands as a great example of trying to approach the issue of sexuality with both truth and grace
Have trouble getting your lazy children out of the house to exercise? Tired of troublesome youths congregating outside your store? Want to clear out the church sanctuary within an hour after a youth service? Now, Science gives you the answer. Meet the all new, all noise, teenager repellent 'Mosquito'. From the article
The device...emits a high-frequency pulsing sound that, he says, can be heard by most people younger than 20 and almost no one older than 30. The sound is designed to so irritate young people that after several minutes, they cannot stand it and go away.
Want some peace and quiet? So how does the mosquito sound?
Canadian Government Toppled
A No Confidence motion on the Canadian Government has just been passed, forcing a christmas election campaign. I now wonder how many of the recent legislative efforts will be repealed (Such as legalizaing homosexual marriage). We can but hope.
Check out captain Ed for more
Never judge a book by its cover
Dolph Lungren. Action Star. Beefcake. I always thought he was your generic action hero. Big, bulky, but not big on the intellectual side of the equation. It just shows you how wrong you can be.
Dolph has a masters degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Sydney in Australia. Wow. I wonder how many other people we don't think are smart or well studied actually know a lot more than we give them credit for.
The Campaign Against Christianity Continues in Victoria
The Herald Sun has reported that a Victorian Church run charity has be forced to not make christian faith a prerequisite for employment. In an astoundingly open attack on religious freedom a tribunal has refused the charities request for a religious exemption to the equal opportunity laws because could benefit from employees with "a diversity of beliefs".
The really blatant line is that
Deputy tribunal president Cate McKenzie ruled the charity's power to run community care programs "are not affected by the faiths or religious views of the association's employees".It seems Ms McKenzie doesn't believe that a persons religious beliefs have anything to do with how they interact with other people. I would have to ask where she gets this idea from? If it is just a personal belief, then why is she forcing her beliefs on others and why is her personal belief affecting her decisions when she feels that other peoples personal beliefs won't affect theirs?
Clearly, more and more of this sort of attack on religion will happen. We need to make sure that we stand up for our rights.
The Autumn of the Evolutionary Tree
I recently posted about how the reptile phylogenic (i.e. based on physical characteristics) tree has just been excessively redrawn due to DNA studies. Well another study that has just been released also shows that the evolutionary tree is losing its leaves.
The study, announced on Science Daily boldly proclaims that 'The Earliest Animals had Human-Like Genes'. Reading the fine print is always advisable however, as the findings cast more doubt on Common Descent Evolution (CDE) than support it. What the researchers found was that when looking at Introns (Sections of DNA that are ignored when creating protiens) human DNA has a lot more (Including the number of introns and their placement) in common with a species of worms which was thought to be a living fossil, than flies. As the news release noted, this was the complete opposite of evolutionary expectations. The authors explain this away by claiming that the rate of evolution is very different for different species. Just another example of proping up the plastic and dodgey phylogenic tree with more ad hoc explanations.
It is also notable that evolutionists are now starting to claim that information loss has a lot to do with evolution (something creation scientists have been saying for ages).
I'll leave you with a quite from the authors which is sounding eerily like a creation scientist comment.
Now we have direct evidence that genes were already quite complex in the first animals, and many invertebrates have reduced part of this complexity.
Complex first life, and downward evolution? ...who said creation science predictions don't come true
(HT: Creation Safaris)
Mao - The Face of Evil
RJ Rummel is a scholar who has devoted himself to researching deaths caused by governments throughout history. He has a large amount of his research on his 'Powerkills' website. As a man who has spent decades researching the issue and who has put forward the idea that democracies almost never make war on each other I sit up and take notice when he is suprised by new information about just how evil and murderous Mao was. From his reading of the biography of Mao by Jung Chiang and Jon Halliday and 'Wild Swans' he has been convinced that Mao is responsible for far more death and machinations than previously thought. From his post Rummel highlights that
- The Long March of 1933-34 was pure propoganda and lies
- Mao had moles and spies in the Nationalist army that he used to manipulate battles and force the Nationalist government into war with Japan
- The nationalist government had all but defeated Mao's communist army, until US President Truman intervened to create a cease-fire that gave Mao the time he needed to reinforce his army with soviet help. (Yes. You read that right. A US president helped Mao become the dictator of China. The success of Mao's propaganda and Truman's falling for it turned things around at a critical moment for Mao)
- Mao persuaded North Korea to invade South Korea to tie up US forces and help decrease US troop strength
- Mao's brainwashing and propaganda was so effective on his own people that everything bad was attributed to his enemies and he was viewed as almost god like.
- Mao directed Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam) and exerted significant influence and control over him
- Mao encouraged Pol Pot's revolution and murderous methods, not discouraged them.
- US President Nixon also helped Mao when he tried to use China as a balance against Soviet power. This gave Mao and China a lot of international prestige at a time when it was at an all time low. Nixon and Kissenger extolled Mao's virtues and even got the US's allies to provide arms to China.
Rummel concludes with the final paragraph from the biography
Today, Mao's portrait and his corpse still dominate Tiananmen Square in the heart of the Chinese capital. The current Communist regime declares itself to be Mao's heir and fiercely perpetuates the myth of Mao.Remember that unless there is freedom of speech and the press, no information you get out of a country is credible. Mao was worse than Lenin, Stalin, Hitler or any other leader. Yet some still admire him.
Reptile tree redrawn
A new study has rewritten the text books on reptile genealogy. The news release notes
The most comprehensive analysis ever performed of the genetic relationships among all the major groups of snakes, lizards, and other scaly reptiles has resulted in a radical reorganization of the family tree of these animals, requiring new names for many of the tree's new branches.Just remember, the tree of life is often touted as strong evidence for common descent evolution (CDE). Yet here we can see it is rewritten completely for reptiles. Even though 'The resulting family tree has revealed a number of surprising relationships.' they don't question the assumption of CDE, they simply modify the plastic theory to adjust.
