Thursday, July 20, 2006

Worth a 1000 Words

What much of the world doesn't seem to understand Gary Varvel eloquently explains with a single drawing:

Darwinian Hyperbole

This piece of overstatement is from the Science and Theology News site:

Finches on the Galapagos Islands that inspired Charles Darwin to develop the concept of evolution are now helping confirm it - by evolving.

A medium sized species of Darwin's finch has evolved a smaller beak to take advantage of different seeds just two decades after the arrival of a larger rival for its original food source.

The altered beak size shows that species competing for food can undergo evolutionary change, said Peter Grant of Princeton University, lead author of the report appearing in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

Grant has been studying Darwin's finches for decades and previously recorded changes responding to a drought that altered what foods were available.

It's rare for scientists to be able to document changes in the appearance of an animal in response to competition. More often it is seen when something moves into a new habitat or the climate changes and it has to find new food or resources, explained Robert C. Fleischer, a geneticist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and National Zoo.

One of the difficulties of evolutionary theory is that the timescales involved are often so large that much of the data has to be inferred. While the scientific community finds such data - primarily the fossil record - compelling, the data can be incomplete, leaving room for critics to cry foul. However, documented changes occurring within the timescale of a human life are, one might say, a different sort of animal.

Why a journalist might think this constitutes evolution is not hard to understand. What is difficult to grasp is why a scientist would call it evolution. There's no speciation involved here, no reproductive isolation, no indication of an alteration in the finch's genome, no "different sort of animal," just a simple modification of the size of an anatomical structure triggered, apparently, by the unavailability of a particular food source.

This is only evolution if evolution is defined in such a way as to include any variation that occurs in a population of organisms, but such a definition renders the concept meaningless.

The amusing and disingenuous ploy at work in reports such as this is that they are used to support the claim that evolution is a fact. Darwinists will argue that evolution (meaning molecules to man evolution) is as firmly established as gravity, that anyone who questions it is either ignorant or malicious, but when the public meekly requests a crumb of evidence to support that claim it's shown pictures of finches with diminished beaks. We may as well be told that since humans, because of better nutrition, have grown taller in the last century and a half, and live longer, evolution is therefore a fact.

Window of Opportunity

Ed Lasky argues compellingly that there has never been a more propitious time than now for the Israelis to cut out the cancer that is Bashir Assad's Syria:

The stars are aligning as they rarely do in the Middle East. When was the last time France, America (under the most assertively Israel-supporting president ever), Israel and the Sunni nations agreed on a common enemy? Failure to grasp such an opportunity would be a failure to grasp an opportunity to bring peace to the region.

Read his entire argument at The American Thinker.

We're living in interesting times. There would probably be more enthusiasm in the rest of the Arab world for removing Assad than there would be in the capitals of the West. Despite the fact that Assad has been a thorn in our side in Iraq, it may be that behind the scenes he's been playing both sides, an irritating arrangement that, on balance, may have been working to our benefit. At any rate, Lasky is correct that a window of opportunity like this may not ever open again.

Awful Advice

Richard Cohen, in a column for which he has been roundly and justly criticized, writes:

There is no point in condemning Hezbollah. Zealots are not amenable to reason. And there's not much point, either, in condemning Hamas. It is a fetid, anti-Semitic outfit whose organizing principle is hatred of Israel. There is, though, a point in cautioning Israel to exercise restraint -- not for the sake of its enemies but for itself. Whatever happens, Israel must not use its military might to win back what it has already chosen to lose: the buffer zone in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip itself.

Why on earth, we ask, shouldn't Israel take this land back? The Arabs have shown that they can't govern it, they can't control the extremists, and in Gaza they even voted the extremists into power. Israel gave up this land with the understanding that giving the Palestinians and the Lebanese land that they claim would conduce to peace. It hasn't because the Arabs don't just want a sliver of soil here and a plot there. They want it all. Israel, having been betrayed by the Palestinians, the Lebanese, and the U.N. should rescind their decision to leave and should reoccupy whatever land they need to make their people secure.

Hard-line critics of Ariel Sharon, the now-comatose Israeli leader who initiated the pullout from Gaza, always said this would happen: Gaza would become a terrorist haven. They said that the moderate Palestinian Authority would not be able to control the militants and that Gaza would be used to fire rockets into Israel and to launch terrorist raids. This is precisely what has happened.

It is also true, as some critics warned, that Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon was seen by its enemies -- and claimed by Hezbollah -- as a defeat for the mighty Jewish state. Hezbollah took credit for this, as well it should. Its persistent attacks bled Israel. In the end, Israel got out and the United Nations promised it a secure border. The Lebanese army would see to that. (And the check is in the mail.)

All that the critics warned has come true. But worse than what is happening now would be a retaking of those territories. That would put Israel smack back to where it was, subjugating a restless, angry population and having the world look on as it committed the inevitable sins of an occupying power.

Cohen apparently believes that it's better to watch your children be blown to smithereens by suicide bombers and rockets than to have to control the people who would be their murderers.

The smart choice is to pull back to defensible -- but hardly impervious -- borders. That includes getting out of most of the West Bank -- and waiting (and hoping) that history will get distracted and move on to something else. This will take some time, and in the meantime terrorism and rocket attacks will continue.

This is a "smart choice"? The reason Israel is in the predicament it's in is because it conceded to its enemies what they demanded. That made Israel vulnerable to the kinds of missile barrages that we've seeing launched at them on a daily basis and Cohen thinks that the smart play is to do more of the same? He advises the Israelis to withdraw now from the West Bank as well? He urges the Israelis to wait for the Arabs to grow weary of killing them? He counsels them to maintain the staus quo for generations more? This is what passes for sound judgment and analysis in the editorial offices of the Washington Post?

...gifted British historian, Tony Judt, wraps up his recent book "Postwar" with an epilogue on how the sine qua non of the modern civilized state is recognition of the Holocaust. Much of the Islamic world, notably Iran under its Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stands outside that circle, refusing to make even a little space for the Jews of Europe and, later, those from the Islamic world. They see Israel not as a mistake but as a crime. Until they change their view, the longest war of the 20th century will persist deep into the 21st. It is best for Israel to hunker down.

This has to be about the worst possible advice anyone could offer Israel. When one's family is under assault one doesn't hunker down, not if it is within one's power to stop the attackers. Cohen is so afraid that the Israelis might actually defend themselves and incur the condemnation of the Euro-appeasers that he urges upon them the path of cowardice and capitulation. Give the Arabs what they want, he argues, because, who knows, they might someday get fatigued from the slaughter. "Hunkering down" until the Arabs grow tired of killing them is a prescription for national suicide. Moreover, it's sheer impertinence for Mr. Cohen, who sits in a safe office in Washington, D.C,. to pontificate on how others should be willing to suffer the daily terrors of life among the orcs.