Friday, January 31, 2014

Definition of a "racist": a conservative winning an argument with a liberal

A short time ago I had a back-and-forth with a couple of liberals in the comments of a post here on Richard Nixon's admirable record on civil rights. I pointed out that the leftist "Southern Strategy"meme about Nixon and Republican political tactics-- the claim by Democrats that Republicans strategically gained support in the South from the 1960's onward by using racist code-words or dog-whistles to garner white racist votes-- is belied by the facts. Republicans have a long consistent history of support for civil rights. When the South was racist, it was a Democrat stronghold. When it ceased being racist, it
became a Republican stronghold.

President Nixon, allegedly the instigator of the "Southern Strategy", was a supporter of civil rights all his life, and immediately upon becoming president in 1969-- at the height of his mythical "Southern Strategy"-- he desegregated schools in the South and instituted Affirmative Action. Some appeal to "racism", huh? Southern"racists" elected Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992, and Southern "racists" continued to elect mostly Democrat congressmen and senators until 1996.

To bolster their claim of Republican codewords leveraging insidious racism in the South for the past half-century, my liberal interlocutors quoted snippets from Republican strategists Kevin Phillips in 1970 and Lee Atwater in 1981 that they claim suggest the use of such codewords for political purposes. Such quotes presumably compensate for the utter lack of evidence for racism in Republican policy and in actual elections in the South during the past fifty years.

But we need not harken back forty years to find explicit political use of racist codewords. Here's a remarkable example of a liberal journalist advocating the false charge of racism for political advantage from 2010.

JournoList is a private journalists'  list serve used by hundreds of liberal journalists (but I repeat myself) to discuss and coordinate their journalism. The emails were leaked in 2010, revealing extensive collusion on the part of liberal journalists to hype liberal views and smear conservatives in their ostensibly objective work as mainstream journalists. Participants included Time magazine's Joe Klein, the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin, New York Times' columnist Paul Krugman, the Nation's Chris Hayes, and folks from Newsweek, Politico, Huffington Post, the New Republic, and many others. Prominent among the exhortations to twist the news were extensive discussions as to how to spike the Reverend Jeremiah Wright story and protect Obama's candidacy.

Perhaps the most remarkable email was from Spencer Ackerman, a journalist who has worked at the New Republic, Wired, American Prospect, Talking Points Memo, among others.

"What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger's [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constand fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically. 
[T]ake one of them-- Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares-- and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes *them* sputter with rage, which in turn kids to overreaction and self-destruction."
Here is a quote from a liberal journalist, colluding with other liberal journalists, not from 1970 or 1981 but from 2010, encouraging the use of false accusations of racism in mainstream news reports to slander and intimidate conservatives.

The charge of racism is incessantly used by liberals to intimidate and smear conservatives. It is a mainstream political tactic, used not only by Democrats but by ostensibly impartial journalists, to smother political debate in our country.

In fact, the accusation of racism against Republicans is probably the most common political tactic used by the left.

"Racism" is a liberal dog whistle, and it's been used shamelessly against the very people-- conservative Republicans-- who have been the tireless opponents of actual racism for the better part of two centuries.  It is precisely because the charge of racism against conservatives and Republicans is an inversion of the truth and is so vicious that it has proven to be so effective for liberals, who for two centuries embraced racism and collaborated with Southern segregationists and their modern-day race-baiting imitators.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Where have all the flowers gone?

No, don't think I've gone all soft. I'm no peacenick, and I have no illusions about Seeger. I have always loved Peter, Paul and Mary-- Paul is a devout Christian whose masterpiece-- Wedding Song-- is a classic of Christian music.

Where have all the flowers gone? is a beautiful haunting song. It seems to tell the truth about us in an essential way-- about our humanity and fragility and our murderous foolishness.

The 100th anniversary of WWI is coming up this summer. The Great War was the epochal cataclysm of modern times, exceeded in importance only by the French Revolution, which was its antecedent and its real cause. I don't count WWII as a separate conflict, because I consider it the resumption and denouement of the Great War, interrupted as it was by a low dishonest truce.

The carnage of The Great War was unspeakable. A generation of young French and English and German and Austrian and Russian and Turkish men perished. It was madness and hubris and an unraveling. The Bolsheviks and the Nazis and the Italian fascists germinated in it, and arose from it. In our country, Wilson began the expansion of government power and committed some of the most repressive acts that our nation has ever used against its citizens.

I hope there is much reflection this summer on The Great War, on its causes and its consequences. It is the story of modernity, played out in a charnel house. It is, I believe, a manifestation of the rise of secularism, of mass movements and of practical (and at times explicit) atheism. Nietzsche saw it coming, with more clarity than practically anyone.

In August of 2014, we should reflect on the death of God in much of our culture, to honor the millions who perished because of it.

NB: If you want to understand much of the immediate lead-up to The Great War, Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August is a masterpiece. She recounts the summer of 1914, explaining the beginning of the war with poetic insight. Popular history at its finest. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pete Seeger R.I.P.

Folksinger Pete Seeger passed away.

He was a real icon, and a complex guy. From all I've heard he was a friendly fellow. His musical accomplishments are protean. He was great on the civil rights movement, and some of his environmental work made things better (he campaigned to clean up the Hudson River, where I grew up, and it is sure a lot cleaner now than it was when I was a kid.)

He was atrocious on several other things. He endorsed an anti-Semitic boycott of Israel. Worst of all, he was a long-time member of the Communist Party who spent a half-century licking Stalin's boots and working tirelessly to advance communist totalitarianism.

Tellingly, in the mid-1930's he demanded rearmament against Hitler, but from late 1939 to mid 1941 (during the Hitler-Stalin pact) he suddenly opposed American entrance into WWII, and then he publicly turned on a dime again and emphatically supported American entrance into the war when Hitler invaded his buddy.

Hitler didn't get nicer or less dangerous from August 1939 to June 1941, unless you're taking the Soviet perspective. The only asynchrony between Seeger's politics and Stalin's policies was when there was a delay in the telegrams from the Kremlin to the CPUSA.

In Seeger's later years he recanted his Stalinist water-carrying-- which is a manly thing to do-- but the tens of millions of victims of the ideology he loved might be a bit reluctant to let bygones be bygones. You know how stiff reactionary capitalist-roader imperialists can get.

In a sane world, Seeger would have spent the last 50 years (politely) relegated to the pariah section of humanity alongside Nazi-supporting entertainers and other totalitarian-worshiping artistes.

He will, however, be the undeserving recipient of all manner of hagiography and forgetting. But let's not be too hard on him. He had a lot of talents, some of which he used for good, some not. The same could be said for many of us.

We could all use a lot of mercy, and a lot of forgetting. I sure need it.

May God forgive his sins, and bless him. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Could they make it any more obvious?

The Grammy Awards were quite a spectacle. Witches galore, satanic worship, witchcraft. Oh my.

Katy Perry-- who crows that she has sold her soul to the devil-- actually did a satanic ceremony on stage.

In related news, thirty three gay couples were married during the show in a mass gay wedding.

In case you had any doubts about what gay marriage and our cultural descent is all about, I would presume that you no longer do. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bill Nye forgets about Creationists like Copernicus, Newton, Galileo, ...

Bill Nye discusses his upcoming debate with Ken Ham. Ham is a protestant fundamentalist and young earth creationist.

Of course, I'm rooting for Ham, and he'll clean Nye's clock, as Christians invariably do when they debate atheists.

Ham and I come from quite different theological perspectives, but he's a brother in Christ, and that covers a multitude of differences.

Nye is one of the duller knives in the atheist drawer. He describes his fear (at about 3:10) that creationism will create "a generation of science students who don't believe in science", which, he is convinced, will send American science into the abyss.

Note to Bill: the Scientific Revolution was a creationist project-- nearly all of the great scientists of the 16th to 18th century were creationists of one sort or another. None had any use for atheism, of which Newton quipped:
"Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors"
America is, and has been for a couple of centuries, the most creationist nation in the West, and also decisively leads the West in science.

Atheist culture, on the other hand, is notorious for it's scientific sterility. Count the Nobel Prizes from the Soviet bloc, versus the Christian West, during the 20th century.

The "atheist/creationist-future of science" experiment has already been run, with a vengeance.

The results aren't close. Christianity-- actually creationism of one sort or another since the 16th century-- is the greatest engine of science mankind has ever known.

