Where's the birth certificate

Free and Strong America

Friday, October 29, 2010

On Secularism and Middle East Christians

"Muslim leaders should answer a critical question: Does the Qur'an require Muslims to deny the legitimacy of the American system of religious and civil liberty? This is a fundamental question for the health of American constitutional liberty. Do Muslims affirm the legitimacy of the First Amendment, even for Muslims who may seek to leave their faith, and for other religions to seek to convert Muslims to their views? These concerns are relevant for "nontheistic" freethinkers as well, who desire freedom to persuade others to their point of view."

Lillback, Peter; Wall of Misconception, pg. 95, (2008), Providence Forum Press

On the heels of Dr. Lillback's above question, we see that the Austen Ivereigh of the guardian.uk, along with "some 180 patriarchs, metropolitans, archbishops and bishops of six different churches – Chaldean, Coptic, Syrian, Greek-Melkite, Maronite and Armenian – discuss(ing) the challenges facing Christianity with their Latin-rite brothers, with Pope Benedict listening in" explain how seperation of church and state might work in the region.

"..the Synod's call for Catholics and other Christians to be advocates in the region of a "positive secularism" – the term the bishops used was "positive laïcité", after a 2007 speech by Nicholas Sarkozy – is, at least, bold. It may also surprise Catholics in Europe and the US who criticise the secularist drive to separate faith and politics to find the church in the Middle East at the forefront of arguing that faith and politics should be, ahem, separate.

Sceptics will be quick to point out one of the basic rules of religious co-existence throughout history: secularism always looks better to religious minorities who have the most to lose from theocracies. And there's truth in that in the Middle East. Caught between Israeli expansionism and Islamic radicalism, the future of the tiny Christian minority depends, in large part, on basic rights of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience – on building, as the Synod put it, "an all-inclusive, shared civic order", in the words of its working document, that protects "human rights, human dignity and religious freedom".

But this isn't only about survival. Christianity is the religion that gave rise to secularism. Laïcité is a Christian by-product; secularism a Christian heresy. The church has always promoted a distinction between the two spheres – temporal and spiritual, civic and religious – without ever, of course, agreeing where the border between them lies."

I can see the need for greater moderation in parts of the Middle East when it comes to the persecution of Christians and the above cited article contains some examples of where persecution is the worst. Yet how many critics of Christianity actually know that the very concept of the civil authorities and religion occupying seperate spheres is a Christian one?

"Christianity, however, as taught by Jesus and Paul, and later by Augustine, separated religion from politics: the things that were God's from the things that were Caesar's."
Conor Cruise O'Brien

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On Obama and Tribalism

In today's article, conservative columnist Joseph Farah writes the following...

"When Barack Obama tells Hispanics to "punish our enemies," whom is he talking about?

Have you thought about that?

In a radio interview on the Spanish-language Univision network Monday, Obama made this remarkable statement: "If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, 'We're going to punish our enemies and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,' if they don't see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it's going to be harder, and that's why I think it's so important that people focus on voting on November 2."

I'd like you to think about whether you have ever before heard a president of the United States describe Americans as enemies.

Notice he didn't use the term "political adversaries" or even "political enemies." He just used the unqualified term "enemies."

So whom was he talking about?

I suspect you know.

He was talking about you and me."

"Punish our enemies"? Is there any doubt whatsoever that if GWB would have made such a statement characterizing Americans opposed to his policies as "enemies", there wouldn't be massive backlash against him by the mainstream media? Why, he would have been hung, dare I say BURNED in effigy. Such an appeal to tribalism, while it can be effective, should be abandoned in that it causes too much division among groups in a society. While it might have worked in South Africa to the detriment of the majority, such division should not be tolerated in a Western Democracy.

And yet there is another recent example we could cite by our Kenyan American president...

"He (Obama) said Republicans had driven the economy into a ditch and then stood by and criticized while Democrats pulled it out. Now that progress has been made, he said, "we can't have special interests sitting shotgun. We gotta have middle class families up in front. We don't mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back."