These researchers used 'twice the amount of genetic information as was used in previous studies of these species.' This implies that previous studies came to different results based on a different set on genetic information. Does this mean that there is no clear cut progression between the various species? That the tree you come up with depends entirely on which genetic strands you focus on? That would indicate that CDE is a poor explanation for the genetic variety in these species.
Another great assumption of CDE is that similar physical features implies close evolutionary relationships. Yet here we have this study overturning a phylogenic tree that was based on physical features. Obviously the genetic data does not agree with the physical data. This should throw doubt on CDE as it is a fundamental assumption that has been used for a hundred years. Don't hold your breath though. It is business as usual where CDE is assumed as fact and every observation must be made to fit within it.
So how do the authors explain these discrepancies? With the old ad hoc explanation of 'Convergent Evolution'. In the authors own words "For genealogy research this can be a problem if two unrelated species change in the same way, resulting in false evidence of relationships."
Considering how often fundamental 'evidence' for CDE is found to be wrong, I often wonder just how much of the original foundation for believing in CDE is still used. We seem to be constantly discarded old 'evidences' and replacing them with new 'evidences'. Yet still no one doubts CDE.
Maybe one day people will realise just how full of holes common descent evolution really is. Until then, it sure is amazing how much research the constant reworking creates...
Sexuality and morality
In the 1960's Herbert Marcuse, Marxist and American University lecturer, helped kick off the sexual revolution after 'identifying' how the change in sexual mores would negatively effect capitalism.
Today, the battle for sexual morals rages on. The currently accepted morals however appear to be do what you like as long as it is between consensting adults. The push to make even more behaviours 'acceptable' .
In the UK, a professor has spoken up saying that sexual affairs between students and teachers can be beneficial. Contrasting this with a recent cast where a female teacher has been convicted of having sex with a 14 year old student. The maximum sentence is up to 15 years in prison for each count, but this teacher got a plea bargain for 3 years house arrest after her defense argued that she was too attractive to put into jail as it would be too dangerous (I'm not kidding!) and that she was going to plead insanity because emotional stress kept her from knowing right from wrong.
In America, parents are unhappy that in sex education class, students are being taught that 'abstinence' includes having sex but following the withdrawal or rhythm methods. Changing the definition of a word is a common tactic in trying to sneak your ideas in without a fight.
Also in America, a preschool teacher has been fired from her catholic school because she has become pregnant outside of marriage. The school felt it was following the guidelines set out in its staff handbook about modelling catholic values. The woman and the New York Civil Liberties Union are suing saying that the firing is discriminatory as only women can get pregnant (And so it is hard to tell when men are having sex outside of marriage). What is even more odd is the comments the teacher has made. She said "I don't understand how a religion that prides itself on forgiving and on valuing life could terminate me because I'm pregnant and choosing to have this baby." Putting aside the difference between forgiveness and consequences, why has she made a big deal out of the comment that she 'is choosing to have this baby'? It sounds as if she wants to be rewarded for not getting an abortion?
Jill Stanek has an article on the disturbing eugenics trend that we have with aborting disabled unborn. According to Jill, 80% of down syndrome unborn are now aborted. Jill asks a pointed question about the idea that we should abort unborn with a lower expected quality of life...
Who decides what qualifies as an abortable handicap? As fewer perfect people are born, will the bar continue to raise? What about deafness? Or Type I Diabetes? What about adult onset disorders like Huntington's Disease?
Indeed. Eugenics is back. It won't be long before people are routinely screening the unborn for desirable traits like hair color, IQ and eye color. Ironically, the people arguing for 'freedom' of reproduction are the ones who are heralding in a loss of individuality in society.
The price of relativism
Chris Matthews, Hardball presenter and political journalist, has typified many responses to Islamic Terrorism by stating
The period between 9-11 and (invading) Iraq was not a good time for America. There wasn't a robust discussion of what we were doing, If we stop trying to figure out the other side, we've given up. The person on the other side is not evil. They just have a different perspective.So running planes into buildings, suicide bombing, decapitating hostages and wanting to impose Sharia law on everybody is not evil? It is all just a different perspective?
Welcome to moral relativism. Of course, now I have to ask why Chris Matthews is complaining that we should be trying to figure out the other side? Isn't that just his perspective? Why does he want people to change how they act?
Moral relativism always leads to this sort of double standard. It's a pity no one could highlight this when he spoke about it.
Which action hero would you be?
| You scored as Batman, the Dark Knight. As the Dark Knight of Gotham, Batman is a vigilante who deals out his own brand of justice to the criminals and corrupt of the city. He follows his own code and is often misunderstood. He has few friends or allies, but finds comfort in his cause.|
Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with QuizFarm.com
Attack of the non-credible evolutionists
It seems more and more people are beginning to realise that many evolutionists are not credible due to their biased and often vitriolic diatribes. Jonathan Witt has more on the Scott Adams situation with a lot of good links. One of the last links deserves a special mention. It is to Dean's world, where atheist Dean has discovered just how emotionally attached many evolutionists are to their pet theory. One paragraph is worth reproducing here
The ID theorists often claim they can't get published in peer reviewed journals because intolerant members of the establishment won't even let them raise certain questions or make certain suggestions. I used to think that was probably just self-serving whining. I thought the case of Richard Sternberg was disturbing but probably an aberration. Now after all the dishonest abuse I've received, and seen others receive, I begin to wonder if his story, as well as the stories told by people like Caroline Crocker and Guillermo Gonzalez, are actually typical. I fully credit people like Richard Bennett and P.Z. Myers for making me think so.It seems that evolutionists are their own worst enemy and people are starting to see them for the religious fanatics they are.
Media and Evolutionists Spin Kansas Standards
I mentioned last week that evolutionists were up in arms over Kansas changing the definition of science in its science standards. Well, Evolution News and Views has a definitive list of every US states definition of science so you can see just how unobjective this spin really is. It seems Kansas' new definition is inline with every state that actually has a definition of science.
PZ Meyers, of Panda's Thumb fame, had this to say about the changing standards.