I hope Ham brings it up when Nye, predictably, laments the creationist influence-- i.e. the influence of Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Kepler, et al--  on science. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

"The truth is, I'm afraid, that they really weren't [like us]."

There's good archeological evidence that the Carthaginians really sacrificed their own children.

From The Guardian:
Just as ancient Greek and Roman propagandists insisted, the Carthaginians did kill their own infant children, burying them with sacrificed animals and ritual inscriptions in special cemeteries to give thanks for favours from the gods, according to a new study. 
"This is something dismissed as black propaganda because in modern times people just didn't want to believe it," said Josephine Quinn, a lecturer in ancient history at Oxford, who is behind the study, with international colleagues, of one of the most bitterly debated questions in classical archaeology
"But when you pull together all the evidence – archaeological, epigraphic and literary – it is overwhelming and, we believe, conclusive: they did kill their children, and on the evidence of the inscriptions, not just as an offering for future favours but fulfilling a promise that had already been made. 
"This was not a common event, and it must have been among an elite because cremation was very expensive, and so was the ritual of burial. It may even have been seen as a philanthropic act for the good of the whole community." 
Argument has raged on the subject since cemeteries known as tophets – after the biblical account of a place of sacrifice – were excavated in the early 20th century on the outskirts of Carthage in modern Tunisia, and then at other Carthaginian sites in Sicily and Sardinia. The graves held tiny cremated bones carefully packed into urns, buried under tombstones giving thanks to the gods...
Roman historian Diodorus and other ancient historians gave graphic accounts of Carthaginian child sacrifice: "There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus, extending its hands, palms up and sloping towards the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire."
The archeologists noted that many of their colleagues had trouble believing that child sacrifice really happened:
Quinn said many of her academic colleagues were appalled by her conclusions. 
"The feeling that some ultimate taboo is being broken is very strong. It was striking how often colleagues, when they asked what I was working on, reacted in horror and said, 'Oh no, that's simply not possible, you must have got it wrong.'"
On a related topic, we recently passed the forty-first anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Fifty five million children have been aborted in our country since 1973. Four thousand children are aborted each day in America. Their bones can be found not in urns at archeological digs but in incinerated medical waste.

Nearly all of them are sacrificed to the idol of personal fulfillment.

Archeologist Quinn:
"We like to think that we're quite close to the ancient world, that they were really just like us – the truth is, I'm afraid, that they really weren't."
The Carthaginians were not like us.

They would be appalled by the callousness and scale of our child sacrifice.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cake rights

From Fox:
Oregon ruling really takes the cake -- Christian bakery guilty of violating civil rights of lesbian couple

The owners of a Christian bakery who refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple are facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines after they were found guilty of violating the couple’s civil rights. 
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries said they found “substantial evidence” that Sweet Cakes by Melissa discriminated against the lesbian couple and violated the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, a law that protects the rights of the LGBT community. 
Last year, the bakery’s owners refused to make a wedding cake for Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman, of Portland, citing their Christian beliefs. The couple then filed a complaint with the state. 
Aaron Klein told me there will be no reconciliation and there will be no rehabilitation. 
“The investigation concludes that the bakery is not a religious institution under the law and that the business’ policy of refusing to make same-sex wedding cakes represents unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation,” said Charlie Burr, a spokesman for the Bureau of Labor and Industries. 
Cake discrimination. The amorous ladies obviously were unable to obtain cake elsewhere, there being no other bakeries in Oregon. Which explains the pressing state interest in baked-goods rights.
The backlash against Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of the bakery, was severe. Gay rights groups launched protests and pickets outside the family’s store. They threatened wedding vendors who did business with the bakery. And, Klein told me, the family’s children were the targets of death threats.
No violation there. Free speech.
The family eventually had to close their retail shop and now operate the bakery out of their home. They posted a message vowing to stand firm in their faith. It read, in part: 
“To all of you that have been praying for Aaron and I, I want to say thank you. I know that your prayers are being heard. I feel such a peace with all of this that is going on. Even though there are days that are hard and times of struggle we still feel that the Lord is in this. It is His fight and our situation is in His hands….Please continue to pray for our family. God is great, amazing and all powerful. I know He has a plan.” 
Under state law, the complaint against the bakery now moves into a period of reconciliation. If they can’t reach an agreement, formal civil charges could be filed and the Kleins could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. 
Looks like they're cooked.
Last August, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian told The Oregonian, their desire is to rehabilitate businesses like the one owned by the Christian couple. 
“Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that folks have the right to discriminate,” he told the newspaper. “The goal is never to shut down a business. The goal is to rehabilitate.”
"Rehabilitate." Officially, in the State of Oregon, Christianity is a disease.

Do you now understand gay rights?  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Population control and vincible ignorance

Patrick Alllitt has a review of Paul Sabin's new book The Bet, about the bet between Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon on whether the apocalyptic scientific predictions in the 1960's of famines and collapse of Western civilization because of "overpopulation" would come to pass.

Paul Sabin’s excellent new book tells the whole story, linking it to larger issues in American political and intellectual life. He argues convincingly that Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon represent the two poles in this late-20th-century debate, which echoes down to the present. He shows that Ehrlich’s exaggerations, and the steady failure of his prophecies to come true, eventually led conservatives to conclude that environmental “crises” were really no more than minor annoyances. Ehrlich unwittingly helped lay the groundwork for the global-warming skepticism that is widespread on the American right today. 
Sabin is good on the naïveté with which the two men entered their bet. The metals market is too volatile to act as a proxy for world trends in resources. Certain years a decade apart could even have led to an Ehrlich victory, as price spikes and plunges respond to short-term shifts in supply and demand. Simon was lucky to win as handsomely as he did, although Sabin agrees that the long-term trend in prices is indeed downward. 
He also reminds us that environmentalism, at least for a while, was good politics for Republicans as well as Democrats. President Nixon and California’s Governor Reagan, in the late 1960s and early ’70s, both spoke out against pollution, waste, smog, and oil slicks, and in favor of an enhanced respect for nature. The squalor and pollution, along with the eye-stinging smog, were real. A bipartisan consensus supported the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. It also supported a flurry of congressional acts to achieve clean air and clean water, to protect endangered species and their habitats, and to discontinue the use of lead compounds in gasoline. 
Sabin did not have a chance to meet Simon, who died in 1998. But he did meet Ehrlich, and to judge from the book’s photographs, socialized with him as well. Aiming for even-handedness, he kept discovering that Simon was right and Ehrlich wrong, which put him in the awkward spot of having to judge harshly a man who had become his friend. He tries to cover up his discomfort by looking for a bright side, as when he claims that “Ehrlich and other scientists helped avert genuine ecological disasters.” It would be more accurate to say that some scientists helped avert genuine ecological disasters, but that Paul Ehrlich was not one of them.

This caveat aside, The Bet very capably explains how we got to today’s political impasse over environmental questions. It also shows how the interplay of ideas and personalities can have serious consequences when a feud goes public.

Finally, like all good histories, it reminds us that the past is a foreign country. It takes us back to a time and place in which the prevailing orthodoxy about overpopulation, famine, and exhaustion of resources was so powerful—and its antithesis apparently so implausible—that its principal spokesman could enjoy decades of almost complete immunity to refutation.
The overpopulation hoax was only one in a series of science apocalypses to afflict humanity over the past couple of centuries. The whole business began with Malthus, whose "scientific" fact-free hysteria became the template for anti-human social policies, and even totalitarian policies, for the next two hundred years. The British reluctance to provide assistance in the Irish famine in the 1840's-- the British exported food from Ireland during the famine, and the fatal complacency of the British in the Great Indian Famine of 1876-1878 (again the British exported food from regions experiencing famine) were both due in significant part to the influence of Malthusian junk science on the elites who declined to intervene with vigor in what appeared to be a natural, and even scientific, culling of humanity.

The modern era's second worst atrocity (after the Holocaust)-- the One Child Policy of China which selectively exterminated tens of millions of baby girls and and violated the most intimate human rights of billions of men and women-- was conceived in Malthusian passion. Ehrlich's junk science was a significant factor in the planning and implementation of China's totalitarian population policy. The unconscionable deprivation of DDT and other safe and effective pesticides to the Third World, which has cost the lives of tens of millions of poor-- mostly women and young children-- has been defended by some environmentalists on the basis of Malthusian science. During the 1966 crop failure that threatened massive famine in India, American policy-makers decided to withhold food aid until India instituted draconian population control measures, which included coerced sterilization of millions of men and women-- they were offered the choice of fertility or food. Even eugenics had Malthusian, as well as Darwinian, origins-- sterilizing the defective supposedly over-proliferating races was given the scientific imprimatur of "taking control of evolution" to save mankind from overpopulation of the wrong kind of people (notice that it's never the population of Palo Alto or Berkeley that seems apocalyptically large).

