A Religious Objection to Intelligent Design

We expect athiests to reject intelligent design, and we know there are scientists who are believers but keep religion and science separate. Here’s yet another perspective in opposing intelligent design as Rabbi Natan Slifkin, writing in the Jerusalem Post, provides a religious objection to ID:

If God’s existence is being demonstrated in phenomena for which there is argued to be no scientific explanation, then what about all those phenomena for which there is a scientific explanation?

The prophets said that “the Heavens declare the glory of God.” Some of the ancients interpreted this to mean that since (in their time) there was no explanation as to why the planets move in the way that they do, they attest to a Designer. But now that physics and astronomy have explained planetary motion, does this mean that the Heavens no longer declare the glory of God? Of course they do; and the unavoidable position for the religious person is that God’s grandeur is seen in the laws of nature.

THE PROBLEM with ID was demonstrated by David Klinghoffer’s November 9 Post op-ed “Wayward religious reconcilers.” He argued that for the universe to meaningfully attest to a Creator, it must do so in a way that is potentially scientifically falsifiable, just as the testimony of witnesses is only meaningful if it could theoretically be proven false.

ID, claims Klinghoffer, uses certain cellular structures to present evidence for design that, if proven wrong (i.e. if proven to be explicable in terms of ordinary naturalistic processes), would no longer attest to a Creator.

So where does that leave the rest of the universe? What about all those structures that do not, even by the admission of the ID camp, present irreducible complexity? The unstated implication of their position is that these things do not attest to a Creator. Don’t have a grasp of cellular biology? Sorry, you won’t be able to perceive that the universe was created by God.

Either God is everywhere or He is nowhere. But He is certainly not limiting His appearance in the universe to the bacterial flagellum and the blood-clotting system.

(Hat tip to Evolving Thoughts, the blog which also answers the question, “What are the best pickup lines for scientists and science-savvy folk?”)

Quote of the Day

The religious right often tries to rewrite early American history to fit their views of a theocratic state and support their denial of the support from the founding fathers for separation of church and state. I just saw this quote at Pharyngula which really puts things in perspective:

[I]n 1776 perhaps 15 percent of all colonists were regular churchgoers.

[Forrest G. Woods, The Arrogance of Faith: Christianity and Race in America from the Colonial Era to the Twentieth Century (Knopf, 1990, p. 247)]

(The quotes change randomly so you might not get this one at the link but, since you’ve now read this quote, getting a different one might be preferable).

Louie, Louie


Who knew that Demi Moore could sing? Check this out for a flash back to the 60’s, or a sneak preview of the movie Bobby.

An Inconvienent Truth DVD Release Next Week

For those who haven’t caught it yet (or want to see it again), An Inconvenient Truth will be out on DVD on Tuesday. Gore is expected to be nominated, and have an excellent chance to win, and Academy Award for this documentary. We’ve seen a lot of political acceptance speeches at the Academy Awards. Wouldn’t it be something if Al Gore goes up to accept his award, and announces his candidacy for President. This would probably make it the most viewed campaign announcement ever.

Pew: Public Wants Democrats To Take Lead On Solving Nation’s Problems

To some degree this may be cirular, but the latest Pew Survey finds that the same Americans who voted in the Democrats are happy that they won. They compared these findings to public reaction over the GOP’s victory in 1994. Many of the results are similar (obviously in reverse) except that the public has a stronger desire now for Democrats to take the lead in solving the nation’s problems than comparable results regarding the Republicans in 1994:

The Democrats’ big win on Nov. 7 has gotten a highly favorable response from the public. In fact, initial reactions to the Democratic victory are as positive as they were to the GOP’s electoral sweep of Congress a dozen years ago. Six-in-ten Americans say they are happy that the Democratic Party won control of Congress; in December 1994, roughly the same percentage (57%) expressed a positive opinion of the GOP’s takeover.

Half of Americans approve of the Democrats’ plans and policies for the future, which also is comparable to approval of the GOP’s proposed agenda in 1994. However, there is one important area where the parallels to 1994 do not hold: By 51%-29%, more Americans want Democratic leaders ­ rather than President Bush ­ to take the lead in solving the nation’s problems. Twelve years ago, the public was divided over whether GOP congressional leaders (43%), or President Clinton (39%), should take the lead in addressing national problems.

Milton Friedman Dies at 94

Economist Milton Friedman died today at age 94. While many might disagree with him on some issues, there is no doubt that he was devoted to promoting liberty. While his economic views are often quoted by right wing Republicans, The Financial Times shows how he differed from them.

Both his admirers and his detractors have pointed out that his world view was essentially simple: a passionate belief in personal freedom combined with a conviction that free markets were the best way of co-ordinating the activities of dispersed individuals to their mutual enrichment. Where he shone was in his ability to derive interesting and unexpected consequences from simple ideas. As I knew from my postbag, part of his appeal lay in his willingness to come out with home truths which had occurred to many other people who had not dared to utter them. Friedman would then go on, however, to defend these maxims against the massed forces of economic correctness; and in the course of those defences he, almost unintentionally, added to knowledge.

