Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Heavy Metal Head

Thank goodness for rockers, or ex-rockers. Where would we be without their penetrating insight into difficult philosophical and scientific problems? A rock vocalist by the name of Henry Rollins sets us straight about intelligent design and those contemptible Christians who promote it. His two and a half minute diatribe demonstrates a thorough and uncanny grasp of the issue. Or it demonstrates what a lot of dope and loud music can do to one's cognitive abilities.

Go here ("The New Dark Ages Are Upon Us") and click on the link to listen. Caution: Not for children.

Money? What Money?

Rep. William Jefferson (D.LA) has adopted the old Marion Barry ploy. When you're caught exposing yourself in public (figuratively speaking) blame the public for looking. Barry is the former mayor of Washington D.C. who was videotaped buying and smoking crack cocaine. He claimed that he should not be found guilty because he was a victim of government entrapment.

When you're guilty and you have no other defense, blame the police.

Jefferson was taped accepting $100,000 in bribe money but is declaring his innocence. The FBI, apparently, had no business searching his office and the fact that they found the money in his freezer is no reason why his constituents should think that he is anything but an innocent victim of unconstitutional government overreach.

We're expecting that soon he will be attributing the whole thing to rampant racism in the Bush administration which, at the behest of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, had the money planted in his freezer. The sad thing is a lot of people on the left will believe him.

Iraq and the Talking Dog

The Iraqis have sworn in a 37 member cabinet. These people are incredibly brave. By accepting this call they have placed their lives and the lives of their loved ones on the target list of the orcs who wish to return Iraq to the savage days of fear, wood chippers, and mass killings. They need our prayers.

It will go unmentioned by the MSM, of course, that this is yet another in a series of major steps that Iraq has taken toward the formation of a sovereign state. As of now the Iraqis have a representative democratic government. This is truly an amazing achievement in the Arab world and though critics will complain that it should have been - and could have been - done more wisely, the fact that it has been done at all is astounding.

Nevertheless, the whiners and complainers will wail that there's still so much to unaccomplished, the country is not stable, Iran is too influential, the war is costing too much money, Zarqawi and Bin Laden still haven't been caught, Americans and Iraqis are still dying, electricity for some people is still limited, and on and on, preferring to see only how far we have to go and ignoring how far we've come.

The Democratic sourpusses and other critics of the administration's accomplishment in Iraq remind me of little children in the back of the car impatiently complaining because we haven't "gotten there yet." They're like the man who owns the dog in this old story:

A guy is driving around Tennessee and he sees a sign in front of a house: "Talking Dog For Sale."

He rings the bell and the owner tells him the dog is in the backyard. The guy goes into the backyard and sees a Labrador retriever sitting there.

"You talk?" he asks.

"Yep," the Lab replies.

"So, what's your story?"

The Lab looks up and says, "Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA about my gift, and in no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running. But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals. I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I'm just retired."

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

"Ten dollars," the guy says.

"Ten dollars?! This dog is amazing. Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?"

"Because he's a liar. He never did any of that stuff."

No Peaceful Coexistence For Dawkins

Just as Eugenie Scott and others are trying to convince the American public that evolutionary theory has no implications for Christianity, along comes Richard Dawkins telling us this:

The suicide bomber is convinced that in killing for his God he will be fast tracked to a special martyr's heaven. This isn't just a problem of Islam. In this program I want to examine that dangerous thing that's common to Judaism and Christianity as well. The process of non-thinking called faith. I'm a scientist [well, actually, I just talk about science these days] and I believe there is a profound contradiction between science and religious belief. There is no well demonstrated reason to believe in God. And I think the idea of a divine creator belittles the elegant reality of the universe. The 21st Century should be an age of reason, yet irrational militant faith is back on the march. Religious extremism is implicated in the world's most bitter and unending conflicts. America too has its own fundamentalists. And in Britain, even as we live in the shadow of Holy Terror, our government wants to restrict our freedom to criticize religion. Science we are told should not tread on the toes of theology. But why should scientists tip toe respectfully away? The time has come [when] people of reason should say enough is enough. Religious faith discourages independent thought, it's divisive and it's dangerous....

People like to say that faith and science can live together side by side, but I don't think they can. They're deeply opposed. Science is a discipline of investigation and constructive doubt, questioning with logic, evidence, and reason to draw conclusions. Faith, by stark contrast, demands a positive suspension of critical faculties. Science proceeds by setting up hypotheses, ideas, or models, and then attempts to disprove them. So a scientist is constantly asking questions, being skeptical. Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakeable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time.

According to Bill Dembski, Dawkins goes on:

referring to religious faith as a "delusion," "superstition," "backward belief system," "shallow pretense," "parasite," and "supporting Bronze Age myths." He refers to evangelicalism as "an American Taliban." He contends that "the abundance and variety of life on earth may seem improbable, but it's self-evidently futile to invent an improbable god to explain that very improbability." Later, when contrasting evolution with creationism, he announces, "Evolution by natural selection is supported by mountains of evidence, while creation contradicts the evidence and is only backed by some ancient scribblings."

So much for the idea of peaceful coexistence between evolution and theism. For Dawkins and his allies, the controversy between evolution and intelligent design is more than a philosophical dispute, it's a major battle in a war against theism. Dawkins' greatest concern is not convincing people that evolution is true, but rather discrediting religious belief.

Why is that? We have no way of knowing, of course, but it can be said that a man who has invested his whole life in a set of metaphysical assumptions, who has based everything on the truth of those assumptions, is going to feel deeply disturbed when those assumptions are threatened. Such a threat poses a challenge to the very core of his being. In response to such a challenge he will often mobilize every resource at his disposal, including invective, to defeat it.

Theism in general, and Intelligent Design in particular, pose a severe challenge to Dawkins' outspoken atheism and evolutionism. His professional credibility is on the line. If his critics can convince people that they're right, Dawkins will be relegated to the dustbin of scientific history. He will be seen as a curiosity who had nothing substantial to contribute. He'll be seen as a man who was fundamentally wrong. This is a hell many intellectuals cannot endure and perhaps Dawkins is one of them. Thus, perhaps he feels the need to wage war, personal and professional, against anyone who opposes him, and especially against theists.