Monday, July 30, 2007


Some Notes on The Road to Heresy

Today a brief discussion of my next novel, preliminarily titled The Road to Heresy.

My overall theme is going to be that purely naturalistic science is an epistemological dead end, that in defining science as naturalism, we are unnecessarily limiting the scope of scientific inquiry and thus limiting what science is able to discover. Further, I want to say that the faith placed in science and technology as a means of curing mankind of most, if not all, of its problems is misplaced. Science and technology can only do so much. People will continue to be people, with all their foibles, problems, and inadequacy. In five hundred years, the descendents of 20th century assholes will be 25th century assholes with better technology. Well, maybe better technology-the only thing that is absolutely certain is that they'll be assholes.

And, in fact, we're already seeing signs of that today. Consider, for instance, the world as envisioned by Arthur C. Clarke (one of my absolute favorite science fiction writers) in his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. According to Clarke, by the 21st century (2001 being as early into the 21st century as you could go--yeh, you heard me: the year 2000 was the LAST year of the 20th century, not the first year of the 21st), mankind was supposed to have: 1) hotels in space, 2) routine flights to space stations comparable to modern-day transatlantic flights on airliners, 3) research stations on the moon, 4) proof of the existence of extraterrestrials, and 5) manned interplanetary flights to investigate such things as mysterious monoliths orbiting Jupiter.

It is now five years past the fictional world as envisioned by Clarke, and what do we have in reality? 1) There are no hotels in space, only one rather insignificant (and pathetic, IMHO) international space station, performing experiments about the effects of weightlessness on bean sprouts. Wah-hoo. There was a Skylab, which fell from space and was quickly incinerated. Oh. And Mir, a floating garbage can made up of chicken wire and duct tape. If Heywood Floyd wants to stay at the Hilton, he's stuck on Earth like the rest of us. 2) Although the space shuttle has provided something akin to regular space flights, it is hardly what you could call an everyday space program. We have nothing at all like what we saw in the film version of 2001: long, sleek, reusable spacecraft with open, spacious, pressurized cabins; stewardesses in magnetic shoes; and nary a soul wearing a spacesuit or needing to bring along his own breathing equipment. Nope, all that stuff is still in planning. And what reusable spacecraft we have is not quite as reusable as we had first hoped it to be. A few measly excursions beyond Earth's gravity, and they start falling apart-literally, and at times with tragic results. 3) We've not only failed to establish research facilities on the moon, we haven't even visited the place in thirty years. 4) Despite all the effort expended into finding E.T. and all the money and facilities thrown into SETI, we have zero evidence that there is life anywhere but on Earth. We continue to search the heavens, likely in vain, telling ourselves that we'll find something if we just keep trying-and I have to wonder what the descendants of the SETI program will have to say in five hundred years. Will they have found anything? And if not, will they still be trying? 5) And we've yet to have a single manned interplanetary flight of any kind. We've sent probes out into space that have brought back some nifty photographs-the Voyager spacecraft, the Pathfinder series, the Spirit and Endeavor rovers--but, other than that, mankind is still decidedly Earth-bound. So what's all this crapola I hear about going boldly where no man has gone before? What? You say that's Roddenberry, not Clarke? Who gives a rat's furry not-space-exploring backside?

So far, the 21st century must seem a bit of a disappointment to visionaries like Clarke. At any rate, it's a disappointment to me, which is one of the things I plan on writing about in Heresy.

Though I'm still quite a ways away from writing even the first draft. So far, I've been doing a lot of reading (I've just finished Robert Heinlein's Revolt in 2100--a truly awful piece of science fiction, if you ask me--and am about to re-read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale; both are ominous warnings of future ultra-conservative Christian theocracies in the U.S. Oh, 'tis to laugh!), but also a little writing, trying to flesh out some of the major ideas I plan on examining.

What follow are some predictions I have made, given the assumption that I'm wrong about the universe being the product of Intelligent Design and that the materialists are right. In Heresy, the story will concern a future society in which Darwinism has been elevated to State Religion (as I've argued before, Darwinism is a religion; since it's the only religion allowed to be taught in public schools, that makes it a de facto State Religion already, but for argument's sake I'll say that this doesn't happen until the 24th or 25th century).

