Saturday, February 28, 2009
The bill died for lack of a majority in the House Judiciary Committee before one of the committee members changed his vote later in the meeting and voted for it, although he said he would vote against it on the House Floor, but the bill has now stalled in the Rules Committee. Why?
Here's my take: When House leadership saw that this bill didn't have 9 real supporting votes in Judiciary, and it was made clear to them that there was serious opposition on the floor--possibly enough to send the bill down in flames--they decided to hold it back. Then Joe Fischer filed two amendments which would restore the original language to the law, effectively neutering the bill--more evidence that HB 28 was in trouble.
This House leadership team prides itself on a clean well run chamber. After last year's messy debacle with Jody Richards at the helm, this leadership team promised a more efficient House, and they have largely delivered. A competent leadership team does not let bills go for a vote that are not assured of passage: it makes them look like they're not in control.
I'm betting they saw the ugly debate coming and that they're now thinking of sending it to A&R or some other legislative graveyard.
Friday, February 27, 2009
But it's not the first time this has happened. The private debt-to-GDP ratio hit 100 percent one other time in U. S. history: 1929.
According to the good folks over at Saving Sports, the University of Hawaii is facing more cuts in mens' sports programs ostensibly because of a budget crisis, but really because the perverse incentives in a law that is supposed to bring equity to college sports programs but which really results in limiting athletic opportunities for many students.
And now the University of Vermont is dropping baseball and softball.
And like many such bureaucratic outrages, the people responsible for it deny that that's what's going on.
Jake, over at Page One Kentucky, seems to have some need to discuss the issue of gay pedophilia, and so he took something I said that was printed in the Herald-Leader about a bill that would prevent the placement of children in homes where there is an unmarried sexual partner and interpreted it as some kind of statement on gay pedophilia, which it very clearly was not.
I made a comment about homes in which there was an unmarried sexual partner--most of which are straight, not gay--and said I agreed with the bills provision not to place children there. Instead, Jake wanted to talk about gay pedophilia, at which point I mentioned the fact that I had had that discussion before and found it unproductive because you can't talk to people about something they can't even admit it is as a possibility because they can't see through their own political ideology.
So what was Jake's response? He wants to talk more about gay pedophilia.
MEMO TO JAKE'S FRIENDS:
Make him stop talking about gay pedophilia. It can't possibly help the case against SB 68.
Personally, I think there are much more pleasant things to talk about than gay pedophilia, but let's see how many times Jake brings up this issue again.
I'm sure he'll blame it on me.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Today's evidence of the lack of quality control is Jake's comment that I was somehow referring to homosexual pedophilia when I remarked in a comment run by the Lexington Herald-Leader that gays were putting their political agenda before the safety children. Of course, I was doing no such thing. I was talking about the fact that having an unmarried sexual partner in the home is not a promising environment for the raising of a child--and the obsession people like Jake have for gay rights, an obsession which takes precedence over everything else.
I've gotten into the argument about gay pedophilia before, but what you get a is a ludicrous response that such male on male sexual abuse doesn't count as homosexual abuse.
Finally, you just realize that reason and fact just don't matter to the gay rights crowd, and that all that matters is political ideology. Evidence has absolutely no role in their thinking about such things.
And, yes, there are some of us who are uncomfortable with putting children in the types of homes that have a demonstrably a high incidence of domestic abuse. If Jake disputes that this assertion also applies to gays, then his argument is not with me but with gay organizations that say it themselves.
To say that as a matter of state policy, we're going to place children, many of whom have already been abused, in situations that lend themselves to abuse just so we can kowtow to gay rights groups is utterly and shamefully selfish.
But what else is new?
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Since his religious conversion to Catholicism (and philosophical conversion to Thomism), Beckwith has renounced his belief in Intelligent Design. Apparently Leiter sees nothing amiss in charging someone who is intellectually honest enough to publicly announce his change of mind on a very controversial issue with misrepresention and lying in the very process of engaging in these things himself.
It doesn't involve a terribly complex intellectual procedure to distinguish between someone's past beliefs and what they believe now, particularly for a University of Chicago philosopher. Yet Leiter seems to be having some trouble managing it.
But this is just garden variety hypocrisy, and Leiter is no garden variety hypocrite.
Leiter's most recent screed comes after Beckwith criticized one of the more recent attempts to politicize the academy by forcing ideological uniformity on colleges and universities in the name of "Diversity." This time, Leiter and other members of the Tolerance Police have targeted religious colleges and universities who have the nerve to employ policies that allow them to hire people who, like, agree with them. In any other world than the ideologically uniform and politically charged one Leiter inhabits, people who talk till they are blue in the face about Diversity would be expected to actually practice it, an activity that would involve tolerating the existence of institutions that take a different view on issues like human sexuality than your own.
It would be an interesting philosophical exercise--perhaps one Leiter could pursue after a hard day on Uniformity Patrol--to try to intellectually justify the position that the belief in Diversity somehow obligates you to try and stamp out the opinions of those with whom you disagree.
War is PeaceTo Leiter, like so many thinkers on the left, ideological political considerations take precedence over everything else--professional decorum included. Leiter's posts on Beckwith don't even attempt to meet Beckwith's remarks with any kind of academic detachment. Honest disagreement with his political ideology is, by definition, impossible. Those who take any another view than the Approved one are simply evil.
