Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Coming to a Theater Near You

Here's a seven minute preview of the forthcoming expos� titled Expelled featuring Ben Stein. The film addresses the attempt by Darwinian materialists to suppress and purge any and all challengers to Darwinian orthodoxy from positions of influence in the academy. It's must viewing for anyone who still clings to the idealized view of the university as a forum for the free exchange of ideas.

Since the 1960s many universities have come to see themselves not as places where students are taught to think critically, challenge ideas, and learn "the best that has been thought and written," but to serve as reeducation camps for indoctrinating students in left-wing ideology and materialist philosophy. It's an unfortunate development and one that has taken place largely beneath the radar of the parents who are paying for their child's indoctrination.

Expelled will be released in February.

HT: Uncommon Descent


Birth of a Friendship

This article in the Chicago Tribune has a fascinating account of how a Sunni insurgent became an ally of American troops:

Earlier this year, Abul Abed, a disgruntled Sunni insurgent leader, began secret talks with the Americans about ending Al Qaeda's reign of terror in this run-down, formerly middle-class Baghdad neighborhood, renowned as one of the city's most dangerous. He had been gathering intelligence on the group for months.

One day in late May, he said, he decided it was time to act.

He hailed the car carrying the feared leader of Al Qaeda in the neighborhood, a man known as the White Lion, on one of Amariyah's main streets. "We want you to stop destroying our neighborhood," he told the man.

"Do you know who you are talking to?" said the White Lion, getting out of his car. "I am Al Qaeda. I will destroy even your own houses!"

He pulled out his pistol and shot at Abul Abed. The gun jammed. He reloaded and fired again. Again, the gun jammed.

By this time, Abul Abed said, he had pulled his own gun. He fired once, killing the White Lion.

"I walked over to him, stepped on his hand and took his gun," Abul Abed, which is a nom de guerre, said at his new, pink-painted headquarters in a renovated school in Amariyah, as an American Army captain seated in the corner nodded his head in affirmation of the account. "And then the fight started."

It was the beginning of the end for Al Qaeda in Amariyah. The next day, a firefight erupted. Al Qaeda fighters closed in on Abul Abed. Most of the 150 men who had joined him fled. Holed up in a mosque with fewer than a dozen supporters, Abul Abed thought the end was near.

"The blue carpet was soaked red with blood," he recalled. Then the imam of the mosque called in American help.

A friendship was born.

It is common to hear critics of the war argue that the reason things are better in Iraq today has nothing to do with the surge and everything to do with the fact that many Sunnis have turned against al Qaeda, but this is a puerile argument. It seems much more likely that both the American surge and Sunni desperation at al Qaeda tyranny have combined to turn the course of this conflict.

As the above account makes clear people like Abul Abed would not have survived were they not able to call upon beefed up American forces to defend them against al Qaeda. Nor would the Sunnis have been eager to challenge al Qaeda despite the terrorists' atrocities were it not for the knowledge that the U.S. would be there to support them and wasn't going to abandon them.

The surge may not be the only reason things are looking up in Iraq, but it is certainly a necessary reason. Without it there no progress would have been made at all.


How Science Explains Stuff

In an article on the origin of life (OOL) in Scientific American physicist Paul Davies says this:

In 1995 renowned Belgian biochemist Christian de Duve called life "a cosmic imperative" and declared "it is almost bound to arise" on any Earth-like planet. De Duve's statement reinforced the belief among astrobiologists that the universe is teeming with life. Dubbed biological determinism by Robert Shapiro of New York University, this theory is sometimes expressed by saying that "life is written into the laws of nature."

In other words the laws of nature are such as to make the origin of life an inevitability, notwithstanding that no one at present has any idea how it happened or could have happened. Even so, De Duve and others say, it had to have happened through purely material processes and forces because the laws of nature dictated it. And how do we know they dictated it? Because it happened.

So, when materialism can't explain the exquisite fine-tuning of the cosmos materialists posit a multitude of other universes that are empirically undetectable in order to increase the probability that one like ours would arise by chance.

When materialism can't explain consciousness materialists simply deny that such a thing exists.

Now, because they can't explain how life might have evolved by purely mechanistic processes they posit the existence of laws that have never been detected that make the appearance of life a matter of course.

This is great sport, but it causes us to wonder where it will end. Will someone someday rub his chin and say, "Hmm, maybe the simplest explanation for all these phenomena is not an infinite number of worlds, or inscrutable laws of nature, or the denial of a consciousness that we're all conscious of having? Maybe the simplest explanation is that there's an intelligence out there somewhere behind all these phenomena which are so hard to explain in terms of materialism."

Such a possibility is certainly no less speculative than mumbo jumbo about other universes and mysterious, unknown laws of physics. It would also be, in its way, a Grand Unifying Theory of dozens of otherwise hard to explain phenomena.