Rewriting the definition of science seems a rather presumptuous thing for a school board to do, I think, especially when their new definition is something contrary to what working scientists and major scientific organizations say is science. As for removing the limitation to natural phenomena, what do they propose to add? Ghosts, intuition, divine revelation, telepathic communications from Venusians? It's simply insane.No wonder people like Scott Adams, Dilbert creator, are having trouble finding credible people to defend evolution (or ID). Ironically, many of the commentators on his blog think that he should 'read Richard Dawkins' as if Dawkins was credible.
Who do you vote for
The Oz Politics Blog has a very interesting review of a survey of candidates views on a variety of topics, broken up along political party lines. Some of the more noteworthy findings are that the Democrats (36%) and Greens (63%) are generally not that proud to be Australians. Any brief look at their policies and statements make it clear that they want to change Australia.
What is more troubling though, is considering that they want to change Australia, they also have little respect for individual freedom (53% Democrats, 51% Greens, 36% ALP). Now if they want to change Australia and they don't really respect individual freedom, will they really care if they have to oppress or 're-educate' people.
Check out the various views and think about who you vote for and what they really stand for.
Hume or Homer - Battle of the philosophers
It has been recently announced that Homer Simpson has won the philosopher of the decade title over at Britain's Men's Health Magazine. Samantha Burns has some of his philosophical thoughts for your amusement.
Somewhat providentially, I have been reading and thinking about David Hume's works over the last week and a few things stand out that make me think that if David Hume can be a philosopher, then so can Homer Simpson.
For instance, three of Hume's better known pronouncements seem a little bit illogical. Maybe I am missing something, but they seem to contradict themselves.
Firstly, David Hume told us that real knowledge unless it is analytically true i.e. by definition (e.g. 2 + 2 = 4), or by empirical investigation. He even went so far as to suggest people burn all books that did not fit this criteria. If this is the case, then this principle of what constitutes real knowledge fails its own test as it is not analytically true or empirically discovered. Hence, this principle is self-refuting. It must be false.
Secondly, David Hume went on to deny that we could know whether an event caused another event. That is, "He noted that although we do perceive the one event following the other, we don't perceive any necessary connection between the two". 2 events may often be seen together in succession, but we cannot conclude anything more than this simple observation that they often seem to be correlated. (Note that he didn't deny there was a cause of an event, just that we cannot know what that cause is).
This may all be well and good, but then he also went on to deny that miracles are no support for religion because they:- Violate the laws of nature; The strength of human testimony is too weak to be considered as useful against the weight of evidence from natural law.
What I don't understand is that how can you say on one hand that we cannot know what actually causes something, and yet on the other hand that natural law (I.e. the laws that govern cause and effect) is inviolate or too strong for human testimony of miracles. If I cannot know what a particular cause is, then I cannot know whether the cause is natural or supernatural. Therefore, on Hume's own grounds, he cannot argue against the miraculous by claiming knowledge of causes.
All in all, it is suprising that Hume's work has been so widely valued for so long. It contains obvious contradictions and so cannot be true.
Making Use of Every Opportunity
Ake Green, the Swedish Pastor who is charged with hate crimes, has used his nationally televised trial to evangelise the nation. In his defense Ake got to speak for 45 minutes about his original sermon. It certainly brings to mind Paul's efforts, that even when imprisoned, used the opportunity to preach to the guards.
In somewhat ironic fashion, Ake's original sermon called for grace and not condemnation for the homosexual community. Yet some considered it hate speech because he also said it was an immoral lifestyle. Just another example of where people confuse condemning an idea or action as opposed to the person.
Iraq and Intelligence
It seems the Bush administration is finally pushing back against the meme that it lied/misrepresented/exaggerated the pre Iraq war intelligence in order to justify action against Saddam. I had a quick post about this earlier, highlighting an article by Norman Podhoretz. Reread Norman's articles and then read these articles on Fox, by Democrat Martin Frost, and on Reuters. It seems that Martin Frost is continuing with the 'exaggeration' claim, even though bipartisan investigations found no such thing. He is clearly putting politics over truth, as Bush stated, especially as he ignores how the previous clinton administration had the same conclusions about Iraq and WMD. Navy Seal, Froggy on his blog complains about this very behaviour and draws a specific distinction between dissent and being unpatriotic behaviour
Dissenting IN GOOD FAITH is patriotic. All Americans are duty bound to speak up against the actions of our countrymen when we feel they are acting in error. But repeating lies every day to get back at the President that beat you doesn't make them true; it makes you a traitor to this country and disloyal to the troops who are on this day protecting you.Froggy has a whole lot more links to show how dishonest and political many democrats and liberals are being.
The National Review also gets in on the act, noting that Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller, gave intelligence to the enemies of the US in the lead up to the Iraq war.
Christophe Hitchens also weighs in with what people are really suggesting when they say that Bush conspired to launch a lie based war.
By the same alchemy and hypnotism, the INC was able to manipulate the combined intelligence services of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy, as well as the CIA, the DIA, and the NSA, who between them employ perhaps 1.4 million people, and who in the American case dispose of an intelligence budget of $44 billion, with only a handful of Iraqi defectors and an operating budget of $320,000 per month. That's what you have to believe.
Indeed. When will people start to value truth again? Has it got so bad they think the average joe public has no ability to do basic fact checking or reason for themselves that anyone thinks they can get away with absurdities?
An Honest Look at Evolution and Intelligent Design
I have been heartened by a number of people taking an honest look at Evolution and Intelligent Design recently. Many of the points being made are ones I have said before myself.
Take for instance, this article from Dilbert creator, Scott Adams.
To me, the most fascinating aspect of the debate over Darwinism versus Intelligent Design is that neither side understands the other side’s argument. Better yet, no one seems to understand their own side’s argument. But that doesn’t stop anyone from having a passionate opinion.Of course, Scott doesn't really say where the ID people are misunderstanding the other side's argument (He does give an example of evolutionists misunderstanding ID arguments).
