Friday, September 30, 2011

'Religion of Peace' set to hang man for becoming Christian

Islam shows its soul:

Iran set to execute Christian pastor as early as tomorrow

The goal isn’t to kill him but to terrify him into asserting Islam’s supremacy by recanting his beliefs. No dice.
Before his last hearing Wednesday, Nadarkhani had been given three previous changes to repent, and all three times he has refused. After his final refusal Wednesday, No verdict has been announced, but many expect that he could be put to death as soon as Friday…
There were rumors on Wednesday night that Nadarkhani’s execution sentence was to be waived after the final trial, but contradicting reports indicate that the news was incorrect.
“We’ve had some reports that there has been a verbal announcement from the court in Iran that the sentence is annulled but we urge caution,” said Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a religious group campaigning for Nadarkhani’s release…
Even if the sentence were commuted, Nadarkhani could still face life in prison. And even if he were released, there would still be danger.
The White House condemned the verdict this afternoon, as did Britain and the EU. Over at NRO, Marco Rubio posted a statement noting that Nadarkhani’s wife and lawyer have also been intimidated in an effort to get him to recant. Nothing yet from the State Department today, but they condemned Nadarkhani’s persecution back in July. An intriguing detail in all this: No one’s been executed in Iran for apostasy since 1990. Or rather, no one’s beenofficially executed on that ground since 1990. As we know from Iran’s treatment of gays and political prisoners, when they want to rid themselves of “undesirables” but don’t want to attract too much attention doing it, they’re perfectly capable of trumping up charges involving rape or some other grievous offense to cover their tracks. Why didn’t they do that with Nadarkhani? The BBC speculates in the course of delivering some hopeful news:
The lawyer for an Iranian Christian cleric sentenced to death for apostasy says he is optimistic that his client will be acquitted.
The lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, said there was a 95% chance Yusuf Naderkhani would be freed…
Former Anglican Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali said he could not advise Naderkhani to recant…
Mr Nazir-Ali, who is working for the charity Release, said there was concern in Iran about the growth of house churches, and it “may be that someone is seeking to make an example”.
Interesting theory, although I’m more intrigued by the historical background of the case. Turns out Nadarkhani was arrested in October 2009, just a few months after Iran was rocked by the (failed) Green Revolution. The Iranian Supreme Court upheld the verdict in July of this year, in the midst of the Arab Spring. Could be that the regime is so paranoid about the upheaval inside and outside the country that they’re now determined to crack down on “subversive” behavior of all stripes. Remember, not only did these lunatics banwater fights a few months ago, they did so on grounds that the water fights are … a foreign plot. Hanging an avowed Christian because he’s a Christian amid global condemnation is another way to warn dissidents of every flavor not to cross them. Which is to say, Nadarkhani may be a martyr here not just for his faith but for all of Iran’s discontents.
I’m cautiously (and maybe foolishly) optimistic that they’ll end up granting him clemency, not because they’re swell guys but because the regime likes to show its, ahem, magnanimity occasionally by forgiving the infidels for their transgressions. They just released those hikers, of course, and they made a huge spectacle a few years ago of releasing the British sailors they captured in the Persian Gulf. Once the international microscope becomes large enough, their calculus seems to change from showing Iranians how ruthless they are to showing the world how generous and kindhearted Islamist rule can be. Hopefully we’ll get a replay of that here. Someone at the State Department prepare an asylum application, stat.
Please pray for the safety of Mr. Nadarkhani, a Christian of remarkable courage and faith who is ready to die rather than to renounce the Lord. Daniel 3:18 comes to mind.

Notice the silence of the lefty fan club of executed murderer Troy Davis. No protests in front of Iranian embassies for innocent Christians facing execution for their faith.

Notice the near silence in the mainstream media. There's incessant hyperbole about 'Islamophobia' in the U.S. and hysterical excoriation of the Catholic Church, but barely a peep about the murder of Christians-- judicial and extra-judicial-- in the Muslim world.

Notice also that the mullahs don't kill atheists. Atheists present no peril, but even a single faithful Christian is an existential threat to the caliphate.

Muslims know the difference between allies and enemies in the Dar-al-Harab.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"And if not..."

From my favorite George Will essay:

In early 1940 the British and their allies sent a force of some 350,000 men into the low countries of Europe to stem the tide of German advance into France, Belgium and Holland. Caught in a brilliant pincer movement by the invading German forces the beleaguered British Expeditionary Force was pushed back to the beaches of the small Belgian town of Dunkirk. To everyone’s surprise the Germans halted their advance to regroup. As England and the world waited for what appeared to be the sure and certain annihilation of 350,000 men a three word message was transmitted from the besieged army at Dunkirk. It read simply, "And if not." The British people understood the biblical import of the cryptic message. It was a reference to the Old Testament book of Daniel, where Daniel and his friends chose death rather than worship an image of the pagan king, "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up" (Daniel 3:17-18). The British Expeditionary Army, surrounded, cutoff and on the brink of destruction was declaring to Britain and to the world that even in apparent defeat they were, in fact, victorious. The message, more eloquent than a sermon delivered in St. Paul’s Cathedral, galvanized the British people. In a matter of hours thousands of boats of every description headed across the dangerous waters of the English Channel and, at the risk of their own lives from enemy fire, began the evacuation of the heroic but beleaguered army in what historians now refer to as "the miracle of Dunkirk."

The salient Christian affirmation is this: we have faith in God and faith in His grace and we hope that we will be saved from evil in this world. We hope He will deliver us. But if not, we will never bow to evil. We will never surrender.

C.S. Lewis said it beautifully in The Screwtape Letters. Screwtape, the demon, says to his nephew:
Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's [God's] will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.
The West loses its Christian faith and culture at great danger to itself. Christianity is and always has been a hard check on secular power. Christianity is subversive. It has inspired countless defenses of civilization, from Rome to Tours to Vienna to Lepanto to Dunkirk to communist Poland and Eastern Europe.

Christianity is a refusal to bow to unjust power.  It is a refusal to submit  to totalitarianism, to nihilism, to idolatry, to evil. It is a refusal to submit to lies.

Why it is so hated by so many? After all, Christianity is a humble love of God and of man. But it is more.

Christianity is defiance.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Who's more hateful: the God-full or the godless?

David DiSalvo at Forbes asks the question:

Religion vs. Atheism: Which Side Can Rightly Claim to be Reasonable and Tolerant?
You may have noticed that the cold war between religious people and atheists has been seriously heating up the past few years. After the release of a spate of books from the so-called “new atheists” (Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, et al) a vicious war of words broke out in print, online, across the airwaves, and anywhere else people interact. And it’s only getting more intense.
The war, of course, has been going on for centuries—but now, with so many communication options available, it has migrated into venues accustomed to tamer exchanges.
Reasonable people, religious or otherwise, can agree to argue reasonably, without toxic assaults that only add to the rage. At least in theory. But the reality is that wherever these debates are happening, strong feelings overpower restraint. Hate mail, bile-laden comments and death threats are unfortunately not uncommon.
I was reminded of this again while reading a post from evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne on his blog Why Evolution is True (also the name of his book). From Coyne:
Perhaps some atheists have issued death threats against religious people, but I don’t know of any, and, at any rate, they must be much rarer than those aimed in the opposite direction.
Yesterday Blair Scott, communications director for American Atheists, was on the FOX News show America Live with Megyn Kelly. As soon as Scott returned home after the show, his inbox began filling up with hate mail and threats. Equally distressing, the Fox News Facebook page was soon inundated with death threats aimed at Scott and atheists in general, comments that are being taken down rapidly (see the report by William Hamby in the Atlanta Examiner)...
Coyne’s first statement intrigues me, and my inner-researcher wants to know if he’s right. Which side is responsible for most of the hate mail and death threats, the religious or the atheists? Who has the greater right to call themselves reasonable and tolerant?
It would be difficult, I think, to answer those questions quantitatively. But I’m betting there’s enough evidence out there that a fair qualitative estimate is reachable.
So let’s make this a community project. Please send me, or leave in the comments section, any information you think helps flesh-out an answer. I’ll take a look at everything you send, in addition to what I find, and report back with results in a future post.
Here's some information, Dave. Think of governing ideology as one big "community project". Let's take a look at countries governed by different religious/irreligious ideologies and compare political freedoms. We'll choose three categories: 1) Countries with established Christian churches or with long histories of cultural Christianity. 2) Countries with Islamic governments 3) Countries ruled by explicitly atheist political systems (for a significant portion of the 20th century).