There are even Malthusian shadows in environmentalists' current fact-lite hysteria over "global warming", which entails the belief that carbon-based human flourishing will lead to apocalypse lest we impose policies sure to bear the hardest on the world's poor, for whom industrialization is the best chance for food security and a decent standard of living. The bill for remedies for science apocalypses is invariably paid by the poor, in lives more than specie.

Only the nature of the apocalypse seems to change with the times. That unscrupulous third-rate scientists like Ehrlich would cynically profit from science apocalypticism is no shock. The real atrocity is that such vincible ignorance would be the basis for so much cruel and lethal public policy.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fifty Five Million Americans-- R.I.P.

Today is the 41st anniversary of Roe vrs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that declared that an entire class of human beings-- children in the womb-- could legally be killed at whim.

Roe is the Supreme Court's most horrendous decision, eclipsing even Dred Scott, Plessy v Ferguson, and Buck v. Bell. Abortion is our nation's greatest crime-- on a moral par with slavery and eugenics and segregation and on an enormously greater numerical scale.

For every three people you meet today, there is one person you won't meet whose life was snuffed by abortion.

We must never stop fighting to protect innocent life. May God have mercy on our nation. 

Chris Christie trying to appeal to nostalgic Bill Clinton voters

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

You won't see this picture on MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, ...

That's Martin Luther King and Vice-President Richard Nixon meeting in 1957 to discuss strategy to overcome Democrat opposition to the Republican Civil Rights Bill, which was passed shortly afterward by Republicans over massive Democrat opposition.

It was the first civil rights legislation passed since Reconstruction.

Nixon was a champion of civil rights. He fought hard for civil rights as Vice President under Eisenhower, and he was instrumental in desegregation throughout the United States as President. Even after the Brown decision in 1954 and the presidencies of Kennedy and Johnson, very little was actually done by Democrats to achieve desegregation. When Nixon took office in 1969, the vast majority of black children in the South still attended segregated schools. Shortly after his inauguration, Nixon personally interceded in the desegregation program, and by mid-1970 the vast majority of black kids in the South attended desegregated schools. With admirable skill and moral resolve, Nixon reversed 200 years of school segregation quietly and without violence in less than a year and a half.

Shortly thereafter, Nixon ordered the first federal Affirmative Action program for government contractors, because Democrat unions were ferociously racist and were excluding blacks from government contracts.

Read the story of Nixon's remarkable desegregation of Southern schools here.

Liberal Democrat journalist Tom Wicker:

There’s no doubt about it—the Nixon administration accomplished more in 1970 to desegregate Southern school systems than had been done in the 16 previous years, or probably since. There’s no doubt either that it was Richard Nixon personally who conceived, orchestrated and led the administration’s desegregation effort. Halting and uncertain before he finally asserted strong control, that effort resulted in probably the outstanding domestic achievement of his administration.

While Republicans walked the walk on Civil Rights, Democrats spun the spin and set up an exculpatory alternate history that bizarrely dominates the discussion to this day. The real history of racism and segregation in the United States is the history of race-baiting Democratic Party and Progressive politics (the second iteration of the KKK had very close ties to the Progressive movement), and the real history of the Civil Rights Movement is the history of the tireless efforts of courageous black leaders working with Republicans and conservatives to achieve desegregation and a color-blind society.

That history continues today.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Rev. Martin Luther King: Christian conservative

A great essay in USA Today about the conservative Christian roots of Rev. Martin Luther King, who we honor today in the U.S..

Conservatives say Martin Luther King Jr. embodied shared Christian values and ideology.

MELBOURNE, Fla. -- It is a large legacy that looms over the past five decades, from the prophetic "I Have a Dream" speech delivered during the March on Washington to his last campaign taking a stand for underpaid black sanitation workers in Memphis, the city where he was slain. 
But to a number of conservatives, forgotten in the shadow of the memorials and tributes during the national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life's work is his firm embrace of Christian values and a desire to see a colorblind America live up to the creed of equality professed by the Founding Fathers. 
"I am a conservative and very proud of him and his sacrifices," said Laura Houston, a 61-year-old black Republican. She also is a member of the tea party, which borrows heavily from King's playbook of demonstrations and civic activism. Houston grew up attending the all-black Monroe High School in Cocoa, Fla., and remembers the man who used the pulpit to remind America of its obligations to Godly justice. 
"I do not think that people appreciate the contributions he made. When he started out, he separated from the other black (secular) groups like the NAACP and formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I respected him for that," said Houston, who was raised a Southern Baptist. 
Houston's is not an uncommon opinion today in many conservative circles, even as communities across the country prepare Monday to commemorate what would have been King's 85th birthday in an era where abortion is a protected right and same-sex marriage is slowly becoming the law of the land.

“I think that had he lived, King would not be a part of the (liberal) Democratic movement that came out of the 1960s. I don't think he would support abortion or gay rights.”— Laura Houston, black Republican 
The move to cast King in a more conservative light has grown increasingly vocal in recent years as conservatives point to the fundamental values of traditional families, self-help and patriotism shared with King as he preached a gospel of social justice for all Americans.
Rev. King was a Republican, as confirmed by his niece Alveda King. Which makes sense: why, after all, would King be a member of the party-- the Democratic Party-- that he fought ardently his entire life? Why would he be a member of the party that created and embraced Jim Crow and the KKK? Why would he be a member of the party of Bull Connor and George Wallace and Lester Maddox and the folks who threw him in the Birmingham jail? The first civil rights legislation in modern times was passed by Republicans under Eisenhower, the Brown vrs. Board of Education decision was handed down by the Warren (Republican) Court under Eisenhower, the first federal troops sent to desegregate a school system (in Little Rock) were ordered into action by President Eisenhower, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed by Republicans (the bill would have been voted down in the House and Senate if the Democrats had had all the votes).

King was a steadfast opponent of the biggest Big Government Program of all-- Segregation-- which was the spawn of the Progressive movement that began with President Wilson (Democrat), who segregated the federal government in 1913 for the first time since Republicans had desegregated it during Reconstruction.

Rev. King was a fervent Baptist minister, hardly a liberal Democrat demographic, and his ideals of equal (colorblind) protection of the law and the centrality of Christian morality in public life are core conservative values.

Here's a clip of King's beautiful "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln (Republican) Memorial in 1963. Note that the speech is drenched with Christian references. If King were a high school senior delivering the speech as a valedictory today, his mike would be silenced and Progressives demanding "separation of church and state" (a KKK recruiting slogan) would scurry to get a federal court injunction to shut him up.

May God bless Rev. King, and may our beloved nation finally "rise up and live out the true meaning of it's creed."

Gun ownership worldwide

Pretty good correlation between gun ownership and freedom/prosperity.

Makes sense. Government is the most prolific killer in modern history, and gun ownership helps protect  people from their governments.

There is a subtext to the gungrabbers' obsession with taking guns away from private citizens.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

"When God Walks Off the Stage"

Frank Viola has a beautiful meditation on the experience of the Dark Night of the Soul, when God removes our sense of His Presence from our soul in order to infuse His Grace, so we can know Him as He is, rather than as we imagine Him to be.

When God Walks Off the Stage

A Christian in the sixteenth century coined the term the dark night of the soul. This phrase refers to an experience when God removes the “sense” of His presence from a believer’s life.

Some Christians believe that the “dark night” is an exotically rare experience that few people have. Others believe it’s much more common.

I tend to be in the camp that believes it’s rare.

The dark night is when God tosses out the moral compass from a believer’s life. The Christian feels as though God doesn’t exist.

This is neither a dry spell nor a punishment. Instead, it feels as though God has left. The inner consciousness of the Lord’s presence is swept away without warning, and only a blind reliance on past faith saves the Christian from becoming an atheist.

This is not the consequence of sin or rebellion. In fact, it has nothing to do with a believer’s conduct at all.

