Some Things Said… (Jan 06) (4)

Virginia Likely to Vote on Marriage Amendment in November

Virginias voters should expect to see a constitutional marriage amendment on the ballot this November. The Virginia Senate voted 28 to 11 on Wednesday to pass a bill authorizing a ballot vote. On January 16, the House of Delegates passed a marriage amendment bill by 76-20 after defeating several measures that would have eliminated language barring civil unions.

Two recently elected new delegates, David Poisson (D-Loudoun County) and Chuck Caputo (D-Fairfax County) voted against the marriage protection amendment. Poisson had defeated Richard Black (R), one of the most conservative members of the Assembly and a former sponsor of the marriage amendment. –excerpted from an article by Robert H. Knight found at the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee page on their website found here 01.27.06

Polygamy: Red Herring or Real Threat?

Last week, a small storm erupted in Canada when the media discovered a government study recommending that Canada legalize polygamy. The study was authored by three law professors at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. The government commissioned the $150,000 study into the legal and social ramifications of polygamy just weeks before it introduced divisive same-sex marriage legislation. Same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada last June.

Events in Canada have proven that the advocates of marriage are not being hysterical when they warn of the cultural and legal slide into polygamy. Defenders of marriage have been saying all along that legalizing same sex marriage would open the door to legalizing polygamy. Advocates of same sex marriage scoffed at that so much and so often that the term, “slippery slope,” denotes irony and derision, rather than a serious argument deserving serious consideration… –excerpted from an article by Jennifer Roback Morse, that appeared here 01.23.06

Survival of the Evolution Debate

Why Darwin is still a lightning rod.

What is it about even the slightest dissent from Darwins theory of natural selection that drives liberal elites (and even some conservative elites) bonkers? In the 1920s, in the days of the Scopes trial, it was the fact that anyone could believe the story of Genesis in a literal way that offended the delicate sensibilities of our cultural mavens. Then in the 1970s it was something called “creation science” that drove them apoplectic. Today it is the heresy of “intelligent design” that they seek to extirpate root and branch. To paraphrase H. L. Mencken, liberals are haunted by the specter that someone, somewhere harbors doubts about Darwins theory.

But in truth most people nowadays do believe evolutions basics–which is to say that species evolve–and most people believe that natural selection explains part of the change or adaptation. Where there is doubt or disagreement, as there always has been, is over whether natural selection explains everything. Despite what you might think from reading the New York Times, there is nothing indecent or philistine about this question, a question Darwin himself considered of the utmost importance. As he commented in On the Origin of Species, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

Enter in the 1990s the intelligent design movement, also known simply as ID, an interconnected group of biochemists, mathematicians, and philosophers of science who argue that certain forms of biological complexity, what they call “irreducible complexity,” cannot in fact come into being by Darwin’s “numerous, successive, slight modifications” but require instead an intelligent designer. Some scientists with first-rate credentials, namely Michael J. Behe and William Dembski, are the driving intellectual force behind the theory of intelligent design. Relying in particular on recent discoveries in biochemistry and mathematical physics, they argue that Darwins theory of evolution by natural selection cannot explain the existence of some complex biological systems. That is to say, the emergence of these systems is neither mathematically nor biochemically plausible without some intelligent designer in the background. For example, according to the biochemist Behe, we havent a clue how certain highly complex biological systems at the cellular level, such as the mechanism of blood clotting, could have emerged via natural selection. “All parts must function in synchrony or the system breaks down,” he explains.

In making such claims the IDers are putting old wine in a new bottle. Some version of the design thesis is to be found in the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas and, perhaps most famously, in the writings of William Paley. The 18th-century English theologian argued that when we find a watch we infer a watchmaker; so too when we discover evidence of design in nature we properly infer a Maker or Creator. The basic point is that one can make a legitimate, rational inference from the orderliness and regularity of the cosmos to some sort of intelligent first mover. And it’s important to point out that this inference was thought, up until recent times, to stand on its own merits, requiring no assistance from Divine Revelation.