 1) Countries with established Christian churches and/or with long histories of cultural Christianity:

 United States (cultural)
 Spain (cultural)
 Portugal (cultural)
 France (cultural)
 Italy (cultural)
 Switzerland (cultural)
 Denmark (cultural)
 Germany (cultural)
 Ireland (cultural)
 England (Established and cultural)
 Scotland (Established and cultural)
 Denmark (Established and cultural)
 Norway (Established and cultural)
 Finland (Established and cultural)
 Sweden (Established and cultural)
 Greece (Established and cultural)
 Costa Rica (Established and cultural)
 Liechtenstein (Established and cultural)
 Malta (Established and cultural)
 Monaco (Established and cultural)

2) Countries with Islamic governments:

Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates

3) Countries ruled by explicitly atheist political systems (for a significant portion of the 20th century).

Soviet Union 
North Korea
East Germany 

So, let's consider:

Religion vs. Atheism: Which Side Can Rightly Claim to be Reasonable and Tolerant?

This is answer to your question, Dave: 

1) Christian regimes create reasonable and tolerant democracies. 

2) Islamic regimes create repressive theocracies.

3) Atheist regimes create totalitarian hellholes.

But you already knew that, Dave. So why ask the breathtakingly stupid question?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

All renovation projects start as teardowns...

From Denyse O'Leary at Uncommon Descent:

The last five years for ID: All renovation projects start as teardowns
September 2, 2011 Posted by O'Leary under Darwinism, Intelligent Design 
In “The last five years: Darwin’s failures are positive sources of information for ID,” I noted
Failures of Darwinism are not merely a negative. They are a positive. The growing number of stress points at which Darwinism fails can, taken together, form a picture, one that points to general laws that govern how high levels of information are produced in life forms. Obviously, as with dpi, the more such points, the clearer the picture. We can’t have too many of them, though eventually, there will be enough to work productively with.
Throwing out assorted Darwinisms is like renovating a shamefully treated century home. The first thing we do is rent a dumpster. Because we must clear away the rubbish to rescue the core value.
One outcome is that 99% of the initial work is, unavoidably, teardown.
In the case of evolution, as Mike Behe realizes, we must compute the edge of natural selection’s ability to create new information: Just beyond that edge – or further – lie the principal sources of new information.
Computing the edge alone involves a number of questions: Is it the same for all life forms? If not, which ones differ and what characteristics might they have in common? Can a general law be derived?
Of course, sidelining the usual, tiresome, untethered “Darwin dunit” accounts would be a plus, but it is certainly not the motive for the project. The motive is to understand what really happened, not to demolish a crumbling elite piety.

Denyse makes an excellent point. The demolition of the Darwinist hoax is by its nature destructive. It is a heavily defended citadel, and we have just landed on the beach, climbed the bluffs, and set up the siege cannon.  The defenders are rattled. Their long term prospects are bleak. They are surrounded by countless countryfolk who know the truth, and Darwinists depend on the people they lie to and scorn for all of their supplies.

This fight has a long way to go. ID has to develop a scientific program to apply its profound insight that design principles permeate nature. It will, in my view, involve a collaboration between engineering science and basic biological science. In my own field of research (cerebral blood flow), engineering principles are opening a fascination new window into understanding how the heart perfuses the brain.

What will the fall of Darwinism be like? My suspicion is that it will be a slow teetering, and a sudden collapse. The collapse probably won't be a unanimous repudiation of Darwinist banality, but a bypass. Science will simply move on around it, with elderly pony-tailed Darwinites isolated as real scientists get on with the fascinating task of understanding life.

The collapse of Darwinism will come, I suspect, in a manner analogous in one respect to the collapse of the Romanian regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. Ceausescu was a communist (atheist) thug who ruled Romania for decades by fear and corruption. He was giving a speech to a huge crowd in Bucharest. He expected acquiescence and silence. A few minutes into the speech, the crowd began to laugh and boo and chant. He was stunned and inarticulate. He was used to deference. Before him was defiance. He fled the capital the next day. He was dead four days later.

Obviously the fall of Darwinism will not be violent. But it may be abrupt. I suspect that there will be scientific meetings, normally sedate affairs, when presenters of Darwinian explanations will be greeted, to their shock, by laughter and scorn.

I was at a pediatric neurosurgical conference 20 years ago in which a surgeon from a foreign country presented a series of cruel operations done on institutionalized children for psychiatric indications. Members of the audience stood up during the presentation, challenged the speaker, and he was not able to finish the presentation. He was fortunate to get out of the room without a physical incident.

Darwinist 'explanations' in biology will collapse, and some of that collapse will be public. Population biology, genetics, taxonomy, so long infested with Darwinist ideology, will of course go on unimpeded, as they are good science.

Before 1950, eugenics was a flourishing science. After 1970, no one was a eugenicist, and no one had ever been a eugenicist. Scientific fraud can vanish surprisingly suddenly. Darwinism itself will fade, even as its claque sings paeans and demands deference, and then it will implode rather suddenly, with a few last guffaws and challenges, and leave not a wrack behind.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Execution of Troy Davis

Convicted murderer Troy Davis was executed late last week in Georgia. By all reasonable accounts, he was guilty of murder. He deserved to pay with his life for what he did.

But it was wrong to execute him.

That is not to say that his defenders were right in any way but one. The debate over his execution was a jumbled mess, riddled with half-truths, hypocrisy, and boilerplate leftist agitprop.

The evidence against Davis was overwhelming, as all courts that examined the evidence found. His case was reviewed methodically at many levels, and no competent jurist found any reason to question his guilt. The crime for which he was convicted was horrendously brutal; he shot a young police officer-- father of two young children-- in the chest and then point-blank in the face because the officer tried to help a homeless man Davis was pistol-whipping. The officer was a hero, trying to protect a helpless man from a vicious thug. He paid with his life. May God bless him and his family.

But there is no justification for gratuitous killing, even killing of a reprehensible murderer by the state. Davis' guilt or innocence is not the issue. His humanity, degraded as he made it, is the issue. Like abortion and euthanasia, the death penalty is immoral, at least in modern society where the public can be protected without putting an offender to death.

The campaign to save Davis' life was mostly detestable. Davis was not innocent, and most of the lefty hypocrites who protested his execution never raised a finger to save any of the 40 million 'not-guilty' babies slaughtered by abortionists since 1973, and never stood up for Terri Schiavo who was callously starved to death several years ago for no other reason than her disability.

But killing is wrong, even killing people who richly deserve it. Davis could have been incarcerated for life, and posed no further threat to the lives of others. His killing by the State of Georgia was wrong. Not as wrong as the killing he committed, of a completely innocent man, and not as wrong as killing innocent children in the womb. But wrong, nonetheless.

Killing in war or killing in self-defense or by a police officer can be moral, if the intent is to stop lethal aggression, and the innocent can't be protected unless the aggressor is stopped. Sometimes lethal force is unavoidable. But if the innocent can be protected without killing, then killing is never moral. Never.

We need to say no the culture of death. All of it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Interview with Prof. Angelo Codevilla

Who is Angelo Codevilla, you ask?

Codevilla is professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University. A year ago he published a remarkable essay in The American Spectator titled America's Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution.  It's the best essay (and later a book) on politics that I've ever read.

Codevilla has a remarkably clear understanding of elites in American culture, and he provides insight into science elites as well.

Here's the interview. Enjoy. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Another young Muslim woman dies accidently by beating her head against a coffee table.

