Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Do As They Say, Not As They Do

A friend directs us to this link at which we are let in on the transportation habits of a few of Hollywood's demigods who urge us to cut back on our consumption of fuel, who admonish us to stop putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and who ask us to follow their example and drive smaller more fuel efficient vehicles like they do.

But then why do they fly by private jet?

Is Jesus a Liberal?

Joe Carter takes on the interesting question whether Jesus is a Liberal. He examines Jesus in the light of ten criteria suggested by law professor Geoffrey Stone which define what it means to be a liberal and concludes that the answer is .... yes and no.

I think Carter's analysis based on Stone's ten criteria is correct, but I have some disagreements with Stone's criteria. For instance, the first one states that:

1. Liberals believe individuals should doubt their own truths and consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others.

It's true of classical liberalism that its adherents embraced this principle, but it's not the case that those who call themselves liberals today hold self-criticism and open-minded inquiry to be a value. Indeed, it is in the strongholds of contemporary liberalism, the universities, where we find this ideal most frequently ravaged and stultified by political correctness and inquisitorial speech codes.

2. Liberals believe individuals should be tolerant and respectful of difference.

Unfortunately, the modern liberal is himself tolerant and respectful only of those things of which he approves. He is completely intolerant, in many cases, of things like racism, sexism, homophobia, tobacco, gun rights, and religion. He is tolerant of those who praise and support left-wing totalitarianisms but absolutely intolerant of anyone who might support right-wing authoritarianism.

3. Liberals believe individuals have a right and a responsibility to participate in public debate.

Perhaps so, but when incidents like the Columbia University episode occur in which speakers are prevented from presenting their views by thuggish tactics, there's usually very little said about it by liberals. When public debates or lectures are disrupted it's invariably people of the left who do it.

4. Liberals believe "we the people" are the governors and not the subjects of government, and that government must treat each person with that in mind.

This may have been true prior to 1970, but since then liberals have sought to have their legislative agenda enacted not through the peoples' congress but through the courts where the people have no voice. Liberals oppose the overturn of the constitutionally egregious Roe v. Wade because they fear having the issue thrown back into the state legislatures where the people have far more influence than they do with the Supreme Court.

Anyway, read Carter's assessment of whether or not Jesus was a liberal at the link.

More Rudeness on the Left

Too bad Connecticut Republican senatorial candidate Alan Schlesinger doesn't have a snowball's chance of winning on November 7th. We could use people like him in the Senate, but sadly, a vote for Schlesinger only makes more likely a victory for Ned (the Red) Lamont.

At a recent debate between the candidates a couple of hecklers tried to shout down Independent Joe Leiberman, who unfortunately reacted with a somewhat hang-dog wimpishness. Of course, Lamont didn't react at all because, after all, these were his peeps out in the audience shouting Old Joe down, but Schlesinger did.

Watch the episode here.

Parenthetically, why are people who try to prevent others from voicing their ideas invariably people on the left? Is there something about being a liberal/lefty that carries with it a penchant for rudeness and obnoxiousness? Just asking.

Demolishing the Pillars of Modernity

Bruce Chapman at Evolution News and Views has a piece about a review by atheistic philosopher Thomas Nagel of Richard Dawkins' new book, The God Delusion, which Nagel finds unsatisfying. He begins his review with this observation:

In his new book, he [Dawkins] attacks religion with all the weapons at his disposal, and as a result the book is a very uneven collection of scriptural ridicule, amateur philosophy, historical and contemporary horror stories, anthropological speculations, and cosmological scientific argument.

The review itself is available at The New Republic (by subscription), but Chapman provides a good summary of it:

Examining the inevitable clash of chance and necessity with design, Nagel describes the "overwhelming improbability of (an original self-replicating molecule)...coming into existence by chance, simply through the laws of physics...Dawkins (he goes on) recognizes the problem, but his response to it is pure hand-waving."

Darwinism and Dawkins reach a theoretical as well as factual dead end on origins. "That is why the argument from design is still alive, and why scientists who find the conclusion of that argument unacceptable feel there must be a purely physical explanation of why the origin of life is not as physically improbable as it seems." Multiverse theories are merely an unpersuasive and "desperate device to avoid the demand for a real explanation."

He agrees with Dawkins that "the issue of design versus purely physical causation is a scientific question." (We agree with them both on that. Would someone please tell Judge Jones and the ACLU?) But, paradoxically, to try to win the debate on that question, Dawkins and other neo-Darwinists are reduced to the philosophical "reductionist project" that Nagel says "tries to reclaim some of the originally excluded aspects of the world, by analyzing them in physical-that is, behavioral or neurophysiological-terms; but it denies reality to what cannot be so reduced. I believe the project is doomed-that conscious experience, thought, value, and so forth are not illusions, even though they cannot be identified with physical facts..."

Dawkins also would yoke all religion to the sins of the kind of fanatics who attacked on 9/11. Of course, fanatical religionists are bad, Nagel notes, but that is hardly an argument against design. "Blind faith and dogma are dangerous; the view that we can make ultimate sense of the world only by understanding it as the expression of mind or purpose is not," he concludes.

As Chapman points out in the beginning of his article, much of the best intellectual work done in the last half century has been in the service of deconstructing, refuting and discrediting the intellectual edifices built by the great architects of modernity, particularly Marx and Freud. It certainly looks as if Darwin is next on the list.

Viewpoint will have more on The God Delusion this weekend.