Darwinism is founded upon a philosophy of naturalistic materialism, so what I'm trying to do here is formulate a few ways of proving how materialism is right, rather than waste time trying to prove it wrong. My thesis will be: if none of the predictions ever pan out, we can conclude that materialism, and therefore Darwinism, is wrong. It IS, of course, but I'm trying to give the Darwinist crowd every opportunity to put up or shut up.

So, without further ado:

If naturalistic materialism is true:

1. We are nothing but the sum of our parts. Our bodies are wholly explicable in terms of nature, and there is no aspect of our bodies that cannot be described in purely naturalistic terms, nor any means of describing ourselves other than naturalistic ones. Human beings are simply organic beings and nothing more, composed of organs which are composed of cells which are composed of molecules which are composed of atoms which are composed of sub-atomic particles (and, if string theory is valid, the particles are composed of various strings of energy), and that's it. We are thus material beings and not spiritual ones. We have no souls. Consciousness is therefore nothing but a curious offshoot of biochemistry, a higher reasoning function of our brains that has arisen from the natural advantage afforded to us by both the size of the human brain and its level of complexity. It is NOT evidence that Man is a creature imago dei, but rather evidence of the power by which natural selection operating in tandem with random genetic mutation can operate.

THEREFORE, I PREDICT that scientists will one day construct a device capable of transporting a human body across vast regions of space--a device comparable to the "teleporter" as portrayed in the "Star Trek" TV series. It will disassemble a living human body at a molecular or sub-molecular level, transport those small bits of living organic material at high speed across great distance, and reassemble them to their original macroscopic configuration, with no ill effects to the body it has transported.

IF, HOWEVER, after several hundred years of scientific advance no such a device will have been formulated, this fact should be taken as an indication that materialism is not true.

2. The biodiversity of this planet is explicable in purely naturalist terms. Organic life on earth has arisen from purely inorganic material. As the fossil record clearly indicates that at one time in its early history earth was lifeless, the subsequent appearance of life on Earth can only be explained as abiogenesis-that is, that life occurred spontaneously out of nonlife. Further, since there is nothing particularly unique about the earth, since life can arise purely on its own given the right ingredients and the right conditions, and since there are assuredly other Earth-like planets in our galaxy as well as in other galaxies, it is inconceivable that we are alone in the universe. Surely on some other planet or planets, life has spontaneously generated much like it did on ours, and since the intractable rule of natural selection is to force the various species into ever-greater levels of complexity, it is reasonable to suppose that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. If we look for it, sooner or later we should find it.

THEREFORE, I PREDICT that scientists will one day find unequivocal evidence of extraterrestrial life. We will either be visited by members of some extraterrestrial race, or we will visit them, or at least detect their activity via radiometry or telemetry or some such means. If there is no intelligent life in the universe other than ours, there should at least be signs of the unintelligent kind: an alien hive or nest, an otherworldly forest, or an ocean filled with algae.

IF, HOWEVER, after several hundred years of searching for life on other planets no such evidence is found, this fact should be taken as an indication that materialism is not true.

3. Darwinism is true. Live evolves in an undirected, unscripted way. It just happens, all on its own, and unassisted by anyone. Nature is thus a closed system, fully capable or self-sustainment.

THEREFORE, I PREDICT that an incident of active evolution will be observed in the field. Now that we know what we are looking for, we will be able to demonstrate what we claim the fossil record indicates. Scientists will be able to tag a species of plant or animal, and by meticulous tracking and tagging of its offspring by generations of scientists yet to come, will eventually identify an incident in which new speciation occurs. They will be able to point to the descendants of the original species and, by careful examination of their DNA, indicate at what point their genetic coding diverged. Further, they will be able to identify the conditions responsible for the divergence, whether via natural selection, random genetic mutation, or some combination of the two.

IF, HOWEVER, after hundreds of years of field observations, no incident of new speciation is ever identified, this should be taken as an indication that materialism is not true.