The odd habit of young Muslim women beating themselves to death surfaces again:

...This is justice in America in 2011: a police department cowers in fear of violence from Muslims if it tells the truth about an Islamic honor killing. Ask yourself if all the "Islamophobia" mongers care even the slightest bit about justice for Fatimah Abdallah.
Here is an extraordinary announcement from David Caton of the Florida Family Association:
Tampa Police CSI tech admits “fear of Muslim reprisal” in Palestinian woman’s death. Florida Family Association asks Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to investigate.
Florida Family Association (FFA) now has direct evidence that officials with the Tampa Police Department are intimidated by the possible involvement of religious creed in the death of the Palestinian woman named Fatima Abdallah.
The Tampa Police Department claims that Fatima Abdallah killed herself by repeatedly beating her head against a coffee table. FFA and numerous other organizations call that assertion preposterous. Florida Family Association contends that Fatima Abdallah died as the result of an honor killing and not an accident. Florida Family Association’s full report on the mishandling of the death of Fatimah Abdallah is posted here at
Tampa Police Crime Scene Technician Shelby Garman called Florida Family Association’s private investigator on July 26, 2011 to request that her name be removed from the Tampa Police Department GO report posted at because of “fear of Muslim reprisal.” Click here to read our private investigator’s report.
Florida Family Association wanted more documentation to support our private investigator’s report so we sent an email to Shelby Garman. When Florida Family Association asked Shelby Garman by email to confirm her request she did. Click here to read her reply and email property validation information that documents she sent the email from the Tampa Police Department.
This Crime Scene Technician’s statement and request verifies what Florida Family Association has alleged all along that the Tampa Police Department and/or the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Office were intimidated by the possible involvement of religious creed in the death of Fatimah Abdallah. It appears that some officials feared Muslim reprisal, feared media attention if the case became public and therefore decided to promptly call this violent death an accident without any further investigation beyond the incident date.
If law enforcement agencies are unwilling to properly investigate and bring charges in violent crimes that may have been perpetuated by religious creeds it will undermine our public safety and severely change our value system.
Florida Family Association sent this letter asking Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to investigate the mishandling of this death investigation by the Tampa Police Department and Hillsborough County Medical Examiner.

I feel too sick to comment extensively on this. This poor young woman is dead, and the authorities responsible for bringing her murderers to justice are cowering behind a rock (or a desk). Islamic barbarism is sickening enough, but the dhimmitude of so many in the West-- the reluctance to stand up and (non-violently) fight this evil ideology-- is almost as sickening.

We have opened our doors to Islam, and we have removed our own Christian faith-- the only defense from Islamic brutality-- from the public square. We will all pay dearly for it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Latest poll on global warming: scientists are liars

From American Thinker:

It's goin' from bad to worse for the global warming fraudsters:

Shocking poll on global warming

Randy Fardal

Finally, a real consensus on global warming: It's a lie. Rasmussen Reports:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults shows that 69% say it's at least somewhat likely that some scientists have falsified research data in order to support their own theories and beliefs, including 40% who say this is Very Likely. Twenty-two percent (22%) don't think it's likely some scientists have falsified global warming data, including just six percent (6%) say it's Not At All Likely. Another 10% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here .)

The number of adults who say it's likely scientists have falsified data is up 10 points from December 2009 .

Fifty-seven percent (57%) believe there is significant disagreement within the scientific community on global warming, up five points from late 2009. One in four (25%) believes scientists agree on global warming. Another 18% aren't sure.

Republicans and adults not affiliated with either major political party feel stronger than Democrats that some scientists have falsified data to support theirglobal warming theories, but 51% of Democrats also agree.

Even a majority of Democrats!
Big surprise. A gang of transparently dishonest scientists and their media enablers can't maintain the fraud forever. Global warming is just the latest scheme by the far left to control your life and to ensure a steady stream of cash for the 'investors'. And thanks to independent media, and some saint who leaked the ClimateGate emails, and the internet, this fraud is unraveling at incredible speed.

The consequences for science are enormous. Consider:

1) Only one in five Americans will say that it's likely that climate scientists are telling the truth.

2) Climate scientists are among the most publicly visible scientists, and their credibility (for better or worse) reflects on all scientists.

3) Major scientific organizations (AAAS, NAS, etc) have lined up in lock-step in support of the fraudsters.

4) The American people, of whom 78% won't attest to the honesty of these scientists, are the folks who fund science.

I suspect that many mainstream cowards scientists who have been quiet about this obvious fraud will begin to speak out and dissociate themselves from climate science. There will be a price to pay to for apostasy. But when the Titanic is sinking, it's better to jump in the water, even if it's damn cold.

The proper response by the American public is to defund the whole climate scam, and take a hard look at funding for scientific quislings who collaborated with the fraud.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Making sense on public expression of religion

A surprisingly reasoned and thoughtful essay on religion and government:

How to Respond to Rick Perry and ‘The Response’
Paul Horwitz, a professor of law at the University of Alabama, is the author of “The Agnostic Age: Law, Religion and the Constitution.”
Tuscaloosa, Ala.
TODAY, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is scheduled to appear at Reliant Stadium in Houston for “The Response,” an all-day event of Christian-centered prayer and fasting intended, as Mr. Perry explains on the event’s Web site, to address the various crises that have “besieged” America.
Mr. Perry’s use of official resources, including a gubernatorial proclamation, to promote the prayer service has drawn criticism from civil liberties groups. He has been hinting at a run for the Republican presidential nomination, and many critics see the prayer service as an improper attempt to court the religious right. One group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, sought an injunction barring Mr. Perry from promoting the event, saying his actions “brazenly cross the line between government and religion.” Last week, a federal judge denied that request, ruling that Mr. Perry’s invitations to prayer were “requests, not commands,” and thus did not violate the First Amendment’s separation of church and state.
"Requests, not commands". In my view, that is the essence of a rational interpretation of the Establishment Clause. The Constitution prohibits an Establishment-- coercion in religion. It does not prohibit free expression of religion. It guarantees free expression, and makes no exception for people in government. The judge's decision gets it exactly right- Perry is not coercing anyone.

'But', atheists say, 'Perry's use of official resources is coercion of atheists who don't want to pay for this stuff.'

Nonsense. Religious and irreligious activities get all kinds of taxpayer financing. Firemen will put out fires in St Patrick's Cathedral and in the Center for Secular Humanism. Police protect the right of Baptists to worship in safety just as they protect the right of attendees at The Amazing Meeting to worship congregate in safety.

Public resources are used everywhere to support religious and irreligious activities. That does not constitute an Establishment of Religion, because it is does not force anyone to worship against their will or to fund one specific kind of worship to the exclusion of all others. 

Public officials can pray, hold prayer meetings, hold atheist meetings, hold agnostic meetings etc. as long as there is no coerced attendance or coerced affirmation of religious viewpoints. Richard Dawkins can speak at a public university at public expense because his irreligious views do not involve coercion.
The court was right on the law, but its decision tells only half the story. Mr. Perry’s critics have plenty of ammunition, but they’ve chosen the wrong weapon. The problem is not only that such legal maneuvers routinely fail; it’s also that they do a disservice to religious freedom and diminish meaningful public debate. There are better ways to express disagreement with religious statements made by elected officials than to use the courts to try to pre-empt them.
Precisely. 'Censorship by federal judge' is an odious tactic.
Religion plays too important a part in many people’s lives to be denied a role in the public square. To be sure, there are some things the state can’t do, like demand that schoolchildren pray each day.
I agree. But it's the "demand", not the "pray", that's the problem.
But elected officials, like other citizens, are free to have and express religious views.
The First Amendment didn't say "... Free Exercise of Religion except for Public Employees..."
And voters are entitled to support or reject public officials for all kinds of reasons, including their religious views. To hold that elected officials can’t publicly invoke their religion won’t help a country of believers, agnostics and atheists reach any kind of consensus. It will only impoverish the conversation, depriving many citizens of the ability to make, and judge, arguments that reflect their most cherished views.
Censorship does not advance public life. It merely imposes the will of one fringe sect (atheists) on everyone else.
Moreover, by trying to banish religion from the public sphere, Mr. Perry’s critics end up cutting themselves out of the debate.
Atheists are happy to cut themselves out of the debate. They always lose the debate. If they won debates, they wouldn't always be suing to silence debate.
When religion is viewed as a fundamentally private matter, the natural corollary is to think that it is inappropriate to criticize someone’s faith. Thus, when such critics lose the constitutional argument, they find themselves in the awkward position of not feeling entitled to directly criticize the religious view in question.
Atheists don't find criticizing religion "awkward".  They find it unsuccessful. That's what makes them so angry.
Politicians who invoke their faith to lure religious voters benefit from this paralysis. Consider Mitt Romney. When questioned by voters during the last presidential campaign about his Mormon faith, Mr. Romney commendably refused to disavow it. But he also refused to discuss it in any detail, claiming that would impose a religious test on his candidacy.
This double standard needs to end. If religion can’t be forbidden in our public debates, even for elected officials, neither should it be immune from public criticism.
No one said that religion should be "immune from public criticism".  Immunity of atheism from public criticism is, however, the fundamental goal of lawsuits that create a monopoly for Darwinism in public schools.
And in the case of Mr. Perry and “The Response,” there are good reasons to be critical.
Mr. Perry is free to call a meeting where only people who agree that Jesus Christ is the one true savior are welcome. Many Christian politicians understandably share that belief — but few of them commence potential presidential campaigns that way. They believe that all Americans, regardless of faith, have a role to play in making this a more perfect union. We are entitled to shun any politician who rejects that approach.
What Christian politician is saying that all Americans don't "have a role to play in making this a more perfect union." What a stupid thing to assert.
We should question the prayer service’s tone, too. Other politicians have invoked prayer in times of trouble; Abraham Lincoln was one of them. But with characteristic humility, Lincoln called for repentance, not sectarian struggle. He saw human inequality and cruelty as the real sin against God. By emphasizing creeds, not deeds, Mr. Perry encourages the very divisions that Lincoln believed lay at the root of America’s ills.
Free speech, pal.
Finally, we’re entitled to judge Mr. Perry’s association with the prayer service’s organizers. Many people, religious and otherwise, reject the views of the American Family Association, a principal organizer of the event whose vitriolic stances on issues like gay rights have led the Southern Poverty Law Center to call it a “hate group.”
The American Family Association doesn't oppose "gay rights". It affirms the rights of gays to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, right to bear arms, right to a trial by jury, etc. Those are gay rights, and straight rights, and everyone's rights.