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength
...and Diversity is Uniformity
This is a common characteristic of essentially religious beliefs, which is what the Diversity Crusade has become. In this movement, there is simply no sense in even considering your opponent's position. It is simply heresy.
It's a strange thing to see a guy who gives the creationists down the road for essentially the same kind of approach to scientific issues engaging in it himself. But I guess I'm appealing to intellectual consistency here, a characteristic that these days is apparently too much to ask of an otherwise reputable philosopher.
... without cooking, the human brain (which consumes 20-25% of the body’s energy) could not keep running.Finally, I have an argument against those ridiculous undercooked vegetables I get at hotel restaurants.
HT: 3 Quarks Daily
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Various answers were given, and the major problem Page One readers see is ... my tie. The paisley is so 80s. And the knot: a failed Windsor. On top of that, the button down collar is so yesterday.
Here's my entry in the caption contest:
Martin Cothran appears pent up because he's feeling like the subject of an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.Maybe they could do my kitchen now.
Here's Francis Beckwith, on this attack on academic freedom by people who have been known to talk about such freedom until they are blue in the face (or until someone exercises a freedom they don't like):
Christian, and other religious, philosophers who maintain traditional views on the intrinsic purpose of human sexuality would do well not to publish or defend their views in print or at conferences until they have received tenure.So, according to this petition, Christian institutions are morally required to act as if their beliefs are false, even if these institutions, its founders, its members, and its constituencies all believe they have good reason to believe that their beliefs are true.
What this petition reveals is that there are many in our profession who are willing to employ their clout to punish institutions that, and by extension individual religious philosophers who, will not acquiesce to their disputed views on human sexuality and the nature of the human person. Apparently, many in the APA want to declare, without discussion, debate, or serious reflection, one question of philosophical anthropology forever settled and off limits.
Beckwith's remarks prompted this even more insightful remark from philosopher Victor Reppert:
One of the freedoms that I cherish is the freedom to disapprove. Any conception of tolerance that takes away my freedom to disappove, and to act on my disapproval, is a significant freedom lost.Sounds like a simple reiteration of what academics are always saying about every other issue. One wonders how, in making an exception from their usual standard for this one issue, they are doing anything other than practicing hypocrisy.
Even if, at the end of the day, it turns out that homosexuality is morally acceptable, it does not follow that gays and their supporters have the right to punish people who disapprove of them and believe them to be acting immorally.
Monday, February 23, 2009
One of the victims of the "more women in the sciences" movement, it appears, is the sciences themselves. Here's Jay Shalin of the fabulous Pope Center, with a report from the field:
One of the “more-women-in-science” movement’s leading lights, Susan Rosser, the dean of Georgia Tech’s college of arts and sciences, spoke on the topic at UNC-Chapel Hill recently. According to Rosser and other feminist proponents of the movement, the “real” explanations why men dominate the world of scientific inquiry are cultural traditions, overt sexual discrimination, and unwitting bias—not biology.But don't tell the feminists they are overly emotional. They get very upset when you say that.
Rosser identified a number of factors that, she said, contribute to the disparities in science: women’s tendency to dislike competition, their need to feel some sort of connection with the subject they are studying, their tendency to not isolate problems without context, their desire for social relevance, and the insecurities they tend to feel in such a male-dominated world.
It almost seems as if she was saying that women are too emotional for the world of science the way it is presently constituted.
One wonders how, in the name of equality, someone would demand that the standards of inclusion be lowered for them, but there you have it. And one way to lower the bar for a group is to stamp out competition:
Rosser wants competition de-emphasized, to make the classroom more comfortable to females. She would also like to see less classroom focus on concepts like “right and wrong” and “black and white,” a bizarre notion to promote in a world where synapses fire neurotransmitters or they don’t, the molecules combine or they don’t, and the software compiles or it doesn’t.Yes, truth can be so politically troublesome, can't it?
Maybe when the Darwinists catch a breath between rants about creationists plotting to destroy science they can devote a little time to the real threat to science in their own backyard.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
The student apparently felt affirmed. "It was one of the best feelings I've felt in a long time," said Ryan Allen, who won under the name of "Reann Ballslee." Allen said he had been taunted since he "came out" as a freshman in high school.
A male student dressed in women's clothes? Being made fun of? What's the world coming to?
But it's not clear from the press reports whether the votes he got were votes for his sexual proclivities or whether they were joke votes. When I attended the University of California at Irvine as a freshman college student, we students had to endure the school's mascot: the "Anteaters." It was foisted upon the school in the late 60s when the uppity student body rebelled against the administrative decision to name the school after the more conventional "bruin". So (remember, this is the 60s) the students voted for the most unusual thing on the ballot, partly as a snub to the authority they were then questioning, and partly for fun.
When I got their in the late 70s, it wasn't like we didn't like our mascot: in fact, we liked it precisely because it was weird. It was a stupid thing to do, and so we thought that was pretty cool.
If students at George Mason did this as a joke, then Allen got elected precisely because he's weird, and it's hard to tell exactly how much different that is from being made fun of.