Further down Scott says
Here’s where it gets interesting. The Intelligent Design people allege that some experts within each narrow field are NOT convinced that the evidence within their specialty is a slam-dunk support of Darwin. Each branch of science, they say, has pro-Darwinists who acknowledge that while they assume the other branches of science have more solid evidence for Darwinism, their own branch is lacking in that high level of certainty. In other words, the scientists are in a weird peer pressure, herd mentality loop where they think that the other guy must have the “good stuff.”Which is actually something that Young Earth Creationists (YEC) have been saying for years. Scott follows with an analogy from his career about how this is possible and finishes off with
I’d be surprised if 90%+ of scientists are wrong about the evidence for Darwinism. But if you think it’s impossible, you’ve lived a sheltered life.
Another article by journalist Fred highlights the parallels between how the evolutionists want to enforce their ideas with marxist practice.
The desire to centralize government, impose doctrine, and punish doubt is never far below the surface, anywhere. Thus our highly controlled media, our “hate-speech” laws, our political correctness and, now, Evolutionary Prohibition. The Catholic Church once burned heretics. The Church of Evolution savages them in obscure journals and denies them tenure and publication. As a heretic I believe that I would prefer the latter, but the intolerance is the same.In looking into why the evolutionists fear having ID or creationism being taught in schools Fred observes
I note that Compulsory Evolutionists are fellow travelers of the regnant cultural Marxism, though I don’t think that they are aware of it. They display the same hermetic materialism, the same desire to suppress dissent by the application of centralized governmental power, the same weird hostility to religion. They do not say, “I think Christianity is nonsense and will therefore ignore it,” but rather “These ideas shall not be permitted.”
A more likely explanation is a fear that children might realize that a great deal of Evolution, not having been established, must be accepted on faith, and that a fair amount of it doesn’t make a lot of sense. While Creationism is unlikely to convert children into snake-handlers, it does suggest that orthodox Evolution can be examined critically. Bad juju, that.Fred finally gives an example of the typical responses he received when asking simple questions to highlight whether scientists have shown it is possible or even probable that life could come from non-life. The responses were predictable. Christian's thought he had disproved evolution. Independent people responded thoughtfully, and zealous evolutionists responded by calling him names. As Fred puts it
This is the behavior not of scientists but of true believers....dispassionate discussion with them is not possible, anymore than it is with Gloria Steinem or Herbert Marcuse or Cornell West, and for exactly the same reasons. They are the same people. How sad.
The Dawn Treader has an interesting email interview (parts 1, 2, and 3) with a molecular biologist (ironically named steve). Steve has a lot of interesting things to say, but one thing stood out quite strongly
The essential disagreement is whether homology = Evolution. In other words, does the fact that there are similarities between species mean that Evolution must have produced it? While it is reasonable, it is clearly begging the question to say so. The important thing is that, genetically and functionally, species are in fact similar in many ways. This is very useful in research. I would love to give examples, but no one would dispute this.As I have said before, the observations that Evolution try to explain are what are useful to research and scientific advances. Evolution itself is pretty much irrelevant to the research.
Evolution is a paradigm- a framework upon which one can hang observations in a way that makes sense- it is not a testable theory. We use homology to design experiments, but Evolution is an explanation for those homologies. It is not something that we can refer to when designing experiments.
Steve continues with an even more blunt point
Me: So you are saying that evolutionary theory is not falsifiable?In this, Steve is in good company with such people as Karl Popper. These of course, are the sort of comments that would get the people that Fred above referred to as 'true believers' (of evolution) frothing at the mouth.
Steve: Yes, that is the crux of my point. I respectfully disagree with those who say that Evolution is a theory like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Einstein himself, along with many who followed, suggested experiments which would prove it wrong- falsify it. Such experiments simply cannot exist for Evolution. Accordingly, any theory that cannot be falsified is not a scientific theory.
While Evolution is an elegant idea and should be learned by all who study biology, I would argue that it is a paradigm not a theory.
Ultimately, open and honest debate cannot be good for Evolution, but it can be good for science.
Terror Threat in Brisbane
The Courier Mail is reporting that all public transport in Brisbane, QLD has been shutdown and all stations have been evacuated. The Lord Mayor is expected to make a statement soon.
Sketchy details. Will keep this post updated as more comes in.
Update: It seems some buses are running out of the city, as my housemate managed to catch one at 12.30pm. Perhaps more information has come in and so some public transport has been allowed to start up again.
Update 2: The Courier Mail article has been updated to indicate that bus and train services are now up and running again. The Lord Mayor is no longer going to make a statement, but Premier Beattie is goign to make one at 1.30pm.
Update 3: ABC News has finally gotten something up on this and they have extra information.
An anonymous caller rang police and said there was a bomb or bombs on one or more trains. Plus another report came in that 4 buses may contain bombs as well. The Courier Mail has also said it was confirmed than an anonymous caller had made threats against the public transport system today.
Update 4: Have heard from a government worker friend that the buses and trains may be stopped from 4:45pm till 5:15pm this arvo. That should cause chaos with the roads. The Brisbane City Council website also says this stoppage is happening.
Agnosticism and Neutrality
I have often said that agnosticism is simply atheism as the agnostic acts as if atheism is the default belief. The agnostic, whilst claiming they are neutral on the issue, generally lives the life as an atheist.
J. Budziszewski has just written a similar point in his Office Hours column. As per usual, he says it a lot better than I could. from the column
"You're saying that I live — as though there were no God."
"Right. You say you're uncommitted, but in practice you're committed to atheism."
Nathan was unperturbed. "But Prof, since I don't know the answer to the God question, how else can I live?"
I answered, "Instead of living as though there were no God, you could try living as though there were."
