Custom Search

Friday, November 14, 2008

If the universe was designed, it does not follow that your grandmother's superstitions are true

Physicist Bradley Monton, an atheist philosopher of science (University of Colorado Boulder), doesn't seem to mind being in trouble here and here as he looks at the reasons why the universe might show evidence of design. Hey, Bradley.

It's that "life of the mind" thing, right? Don't expect yur local political correctness commissar to understand.

Monton teamed up with another skeptic of religion, mathematician David Berlinski, against materialist atheist Lawrence Krauss and Brit God-hollerer Denis Alexander, to defend the design of the universe as an intellectually worthy idea (not just some religious schtick). Here's more on the debate.

Good for Monton and Berlinski, for clearing sludge out of the way and shame on God-hollerers who maintain it for their own ends.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


Voices for intellectual freedom in Canada

... breaking breaking breaking breaking breaking ...

P 2o3 - ABOLISH infamous Section 13 passed. Freedom does NOT evolve. It revolts!

... breaking breaking breaking breaking breaking ...

Here's civil rights lawyer Ezra Levant's take:
But it doesn't matter whether P-203 makes it to the second vote, because the message is already clear: the party's grass-tops activists -- the people who knock on doors, raise funds, lead the local campaigns, etc. -- support freedom of speech and thought, and now see the Canadian Human Rights Commission for what it is: a violator of rights, not a protector of them.

I'm delighted.
Who knows - we could end up giving lessons to our American friends in resisting tyranny.

But, as a friend writes, we have a long way to go:

Resolution P-203 received overwhelming support at a plenary session – and still has to be voted on in full convention session tomorrow. Even then, it is still a party policy resolution, not an imperative of government.

Even if we get the whole CPC on board, we need more than 244 votes to get legislation through. We need more than just two Liberals to support a Bill removing Sections 13 and 54. We need the CPC + 11 more votes for a bare minimum. Really, we need at least 264 committed votes to be sure a Bill will pass.

There is a lot of lobbying and arm-twisting ahead of us to get the legislation we want through the House and Senate.

Some other interesting new developments ...

Landmark ruling finds no defamation in hyperlinks


VANCOUVER -- In one of the first court decisions in Canada on defamation on the Internet, a B.C. judge has ruled that a website is not liable for defamatory material on a link to the site.
Unfortunately, you'd have to buy this Globe and Mail article to find out what your rights are.

However, Franklin Carter, of the Freedom of Expression Committee at the Book and Periodical Council (to whom hat tip) advises,
In one of the first court decisions in Canada on defamation on the Internet, a B.C. judge has ruled that a website is not liable for defamatory material on a link to the site.

The lawsuit, which drew international attention, was initiated by Wayne Crookes, the Green Party of Canada campaign manager, in 2004. He alleged that Internet site posted a link to U.S. sites openpolitics and usgovernetics that included defamatory statements. He asked the court to rule that posting hyperlinks to websites containing defamatory material was the same as publishing the defamatory words.

However, Mr. Justice Stephen Kelleher of the B.C. Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit, comparing the hyperlinks to a footnote or reference to a website in a newsletter.
Here's more.

And the Mighty Ez discusses the resolution at the Conservative party convention to get rid of infamous Section 13 in our human rights laws: "Conservative convention: resolution calls for
de-fanging the Canadian "human rights" Commission."

He makes some really good points, including
I'm proud of the grassroots party members who have seized this cause. But I'm also hopeful that some Liberal grassroots will do the same thing in their party's convention in Vancouver next spring. That's because it's important to me that freedom of speech, and repeal of section 13, are not characterized as partisan issues. In other words, while I would hope that every Conservative would support the repeal of s. 13, I would hope that Liberals and NDPers don't oppose it merely to be different. I don't want it to become a partisan wedge issue. In fact, true progressives should reflect on the fact that people who are powerless often have no other tool except for free speech -- offensive free speech, that deliberately upsets the status quo -- to get reforms. The cases of women's suffrage, black civil rights and the decriminalization of homosexuality come to mind.

Luckily, it was Martin the Liberal MP who really got the ball rolling with his private member's motion, and other Liberal MPs have chimed in with support, as have many traditionally non-Conservative organizations, ranging from PEN Canada to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association to the Toronto Star.

I put all of the above in the category of "denormalizing" the HRCs -- building a demand for political change.

Here's the thing: I think that 90% of the people in that convention hall would be opposed to the CHRC for reasons of principle. The only question is: are they convinced that repealing section 13 would be a political winner? That is, are they worried that doing the right thing would hurt them politically?
Hey Ez: Canadians, whether Liberals or Conservatives, are not so far gone that all we want is for government to ram PC crap down our throats. Freedom is still a winner. Remember, Chariots of Fire - as in Fire. All. The. Nannies. Who. Specialize. In Nannying. Adults:

Labels: ,

Lighter moment - from a friend - Understanding Engineers

Understanding Engineers - Take One

Three engineering students were gathered together discussing the possible designers of the human body.

One said, “It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints.”

Another said, “No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections.”

The last one said, “No, actually it had to have been a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?”

Understanding Engineers - Take Two

Two engineering students were walking across a university campus when one said, “Where did you get such a great bike?”

The second engineer replied, “Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike, threw it to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, “Take what you want.”

The second engineer nodded approvingly and said, “Good choice; the clothes probably wouldn’t have fitted you anyway.”

Understanding Engineers - Take Three

To the optimist, the glass is half full.

To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.

To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Understanding Engineers - Take Four

A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.

The engineer fumed, “What’s with those blokes? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!”

The doctor chimed in, “I don’t know, but I’ve never seen such inept golf!”