And speaking of weird things, has anyone bothered to notice that it's the champions of "fairness" who are applauding a male winning a contest set up for females?
Friday, February 20, 2009
Contact: Martin Cothran
The legislation, Senate Bill 79, was approved by a Senate committee and is headed to the House, where the five-man legislative team will decide what committee to put in – a decision which could determine the fate of the bill.
SB 79 would ensure that a young woman considering abortion would receive full ultrasound information about her unborn child. But in an unusual move for a committee chairman, Tom Burch, the chairman of the House Health & Welfare Committee has gone public in saying that he will kill the bill, telling one reporter, "I'll have a hearing on it April 15. That's a month after the session ends."
Cothran wondered if Burch was becoming a loose cannon in the House. “This puts House leadership in a difficult position,” said Cothran. “If they put it in this committee, it will look like they intend to kill the bill, and we think there are people on the new leadership team that may not want that. We’re surprised that a committee chairman would put leadership in this position.”
Is there some danger that there will be too great an emphasis on disciplines that tell us how to use the increasingly invasive and sometimes dangerous technology that we're churning out every year?
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
February 18, 2009
Contact: Martin Cothran
LEXINGTON--A bill that some are calling the "Adulterers' Rights Act" was approved today by a State House committee today after being rejected by the same committee earlier in the day. "There was obviously some kind of political pressure applied to legislators to pass a bill with which most of them were clearly uncomfortable," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for The Family Foundation of Kentucky. The bill, House Bill 28, could be voted on by the Full House as early as Wednesday of next week.
The bill would overturn a Kentucky Supreme Court case that involved a man who had an affair with a married woman who later went back to her husband. The court found that the biological father, which it termed "an interloper," had no right to further disrupt the marriage with a paternity claim, since the law deems the child to be the child of the marriage, and the husband had agreed to raise the child as his own.
"If we're going to give parental rights to someone solely on the basis that they're biologically related (and interrupt a marriage in the process), then what prevents a rapist from asserting parental rights?" asked Cothran.
Cothran also questioned how legislators could vote in good conscience to overturn a court decision which most of them clearly hadn't read. "If you're going to vote to overturn important court cases, you should at least have read them," he said. "The only legislator on the committee who seems to be familiar with the actual case was Brent Yonts," said Cothran, "and he's planning on voting against it on the floor."
"HB 28 seeks to give credence to a biological father's claim of paternity by allowing him to further disrupt a marriage he has already threatened by his previous irresponsible act. The Kentucky High Court ruled correctly in protecting the husband, the wife, and the child--and the legal status of marriage general."
"We don't need to be overturning this important legal decision," said Cothran, "we need to be applauding it."
University of Virginia, from his testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Environment on Thursday, February 12, 2009 on the question that some people think is settled:
We often hear that “the science is settled” on global warming. This is hardly the case. While almost all scientists agree that global surface temperature is warmer than it was a century ago, there is considerable debate about the ultimate magnitude of warming, as evinced by the broad range of future mean surface temperature given by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.Uh oh. There goes his grant money. Don't tell his dean.
Michaels reports that "our models [of global warming] are in the process of failing." And if the models used to predict global warming are failing, then there is no solid basis for the "costs" of global warming that we are all supposed to incur in order to save ourselves from impending doom.
Michaels cites 21 commonly used global warming models and shows how in recent years the actual global warming is at the very bottom of the projected range. In other words, the projections being used by policymakers are overestimating the level of global warming:
In fact, judging from these results, it’s time for climate scientists to get back to work and generate models which will be able to estimate the recent past and present within their normal confidence ranges.
Until that is done, all we know is this: calculations of the costs of inaction, based upon models that are clearly overestimating warming to the point that they can no longer be relied upon, are likely to be similarly overestimated. In that eventuality, the costs of drastic action can easily outweigh the costs of a more measured response, consistent with what is being observed, rather than what is being erroneously modeled.
But since the actual levels of global warming are mostly lower than predicted, we have to find something else really scary to talk about.
Like carbon emissions.
Carbon emissions have increased more, not less than was predicted, so we can wave around reports about the unexpected rise in carbon emissions in the air and people will naturally assume that means that global warming must be increasing more than we thought it would even though it isn't.HT: Master Resource
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Here's part of Jake's response:
I mean, calling out Sigmund on all this. That’s some deep ****.I laughed out loud. Now, where were we? ...
If you want to know what it has been like for those of us who have tried to stop the nonsense all these years, just watch the scene in Star Wars where they try to attack the Death Star: the thing is just so big and seemingly invulnerable that every shot just bounces off.
I'd love to say that those of us in the Rebellion delivered the final blow to the thing by finding a vent somewhere where we used the Force and got it down the right hole, but in reality what has happened with the test is that it just plain petered out.
Was it Thomas Kuhn who said that intellectual revolutions come about not because one theory is refuted by another, but because the advocates of the reigning theory simply die off?
That may, in fact, be the situation with the CATS tests: those who swore the blood oath in 1990 to defend every aspect of the reform act to the death just faded away. How many legislators who actually voted for KERA are left? And isn't it an irony that one of the few left is the one who is bringing the test down?
This is the way the test ends:
This is the way the test ends:
This is the way the test ends:
Not with a bang, but with a whimper.
