Monday, June 5, 2006

Hillary's Not a Shoo-In

Question: When was the last time a sitting senator from the northeastern part of the country was elected president?

Answer: 1960 (John Kennedy). Before Kennedy we had northeastern presidents, but, though many have tried, only one other man has moved directly from the Senate to the White House (Warren Harding).

The point is that it is very difficult to make that move. Kennedy managed it largely because he was a physically attractive war hero from a wealthy and infuential family married to a glamorous woman. And his opponent was Richard Nixon whom he barely defeated (indeed, some question remains as to whether he actually did beat him).

So why mention all this? A lot of people are telling us that Hillary Clinton has a virtual lock on her party's nomination for president. If she runs, we're told, she'd have a very good chance of winning. Before conservatives start looking for bridges to jump off of, however, they should reflect on the history of American elections. Not only is Hillary a northeastern senator, she is not a male, she is not a war hero, she is not from a wealthy and influential family, she is not universally regarded as attractive, and her marriage to Bill Clinton may be more of a liability than an asset outside her Democratic base. In other words, many of the advantages enjoyed by the only person who has pulled off the feat she aspires to duplicate, she lacks.

It's not known yet who her Republican opponent would be, but if its a southern (or western) governor, or at least someone with charisma, a sterling war record and a glamorous wife, Hillary would, if history is a reliable guide, probably lose. For this reason there may even be a lot of opposition to her getting her party's nomination. The Democrats will not want to suffer through another lost presidential election. Their problem, though, is, if not Hillary then who?

Al Gore.

Beautiful Words

Reflect for a moment upon these beautiful words from Pope Benedict XVI:

"And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him."

The Pope, unlike many of the academics in his flock, is not much of a Darwinian. It puzzles me that Catholic scientists, clergy and others could have such deep difficulties with the idea that God intervened in the world to bring about His creative will. After all, these people believe, or purport to believe, that God was in Christ, that Christ was born of a virgin, turned water to wine, and rose from the dead. They also believe that God performs the miracle of transubstantiation every time the eucharist is served. Yet they wax indignant over the claims of those creationists who hold that God also created life from non-life and that He created man specially and distinct from other anthropoids.

One wonders why one set of miracles is humbly accepted while the other is so vigorously resisted.

Reviving Panspermia

The idea that life began elsewhere in space and subsequently "seeded" the earth is apparently making a comeback. This idea, called panspermia, is the scientific equivalent of a Hail Mary pass in football, but the interesting thing about such theories of life's origin is the unstated reason for adducing them.

It's believed by advocates of panspermia that life must have originated elsewhere because it's just too difficult to construct a plausible materialistic scenario for the origin of life here on earth, given the terrestrial conditions that were believed to have prevailed 3 billion years ago. In other words, panspermia is the materialist's way out of a philosophicaly desperate situation. If life could not have arisen on earth without some extra-cosmic help then in order to avoid the conclusion that life's appearance is evidence for an intelligent agent involved in its origin, it is proposed that life must have originated somewhere else where conditions might have been more propitious.

If the cosmos shows no signs of life anywhere else besides earth, however, and if the genesis of life on earth remains an intractable problem, a lot of people are going to wonder if there may not be something else involved in its production besides purely physical forces and processes.

For a good read on the difficulties any theory of materialistic abiogenesis, whether terrestrial or extra-terrestrial, needs to overcome pick up Paul Davies' The Fifth Miracle.

Good, Mosque-Going Terrorists

Alvin Chand, a brother of suspect Steven Vikash Chand (one of 17 suspected terrorists arrested in Canada on Saturday), said outside the courthouse that his brother was innocent .... "He's not a terrorist, come on...," Chand said. "The people that were arrested are good people, they go to the mosque...."

Well, that pretty much settles that, I'd say.