4. Concomitantly, if Darwinism is true, then morality is subjective--and if it is subjective, then no single standard of morality is required for our survival. There is no higher authority establishing morality or requiring us to live among each other in any particular way. The only code of conduct required is the Rule of Law, and as this code is exclusively of human invention, we should be able to legislate ourselves into Utopia. Religion, the byproduct of primitive superstition, will ultimately disappear, once we discard our fears and emotions and give in to reason and logic.

THEREFORE, I PREDICT that one day a nation will arise that will be a purely secular society with no notion of religion, spirituality, or morality. It should be a society which does far more than merely tolerate atheism, but has atheism at its core as its functioning principle. It will be a Nation Not Under God, and will be able to function without any appeals to religion. It will be a free society, curtailed only by law, the codified product of mutual consent. It will be truly tolerant of all viewpoints, regardless of how extreme, and will accept all modes of behavior without judgment or dissatisfaction. It will be not the product of mere wishful thinking, but an active, living, fully functional entity.

IF, HOWEVER, after hundreds of years of trying to build a wholly secular society, no such society is ever able to establish and sustain itself, this should be taken as an indication that materialism is not true.

5. As we as a species are either a product of our heredity or of our environment, or of some combination of the two, all human characteristics must have their explanations along those lines as well. This includes notions such as higher intelligence, self-awareness, and free will. Therefore, what we call the mind--as separate from the brain-is no esoteric concept but has, as all things do if materialism is true, a perfectly natural explanation. The mind does not operate independently from nature. It therefore has its cause in nature and nowhere else. As the mind is clearly linked with the brain, its source must be somewhere therein.

THEREFORE, I PREDICT that science will one day identify that area or areas of the brain which produce the mind, describing in precise detail the chemical basis for thought. It will demonstrate the biochemical processes from which the mind emerges and by which the mind operates. Schematic diagrams of the mind will be produced, showing with mathematical precision its complexities and programming, displayed in a format similar to an elaborate computer program. Scientists will be able to manipulate the mind just as a neurosurgeon can manipulate the brain, and human thought will be augmented by use of computer drives-actual "thinking caps," surgically installed into the brain, allowing its user to access a wide variety of programs and databases, visually and aurally linked into the user's cerebral cortex; he will be able to manipulate data, store files, watch videos, listen to music, write new programming of his own, and otherwise operate his mind the same way a modern computer operator uses a CPU or BDA; furthermore, he will be able to interface with the minds of those around him, comparable to modern-day internet surfing. Such augmentation of human thinking will accelerate human evolution, and man will attain the Nietzschean ideal. The Uebermensch will emerge.

IF, HOWEVER, after hundreds of years of research into the human brain, the mind is never established as a dependent construct of the brain, this should be taken as an indication that materialism is not true.

6. Furthermore, since higher intelligence can be explained in materialistic terms, we should be able to reproduce it in the laboratory eventually. Thus, our efforts in constructing artificial intelligence will bear fruit.

THEREFORE, I PREDICT that artificial intelligence will continue to be refined until it ceases simply to mimic human intelligence and becomes self-aware, capable of self-reflection and introspection--the so-cammed Turing Machine. It will become sentient.

IF, HOWEVER, future science fails to develop artificial intelligence programs capable of doing everything human intelligence can do, this should be taken as an indication that naturalistic materialism is not true.

7. Knowledge and information are finite. As Carl Sagan once famously remarked, "The universe is all that ever was, is, or will ever be." Because knowledge and information can only be explained in materialistic terms, the amount of knowledge or information available in the universe is limited to the total amount of material of which the universe is comprised, and, as science has demonstrated, the universe is finite. Just as there is a theoretical limit to the amount of information that can be stored in a computer chip, there is a corresponding limit to the amount of information that can be stored in any brain, human or otherwise (or in any organ other than a brain that is capable of storing knowledge and information). Further, there is only a finite amount of material that can be used to form a chip or brain and likewise a limit to the amount of information that can be stored in any computer, however large, or in the mind of any organic being, however complex (infinitely complexity also being an impossibility, as complexity is also limited by a finite source of organic or inorganic material). This suggests that both knowledge and information are finite, limited by both the total numbers of individual entities, living and nonliving, which are capable of storing knowledge and information, and by their capacity for doing so. It is impossible to construct a computer that is larger than the available material out of which to build one; it is also impossible to have more organic beings than the total amount of organic material out of which to build them. If knowledge and information are finite, and if human beings are merely materialistic entities suborned to a material universe, then there is a theoretical limit to human thought. A Theory of Everything is therefore possible, as it would encapsulate the entire set of all things that are knowable.