Read the whole thing
Iraq and objectivity
The war in iraq is another case where objectivity seems to be lacking. I personally thought the war was justified simply because the people of Iraq needed freeing from a murderous dictator. The Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) never really came into it. Yet one thing that really bothers me is the continued lie from those opposed to the war the George Bush/John Howard/Tony Blair lied about or exaggerated the WMD issue to justify the war. You may disagree with the war on Iraq, but shouldn't a certain amount of objectivity be required for us to discuss it? I know I certainly don't agree with the governments about every decision made about how Iraq was handlded, but I try to base such opinions on the truth.
An article by Norman Podhoretz deals with just this issue. All the facts in there are readily available and have been mentioned time and time again, yet people continue with the Bush lied meme as if it was undeniably true. To summarise the article...
1) Every major intelligence agency believed Saddam had WMD
2) The previous (clinton) administration thought Saddam had WMD
3) There were some links between Saddam and Al Queda
4) Saddam definitely financially supported palestinian terrorsts
5) The iraq seeking uranium in africa comment in the state of the union address was true.
That this meme continues to circulate is a sad indictment of human nature. It is always disheartening to see people prefer to support their own prejudice than to find the truth. Is this what it means to be 'progressive'?
Evolution, Honesty and Objectivity
I'm tired. I am constantly wearied by the repeated claims of evolutionists, some of which are simply patently false, some of which are obviously exaggerations and some of which are simply unsupportable assertions which attempt to define victory for themselves.
The latest case in point is the response to recent educational science standard changes in Kansas. The standards themselves are available for all to see. The major change was the removal of the word 'natural' in one part, i.e. now science is looking for more adequate explanations as opposed to looking for more adequate natural explanations. According to statements in news reports, this brings Kansas' definition of science in line with the definition of dozens of other states. It also encourages teaching the problems and controverseys with evolutionary theory as part of the eductional process.
Yet evolutionists are up in arms and screaming bloody murder. It seems their commitment to philosophical naturalism is fairly extreme.
It is somewhat strange that this news article has a comment from Jack Kreb, a high school math teacher "What this does is open the door for teachers to bring creationist arguments into the classroom and point to the standards and say it's OK". I don't know many creationist arguments that would be brought into his math class, but hey, why not quote the guy. Jack also has an article on Panda's thumb proclaiming doom and gloom.
PZ Meyers, also over at Panda's Thumb, has a post on the Kansas standards. Meyers makes the bold claim that
There is no credible evidence against common descent and chemical evolution; those concepts are being strengthened, year by year. What does this school board think to gain by teaching students lies?No credible evidence? Wow. Strengthened year by year? Incredible! Chemical evolution of course is talking about how life came from non-life. There is no credible evidence FOR chemical evolution. Indeed, even after decades of research, the only thing that has been found is that there are MORE problems with the idea than originally thought.
My common response to ridiculous claims such as this is to ask what 3 observations/ lines of evidence does the commentator think most strongly supports common descent evolution (CDE). Invariably, the response always includes circular reasoning/begging the question (similarity in DNA implies common ancestry) or non-explanatory observations (I.e. If any observation in a class of observations can be seen to support common descent, then it is not an explanatory line of evidence.) Another common assertion is that CDE is required for many scientific advances and research. These invariably amount to question begging appeals to advances that are based on simple observations which do not require CDE to be true (e.g. It is true that similar physiology is useful for testing medicines on other animals before it is tested on people, but this usefulnes is based on the similarity in DNA, not on whether common descent is true).
ArsTechnica continues with the rubbish with its own article on the ID controversey. Making some flat out incorrect claims such as
In a stunning move, the board literally redefined science to include the investigation and explanation of what is commonly called the metaphysical.Actually, the investigation of the metaphysical was not mentioned.
While the teaching of Intelligent Design is not mandated, neither is the teaching of Evolution, and vice versa.Teaching evolutionary theory is required for state assessments for students. The standards do not include intelligent design for these state assessments or mandate it's teaching.
The article then quotes Kenneth Miller who continues with more nonsense
When science is taught as only factual observation (something the standards passed by the Board would encourage), then disagreements among scientists and changing scientific views are seen as weaknesses and failings of scientific knowledge. However, the exact opposite is the case. It is the dynamic, changing, self-correcting nature of science that is its very strength. The less science is seen as a body of established knowledge, the more inherently interesting and exciting it becomes.If this is the case, then why are Miller and others so opposed to teaching the disagreements? It is also somewhat dubious to call science 'self-correcting' when it can take 40 years to overturn fraudulant research, and the implications of all the science done on the assumption of the fraud's accuracy is never investigated and the fraudulant findings still taught.
The article then later continues to equate creation science with ID. Anybody with any real knowledge of either group should be able to see the vast differences between the two. In fact, the only thing they have in common is they both think that an intelligent designer is responsible for some of the features of life.
Add to this the common exclamations that evolution (CDE) is a fact, ID is religion, anyone who doubts CDE is ignorant, science will collapse if ID is taught and you have the whole gammut of protestations from evolution. All of them have been dealt with, yet it seems that the objective scientists are so wedded to their ideas that they cannot even consider the possibility they are wrong.
Intelligent Design Links
Mike Gene has a long and interesting look into the beliefs of ardent darwinist, Edward O. Wilson. Another case of an atheist thinking that his belief is not a belief but merely the truth by default. Repeat after me. There is no neutral belief!
Stephen Meyer has a good rap up of the recent Dover Trial and highlights 5 issues with the testimony of expert R Pennock. These points are worth repeating here.
1) Pennock Provides No Criterion to Determine What Constitutes Religion (To do so would be to highlight a materialistic bias)
2) Metaphysical Implications Are Not Unique to the Theory of Intelligent Design
3) Theistic Implications No More Make Intelligent Design a Religion than the Religious (or Anti-religious) Implications of Neo-Darwinism (evolution often suffers from the very thing its supporters accuse ID/creationists of)
4) The Theory of Intelligent Design Does Not Affirm Narrow Sectarian Doctrines (It is a broad theory that is compatible with many possible intelligent agents)
5) Religious Motivations of Scientists Do Not Disqualify the Scientific Theories They Advocate (see point 1. All scientists have metaphysical motivations)
Of course, don't expect evolutionists to stop spouting the same nonsense, even though they have been corrected time and time again.
