Wednesday, October 5, 2011

There's Probably No Dawkins

Last year a British atheist organization placed signs on the sides of buses in London saying: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

William Lane Craig, an American philosopher issued a challenge to debate that claim with one of the world's foremost atheists, Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, when he tours England this month, but Dawkins haughtily declined, saying that he only wanted to debate bishops and priests. On his website Dawkins called Craig a “ponderous buffoon” who uses logic to “bamboozle his faith-head audience,” but he has notably failed to respond to any of the "buffoon's" criticisms of The God Delusion.

His demurral elicited a letter from fellow atheist and Oxford don Dr. Daniel Came suggesting that Dawkins' refusal was "cowardly".

Meanwhile, two other prominent atheists backed out of their previous agreements to cross swords with Craig. The President of the British Humanist Association, Guardian columnist and prominent critic of religion, Polly Toynbee, pulled out of her agreement to debate Craig at London’s Westminster Central Hall. She had eagerly agreed to spar with Craig on the Existence of God and tickets had been sold for the event. She withdrew recently saying, “I hadn’t realized the nature of Mr Lane Craig’s debating style, and having now looked at his previous performances, this is not my kind of forum”.

I.e. She realizes that Craig would clean her clock, as it were, and she'd rather not suffer the humiliation.

Additionally, A.C.Grayling, who this year published a humanist ‘Bible’ called The Good Book, also refused to debate Craig about the basis of morality, stating that he would rather debate “the existence of fairies and water-nymphs”.

Perhaps this means that Grayling recognizes that on atheism morality has no more reality than fairies and water-nymphs, but he doesn't want to be put in the position of being pressed on the point publicly since that'd be a public relations disaster for atheism.

At any rate, Craig will still be giving a lecture at the Sheldonian Theater in Oxford on the evening he would have been debating Dawkins. There'll be an empty chair on the stage to highlight Dawkins' absence and, by implication, that he lacked the confidence to defend his book against someone who actually understands the issues rather than some parish clergyman who might have proved to be an easier foil.

Given that Dawkins is expected to be a no-show at the Sheldonian signs are being placed on the side of Oxford buses this week which say, "There’s Probably No Dawkins. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Oct 25th at the Sheldonian Theatre."

Pretty clever.

HT: Uncommon Descent

Perfidious Perjury or Incredible Incompetence

It appears that our chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Eric Holder, may have been fibbing to Congress about what he knew about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' ill-conceived "Fast and Furious" program and particularly about when he knew it. If so, he committed perjury which is an impeachable offense. House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith is requesting that President Obama instruct the Department of Justice to appoint a Special Counsel to get to the bottom of the matter.

On May 3 Attorney General Eric Holder testified to Congress under oath that he first heard about F&F in April of 2011:
"I'm not sure of the exact date," Holder asserted, "but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks."
Unfortunately for Mr. Holder's credibility, and perhaps for his career, newly discovered memos suggest that that claim is at variance with the truth:
One memo dated July 2010 shows that Michael Walther, director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, told Holder that straw buyers in the Fast and Furious operation "are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to the Mexican drug trafficking cartels."

Other documents also indicate that Holder began receiving weekly briefings on the program from the National Drug Intelligence Center "beginning, at the latest, on July 5, 2010," Smith wrote.

"These updates mentioned, not only the name of the operation, but also specific details about guns being trafficked to Mexico," Smith wrote in the letter to Obama.

"Allegations that senior Justice Department officials may have intentionally misled members of Congress are extremely troubling and must be addressed by an independent and objective special counsel. I urge you to appoint a special counsel who will investigate these allegations as soon as possible," Smith wrote.
The Justice Department is claiming that Mr. Holder never read these memoranda. If not, he should be impeached for incompetence and dereliction of duty. On the other hand, if he did read them and lied to Congress about it he should be impeached for perjury.

And whoever on his staff came up with the lame excuse that he didn't read the memos should be impeached for stupidity.

In any case, if he did commit perjury and is impeached and removed from office I would imagine that he would also be in jeopardy of disbarment from the practice of law just as President Clinton was for lying under oath. It's amazing how trying to cover up a scandal so often produces worse ramifications than would have resulted from admitting up front that you were the one who originally authorized the boneheaded scheme and accepting responsibility for it. UPDATE: It may be even worse for Mr. Holder than I thought. This is from The Daily Caller:
Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona told The Daily Caller on Wednesday that Obama administration officials responsible for Operation Fast and Furious might be accessories to murder.

“We’re talking about consequences of criminal activity, where we actually allowed guns to walk into the hands of criminals, where our livelihoods are at risk,” Gosar said in a phone interview. “When you facilitate that and a murder or a felony occurs, you’re called an accessory. That means that there’s criminal activity.”

Gosar said the government should be held to the same standard as everyone else. Fast and Furious weapons were used to kill U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, as well as scores of Mexican citizens, and he thinks administration officials should be held accountable.

“We impugn the private sector, we impugn main street America, and the bureaucracy cannot be held to any different standard whatsoever,” Gosar told TheDC, insisting that Justice Department and ATF officials “intentionally — intentionally — violated the law.”
Any day now the mainstream media will wake up and realize that this story isn't going to go away and then maybe they'll start reporting on it.