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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dr Stephen C. Meyer responds to Prof. Darrel Falk

I've been working alot lately and I didnt even know that he was questioned about it. But apparently Prof. Darrel Falk had some criticisms concerning Dr Stephen C. Meyer's recent book, Signature in the Cell. Dr Meyer has responded. Link to full response and a teaser below.....

"in his recent review on the Biologos website, Prof. Darrel Falk characterizes me as merely a well-meaning, but ultimately unqualified, philosopher and religious believer who lacks the scientific expertise to evaluate origin-of-life research and who, in any case, has overlooked the promise of recent pre-biotic simulation experiments. On the basis of two such experiments, Falk suggests I have jumped prematurely to the conclusion that pre-biotic chemistry cannot account for the origin of life. Yet neither of the scientific experiments he cites provides evidence that refutes the argument of my book or solves the central mystery that it addresses. Indeed, both experiments actually reinforce—if inadvertently—the main argument of Signature in the Cell."

That's just for starters. Read the entire rebuttal via the link I provided above. Meyer is certainly well-versed in logical argumentation and as a further tease, here's a brief clip of the summation.

"That Professor Falk rejects this knowledge as knowledge, and the case for design based on it, reflects his own commitment to finding a solution to the origin of life problem within a strictly materialistic framework. Indeed, he and his colleagues at BioLogos have made clear that they accept the principle of methodological naturalism, the idea that scientists, to be scientists, must limit themselves to positing only materialistic explanations for all phenomena. Of course, it is their right to accept this intellectual limitation on theorizing if they wish. But it needs to be noted that the principle of methodological naturalism is an arbitrary philosophical assumption, not a principle that can be established or justified by scientific observation itself. Others of us, having long ago seen the pattern in pre-biotic simulation experiments, to say nothing of the clear testimony of thousands of years of human experience, have decided to move on."

If you are so inclined, read the entire argument put forward by Meyer and leave your comments here. I had the opportunity to see Meyers speak tonight along with David Berlinsky but apathy among other things prevented me from doing so. Maybe next time...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Something that escaped my attention.

And I'm a bit embarrassed about it. My wife had mentioned to me that she had read about the recent election returns in Chile. I just passed over it, assuming that the socialists were still in power. Boy was I wrong. A billionaire, conservative businessman, Sebastian Pinera, became the first candidate on the right to become president in Chile since Gen. Augosto Pinochet.

"But while President Michelle Bachelet tried to defuse border tensions with Peru and Bolivia and avoid antagonizing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Pinera's more nationalistic tone — and friendship with Colombia's conservative President Alvaro Uribe — could make relations difficult."

If politics in the Western hemisphere are of interest to you, then check out Jackson' Diehl's article in the Washington Post which goes into greater detail about the problems Hugo Chavez is having in Venezuela along with more pointed analysis about the election of Pinera.

"Venezuela is "not a democracy," Piñera said during his campaign. He also said, "Two great models have been shaped in Latin America: One of them led by people like Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Castro in Cuba and Ortega in Nicaragua. . . . I definitely think the second model is best for Chile. And that's the model we are going to follow: democracy, rule of law, freedom of expression, alternation of power without caudillismo". Piñera was only stating the obvious -- but it was more than his Socialist predecessor, Michelle Bachelet, or Brazil's Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been willing to say openly. That silence hamstrung the Bush and the Obama administrations, which felt, rightly or wrongly, that they should not be alone in pointing out Chávez's assault on democracy. Piñera has now provided Washington an opportunity to raise its voice about Venezuelan human rights violations."

Great. Finally there is another voice on that conitnent besides embattled Alvaro Uribe (Colombia) that isnt afraid to speak out against a tin-pot dictator and to call a spade a spade. I can see Pinera's election as being a good thing for the region, leading to greater stability and freedoms for the oppressed.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Coakley vs. Brown: The Fine Print

Voters in Massachusetts on Tuesday had 2 clear choices before them. Other than a referendum on health care reform as proposed by the Obama administration, there were other issues as well that werent being hyped as much in the national media such as "41" or "filibuster proof"....