In fact, not only do children take a back seat, they are run over altogether.
The "Fairness" Alliance is a case in point. Chris Hartman, the group's executive director, calls the bill "an anti-gay political attack." Why? Because it's all about them.
It's always all about them.
But back in the world the rest of us live in--where the safety of children is the primary concern--the bill makes perfect sense: you place children in healthy environments and to avoid placing them in potentially unhealthy environments.
Check out their quote in today's Louisville Courier-Journal. They are complaining that, when a child is removed from a home for abuse and neglect, they cannot be placed in the home of a relative who is living with an unmarried partner. In other words, they are complaining that a child cannot be taken from an abusive home and be placed in another home with a high potential for abuse.
And the problem is...?
Kentucky's family courts are snarled with case after case of domestic and child abuse coming from just these kinds of homes, but the Fairness Alliance doesn't care. They've got their narrow political agenda to think about.
If you want an example of the sheer disingenuousness of their case, consider another argument being proffered by opponents of the bill: that it could reduce the pool of available foster care and adoptive parents. Really?
So where was the outcry when the Patton administration threatened to stop sending children to the Baptist Children's Homes, the largest single placement agency in the state, because they wouldn't hire gays? How many children would that have affected? Where was the Fairness Alliance then?
Let's see, let me check my records here ... Oh, well look at this: they were on the side that would have prevented children from being placed in safe homes!
And where are these people whenever another Catholic adoption agency has to close its doors because it won't kowtow to the selfish agenda of groups like the Fairness Alliance?
Take a guess.
There are a lot of things that can be done to contribute to the safety of children, but throwing them under the bus isn't one of them.
The 2nd most creationist country in the industrialized world is the most scientifically advanced. How can this be?
Monday, February 16, 2009
Jake again resorts to the charge that every conservative who disagrees with him is a closet homosexual. Our theory (we can play the Freudian game too) is that charging others with taking the same dim view of the dictates of biology as he does meets some kind of psychological need.
But perhaps this is a diagnosis best rendered by a professional.
Jake's little tantrum came after I asked what exactly distinguished his extreme rhetoric from that of someone like Fred Phelps.
After a little more consideration, however, I am thinking that an apology may be in order--to Fred Phelps for the unfavorable comparison.
And so what is it about having an affair with a married person that is supposed to inspire public confidence in your parenting abilities?
After reading the posts on my blog about this issue and answering the emotional phone calls I have received from angry men who have had affairs with women who are married to someone else, and who, in some cases see nothing wrong with their behavior, I am becoming convinced that the decline of Western civilization is more advanced than I had first thought.
I have heard stories from my legal friends involved in family law about how people who are not married or who have acted in some way outside the bounds of wedlock who, when asserting rights that the law has always and only given to married partners, are simply nonplussed by the fact that they don't have the same rights as married people. Some of the stories are hard to believe. But now I believe them.
The advocates of HB 28 say that the bill would simply "allow biological fathers the same right to know their child as the mother." Right, and in the process disrupt a valid marriage (which would be the man's second experience in doing this, the first being the act of having sex with the married woman in the first place), getting in the face of the husband of the marriage who is an innocent party in the whole thing, as well as potentially disrupting the childhood of the baby.
In one of my previous posts on this issue, a commenter said:
What if a married woman gets pregnant by a married man to break up his marriage, and then dangle that child like a pawn, and then to say you can only see that child if you leave your wife and be with me.Now let me get this straight: now we're talking about a man who not only acted in a way that would disrupt another marriage, but committed adultery against his own wife as well? And society is supposed to reward his completely irresponsible behavior by awarding him paternity rights? Are people so morally jaded that they think an example like this is anything but a further moral indictment of the biological father?
Maybe the non-adulterous husband of the adulterous wife and non-adulterous wife of the adulterous husband in the previous example ought to divorce and marry each other so they would each at least have a spouse who understands how to act like a responsible adult.
I guess I'm just having trouble understanding why the rest of us should be impressed with the parental skills of men who have sex with the wives of other people, and why we should think it is reasonable in such a situation to violate the rights of the married husbands of these women who not only have taken the trouble of remaining faithful in their marriages, but have agreed to forgive the transgression and raise the child as their own.
Pop Quiz: Who would make the better parent:The really sad thing is that some people would really answer, "a."
a. A man who has sex with someone else's wife .
b. A man who doesn't have sex with other people's wives, and despite the fact that his wife has committed adultery and gotten pregnant from it, takes her back and agrees to act as the father of the child.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
This is the very interesting finding reported by Susan Pinker in The Sexual Paradox. She is specifically studying the problem that got Laurence Summers into so much undeserved trouble: why are there many fewer women than men at the highest levels of math, science, and engineering? Her answer: when given the choice, women with high aptitude for math, science, and engineering are more likely than similarly gifted men to choose something else.The oughta' be a law.
Oh, and here's the author (presumably Jake) on what he is encouraging his readers to do:
So, folks, got photos of Gary Tapp having dirty gay sex? Send them my way. Got any other dirt? I’d love to talk about it.This is the blog that is always giving lectures to everyone else about right wing hate. Can you imagine what the reaction would be if some conservative blog used language like this? At Page One, the proper response to perceived right wing hate is even more vitriolic left-wing hate.
