Saturday, April 28, 2007

Now it All Makes Sense

In an interview recently, Christopher Hitchens, a writer of considerable ability, and an atheist, was asked:

Has anyone in the Bush administration confided in you about being an atheist?

His answer was:

Well, I don't talk that much to them - maybe people think I do. I know something which is known to few but is not a secret. Karl Rove is not a believer, and he doesn't shout it from the rooftops, but when asked, he answers quite honestly. I think the way he puts it is, "I'm not fortunate enough to be a person of faith."

We suspect that this revelation has tongues wagging in the editorial offices of Sojourners. Jim Wallis and his staff are perhaps thinking that that explains a lot about this administration.



I once heard it said that if you wait long enough sooner or later every fossil that is touted upon its discovery as another link in the chain of human evolution will be discredited. The discovery of the fossil is invariably front-page news, and its evolutionary significance is thoroughly explored, but its fall from favor, if it is reported at all, is consigned to the more obscure sections of the paper.

I thought of this when I came across this report about Australopithecus afarensis better known as "Lucy." Lucy was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 by a team led by Donald Johanson and immediately hailed as an evolutionary common ancestor of the great apes and man. Now it turns out, thirty three years later, that researchers are doubtful that Lucy was ancestral to man at all.

An entire generation has been taught that Lucy was a missing link in human evolution. Now that the link to man seems to have been an illusion the perception still remains, like the grin of the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland, that there is nevertheless much fossil evidence that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors. It may be that we indeed have a common ancestor with the apes, but the evidence in support of that hypothesis seems about as substantial as the cat's grin.

Don't look for this story to get nearly as much play in the media as did the account of Lucy's discovery and the excitement in the scientific community over the confirmation they thought it provided of the evolutionary model of man's descent. Evidence of evolution is news, the debunking of that evidence is not.


Virtual Wall

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has likened the barriers that the U.S. is erecting along its southern border to the Berlin Wall. Does that mean that Mexico is like East Germany?

Speaking of barriers along the border the story linked to above says that most of them are going to be "virtual walls" which should detect 95% of those trying to cross into this country illegally. It'll consist of lights, sensors, cameras and more agents and will essentially halt illegal crossings along the Arizona border, the busiest section for clandestine entries.

Officials expect to complete 28 miles of the high-tech system in Arizona by June, and by next year it should run into New Mexico and parts of Texas.

The only problem with a virtual wall is that, unlike a real wall, it only works if the political leadership in Washington make it clear that they want the laws against illegal entry enforced by the border patrol. At this point there's not much reason to think they do.