"Brown, who upset Democrat Martha Coakley by a margin of 52-47 percent, isn't a social conservative on every issue, but he's not a social liberal either. Backed by Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Brown is pro-choice but sides with pro-lifers on a host of issues, including supporting parental notification laws and opposing partial-birth abortion, taxpayer funding of abortion and the so-called Freedom of Choice Act. Coakley, also pro-choice, takes the opposite stance on those specific issues and was endorsed by the major pro-choice groups.
The difference between Brown and Coakley is even greater on homosexual issues. Brown opposes "gay marriage" and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and supports the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Coakley, an outspoken supporter of "gay marriage," again took the opposite stance on those issues."Scott Brown not only voted against our community, but he did so unequivocally, proudly and loudly," Arline Isaacson, chairwoman of the Massachusetts Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus, told Keen News Service. "Brown voted at least 20 times against marriage equality, over and over again."

Brian Brown, the executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, saw it much differently, calling the election "a victory for marriage."

Link to the full article. You see people? Just do what you think is right in your heart and the little things take care of themselves. America is decidedly NOT ready for some grand social experiment toward relativism despite the capacity for White Liberal Guilt to help the Mau Mau Messiah ascend to the throne of power.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The "Scott" Heard 'Round the World

How about it ilk? I was expecting to stay up late last night as the votes came in to see whether or not Scott Brown (R) pictured above, would squeak by Martha Coakley (D) in the special election to fill the vacant US Senate seat in Massachusetts. Heck, it was all over as soon as they closed the polls. Not only had Brown closed the (by some estimations) 30 point gap with Coakley just a few weeks ago, he won so convincingly that they called the election in less than an hour after the polls closed. There must be long faces from Mombassa to Washington DC. Check out this cool interactive map. You just pass your cursor over the state map and the highlighted county will show you the results from last night's returns. And then there's this article from Brian McGrory of the Boston Globe....

"I’m going to need some Advil and a cold compress, please. I’m the Massachusetts Electorate, and I have what is bar none the absolute worst hangover of my entire voting life. Seriously, I was so drunk on power, so caught up in the moment, so free of any of my usual inhibitions, I can’t remember what’s gone on these last two weeks. Think, Electorate, think. What did I do? This much I’m starting to remember. Martha and I walked into the party and everything seemed to be going fine. She wasn’t talking much, but she never really does, and she wasn’t exactly pushing me to bare my soul, either. That’s what I’ve always liked about Martha: She’s a low-maintenance politician.

And now I’m vaguely recalling that stranger across the room, the one in the barn jacket who kept smiling at me and seemed to know my name. Martha vanished for a while, and - is it bad that I’m saying this? - I didn’t really care.

Suddenly, that tall, handsome man was standing at my side doing something that Martha rarely did - offering to pay for drinks, chatting me up, curious what was on my mind.

Every time I ever tried telling Martha about my day, my hopes, my dreams, she shushed me and said she was preparing a legal brief or watching “Law & Order.’’ And now there’s a stranger telling me he could change my entire world."

It's an interesting take on the election from McGrory's point of view, check out the entire article if you can. Have you heard there is even talk of Scott Brown running for president already? I would recommend that he at least accomplish something at the federal level first but heck... That never stopped Obama from running either and look where he wound up.

T.A.O.B.D: An Actual Response

Yesterday's entry left off with me asking "Tinkbell" three honest questions that, with minimal effort, she would be able to provide the answers to. Her intellectually shameful dodging of the obvious answers aside, RJW of The Old Geezer blog was kind enough to take the time to answer one of the questions that Tink is currently dodging. When I asked RJW the question, "Who was Telemachus and what practice did he end?, he answered in very short order and this was his reply.

