Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sin In The Garden Of Science and Philosophy

When was the last time you thought about sin? Probably not recently because I think very few people think about sin on a regular basis and certainly not outside of church. I rather think that few people ever consider sin, theirs or others, much less what the ramifications would be in a world without sin. Of course sin does exist, at least for those people who believe in God, but in case you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of people around who don’t believe in God. These atheists have probably always been around but they seem to be growing in number and influence. Dr. Benjamin Wiker addressed how atheists view humanity and the ramifications of Godlessness in his book “Ten Books That Screwed Up The World”. In this book Dr Wiker deconstructs a total of 16 books which view humanity as animals without moral boundaries and the enormous harm these books have done as a result.

The first book he considers is “The Prince” by Machiavelli, who views those who seek power very objectively and without regard to whether or not his recommended actions are immoral. Machiavelli makes no judgments, he is simply offering a pragmatic description of how to achieve and keep power. But when implemented his actions lead to deceit, duplicity, lies, and even murder. In effect Machiavelli describes a world without any moral boundaries – a world where God is not a consideration. But this leads to the question “Does God Exist?” Descartes and his “Discourse on Method” starts by questioning everything and arrives at his famous conclusion “ I think, therefore I am”. Dr Wiker points out the essential flaw here is that Descartes could just as easily have said “I smell therefore I am”. In effect Descartes has ceased to view himself or man as being in the image of God and through rational analysis he concludes he exists – independently of God.

From this starting point Dr Wiker begins to build his case regarding sin, morality, materialism, and immorality through the writings of Hobbes, Rousseau, Darwin, Hitler, et al. These people all share a common thread, which is the denial of sin through the denial of God or that any moral boundary should constrain their actions. Hobbes and Rousseau build a case for materialism and the natural state of man which they see as unbounded by anything other than pleasure and pain, a world in which good and evil does not exist. If man is simply an animal that through chance happens to be more advanced that other animals, then there are no limits on actions other than those that are self-imposed through self preservation but not through any false concept of right or wrong outside of pain or pleasure. All of these proto-atheists were speaking in philosophical terms, but it was Darwin and his books that moved the discussion onto a pseudo-scientific foundation.

Darwin’s book “Origin of Species” was actually not scientific at all but merely a set of observations and some conclusions that described environmental adaptation from which others have concluded the evolution of species. But it was his companion work “The Descent of Man” that described man as an animal descended from apes. This is the work that describes evolution but it also describes man as being composed of what could be “sub-species” with European Caucasians as being the supreme evolutionary result with other races as inferior. This work of Darwin’s is virtually ignored today and when the Darwinians like Richard Dawkins are challenged regarding Darwin’s “science” the response is a facile “he was a product of his time”. This may well be true but it does not excuse his lack of scientific method or demonstrable proof of what he has concluded. Nevertheless it was Darwin’s junk science that was seized upon by Sanger and Hitler to justify their efforts to improve the human race by eliminating “defectives”.

By the 1920”s it had been well established through belief and repetition that man was an animal, descended from lower animal forms, unbounded by morality but in need of improvement. This improvement would eventually be accomplished via evolution, but with the advances of “science” it was now possible to purge the human race of those deemed sub-species, defectives, or undesirables. This idea was first postulated by Margret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood. It was she who thought parents should be selected and individuals deemed as inferior or undesirable should be sterilized so they could not reproduce. Notice that this is not voluntary but directed by the state and there is no mention of moral boundaries, God, or sin. Her objective is to improve the human race much like you would selectively breed animals. Naturally her position and support of eugenics led inexorably to Hitler’s decision to eliminate all undesirables from the human reproductive chain. That this led to mass murder was not considered by him in moral terms – it was simply applying science to the problem of racial improvement—i.e. moving toward the superior Caucasian as described by Darwin and Nietzsche.

Following the failure of the eugenics movement, the atheists moved in a different direction but still relying on junk science. Alfred Kinsey decided that his views of human behavior were sound and employed an astounding level of junk science to demonstrate that every weird and perverse sexual preference he had was totally normal and since man was an animal there was no moral constraint that could be applied and thus no sin.

