Monday, September 26, 2011

Cupcakes and Racism

The College Republicans at U.C. Berkeley (I know. I was surprised that there are Republicans at Berkeley, too) are having a bake sale that has some students very upset. It turns out that white students will be charged $2 for a cupcake, Asian students will be charged $1.50, and African American students will be charged $.75.

There are cries of "racism" being bandied about over this, but it's not clear from the article at the Blaze in what, exactly, the alleged racism consists:
"I’m ashamed to know that I go to the same school with people who would say stuff like this,” student Skyler Hogan-Van Sickle wrote Facebook. “I’m really trying to figure out how someone can be this hateful.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, more than 200 students responded to the event, mostly in opposition. One threatened to burn the table and set the cupcakes on fire. At least four student groups sent complaints to campus administrators, and a student-only meeting was set for Friday evening to discuss it.
Anyway, the ostensible purpose of the price differential is to highlight the young conservatives' belief that preferential treatment based on race is inherently unjust. Their eye is on the University's practice of offering preferential consideration to minorities in admissions. Making it easier for one group to get into college based on their race is unjust, they argue, in the same way that charging people for cupcakes based on their race is unjust.

Read the article and tell us what you think. If you maintain that the bake sale is racist please explain how it differs in a relevant way from racial preferences in admissions.

Darwin's Religious Beliefs

Students often inquire as to what Darwin's religious beliefs were or whether stories of a deathbed conversion are true. A piece at The American Thinker by Richard Weikart addresses the first question, and, as to the second, there's simply no evidence to substantiate the claim that Darwin ever had a change of heart.

Here's Weikart's summary of his essay:
So, what lessons can we draw about the relationship between religion and evolutionary theory from Darwin's own trajectory? First, as he developed his evolutionary theory, he moved from Christian belief in a personal God to a deistic position to agnosticism. It is not clear to what extent his religious views shaped his evolutionary theory, or vice-versa. It seems reasonable to think they developed in tandem.

Second, he rejected any divine intervention or even divine purpose in his evolutionary scheme. Third, he rejected the religious basis for morality. None of these points is good news for those trying to refashion Darwin into a religious believer whose evolutionary theory is no threat to religion, especially to traditional forms of Christianity.
Agnosticism is in fact atheism. An atheist is one who lacks a belief in God, and, since agnostics lack such a belief, they're atheists. The difference between an agnostic and an atheist like, say, Richard Dawkins, is that the Dawkins type atheist (What I call a "hard" atheist) asserts flatly that God does not exist or most probably does not exist. The agnostic, like Darwin, (what I call a "soft" atheist) does not make such a strong claim, but says that although God may indeed exist, there's not enough evidence to warrant believing that He does.

The only substantive difference between the hard and soft atheist is that, theoretically if not in actual practice, the soft atheist is more open to, and less dismissive of, theism than is the hard atheist.