THEREFORE, I PREDICT a Theory of Everything will be one day formulated and will be born out by repeated experimentation. It will accurately predict knowledge of things we do not yet know, and all future scientific discoveries will flow from it.

IF, HOWEVER, after hundreds of years of research in theoretical physics, in neurology, in psychology, and/or in related sciences no Theory of Everything is forthcoming and no experiment is ever devised to test it, this should be taken as an indication that materialism is not true.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


"Family Guy" and Evolutionary Theory

Time now for our recommended reading segment. Recently, I bought a subscription to First Things magazine, and if you've never read it before, let me urge you to give it a go. The magazine bills itself as "published by Religion and Public Life, an interreligious, nonpartisan research and education institute whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society." As magazines go, it is both thoroughly readable and enjoyable, as well as one of the most thought-provoking publications on the market. For the August/September 2006 issue, there's an excellent article from Wheaton College English Professor Alan Jacobs titled "The Code Breakers," which takes apart the various arguments made by those who see all sorts of "hidden" symbolism in popular literature, such as the claims by some that the Harry Potter books secretly herald "an alchemy-based paganism, a model of magical power deeply hostile to Christianity"--and contrasts these with the claims from others that the Potter books are "really" a covert retelling of the Christian narrative, because the phoenix Fawkes can be viewed as a symbol for the resurrection of Jesus.

Jacobs makes reference to a passage from Tolstoy's War and Peace, in which one character, Pierre Bezukhov, discovers that if you assign a number to each letter of the alphabet, the words L'Emereur Napoleon add up to 666. Sacre blue! thinks Pierre. Ze 666, she is the same number as ze Antichrist! Because Pierre imagines himself as Napoleon's great antagonist, he tries to see if the letters of his own name add up to 666 as well. They do, but only after altering his name's spelling and taking a few liberties with French grammar: L'russe Besuhof. "This discovery excited him," Tolstoy writes. "How, or by what means, he was connected with the great event foretold in the Apocalypse he did not know, but he did not doubt the connection for a moment."

Jacobs then adds this delicious comment: "If you begin by supposing something to be true that there is simply no reason even to suspect is true and then look for any evidence that might be construed as supportive of that supposal while resolutely ignoring any evidence that might be construed as refuting that supposal--well, then you're quite likely to find yourself in the position of Pierre Bezukhov, amazed by how a scarily intricate story holds together."

Funny, I've often said the same thing about modern evolutionary theory. Hyuk!

Speaking of evolutionary theory, I was watching Fox network's animated series "Family Guy" the other day, which made a vague reference to the recent Kitzmiller v. Dover decision. I don't know if you ever watch "Family Guy," (I don't recommend it if you're easily offended), but in this particular episode, the central "Dad" character, Peter Griffin, your archetypical fat guy with a double chin, is busy recounting stories from the Griffin family history when he decides to restart his narrative "at the beginning." The scene then suddenly flashes to some warm pre-historical pond, where a green-skinned fish bearing a double chin just like Peter's pokes its head out of the water; the fish morphs into a slightly larger,double-chinned, green-skinned amphibian and crawls out onto dry land; the double-chinned amphibian takes a few steps and turns into an even larger, double-chinned, green-skinned reptile; a few steps later, the double-chinned reptile turns into a gigantic, double-chinned green-skinned dinosaur. Before the story can proceed to show the enormous dinosaur morphing into an itty-bitty hairy brown primate, the scene then freezes, at which point Peter gibes, "For those of you living in Kansas, I'm required to present the following alternative explanation," and the scene does a high-speed rewind and begins again. Only this time, instead of a fish poking its head out of the water, a genie emerges (a la Barbara Eden from "I Dream of Jeannie") and, as Sidney Sheldon's happy little theme plays merrily away, begins blinking various creatures into existence--a rabbit, a turtle, a camel, a guy driving a Cadillac, etc.