"Saint Telemachus was a monk who, according to the Church historian Theodoret, tried to stop a gladiator fight in a Roman amphitheatre, and was stoned to death by the crowd. The Christian Emperor Honorius however was impressed by the monk's martyrdom and it spurred him to issue an edict banning gladiator fights. The last known gladiator fight in Rome was on January 1, 404 AD, so this is usually given as the date of Telemachus' martyrdom"

There, you see Tinkbell? It wasnt so difficult after all. Telemachus was a Christian monk who is credited with being the person who put an end to the bloody gladiator contests of Rome. He wasnt a pagan, Visigoth or Vandel, but a Christian. That's all. Why you had to behave so completely evasive in avoiding this answer is a question for another time. RJW didnt have any problem at all answering it. Then again, RJW by answering this question did not have any fear that the answer might cast Christianity in a different light from his worldview and thusly have to answer other questions as well. If Christianity can be shown to having caused something positive for the world in this case, then might there be other instances in which the mindset of modern, Western Democracies was initially formed by the movement began by followers of a certain carpenter from Nazereth? We can't have that now, can we Tink? That might cause the whole entire ball to unravel and I would imagine you are much more comfortable inside the cocoon that forms your bias than honestly examining it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Apex of Blind Devotion

Today I saw what, to me anyways, epitomizes the blind devotion to the absolute NEED on the part of some atheists to denigrate Christianity and the positive impact it's had on Western Civilization. The exact quote that I'm referring to is...

"Christians and Christian Empire= Darth Vader and Death Star. Jews and Pagans= Rebel Alliance"

I specifically question the "pagan" part of this statement. Admittedly, this example may be a bit overly simplified but this sentiment is out there. In reference to the fairy-tale that pagans of pre-Christian society were anything resembling Rousseau's "Noble Savages", I wonder if this commenter would like to comment on...
  • The origin of the word "fleshpot" and how Christianity influenced it.
  • The origin of the word "bezerk" and Christianity's role in it.
  • Who was Telemachus and what practice did he end?

I have other examples of course but this should be enough to start the ball rolling on the discussion of What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?

2 on Haiti

Today's article from columnist Vox Day raises some interesting points concerning certain realities about Haiti. Among them he states...

"If Haiti needs anything from the United States, it is the 30,000 Haitians who are presently in the United States illegally, and thanks to the Obama administration, will now be permitted to stay another 18 months. Since the Haitian diaspora is made up of Haiti's most entrepreneurial and productive individuals, Haiti is far more in need of them now than ever. Both the U.S. and Haiti would be much better off if those 30,000 Haitians were given government contracts to return to Haiti and help rebuild it than remaining in the U.S. and adding to the 10 percent unemployment rate.

Even the best-intentioned interference can trigger harmful effects capable of lasting decades, as we are unfortunately witnessing in the aftermath of the earthquake. Haiti's problems are best left to the Haitians for the simple reason that no one else is capable of solving them. On the other hand, if the Obama administration is absolutely determined to help Haiti, then why not kill two birds with one stone and give 100 percent of the 2009 Goldman Sachs bonus pool, which is being announced today and exists only thanks to federal largesse, to the people of Haiti?"

The other article I wanted to mention today is from Roger Hedgecock. Mr. Hedgecock examines some of the historical reasons for the grinding poverty of Haiti...

"But beyond burying the dead, treating the injured and comforting the grieving, indeed, beyond the immediate food, water and shelter needs of the survivors, is the longer term question: Independent since 1804, why is Haiti still so poor, so corrupt, so desperate – and so vulnerable to disaster?

Putting aside answers like Pat Robertson's "the Haitians made a pact with the devil" and Danny Glover's "the earth retaliated for the failure of the Copenhagen Conference," why did so many Haitians have to suffer now when another 7.0 earthquake centered in the San Francisco Bay during the World Series in 1989 killed just 63 people?

The standard answer is that Haiti is poor. That's pretty obvious. Per capita GDP is less than $1,300 a year.

