Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tuesday's Significance

A friend writes to ask how significant I thought Tuesday's election was for Republicans, especially since Democrats still control the Presidency and the Senate. From what I've read the election results are very significant. Here are several reasons why:
  1. Since they no longer enjoy the perquisites of power some House Democrats can be expected to retire (Nancy Pelosi's name has been prominently mentioned in this regard). This would give the GOP an even greater plurality than did Tuesday's election.
  2. The Republicans are now poised to take the Senate in 2012. Twenty one Democrat senators are up for reelection in 2012 plus two independents. Only ten Republicans will stand for reelection. Unless the economy improves dramatically, and the President's approval ratings go up, more Democrat seats will be vulnerable than Republican. If the President's popularity and the economy are both in the doldrums the Republicans could wind up with over 60 senate seats which would make veto overrides a serious possibility.
  3. The number of big states whose governments are now controlled by the GOP has shot up from 15 to 26. This is very significant for legislation like Obamacare and immigration policy which states can pressure the federal government to change or improve.
  4. GOP control of the statehouses will also be very important this year because congressional districts will be redrawn as a result of the 2010 census. The party in power in the state gets to redraw these boundaries and they always do so to protect their own political interests.
  5. The fact that the Republicans now have 46 senate seats (two races are still undecided) means it will be much more difficult for the Democrats to break a Republican filibuster. This means that Obama's legislative agenda is probably finished. All they can do is fight to keep what he already has from being repealed or try to circumvent the legislature by imposing policy through his executive agencies and czars.
Perhaps the most significant consequence of Tuesday's election was the number of governorships and state legislatures that swung toward the Republicans and the number of young, rising Democrat pols who got wiped out in the process. These two calamities for the Democrat party are going to be very difficult to overcome anytime soon.

Shrinking from the Challenge

Michael Egnor poses a series of penetrating questions to a militantly atheistic materialist named P.Z. Myers. Myers' replies to the questions suggest that he hasn't even thought about several of them. His answers and Egnor's response to those answers can be found here. Here are the questions Egnor asks Myers to answer:
  • Why is there anything?
  • What caused the Universe?

  • Why is there regularity (Law) in nature?
  • Of the Four Causes in nature proposed by Aristotle (material, formal, efficient, and final), which of them are real?
  • Do final causes exist?

  • Why do we have subjective experience, and not merely objective existence?
  • Why is the human mind intentional, in the technical philosophical sense of aboutness, which is the referral to something besides itself?
  • Does Moral Law exist in itself, or is it an artifact of nature (natural selection, etc.)
  • Why is there evil?
When you read Myers' flippant and superficial answers and compare them to Egnor's replies it becomes very tempting to believe that atheism is little more than an expression of an anti-intellectual hope that there really is no God. Atheists seem unable, or at least Myers and others to whom Egnor has posed these same questions seem unable, to muster any persuasive counter to a serious intellectual challenge.

Read their exchange at the link and see what you think.