Now, far be it from me to take an animated comedy series so seriously as to forget that it's just a bunch of writers trying to be funny, but I think the scene fairly accurately encapsulates current attitudes within the evolution/shmevolution debate, particularly for those who argue in terms of naturalistic Darwinian evolution. As Phillip Johnson points out in Darwin on Trial, the debate hinges upon how we define evolution. If we define it to mean merely "change over time," then there's no problem, because no one--not even creationists--ever argues that things don't change over time. After all, even if you believe in a literal interpretation of the Adam and Eve story, that means you believe that all people on earth--red, yellow, black, or white--and all the cultures and societies that developed after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, are descended from just those two people, whatever color they may have been. Or colors, if you believe Adam and Eve were interracial.

But, of course, the NDE crowd doesn't define evolution as merely change over time--though usually they at least wait until the creationists have left the room before saying what they really think. For NDE, the type of change actually envisioned is blind, undirected, fully naturalistic evolution. For this type of evolution there is but one and only one mechanism: natural selection, operating in tandem with random genetic mutation, the kind of thing that takes place all on its own and--and here's the telling point--with no help from outside. Nature is thus a closed system, and any kind of explanation that is not naturalistic in essence is therefore superfluous. To this sort of thinking, science HAS to be defined as naturalistic, and any kind of explanation that's not naturalistic is therefore not scientific. It's only when the NDE crowd thinks the creationists are listening that they claim that this type of evolution doesn't necessarily exclude "nonscientific" notions like God. This doesn't mean we don't believe in God or that God doesn't exist, so they say, it just means that for the sake of this discussion he isn't relevant.

And that's just a dodge. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for presupposing that science has to be naturalistic in order to be science. There's no philosophical argument that can make any rational compulsion for such a claim; and there's no scientific principle underlying it that requires it at the outset of any sort of scientific investigation. In fact, at its root, such a presupposition is a mere tautology, a fancy way of saying the same thing twice. The only reason for maintaining that science has to be naturalistic is that otherwise you can't exclude notions that are supernatural. In other words, if we can't exclude notions like God at the outset of any discussion, we can't exclude notions like God at the outset of any discussion.

So if you want to argue that evolution means blind, undirected, fully naturalistic change over time, there's no way to win the argument against those who say that evolution means merely that things change, whether directed or undirected. No, the only way to win the argument is to silence your opposition, which is what the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision was all about. The school board in Dover didn't try to outlaw the teaching of evolutionary theory. It simply mandated that Intelligent Design theory be taught at well. And despite whatever the writers for "Family Guy" know or understand about ID theory (or, far more likely, what they don't know or understand about it), it ISN'T about scantily-clad genies blinking things into existence. (It also isn't about offering an alternative to evolutionary theory, which is the mistake that Dover made.)

But note the attitude displayed by "Family Guy." If a fish pokes its head out of the water, turns into an amphibian, then turns into a reptile, and then a dinosaur, this is your scientifically plausible explanation. This is the kind of explanation that all educated people need reference to if they are to be considered educated. In contrast, the "alternative" explanation is just plain nutty. I mean--a genie just blinking stuff into being? Nothing scientific about that.

The central focus of such an attitude is to aver that science and religion are mutually exclusive, that while science is based on logic and reason, religion is a matter of faith. In this arena, the writers of "Family Guy" are hardly alone. People who fervently believe that Man is a creation of God often make the same claim. A few months before he became press secretary for the Bush Administration, Tony Snow made that very assertion in one of his syndicated columns.

But if our only options are to believe that turtles and rabbits and camels exist either because a) a fish turned into an amphibian which turned into a reptile which turned into a dinosaur, or b) they magically popped into existence, then we are being told to choose one sort of nuttiness over another. Sure, I don't believe in genies, but that doesn't mean I believe that fish magically turn into amphibians, either.