The real question is: Why is Haiti so poor? Many other small independent countries in the area have prospered. Next-door neighbor Dominican Republic is a thriving democracy with a growing economy generating about $8,600 per person per year.

Barbados and the Bahamas are small island countries nearby with primarily black populations that enjoy many times the per capita income of Haiti. Barbados boasts a thriving democracy and economy – with its own stock market – and per capita GDP of about $19,000 per year. The Bahamas do even better with per capita GDP of about $28,000.

Some point out that these successful countries were all ex-colonies of Britain, while Haiti had the misfortune to be colonized by France. It could be something to that – but the influence of colonization is a distant and receding memory. There must be other, more recent, reasons for the wide disparity of experience between these nations.

Both articles are thought provoking and I recommend reading them in their entirety if you have the time. Let's not forget to help Haiti through our donations to reputable agencies to at least help them out of this latest crisis. If you are unsure about a charity's reputation for financial accountablility, you can check them out at charitynavigator.org to see if they are legit. After that, I would think it best to let them govern on their own and let them stand or fall on their own political decisions. Then, perhaps they can break the chain of dependency to the West.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Backlash Is Coming! The Backlash Is Coming!

I just heard on the news today that Barry Soetoro a/k/a Barak Hussein Obama is going to Massachusetts to try and help the flagging campaign of state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) in her quioxtic charge campaign to resume liberal control of the US Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy (a/k/a Admiral Oldsmobile). Oooooooh, better watch out guys, Barry's coming! He of the highest disapproval rating ever recorded by Gallup at the beginning of an (elected) president's second year. Check out this entire article that is jam packed with intersting quotes from the Brown/Coakley senate race....

"After Kennedy's death in August, few imagined there would be any problem replacing him with another Democrat in the U.S. Senate. It's been 16 years since Massachusetts elected a Republican to a congressional seat, 31 years since the last Republican senator left office. Gov. Patrick appointed a former Kennedy aide as the interim senator, and Democratic primary voters chose the well-regarded state Attorney General Martha Coakley as their nominee for the special election. That election, which will be held on Tuesday, was widely seen as a formality. Ms. Coakley coasted through the holiday season while the GOP challenger, little-known state Sen. Scott Brown, scrambled for traction....

Another issue is taxes. Mr. Brown has scolded Ms. Coakley for supporting a repeal of the Bush tax cuts, for entertaining the idea of passing a "war tax," and for proclaiming in a recent debate that "we need to get taxes up." Ms. Coakley says she meant that tax revenues, not rates, need to rebound. Nonetheless, Mr. Brown's critique resonates with voters who are smarting from a 25% hike in sales tax last year.

But nothing excites Mr. Brown's supporters more than his vow to stop ObamaCare by denying Democrats the 60th vote they would need in the U.S. Senate to shut off a GOP filibuster. The Rasmussen and Suffolk polls report that once-overwhelming statewide support for the federal health reform has fallen to a wafer-thin majority."

Might this be a harbinger of things to come? To borrow a quote from one well known politician YOU BETCHA!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Please Pray for Haiti

I am very appreciative of having a forum like this for discussing such matters as politics and religion and I generally try to keep things confined to these areas. There are exceptions of course and with the devastating earthquake that occured in Haiti this week I would like to ask any any theists reading this to please remember Haiti and the Haitian people in your prayers if you are not already doing so. Perhaps any atheists/agnostics reading this could try and send out "positive vibes" or whatever to empathize with the victims of the quake. If anyone would like to do so in a more directed fashion there are 2 people in particular I would request thoughts/prayers for. First would be Mr. Bolis Martin who hasnt been heard from since the quake hit and secondly a blogger who goes by the handle of Gorth Santana (Rod) who hasnt popped up on any blogs since the quake.

I've found one charity which seems to already be in place in Haiti and has an excellent, 4 Star Rating from Charity Navigator called Partners in Health which seems to be doing a great job there. If anyone else is aware of any other such highly rated charities, please post a link to it in the comments section. I'll probably update this post on Sunday after I find out what the official PCA response to this disaster will be.

