Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Missing Bush

Syrian protestors, having seen thousands of their countrymen, including hundreds of children, massacred by their government in Damascus, express their nostalgia for a man who actually did something about such injustice.

Think what you will about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They weren't always well-executed - few large-scale undertakings ever are - and they've been extremely costly, but they freed a total of 50 million people from tyrannical oppression and horror. The world is certainly better off without Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden in it, and is also better off with a diminished al Qaeda, and Taliban. Almost all of the credit for this improved state of affairs goes to the Bush administration.

Evidently, the Syrians would like to add Bashir Assad and his cronies to the list of people with whom the world is no longer afflicted, and they miss having someone in the White House they could have counted on to help.

Thanks to The Weekly Standard for the pic.

RNA Interference and Naturalistic Fideism

Here's a fascinating video which shows the incredible, breath-taking complexity of the chemical machinery of every living cell. What is being shown is very arcane and really doesn't matter (Those who wish to read more about it can find an explanation here).

Just watch the video and marvel at how wondrous it is that the Crea ... oops, I mean blind, unguided processes operating solely by chance - orchestrated the construction of such an amazing organization of molecular machines which, once in place, are capable of carrying on these processes completely autonomously without any intelligent input.
To be sure, it takes faith to believe that there's an intelligent mind responsible for the universe and for life, but it takes, in my view, a superhuman effort of the will to believe that something like what's depicted on this video could have all come about through random chance and the laws of chemistry. One has to simply not want to believe that there is a Mind behind it all in order to come to the conclusion that there isn't.

There are some religious believers who hold that we should have faith regardless of what our reason says, regardless of what the evidence is. This view is called fideism. Fideists maintain that when they encounter difficult evidence or experience doubt they should just believe and not waver. Naturalism, the belief that natural processes and forces can account for all the phenomena we observe in the universe, is, in my opinion, a kind of fideism.

Everywhere the naturalist looks he sees evidence of intelligent design, but, scrunching up his will, he repeats ten times, "Nature can do it."

He has no evidence of this, however. He's never seen nature create a cell nor create the information needed to operate a cell, even though everyday he sees minds perform such amazing feats.

Even so, his faith that there exists no Mind capable of creating universes is so great that he's impervious to the lack of evidence and the existence of contrary evidence. He's a fideist of the the first order.

Respecting Women

A couple of weeks ago Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed indignation over the fact that in Israel some Orthodox Jews object to men and women sitting together on busses. She said the treatment reminded her of Iran. This was an odd observation since Israel is the one place in the Middle East where women are treated as full citizens with the same legal rights as men. In Saudi Arabia they're not even allowed to drive. In most Muslim countries they are betrothed to whomever their families choose for them and can be killed if they do anything of which the family, particularly the father, disapproves.

Ms. Clinton has had little to say about those affronts to decency and civilization, choosing instead, seemingly, to pander to the anti-Israel elements on the Left by taking a shot at Israel.

If she had chosen to direct her criticism of the status of women where it really is atrocious she might have fired a volley or two at Egypt. Perhaps the most vivid recent display of how women are treated in much of the Middle East is the state-ordained violence seen in a video that was taken in Egypt two days ago.

During the Arab Spring protests the military remained somewhat neutral and largely refrained from serious use of force against the pro-democracy demonstrators. Now that Mubarak has been toppled, however, all that has gone by the boards, and we're witnessing the ghastly savagery of the Egyptian security forces as they have been unleashed against those protesting what they consider the dawdling pace of democratization.

The beatings and shootings, both of which are caught on this videotape, began on Friday and, so far, a dozen people have been killed.

Don't watch this if you're squeamish:
Those are women among those being beaten and stomped on. It's hard to imagine women being brutalized like that by any Western police force. The next time Ms. Clinton feels the need to condemn the treatment of women perhaps she'll have the good sense to turn her gaze to those parts of the world where it really is abominable.

Whatever eventually happens in Egypt it's doubtful that democracy will flourish. If the military holds on to power things will be very much as they were under Mubarak. If the military falls, the Islamists will almost certainly gain control and establish Sharia. Either way, real freedom is not likely to flower in Egyptian soil.

Neither will women finally be given the respect and courtesy they've enjoyed in the West for centuries.