Casey Luskin has a good overview of how the plaintiff's attorney in the Dover case against ID has made all of ID's points for them. It's worth reading the whole thing.
On the more subtle front, it seems the University of California is discriminating against people who have gone to Christian schools because some of the subjects they do may not agree with what the elites at UC believe. This of course, will backfire as quality candidates go elsewhere.
Blinded by the Atheistic Dogma
The beliefs we hold about the nature of man and the universe color how we interpret our observations. When these beliefs are held with unquestionable faith, the result is almost always a case of begging the question. (Assuming what you set out to prove)
A case in point is a new 'documentary' where Richard Dawkins attempts to show that religion is the root of all the worlds evil. You see, in Dawkins mind, atheism is unquestionably true (You have to wonder how he can know this, as it is a case of proving a negative, and so he would have to be omniscient to know it). If atheism is true, then as communist and secular humanist doctrine would put it, then religious belief is holding everyone back from a true understanding of human nature which would enable us to evolve into perfect beings living in a utopia.
I find it thoroughly amazing that any educated person could make such a claim as Dawkins is attempting to make. Any brief look at the history of the last century can uncover the brutal crimes of atheism by Stalin, Lenin and Mao. It can show the vast increase in crimes as secular humanist ideas like moral relativism have taken hold. Note that this doesn't mean that atheism is the root of all evil in the world, just that it impossible to assert that religion is the root of all evil. Of course, it seems that Dawkins is unable to show a nuanced approach and instead of objectivity, he seems far more intent on attempting to spread his own metaphysical (i.e. religious) ideas. The problem is that Dawkins believes atheism is unquestionably true, and so belief in the supernatural must automatically be classified as harmful.
I highlighted another case a whilst back, where Gregory Paul released a 'study' that supposedly showed a correlation between negative social indicators and religious belief. This was yet another case of an evangelical secular humanist trying to convince the unwary. Of course to Gregory, religion MUST be bad because it is false. Well, it seems that the lads over at Verum Serum have done a little bit of research into the data that Gregory left out, and it seems he has indeed manipulated his data to reach his predetermined conclusion.
The Disgusting Police
9 Australian's were arrested in Bali for smuggling drugs in April 2005. Now it comes to light that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) gave the Indonesian's a tip that
There is a group of people suspected of importing narcotics, from Bali to Australia, by employing people who will individually carry body packs tied to their legs and backs...If there is a suspicion that... the couriers are carrying the illegal narcotics at the time of their departure, please take whatever action that you consider necessary...
And we find the mother of one of the 'teenagers' (he's 19 - over the age of being considered an adult) is disgusted by the AFP's behaviour. The mother said
The inaction of not warning our son, contrary to our request in Australia, shows a callous disregard for the life of an immature, untravelled Australian citizen,
So should we be warning people now that their international drug smuggling has been noticed? With all the Schapelle Corby publicity, the guy should have realised that he could face the death penalty for doing such actions. Yet somehow, the AFP are 'disgusting' for helping people to catch drug smugglers.
Note that many papers are also highlighting that
the guidelines that exist between Australian Police and Indonesian Police on what they're entitled to do or what assistance they're entitled or obliged to give Indonesia, and they argue that there are provisions that say Australian Federal Police or the Government should refuse information if involves the case leading to the death penalty.I have to ask. Does this cover the situation if Australian's are going to be involved terrorist acts against Indonesia? Should we also not share information in that case?
Peter Singer's Morality of death
Peter Singer has written another poorly thought out piece about the sanctity of life and scientific progress. He makes his bias fairly obvious from the start when he says
By 2040, it may be that only a rump of hard-core, know-nothing religious fundamentalists will defend the view that every human life, from conception to death, is sacrosanct.Not only the bias is obvious, but his mistating of 'religious fundamentalists' position as all life being sacrosanct is also an issue.
A few more choice logical fallacies are worth highlighting
When they are honest, conservatives acknowledge that giving up some medical advances is simply the price to be paid for doing the right thing.Yep. 'When they are honest'. Well, when Peter is being logically consistent, we could also level the same complaint against all involuntary human testing.
The possibility of cloning from the nucleus of an ordinary cell undermines the idea that embryos are precious because they have the potential to become human beings. Once it becomes clear that every human cell contains the genetic information to create a new human being, the old arguments for preserving “unique” human embryos fade away.Peter again attacks a straw man. The argument is that an innocent human life should not be destroyed in the pursuit of medical advances. That scientists can now clone people without using a fertilized embryo does not change this. Once again, the issue is not that an embryo has potentional to be a human being, but that it is a human life. Peter seems to avoid this, probably because it doesn't help his argument to actually deal with the real issues.
As we approach 2040, the Netherlands and Belgium will have had decades of experience with legalized euthanasia, and other jurisdictions will also have permitted either voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide for varying lengths of time. This experience will puncture exaggerated fears that the legalization of these practices would be a first step toward a new holocaustYet many eldery in the Netherlands are now scared that they will be murdered under the guise of being euthenaised.
When the traditional ethic of the sanctity of human life is proven indefensible at both the beginning and end of life, a new ethic will replace it. It will recognize that the concept of a person is distinct from that of a member of the species Homo sapiens, and that it is personhood, not species membership, that is most significant in determining when it is wrong to end a life.In railing at the start against religious fundamentalists, it is suprising to hear that Peter Singer is bringing in metaphysics into the debate. Any talk of what constitutes 'personhood' is strictly subjective. Obivously Peter has his own religious beliefs about what makes a person, but why should we listen to one of those 'know-nothing religious fundamentalists' like him?
And we will respect the right of autonomous, competent people to choose when to live and when to die.And where does this 'right' come from? Peter once again seems to be appealing to some metaphysical concept. Surely we can recognize this religious zealot attempting to enforce his morality upon us?