Sit in the back? If someone other than a liberal elitist would have made such a remark (obviously invoking memories of Rosa Parks) there would have been outrage over such insensativity. A huge double standard exists here. It's becoming quite obvious by now.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Myth of "Seperation of Church and State"

I came across a great article yesterday pertaing to the often misunderstood concept of "seperation of church and state" that many people have in reference to the foundational documents of the US. The author asks " How did it happen that our country became a land where Christian children are forbidden to use the word, “God”, in the public schools; public school students are forbidden to say prayers at football games; and religious speech is banned from the public square?". Indeed, there are many in this country (judges included) who are confused about the original intent of the framers of our constitution. The above, linked article is a 27 point presentation of what the intent of the Founding Fathers was and how it became corrupted down through the ages by judicial activism. We obviously don't have time to examine all of them in this entry, but here are a few of the key points raised. First, in relation to "Mother England"...

"The established religions in England, first Roman Catholic, and then Church of England, were supported by “tithes”—mandatory payments of a percentage of the produce of the land, payable by those living within the parish (regardless of their religious preferences) to the parish church, to support it and its clergy:

The payment of tithes was a cause of endless dispute between the tithe owners and the tithe payers - between clergy and parishioners - ... In addition, Quakers and other non-conformists objected to paying any tithes to support the established church. Almost every agricultural process and product attracted controversy over its tithe value. By the eighteenth century the complex legislation surrounding the tithe began to have a detrimental effect ... Tithing was seen as increasingly irrelevant to the needs of the community and the developing agricultural industry."

I think we could all agree that although there might have been good intentions, these sort of laws are generally bad idea. Why should one be forced to pay tithes to a religion? Even one with which you might disagree with some of it's founding doctrines? How did such a concept get warped into creating open hostility between government and religion and ne'er the two shall meet? The author explains the beginning of the end of cordial relations between the two..

" Now let us see how judges on the supreme Court re-defined “establishment of religion” in order to ban prayer in public schools. Engel v. Vitale (1962), is the case where six men outlawed prayer in the public schools. A public school board in New York had directed that the following prayer be said at school:

Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.

Any student was free to remain seated or leave the room, without any comments by the teacher one way or the other.

But six men on the supreme Court said this short, non-denominational and voluntary prayer constituted an “establishment of religion” in violation of the First Amendment! They (Hugo Black, Warren, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, and Douglas) admitted that allowing school children to say this prayer did not really “establish” a “religion”! They admitted that the prayer:

...does not amount to a total establishment of one particular religious sect to the exclusion of all others—that, indeed, the governmental endorsement of that prayer seems relatively insignificant when compared to the governmental encroachments upon religion which were commonplace 200 years ago…(p.436)

Douglas wrote in his concurring opinion:

I cannot say that to authorize this prayer is to establish a religion in the strictly historic meaning of those words. A religion is not established in the usual sense merely by letting those who choose to do so say the prayer that the public school teacher leads. (p.442)

But these six men didn’t want children praying in school. So, they just redefined “establishment of religion” to mean, “a religious activity”, “a prayer” (p.424), having public school children hear or recite a prayer that “somebody in government composed” (pp.425-427), “writing or sanctioning official prayers”(p.435), and “government endorsement of a prayer” (p.436).

These six men also admitted that even though no coercion was present, and even though the prayer was “denominationally neutral”, it still constituted an unlawful “establishment of religion”:

The Establishment Clause ... does not depend upon any showing of direct governmental compulsion and is violated by the enactment of laws which establish an official religion whether those laws operate directly to coerce nonobserving individuals or not. (p.430)

Douglas said in his concurring opinion:

There is no element of compulsion or coercion in New York’s regulation requiring that public schools be opened each day with the ... prayer (p.438); there is ... no effort at indoctrination, and no attempt at exposition ... New York’s prayer ... does not involve any element of proselytizing ... (p.439).