Singling out people who practice a certain kind of sex for government-enforced privileges isn't "rights", it's interest group perks, often entailing the denial of rights to others.

The views of the American Family Association on gay rights reflect the views of most Americans. The appellation of "hate group" to the American public has long been a leftist goal.

The Southern Poverty Law Center hates the American Family Association. Does that make the Southern Policy Law Center a "hate group". Why are fringe leftist groups always immune from "hate group" labeling? Last I looked, there's a lot of hate on the left.
Mr. Perry has tried to distance himself from some of these views. But we can certainly ask why he has embraced those who hold them.
Do ask. Lets keep the conversation going.
Some people think we would be better off without religion in public life. In the long run, however, we would lose much more than we gain. Our debates may be more contentious if we allow religion in, but they will also be more committed and honest. Just as the Constitution allows Mr. Perry to stake his political future on “The Response,” it allows the rest of us to answer back.
Horowitz is of course right in most of his recommendations. The proper way to deal with differing views on religion is more public discussion, not less. The free public airing of disagreements without coercion is healthy and is protected by the Constitution. The only people who oppose free speech are those who understand that their ideology won't fare well in the free exchange of ideas.

Censorship of religious expression has no place in our society. Are you listening, atheists?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Philadelphia gets lucky

The Vatican has named archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver to head the archdiocese of Philadelphia. He will replace archbishop Justin Cardinal Rigali. Archbishop Chaput is an extraordinarily good choice. He is a conservative culture warrior, standing up for the timeless truths of the Church (some people root for baseball teams; I root for bishops).
The Philadelphia archdiocese has been embroiled in a sex-abuse scandal involving a number of priests. Although the scandal is no where near the 'public school threshold', there have been criticisms of Cardinal Rigali's handling of the scandal. Chaput is a tough administrator who will help clean up the mess.
To give you a taste of archbishop Chaput's skills as a thinker and social critic, here are excerpts from a talk  he gave to the Catholic Social Workers National Association in June:
Catholic Charity in Secular America

I would like to offer three reflections that focus on the “Catholic” identity of Catholic Charities and, by extension, the identity of all Catholic social work.

First: What we do becomes who we are. A man who does good usually becomes good—or at least better than he was. A man who struggles with his fear and overcomes it and shows courage gradually becomes brave. And a man who steals from his friends or cheats his company, even in little things, eventually becomes a thief. He may start as a good man with some unhappy appetites and alibis, but unless he repents and changes, the sins become the man. The habit of stealing, or lying, or cowardice, or adultery, reshapes him into a different creature.

What applies to individuals can apply just as easily to institutions and organizations. The more that Catholic universities or hospitals mute their religious identity, the more that Catholic social ministries weaken their religious character, the less “Catholic” they are, the less useful to the Gospel they become.

This problem of the weakening of Catholic teaching in some Catholic social projects has been quite serious.  For example, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development has been entangled with various leftist and pro-abortion groups, which has led to a major reorganization of the group.
Second: The individual is sacred but not sovereign. For Catholics, every human person—no matter how disabled, poor, or flawed—has a unique, inviolable dignity. Sanctity of life and the basic rights that go with it begin at conception and continue through natural death.

But civil society consists not just of autonomous individuals. It also consists of communities, which have rights of their own. Catholic institutions are extensions of the Catholic community and Catholic belief. The state has no right to interfere with their legitimate work, even when it claims to act in the name of individuals unhappy with Catholic teaching. The individual’s right to resent the Church or reject her beliefs does not trump the rights of the Catholic community to believe and live according to its faith.

A fundamental teaching of the Church on social policy is the concept of subsidiarity, which is the principle that there should be many levels of authority and organization in society, and that influence should be vested in the levels (family, parish, town) closest to the individual. Subsidiarity is opposed to excessive state power.

To put it another way, Catholic ministries have the duty to faithfully embody Catholic beliefs about marriage, the family, social justice, sexuality, abortion and other important issues. And if the state forbids those Catholic ministries to be faithful in their services through legal or financial bullying, then as a matter of integrity they should end their services.

The third point gives context to the other two: A new kind of America is emerging in the early 21st century, and it’s likely to be much less friendly to religious faith than anything in the nation’s past. That has implications for every aspect of Catholic social ministry.
The hostility from many quarters to authentic Chrisitan life is palpable. The mere prospect of a mention of Christ or God in a school ceremony can get you an injunction from a federal court. The enemies of Christianity have no qualms about the use of state power to silence public expression of religious belief.
Early America could afford to be “secular” in the best sense, precisely because its people were overwhelmingly religious. The Founders saw religious faith as something separate from government but vital to the nation’s survival. In the eyes of Adams, Washington and most of the other Founders, religion created virtuous citizens. And only virtuous citizens could sustain a country as delicately balanced in its institutions, moral instincts and laws as the United States.

As a result, for nearly two centuries, Christian thought, vocabulary, and practice were the unofficial but implicit soul to every aspect of American life—including the public square. The great Jesuit scholar John Courtney Murray put it this way: “The American Bill of Rights is not a piece of 18th-century rationalist theory; it is far more the product of Christian history. Behind it one can see, not the philosophy of the Enlightenment, but the older philosophy that had been the matrix of the common law. The ‘man’ whose rights are guaranteed in the face of law and government is, whether he knows it or not, the Christian man, who had learned to know his own dignity in the school of Christian faith.”

The basic freedoms declared in our Declaration and embodied in our Constitution are Christian freedoms. Without Christian culture and widespread belief, they will cease to exist. "We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights..." is a lie if we have no Creator.

The trouble is that America’s religious soul—its Christian subtext—has been weakening for decades. We are watching the end of a very old social compact in American life: the mutual respect of civil and sacred authority, and the mutual autonomy of religion and state. And that’s dangerous.

American life has always had a deep streak of unhealthy individualism, rooted not just in the Enlightenment, but also in Reformation theology. In practice, religion has always moderated that individualism. It has given the country a social conscience and a common moral compass.

Religion has also played another key role. Individuals, on their own, have very little power in dealing with the state. But communities, and especially religious communities, have a great deal of power in shaping attitudes and behavior. Churches are one of the mediating institutions, along with voluntary associations, fraternal organizations, and especially the family, that stand between the power of the state and the weakness of individuals. They’re crucial to the “ecology” of American life as we have traditionally understood it.

And that’s why, if you dislike religion or resent the Catholic Church, or just want to reshape American life into some new kind of experiment, you need to use the state to break the influence of the Church and her ministries.