Here are the words of a person who is experiencing the dark night:

“I feel like a non-Christian. He’s just not there anymore. I never noticed His presence until it left me. Now I long for it again. I feel like the ground under me has been ripped away. My joy is gone. I feel out of control. My spiritual feelings are dull. I’ve lost interest in and affection for God. When I try to speak to Him, it feels like I’m talking to myself or to the ceiling. Prayer once came easy; I talked to the Lord all the time. Now it’s forced. It feels like there’s a big wall between me and God. My love for the Lord has been replaced by a blank. I never knew what God’s presence felt like until it was removed from me. I cry a lot now. I want Him to return to me again.”

Some have called the dark night “a game of love” where God plays hide-and-seek. Others view it as a sign of spiritual maturity and development where God is removing the training wheels.

In such cases, the Lord is teaching His children how to know Him apart from feelings. He’s seeking to show them a new way of relating to Him—one that is more mature and doesn’t rely on anything but faith.

If, perchance, you’re going through this mysterious experience right now, the one piece of advice I can give you is this: Keep in mind that the dark night is simply a crisis and pathway to greater spiritual maturity. God is still with you. In fact, He’s behind this experience. The overarching purpose is redemptive and constructive.

I will not expound on the dark night beyond the above except to illustrate one point.

Let’s return to our nose analogy. During the course of the day, you are virtually unconscious of the presence of your nose. The exception is when you have a sniffle, a nose itch, a nosebleed, or when you look in the mirror.

But if you were to have surgery and your nose was removed, you would certainly be conscious that something essential was missing. And that consciousness would remain for quite a long time.

As I said in the opening of this chapter, there is something called “the background consciousness of God’s presence.” If God were to remove this background consciousness, you would know it immediately. The background consciousness of God’s presence is largely undetected and unnoticed by us Christians.

We don’t recognize it for one simple reason: It’s always present. It’s not dissimilar to why you don’t notice the ring on your finger or the watch on your wrist at every moment. You don’t notice it because it’s always there.

However, if the consciousness of God’s ever-abiding presence were removed, it would register heavily upon you. (This is what happens when someone experiences the dark night of the soul.) So in one regard, we are always conscious of the divine presence in that we are used to it. The light of God is always on. But it looms in the background.

Yet at another level, we can be deliberately conscious of His presence. We can be focused on His presence in the foreground. We can be attentive to it.

“Be still and know that I am God” . . . “He that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” . . . “He whose mind is set on me will have perfect peace” . . . “But the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.”

Open the Scriptures and set your mind on the Lord.
Viola points out that we are all aware, on some level, of God's presence in our soul-- “the background consciousness of God’s presence.” I believe it is true of non-believers as well. The truth is that Christians and non-Christians experience this awareness of Him-- He is closer to us that we are to ourselves-- but we often don't understand what His Presence is, or even that it is His Presence.

If our sense of His Presence were removed, we would feel it immediately, as agony and hopelessness. Yet there are times when He must remove our sense of it-- even though His Presence always abides in this life-- because our sense of His Presence interferes with our actual experience of Him. He must clear away the accoutrements so that we may know Him as He is, just as He knows us.

Is the Dark Night of the Soul, even mild and brief, a common occurrence for Christians, or a purgatory in this life reserved only for the most devout of saints? I don't know. I'm afraid to experience a loss of my sense of His Presence. Yet this is, I think, something we all must go through, in one way or another, in order to see Him face to Face.

Perhaps that is why we fear death, not merely because we fear non-existence in itself (we non-existed prior to conception), but because at death we fear that we will be forsaken, either to non-existence or to damnation-- we imagine that we will lose Him.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Why is the media jumping all over the Christie story?

First, a proviso. Closing two lanes to the George Washington Bridge for political spite is a very nasty thing to do. People who did it should be fired, and probably should be criminally prosecuted. If Christie ordered it or knew about it, he should be strung up by his toes and his political career should be over. Dirty politics is ubiquitous, but such callous disregard for ordinary folks and their safety is reprehensible.

That said, a perplexing question arises. Why did the media jump all over this? Scumbag political tricks are a dime a dozen, happen all the time, are done by both parties (in my experience Republicans are just as capable of filthy local politics as Democrats, although they're not as effective at it).

Of course, you answer, the media jumped all over it because Christie is a Republican, and a major contender for the Republican Presidential nomination and the media's biased against Republicans, etc. All true, but there's a catch: by jumping on Christie now,  the media has helped Republicans, at least ostensibly, because they have vetted Christie early, before he gets the nomination. If the media-Democrat Party cabal really wanted to damage the Republicans over this, they'd wait until Christie had the nomination, then dump this into the press bigtime. A month before the 2016 presidential election, just like they dumped Bush 43's DUI just days before the 2000 election and tried to foist the Rathergate fake national guard documents just before the 2004 election.

So I wondered: why are media/Democrats (same thing) going after Christie now, when his downfall might even be helpful to Republicans, instead of waiting?

This is why:
The media/Democrat folks, who at this point are full-time public relations hacks for Hillary, knew that the Benghazi report was coming out, and would make Hillary look really bad. So they flood the press with Bridgegate and Christie-bashing 24-7 to bury the Hillary story.

Otherwise, they would have waited to release Bridgegate until (and if) Christie became the nominee. Rule of thumb: if the media appears to be doing something that might actually benefit Republicans, there's more to the story.

Kinda' sickening, but this is how they play the game. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Did Benjamin Libet's experiments show that free will is an illusion?

Materialists such as Jerry Coyne often invoke the experiments of Benjamin Libet when they deny free will. Libet was a neuroscientist at the University of San Francisco during the latter half of the 20th century who did pioneering research on the neurobiology of consciousness.

Specifically, Libet was interested in the correspondence of electrical signals from the brain (measured by electrodes taped to the intact scalp in awake volunteers) and the contents of consciousness. His most famous experiments involve measuring electrical activity in the brain when volunteers were asked to move their wrist. The volunteer would look at a moving clock and note the exact time (to the millisecond) that he consciously decided to move his wrist. Libet compared the timing of the brain activity with the timing of the volunteer's decision to move. He consistently found that the brain activity (he called it the readiness potential) preceded the conscious awareness of a decision to move by a couple hundred milliseconds. The timing typically went like this:

Readiness potential... 400 milliseconds... awareness of intent to move... 200 milliseconds... move wrist.

Other researchers have repeated Libet's experiments, with similar results, and recently researchers have used fMRI to carry out Libet-like experiments. The fMRI studies show that there are often brain activations that precede the conscious decision by several seconds.

Free will-deniers like Coyne have cited Libet's experiments as scientific evidence that free will is an illusion, and that "voluntary" decisions are really generated by electrochemical processes in the brain, without our consent of knowledge. Our sense of free will is an illusion- a post-hoc belief imposed by our brain, which is really making the "decisions".

The experiments show, then, that not only are decisions made before we’re conscious of having made them, but that the brain imagery can predict what decision will be made with substantial accuracy. This has obvious implications for the notion of “free will,” at least as most people conceive of that concept. We like to think that our conscious selves make decisions, but in fact the choices appear to have been made by our brains before we’re aware of them. The implication, of course, is that deterministic forces beyond are conscious control are involved in our “decisions”, i.e. that free will isn’t really “free”. Physical and biological determinism rules, and we can’t override those forces simply by some ghost called “will.” We really don’t make choices—they are made long before we’re conscious of having chosen strawberry versus pistachio ice cream at the store.
Coyne and his materialist allies couldn't be more wrong.

Libet himself was a strong defender of free will, and he interpreted his own experiments as validating free will. He noted that his subjects often vetoed the unconscious "decision" after the readiness potential appeared.

Do we have free will?

I have taken an experimental approach to this question. Freely voluntary acts are preceded by a specific electrical change in the brain (the ‘readiness potential’, RP) that begins 550 ms before the act. Human subjects became aware of intention to act 350–400 ms after RP starts, but 200 ms. before the motor act. The volitional process is therefore initiated unconsciously. But the conscious function could still control the outcome; it can veto the act. Free will is therefore not excluded. These findings put constraints on views of how free will may operate; it would not initiate a voluntary act

but it could control performance of the act. The findings also affect views of guilt and responsibility.