They thus redefined “established religion” to describe what the N.Y. public schools were doing so that they could then outlaw it. They don’t have that right! We have quoted Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton & James Madison as showing that the essence of an “established religion” is that the civil government selects a particular religious denomination (Roman Catholic or Church of England or Congregational or Presbyterian, etc.), and forces everybody to financially support that particular denomination with taxes or tithes."

Anyone is free to leave their thoughts on the matter here. One of the main reasons that Jefferson and Madison attended expressly Christian religious worship services inside of federal government buildings during their administrations and never spoke out against them was because attendence was compulsory and nobody was compelled to take part in them. That sort of mindset was closer to the friendly relationship between church and state that was much more idealized by the Founding Fathers than the open hostility expressed in these times IMO.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Money Changes Everything

I must admit that I am suprised over the developments of Mr. Gough's life after winning more than 9,000,000 pounds playing the lottery, but then it may be more common than we think...

"A father-of-two who won £9million on the lottery was so 'bored' after he gave up his job as a baker he drank himself to death , Keith Gough, 58, of Bridgnorth, Shropshire, was thought to be penniless when he died in March after suffering a heart attack brought on by drinking and stress.
But he had actually left nearly £800,000 in his will it emerged last week.

Mr Gough and his wife Louise won £9million in 2005 and splashed out on a top-of-the-range BMW, racehorses and an executive box at Aston Villa Football Club.
But the couple, who were married for 27 years, separated two years later after Mr Gough quit his job and began drinking heavily out of 'boredom'.

He moved to Cheshire where he rented a £1million home and hired a chauffeur and a gardener on annual salaries of £25,000 and £15,000 respectively."

It's easy to look at this situation with 20/20 hindsight and say that I (or any of you for that matter) would have done things differently. Had such a windfall come my way, the first thing I would do is establish a charitable trust foundation out of concern of tax purposes and because that's what I would like to do anyway. Especially helping this charity that is near and dear to my heart. One could almost make a full time job out of it. I doubt that I would quit my job, but I'd keep it mum that I had won anything so large as to not invite swindlers. What would you do in such a situation?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Palin was Right

I think that Sarah Palin is much smarter than the media generally gives her credit for. The misconception that she is somehow ignorant came back to bite two lefties on the bum recently....

"Blogger Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos and PBS host Gwen Ifill could barely contain themselves when they came across an apparent elementary historical-knowledge gaffe by tea party favorite Sarah Palin, but it turns out the left-leaning commentators were the ones with egg on their faces.

Moulitsas – a major power-broker in the Democratic Party's left-wing base – dashed off a message to his thousands of followers through the Internet social network Twitter after Palin told tea party activists in Nevada, "Don't party like it's 1773 yet," reported the blogger who uses the pen name Cuffy Meigs.

Moulitsas sneered, "She's so smart."

Ifill wrote: "Sarah Palin: party like its 1773! Ummm."

Others mocked Palin with comments such as "uhhh" and "[expletive] happened in 1773?"

Palin presumably knows the U.S. was born in 1776. But what Moulitsas and his crew didn't recall was that 1773 was the year of the Boston Tea Party, the inspiration for the grass roots movement that is threatening to sweep the Democratic Party from power in Congress next month.

Palin eventually responded with a tweet of her own on the matter: "Gwen Ifill, et al... Really? Silly."

Meigs pointed out that it's clear from video of the speech that Palin was referring to the Boston Tea Party."

That being said, I think that the media has effectively Quayled Palin and no amount of slick PR campaigns could ever undo the misconception that she isn't very bright in the minds of many American voters. However, Palin does have the ability to rally the conservative base and she won't be disppearing from the political scene any time soon.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

O'Donnell was Right

Our friends across the pond at the The Guardian get it horribly wrong...