In fact, what exactly distinguishes Jake's rantings from those of Fred Phelps?
Thursday, February 12, 2009
What have I done now to upset them? We go now to the anonymous author of the post (okay, so courage isn't one of their virtues):
There’s a bill in the state house right now–HB 28– that has religious conservatives up in arms.Up in arms? We hadn't even ordered the ammunition when one simple little question in Wednesday's House Judiciary Committee practically torpedoed the whole bill. As I pointed out before the meeting, the bill is being supported by the argument that the biology of the father trumps all other important considerations in parental rights cases, a position that would make mincemeat of laws governing adoption and in vitro fertilization.
If biology is the prevailing consideration, I asked, then what prevents a rapist from demanding parental rights? In fact, Tom Riner asked a more pointed question: "Under this legislation, would a person who had committed rape be able to act on this legislation to press their paternal rights as the father of the child?"
What followed was a string of fairly unintelligible legalese from bill sponsor Daryll Owens (D-Louisville), after which Riner asked, "So it would cover him if he wanted to do that?"
"Well, I guess he could, yeah. [insert long awkward pause here] Again, I think that's extremely unlikely, but I guess he could."
Can you say "gotcha"?
All of this, of course followed questions from other Democratic members of the committee, including Brent Yonts, Robin Webb, and Kelly Flood, who shot so many holes in the bill that there wasn't much left when it was over.
So crippled was the bill by the end of the testimony, an embarassed Rep. Owens withdrew the bill.
The whole sorry episode can be viewed here. HB 28 comes up about 80 percent of the way through the meeting.
So what are we to make of the anonymous author at Page One? Well, after quoting from my press release and relating what I did say, he goes on to relate what I did not say:
He continues later in the day to assert that his opposition is based
in part on the fact that the passage of HB 28 into law would allow
rapists to assert parental rights. Yes, because prior to Rhoades v
Ricketts there were rapists asserting parental rights willy-nilly. We
could really get in the weeds here, as Carey allows himself to do–
rapists are asserting parental rights? Really?
In fact, why didn't Mr. Anonymous just quote what I actually did say:
If you take this argument to its logical conclusion, then theNowhere did I say I thought the bill would allow for this: I said this was the logical outcome of their argument, not the legal outcome of their bill. But this is a philosophical distinction, not exactly a specialty over at Page One. I just assumed that the law had other provisions preventing this, but Owen's answer to Riner's question (which was directed at the legal issues) makes you wonder.
biological father of a child born through in vitro fertilization to a
mother married to another man could gain parental rights. In fact, if
biology trumps everything else, what stops a rapist from claiming
But what am I supposed to make of this paragraph:
You see, there has been, for some time, quite a bit of righteousWhat in the world does fetal viability have to do with this bill--much less "aboriton"? And where do "teh gays and teh sluts" come in? He (whoever "he" is) is criticizing me for saying the bill is about something that I didn't say it was about, and then he says the bill is about something it's not about? Is this supposed to be persuasive?
outrage over women’s bodies, and the rights that come along with being
able to use those bodies to create another living being. But men have
been off the hook, more or less because we don’t have to carry the
child. That argument, however, comes with a clear-cut expiration date.
And this is going to open a very large can of worms: the date of fetal
viability. Yeah. HB 28 isn’t just about adultery and rape and holding
down the gays like Marty Cothran wants you to think. It’s also about
aboriton. But what did I say? I’m not getting in the weeds. There are
multi-million dollar organizations that talk about aborition on both
sides of the aisle. But what about paternal rights and responsibility?
Martin Cothran’s organization has an agenda–they’re pushing against
this legislation because it helps the chances that teh gays and teh
sluts will never get what they want–but what about those of us outside
the universe of right-wing hate?
As to the last part of the paragraph, I'm not even sure what it means.
At first I wondered why Jake would let someone only partially literate guest post on his blog. Then it occurred to me: he's even less coherent than Jake.
It makes Jake look good!
The Time story continues to do what the media has traditionally done when reporting on the trial: falsify history:
Though Bryan and the creationists initially won this fight, the law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools was eventually overturned in the 1960s. [emphasis added]The Butler Act which was the subject of the trial did not "prohibit the teaching of evolution." It did prohibit denying the literal account of man's origins, however, and the press took it from there.
And then, of course, there was Inherit the Wind, a play based on the trial that simply falsified history to make its preachy point which was then made into several even more preachy movies.
Oh well, the Great Scopes Myth (part of the larger Darwinist Myth) must be sustained in the national consciousness--all, ironically, in the name of truth.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Blank stares. Shuffling of paper. Mumbled comments that basically amounted to "We don't know."
In short, back to the drawing board. The bill will now need to be reworked to eliminate only one of the many objectionable features of this bill.
Good for the House Republicans.
February 11, 2009
Contact: Martin Cothran
LEXINGTON--A state family group is opposing a proposed state law that it says would weaken the legal status of marriage. The bill, House Bill 28, would allow the father of child born from an adulterous relationship with a married woman to claim parental rights to the child even after the woman had reconciled with her husband. The bill would effectively overturn the Rhoades v. Rickett's decision in which the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled last year that the marriage prevailed over the biological father's claim.
