Tuesday, October 30, 2007

From the Front

Embedded reporter Michael Yon sends along an encouraging dispatch from Iraq. It provides a sense of how things are going in the battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.


Behe v. Miller

This may not be of much interest to those who don't follow the debate between evolution and intelligent design, but theistic evolutionist Ken Miller of Brown U. has written a couple of reviews of IDer Michael Behe's Edge of Evolution which, Behe thinks, indicate a very slim difference between them. This is interesting because Miller has been a very outspoken critic of intelligent design, and testified against it at the Dover trial a couple of years back.

In fact the difference between Miller and Behe seems to be more theological and methodological than scientific. Miller thinks that if God is an active designer of the world then He would be responsible for the world's suffering and pain. Behe thinks that as scientists they should stick to the empirical facts and leave the theological interpretations of those facts to the theologians and philosophers.

Theistic evolutionists like Miller generally hold that God uses the evolutionary process to bring about the living things He wants to exist, but they don't believe that God's hand is empirically detectable in the process. In other words, they believe by faith that God is hidden behind the evolution of life. Intelligent design advocates, on the other hand, believe that there are some things in the living world which are best explained in terms of intelligent, purposeful engineering and that these constitute empirical evidence of the existence of a Designer. I.e. they believe that God's hand is visible in what has been made.

The difference probably seems very thin to many people, and this is Behe's point. Why, he and others wonder, do people like Miller get so out of sorts over a difference that seems so slight?

For those who follow this fascinating debate Behe's comments (there are three posts) on Miller's second review of his book can be read at the link.


Wheat for Nukes

DEBKAfile claims that U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies have in their possession documents written in Syrian president Bashir Assad's own hand that detail the arrangement Syria had with North Korea that eventuated in an Israeli airstrike on Syria last month. Here are a couple of excerpts from DEBKAfile's report:

In one, Assad hands down a specific order in his own handwriting that North Korea not be charged for Syrian goods, including an annual shipment of 100,000 tons of Durham wheat for five years worth a total of $120 million. This is the equivalent of the value of the reactor for producing plutonium up to its most radioactive stage, which North Korea promised Syria.

A high-ranking Western intelligence source speaking to DEBKAfile described the evidence against Assad in US and Israeli hands as solid and much closer to a smoking gun than the West has turned up against Iran's nuclear program.

The following sequence of events unfolds from the garnered documents:

Damascus and Pyongyang settled between them that the nuclear transaction would be masked as a joint venture to build a cement factory in northern Syria; meanwhile, North Korea would sell Syria cement for its development projects.

According to DEBKAfile's sources, North Korean freighters, which began putting in at Syria's Latakia and Tartus ports in January 2007, unloaded cargoes of cement in which nuclear reactor components and materials were concealed.

The North Korean traffic at these ports and the Durham wheat transaction attracted the attention of US and Israeli secret services.

The rest of the report can be read at the link.