"At a debate today for the Delaware Senate seat once occupied by Vice President Joe Biden, O'Donnell appeared to be nonplussed by the wording of the first amendment, repeatedly returning to the subject and sounding incredulous after her Democratic opponent Chris Coons attempted to explain it to her.

When Coons told her the text of the constitution prohibited government from establishing any religion, O'Donnell replied in apparent bewilderment: "You're telling me that's in the first amendment?"

Minutes earlier, the audience at Widener Law School in Delaware had laughed in derision when O'Donnell asked: "Where in the constitution is the separation of church and state?"

Not only is the first amendment perhaps the most famous part of the constitution but the "establishment clause", as it is known, is the subject of legal precedent stretching back into the 19th century. No less an authority than Thomas Jefferson declared the clause's aim to build "a wall of separation between church and state".

Actually, the words "seperation of church and state" appear exactly nowhere in the US Constitution and the fact that neither the author of the article nor a group of law students and Widener understood this only goes to expose the ignorance of those who sieze upon the first interpretation that they come across and unflinchingly accept it as gospel truth.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bush Was Right

"This is just one example of how the president puts ideology before science, politics before the needs of our families -- just one more example of how out of touch with reality he and his party have become," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in 2007 after then President George W. Bush vetoed legislation that would have expanded federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

After reading this article it would appear that this is one that GWB actually got right. Dr.'s Jan Dudt and Durwood Ray of Grove City College's Biology department recently attended a summit on stem cell research and had this to say about the current state of affairs regarding adult vs. embryonic stem cell research...

"There’s a growing gap between embryonic and adult stem cell research. The NFL is to adult stem cell research as peewee football is to embryonic stem cell research. Adult stem cell research is making tremendous advances while embryonic research seems to be still in the, well, embryonic phase. And the gap appears to be widening.

I get the clear sense that the scientific advancements in the adult stem cell area are so far outpacing those in the embryonic stem cell field that those of us concerned about the ethics of embryonic research will simply shift our arguments to highlighting the superior efficacy of adult stem cell therapy. Moreover, private investment/R&D money seems to be breaking toward adult stem cell research because that arena is demonstrating superior profit potential... embryonic therapy is still considered to be very risky compared to adult stem cell therapy."

I find it interesting that the Lizard Queen isn't trumpeting the direction that "science" is taking us after this announcement. It's probably because promoting that life at any stage as actually being precious and something to be valued is anathema to the mindset of the left.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Movin' on Up

Pardon me if I havent been quite as conversant as usual with the tiny readership of this blog recently, however, the Mrs. and I have been doing our best impression of The_Jeffersons" this week and we are indeed, 'Movin on Up'.

A bit bigger of a place and a little closer to the ocean. God is good people, but for the next couple of days, I might be a little busy folks. I've already discovered a high-speed connection here so things are looking up! I'll still be blogging though, albeit a bit more limited this coming week. Please keep on checking in. Cheers.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Red Dragon Rising

While some of you may be familiar with recent clashes between Japan and China over territorial waters, there was also a less publicized incident between China and Vietnam. It would seem that China is flexing it's military muscles and asserting authority in that part of the world.

In Benny Avni's article today, he asserts that these incidents are just the beginning of problems between the an increasingly aggressive China and the West.

China's new assertiveness goes beyond brazen displays of power in its immediate neighborhood. Beijing is also spreading its wings in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East.

The most worrisome example was an air exercise last month in Turkey. For years, the annual drill known as "Anatolian Eagle" involved America, Israel and other Western allies of Turkey. But last year, when Ankara barred Israeli pilots from participating, the US and Italy cancelled their participation in solidarity. So this year, Turkey invited China to replace its old nato allies in the annual exercise.

More, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported on Monday that China's Russian-made SU-27 warplanes made a refueling stop in Iran on route to the Turkish air exercise. It was the first time since the 1979 revolution that the Islamic Republic granted foreign planes access to its territory.