The priest said, “Here comes the greens keeper. Let’s have a word with him.” He said, “Hello,

George! what’s wrong with that group ahead of us? They’re rather slow, aren’t they?”

The greens keeper replied, “Oh, yes. That’s a group of blind fire fighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.”

The group fell silent for a moment. The priest said, “That’s so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.”

The doctor said, “Good idea. I’m going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there’s anything he can do for them.”

The engineer said, “Why can’t they play at night?”

Understanding Engineers - Take Five

What is the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers?

Mechanical engineers build weapons and civil engineers build targets.

Understanding Engineers - Take Six

The graduate with a science degree asks, “Why does it work?”
The graduate with an engineering degree asks, “How does it work?”
The graduate with an accounting degree asks, “How much will it cost?”
The graduate with a liberal arts degree asks, “Do you want fries with that?”

Understanding Engineers - Take Seven

Normal people believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet.

Understanding Engineers - Take Eight (my favourite!)

An engineer was crossing a road one day, when a frog called out to him and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.”

He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.

The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for one week.”

The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket.

The frog then cried out, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a Princess, I’ll stay with you for one week and do ANYTHING you want. Like, you know ... , ”

Again, the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket.

Finally, the frog asked, “What is the matter with you? I’ve told you I’m a beautiful princess, and that I’ll stay with you for one week and do anything you want. Why won’t you kiss me?”

The engineer replied, “Look, I’m an engineer. I don’t have time for a girlfriend. But a talking frog? Now that’s cool.”

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

Intelligent design and high culture: Francis Beckwith and the plod of the philosophers

In "Francis Beckwith finally disowns ID" Bill Dembski and a number of others have offered a variety of comments about this piece, "The Truth about Me and Intelligent Design."

Honestly, Beckwith disowning ID reminds me of a guy divorcing his wife ten years after she's run off with the plumber. The question isn't "Why, Frankie, why?" but "Why, frankly, why?".

Last I heard from Beckwith, he was defending John Lilley's scorched earth campaign against the academic deans at Baylor (deans 1, scorched earth 0, as I recall - even at dysfunctional Baylor, there is some stuff you just can't do).

My take is that some philosophy types will always hate ID because it asserts the priority of evidence over theory.

Let's look at a typical Darwinist theory: The peacock's tale (cue pompous science doc intro music)

The peacock's tail evolved, we are told, because peahens somehow realized that a peacock who can carry a big tail is more fit than one who can't. To me, that's sort of like arguing that a guy with one leg is more fit than a guy with two legs, because he copes okay with his handicap.

But I am not a Darwinist, right?

In my view, the only way to confront such nonsense is with evidence, not theory. The evidence shows that the peahen doesn't pay much attention to her mate's fantail, but she loves his demented screams. No accounting for tastes, I guess.

Now, I suppose a philosopher might be looking for an overarching theory that explains that. I, by contrast, only want to know what the evidence shows. If the evidence showed that the peahen is smart enough to think things out the way the Darwinist theory requires, I would want to know just how she does it, given that she is one stupid bird - and so is her mate.

If the evidence does not show that she does anything of the kind, then that particular Darwinist theory is disconfirmed and I want that on the record. I don't want the theory taught to students because "We must stick with Darwinism until we find something better." It's just plain wrong, and shouldn't be taught, period.

Similarly, the fine tuning of the universe is best explained by a mind behind the universe. A person is not forced to believe it, but it is the most likely explanation. But again, that's evidence, not theory. Faced with different evidence, I might be forced to revise my opinion.

I don't think intelligent design will ever be acceptable to many philosophers because it is rooted in evidence, not theory. My advice is, every time you hear the words "Aquinas taught ..." grab your toolbox and run. Aquinas was a smart 13th century dude but he did not have access to the evidence available today and we don't know what he would say if he had. We are all rooted in time. We must live by what we know.

The tail:

The screams:


Intelligent design and popular culture: Video and essay contest, and academic freedom drive

From the Discovery Institute:

Turning Darwin Day into Academic Freedom Day

Next year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species. As you can imagine, Darwinists have a full year of celebrations planned, and February 12th, Darwin’s birthday, is likely to be the high water mark for most of those celebrations. Every year Darwin Day celebrations get more and more elaborate and outrageous. Celebrants decorate evolution trees, sing Darwin carols and odes to natural selection, and eat from the tree of life.

Naturally, we don't want you to miss out on the fun. On Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday (Feb. 12, 2009), we want students everywhere to speak out against censorship and stand up for free speech by defending the right to debate the evidence for and against evolution and turn "Darwin Day" into
Academic Freedom Day.

Actually, the Darwin cult has become so ridiculous that it would be hard to parody. Just look at this ridiculous hagiography. And if they force it down school kids throats, some of it might wind up coming back again, too.

Video and Essay Contest: Grand Prize $500

All the details are here:

Who Is Eligible

Students currently enrolled in high school (grades 9-12) or as a college undergraduate may enter the contest. (High school students include those attending private, public, or home schools.) Essays must be submitted by an individual student, but videos may be submitted by a group of up to 5 students.The PrizesOne grand-prize winner will be announced and have his or her entry officially unveiled at on Academic Freedom Day, February 12th 2009. The grand-prize winner will be awarded $500, and one essay runner-up and one video runner-up will receive $250. Up to 10 finalists will receive their choice of a free book or DVD.

The Deadline
Entries must be submitted to the YouTube Group "Academic Freedom Day Video Contest" here, by the end of business on January 23, 2009.

Here's Ben Stein introducing the idea:

Labels: , , ,

Who links to me?