Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tancredo Calls it Quits

Tom Tancredo, the best candidate on immigration issues currently contending for the White House, has decided to bow out of the race. We wonder who'll pick up his support. To see an excellent overview of where each of the Republicans stands on the issue of both legal and illegal immigration go here.

The best choice from among all the remaining candidates is Duncan Hunter with Ron Paul next. The best of the front-runners is Fred Thompson with Mitt Romney coming in a distant second. Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are at the bottom, with Mike Huckabee somewhere in between.


Graphing the Violence

Bill Roggio at The Long War Journal has some helpful graphs which show the effects of the surge on violence in Iraq. Every measure shows that the violence is declining sharply. Whether it will continue to decline no one knows, but surely now is not the time to be calling for the U.S. to get out of Iraq.


Miracles and the Laws of Nature

An argument one often hears made against the occurrence of miracles such as those upon which Christian belief is based is that they require an unacceptable intervention and tinkering with the laws of nature, and God wouldn't work that way. This is also one reason why some people have difficulty with some versions of intelligent design theory. They simply have a philosophical problem with violations or overrides of the laws of physics.

Well, perhaps the implied claim that miracles violate or supercede the laws of nature is not necessarily correct. Miracles like those recorded in the Gospels could actually be an expression of the laws of nature and still be miraculous all the same.

Imagine an engineer who designs and builds a computer (the universe). Along the way he programs that computer to produce certain images (living things) on the screen. Suppose that upon some of these images the engineer bestows the gift of consciousness. The software program is information (laws of nature) that governs how everything in the computer functions. When the computer is booted up the software causes the computer to produce screen images which behave in accord with the constraints imposed by the information contained in the software program.

Now suppose that integrated into that program are certain if/then commands which only express themselves under certain highly specific conditions. They might have the form: If P then Q unless R. If R never occurs, P > Q would seem to all observers in the screen to be the algorithm that governs the functioning of the computer. If R never occurs then whenever P happens Q happens.

If, however, R does on one occasion occur then in that instance Q would not follow upon P and everyone who witnessed the "breakdown" would be astonished. It would appear to the conscious screen images that the program had spontaneously been altered or violated even though it was not. It would appear to them that a miracle had occurred.

Suppose that one of the laws that governs our universe is: Whenever a denser object is immersed in a less dense substance the denser object will necessarily sink unless the denser object manifests the Son of God. If that were the law that governs buoyancy we would never see an exception to denser objects sinking in less dense substances unless we were witness to the Son of God standing on water. If we were, it would appear to us that we were witnessing a miracle, but we would not be witnessing a violation of the laws of nature. We would be witnessing instead an instance of those laws expressing themselves in a manner they had not previously had occasion to do.

It could well be that the laws of nature are like information or software that the Cosmic Engineer has designed to run the universe in the fashion described above. If so, it could also be that at least some miracles would not be exceptions to physical laws, but rather expressions of the way the laws manifest themselves in certain very extraordinary circumstances.

The point is that one need not oppose miracles or intelligent design on the basis of a visceral aversion to the notion that God somehow changes or revises the laws of nature as He goes along. It could be that at least some of the miracles recorded in the Gospels, as well as the appearance of biological novelty, are part of the outworking of a seamless creative design planned, engineered and carried out by God from before the creation of the world.