According to reports in Turkey and Israel, Washington is watching warily. Before the exercise, the administration demanded that Turkey use no F-16 fighter planes or other American or NATO technology. (The Turks said they'd use older planes instead.)

We have plenty of reasons to worry about this and other growing Chinese alliances. To be sure, China's military has a way to go before it can equal ours. But with a fast-growing Chinese economy and a thirst for oil and other resources -- and with a new generation of ever-more aggressive People's Liberation Army generals who see America as the enemy -- we'd better pay attention."

We once only worried about the threat of radical Islam and a few rogue states and organizations. Now with China actually coddling such threats to peace, we are left wondering who will counter the gathering forces that are opposing the Western democracies. as if the most oil and natural gas rich nation in the Western hemisphere needed nuclear capabilities, it was announced today that Russia will be assisting Venezuela to develop nuclear capabilities. For "peaceful" purposes, I'm sure.

I'm not aware of a single country besides of the US who could meaningfully oppose such nefarious alliances. Pat Buchanan today, is floating the idea of actually charging Europe for the safety and protections that they have enjoyed for years, courtesy of the US military. Quote, "If we are going to play Romans, why not demand tribute, as the Romans did?"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sharon Owens is a Bloody Twit‏

I have no idea who Sharon Owens is and neither do I really care. She's probably not a truly bad person, however, this mindset in which "I have it all figured out" and then going on to cite poorly thought out, highly specious examples of what passes for your reasoning is all too prevelant these days amongst the phony smart and the intellectual wannabe's.

Ms. Owens writes that she has made her choice and that she is "leaving the Catholic faith". Fine, whatever. Best of luck to you. I was raised in a mixed faith household myself (Catholic-Baptist) in which I attended both services as a youth and I eventually settled on Presbyterianism in my adult life. How I came to that conclusion is a topic for another day and I guess, in a manner of speaking, that I sort of "left" the Catholic church as well. That being said, I still have a great deal of respect for an institution which produced such great thinkers the likes of Sir Thomas More, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas among many others.

I guess it's the reasons that Ms. Owens provides that causes me to take issue with her decision so let us examine some of them, shall we?

On the one hand, they (Catholics) know of child clerical abuse and the long-running cover-ups, yet they continue to send their children to Catholic schools

While I can't speak to statistics on the other side of the pond, I know that Catholics in this country (US) have examined the issue quite thoroughly and concluded that celibate, Catholic priests commit fewer abuses than Protestant ministers. While not one single instance of abuse is acceptable, a child is 100 times more likely to be abused by a school teacher than a priest and I don't hear Ms. Owens advocating homeschooling as a result of this US Depatment of Education statistic. Link.

They (Catholics) know about the women in Africa dying of Aids, yet they continue to drop loose change into charity tins, as if that’s going to feed all HIV orphans

I find it hard to believe that she is advocating that charitable giving to help these kids should be halted or is somehow misguided. Perhaps she is frustrated with the overall level of giving. If donations are meager, then start by contributing more yourself Ms. Owens. Who knows? Maybe you will start a trend.

I do not expect them (priests/Pope) to understand the complexities of a life lived at a more human level

Puh-leez! This is getting outright silly. They are every bit as human as any of us.

I don’t expect them (priests/Pope)) to understand how it feels to abort a pregnancy started by rape

Getting an abortion does not "unrape" the victim in this case and opting for the violent option destroys the one, truly innocent party in this tragedy. I am aware of only one study in which rape victims were interviewed after having an abortion and the respondents indicated, overwhelmingly, that the abortion procedure only made memories the sexual assault worse. Link

I don’t expect them (priests/Pope) to understand how it feels for a man or woman to come out of the closet after years of pretending to be happily single, or even happily married.

And just maybe there are priests that are struggling with homosexuality. Is that so much of a stretch? If they are in fact wrestling with identity issues, then might they know something about what it's like for someone else that is going through a similar situation?