Clearly, Peter seems to be of the opinion that the ends justifies the means, that if science can do it, we should let science do it, and that personhood is decided upon by the criteria that Peter wants. The real question is, why should we think his opinion is worth anything?
Death by multiculturalism
Like most people, I have been watching with a horrified fascination as rioting in Paris has continued unchecked for well over a week now. When the capital of a western country, in spite of its social security and universal health care, can explode into violence and be seemingly unable to do anything about it should give everyone a great cause for concern. That The Australian compares the conditions in France to Gaza is actually throwing a bad light on Gaza more than France.
My first thoughts on the rioting was that it was nothing to worry about. French authorities would soon restore order and people in other countries don't need to worry about it happening there. Yet the riots have continued to grow and spiral out of control. More reading has since sullied that optimistic outlook. This latest report by the Australian highlights that the rioters aren't just an unorganised mob of angry out of control people, but are comprised of smaller groups of people who do attack and fade type actions. A recent discovery of a fuel bomb factory adds weight to the idea that these 'rioters' are an organised group of people acting in much the same way as islamic terrorists, yet in much greater numbers.
Mark Steyn has an article on how this sort of thing was just waiting to happen and how it is a problem that most of Europe needs to deal with. Fox news reports how Muslim immigrants in Sweden are causing major problems with increased violence against civil servants such as police and fire-fighters, even when they are trying to help the community. Strategy Page also reports riots by Muslim immigrants in Denmark and Britain. The American Thinker also highlights the lack of coverage of the problems in Denmark. Clearly, the problem in Europe is reaching a critical point well before the 2050 figure that the CIA recently put out.
Even closer to home however an article by Tim Priest, a retired police officer from New South Wales, Australia on the Rise of middle-eastern crime in Australia. Although written in 2004, Tim highlights how the situation in some NSW areas are already no-go zones, much like there were in Paris, France and provides some little known details about the situation in Paris before the riots.
MANY OF YOU would have heard of the horrific problems in France with the outbreak of unprecedented crimes amongst an estimated five million Muslim immigrants. Middle Eastern males now make up 45,000 of the 90,000 inmates in French prisons. There are no-go areas in Paris for police and citizens alike. The rule of law has broken down so badly that when police went to one of these areas recently to round up three Islamic terrorists, they went in armoured vehicles, with heavy weaponry and over 1000 armed officers, just to arrest a few suspects. Why did it need such numbers? Because the threat of terrorist reprisal was minimal compared to the anticipated revolt by thousands of Middle Eastern and North African residents who have no respect for the rule of law in France and consider intrusions by police and authority a declaration of war.Perhaps we should be asking tougher questions of our governments, both state and federal, about how they are dealing with this threat. Clearly we need to be proactive, otherwise we risk the death of western culture happening here as it seems destined to happen in Europe. A death caused by multiculturalism and 'progressive blindess'.
The problems in Paris in Muslim communities are being replicated here in Sydney at an alarming rate. Paris has seen an explosion of rapes committed by Middle Eastern males on French women in the past fifteen years. The rapes are almost identical to those in Sydney. They are not only committed for sexual gratification but also with deep racial undertones along with threats of violence and retribution. What is more alarming is the identical reaction by some sections of the media and criminologists in France of downplaying the significance of race as an issue and even ganging up on those people who try to draw attention to the widening gulf between Middle Eastern youth and the rest of French society.
That is what we are seeing here. The usual suspects come out of their institutions and libraries to downplay and even cover up the growing problem of Middle Eastern crime. Why? My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that these same social engineers have attempted to redefine our society. They have experimented with all manner of institutions, from prisons to mental institutions and recently to policing.
The Media giving aid to the enemy
I am astounded that the main stream media is so stupid as to run this story on an active investigation into several terrorists in Australia. (News Ltd also ran the same story). In this story they tell us that
The Australian understands a command post has been established in Sydney to monitor the men, one of whom has been linked to the outlawed terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.A parallel operation is under way in Melbourne and it is believed raids are imminent on the properties of the six suspects, even though it would not necessarily lead to arrests.News Ltd (the same journalists) adds that
Anti-terror police are waiting for approval from the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions before swooping on the group.Could the Media be any more stupid? We might as well tell the bad guys that they are being watched and the police are about to swoop in and grab them. Could it be that they just disappear and start plotting somewhere else?
Sharing intelligence with your enemy is considered bad form. Even treason by some.
Winning the fight against abortion
World Magazine has an article commenting on a PBS documentary about how the state of Mississippi only has one abortion clinic left. The PBS documentary of course is aghast at such a terrible thing. They should take comfort that there are least more abortion clinics in Mississippi than there are unbiased documentaries on PBS.
The documentary recounts how pro-life activists have managed to get the state into such a state by the following
- Pushing the state to pass laws preventing tax money from being used for abortion so that no institution that does abortions can take state funding. Ruling out hospitals and the like
- Getting informed consent laws in place to make women informed of fetal development and viewing a ultrasound
- Putting in place required waiting periods (Much like Labor pushed for in Oz recently)
- Making abortion clinics adhere to the same health and facility standards as other ambulatory surgical facilities (It's scary that this isn't the case by default)
- Requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals
Clearly, even without criminalising abortion, there is much that can be done.
Misinformation Tactics in the Evolution/ID Debate
One thing to note in the debate over evolution and ID is that misinformation is rife. Today, I have seen three of the common methods used to spread misinformation.
Firstly, David Heddle at He Lives posts on ID articles not being published in peer reviewed journals.
Örstan’s editorial policy, as I have blogged before, is representative of the circular reasoning:
1. Do not publish ID in peer-reviewed journals, because it is not science.
2. ID is not science, because it does not publish in peer-reviewed journals.
3. If it is published in peer-reviewed journals, excoriate the editor.
Of course, when the complaint that it doesn't publish is made, they never mentioned points 1 and 3, creating the faulty perception and covering over the evolutionists circular reasoning.
Secondly, the ABC's Catalyst program recently ran a program on the Intelligent Design debate. Answers in Genesis has provided a response to the program, noting a couple of interesting points.