But the deeper question still remains: Are freely voluntary acts subject to macro-deterministic laws or can they appear without such constraints, non-determined by natural laws and ‘truly free’? I shall present an experimentalist view about these fundamental philosophical opposites...
Potentially available to the conscious function is the possibility of stopping or
vetoing the final progress of the volitional process, so that no actual muscle action ensues.
Conscious-will could thus affect the outcome of the volitional process even
though the latter was initiated by unconscious cerebral processes. Conscious-will
might block or veto the process, so that no act occurs. 
The existence of a veto possibility is not in doubt. The subjects in our experiments
at times reported that a conscious wish or urge to act appeared but that they sup-
pressed or vetoed that. In the absence of the muscle’s electrical signal when being
activated, there was no trigger to initiate the computer ’s recording of any RP that may
have preceded the veto; thus, there were no recorded RPs with a vetoed intention to
act. We were, however, able to show that subjects could veto an act planned for per-
formance at a pre-arranged time. They were able to exert the veto within the interval
of 100 to 200 msec. before the pre-set time to act (Libet et al., 1983b). A large RP pre-
ceded the veto, signifying that the subject was indeed preparing to act, even though
the action was aborted by the subject...
The role of conscious free will would be, then, not to initiate a voluntary act, but
rather to control whether the act takes place. We may view the unconscious initiatives
for voluntary actions as ‘bubbling up’ in the brain. The conscious-will then selects
which of these initiatives may go forward to an action or which ones to veto and abort,
with no act appearing.
Libet even observed that his experimental confirmation of free will accorded with the traditional religious understanding of free will:
This kind of role for free will is actually in accord with religious and ethical stric-
tures. These commonly advocate that you ‘control yourself ’. Most of the Ten Com-
mandments are ‘do not’ orders.
How do our findings relate to the questions of when one may be regarded as guilty
or sinful, in various religious and philosophical systems. If one experiences a con-
scious wish or urge to perform a socially unacceptable act, should that be regarded as
a sinful event even if the urge has been vetoed and no act has occurred? Some relig-
ious systems answer ‘yes’... But any such urges would be initiated and developed in
the brain unconsciously, according to our findings. The mere appearance of an inten-
tion to act could not be controlled consciously; only its final consummation in a motor
act could be consciously controlled. Therefore, a religious system that castigates an
individual for simply having a mental intention or impulse to do something unaccept-
able, even when this is not acted out, would create a physiologically insurmountable
moral and psychological difficulty... 
Indeed, insistence on regarding an unacceptable urge to act as sinful, even when no
act ensues, would make virtually all individuals sinners. In that sense such a view
could provide a physiological basis for ‘original sin’!
Libet concludes:
My conclusion about free will, one genuinely free in the non-determined sense, is
then that its existence is at least as good, if not a better, scientific option than is its
denial by determinist theory. Given the speculative nature of both determinist and
non-determinist theories, why not adopt the view that we do have free will (until some
real contradictory evidence may appear, if it ever does). Such a view would at least
allow us to proceed in a way that accepts and accommodates our own deep feeling
that we do have free will. We would not need to view ourselves as machines that act in
a manner completely controlled by the known physical laws.

Coyne and his allies misrepresent Libet's findings. Libet concluded from his experiments that we do have free will-- the ability to veto pre-conscious intentions-- and he noted that the veto appeared to be freely chosen, without any neurophysiological evidence for neurophysiological determinism.

Libet's finding that there appear to be pre-conscious intentions that sometimes precede conscious intentions is unsurprising. We experience such intentions constantly. We walk from place to place without consciously thinking of the intricate details of the walk-- the path, the coordination of muscles, etc. We often get where we're going with remarkably little conscious attention to the process-- think of how often you drive home from work without consciously thinking much about the route, or even about other cars, traffic signals, etc. When we type, as I am doing now to write this post, we typically don't think about the individual motion of our fingers. In fact, performing a skillful act like typing or playing a musical instrument or driving requires that our actions be automatic and unconscious. That doesn't mean that our typing or walking or driving is not freely chosen. It means that much of our deliberate behavior is the result of a combination of a free choice to act and an elaborate preconscious and unconscious system of intentions that enable the freely chosen act to happen efficiently.

Libet proposes (based on his work) a common-sense model of free will: our unconscious is a bubbling sea of velleities. We freely choose the impulses we wish to enact by prescinding from a veto, and we freely choose the impulses we wish to suppress by vetoing the act. Libet found experimental traces of the unconscious impulses (the readiness potential) and experimental confirmation of the freely-chosen veto (the conscious choice unaccompanied by corresponding electrophysiological activity). He even noted that his experimental results validated a particular traditional religious understanding of moral choice-- that sin is in the act, which is freely chosen, not in the temptation, which can arise without our choice. He even proposed a neurophysiological model of original sin!

You may ask, at this point: why do Coyne and his materialist allies utterly misrepresent Libet's experiments? Why would materialists cite the work of a researcher who scientifically confirmed free will, and even confirmed the traditional religious view of culpability for sin? Why would materialists cite experiments that confirm the opposite of their claims? Perhaps materialists don't understand the science, or perhaps they never bothered to try.

Whatever their reason for misrepresenting Libet's work, materialists' invocation of research that validates free will is likely a consequence not of their acquaintance with the science itself (Coyne seems blissfully unaware of Libet's actual experiments and conclusions), but a consequence of the metaphysical biases that materialists bring to the issue. You can see the same metaphysical bias and denial of the plain implications of the science in their denial of teleology in evolutionary biology.

For materialists, it's metaphysics first, and evidence later, if at all. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

More on the Fifth Way

Commentor Jem takes issue with my observation that teleology is evidence for God.

Jem, with my commentary:

[Egnor] "Just an answer. How can an inanimate thing tend to an end?" 
[Jem] By defining 'tend to an end' in multiple ways, all vague enough that they're not terribly meaningful, and switching between those ways without acknowledging it.

At heart, all you're saying is that there are places where the universe displays consistency.
Jem is exactly right. The Fifth Way is the observation that consistency-- any consistency-- in inanimate nature is evidence for God. The reasoning is straightforward. Inanimate things don't have minds, and can't act with an end in its own mind. If an inanimate thing does act with an end, the end must come from another Mind. That is what all call God.
Now, a Christian wants it both ways. The universe is, apparently, so completely 'fine tuned' that the fact we don't see God poking his finger in is evidence for God. But you also believe there was at least one miracle, and if so that would be God poking his finger in. And that's *also* apparently evidence that God exists. So you're running two contradictory arguments in parallel here.
I don't defend the Anthropic Argument for God's existence, except that anthropic coincidences are examples of teleology. I think that the fine-tuning of the universe to accommodate man is real, and is God's work, but as a proof of God's existence the argument is open to challenge. The argument from teleology is a very strong argument not open to such challenge.
The best analogy for this is that it's like taking a coin toss and saying your religion tells you it'll come up heads or tails and claiming that's a 'prediction'.
That's true. When you toss the coin, it lands on one side or the other, roughly 50/50. The fact that it lands on one side or another and that it falls in a gravitational field is a manifestation of teleology, and evidence for God. What then would not be evidence for God? If the coin randomly went up instead of down, or turned into a lute, or began shooting purple laser beams at Mars, without rhyme or reason.

The simplest consistencies in nature-- a coin dropped falls to the ground and lands on one side or the other-- is proof of God's existence via the Teleological Proof.
Then when someone calls you on that, you say the existence of the coin is by itself proof of God, and then when someone shows you the factory the coin was minted, you retreat further and say that the mere existence of probability itself is actually all the proof you need. And you gloss every one of these retreats as victory. If you keep going, all you're saying is 'I think that the fact anything exists at all is proof of God'. Bully for you, and that weak beer assertion. I don't believe that the fact anything exists at all is proof of God. So, we're no further on.
The existence of the coin is proof of God's existence via the First Way, which is the proof from change manifest in an essential series of causes, and via the Second Way, which is proof from causation manifest in an essential series of causes, and via the Third Way, which is proof from a necessary existence that is needed to explain the existence of contingent things like coins.

There are a number of proofs of God's existence.
Aquinas was very, very clever. A genius. No arguments. And he said something that no Christian ever takes to heart, but which is absolutely the central issue here which is, numbnuts, that there *is* no 'irrefutable' logical proof of God.
That is true. Aquinas proposed his proofs for Christians who accepted reason and a generally hylomorphic metaphysics. God's existence can be refuted by denial of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (pointed out by Lebnitz). If one insists that reason need not apply to reality, one can refute anything. Yet if one denies reason, one must deny everything-- logic, mathematics, evolution, yada, yada.
There's no formal argument where atheists read it and go 'I now believe in God because X=JK cubed times a million'. And there will never be a point where atheists turn those tables around. We can hack away at the ridiculous individual claims - Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, the six day creation and all the talking donkeys, virgins with multiple sons and so on, but we can't disprove the existence of God, not when the central idea is so ill-defined and his powers are said to be so broad that they're indistinguishable from, well, anything else.
God is transcendent. He can only be understood by analogy. His essence is existence itself, He is metaphysically simple, and He is Good and Truth itself.