Today the atheists continue their assault on morality and sin as they deny the very existence of God. In their eyes man is an animal, descended form lower life forms, with no purpose, no future, and not obligated to recognize any moral constraint or boundary. I think the time has long past for mankind to look critically at the murders and damage done by the atheists and their denial of sin and God.

Monday, December 07, 2009

America In Afghanistan

At the risk of being viewed as a “cut and run” anti-war activist, I think it is time for a review of President Obama’s Strategy and some historical perspective. Afghanistan is a fractious nation if in fact it could even be called a nation. Imperial China rarely had more than nominal control of the country and the reality was that the country was actually under the control of various warlords and this persisted until Mao centralized control in Beijing with a communist government. Although with his death modern China is increasingly looking more and more like Imperial China with a different name. But the point is that Afghanistan has always been a central government with only loose control while the real power was – and is – held by various war lords. Historically Afghanistan has been at war with the various warlords battling each other over various slights real and imaginary. While it may appear that the Taliban had total control over Afghanistan they did not. The Northern Alliance was not under their control and it was the Northern Alliance that worked with the NATO forces (read American) to over throw the Taliban. What has been lost in all of the subsequent rhetoric is that the objective was never the overthrow of the Taliban it was the destruction of Al Qaeda and had Mullah Omar agreed to turn over Osama bin Laden the Taliban would still be in power. Unfortunately, Mullah Omar stood by bin Laden because to do otherwise would have been a serious breech of Islamic hospitality which could have jeopardized his hold on the country because the Taliban were not popular, and his power rested on his strict adherence to Islamic Law and Custom.

So historically Afghanistan has been a series of tribal areas run by Tribal Chiefs with only loose loyalty to any central authority and the only unifying force has been Islam. It must be noted that Islam is not just a religion but it is the supreme authority over government. While the west likes to pretend that there are Islamic “nations” the reality is that these “nations” are actually shells which are under the control and direction of various Islamic authorities in the form of Mullahs and Imams. This means the US strategy of establishing a representative government in Afghanistan has always been somewhat misguided for several reasons. First Islam directs Muslims to not make or honor any treaty with non-Muslims. So any US efforts to establish anything from bureaus to schools will always be on shaky ground because Muslims are forbidden to accept or interact with infidels. Even if this can be overcome, any government will always be under the tacit control of Islamic authority, which means Karzai and his government will always be on shaky ground. So the US and President Obama are faced with a very thorny problem without any clear cut path to any sort of reasonable conclusion – given that withdrawal is not an option.

We are caught up in an insurgency, meaning that we are facing a light infantry guerilla force that melts into the population and attacks at will. Efforts to locate and destroy them inevitably leads to civilian deaths as they deliberately leak misinformation to the US which leads to attacks and the intended civilian deaths which causes the population to blame America. In the meantime efforts to locate and attack the Taliban are only marginally effective because when put under pressure they simply move across the border into Pakistan. Some might move into Iran but the real sanctuary is in the Pakistani Tribal areas where the Pakistani government has little authority and the Taliban enjoy the Islamic protections of hospitality and are supported due to the Islamic directive to kill infidels – meaning the Americans. So to these Pakistani Tribesmen – the Taliban are doing God’s (Allah’s) work.

Whether or not President Obama is sending one or 100,000 troops is almost beside the point because the probable outcome would be to force the Taliban across the border and into Pakistan where they can regroup, rearm, and raid back across the border – as these tribes have done for centuries. That would lead to a never ending war until the Americans tired of it and gave up and left at which time the Taliban would return and a civil war may or may not occur. So the troop surge is more of a tactic than a strategy, but unless the Pakistani’s step up to the plate and aggressively root out the Taliban and keep them in a vise between their military and the Americans, then the surge is just a waste of lives and treasure. But the darker side of this is can the Pakistani’s carry out their campaign against the Taliban? The answer is a very problematic maybe.