All of this adds up to a lot of nonsense masquerading as an editorial. I wish her luck in finding some like-minded, ill-informed "moderate branch of Protestantism" congruent to her own way of thinking. Heaven knows there are plenty out there on this side of the Atlantic that have sold out and spout off the same left-wing talking points that she does.

P.S. Some of the more erudite readers of this blog might have noticed the old "Red Hand" (Unionist) flag of Northern Ireland on display up above. I regularly peruse the Irish newspaper The Independent for the Irish point of view. However if anyone is aware of another outlet that has decent editorials in Northern Ireland apart from The Belfast Telegraph (UK) then please feel free to post a link to it here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Epic Fail of the WaPo

The Wasington Post refused to run the above, one-panel cartoon strip last Sunday for fear of offending Muslims. As Robert Spencer describes it...

".. John D. Stackpole, who wrote in to the paper to call their editorial staff cowards, which they manifestly are, and added: “The wonderful irony [is that] great newspapers like the Washington Post, that took on Nixon—run in fear of this very tame cartoon, thus validating the accuracy of the satire.”

If any person or group is considered off-limits for critical examination and even ridicule, that person or group has been given a privileged position in society, and has a free hand to do what it wishes. That's why the freedom of speech is an indispensable bulwark against tyranny: It prevents authoritarian rulers from arrogating to themselves and exercising unfettered power...

It is also virtually indisputable that the Post would never hesitate to run an item that might offend Christians, and would have been the first to start talking about the freedom of speech if those Christians complained. So why is the Post so solicitous of Muslims? Why the double standard? Because they know that when I get offended, no one gets killed, and when Christians get offended, no one gets killed, but when Muslims are offended, people die."

Does anyone doubt in the slightest that a huge double standard exists here? Not only would the WaPo not hesitate for a second to run a cartoon that Christians would consider offensive, but at the first sign of protest among any member of the Christian community,the editorial board would be quick to lecture anyone who would be critical of such a cartoon on the importance of "freedom of speech" and the necessity of "tolerance in a Western democracy". Phoney, sissified, wanna-be guardians of free speech who instead are suppressing it and at the same time enabling a dysfunctional religion that is responsible for the majority of all religious wars in history while being a relative new comer to the world scene.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

God and the Left

While Friday's entry was to show that Christianity isn't opposed to science, today's entry makes the case that Christianity isn't opposed to freedom and in fact. it can serve as a catalyst for it. Dennis Prager writes in today's article...

"America's anomalous religiosity is very much worth celebrating -- not because it leads to affluence, but because it is indispensible to liberty....-- for 234 years -- the United States of America, has also been the most God-centered.

Yes, I know that the Islamic world has also been God-based and that it has not been free. But that is because Allah is not regarded as the source of liberty, as the America's Judeo-Christian God has been, but as the object of submission ("Islam" means "submission").

Since the inception of the United States (and, indeed, before it in colonial America), liberty, i.e., personal freedom, has been linked to God.

America was founded on the belief that God is the source of liberty. That is why the inscription on the Liberty Bell is from the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 25): "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."

The Declaration of Independence also asserts this link: All men "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Because the Creator of the world is the source of our freedom, no state, no human being, no government may take it away. If the state were the source of liberty, then obviously the state could take it away."

I cannot think of another country that has ended tyranny in more places on the face of the earth than the highly religious United States. If this sort of subject is interesting to you, then I recommend this recent youtube video debate between Dr. Jerry Newcombe, (whose website I link to on the right) and Dan Barker over the religious foundation of the this country (US).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On Astronomy and Roman Catholicism

When skeptics make the common mistake (normally executed by atheists) of lumping all religions in together, often times they catagorize Christianity with the fatalistic religions of the world and ignore the contributions that Christianity has made to modern science. For example, Castle Gandolfo (pictured above), which serves as the Vatican Observatory, has been studying the heavens since the papacy of Pius XI and before that, they were studied from St. Peters and other locations since the early 1500's. The Vatican Observatory is one of the largest repositories of meteorites in the world and Brother Guy Consolmagno S.J. is hardly a "God just diddit" Christian.