Why would you assume that the supernatural ground for existence would be an entity that could be understood as you would understand a book or a sitcom on T.V.?
There's no evidence for God in the physical universe that couldn't have been placed there by an extremely powerful entity that tricked us into thinking it was God. There are versions of that powerful entity where even *it* thinks it's God but it's not.
Aquinas, a man infinitely smarter than you, knew that you *also* need faith in God. That with faith you don't actually need these piddly 'proofs' and that without it no 'proof' will ever be sufficient.
Aquinas pointed out (in Summa Contra Gentiles) that God's attributes-- transcendentals like Good and Truth-- are logical corollaries to His nature as revealed in the Five Ways. He spends quite a bit of ink on it, actually.

And of course you need faith to believe in God. Faith in reason, as well as faith in Him. You also need His grace to believe in Him.
So stop waving Aquinas around like a talisman, because he's not on your side, here.
Aquinas and I get along quite fine.
Modern science is based around repeatability. If two things with the same properties are subject to the same forces, they will act the same way.
Teleology. Proof of God's agency. You can't escape it.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

God, in Larry Moran's nose

Larry Moran made a witless comment in a thread about the relation between religion and science on his blog:
"If you know of something that is so completely mysterious that we are forced to invoke divine intervention then please share it with us."
My reply:
Pick one electron orbiting one nucleus in one of the hydrogen atoms of your nose hairs. How is it that the electron has position, energy, spin etc. constrained according to the mathematics of quantum mechanics? 
The fact that any physical process in nature is directed-- that is, tends to one state of affairs rather than another-- is teleology, which is the nidus of Aquinas' Fifth Way, which is one of many proofs for God's existence.

Explain the correspondence of the motion of that one electron with the mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics, using naturalistic assumptions.

Then multiply that problem by the number of all electrons in the universe, and you have some sense of the overwhelming evidence for God.
The proof of God's existence is in Larry Moran's nose, and everywhere, in every atom.

The fact that any subatomic particle moves in a predictable fashion-- let alone in a fashion as mathematically elegant as quantum mechanics-- is straightforward evidence for God's existence. It is, in fact, God's handiwork, manifest everywhere and always.

The New Atheist claim that there's no "evidence" for God is so bereft of insight that it's breathtaking. Every change in nature (Aquinas' First Way), every cause in nature (Aquinas' Second Way), every thing that exists (Aquinas' Third Way), every thing that is more or less good (Aquinas' Fourth Way), every thing that tends to an end (Aquinas' Fifth Way), every thing of which something greater can be conceived (the Ontological Argument), and every moral opinion (argument from morality-- Kant's Categorical Imperative) is proof of God-- in fact, is an unequivocal manifestation of God's Wisdom and Word-- his Logos.

The Christian claim, which is grounded in irrefutable truth, is ever more breathtaking. A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated God's Logos' birth-- the day when He became flesh and dwelt among us.

Monday, January 13, 2014

J.D. Watson: "Eugenics is sort of self correcting your evolution"

From J.D. Watson at the DNA Learning Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: (Go to the link for the video)

"Eugenics is sort of self correcting your evolution, and the message I have is that individuals should direct the evolution of their descendants, don't let the State do it. I think it would be irresponsible not to direct your evolution if you could, in the sense that you could have a healthy child versus an unhealthy child, I think it is irresponsible not to try and direct the evolution to produce a human being who would be an asset to the world as well as to himself."
So much for the bizarre claim by some Darwinists and their apologists that eugenics had no real dependence on evolutionary theory. As Watson points out, eugenics only makes sense as a correction to evolution. No one thought in the countless millennia before Darwin to breed man like an animal, because no one thought of man as an animal evolved by natural selection, gone soft under domestication.

It's appropriate as well that the fact that eugenics is a corollary to evolutionary theory would be emphasized by Dr. Watson, who was the director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory during the decades after it had been the Eugenic Records Office, which merged with the Station for Experimental Evolution, under director Charles Davenport, America's preeminent eugenicist. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory was the nidus of American eugenics, and the legislative tsunami by which sixty thousand Americans were involuntarily sterilized began and was organized for decades at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. The eugenic program at Cold Spring Harbor was the inspiration for the 1933 Nazi eugenic sterilization laws.

Watson, of course, asserts that eugenics should be voluntary, not state-mandated. Yet in doing so he merely echos the refurbishing of post-Nazi eugenics by Fredrick Henry Osborn. Osborn, a founding member of the American Eugenics Society, restructured the eugenics movement in the 1950's and 1960's, covering up its totalitarian roots and marketing it as "voluntary unconscious selection", a corrective to natural selection impaired by human domestication (i.e. civilization).

Osborn's suggested motto for the New Eugenics was "Every Child a Wanted Child", which now adorns Planned Parenthood's website and is available on buttons from pro-abortion organizations.

The slogan under the DNA Learning Center moniker on the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's website is
"Preparing students and families to thrive in the gene age"

If you don't feel a chill, you're not reading carefully enough.  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's not a White Christmas

The British National Party released a disturbing Christmas card this season:

The BNP is a rightist party devoted to many things-- some good, such as freedom of speech, and sane economic and immigration policies, among others-- but there is a barely disguised undercurrent of racial hatred that comes across particularly clearly in this card.

The obvious implication of the card is that real Christmas in Britain is for white people.

What lying filth.

Christmas is the celebration of our Lord's birth, and he was born, lived, died and resurrected for all of us, of all races. He explicitly identified with the least among us, which very definitely includes immigrants and minorities who, whatever one thinks about immigration policy, have a tough time in a foreign land.

Heck, it's likely that the Lord came to earth as a distinctly dark fellow. It's such irony that these BNP bigots would insist that Christmas be "white" when our Lord whose birth we celebrate was probably of the same complexion as the immigrants they're denigrating so viciously.

We Christians, and especially we conservatives, have an obligation to speak out on this Right-wing racist shit. The Left is a racist cesspool itself-- consider proponents of Critical Race Theory, the Nation of Islam or La Raza, each of which would fit nicely in Alfred Rosenberg's library. And don't think for a minute that this disgusting Christmas card is peculiar to European racism. It wouldn't have caused a batted eye in a Democratic Party in 1960 (Bull Connor was a Democratic National Committeeman in that year), and if if you change the color of the kid it would fit nicely with a whole bunch of Democrat race-baiters today. Racism is a disease that most assuredly afflicts the Right and the Left, and even stains some who profess Christianity.

Please note that I do not endorse irresponsible immigration policies. Nations need to be very careful about immigration, because huge and very dangerous cultural shifts and conflicts can take place. Islam, regardless of its theological and social merits or demerits, will cause profound changes in the civic life of Europe. One of the most dangerous changes, aside from the vicious anti-Semitism and violence inherent to Islam, is the reaction that Islamic immigrants will engender in post-Christian native Europeans. Fascism is the likely European response to unfettered Islamic immigration. You can see it in the BNP and in the Golden Dawn in Greece.

Faithful Christians and thoughtful conservatives need to speak out against racism with vigor just as we denounce irresponsible immigration policies. And we need to speak out especially forcefully against racism from our end of the political spectrum. We must never denigrate immigrants because of race. How white Europeans could seriously accuse non-whites of anti-social behavior because of their race is a mystery.

To the misguided folks at the BNP, I note that Christmas has no color. We Christians are under very explicit instructions to love one another. Shame on you for using this joyful celebration of our Savior's birth for your racist swill. Christians have a sacred obligation to treat immigrants who are among us with respect and compassion, and even while enforcing the law (tempered with mercy and charity) we have an obligation to afford immigrants the full measure of human dignity without regard to race.

What we do for them, we do for Him.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

American jurisprudence is a freak-show-- indistinguishable from reality t.v.

