Sunday, May 29, 2005

More Behe BS

As I've posted before I subscribe to a newsletter from The Christian Post.* In this Friday's installment is a link to an interview with biochemist, Michael Behe: Intelligent Design's preeminent advocate.

Of course I had to comment. I really appreciate that ability and wish more "mainstream" news organizations would supply such.

Enjoy, or not.
Behe's denials not-with-standing, the man makes a Great theologian.

"Intelligent Design" is not scientific because, as Doc Behe so emphatically denies and then demonstrates, it is premised upon allegory and analogy. That is what it makes it, quite possibly, the best Theological Hypothesis to ever try and account for the existence of our universe. It certainly destroys Judaeo-Christian-Islamic creationism at any rate (not to mention any of the world's other creation myths...)

As science it doesn't work though. How do you test for this Intelligent Designer? When Behe et al can answer that in a demonstrable and testable manner, ID will at least be on its way to being a scientific theory instead of just what some folks are thinkin' aloud.

* Warning: Obvious Cultural Agenda-driven reporting involved. Similar to The Nation or The New Republic in intensity of Emotion over Reason.

On Human Freedom: Mikhail Khordorkovsky

I often expound upon the lack of Self Responsibility evidenced in our Society. It amazes me how easy it is to ignore the consequences of our actions when those consequences accompany our getting what we wanted.

Mikhail Khordorkovsky is currently serving prison time in Russia for doing just that. He broke laws which had not yet been written and he gathered to himself wealth and power which had not been explicitly denied to him. And he did it in the name of Freedom.

This essay, Khordorkovsky On Freedom the Russian Way, submitted to brought me to tears in its earnest definition of the ubiquitous and oft-abused word: freedom.

Freedom is an indelible aspect of a human being, a special aspect. It’s either there, or it isn’t. If a person is critically dependent on something beyond himself, he is already not free. And this can be any dependence: vodka, heroin, personal vanity, or money.

This is no new idea which could only have been discovered in the bowels of a Russian prison. It is a universal, objective and demonstrable statement of fact which has meaning and consequences throughout all human culture.
No matter what kind of political system we have had in our country, there was always freedom and free people in Russia. It has always been there, and it’s not going to go anywhere. In my view, it’s important that freedom is the right for a person to be himself.* And you can be yourself only in your own cultural environment. The protection of your own environment is also a struggle for freedom.
As an addict loses their fix for long enough to no longer need it; as a parent watches their children succeed on their own and realises that their life is theirs own once more, all people must acknowledge that we are held back or rocketed forward by our own desires or fears. We are all free or not depending upon our own decisions as to how to express that freedom, regardless of the amount of leeway the political, cultural or family environment in which we live gives us to do so.

I hope I never need to experience a state imposed prison sentence in order to always keep this value at the fore of every action I take. I've chosen enough personal prisons already and I've managed to free myself of many of them; with more freedom awaiting me when I choose to release myself from each of my addictions and fears. Mr. Khordorkovsky's message brings home to me just how thin the line is between personal and political responsibility. He reminds me that I am free to be as great or mundane or just plain as free as I decide for myself.

*emphasis is my own

Thursday, May 26, 2005

On Morality

From a recent conversation on Yahoo Message Boards.
(I did some minor editing for clarity and grammar. Red denotes my correspondent's comments.)

"What about the pedophile? It is appropriate for us to condemn his predatory behavior even though he is probably hard-wired to be that way."
They are RAISED that way. Someone did something similar to them. Point to any case and this is in evidence. I have never read of one where it is not.

Not all people who are molested or raped as children act out in similar fashion; even though they may crave to do so. Part of healing from such abuse is accepting what it did to one's mind and learning how to control one's actual behavior.

"This "ear" business (having an "ear" for new languages) is how their brain is. Are they nevertheless not to be pushed to learn English if they want to live in America?"
Highly recommended is learning the native language of the country in which you live (Yoda-ic eh? ;-}) If they can get by w/o it, good for them. A functional point is that I see no problem with a municipality posting official signage in multiple languages in areas which are meant to help such folk integrate into their new society. These might include Airports, Immigration Depts and Motor Vehicle Depts; at least in Metro areas that have large immigrant populations. As you say, adapting to a new language ain't just as easy for everyone.

Of course, if those metros don't want immigrants, leaving out the signage ain't likely to discourage such people. It'll mostly just make headaches for the populace at large.

"I am not suggesting we judge anyone."
LOL! I most certainly am! Of course that has nothing to do with Prejudging anyone. To live is to judge.

"... but people are what their natures are--and their natures are a complex mix of inheritance, culture, spirit, and life experiences--little of which is "chosen."
People have their natures with which to decide who they are. I am Financially iresponsible by nature. There are no laws to protect my kind from a society that demands responsibilty in Financial matters. I pay the extra price on everything it seems. This is, I can scientifically assure you, an emotional issue. I have been "judged" accordingly and must correct this ineptitude myself (there is help as well but, tada!, it COSTS MONEY!!! LOL!)

I say "by my nature" but of course it was by environment as well. My brain seems "wired" for an aptitude with words and broad concepts. My difficulties are with the specificity and exactitude (precision + accuracy) of mathematical proofs. My parents exhibit the same nutterdumb and dutifully passed it on. Kinda sucks that. The emotional factor is HUGE as is evidenced by the fact that my Dad is an exemplary manager of others' money. He has a rational mind for managing the stuff when it is not his own; ie, when he has no personal attachment to how it is spent.