"Aha!" the NDE crowd will surely interject at this point. "But evolutionary theory doesn't say that fish magically turn into amphibians. It says that fish have offspring, and at some point many, many years later, the offspring of the offspring's offspring's offspring will emerge as amphibians." To which I reply, but what is "scientific" about that? Fish do indeed have offspring (which, again, is something that no one disputes, not even creationists), but, as far as I have ever been able to observe, those offspring are invariably more fish. The only time you ever get an amphibian is when other amphibians have offspring. All that really means is that the fish magically changes into an amphibian over a long period of time rather than suddenly. It's still magic. Even if you adhere to strict Darwinian gradualism, you're talking about a series of small miraculous events culminating in to a larger miraculous event. Appealing to the sum total of a bunch of little magics to explain a bigger magic is still appealing to magic.

Besides all that, gradualism is not supported by the fossil record. If gradualism were the case, we should not only find fossils of fish or amphibians, but the fossils of creatures that are mostly fish but also partly amphibian, the fossils of creatures that are just as much fish as amphibian, and the fossils of creatures that are more amphibian than fish. But the fossil record indicates quite clearly: we have all sorts of fossils of fish and all sorts of fossils of amphibians, but very few, if any, fossils of creatures showing the transition from fish to amphibian. Ditto for any amphibian-to-reptile fossils, or any reptile-to-dinosaur fossils. So if the kind of gradualistic change the NDE folks lay claim to really takes place, you have to believe in the existence of creatures for which there's no real evidence. And the word we use to describe the belief in things not seen? Faith. So if you claim, contrary to evidence, that life on this planet evolved gradualistically, you simply have to have faith that this is so.

But faith is supposed to be the domain of religion. Logic and reason are supposed to be the domain of science. But if the NDE explanation relies on faith, doesn't that mean that NDE is a religion?

My scientific reply: yup.

Otherwise, we need to abandon this notion that says science and religion are mutually exclusive. We need to stop telling ourselves that science is based on reason and religion on faith. These sorts of "all or nothing" strategies do nothing but make dogma out of science and fairy tales of religion.

And it leads to some ugly smears perpetrated in the Name of Science: in the same episode of "Family Guy," Peter Griffin takes a moment to sneer at all Southerners, when, while regaling us with the tale of one of his pre-Civil War plantation forebears (apparently, the white-as-rice Griffin family are all descendants of African slaves), he stops to mention that "in those days, Southerners weren't at all like they are today--they didn't believe in science and judged people by the color of their skin."

So there you have it: either convert to the True Faith and admit that our existence can only be explained by blind, undirected, fully naturalistic neo-Darwinian evolution, or be ridiculed as one who doesn't "believe" in science--and get lumped together with racists, to boot.

I wouldn't mind this nonsense so much if it were just restricted to episodes of "Family Guy." What I find particularly distressing, though, is that you hear much the same thing out of people who should know better than to persecute others for their beliefs. These are people who not only call themselves scientists; they stand on the front lines of current scientific thought. When Richard Lewontin tells us that science is the only begetter of truth and then asserts that we "cannot allow a Divine foot in the door," he is asserting, indirectly, that the only people who are truly knowledgeable are atheists. When Richard Dawkins asserts that anyone who doesn't believe in evolution is either lazy, ignorant, or evil, he is issuing a blanket condemnation against anyone who doesn't think like he does. When Daniel Dennet grouses that all "creationists" should have their children taken from them, he is advocating launching a pogrom. So, if Lewontin, Dawkins, and Dennet are correct, "science" has specific philosophical, moral, and political applications, and woe to those who disagree with them. All these guys need now is brown shirts and black boots.

And if you think I'm facetiously conflating neo-Darwinism with National Socialism, I need only point out that the Nazi movement didn't come about as the misapplication of Darwinian theory, but as a DIRECT application of its principles. Such as assertion is only logical--if the overarching feature of nature is Survival of the Fittest, then we can reasonably argue that when people are shoved into ovens, they are simply displaying their lack of fitness for survival; that's precisely how the Nazis felt about it: das deutsche Volk: fit; das Judentum: not fit. Their philosophy was devoid of notions such as altruism or compassion because there is no means by which Natural Selection can account for them.