"At a time when we need to be strengthening the legal status of marriage, this bill weakens it," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation of Kentucky. "A marriage does not automatically end when one party to the marriage commits adultery, but that would be the legal effect of this bill."
Proponents of the bill argue that the mere fact that a man is the biological father of a child is sufficient to warrant parental rights, but Cothran argued that this has never been the case. "If you take this argument to its logical conclusion, then the biological father of a child born through in vitro fertilization to a mother married to another man could gain parental rights. In fact, if biology trumps everything else, what stops a rapist from claiming parental rights?"
One of the purposes of marriage law is to protect the members of the marriage and the children of that marriage, Cothran said. "HB 28 may benefit the biological father, but it would not benefit the married couple or the child involved."
Monday, February 09, 2009
The new issue of one of my favorite magazines, Chronicles is now out. This issue is a retrospective on Lincoln. The folks at Chronicles--and the Rockford Institute that publishes it--are paleo-conservatives, so it won't be pretty.
Here are some of the specs:
Rendering Unto Lincoln
by Thomas Fleming
The Treasury of Counterfeit Virtue
by Clyde Wilson
Obama as Lincoln
by Justin Raimondo
Mask and mirror.
by Daniel Larison
The long marriage of centralized power and concentrated wealth.
The Financial Crisis
by William J. Quirk
How it happened, and why it is still happening.
Strippers to the Rescue
by Stephen B. Presser
William J. Quirk: Courts & Congress: America’s Unwritten Constitution
Tom Landess on Russell Kirk’s Eliot and His Age
Matthew Roberts on The Iliad, Herbert Jordan, trans.
Tom Piatak on John Zmirak’s The Grand Inquisitor
Letter From Carolina: The Class of ’59: Intimations of Mortality and Posterity
by Clyde Wilson
The New Republic: Lincoln and God
by Joseph E. Fallon
The Bare Bodkin
by Joseph Sobran
Under the Black Flag
by Taki Theodoracopulos
Letter to the Bishop
by Joe Ecclesia
The Rockford Files
by Scott P. Richert
by Andrei Navrozov
The American Interest
by Srdja Trifkovic
In the Dark
by George McCartney
The Hundredth Meridian
by Chilton Williamson, Jr.
POLEMICS & EXCHANGES
Seneca Visits Athens
Icarus Fell From Heaven
by Joseph O’Brien
ON THE COVER
Cover art by George McCartney, Jr.
Inside illustrations by Melanie Anderson.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Apparently former Columbia University speaker Ahmadinejad was unavailable.
One of the more interesting comments on Darwin and his legacy is the recent article by Jerry Coyne on why science and religion can never be reconciled, in the most recent New Republic. Coyne reviews two recent books on Darwin, both of which argue that evolutionary theory and religious belief are reconcilable, and in the process makes his own case against the possibility of any reconciliation between religion and science at all.
I'll be making a few observations over the next couple of weeks about Coyne's article and the many reactions to it by important modern thinkers.
The "God of the Gaps" Argument
The first has to do with a comment Coyne quotes from Karl W. Giberson's book, Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution. Coyne quotes the passage approvingly:
The world is a complex place, and there is much about the universe that we still don't understand. We are centuries away from closing the many gaps in our current scientific understanding of the natural world.... But it is the business of science to close gaps, and it has long been the central intuition of theology to find a better place to look for God.... Promoting "design" in isolation from God's other attributes is a dangerous and ultimately self-defeating way to get God back into science. [italics mine]There are several things going on in this paragraph, but the one I want to draw attention to is the italicized part. It is one brief statement of one of the assumptions behind the "God of the Gaps" argument against theism, an argument alluded to throughout Coyne's piece. This is an argument used frequently by Darwinists against anyone who would presume to believe in some account of nature that involves anything outside of nature.
According to this argument, there is a body of questions about the world, many of which are still unanswered. Fewer of these are unanswered now than in previous times, since Science answers more and more of these questions every day. Those of a religious bent, it is charged, have always taken refuge in God as the answer to unanswered questions. If there is an unanswered question, proponents say, "God did it." But Science will one day answer all these questions, we are told, and then there will be no need for the silly hypothesis of God.
In short, the God Hypothesis is only a sort of intellectual stopgap measure to plug the holes in our knowledge about nature that becomes less and less necessary as Science advances, and the outstanding questions decrease. Furthermore the plausibility of the Hypothesis even for explaining those things that are still unexplained by Science becomes suspect because it has so often been replaced by a scientific explanation.
The static analysis fallacy behind the argument
But there is an assumption behind the God of the Gaps Argument that is ridiculous on the face of it. In fact, it is a great example of the static analysis fallacy.
The assumption is that there is a fixed number of questions about the natural world, some of which have been answered and some of which have not, so that every question that is answered reduces the number of unanswered questions by the same amount, leaving the body of unanswered questions reduced by one, and leaving the need for the God hypothesis reduced by 1 divided by the number of unanswered questions.