What sparked my interest in mentioning these historical facts was an article today by writer Hal G.P. Colebatch titled Religious Science Fiction?. The article raises a couple of interesting points, but chiefly among them, I found this particular quote to be especially interesting when Colebatch was lamenting the rise of argumentive athests among the science fiction writer set...

"Historically the contribution of the Catholic Church to astronomy was massive and unequalled. Without it astronomy might very well never have grown out of astrology at all. Cathedrals in Bologna, Florence, Paris, Rome and elsewhere were designed in the 17th and 18th centuries to function as solar observatories. Kepler was assisted by a number of Jesuit astronomers, including Father Paul Guldin and Father Zucchi, and by Giovanni Cassini, who had studied under Jesuits. Cassini and Jesuit colleagues were eventually able to confirm Kepler's theory on the Earth having an elliptical orbit. J.L. Heilbron of the University of California has written:

The Roman Catholic Church gave more financial aid and social support to the study of astronomy over six centuries, from the recovery of ancient learning during the late Middle Ages into the Enlightenment, than any other, and, probably, all other, institutions.

Science fiction is, by definition, fiction, that is, it deals with things which are the product of a writer's imagination and are not literally true. In any event, what is and what is not science fiction is hard to define. Simply to say it is about science is meaningless, and while some science-fiction writers are qualified scientists, many are not. Probably even fewer are trained theologians."

So how about it skeptics? Is there really a major world religion that was more conducive to learning and cataloging what we know about modern astronomy than Christianity in general and Roman Catholocism in particular? Feel free to present your arguments (hopefully with supporting links) in the comment box.

EDIT: I meant to include this in the above entry from Wednesday's Independent but forgot...Link


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is Venezuela Persuing the Bomb?

It's not clear what Venezuela's hiding, but it's definitely hiding something -- and the fact that Iran is involved suggests that it's up to no good. Roger F. Noriega

While Jaime Daremblum's recent article, Democracy is Winning in Latin America raises some interesting points and one is left with hope for our neighbors to the south of us, it also raises the real posibility of what an unknown commodity Hugo Chavez really is and to what lengths will he go to preserve his so-called "Bolivarian Revolution". Sure, there are positive signs in the hemisphere that democracy is taking root in places like Honduras where Profirio Lobo Sosa has taken over after a constitutional crisis was initiated by his predessesor, Hugo Chavez toady Manuel Zelaya. However, towards the end of Daremblum's article, he brings up this troubling note....

"The triumph of Honduran democracy was an embarrassing defeat for Chávez, who had angrily demanded Zelaya’s return. Now he has suffered an even bigger embarrassment on his home turf. It is way too soon to make any long-term predictions about the future of Venezuela’s “Bolivarian Revolution.” After all, Chávez is a brutal autocrat who has recovered from earlier setbacks. But the 2010 election may one day be seen as a turning point."

Perhaps, but being a pragmatist I happen to trust Chavez about as far as I could throw him. Adding to any misgivings I might have for the schlep is this article from Roger Noriega which seems to indicate that Chavez is living up to his image of a complete crackpot, bent on dominance in the West....

"For example, a November 2008 contract between a Venezuelan state-run firm, CVG Minerven, and the Iranian government firm Impasco grants the Iranians a "gold mine" concession in the heart of the Roraima basin in the southeastern state of Bolivar, which sits along the Venezuela-Guyana border. Although gold mining in Venezuela goes back decades, the basin is also home to one of the world's largest deposits of uranium, according to a survey by the U308 Corp., a Canadian uranium exploration company...