The Taliban are an irregular force, meaning they have no uniforms and cannot be distinguished from local population. It has already been demonstrated that the Pakistani military is not free of hidden Taliban agents, meaning any Pakistani military operation could be and to date has been-- betrayed. The Pakistani Intelligence Agency has been deeply infiltrated by the Taliban which means that both Pakistani and joint American operations are unlikely to be highly successful since the Taliban will be warned in advance by their hidden sympathizers. Before any really successful operation against the Taliban can be mounted the Pakistani military and military intelligence will have to be purged of Taliban plus the Pakistani intelligence agency will have to infiltrate the Taliban. While American surveillance techniques are superb they only go so far and cannot ensure victory in the long term. If victory is to be achieved it will only be possible through the Pakistani’s – not through more American Troops.

The other part of the Obama strategy is to bring the Afghan military up to a level where it can defend the country against the Taliban. But this means that the Afghan military must be free of Taliban sympathizers and it has already been demonstrated that it is not. This does not mean that all is lost and the situation is hopeless, but it does mean that the situation has no easy solution. The key is Pakistan. They must force the Taliban out of Pakistan, Pakistan must purge its military of Taliban sympathizers and Islamic extremists and the Afghan government must purge itself of corruption, Taliban sympathizers, and infiltrate the Taliban in order to gain better intelligence. And finally – the source of the Taliban’s military supplies and funding must be located and destroyed because without arms and ammunition they will exhaust themselves and if the troops are not being paid they will leave – because they too have families that must be fed.

So President Obama is faced with a situation that has no easy answer and more troops may not be the best answer. The real answer lies in diplomacy and strategy, let’s hope that the Pakistani government can finally gain control of their country – all of it.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Darwin Dawkins and Evolution

The focus has for years been on Darwin’s “Origin of Species” while his companion work “The Descent of Man” has either been ignored entirely or sort of lumped into his general Theory of Evolution. Of course the thrust of Darwin’s second view of evolution is that human beings were descended from apes who in turn were descended from still more primitive animals. This is a heavily flawed book whose flaws are explained away today by pointing out that Darwin was a “man of his times” and “science” has come a long way since the book was written. Darwin never actually addressed the “Origin of Species” nor did he ever address the origin of life. Instead those issues were left to modern believers, like Dawkins, who totally excludes God and embraces his religion of Evolution and his Darwin as his God replacement. So Dawkins goes where Darwin feared to tread and the logical end of this evolutionary thread is that man is a direct descendant of pond scum. If you have seen Dawkins you can see the family resemblance. But suppose Dawkins is right, that all of humanity is descended directly from lower animal forms and thus subject to the laws of evolution. What are the ramifications of this?

The ramification of course is according to Darwin and Dawkins the strongest and fittest survive while the weakest perish under the relentless action of evolution. It was Darwin who stated that more individuals in a species are born than can possibly survive, so it is natures way to eliminate the weak through their struggle to survive thus those individuals who have even the slightest advantage are naturally selected. The implication of this when applied to humans would indicate that the evolutionary path of humanity would lead to a superior form of human both physically and mentally. Males would get larger and stronger while females would become more fertile and attractive. Alas – even a casual look at humanity would show that some at taller, some weaker, some less intelligent, and certainly some are less attractive, but these are all subjective evaluations and really don’t address the variations in skin color, body types, eye color, hair color, or appearance.

The logical conclusion is that humanity today is the logical result of “breeding” and not necessarily the evolutionary result of the survival of the fittest. The implication is that mankind is result of breeding much like dogs and cats or any other animal. It then follows that humanity can be improved through programs where only the “best examples” are allowed to breed. Of course this was a policy adopted in ancient times and is best exemplified by the Spartans who only allowed the strongest babies to live. A more recent example of this approach, now given the name “Eugenics” was carried out by Adolph Hitler. Both of these programs were public policy but Darwin himself noted that the “civilized people” were eliminating the “savages” through their superiority, where superiority was defined through intellectual achievement and living standard. The shallowness of this position is generally ignored today but Darwin’s basic position remains intact in the eyes to people like Dawkins, who pick and choose their facts while ignoring those that don’t fit their belief.