Federal judge declares Utah polygamy law unconstitutional 
Joe Darger, who with his three wives detailed their life in the book "Love Times Three: Our True Story of a Polygamous Marriage," praised the decision and said it would change the future for Utah’s polygamists. He said that he learned of the victory Friday night when Kody Brown called him. The call was unusual — the two men don’t call each other frequently, he said — and when he learned of the ruling he felt "shocked."...
The Browns filed their lawsuit in July 2011, arguing Utah’s law violated their right to privacy. The family’s argument relied primarily on the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the Texas law banning sodomy, which was celebrated by gay rights advocates...
"It just caught us off guard," he said. "It’s like Christmas came early."
It's gonna be a new kind'o Christmas, in our Age of Bacchanal.

We're gonna need more room in the stable for Mary's sister wives and Joseph's husbands. But the empty manger-- little Jesu was a burdensome unplanned pregnancy-- will free up some space.

And since sex and number are increasingly superfluous to matrimony, why obsess over species? The donkeys and sheep may soon play a novel role in family life.

It's just one federal court decision away. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Eugenic Sundays

At my blog Egnorance, commentor Diogenes believes he's found a flaw in the straight-forward historical observation that Darwin's theory of evolution was the germ of eugenics.

As I stated before, almost all major creationists from 1920 to 1970 were pro-eugenics. Let's list a few, with references. 
I already mentioned John Harvey Kellogg, cornflakes millionaire and Seventh Day Adventist, who funded the Eugenics Record Office. 
Let's next consider A. E. Wilder-Smith, who was both a Young Earth Creationist in the Henry Morris mold...
Diogenes goes off on quite a blitz, naming Christians who during the early and middle 20th century endorsed eugenics, which was applied human evolution, as James D. Watson recently explained:
"Eugenics is sort of self correcting your evolution..."
Diogenes, in his idiosyncratic way, raises an important point. Eugenics was enthusiastically endorsed not only by the biology community and the scientific community in general, but by religious leaders by the hundreds.

Francis Galton, the founder of eugenics, explained
[Eugenics] must be introduced into the national conscience, like a new religion. It has, indeed, strong claims to become an orthodox religious, tenet of the future, for eugenics co-operate with the workings of nature by securing that humanity shall be represented by the fittest races. What nature does blindly, slowly, and ruthlessly, man may do providently, quickly, and kindly.
Historian Christine Rosen, author of Preaching Eugenics and generally acknowledged as the authority on religious involvement in the eugenic movement, observes that eugenics was endorsed by many religious leaders, but not across the entire spectrum of denominations.

Rosen observes:
No Protestant fundamentalist ever joined the eugenics movement, and by 1937, the two Catholics who had been members of the [American Eugenics Society] had long since departed...
Which denominations, then, did populate the eugenics movement?

The evidence yields a clear pattern about who elected to support eugenic-style reforms and who did not. Religious leaders pursued eugenics precisely when they moved away from traditional religious tenets. The liberals and modernists in their respective faiths-- those who challenged their churches to conform to modern circumstances-- became the eugenics movement's most enthusiastic supporters. 
Why did liberal denominations, but not protestant fundamentalists or Catholics, embrace eugenics with such fervor?
[T]heir purpose was clear: they were dedicated to facing head-on the challenges posed by modernity. Doing so meant embracing scientific solutions... liberal religious leaders allowed their worldviews to be molded by the promise of the new science of eugenics. 
Rosen observes that the liberal religious participants in the eugenics movement were largely preachers of the Social Gospel, a cornerstone of early 20th century Progressivism.

It's worth noting that the clique of liberal denominations that fervently embraced eugenics in the early 20th century are the same clique of liberal denominations that preach Evolution Sunday from their pulpits in the early 21st century. Accommodation with the evolutionary understanding of man is a lodestar for religious eugenicists and their modern liberal descendants.

Before there was Evolution Sunday, there were eugenic Sundays, preached, more or less, from the same pulpits.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Jerry Coyne's two standards on pederasty

 In response to an argument that atheists need to put on a happy face, Jerry Coyne demurs:
Making people think [atheists are] friendly and happy will not, I think, do the trick... You didn’t see Martin Luther King touting himself as “The Happy Negro” or Harvey Milk as “The Friendly Homosexual,” trying to make common cause with Anita Bryant. No, they called out their countrymen for misguided and harmful thinking. And eventually Americans realized that they were right.
I couldn't care less about atheist public relations, but I do note Coyne's bizarre endorsement of Harvey Milk as a man on a par with Martin Luther King who "called out [his] countrymen for misguided and harmful thinking. And eventually Americans realized that [he was] right."

Coyne chooses an ironic role model. Milk was a notorious homosexual activist who was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the 1970's. He was murdered by a disgruntled employee in 1978 (for reasons unrelated to his sexuality), and he is esteemed highly by gay activists and the gay community.

But there was more to Milk than mere gay activism.
Harvey Milk was, in fact, a pederast and a sexual predator... 
One of Milk’s victims was a 16-year-old runaway from Maryland named Jack Galen McKinley. As previously mentioned, Milk had a soft spot in his, um, heart for teenage runaways. Motivated by an apparent quid pro quo of prurience, Milk plucked McKinley from the street. 
Randy Shilts was a San Francisco Chronicle reporter and close friend to Harvey Milk. Though Shilts died of AIDS in 1994, he remains, even today, one of the most beloved journalists in the “LGBT” community. 
Shilts was also Harvey Milk’s biographer. In his glowing book The Mayor of Castro Street, he wrote of Milk’s “relationship” with the McKinley boy: ” … Sixteen-year-old McKinley was looking for some kind of father figure. … At 33, Milk was launching a new life, though he could hardly have imagined the unlikely direction toward which his new lover would pull him.” 
In a sane world, of course, the only direction his “new lover” should have pulled him was toward San Quentin. But, alas, today’s America – a burgeoning relativist land of make-believe – is anything but sane.

Milk offered runaway underage boys food and a warm place to stay as long as they had sex with him. And of course this peccadillo was and is well-known.

So why would Coyne cite a pederast who took advantage of homeless young boys as a moral hero who "called out his countrymen for misguided and harmful thinking"? Why does Coyne extol a man who took brutal advantage of young boys to satisfy his sexual cravings?

Perhaps Coyne is a forgiving sort of guy, not given to supercilious moralism.

Surprise! Catholic Church whitewashes priest pedophilia

The... things that horrified me the most (and there are many things to criticize) were... I don’t remember that society licensed the sexual abuse of children... The more I learn about the Catholic Church, the more I see that, as an institution, it’s so nefarious as to border on evil. I don’t know how more liberal or open-minded Catholics can, in good conscience, remain in the Church. Let us see if a sizable number of Catholic laypeople raise a hue and cry about this report. I doubt it.
The homosexual movement is deeply entangled in pedophilia-- the North American Man-Boy Love Association has a long history of collaboration in the gay activism movement, and leading gay activists-- Allen Ginsberg, Harry Hay and David Thorstad-- were founding NAMBLA members.

Yet you never hear of the intimate relationship between the gay rights movement and child sexual abuse.

Coyne, who excoriates the Catholic Church for the (rare) involvement of priests in child molestation, whitewashes a notorious child molester merely because he is a gay rights icon.

The reason that Coyne has two standards-- one for pederasts who are Catholic priests and one for pederasts who are political activists who push agendas Coyne is sympathetic to-- is that Coyne is an anti-Catholic bigot, and will smear the Church in any way he can, while he extolls pederasts who share his own views. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Does Catholicism minus the Enlightenment equal the Inquisition?

Commentor Hoo directs us to a fascinating essay on 'Tea Party Catholics' and the Enlightenment. The essay, by John Zmirak, takes a look at the American Catholic experience of the Enlightenment, and at the relevance of the Enlightenment for American Catholics and for the Church as a whole.

We ought to be deeply thankful for the heritage of the Enlightenment — because the American anti-Catholics of the 19th and 20th century were dead right about one thing: Catholicism minus the Enlightenment equals the Inquisition. Do I exaggerate? Consider the fact that during the Spanish occupation of New Orleans, before the Louisiana Purchase, an officer of the Inquisitionwas interrogating heretics and collecting torture equipment — which he never got the chance to use, thank God. (The Inquisition did take root in Florida, and continued in Cuba until 1818.) Protestants in Spain were subject to legal restrictions as late as the 1970s. The great defender of Pius IX and Vatican I, Louis Veuillot, summed up what was for centuries the dominant Catholic view of religious liberty:

"When you are the stronger I ask you for my freedom, for that is your principle; when I am the stronger I take away your freedom, for that is my principle." 
As Americans, too, we must be self-critical, and acknowledge that in their reaction against the paternalism of the past, men like John Locke made grave philosophical errors — and unwittingly poisoned the ground of human dignity where the roots of freedom must rest. Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker do an excellent job of explaining Enlightened errors in Politicizing the Bible, as does Edward Feser in his classic The Last Superstition. In Tea Party Catholic, Samuel Gregg shows in detail how freedom-loving Catholics can reintroduce the critical truths about human nature that our Founding Fathers overlooked. Such constructive criticism of the Enlightenment project, which we might call “reparative patriotism,” is essential to preserving the lives of the unborn and the integrity of marriage, among many other things.