This is why I've gotten Tutors for my s-daughter who is similarly constructed. I don't shame her when I correct her math errors. I laugh with her alot and I judge her gently unless her actions need immediate and emphatic (NEVER violent!) correction and then I reiterate my reasons after all emotions have mellowed. I also find it extremely helpful to get her to talk about why she did what she did. If I know that I can even better help her resolve her difficulties. WE can communicate more effectively and avoid the otherwise inevitable angry confrontations. I've learned that knowing why we do things can help us do something else or something better in the future (wasn't that one of those sideways lessons taught in kindergarten?)

She's a child for whom I am responsible. She deserves my "sweating the small stuff" and my dealing with MY discomfort when she screws up. If my dad had tried that philosophy I'd be a tremendously different person today. He was (and is) a great guy who simply was terrible at dealing with his kids. I intend to be what I'd like to be someday anyhow. It's just a hell of a lot harder internalizing new ideas about habitual behaviours as an adult than it is as a kid. And it is hard enough for them!

To your last point: Yah, morality is "kind of" relative. EVERYthing is relative as a matter of fact. It's pretty stable as far as relativity goes though. Religions have that idea right. They simply have based much of their concepts on false or outmoded premises (do you notice a basic theme in my thinkin' about religion?). Religion evolved before technology because there was always a need for our species to "know" or understand and we can do alot with our brains alone.

When we started adding to our ability to manipulate nature on ever finer levels, certain facts became apparent that religion could not foresee or explain. It is nearing the time to let Religion go because the scientific method exists now and is obviously, yes I do mean obviously, a much better tool for determining Right from Wrong.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Silly Nebraskans: Court Throws out Descrimination Amendment

I recently signed up for an email subscription to The Christian Post.

Today's issue featured the headline: Judge Rules Nebraska's Marriage Amendment Unconstitutional which seems only, well, constitutionally inevitable. Inside the article, Matthew Staver, who is the President of the Religious Conservative group, Liberty Counsel (not the Liberty Council) makes a peculiarly ignorant statement which just happens to embody the entirety of this descrimatory Hate Movement.

His comment and my response to the "news" site follow.

“Since some of our judges do not understand common sense, it’s time for the people to spell it out in our United States Constitution – marriage is the union of only one man and one woman.”

Well, unless it is a man and a man, or a woman and a woman who are choosing to marry. What someone's religious beliefs may be has nothing at all to do with the types of laws which may be enacted in this, the United States of America.

Mr. Staver really should read the consitution and a dictionary definiton of "common sense" before he makes such silly and uninformed statements in public.

Michael Bains

Now it is almost time for the high court to look at Ohio's recent and nearly identical abomination at the polls.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Letting Go for the "Parental God"

I thoroughly enjoy visiting my online friend Paul's A Spiritual Diablog. Paul is a theist with whom I feel great kinship. Even when I don't wish to comment, there are angles covered there that I can appreciate. Usually it is Paul doing the covering. Sometimes one of his commenters piques my interest and I've just got to reply to them instead of the original post though.

A recent reference to
Matthew 10:34 led to an exchange about "connectedness" and how to accomplish it between "everyone." The commentor to whom I replied stated his belief - "If we were truly connected to God in the way that we were created to, there would be no division between us." I had to agree that a connection to something will allow us to get along. I suggested replacing "God" with "Reality" in what I hope was a non-combative approach.

My comment tries to explain how our species is young but maturing and that the God concept has been useful but is ultimately irresponsible if it doesn't allow for real verifiable study of all that exists. Belief in opposition to observed reality is insane say I.

As someone on here commented, the "parental god" concept still holds some value for our species. I'm of the "belief" that parents need to let go of their children at a certain age and that homo sapiens is slowly approaching that point in our evolution. It is harder to do since we created our "parent" so must be the ones to let go of the relationship for "both" sides. "It" can't let go for us.

For this post, I'd like to add that even if "It" existed, our history suggests that "It" has been a horribly deficient parent. To me that suggests that "It" either let go of "Its" responsibility long ago or "It" is too immature an entity for us to look towards for guidance as we mature as a species."It" may even be one of those parents that just can't let go!

Either way, we are responsible for us.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Tom DeLay: Might Makes Right

I thought we had resolved this issue...

Tom Delay believes otherwise and is constantly using all the might at his disposal to incorporate the concept into the US government. In a May 6th New York Times Op-Ed piece, Delay is quoted as saying
"We set up the courts ... We can unset the courts. We have the power of the purse."

I will not argue against the idea of "the power of the purse" or that Wealth is Power. I'll not, though I did in my youth, disparage that idea either. I will argue that this is evidence of Delay's, and his commrades', mentality of Power over All People, and that it illustrates quite starkly why there IS an establishment clause in the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

I've heard repeatedly and inanely the red-herring that a Secular government equals an Anti-religious government. This bogus and disingenous argument is only used by people who believe that anything that is not for them is against them. While that concept may not be so inane in time of war (see the Catholic Church's "neutrality" during Nazi Germany's wolrd take-over attempt in WWII) Delay is under the delusion that only Christians, the majority religious sect in our country, have the fundamental right to set Law and Morality for all people who reside here, as if to let opinions other than their own have a say would be equivalent to allowing an enemy to man your guns during battle. He believes, honestly it appears, and vocipherously, that Democracy means Majority Rules and Minority Submits. What he utterly fails to comprehend is that democracy cannot and does not work if the majority does not exist in harmony with the minority.

Taking the extreme position allows for parties who gain even bare majority support, for whatever reason, the ability to utterly disregard and even eradicate the rights of nearly half of a population. Majorities can set the tone and steer the debate, but if they do so without contributions from and understanding of the minorities with whom they share the resources of their nation, they will fail in their duty to all the people whom they serve and represent. The alternative to failing to subjugate the minority completely or compromise with them is ultimately Holocaust: the destruction of everything.