In the years ahead, we’re going to see more and more attempts by civil authority to interfere in the life of believing communities. We’ll also see less and less unchallenged space for religious institutions to carry out their work in the public square. It’s already happening with Catholic hospitals and adoption agencies, and even in the hiring practices of organizations like Catholic Charities. Right now no one in Catholic social work can afford to be lukewarm about his faith or naive about the environment we now face—at least, if we want Catholic social work to remain Catholic.
Archbishop (hopefully Cardinal soon) Chaput is a great man to take this fight to a larger stage. Philadelphia needs his leadership, as do we all.
Please pray for him.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wesley J. Smith on Chris Mooney and white male global warming skeptics

Funny post from wesley J. Smith at Secondhand Smoke:

Global Warming Hysteria: Chris Mooney Blames Testosterone for White Male Conservative Skepticism
To think some people take this guy seriously. Chris Mooney has a Looney Tunes blog post out today blaming testosterone and the supposed need to dominate others for global warming skepticism among angry white male conservatives. (Talk about cliched thinking!)
It’s a real hoot. He discusses another one of those ridiculous, “why conservatives think the way they do” articles soon to be published, and weighs in with a theory of his own for higher levels of global warming skepticism among the world’s Rush Limbaughs. From “What’s With Conservative White Men and Climate Change Denial?”
I am surprised the authors didn’t bring up what may be the most biologically grounded of them: “social dominance orientation,” or SDO. This refers to a particular personality type—usually male and right wing—who wants to dominate others, who sees the world as a harsh place (metaphorically, a “jungle”) where it’s either eat or be eaten, and who tends to really believe in a Machiavellian way of things. Fundamentally, this identity is all about testosterone firing and being an alpha male. SDOs are fine with inequality and in favor of hierarchy because frankly, they think some people (e.g., them) are just better than others, and therefore destined to get ahead.
Or, perhaps they are just not easily panicked by blatant hysteria the way myopic, metrosexual, testosterone deficient, left wing, cracking voiced, white male “science” pundits are. I mean, if we are going to cast baseless aspersions via stereotyped, insulting, and unscientific “theories,” why can’t I join in on the fun?
What a hoot. Mooney, a faux-journalist and climate hysteric seemingly always on the verge of a climate swoon spins a poll that shows quite high levels of global warming skepticism among white male conservatives.

Instead of asking the question: 'Why are people who aren't white male conservatives such dupes about the global warming hoax?', Mooney does some amateur psychiatry and diagnoses high testosterone levels as the cause for folks who think that Al Gore's a fraud.

Bad news for hysteric frauds like Mooney: it looks like this global warming skepticism is a epidemic.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Loreena Mc Kennitt: St. John of the Cross' Dark Night of the Soul

Dali-- Christ of St. John of the Cross

The dark night of the soul is an experience of deep Christian spirituality, described by the desert fathers two millennia ago and recounted in poetry and prose with such beauty by St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Avila in the 16th century. Blessed Mother Theresa had a profound experience of it in the latter part of her life. It is the penultimate experience of contemplatives on their journey to God, and may in more subtle forms be experienced by all Christians. It is a spiritual emptying of our conceptions of God, to allow Him to enter our soul without accoutrement, to enter as He is. It is experienced by the contemplative as a profound spiritual dryness, and emptiness, as the absence of God. But it is the very presence of God, working in the soul, clearing out our human conceptions of Him that must be purged if He is to live within us and we are to know Him as He is.

The great mystics understand the dryness and the pain of the darkened night, and the joy that follows with the union with the Lord.

This song is an extraordinarily beautiful adaptation of St. John of the Cross' The Dark Night of the Soul by Canadian singer/musician Loreena Mc Kennitt. She does astonishing justice to the most beautiful poem of Spain's national poet.

A love song to God.

Loreena McKennitt - The dark night of the soul

Upon a darkened night
the flame of love was burning in my breast
And by a lantern bright
I fled my house while all in quiet rest
Shrouded by the night
and by the secret stair I quickly fled
The veil concealed my eyes
while all within lay quiet as the dead


Oh night thou was my guide
oh night more loving than the rising sun
Oh night that joined the lover
to the beloved one
transforming each of them into the other

Upon that misty night
in secrecy, beyond such mortal sight
Without a guide or light
than that which burned so deeply in my heart
That fire t'was led me on
and shone more bright than of the midday sun
To where he waited still
it was a place where no one else could come


Within my pounding heart
which kept itself entirely for him
He fell into his sleep
beneath the cedars all my love I gave
And by the fortress walls
the wind would brush his hair against his brow
And with its smoothest hand
caressed my every sense it would allow


I lost myself to him
and laid my face upon my lovers breast
And care and grief grew dim
as in the mornings mist became the light
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Commentor KW on China's one-child policy

Commentor KW takes issue with my post condemning China's one-child policy:


I certainly object to forced abortion. It's outrageous,

There are different degrees of force. I presume you don't support government officials strapping women to tables to abort their children (a common practice in China). But any government population policy is force. The force may take less obvious form-- the family may be punished financially or professionally. It's still force. And you have no problem with it, it seems.

but only slightly more outrageous than forcing women to give birth.
Giving birth is natural, not forced. It's how we all got here, KW. If you mean that restricting abortion is force, I point out that killing innocents has generally been prohibited by law. Insisting that a child's life be protected and respected is not 'only slightly less outrageous' than forced abortions. It's not outrageous at all.
Perhaps big tax breaks for couples that have only one child would be better approach for the Chinese government.
Taxing the hell out of families with more than one child is such an enlightened policy. It will be of particular benefit to sustenance farmers trying to feed more than one child. That'll teach 'em to procreate when you ordered 'em not to.
The practice of selective abortions of girls is stupid because it will harm Chinese society.
It's not "stupid". It's an atrocity. And killing girls doesn't just harm Chinese society. It harms the girls who are killed. You seem to keep forgetting about them.
I hope the sake of Chinese morality isn't fixed by some transcendent opinion, and that the Chinese can learn to love their child no matter their sex. 
'Love and cherish the little darlings, but if you have more than one, we'll rip out your ovaries'. A prescription for love.
China is trying to save China,
Totalitarians are doing what totalitarians always do. It has nothing to do with "saving China". It has to do with the assertion of power over the most intimate aspects of family life. Large families and the intimate loyalty within the family have always been an impediment to totalitarians. Families distract people from doing what the totalitarians want them to do, which is obey totalitarians. Strapping a woman to a table and ripping out her kid that she conceived despite your order is a very effective way to teach obedience. It makes people listen more attentively in the future. In the society you envision, there can be no foci of influence (family or church) that distracts people from submission to your authority. Totalitarianism 101.
and in so doing the help to make the earth more sustainable for the rest of us.
I feel so much more sustained after of tens of millions of murders and forced abortions and sterilizations. Don't you?
I know that many, if not most, of American religious conservatives simply don't believe that we can ruin the earth because we are not in control.
Christians support conservation. It's batsh*t fact-free totalitarianism that gives us pause.
Others believe and want their best friend in the sky to save their righteous asses as it all goes to hell. Unfortunately the rest of us, living in the real world, have to suffer the consequences of your faith based politics.
And tens of millions of children murdered and men and women involuntarily sterilized for your totalitarian ideology suffered the consequences of your faith based politics.
The world is indeed going to hell in a hand-basket,
Can you name one prediction you totalitarian overpopulation nuts have made since Malthus that has come true?
and it's religious conservatives the world over that are fighting the hardest to make sure we do nothing about it.
Damn right. We think that the only overpopulation we have is that there is too much totalitarianism. We're trying to reduce the rate at which it reproduces.
If every person really understood what was happening to our planet, and wanted a future with a minimum of human suffering, they would use that knowledge and their intellect to suppress the genetically driven, religiously mandated, drive to reproduce like lemmings.
Tens of millions of dead Chinese children is quite a start on your crusade to save the world from... from... people. And why isn't the unchecked spread of totalitarianism a problem for our planet? Why isn't the violent intrusion of jackbooted government "population" officials into the most intimate aspect of family life a problem for our planet? Scares me a whole heck of a lot more than a few more people.

Why don't we just restrict the increase in population of totalitarians? (We could make condoms with little pictures of Pol Pot so totalitarians would want to use them). Unlike Chinese farmers, totalitarians have a proven record of killing lots of people.
Education and the shedding of illogical religious dogma is the key to a prosperous, just, and happy future.
Just what China has done. Hundreds of millions of dead children. Tens of million missing girls. Millions of women forced to undergo involuntary abortions. Millions of involuntarily sterilized men and women. Families shredded. An aging population without enough young people to sustain growth or even to support the aged.

But they do obey, which is what totalitarianism population control is all about.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Atheist censors try to stop street naming for 9-11 heroes

From Hot Air:

Street name “Seven in Heaven Way” upsets American Atheists


This summer, the city of Brooklyn renamed a neighborhood street “Seven in Heaven Way” to honor seven local firefighters who gave their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. A nice thought, right? Simple, symbolic, sincere. But sadly, the commemorative gesture has since generated controversy.