It is one thing to say that John Locke and Thomas Jefferson had flawed views of human flourishing. It is quite another for Catholics — given our long, unhappy heritage of paternalism and intolerance — to reject the Enlightenment wholesale; to pretend that religious, political, and economic freedom are the natural state of man, which we can take for granted like the sea, the sun, and the sky. These freedoms are the hard-won fruit of centuries of struggle, and many of our ancestors were fighting on the wrong side. If we expect to preserve our own tenuous freedom in an increasingly intolerant secular society, we must make it absolutely clear to our non-Catholic neighbors that we treasure their freedom too. Denouncing the Enlightenment a mere fifty years after our Church belatedly renounced intolerance, at the very moment when men as level-headed as Archbishop Chaput and Cardinal Burke are warning that Catholics face the risk of persecution, and we desperately need allies among our Protestant neighbors… can anyone really be this reckless?
To borrow a phrase, when I hear of the 'Enlightenment' I reach for my gun. Not that I am against being enlightened, nor am I against some aspects of the Enlightenment project (for example as embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights). I love my country-- I'm American to my bones-- but just as I love several of my somewhat-less-than-lovely relatives, not all of America is easy to love.

American slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow, eugenics, the abortion genocide, and big government Progressivism are as much Enlightenment denouements as are republican government and unalienable rights. The Enlightenment was a Big Thing-- the biggest thing since Constantine-- and it has convulsed humanity. It gave us atheism and fundamentalism and Marxism and representative democracy and Nazism and a fervent solicitude for human rights. Its effects are still playing out, and we're in the middle of it. Sometimes we're so much in the thick of it that we-- each of us is deeply embedded in American Protestant culture-- don't recognize it for what it is.

There is so much to say on this, and so much I don't understand and haven't thought through. A few things I'm certain about, though:

1) It is a damnable lie that "Catholicism minus the Enlightenment equals the Inquisition". Catholicism minus the Enlightenment is the High Middle Ages, the theology that brought Athens and Jerusalem together, profound Scholastic philosophy, the nursery of all Western education and universities, the Renaissance, magnificent Western art and music and architecture. The Enlightenment was a perversion of Catholicism and a perversion of truth. Yet it is a consequence of a truth so powerful and beautiful-- the Catholic Church-- that even its perversions are in some ways beautiful as well, and very consequential.

2) It is a damnable lie that the Inquisition was inherently a bad thing. The Inquisition was a feature, not a bug, of Catholicism. That is not to say that torture was appropriate-- it was not-- but vigilance and taking heresy seriously were laudable. Where the Inquisition was most effective-- Spain comes to mind-- the slaughter of the Wars of Religion of the 17th century passed over. The lack of a German Inquisition depopulated the German states by at least a third during the Thirty Years War-- as lethal as the Black Death of the 14th century.

The Inquisition was in most respects noble and necessary. I'd pay money to see several modern Catholic-American politicians summoned to the Holy Office.

3) I am a Catholic first, and an American second. America is a treasure and a nightmare for the Church--a brilliant unruly beloved son. We Enlightened Americans demanded our inheritance and set out for a far away land. Unlike the prodigal in Luke, we're still squandering our wealth on harlots and wild living. We haven't turned back.

We're not hungry enough, yet. Therein lies the problem America poses for the Church. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Misunderstanding Understanding Jerry Coyne on free will

Jerry Coyne protests that I misunderstood his viewpoint on free will in a recent post. Coyne, who denies the existence of free will, had complained about a hit-and-run driver who dented his car in a parking lot.

I pointed out that, if free will is an illusion, Coyne has no justification to condemn the fellow who hit his car and drove off, because without free will the dishonest driver had no choice to do otherwise. If we lack free will, Coyne might as well complain to the manufacturer about the offending car as complain to the police about the offending driver. The driver, no less than the car, can't be held morally responsible for an act he was not free to choose.

I observed that the moral concepts of "good" and "bad" don't really apply to human acts unless free will is real. Without free will, morality doesn't make any sense.

The statement that “‘good’ and ‘bad’ don’t really apply to humanity” is Egnor’s own mistaken characterization of my views. Of course I see actions as “good” or “bad”, based on their salubrious or deleterious effects on individuals or society.

Coyne denies that the fellow who drove off after hitting his car was morally wrong. Coyne was merely upset that the guy was insalubrious.
Approbation and disapprobation are useful social tools, for, although we have no choice about how we act, we can influence howothers act by giving their behavior labels and sanctioning or rewarding them accordingly.
Coyne insists that he called the cops on the hit-and-run driver-- who 'had no choice about how to act'-- only to label the fellow's behavior and sanction him accordingly.

Presumably, if the driver had stayed at the scene and accepted responsibility, Coyne would offered him a biscuit or a small fish.
Indeed, I don’t believe in moral culpability: that term is without real meaning if one denies the possibility of free choice. But there can still be still “culpability” based on the effects of one’s actions. (I’d be glad to hear readers’ feelings about why we should retain the term “morality” if there is no free choice.)
 "Culpability" connotes moral fault. What Coyne means by culpability is simply "effect'. Acts certainly do have effects. If there is no free will-- if we are merely following instructions of one sort or another-- Coyne is correct that no agent, regardless of effect, is morally culpable.

Note to Coyne: your argument was a hard sell when it was used by the defense counsel at Nuremberg.
As for my using the terms “good” and “bad” as showing a “flicker of libertarian free will,” well, that’s just wrong. It’s bad for me, and bad for society, if people are allowed to damage other people’s property and then get off scot-free. Yes, the guy who hit my car had no choice in what he did, and I had no choice about reporting him, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not useful for me to report him.
Coyne insists that hit-and-run driving is not morally wrong. He insists that nothing is morally wrong. He called the police merely because denting his car and running off was "bad".

Coyne denies objective good and evil, so it's unclear what he means by "bad". Perhaps he means "ineffective in securing social cohesion". But if there is no objective moral good or evil, how can social cohesion be good, or social fratricide be bad?

When you strip reality of moral standards, nothing makes any sense.
[Egnor]—and no doubt many of his creationist colleagues—do indeed believe in libertarian free will: the “ghost in the machine,” as do many religious people.
I don't believe in ghosts, and men aren't machines. I do assert that man has free will. To assert otherwise is lunacy.
So those philosophers who say that few people are true libertarians are simply wrong. True libertarian free will is an essential part of many religions, and without it the foundations of faith would crack. And there are a lot of religious people. That is why I think that those philosophers who spend their time confecting ways to reconcile free will and determinism are wasting their time. There are more important jobs to do, like telling religious folks about determinism. In fact, even using the term “free will” helps enable religious belief.
Acknowledging free will is merely acknowledging the truth about man.

Coyne denies free will because free will doesn't fit nicely with his materialist metaphysics. Rather than jettison his non-sensical metaphysics, he jettisons free will. But he has no choice to do otherwise, so you can't blame him.
Finally, Egnor’s blathering continues to show that the people at the Discovery Institute have run out of arguments for Intelligent Design. They’ve lost the battle against evolution: they lost it in Texas, twice, they lost in at Ball State, and they’ve repeatedly lost it in court. Now, bereft of success, they’re reduced to pointing out what they see as inconsistencies or character flaws in evolutionary biologists. (Remember when they allied me with Nazis, racists, and eugenicists simply because I visited John Scopes’s grave and said I’d like to shake his hand?) But it would at least behoove them to understand what their opponents are saying before they attack them.
We are devoted to challenging philosophical materialism. Pointing out the absurdity of the denial of free will-- a denial that follows naturally from philosophical materialism-- is fitting and proper, and I must say that Coyne makes the refutation of philosophical materialism uncommonly easy and, rather often, entertaining.