Thursday, September 1, 2005

Muslim Gratitude

Here's another grateful Muslim whose fat the United States pulled out of the fire in '91, but whose memory is so short and whose gratitude so scant that he rejoices in the havoc Katrina has wrought. After we delivered his country (Kuwait) from Saddam's savage invasion and restored that country's independence we get this from one of its officials.

"Oh honored gentlemen, I began to read about these winds, and I was surprised to discover that the American websites that are translated [into Arabic] are talking about the fact that that the storm Katrina is the fifth equatorial storm to strike Florida this year... and that a large part of the U.S. is subject every year to many storms that extract [a price of] dead, and completely destroy property. I said, Allah be praised, until when will these successive catastrophes strike them?

"But before I went to sleep, I opened the Koran and began to read in Surat Al-R'ad ['The Thunder' chapter], and stopped at these words [of Allah]: 'The disaster will keep striking the unbelievers for what they have done, or it will strike areas close to their territory, until the promise of Allah comes to pass, for, verily, Allah will not fail in His promise.' [Koran 13:31]."

Evidently, Muslims aren't big on "thank yous."

I wonder if this means that there'll be no economic aid from Kuwait to help defray the cost of recovery from Katrina. And we were expecting boodles of it to be offered by all those Islamic countries we've helped in the last couple of decades, too.

Someone ought to do a study of the difference between Christian benevolence to Muslims around the world, and Muslim benevolence to Christians in need. I'm sure they'd find a rough parity.

Or maybe not.

The Border War

Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail has an interesting series of posts on the border war in Iraq and how it is evolving into a war between Iraqi tribes fighting mostly foreign jihadis, with the tribes receiving American air support. Begin with this post, and then go here and finish here.

Roggio also notes that there is almost nothing in the MSM about this conflict and its significance. If it weren't for blogs no one would know anything of importance about what's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's no wonder that support for the Bush's policy is eroding. Nobody knows whether we're making progress or not because the only information people get is filtered through the steady drizzle of negativism and body counts dispensed by the media.

One of the big stories that'll someday be written about this war is the ineptitude displayed by the media in reporting it. Vietnam received much more thorough coverage, such as it was, than has Iraq.

Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life

The Pew Forum On Religion and Public Life has published the results of a survey of 2000 adults conducted last July. There are many findings of interest, but here are just a few:

By a wide margin, 51% to 28%, the Republican Party is seen as most concerned with protecting religious values. By a nearly identical margin (52%-30%), the Democratic Party is perceived as most concerned with protecting the freedom of citizens to make personal choices.

Only about three-in-ten (29%) see the Democrats as friendly toward religion, down from 40% last August. Meanwhile, a solid majority (55%) continues to view the Republicans as friendly toward religion.

Most independents (54%) think religious conservatives have too much influence over the Republican Party, while fewer, 43%, think secular liberals have too much sway on the Democratic Party.

[W]hite evangelical Protestants and conservative Republicans are the most uniformly critical of liberal efforts on these types of issues. Nearly nine-in-ten (87%) in both groups believe liberals have gone too far on church-state issues. But many Democrats share this view, particularly moderate and conservative Democrats. Overall, 56% of Democrats say liberals have gone too far in trying to keep religion out of schools and government, and moderate-to-conservative Democrats are twice as likely as liberal Democrats to express this view (67% vs. 33%, respectively).

Interestingly, three-quarters of African Americans also see liberals pushing too far in keeping religion out of schools and government. It is important to note, however, that this negative perception of non-religious liberals is not linked to views of the Democratic Party among blacks. Blacks are nearly twice as likely as whites to say the Democratic Party is friendly toward religion and, by a 58%-24% margin, blacks say the Democratic Party, not the GOP, is most concerned with protecting religious values in the country.

Overall, about half the public (48%) says that humans and other living things have evolved over time, while 42% say that living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Fully 70% of white evangelical Protestants say that life has existed in its present form since the beginning of time; fewer than half as many white mainline Protestants (32%) and white Catholics (31%) agree.

I think the 70% figure here is misleading. I suspect that many of the respondents really don't understand what it means to say that "life has existed in its present form since the beginning of time." I wonder how many of them thought that the only alternative to this was that man descended from an ape-like ancestor. I doubt that most people, when they think about it, would deny that variation, at least on a small scale, has occured. Fixity of species is certainly not the position of creationists, not even young earth creationists.

Among religious groups, white evangelical Protestants are most distinctive in their support for the creationist position....In contrast, most white mainline Protestants (60%) and white Catholics (61%) believe that living things have evolved over time, while only 32% and 31% of mainline Protestants and Catholics, respectively, accept the creationist account.

[M]ost Americans (64%) say they are open to the idea of teaching creationism along with evolution in the public schools, and a substantial minority (38%) favors replacing evolution with creationism in public school curricula....Even many who are politically liberal and who believe in evolution favor expanding the scope of public school education to include teaching creationism. (Emphasis mine)

Most Americans believe that God was responsible for the creation of life on earth but divide on the question of whether and how life has changed since the creation. Overall, 78% say God created life on earth, while 5% think a universal spirit or higher power was responsible for the creation.

[N]early four-in-ten of those who believe in evolution (18% of the public as a whole) say that evolution was guided by a supreme being for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today, a view that is consistent with some aspects of what has been called "intelligent design."

In the current survey, 64% support teaching creationism along with evolution in the public schools, while only 26% oppose this idea. But significantly fewer people say creationism should supplant evolution in the curriculum: 38% say creationism should be taught instead of evolution (49% disagree).

It would have been more illuminating, perhaps, had the Pew people framed their questions about creationism and evolution a bit differently. Instead of introducing the term "creationism," the teaching of which is not really at issue any more, it would have been helpful had they asked, for example, whether the respondent favored or opposed teaching both the evidence for and the evidence against Neo-Darwinian evolution. It would also have been interesting had they asked whether the respondents favored or opposed science teachers pointing out that there are two ways to view the scientific facts of the universe and of life: One is to see them both as products of blind, unguided chance, and the other is to see them as the products of intelligent purpose.

If the questions had been asked in that fashion, it's my guess that the answers would have been even more overwhelmingly in favor of teaching both the pros and cons of evolution and also in favor of teaching both of the metaphysical interpretations of the scientific data.

There is much else in the Pew report and the reader is encouraged to check it out.