The New Jersey-based American Atheists, the same group that brought the country “God Less America” Fourth of July aerial banners, promptly objected to the street name.

“It’s improper for the city to endorse the view that heaven exists,” American Atheists president David Silverman said. “It links Christianity and heroism.”

Atheist bigots have no shame. The naming of the street reflects the views of the vast majority of Americans who want to honor these brave men-- who are in heaven.

Additional objections: Sept. 11 was an attack on “all of America,” so no memorial of it should “break” the Constitution — and, also, the street sign presumes to know what the seven firefighters themselves believed.

But, as The Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshall points out, the group’s objections reveal a misunderstanding of freedom of religion.

"Godless secularism – or a “naked public square” denuded of all religious references and symbols, as the late Richard John Neuhaus put it – never was intended to be the character of our American republic. Religious freedom, the cornerstone of all freedom, is freedom for religion, not hostility toward it.

Yes, the Founders wisely separated political from religious authority in our federal government, but they didn’t intend to divorce religion from public life or politics. They based the American model of religious liberty on a favorable view of religious practice.

Far from privatizing or marginalizing religion, the Founders assumed religious believers and institutions would take active roles in society, engaging in the political process and helping to shape consensus on morally fraught questions. …

Most nations are dominated, demographically anyway, by adherents of particular faiths. But every denomination – and the atheist camp as well – is a small minority somewhere on the planet. This reality underscores why religious liberty, not the radical secularist or theocratic systems at either end of the spectrum, should be precious to everyone."

But on a more practical level, the objections reveal an acute sensitivity that seems unwarranted in this situation. A street name with the word “heaven” doesn’t automatically imply an endorsement of Christianity — many other religions include a paradisal idea of the afterlife, too. Nor does it even necessarily imply an endorsement of the belief that heaven is real. Are no streets named for mythical places or fictional characters?

Do we have to change all names of public places-- Los Angeles, San Francisco, St. Louis -- that some moonbat atheist might find objectionable?

We need to understand that the humorous caricature of the atheist--  the faculty lounge denizen with the pony tail and the Che t-shirt-- under-represents the simple hate that these people have for Christianity. They are the perpetually offended, inveterate totalitarians, who use every means at their disposal to inflict their idiot ideology on the American public.

The proper response to these thugs is derision and defiance.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

David Berlinski on Uncommon Knowledge

The brilliant David Berlinski is a guest on Peter Robinson's Uncommon Knowledge.

I had the pleasure of having dinner with Berlinski a few years ago. Berlinski is a genuine skeptic, unlike the atheist frauds who today lay claim to the moniker. He asks deep questions about all claims to knowledge, including his own. He is a gifted writer and thinker. His books-- including the Devil's Delusion and his most recent One, Two, Three; absolutely elementary mathematics, are must-reads for those interested in scientism, philosophy of science, and mathematics.

He is a gentleman as well as a scholar, and I highly recommend his work. He is a public intellectual in the finest sense, unlike the poseurs so prominent in the public square today.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jerry Coyne stands up for abortion and infanticide. Not so much for democracy.

Jerry Coyne on abortion and infanticide:

Coyne quotes CNN news:

From CNN News comes this bizarre event: Mississippi will hold a referendum to determine whether voters think that “personhood” begins with conception.

Mississippians vote on whether a zygote is a person
Voters in Mississippi will be given a chance to decide whether life begins at conception, a controversial abortion-related ballot initiative that the state’s highest court has refused to block.
The Mississippi Supreme Court late Thursday allowed Measure 26, also known as the Personhood Amendment, to appear on the state ballot November 8. The decision was a rejection of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and abortion-rights groups.
The 7-2 ruling said those groups had not met the legal burden required to restrict the right of citizens to amend the state constitution. . .
. . . Anti-abortion forces hope the amendment, if passed, would ultimately be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, providing another opportunity for the justices to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. 

...I recognize that for many abortion is not a clear-cut issue, and there is controversy about the stage at which aborting a fetus should be considered illegal or immoral. Some, like Peter Singer, even think that some euthanasia of severely afflicted or doomed newborns might be permitted, and I can see the validity of that view as well.
Medical killing of handicapped children has quite a history in the 20th century. In Groningen Holland neonatologists have been killing handicapped newborns for a decade. They even published a paper describing their technique (legal technique, not just the medial technique) in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In Germany in the 1930's, the T4 program euthanized killed a quarter of a million handicapped people, many of whom were children. After the war, the doctors responsible for it got to explain themselves in court. Their explanations were similar to explanations used by defenders of euthanasia of handicapped children today. The court carefully considered their explanations. The doctors were hanged.

Hint to Coyne: your opinion is on thin ethical ice if it was used by defense counsel at Nuremberg.
At any rate, according to a 2006 survey by the Guttmacher Institute, only 1.5% of abortions in America involve fetuses older than 21 weeks, the age at which the fetus is usually considered viable,...
There were over a million abortions in the U.S. last year. So 15,000 "viable" babies were aborted last year. Actually, most of the million kids were viable, if they hadn't been killed and had been allowed to continue to grow in their mother's womb.

There are 3700 undergraduates at the University of Chicago, which is the institution at which Coyne teaches. The fact that the number of viable babies (babies who could live outside of the womb at the time they were aborted) killed by abortionists each year is four times the number of  undergraduates at Coyne's university seems not to bother him. His term for that number of viable aborted babies is "only..."
 I know that women don’t take the procedure lightly, and hardly regard it (as many religious people seem to do) as a form of birth control.
Abortion is the most common surgical procedure performed on women in the U.S.-- about 1.2 million per year. That's more than all breast augmentations (296,203), nose reshapings (188,676), liposuctions (179,207), eyelid surgeries (177,288), and tummy tucks (111, 642) combined.

Women don't take abortions lightly.
Clearly, an 100-cell blastocyst does not have any feelings or thoughts...
Coyne uses his scientific training here.

(much less a soul),

The soul the form of a living thing. A human being has a soul from conception to natural death.

Coyne has a soul too. He had one when he was a 100 cell blastocyst, and he'll have one when he's very elderly. All human beings have souls.

and to deem that ball of cells equivalent to an adult human being elides some very serious differences involving sentience.
To deem a human being at the blastocyst stage the intellectual equivalent of an human being at the adult stage would be mistaken. To deem a very young human being devoid of the right to life is another matter entirely.

Coyne's implicit assertion is that intelligence or sentience is the criterion on which to base human rights. This is an assertion that most people would challenge, which is why it is usually stated vaguely.

Do notice that pro-abortion pro-infanticide folks always assert that their own qualities (adulthood, intelligence,...) are the criteria that confer human rights. Coyne does not assert, for instance, that non-interference with the rights of defenseless humans should be a criterion for conferral of human rights.

Coyne's criteria for human rights seems to boil down, in the important respects, to being like Coyne. Hmmm...
A blastocyst is no more what we think of as a “person” than an acorn is the same thing as an oak tree.
A member of a species remains a member of that species throughout its life. An acorn is a very young oak tree. A blastocyst is a very young human being. Species and individuation remain the same throughout life. Accidents (size, leafiness, sentience) change.

Does Coyne, a professor of biology, believe that the unborn child changes species during development? If it does not, then the child is as much a homo sapiens (human being) at conception as he is when he gets tenure at the University of Chicago. People look different, and have different capabilities, at different ages. They're still human beings, from conception to natural death. Basic biology, Jerry. Do you actually teach your students that human beings change species in the womb?
And this doesn’t even take into consideration the widespread view that abortion is a private matter involving the wishes of the parents, the fact that women will seek out abortions whether or not they’re illegal (thousands of Irish women, for example, fly to England every year for abortions), and the possibility that the production of unwanted children may be bad for both those children and society.
Uwanted children are not "produced". They're born. They need to loved, nourished, and cherished.  Ever heard of adoption, Jerry?
Further, if a fetus at any state is deemed a “person,” then abortion becomes equivalent to murder.
Abortion is homicide, as a matter of definition. Murder is the just most serious form of homicide.  Pro-abortion activists try to scare the public into assuming that legal restriction on abortion would involve charging the mother with murder. That is not part of the pro-life view. Abortionists-- the people who profit from killing babies-- should and would be the target of legal sanction.
Now there are nonreligious objections to abortion, but clearly much of this “personhood” kerfuffle derives from religion and its attendant concept of a soul...
The "concept" is respect for human life.  Christians (which is what Coyne means by "religion") believe that all human beings have the right to life at all ages. The most fundamental right of personhood is the right to life. It is the right on which all other rights depend.
It seems to me that although America is a democracy, it’s dicey to leave the definition of “personhood” up to the voters rather than the judiciary (but please, not this Supreme Court!).
Jerry Coyne finds this "We the People..." stuff so... so... frustrating. Why should the people of Mississippi get to write the laws for the people of Mississippi? Shouldn't the (unelected and unaccountable) judiciary get to make the laws? And shouldn't Jerry Coyne get to pick which courts get to make the law? They're elites like Coyne, and they know best.

