Sunday, January 22, 2006

Power to the People!

We've posted on this little drama unfolding in Weare, New Hampshire several times in the past year. Now it appears to be working its way into the mainstream news:

CONCORD, N.H. (Jan. 21) - Angered by a Supreme Court ruling that gave local governments more power to seize people's homes for economic development, a group of activists is trying to get one of the court's justices evicted from his own home.

The group, led by a California man, wants Justice David Souter's home seized to build an inn called the "Lost Liberty Hotel." They submitted enough petition signatures - only 25 were needed - to bring the matter before voters in March. This weekend, they're descending on Souter's hometown, the central New Hampshire town of Weare, population 8,500, to rally for support.

"This is in the tradition of the Boston Tea Party and the Pine Tree Riot," Organizer Logan Darrow Clements said, referring to the riot that took place during the winter of 1771-1772, when colonists in Weare beat up officials appointed by King George III who fined them for logging white pines without approval. "All we're trying to do is put an end to eminent domain abuse," Clements said, by having those who advocate or facilitate it "live under it, so they understand why it needs to end."

The petition asks whether the town should take Souter's land for development as an inn; whether to set up a trust fund to accept donations for legal expenses; and whether to set up a second trust fund to accept donations to compensate Souter for taking his land. The matter goes to voters on March 14.

About 25 volunteers gathered at Weare Town Hall on Saturday before setting out in teams to go door-to-door. Organizer Logan Darrow Clements gathered nine signatures in less than an hour, with only one resident declining to sign.

He also distributed copies of the Supreme Court's decision, Kelo vs. City of New London, to residents. The court said New London, Conn., could seize homeowners' property to develop a hotel, convention center, office space and condominiums next to Pfizer Inc.'s new research headquarters.

The city argued that tax revenues and new jobs from the development would benefit the public. The Pfizer complex was built, but seven homeowners challenged the rest of the development in court. The Supreme Court's ruling against them prompted many states, including New Hampshire, to examine their eminent domain laws. Supporters of the hotel project planned a rally Sunday at the town hall. Speakers were expected to include some of the New London residents who lost the Kelo suit.

State Rep. Neal Kurk, a Weare resident who is sponsoring two pieces of eminent domain legislation in New Hampshire, said he expects the group's proposal to be defeated overwhelmingly. "Most people here see this as an act of revenge and an improper attack on the judicial system," Kurk said. "You don't go after a judge personally because you disagree with his judgments."

And why not? Why should judges be exempted from the consequences of the decisions they foist on the rest of us? Are they gods residing on Mt. Olympus? If so, perhaps Lost Liberty should look into the development potential of that real estate.

We say, if the Lost Liberty group can get the Souter place for a hotel then let the good Justice taste for himself the bitter pill that his vote in Kelo has forced down the throats of a lot of ordinary folks. Power to the People! etc.


A University of Delaware philosophy prof seems to have rendered atheistic philosopher Daniel Dennett temporarily speechless according to this account by Stephen Barr at First Things:

The philosopher Daniel Dennett visited us at the University of Delaware a few weeks ago and gave a public lecture entitled "Darwin, Meaning, Truth, and Morality." I missed the talk-I was visiting my sons at Notre Dame and taking in the Notre Dame-Navy football game. Friends told me what I missed, however. Dennett claimed that Darwin had shredded the credibility of religion and was, indeed, the very "destroyer" of God. In the question session, philosophy professor Jeff Jordan made the following observation to Dennett, "If Darwinism is inherently atheistic, as you say, then obviously it can't be taught in public schools." "And why is that?" inquired Dennett, incredulous. "Because," said Jordan, "the Supreme Court has held that the Constitution guarantees government neutrality between religion and irreligion." Dennett, looking as if he'd been sucker-punched, leaned back against the wall, and said, after a few moments of silence, "clever." After another silence, he came up with a reply: He had not meant to say that evolution logically entails atheism, merely that it undercuts religion.

Jeff Jordan's question underlines how the self-appointed defenders of the scientific method are trying to have it both ways. Don't allow religious philosophy to intrude into biology classrooms and texts, they say, for that is to soil the sacred precincts of science, which must be reserved for hypotheses that can be rigorously tested and confronted with data. The next minute they are going around claiming that anti-religious philosophy is part and parcel of the scientific viewpoint.

One of the glories of science is that people come together to do it who have all sorts of religious beliefs, philosophical views, cultural backgrounds, and political opinions. But as scientists they speak the same language. It is a wonderful fellowship. I have written research papers with colleagues (and friends) who are fierce atheists and think my Catholic beliefs are for the birds, and they know that I think their atheism is for the birds. Yet we respect each other as scientists. People like Dennett who wish to equate science with their own philosophical views (presumably out of vanity) risk doing immeasurable harm both to science itself and to its prestige. He is entitled to his philosophical opinions, but he is not entitled to claim them as the utterances of Science.

I believe it was Dennett who coined the term "brights" for those who reject religion on scientific grounds. Dennett would of course make his own list of "brights", but poor Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Boyle, Lavoisier, Amp�re, Faraday, Maxwell, Kelvin and almost every other founder of modern science wouldn't make his list. I am sure they don't mind, however. They will make the list of people who have actually contributed to human knowledge.

Scott Gilbreath at Magic Statistics finds a couple of other blunders perpetrated by the Darwinian priesthood here and here.

Some anti-IDers have been wrong so often about so much that one wonders how they can still have any credibility left among educated people, let alone refer to themselves as "brights." There must be more at issue here than just a mere scientific idea to account for why otherwise intelligent people are willing to say the silliest things in order to keep others from accepting the fundamental premise of ID - that life and the cosmos are largely the product of intention and intelligence.

The War Against the Church

Cinnamon Stillwell at The American Thinker writes a piece entitled The Passion of the left: Hating Christians in which she discusses the accelerating war against Christianity being waged by the secular left.

Even without reading Stillwell's piece it would be clear to anyone who grew up in the fifties that modern American culture and society are radically more hostile to Christian belief today than at any time in the last fifty years and probably more than at any time in the history of our nation.

The reasons for this are several, but surely one is that Christianity is seen as an impediment to the political and social agenda of the left. Were it not for American Christianity there would be clear sailing for abortion rights, gay marriage, the demise of sexual restraints in our culture, and economic socialism, among other left-wing ambitions. George Bush is hated by the left not only because he has thwarted their political ambitions but also because he is unabashedly Christian. The left despises God and hates anyone who places Him ahead of the authority of the state. They have contempt, moreover, for all those red-staters whose faith in God surpasses their faith in the wisdom of the left-wing intellectuals who deign to favor us with the fruits of their wondrous cogitations on all questions social, political, cultural, and philosophical.

Christians find themselves in a challenging position as we move deeper into the 21st century. Beset on one side by the intellectual and cultural assaults of the secular left - which are creating an inhospitable social environment for those who wish to practice their faith - and on the other by the threat of a virulent Islamism which threatens the physical existence of Christians and Christianity everywhere, Christians can no longer afford to sit back and take no interest in the affairs of the world. There's too much at stake.