UPDATE: Bolis checked in a short time ago and is OK. He was about an hour away from his home in the capital when the quake struck and couldnt get through to anyone. Marie France and Christelle are also OK. May little Jean Luc R.I.P.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Forced "Consensus" is Corrupting Science

This article reminded me of something one of the commenters here posted recently stating something to the effect that "science is not a democratic process". If you have time, check out the linked article. Here is what caught my eye....
"Another case of poor science doing the work of ideology (scientism) is the willingness of the media and cultural organs to defend hard-core Darwinian explanations for everything from bad backs to altruism. The evidence doesn't seem to matter once the "consensus" is adduced. The "consensus" deems that scientific books and reports that challenge Darwin--let alone support intelligent design--may not be read, let alone reviewed...

Behind all the "consensus" controls lie groups of individuals that benefit greatly by hyped priorities--research institutions, especially, including cash-pressed universities in search of federal money. Include trial attorneys who benefit from public fright. Add in, then, the para-political elements in society that want government sanction to run the lives of other people; this includes a large part of the environmental movement, plus the cultural totalitarians who seek government power to implement their social and spending policies. Also include the bureaucracies of government that seek constantly to expand their writ...and staffing levels. Economist Thomas Sowell has termed the alliance "coercive utopians."

To stand up to these trends and strategems is "pro-science", not "anti-science", despite what the consensus mongers contend. If "science" is essentially a propaganda and social scheme looking for complaint, vendable professionals to support it, then over time it will lose its hold on public respect. And that is just what is happening."

And that is just what is happening. Didnt Darwin have a minority viewpoint when his ideas were first proposed? I cannot understand for the life of me that if Intelligent Design arguments have been so thoroughly debunked as some say, then why not debate the subject in public forums where detractors can openly point out any perceived errors in their theories? If I had to speculate, I think it would be because some people cannot deal with the idea that an intelligent designer might have began everything and if that's the case, they would seriously have to reexamine their thinking on a whole host of other issues (Moral, metaphysical, etc) and they are comfortable where they are right now, wrapped up snugly in their own biases and preconceived notions.

Monday, January 11, 2010

If it's war, act like it

Today's article in the NY Post by Benny Avni discusses the Obama administration's penchant for not wanting to get it's hands dirty in the nasty business of fighting international terror organizations..

"Other failed or soon-to-fail African states range from Djibouti in the east to Western Sahara -- a zone of trouble that ranges at least to Lebanon and Gaza. Among the neighbors that instigate wars in those countries, some are our allies (Ethiopia), some are foes (Iran), and some are both (Saudi Arabia). We can trust some local leaders, but mostly we have to rely on ourselves...
In short, Obama can't deliver the peace in our time so anxiously anticipated by his supporters. This struggle will last at least as long as the Cold War (and won't be as "cold," either)... Much to Obama's credit, his administration has already widened the use of unmanned drones to assassinate top terrorists. But his bias against clandestine operations by humans is a big problem. To succeed in this war, he'll have to reverse his focus: coddle officials his political allies have publicly tangled with (CIA Director Leon Panetta) and muzzle the likes of Attorney General Eric Holder, who's threatened lawsuits against our frontline warriors.

And since we can't have a major war against each of our enemies, we must embrace some of the tactics that Obama's fans unfairly dub "dirty," from toppling bad overseas actors to assassinations -- and be ready to fight small wars, too.

If we're at war, we have to act like it. Forget the kid gloves."
Obama seems far too aloof in trying to keep America safe. These terrorists must be rooted out and killed and I don't think Obama has the stomach for such operations on a larger scale than currently in use. Holder should pipe down and worry more about locating the next occurance of domestic terrorism before it occurs than extending American rights and priveliges to non-citizens who have taken up arms against the US. But all of this was to be expected when we elected the first affirmative-action president in the history of the US.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Famously Open Minded Darwinists

When it comes to discussing the merits of a discussion regarding Intelligent Design vs. Neo Darwinism/TENS, why can't they just air it out in public rather than playing childish games? This link informs us of the following.