In addition to acquiring a mine strategically located above substantial uranium deposits, Iranian firms have taken over nearby industrial facilities and seem to be using them for purposes other than those publicly stated. For example, a "cement plant" produces little if any cement, a "tractor factory" produces few tractors, and both facilities are well situated for supporting Iran's shadowy activities in an area that is far from everything but uranium.

The "cement plant," in fact, processes ore from the Impasco mine, according to sources familiar with the facility. The facility, located in southern Monagas state, was built in 2007 by Edhasse Sanat, a firm owned by Iran's Ministry of Mines. According to eyewitnesses, the plant has yet to produce a bag of cement but, instead, serves as a conduit for moving ore to a port on the Orinoco River, where it is transferred onto Iranian-flagged vessels on the Atlantic Ocean. Once it reaches the open sea, there is nothing to prevent its delivery to Iran.

The "tractor factory" in the state of Bolivar is a second facility that provides Iran a benign cover for its activities in this remote region. Operated since 2006 by a Venezuela-Iran joint venture, the facility produces few tractors and is housed in a military-style compound protected by Venezuelan National Guard troops, according to two eyewitnesses who have visited and videotaped the facility in recent years."

All of this secrecy adds up to a rogue state that cannot be trusted IMO. If the United States isn't agressively and covertly assisting Venezuelan opposition candidates then I would like to know why. We fret about the Hitler of our time, Ahmadinejad aquiring nuclear weapons on the other side of the globe while at the same time we should be even more concerned about one of his lackeys aquiring the A-bomb just a hop, skip and a quick plane ride away from Miami.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Intelligent Design coming to the UK

Hang on to your bowler Jeeves. Dr. Alastair Noble (above) is announcing that Intelligent Design is coming to Britain in a big way.

"The Centre for Intelligent Design features a video introduction from Dr Alastair Noble, who has argued that ID should not be excluded from the study of origins. He says, among other things, that he is part of a network of people who are "dissatisfied with the pervading Darwinian explanation of origins and are attracted to the much more credible position of intelligent design" and criticise the "strident strain of science" that says the only acceptable explanations are those depending on "physical and materialistic processes"....

The network of people supporting the centre's activities numbers between 50 and 100. Among them is its president Professor Norman Nevin, emeritus professor of medical genetics, Queens University, Belfast, and its vice-president Dr David Galloway, who is also vice president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow. In its FAQs, the site lists the UK scientists "who are brave enough to make their support for intelligent design public. There are many more who are not willing to risk their careers by making their objections to evolution known."

Here here! Bravo to the Brits for standing up for what they believe in! Who needs to take guff from a bunch of wonks who know bugger all about origin of life issues?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Random Thoughts

Economist Thomas Sowell once again treats us to his wonderfully unique, recurring theme in his articles, that of 'Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene'. I will cull just a few of what I found to be the more unique gems from his quotations and you can read the full text of his comments by clicking here....

  • I would vote against anyone who plays the race card. Race and politics have been an explosive mixture in countries around the world.

  • If polygamists were not allowed to redefine marriage to suit themselves, why should homosexuals be allowed to?

  • This is truly the "me" generation, when someone will release secret information that includes who has been helping us in the fight against terrorism-- information that can get girls' faces mutilated and their parents beheaded by our Islamic terrorist enemies.

  • Politicians often act as if you can create costs without creating consequences. Force insurance companies to cover more things and then act surprised when the premiums go up. Mandate more benefits for employers to provide for their employees and then act surprised when they don't hire as many workers. It is great political theater but lousy economic policy.

  • The title of the article on the cover of the September 13th issue of Time magazine-- "Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace"-- speaks volumes about our times and about us. Future historians looking back at the history of this era may well be baffled as to why both our media and the administration in Washington embraced our enemies and repudiated our friends.

All of that and a free offer today from Sowell. Quote, "Who led the major leagues in extra-base hits the year that Babe Ruth set his record of 60 home runs? The first ten readers who e-mail the correct answer (sowell@stanford.edu) will receive a copy of my book "Intellectuals and Society." Good Luck!