The sheer depravity of Coyne's worldview in on display here. Support for abortion, including the annual killing of 15,000 babies capable of living outside of the womb, killing of handicapped children, idiotic assertions about the biology of human development to justify killing the young, and startlingly casual dismissal of democracy are part and parcel of atheist/materialist ethics.

This is why we fight.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Joe Carter on the myth of Galileo

Joe Carter at First Things has a superb post on the truth about the Galileo affair:

The Myth of Galileo: A Story With a (Mostly) Valuable Lesson for Today
Thursday, September 8, 2011, 12:36 PM
Joe Carter

In the Republican presidential debate last night, Rick Perry responded to John Huntsman’s appeal to science on climate change by saying:

The science is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet to me is just nonsense . . . Just because you have a group of scientists who stood up and said here is the fact. Galileo got outvoted for a spell.

This has lead to numerous pundits to scoff at Perry’s analogy. Political scientist Steven Taylor provides a typical example:

. . . Perry presented this analogy as if Galileo was caught up in a scientific battle with other scientists when, in fact, he was the scientist battling non-scientists. As such, governor, that analogy does not mean what you think it means (or, to. paraphrase a debate line from many years ago: you, governor, are no Galileo).

Steven Taylor is a very smart guy. But he is (mostly) wrong about Galileo.

Here is the real story about Galileo Galilei. It’s not the story about an enlightened scientist being persecuted by a narrow-minded Catholic Church because that story is (mostly) a myth. It’s not a story about a great scientific genius either, though he was that (mainly). It’s also not a story about someone being reincarnated with the soul of the old astronomer like the song by the Indigo Girls that, for a few weeks in ’92, I thought was (almost) profound. (And I should point out that it not an original story but one that cribbed together from other sources.)

But like all good stories this one provides a (mostly) valuable lesson.

In Galileo’s day, the predominant view in astronomy was a model first espoused by Aristotle and developed by Claudius Ptolemy in which the sun and planets revolved around the earth. The Ptolemic system had been the reigning paradigm for over 1400 years when a Polish Canon named Nicholas Copernicus published his seminal work, On the Revolution of the Celestial Orbs.

Now Copernicus’ heliocentric theory wasn’t exactly new nor was it based on purely empirical observation. While it had a huge impact on the history of science, his theory was more of a revival of Pythagorean mysticism than of a new paradigm. Like many great discoveries, he merely took an old idea and gave it a new spin.

Although Copernicus’ fellow churchmen encouraged him to publish his work, he delayed the publication of On the Revolution for several years for fear of being mocked by the scientific community. At the time, the academy belonged to Aristotelians who weren’t about to let such nonsense slip through the “peer review” process.

Then came Galileo, the prototypical Renaissance man a brilliant scientist, mathematician, and musician. But while he as intelligent, charming, and witty, the Italian was also argumentative, mocking, and vain. He was, as we would say, complex. When his fellow astronomer Johann Kepler wrote to tell him that he had converted to Copernicus’ theory, Galileo shot back that he had too — and had been so for years (though all evidence shows that it wasn’t true). His ego wouldn’t allow him to be upstaged by men who weren’t as smart as he was. And for Galileo, that included just about everybody.

In 1610, Galileo used his telescope to make some surprising discoveries that disputed Aristotelian cosmology. Though his findings didn’t exactly overthrow the reigning view of the day, they were warmly received by the Vatican and by Pope Paul V. Rather than continuing his scientific studies and building on his theories, though, Galileo began a campaign to discredit the Aristotelian view of astronomy. (His efforts would be akin to a modern biologist trying to dethrone Darwin.) Galileo knew he was right and wanted to ensure that everyone else knew that the Aristotelians were wrong.

In his efforts to cram Copernicanism down the throats of his fellow scientists, Galileo managed only to squander the goodwill he had established within the Church. He was attempting to force them to accept a theory that, at the time, was still unproven. The Church graciously offered to consider Copernicanism a reasonable hypothesis, albeit a superior one to the Ptolemaic system, until further proof could be gathered. Galileo, however, never came up with more evidence to support the theory. Instead, he continued to pick fights with his fellow scientists even though many of his conclusions were being proven wrong (i.e., that the planets orbit the sun in perfect circles).

Galileo’s primary mistake was to move the fight out of the realm of science and into the field of biblical interpretation. In a fit of hubris, he wrote the Letter to Castelli in order to explain how his theory was not incompatible with proper biblical exegesis. With the Protestant Reformation still fresh on their minds, the Church authorities were in no mood to put up with another troublemaker trying to interpret Scripture on his own.

But, to their credit, they didn’t overreact. The Letter to Castelli was twice presented to the Inquisition as an example of the astronomer’s heresy and twice the charges were dismissed. Galileo, however, wasn’t satisfied and continued his efforts to force the Church to concede that the Copernican system was an issue of irrefutable truth.

In 1615, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine politely presented Galileo with an option: Put up or Shut up. Since there was no proof that the earth revolved around the sun, there was no reason for Galileo to go around trying to change the accepted reading of Holy Scripture. But if he had proof, the Church was willing to reconsider their position. Galileo’s response was to produce his theory that the ocean tides were caused by the earth’s rotation. The idea was not only scientifically inaccurate but so silly it was even rejected by his supporters.

Fed up with being dismissed, Galileo returned to Rome to bring his case before the Pope. The Pontiff, however, merely passed it along to the Holy Office who issued the opinion that the Copernican doctrine is “foolish and absurd, philosophically and formally heretical inasmuch as it expressly contradicts the doctrine of Holy Scripture in many passages…” The verdict was quickly overruled by other Cardinals in the Church.

Galileo wasn’t about to let up, though, and to everyone’s exasperation, pressed the issue yet again. The Holy Office politely but firmly told him to shut up about the whole Copernican thing and forbid him from espousing the unproven theory. This, of course, was more than he was willing to do.

When his friend took over the Papal throne, Galileo thought he would finally find a sympathetic ear. He discussed the issue with Pope Urban VIII, a man knowledgeable in matters of math and science, and tried to use his theory of the tides to convince him of the validity of his theory. Pope Urban was unconvinced and even gave an answer (though not a sound one) that refuted the notion.

Galileo then wrote A Dialogue About the Two Chief World Systems in which he would present the views of both Copernicus and Ptolemy. Three characters would be involved: Salviati, the Copernican; Sagredo, the undecided; and Simplicio, the Ptolemian (the name Simplicio implying “simple-minded”). And here is where we find our hero making his biggest blunder: he took the words that Pope Urban had used to refute his theory of the tides and put them in the mouths of Simplicio.

The Pope was not amused.

Galileo, who was now old and sickly, was once again called before the Inquisition. Unlike most suspected heretics, though, he was treated surprisingly well. While waiting for his trial, Galileo was housed in a luxurious apartment overlooking the Vatican gardens and provided with a personal valet.

In his defense, Galileo tried a peculiar tactic. He attempted to convince the judges that he had never maintained nor defended the opinion that the earth moves and that the sun is stationary and that he had, in fact, demonstrated the opposite by showing how the Copernican hypothesis was in error. The Holy Office, who knew they were being played for fools, condemned him as being “vehemently suspected of heresy”, a patently unjust ruling considering that Copernicanism had never been declared heretical.

Galileo’s sentence was to renounce his theory and to live out the rest of his days in a pleasant country house near Florence. Obviously the exile did him good because it was there, under the care of his daughter, that he continued his experiments and published his best scientific work, Discourses on Two New Sciences. He died quietly in 1642 at the ripe old age of 77.

As the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead wrote, “In a generation which saw the Thirty Years’ War and remembered Alva in the Netherlands, the worst that happened to men of science was that Galileo suffered an honorable detention and a mild reproof, before dying peacefully in his bed.”

