Political predictions

Back in 2002, a lot of people (including Dick Cheney) who could have predicted some of the negative consequences of invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam. Heck, I’m nobody special, and even I could predict that Bush’s little crusade would have the following results, among others:

  • The peace would be more difficult to win than the war
  • The President’s popularity would plummet
  • Republicans would lose the support of the middle-grounders, and consequently control of the government
  • Conservative Christianity, as exemplified by our godly President, would become more questionable in the eyes of the general public
  • Once embroiled in Iraq, the consequences of leaving would be bad enough that we would need to stay regardless of the drain on American lives and resources
  • Many Arabs would see America as more of an imperialist oppressor than a benign liberator
  • Fundamentalist Islamic groups would find it easier to recruit new members (and new insurgents/terrorists)

And so on. The war in Iraq has continually borne out my expectations, and I only wish I’d had this blog back then so I could have a record of how thoroughly predictible the current state of affairs was. But it’s not too late for my predictions for the rest of the war: Read the rest of this entry »

 
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David Warren gets it exactly backwards

Writing for the Ottawa Citizen, David Warren explores what he calls “the limits of atheism.” After maundering on about how he must be onto something significant because so many people write to him when he mentions “evolutionism,” he gets down to the point of his screed:

Much of the “star chamber” atmosphere, that has accompanied the public invigilation of microbiologists such as Michael J. Behe, and other very qualified scientists working on questions of design in natural systems, can only be explained in this way. The establishment wants such research to be stopped, because it challenges the received religious order, of atheist materialism.

No, David, that’s backwards. The criticisms of the scientific community are about Behe’s manifest failure to start any actual research. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Faith-based prison: belief, not results

What happens when you try and run a “faith based” prison in the absence of any real involvement by God? According to a former inmate, you get glowing reports from inmates–as long as they’re in the system’s control:

As an exemplary participant in the prison’s faith-based dormitory program, I was selected to be interviewed by the Capitol press corps. As a former newspaper reporter, I longed to expose the corruption of the faith-based program by many inmates, as well as the abuses of some corrections officers…

But my desire to get out of prison alive and on time overruled my inner crusading journalist. So rather than an exposé, I gave the reporters a testimony.

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Who cares what Christians believe?

One of the complaints we often hear in response to Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and company is that they ought to mind their own business. A person’s Christian beliefs are his (or her) own business, and if atheists don’t like what they believe, who cares? It’s not as if anyone is forcing them to go to Church. But this attitude overlooks the fact that believers do have a faith-based impact on the world, and not always a positive one. According to the Washington Post, this impact may be accelerating, as Christians turn from government to business as a way of forcing their demands on non-believers. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Framing Science?

Via the Framing Science blog, a success story about getting things done by properly “framing” the science behind the policy:

The unprecedented success at translating expert recommendations into a policy victory is in no small part due to the strategic framing of the initiative. The complexities of this bill were put in terms that policymakers and the public could understand, value, and support. As one backer described: “We quit talking about the virtues of science in the abstract and started talking about its impact on jobs. Everybody understands jobs.”

While this is good news, it illustrates a problem I have with the whole “framing” debate. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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XFiles Friday: Setting the stage for superstition

It’s time to get into the meat of Geisler and Turok’s . Chapter 1 starts off, not surprisingly with an anecdote. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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The Unapologetic Encyclopedia, and “XFiles Friday”

I’m introducing a couple of new features at ER: the Unapologetic Encyclopedia, and “XFiles Friday.”

The Unapologetic Encyclopedia is going to be an ongoing project for a while. From time to time, I’m going to look at the various apologetic arguments used to support Christianity, and show where their error lies. My goal is ultimately to accumulate a comprehensive reference list of Christian apologetic arguments and their refutations, similar to the Index of Creationist Claims. The “Encyclopedia” link at the top of the blog points to an index page that lists each apologetic in alphabetical order, with links to the post(s) in which that particular argument is refuted.

The new “XFiles Friday” feature doesn’t have anything to do with any popular TV shows (think “X as in Xmas”), but instead serves as a handy place to put my blog postings about the various books of apologetics (XFiles) that I’ll be reviewing. I was going to make such reviews the main feature of this blog, but unfortunately I’m not finding the time to do a proper rebuttal every day, so I’ll have to be content with a weekly feature.

Readers are encouraged to send in apologetics-related material (individual arguments or entire books) for either or both of the above. You can leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

 
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Saving Pascal

Scott Adams is at it again, trying to defend Pascal’s Wager, which he defines as follows:

In a nutshell, Pascal was a dude who argued you should consider Christianity because if it’s true, the downside of not believing is eternal Hell. But if you become a Christian and there’s no God, all you’ve lost is your Sunday mornings. (Here I am simplifying.)

What follows is his response to the standard critiques of Pascal’s gambit, conveniently summarized on Wikipedia.

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Atheist Tracts

Harvey Mansfield, professor of government at Harvard, responds to the “atheist tracts” of Dawkins and Hitchens, in an article published on the Weekly Standard web site.

It is not religion that makes men fanatics; it is the power of the human desire for justice, so often partisan and perverted. That fanatical desire can be found in both religion and atheism. In the contest between religion and atheism, the strength of religion is to recognize two apparently contrary forces in the human soul: the power of injustice and the power, nonetheless, of our desire for justice. The stubborn existence of injustice reminds us that man is not God, while the demand for justice reminds us that we wish for the divine. Religion tries to join these two forces together.

The weakness of atheism, however, is to take account of only one of them, the fact of injustice in the case of Epicurean atheism or the desire for justice in our Enlightenment atheism. I conclude that philosophy today–and science too–need not only to tolerate and respect religion, but also to learn from it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if it were really true that religion was nothing more than a philosophical recognition of the conflict between the desire for justice and the desire for the power that comes from injustice? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Scott Adams is a funny guy

Even when he’s not satirizing corporate life, Scott Adams can be pretty funny. For example, on The Dilbert Blog he writes:

In order to be certain that God doesn’t exist, you have to possess a godlike mental capacity – the ability to be 100% certain. A human can’t be 100% certain about anything. Our brains aren’t that reliable. Therefore, to be a true atheist, you have to believe you are the very thing that you argue doesn’t exist: God.

Isn’t that cute? Let’s try the same thing with good old Santa:

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