Bear that in mind the next time you're told that science and religion are mutually exclusive.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


A World of Contradictions

The prevailing philosophy of the 19th century (and for a great part of the 20th) was Logical Positivism--the notion that all truths, if they were really true, were undeniable. All that was necessary was to ensure that all arguments made to reveal those truths were formulated properly.

But, in actuality, positivism never had a chance of working. As it turns out, all events are subject to INTERPRETATION, and interpretation is always subject to prejudice, bias, and the unpredictability of one's own viewpoint.

As a result, there is a lot of inconsitency out there. Mixed messages out the whazoo.

On the one hand, we are told that morality is subjective; on the other, we are told that President Bush is waging an immoral war and should be stopped. On the one hand, we are supposed to adhere to the rule of law; on the other, the Supreme Court thinks the U.S. Constitution--supposedly the Law of the Land (that land being, not to put too fine a point on the matter, the United States and not Switzerland)--can be overridden by the Geneva Convention, and that nearly 200 years after it was written, it suddenly disclosed a heretofore undisclosed Right to Privacy. The sovereignty of nations should always be respected; but it was okay to declare war on Germany. We have an obligation to be tolerant of the opinions of others; but don't take Ann Coulter seriously. Our universities should reflect diversity; but don't plan on holding a professorship if you're a conservative. Abortion is choice; but meat is murder. Intelligent Design theory can't be taught in our schools because it makes reference to an ultimate "Intelligent Designer" of the entire universe, which makes it creationism; but Quantum Physics, which makes reference to observer-based reality and freely ponders the existence of an "Ultimate Observer," is science. The universe's existence is purely accidental; but life, an accidental offshoot of an accidental universe, still has purpose and meaning. It's as if, rather than there being two sides to every issue, there are as many sides to every issue as there are people. That's six billion sides to every issue, and counting, times a seemingly infinite number of issues.

Now I realize I'm rambling, but just bear with me for a second. The point I am trying to make is this: whether or not there's a God, there had BETTER be one, because otherwise mankind has no hope whatsoever of rescuing itself. Our basic inability to look at facts and see them as facts dooms us to oblivion just as assuredly as failing to buy a lottery ticket will keep you from winning the lottery.

Positivism seemed at first a rational philosophy, but ultimately it failed. That gave way in the 20th century to Post-Modernism, which holds that all discourses are arbitrary and that all points of view are therefore equally valid.

But with such a view there is really no such thing as right or wrong, just your locality from where you stand within the context of a given discourse. Worse yet, without a foundation of right versus wrong and no basis for telling anyone to adhere to it, with only a subjective morality lacking any rules of how we are to conduct ourselves, no one has any right whatsoever to tell anyone else how to live. Thus, we have no more business telling Mr. Bush not to wage a War on Terror than we did for stopping Hitler from shoving people into ovens (and, shockingly, vice versa). And if Survival of the Fittest is the overarching feature of Nature, then we can reasonably argue that the millions slaughtered in the Holocaust were simply displaying their lack of fitness.

Yet, people try to have it both ways. It was okay to take out Hitler but not Sadaam. Morality is subjective, but the Holocaust was immoral. Uh-huh. Tell me another one.

So the only world view that makes any sense is one that involves the existence of God. Muddle with the idea that human suffering is inconsistent with the notion of a loving, caring God all you will, but I defy ANYONE to come up with a clear, consistent, workable philosophy that doesn't ultimately hinge upon a Creator. It can't be done. Period.

In all honesty, there was a time in my life when I tried to tell myself that belief in God was for saps. I mean, I tried. Really. But try as I did, I just couldn't shake it. Every time I sat down to think out an idea, I kept finding myself tooling around with notions I thought I had long abandoned. So that means either there IS a God, or I'm a sap. I'll leave you to decide which.

At any rate, for what it's worth, this is also why I ultimately rejected naturalistic materialism--specifically, the notion that human evolution is a blind, unguided process that is best described without reference to God.

Far from it. Evolution is simply not possible--not, at least, in the sense it is taught is our classrooms. Saying that life evolved all on its own is like saying you stood in a bushel basket and lifted yourself ten feet into the air.

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