In all, Willis spent little more than a minute in total with these two, ensuring that their theistic bias was clearly highlighted, and dealing with only minor surface details of the theory in question....While Willis ensured the ideological biases of the ID proponents were clear, he kept those of his anti-ID subjects well under wraps.So here we have 2 misinformation tactics. Don't give equal time to the ID proponents and pretend that they are the only ones with an ideological bias.
Of course, the ideological bias still slips through if you can notice it. For instance, Paul Davies comments
We may never have all the details but I'm sure that there is a physical pathway leading from a mixture of mindless molecules to something as wonderful as a simple living cell. I don't know what that pathway is.Yep. It seems that Davies is certain there is a physical pathway there...Why is he certain? Well because he HAS to find a materialistic explanation.
The final example of misinformation is even more disturbing. Creation Safari's reports on one university lecturers 'new' strategy for dealing with ID.
An educational intervention that included reading books sympathetic to and opposed to "intelligent design" (ID) prompted students in a college introductory biology course to report that they had become more accepting of evolution as an explanation for lifeIt sounds balanced, but then when you look into the details, it is anything but balanced. Not only does the researcher treat belief in ID or creation as something to be 'treated', they also limit the discussion to provide a pro-evolution conclusion. How did they do it?
First, they got students to read Johnathan Wells "Icons of Evolution" and Richard Dawkins' "The Blind Watchmaker".
Then they got the students to read a book rebutting Wells' Icons. What is conspicuous is the lack of something rebutting Dawkins' Blind Watchmaker or perhaps a defense of the criticisms of Wells' book. You should also note the types of books they provided. Wells' book is a book directed at some of the supposed problems of evolution. It is not a book that contains the arguments for ID such as irreducible complexity (IC) and complex specified information(CSI). Dawkins' book is about how evolution can supposedly account for complex features. So really, by not providing a balanced amount of argument they are not giving ID a fair hearing and simply giving the impression that ID relies only on problems in evolution.
Also, if you bother to look at book that supposedly rebuts Wells' book, you will also notice that he refers to Wells and his book as a travesty of honest scholarship," "insidious," "unfair," "[makes] distortions," "dishonest," "misrepresentati[ve]," "[portrays] argumentative sleight-of-hand" and "pseudoscientific". Ad hominem attacks are a fallacy as old as time.
If these evolutionary defenders of science cannot be objective in dealing with ID or Creation science, why should we trust them to be objective in any of their science?
Evolution has no clothes
Creation safari's is reporting on a book review by Douglas H. Erwin that appeared in Cell. The book is titled "The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin’s Dilemma". Harvard Medical School trumpeted it saying that it "explains how evolution really works, rebuts intelligent design". It seems Douglas disagrees. The key quote from cell is
The generation of morphological variants is a critical issue, and several of these book authors have raised important questions and proposed new viewpoints. But the generation of variation is only the beginning of the problem of evolutionary novelty. Novel phenotypes succeed or fail based on their ecological relationships with other organisms and with the physical environment. This ecological dimension is conspicuously lacking in these books, yet we cannot really understand novelty without it. In particular, evolutionary biologists need to address such issues as how phenotypic “space” expands, how new niches are constructed, and related ecological events.
Wow. Even though Erwin believes that evolution by common descent is true, here he is saying that questions still remain as to evolutions ability to create morphological variants/novel phenotypes (i.e. new features). They are still dealing with this central question after how many years?
Consider this next time you hear someone saying that 'evolution is a fact'
Misrepresenting the numbers in the ID Debate
A week or so ago, several scientific associations that represent 70,000 scientists and science educators published a letter in Australian newspapers claiming that Intelligent Design is not science. Notice that no mention is made of actually getting those 70,000 people to agree to the letter. This is dubious in itself, as the 70,000 figure is then vague and it is possible for readers to conclude that everyone in the associations agree with the letter. No one has mentioned the assent of the entire membership to this letter.
The media have now taken it one step further and now openly assert that
More than 70,000 Australian scientists and science teachers this month criticised the infiltration into schools of intelligent design, saying that it was a belief, not a scientific theory.So now we have moved from vague and possibly misleading to completely misrepresenting the case.
Whilst some credit must be given to the Syndey Morning Herald as it took them over a week to misrepresent the letter, other media organisations got it wrong from the start, such as The Guardian
while more than 70,000 Australian scientists endorsed an open letter condemning ID as "unscientific", and calling on schools to ban it from their classrooms.News.com.au fairs a little better, but still makes it sound very much like all 70,000 scientists and educators endorsed the letter with
A coalition of more than 70,000 Australian scientists has rejected the theory as scientifically untested, suggesting it is instead aimed at debunking the theory of evolution and lacks any credible evidence of its own.And the ABC couldn't wait to misrepresent the letter
In an open letter published in today's major papers, more than 70,000 Australian scientists and educators have condemned the teaching of intelligent design in school science classes.All in all, I shouldn't be suprised. Not only are the media masters of getting it wrong, but one of the signers of the letter, the Australian Academy of science, also makes obviously incorrect statements on the subject of Evolution/Creation/Intelligent Design to support their case.
The explanatory power of the theory of evolution has been recognised, however, by all biologists, and their work has expanded and developed it.Wow....ALL biologists. I guess they didn't ask Dr J Marcus or Dr Ian MacReadie. I am sure there are plenty more as well. I know of a few personally who prefer not to make it public that they think Common Descent Evolution is hogwash.
So why do they feel the need to exaggerate their claims? Is there position so weak that the truth isn't strong enough to convince people?
The bold pronouncements continue to happen, as the second AAS letter states "The theory [of evolution] has attracted enormous empirical testing and remains one of the most powerful of scientific ideas." Yet it seems according to an article in 'The Scientist that this idea contributes little to biology and many scientists don't need or rely on this 'powerful' idea. Could it be that the AAS is overstating its case again?
Why do they continue to exaggerate? It hardly seems like something an objective scientist would do.