Those who wanted to write him off as a right-wing Republican were disabused by the variety of radical causes he championed. I was not impressed in my own student years by the claims to a belief in personal freedom of the pro-market British economists whom I first encountered. It was not until I came across Friedman, and learned that he had spent more time in lobbying against the US “draft” than on any other policy issue, that I began to take seriously the wider philosophic protestations of the pro-market economists.

Friedman’s iconoclasm endured. He regarded the anti-drugs laws as virtually a government subsidy for organised crime. Even in the financial sphere, he espoused causes such as indexed contracts and taxes as a way of mitigating the harm done by inflation which did not endear him to natural conservatives.

Friedman was also an opponent of the Iraq war, and perhaps predicted the downfall of the GOP:

“What’s really killed the Republican Party isn’t spending. It’s Iraq. As it happens, I was opposed to going into Iraq from the beginning. I think it was a mistake, for the simple reason that I do not believe the United States of America ought to be involved in aggression. ”
Milton Friedman

His son, David Friedman, whose blog I just happened to mention in a post as recently as yesterday, has posted a brief note.

Related Post: Milton Friedman’s Letter to Bill Bennett

The Finger Pointing Continues

You would sure think Democrats had lost last week with all the finger pointing. I’ve already noted James Carville’s attacks on Howard Dean (here and here). Now Adam Nagourney gets into the act in The New York Times. He even tried to get Carville’s associate, Stan Greenberg, to attack John Kerry, As Kerry is a frequent target of Nagourney, he was probably disappointed by what sounded like reluctant criticism from Greenberg. While Kerry might have handled the situation better, the etiquette for responding to a demand for an apology for something you didn’t actually say is not firmly established.

Mark Barrett comments further on Nagourney’s article at The Premise, including placing Kerry’s actions during the campaign into perspective:

If we’re going to assume that the uproar surrounding John Kerry’s botched joke may have cost Democrats an individual election or two, it seems fair to draw up a balance sheet of sorts in order to judge the net gain or loss from Mr. Kerry’s total involvement in the elections. On the plus side, John Kerry contributed almost $14 million to Democratic candidates, committees and progressive causes. That included contributions to more than 260 candidates in 43 states at both the national and state level. To the extent that Mr. Greenberg believes Republican exploitation of Senator Kerry’s botched joke may have “moved the needle a little bit” in the wrong direction, then, one would also have to conclude that such movement came after a significantly greater swing of the needle in the right direction.

There’s also a slippery assumption in all this that John Kerry actually did something wrong, when it’s become quite clear after the fact that he didn’t. Most observers on both the right and the left had no doubt at the time that John Kerry supported the troops, and that belief has hardened in subsequent weeks.

As Mark also points out, the desperation showed by the attacks on Kerry demonstrate Kerry’s leadership position among Democrats and such attacks would have only occurred if the campaigning by Kerry was helping Democrats. Personally I’m waiting for the next two or three times a politician has a minor gaffe, or is attacked by the right wing noise machine for something they didn’t actually say. Hopefully then the voters will bore of this nonsense, as they grew tired of incompetent Republican rule, and decide to chose candidate based upon the real issues.

Polution To Protect From Global Warming?

Here’s a surprising solution proposed for global warming:

Air pollution may be just the thing to fight global warming, some scientists say.

Prominent scientists, among them a Nobel laureate, said a layer of pollution deliberately spewed into the atmosphere could act as a “shade” from the sun’s rays and help cool the planet.

This reminds me of those anti-scientist disaster movies in which the scientist comes up with a grand plan which backfires and destorys the earth.  The scientist who proposed this the idea is “not enthusiastic about it.”

“It was meant to startle the policymakers,” said Paul J. Crutzen, of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Chemistry. “If they don’t take action much more strongly than they have in the past, then in the end we have to do experiments like this.”

Serious people are taking Crutzen’s idea seriously. This weekend at Moffett Field, California, NASA’s Ames Research Center hosts a closed-door, high-level workshop on the global haze proposal and other “geoengineering” ideas for fending off climate change.

A variety of opinions were given on this idea:

“Yes, by all means, do all the research,” Indian climatologist Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the 2,000-scientist U.N. network on climate change, said.

But “if human beings take it upon themselves to carry out something as massive and drastic as this, we need to be absolutely sure there are no side effects,” Pachauri said.

Philip Clapp, a veteran campaigner for emissions controls to curb warming, also sounded a nervous note, saying, “We are already engaged in an uncontrolled experiment by injecting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”

Olbermann on the Fox Memo

I recently posted on the Fox News memo which showed how they were twisting the news to attempt to make it fit the Republican talking points. Crooks and Liars has the video of Keith Olbermann reporting on the memo.

Posted in News Media. Tags: , . No Comments »

Moonbat Chopra “Proves” Existence of Afterlife

Deepak Chopra is really on a roll. I commented yesterday on his latest idiocy at Huffington Post. Thanks to Pharyngula and Good Math, Bad Math I find that I missed yet another example. Chopra has written the first of a series of posts in which he claims to be able to scientifically prove the existence of an afterlife.

The two blogs cited above do an excellent job of debunking Chopra’s pseudo-scientific nonsense so there’s no need for me to repeat what’s been done. The only question remaining is whether there’s anyone left who can take anything this kook writes seriously anymore?