This brings us to those variations which according to Darwin are the result of natural selection and for Dawkins the result of mutations caused by cosmic rays. The corollary here is that any mutation that failed to improve the chance of survival would fall by the wayside since the mutant would be eliminated and off spring would not survive. This immediately leads to the conclusion that all of the observed variations are evolutionary changes that have improved humanity’s survival ability. But for Darwin, there was the gorilla, the Negro (savages), and the ultimate top of the evolutionary scale – the Caucasian. This is one of those Darwinian things that Dawkins chooses to ignore; instead he leans toward mutation and sexual selection. But then which is which? Are blonds more attractive than brunettes? Is black skin more attractive than white? The argument is that skin color, hair color, and curly hair versus straight are in fact evolutionary advantages. But this brings us back to survival of the fittest. Certainly the record of man shows that the barbarian, the one who is stronger and has the morality of a sociopath is the preferred evolutionary form. The logical path indicates that morality, sympathy, empathy, or any deep emotion must be weaknesses that cannot lead to a stronger human form, but must be eliminated through natural selection since the men with these characteristics would not be allowed to mate. Clearly this isn’t the case, so these must be traits that describe the strongest and fittest human. But realistically – does the ability to care for another human being, or to have a conscience enable an individual to survive a drought, a famine, or a war?

Darwin simply stated that man was descended from a lower form and was an animal subject to the same rules of evolution that other animals are. What is missing is any real proof that evolution as described by Dawkins is a fact. Darwin never addressed speciation and Dawkins explains speciation through cosmic rays and mutation but offers no empirical proof whatsoever. In fact the fossil record seems to support environmental adaptation which accounts for the variations in humans, but it does not indicate how one animal morphs into another or how pond scum became human.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The ABC's Of Liberalism

The term “Liberal” and “Liberalism” is being bandied about in so many contexts that its actual meaning seems to becoming lost. The fact is that most people today – at least Americans are “liberal” the problem lies not in the philosophy of liberalism but in its interpretation and implementation. Liberalism is actually a philosophy that emphasizes individualism, equality, and freedom – things which I think the typical American stands for and believes in. The problem starts almost at the outset because as a “theory” liberalism describes how things ought to be rather than how they actually are. In practice the liberal wants a government that perfectly embodies the three basic points of liberal philosophy, rather than accepting the pragmatic reality of the government we have.

Liberals and non-liberals alike want government to secure the rights of individuals the problem comes in the implementation of that goal. Both want every individual to be treated equally but for some that equality is equality under the law but for others that kind equality is not enough because equality cannot be had if some are richer than others. For these people the clear responsibility of government is to redistribute the wealth so that equality among all citizens can be achieved. While some people believe in the basic right to individual ownership of property others think the government has the responsibility to secure goods for every citizen, even at the expense of others and their property rights. This leads to the progressive income tax, housing subsides, affirmative action, income tax refunds to those who pay no income tax, and more recently the seizure of private property for developers to build malls and buildings for the “good of all”.

While most Americans would say they believe in freedom, in practice they do not. In fact the typical American believes in limited freedom and the number of limitations on our freedom increases daily. In fact this may actually best illustrate how liberalism in practice has so deviated from liberalism as a philosophy. Some would think that “freedom of speech” has been expanded beyond what was intended by the founding fathers with the acceptance by the Supreme Court of pornography, profanity, and the desecration of Christian symbols. But Christian theology and symbols are banned from schools and public buildings while Islamic and other religious symbols and theology are not. Huckleberry Finn cannot be taught in schools because the word “nigger” is used. The government has banned smoking which is a direct infringement of individual rights – justified by liberals on the basis of “the common good”. Car seats and seat belts are mandatory and indeed they may be very useful but the reality is that compulsion to buy them and use them is a direct abridgement by government on individual rights. So while most Americans believe in the liberal philosophy the implementation has strayed so far afield as to border on fascism.

This idea that the government has an obligation to provide for the individual was the motivation behind Karl Marx and his communist philosophy. Even though communism has caused more harm than good and has cost millions of lives, the basic belief that government must provide for the individual lives on. It lives on with the universal healthcare bill before congress today. It lives on in the “tax the rich” ideas prevailing in congress today. It lives on as the individual right not to be offended. The government now protects the rights of minorities at the expense of the majority when the whole purpose of the American Republic was government by the majority. We have come along way from that ideal. What started as a government for the people has morphed into a people subordinate to the government whose objective is to provide first and foremost for the individual at the expense of the majority.