In rejecting this inference, Darwin himself was hardly a path breaker, though clearly his assault on the inference was one of the most powerful ever made. For example, before him, the philosopher David Hume unleashed an influential critique of the notion of what he called an “intelligent cause”–a notion he viewed as utterly useless and uncertain. In sum: This is a venerable debate, indeed, and one that has never been settled…

The philosopher Robert George of Princeton argues that IDers have, to be sure, performed a useful service in their critical program. They have better than most shown how natural selection comes up short as a universal meta-explanation. And they have also highlighted how many of todays popularizers of Darwinism, for example biologists Well, if the point of Darwinism is to refute the existence of God, as these popularizers tend to claim, then it too would have to be excluded from the science curriculum. The Supreme Court, after all, has ruled that the state must remain neutral between religion and irreligion. In their more heated polemics, Darwins popularizers paint themselves into this intellectual corner.

However that may be, George raises serious questions about the constructive aspect of the IDers program, the point at which they attempt to replace natural selection with intelligent design. As George points out, theres nothing wrong with making an inference from biological complexity to an intelligent designer, an inference that is perfectly rational, even if it is not “scientific” per se. Aquinas, after all, was a great rationalist. “It is important for IDers to avoid buying into an imperialistic understanding of science, which says that if it’s not the scientific method it’s not rational,” he comments. Whats needed is not a “scientific” refutation of Darwin, but a philosophic understanding of what Darwinian theory says, and what it does not say…

The former head of the Presidents Council on Bioethics, Leon Kass, has also been following this debate. A physician and Harvard-trained biochemist, Kass credits IDers for drawing attention to various difficulties in orthodox Darwinian theory, as well as for understanding the human stakes involved in such questions. And he believes IDers are generally right in raising the question of causality–a question that should in fact be at the center of a true science of nature. In other words, these are genuinely important questions. “But the IDers assertion that the only possible answer is a Designer-God is not warranted. There is simply no evidence in support of this proposition.”

It seems pretty clear that ID, as a public teaching, is going to meet the same fate as creation science. This modern update of an older understanding will not soon be taught as part of the science curriculum in our public schools. And this may be a good thing, in so far as it isn’t really “science” anyway. Whats unfortunate is that the ideology of Darwinism–that is, the mistaken notion that Darwin defeated God–not only reigns culturally supreme, but also apparently increasingly has the legal backing of the state.

The policy question 80 years ago, in the famous Scopes trial, was whether a public school teacher ought to be allowed to teach students about Darwins theory of evolution. The question of today is nearly the opposite–whether anything other than orthodox Darwinism will be taught in the public schools. This marks not so much enlightenments progress as a narrowing of our intellectual horizons. –excerpted from an article by Adam Wolfson that appeared in The Weekly Standard 01.16.06, Volume 011, Issue 17

Well, this sure settles it!

Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane. –Richard Dawkins, as quoted in Wolfsons article excerpted above.

Are we in danger of listing this scripture too many times within these e-pages?

Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools. –The apostle Paul, to the church in Rome, Romans 1:19-22

Choosing Life for the Right Reasons

The 1973 Roe versus Wade decision made by the Supreme Court was arguably the worst abuse of judicial power ever committed in this country. No other Supreme Court decision has caused so much death, nor caused so many people to become so callous about the taking of innocent life. Roe v. Wade was a severe blow to the moral fiber of America… which is why Liberals must fight so fiercely to protect it from Americans, even after all these years. Abortion is THE issue in any political ring, despite Democrat protests that they don’t have a litmus test for candidates and judges. Thats a bit like the College of Cardinals claiming they dont have a litmus test to approve only Catholic candidates for Pope. –excerpted from Cavaliers Guardian Watchblog find it here 01.24.06

Violence begets…

Gaza – Hamas and Fatah gunmen exchanged fire on Friday in political turmoil as the long-dominant Fatah faction was threatened with a violent backlash from within after its crushing election defeat by the Islamic militant group….

Some 20,000 Fatah supporters took the streets in angry protests across the Gaza Strip, burning cars outside the Palestinian parliament building and firing rifles in the air. Some Hamas posters were ripped down by the crowd, which burned tires in the streets… –excerpted from a Reuters News Service listing found here 01.27.06

Article contributed by Richard Vandagriff and Mark Zaveson