Now this is obviously absurd, since science (as opposed to "Science") does not operate in a world in which there is a fixed number of questions. As science proceeds in its path of discovery, it discovers new questions which it never would have thought to ask before. Because of this there are some who would argue that the number of unanswered scientific questions is not diminishing at all: that, in fact, because of the rate of the appearance of new questions compared to number of questions having obtained answers, the number of unanswered questions is actually increasing all the time.
It's a bit like the situation with oil reserves. I don't know if the situation still holds, but several years ago, there was a debate about the availability of oil and how long the world had until it ran out. Someone came up with the exact number of years they thought we had until we ran out of oil. They simply took the amount of known oil reserves and divided it by the amount of oil consumed each year. Presto: a reliable prediction of how long we had.
But the analysis failed to take account of the discovery of new oil reserves each year. At any one time, there are so many gallons of oil reserves discovered. But the next year, they will have discovered more oil reserves. So any static analysis will completely miss the change in available oil and its affect on the analysis. In fact, someone pointed out, the rate of discovery of new oil reserves in any given year consistently outpaces the amount of oil used in that year so that at the end of each succeeding year, there is more available oil.
Again, I don't know if this situation still holds--and, of course, there is obviously a fixed amount of oil on the earth known and unknown--a situation, by the way, that does not necessarily apply to the number of mysteries in nature.
There is also the matter of the nature of the newer questions in relation to the old. I can't prove it, but I wonder if the questions scientists face get increasingly intractable. As they delve deeper into the mysteries of nature, do they realize how much deeper the mysteries are than they thought before? This seems to be a theme in some writing by physicists.
If you light a lantern in the darkness, you see the area that it lights--and the darkness all around. But if you make the lantern brighter, although you see more by its light, you also see more that is dark. The circle of light increases, but with the increase in the size of the circle comes an increase in its circumference outside of which one sees the increasing extent of the darkness. With the increase in the size of the circle comes the increasing realization of the amount of the darkness all round.
Science is a light in the darkness of physical reality, but as its light increases, so does its estimate of the amount of darkness that is in need of light.
What accounts for the argument's popularity?
So why does this static analysis maintain an air of plausibility to so many people?
My theory is this: that they infer from the fact that we can manipulate nature and predict its behavior better, that we must therefore be closing in on some ultimate terminus in which our powers to control nature--and to understand it--are perfect. A sort of Scientific utopia. But is this inference valid?
I can do things with my computer now that I could never have done 30 years ago. Through the development of new software applications, I can manipulate text and images, as well as facts and figures, in a way the people of a generation ago could never have dreamed. I can access information with a speed and facility that is simply astounding. I can manipulate these things much better than before, and I can order information with an increasing competence.
But is this increasing ability to control and order information commensurate with my knowledge of how I am able to do this?
I took computer programming classes in college in the early 1980s. There were a limited number of computer languages at the time, and even a beginning student could comprehend the scope of the tools available to him to learn and master computer programming. But as the ability to manipulate information on the part of the computer user has increased, so have the tools and technology that makes that manipulation possible. In fact, the level of complexity that goes into making such manipulation easier on the part of computer users far outstrips their limited understanding of how they are able to do it.
When the Internet was in its infancy, you had to know html, and you could make a competent web page if you learned some basic commands. But go try to figure out how some modern state of the art web page operates now--a web page that makes something you want to do easier--and you will discover that just knowing html does little to help you understand it. There is php, and java, and numerous other languages and tools that seem to multiply by the week.
It doesn't take you long to realize that even though you can do more and more incredible things with the tools that are available to you, you understand less and less about the incredibly complex world of computer technology that allows you to do those things--a world getting more complex and harder to understand by the day.
Of course there is someone--or various someones--who know these things, else they would not exist. These someones--intelligences we presume--are inventing new things all the time to make it easier for those of us who use computers to do more and more things. What is interesting, however, is that if you talk to any one of these intelligences, you quickly discover that, although they may be very sophisticated themselves, they still do not understand very many things about the world in which they operate, so terribly complex is that world becoming.
I suppose there are those who would respond that this analogy breaks down when you consider that the world of technology is one that is, in fact, getting more complex all of the time because there are people constantly developing more complexity, as opposed to the natural world, which does not have such intelligences doing this. But the whole irony here is that those who are most prone to invoke the God of the Gaps argument are the very ones who believe in a theory (Natural Selection) that, over time, creates a more and more complex world.
Isn't this, after all, the lecture we are constantly having to endure? That things "higher" on the evolutionary tree are only "higher" in the sense that they are more complex? And that the evolutionary movement in nature is from the less complex to the more complex?
Other problems with the argument
Of course, those who wield the God the Gaps Argument against theism probably need to be asked who they are trying to refute, since there are very few intelligent theists who argue that evidence for God is restricted only to the things that science has yet to explain. "We are to find God in what we know," said Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "not in what we don't know."
And anyway, scientific explanation is not necessarily a full explanation. Often scientific explanation takes the form of appeal to prior, unexplained phenomena. Science doesn't even purport to give ultimate explanations for things. It only explains how, and cannot explain why, so even those things that are supposedly explained by science still inhabit the domain of things that await some more ultimate explanation.
In other words, not only are the gaps not diminishing, but they aren't even really gaps.