As Paul Harvey would say, now we know the rest of the story. So what can we learn from this tale? I think it provides different lessons for different groups of people.

For scientists it shows that if you are in agreement with most of your colleagues, you will most likely be forgotten while history remembers some crank. For advocates of non-consensus positions (e.g., AGW skeptics, Intelligent Design theorists) it teaches that claiming your theory is correct is no substitute for backing it up with experiments and data (even if you are right). For aggressively self-confident people the lesson is that sometimes being persistent and believing in yourself will just get you into trouble. For Catholics it provides an example of why you shouldn’t insult the Pope (at least when there is an Inquisition going on).

I suspect that there are many more lessons that can be gleaned from this story. But I find that the real moral is not so much in the story itself but in the fact that the story even needs to be told in the first place. While I first heard the story of Galileo in elementary school, it wasn’t until long, long after I had graduated from college that I finally learned the truth. No doubt some people are just now hearing about it for the first time. How is that possible?

I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that for centuries people like Bertrand Russell, George Bernard Shaw, Carl Sagan, Bertolt Brecht, and the Indigo Girls have been passing on the myth. I don’t think any of them were intentionally lying. In fact, I doubt any of them ever bothered to examine the facts themselves. They didn’t need to. The story fit what they already believed—that science and religion were natural enemies—and that was all they needed to know.

It would be easy to mock such gullibility and intellectual laziness. But the truth is that I’m probably guilty of doing the same thing quite often. Perhaps it’s because I am a journalist (sort of) and am more apt to believe whatever version of a story I find more interesting. As a newspaper editor I often favored David over Goliath, even when the powerful Philistine was more credible than the person slinging the stones. “Boy Shepherd Slays Powerful Giant” always makes for a better headline.

As a Christian, though, I don’t have the option of favoring the position that will sell more newspapers. Instead, my duty is to side with the truth. When I hear a story that fits my agenda I should examine all the relevant facts before accepting it as Gospel. I may not always be absolutely certain which side of the line the truth lays. But I do know on thing for sure. That is the side that God will be on.

As one might expect, the Galileo affair is a much more complex matter than is presented in caricatures today. Galileo was right about some things, and wrong about others. Just like the Church.

On reflection, I think that the Church, contrary to the fables in currency today, was the more judicious of the interlocutors. Much of the debate was less about religion than it was about prudence and respect for evidence. Galileo was arrogant and wrong on important aspects of the science, and the Church appropriately challenged him on his claims. His support of the Copernican view was mostly right, but he misrepresented the state of the evidence.

Galileo was a great scientist, and like most great scientists, he had an enormous ego and made many mistakes. His unique contributions were largely eclipsed by his successors.

But he has lived on as metaphor, in the pantheon of those who hate the Church.

Monday, September 12, 2011

No room for firemen at World Trade Center 10 years later...

Mark Steyn on Mayor Bloomberg's exclusion of firemen (and clergy) from the ceremonies at Ground Zero:

What’s missing from these commemorations?
Oh, please... As Mayor Bloomberg’s office has patiently explained, there’s “not enough room” at the official Ground Zero commemoration to accommodate any firemen...
On a day when all the fancypants money-no-object federal acronyms comprehensively failed — CIA, FBI, FAA, INS — the only bit of government that worked was the low-level unglamorous municipal government represented by the Fire Department of New York. When they arrived at the World Trade Center the air was thick with falling bodies — ordinary men and women trapped on high floors above where the planes had hit, who chose to spend their last seconds in one last gulp of open air rather than die in an inferno of jet fuel...

The podium accommodates plenty of New York pols, no doubt. Dignitaries by the busload. But they can't fit in a few firemen, police officers, EMS folks. No room for the first responders.

“Which is kind of weird,” wrote the Canadian blogger Kathy Shaidle, “since 343 of them managed to fit into the exact same space ten years ago.”

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Vox Day on "The Problem of Evil".

Internet Superintelligence Vox Day had a superb post from last Easter on evil. It is an appropriate reflection for today, the anniversary of 9-11, a day when evil slipped off its veil.

Vox Day:

The problem with evil
Posted: April 25, 2011
1:00 am Eastern

© 2011

The fact of the existence of evil troubles many individuals, religious and irreligious alike. Numerous strategies have evolved for dealing with it, from denying it like the Buddhists, enduring it like the Stoics, combating it like the Christians or redefining it like the Marxists. But regardless of the method one chooses, there is observably something to which all of these people from the panoply of religious and philosophical creeds are responding.

For centuries, philosophers have wrestled with the so-called problem of evil. They have attempted to define the nature and the character of evil and to provide explanations for the persistence of its existence. Many of them have been Christians and, indeed, the problem of evil is a major stumbling block to belief in the existence of God for many individuals. It is not uncommon for those struck by tragedy to question their faith, or even to lose it, since they are unable to balance the notion of personal suffering with the existence of a God who claims to love them.

The problem with this reasoning is that it is fundamentally at odds with the very heart of Christianity. Christianity does not postulate that the world is a good place. Jesus repeatedly declared that the world hated him and it would hate those who loved him. Christianity does not claim that God is presently in control of events; when Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus rejected the offer but did not claim that it was spurious. And, indeed, Jesus twice spoke of "the prince of this world" as a being who was coming to kill him but would ultimately be driven out by Jesus' death.

Christianity does not have a problem of evil because it requires evil for the great historical event celebrated yesterday to have any meaning at all. Just as I wrote last week that the Crucifixion and Resurrection make no sense if man is not at risk of hell, they make no sense in a world that is not given over to evil. But if Christianity has no problem of evil, Christians most certainly have a problem with evil. 

One hears much these days of the need for religious tolerance. But this is a false doctrine. Christians are not called to tolerate evil or to love wickedness. We are instead commanded to fight it, to wage tireless and unceasing war against it in all of its myriad forms. We are called to resist it in our own lives, to mitigate it in others and to destroy it wherever possible.

Jesus spoke truly. The world still hates him, and it hates those who worship him. As has been the case for the last 2,000 years, Christians are being actively persecuted around the world. Christian converts are being murdered in Somalia even as Christian churches unwisely welcome Somali immigrants to America. New Christians have been murdered in Iraq and imprisoned in Afghanistan. Life-long Christians in Britain have been threatened with losing their jobs if they don't hide signs of their religion, even though Sikhs are permitted to wear turbans, Jews are permitted to wear yarmulkes, and Muslims are permitted to wear headscarves. America's time may not be soon, but it will eventually come, too.

The West is belatedly discovering the truth about the love of money being the root of all evil. The arrogant nations of the post-Christian West put their faith in their wealth, only to learn that Mammon is a false and treacherous god. The great irony is that despite the world's rejection of God and its foolish embrace of evil, those who find themselves suffering the promised consequences of their actions will end up blaming God for them. Such are the perils of free will.

But there is no cause for Christians to be discouraged despite observing that the prince of this world still rules over his kingdoms and once-great Christendom is in decline. On that first Resurrection Day, not even the 11 remaining disciples believed, only those few grief-stricken women who had entered the tomb and were astonished to find it empty. From that meager seed, a mighty church of more than 1 billion believers has grown. And yet, it hardly matters if there is but a single man or woman remaining who is willing to stand up in the face of the world's hatred and give voice to the Good News, for even if we remain silent, we are told that the rocks themselves will thunder.

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.

The Christian understanding is that the world is occupied territory. It is occupied by evil itself, in spiritual and personal form. We are passing through it, but we are not meant for it. We are in the world, but not of it.

Islamic terrorism is not an exception to the world. It is a manifestation-- one of many manifestations-- of the world, of a fallen world. God is soverign, but He permits freedom, even horrendous freedom. If we, who are created in His image, are to strive for good, we must be free to strive for evil. It's not a paradox. It's a necessary truth. That necessary truth showed itself with frightening clarity a decade ago.

Christ's call for us is to join Him, which means to join the fight. We must understand that we are on a battlefield, not our home.  The battle shifts. At times it is physical-- rushing up a staircase in a burning skyscraper to help innocents trapped. At times it is political-- standing up publicly for freedom and for the sanctity of human life. At times it is moral-- doing the right thing when every instinct we have is to do the wrong thing.

But we are not home yet. Our home has many rooms, and we will rest there, when we have finished the chores assigned to us in our time.

Let's remember all of the innocents who perished on that awful day, and remember with special gratitude those first responders who so courageously did His work, and finished the chores assigned to them in their time.