"The California Science Center has flagrantly violated California’s open records law in an apparent effort to hide the real story behind its censorship of Darwin’s Dilemma. The Center’s evasion of the law is the reason for the open records lawsuit recently brought by Discovery Institute against the Center. In October, the Institute filed a comprehensive open records request demanding that the Science Center turn over all documents relating to its abrupt decision to cancel the privately-sponsored screening of Darwin’s Dilemma. In early November, the Science Center released 44-pages of documents in response to the records request. At that time, the Center assured Discovery Institute that it had turned over "all documents" and that "no documents have been withheld," apart from a few e-mail addresses that were redacted. The Science Center did not tell the truth. Discovery Institute independently obtained incriminating emails involving Center officials that should have been turned over by the Center but weren’t.

Most importantly, the Institute obtained a smoking-gun e-mail confirming that the censorship of Darwin’s Dilemma was connected to the Science Center’s relationship with the Smithsonian Institution. In an Oct. 6 email to the American Freedom Alliance, Science Center Vice President Christine Sion specifically cited alleged damage to the Center’s “relationship with the Smithsonian” as the reason for canceling the Darwin’s Dilemma screening. In its open records request, Discovery Institute had asked for all documents relating to the screening cancellation that referenced the Smithsonian. The Christine Sion e-mail was clearly covered by that request and therefore should have been produced. It wasn’t. Another email from a Smithsonian official to the Science Center complaining about the screening was likewise suppressed.

These missing emails may be the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There is a huge unexplained gap in the documents produced by the Center thus far, raising suspicions that the Center may have suppressed many more incriminating documents. Notably, the Science Center failed to disclose even a single email or document relating to the Darwin’s Dilemma screening written by any decisionmaker at the Center who actually made the determination to cancel the screening. In other words, the Science Center would have the public believe that although there was lively email traffic about the screening by others at the Center, no one involved in making the cancellation decision composed even one email or other document mentioning the screening."

I think that evolutionists, creationists as well as those who subscribe to the theory of Intelligent Design can all agree that the discussion would be best made in an open forum and thus the public could decide which arguments are best.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sacrificed on the Alter of Political Correctness

That's how I felt about the possible future of the United States as I read the latest article from Michael J. Trotten entitled Profile Me if You Must on the subject of airport security. I've often thought that there was too much emphasis on some absurd notion of fairness after hearing stories of older women who were being searched and men traveling alone that werent being checked.

"our airport security system is so half-baked and dysfunctional it may as well not even exist, and flying is about to become more miserable anyway. So rather than doubling down on grandma and micromanaging everyone on the plane, we might want to pay as much attention to people as to their luggage, especially military-aged males who make unusual and suspicious-looking travel arrangements. That’s what the Israelis do, and that’s why security agents take me into a room and interrogate me every time I pass through Ben-Gurion International Airport....

The United States need not and should not import the Israeli system. It’s labor intensive, slow, and at times incredibly aggravating. Americans wouldn’t put up with it, and it wouldn’t scale well. The one thing we can and should learn from the Israelis, though, is that we need to pay as much attention to who gets on airplanes as to what they’re bringing on board.....

Right now there appears to be no effort whatsoever to discriminate among passengers using any criteria, let alone racist criteria. “Pants bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab did not have a passport, did not have any luggage, and bought a one-way ticket with cash. His name is in a database of possible terrorists. Any Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, or all-American white boys from Iowa who fit that description should be stopped. Abdulmutallab wasn’t stopped."

I for one, wouldnt mind a little extra scrutiny at the airport if it lead to other people who fit a certain criteria being searched as well. Let's leave "Gertrude' and "Aunt Maude" alone for a change. The temporary inconvienence would be well worth it if it lead to a more sane policy.