Friday, February 06, 2009
All of my past debates on KET can be found in the left hand margin by scrolling down.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Now, with several bills looming in the legislature, Gov. Steve Beshear is, once again, calling for a study. What will a study tell us about that 18 years of actual experience in implementation hasn't?
If we don't know what the problems with KERA are a generation after it was begun, then how exactly is a study going to help us?
Oh, and does anyone remember State Sen. Ed Ford's statement that it would take a generation before we could know if KERA has worked? Well, it's here, folks.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Arrive at Capitol
Capitol Parking Lot
Capitol Annex, Room 111
An introduction to the legislative process (Mr. Cothran)
Capitol Annex, Room 111
Capitol Annex Cafeteria
The “Private Tour” of the Capitol (Mr. Cothran)
Various interesting places
Student Research Project
Various interesting places
“A Lobbyist’s View of the Legislature” (Tony Scholar, The Rotunda Group)
Capitol Annex, Room 111
“A Journalist’s View of the Legislature” (Roger Alford, Associated Press)
Capitol Annex, Room 111
“A Legislator’s View of the Legislature” (State Rep. Tim Moore)
Capitol Annex, Room 111
Introduction on the House Floor (Tim Moore)
A View from the Gallery
Presentation of Certificates
Capitol Parking Lot
Martin Cothran, a Highlands Latin School instructor and senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation, will be holding a one-day State Government Seminar at the State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky to familiarize students with the workings of state government with an emphasis on the legislative process.
Mr. Cothran has been a registered “legislative agent” (which is just shorthand for a lobbyist) at the State Capitol for 17 years, and his experience and access will provide your student with a unique opportunity to see not only how the process works from the outside, but from the inside.
College admissions departments and scholarship committees like to see activities like this on your student’s record. This excellent opportunity to be exposed to government in action (they will be in session when we are there and your kids will get to see them) will provide them with a certificate of completion for your records.
ACTIVITIES: Students will be expected to attend the full day of activities which will include a tour of the State Capitol and State Annex buildings, meetings with legislators and legislative leaders, presentations by legislators, lobbyists, and representatives of the media on how the Kentucky General Assembly works, and taken on a call to a legislator’s office to see the process of lobbying a legislator first hand. Students will be familiarized and shown the offices of all three branches of government, including the State House and Senate, and the Kentucky Supreme Court. Students will also be presented before the House or Senate during a formal session and be formally introduced and recognized before the body.
STUDENT PROJECT: Each student will be responsible for submitting a report on a particular piece of legislation, and writing a short report, due on February 22. Students will receive specific instructions on how to do this, and will be given an opportunity during the day in Frankfort to find information and to complete this report.
TRANSPORTATION: We will need several parent volunteers to transport students to the Capitol and back. Any parent transporting students would be able to participate in all the same activities as the students. This would be ideal for parents who are themselves interested in government! We are anticipating the need for 3 parents to carpool.
COST: The participation fee is $50, and students should also be provided with a $10 meal stipend for the day. Students will also be taken to the Capitol gift shop from which they are free to purchase items at their own expense. Checks should be made out to Martin Cothran.
CONTACT INFORMATION: If you have any questions in regard to the seminar or would like to volunteer to drive, please contact Mr. Cothran at 859-329-1919.
DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION: Applications need to be submitted by Saturday. If this is not possible, just give Mr. Cothran a call.
What to Bring:
- Notepad and pen or pencil
- $10 for lunch and snack
- Comfortable shoes (the marble floors are murder on your feet)
- A snack for the afternoon (e.g., granola bar, candy bar, etc. This can also be purchased there)
- Boys should wear coat, tie, dress slacks and dress shoes
- Girls should wear a skirt or nice slacks
- Attire equivalent to what one would wear to church
View Larger Map
Specific Driving Directions can be obtained here.
Note that when you arrive at the Capitol, you should park on the south side of the Capitol Annex building. There are two buildings in the Capitol Complex: the Capitol Building itself (that's the pretty one with the dome) and the Capitol Annex which is right across the way. We are meeting in the Capitol Annex Building. As you look at the Capitol Annex from the Capitol side of the building, you will want to go in the most left-hand entrance. There will be a guard station there with a metal detector. Once you are through the detector, the guard will have you sign in. The room we are meeting in is 111, which is just straight down the hall and to your left. We will have a sign on the door. You can also ask the guard for directions if you need to.
You may also call my cell phone at 859-329-1919 at any time if you get lost.
If you have any questions or need an application, call Martin Cothran at 859-329-1919. E-mail: email@example.com
Is a federal agency to deal with these things really even possible?
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Updike faced American culture squarely, with all its warts. It's hard to tell exactly what Updike's theological convictions were--a quality he shares with other Christian writers like Wendell Berry, another writer who does not shrink from the world as it is. But, like Berry, he told the truth. It's hard to ask for more in writer in a literary world where we don't get much of it.
An excellent obituary can be found in the Economist.
So far, no mention of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.
Monday, February 02, 2009
One of the great statements of both the cosmological argument for the existence of God and of the moral argument can be found here--magnificently defended against one of the 20th century's great atheist philosophers. It always seemed to me that Copleston clearly bested Russell here. But you'll have to make your own assessment.
In any case, it's nice to see it on the web.