Critiques & Controversies: August 2006 Archives

Equal Time

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While certain actions on the part of the Israeli government cannot be countenanced or argued away, with reports like this, is it any wonder?

Hezbollah's top official in south Lebanon said the group welcomed the Lebanese army's deployment even as he hinted that the Shiite guerrillas would not disarm in the region or withdraw but rather melt into the local population and hide their weapons.

"Just like in the past, Hezbollah had no visible military presence and there will not be any visible presence now," Sheik Nabil Kaouk told reporters Wednesday in the southern port city of Tyre.

So, we'll wait around for the cease fire to quiet things down and then start them all up again. It's no wonder that Israel might take some exception to Hebollah actions. It's hard to be too harsh on the Israelis when they are dealing with those who would be much happier if they didn't exist at all.

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Equal Time

|

While certain actions on the part of the Israeli government cannot be countenanced or argued away, with reports like this, is it any wonder?

Hezbollah's top official in south Lebanon said the group welcomed the Lebanese army's deployment even as he hinted that the Shiite guerrillas would not disarm in the region or withdraw but rather melt into the local population and hide their weapons.

"Just like in the past, Hezbollah had no visible military presence and there will not be any visible presence now," Sheik Nabil Kaouk told reporters Wednesday in the southern port city of Tyre.

So, we'll wait around for the cease fire to quiet things down and then start them all up again. It's no wonder that Israel might take some exception to Lebanese actions. It's hard to be too harsh on the Israelis when they are dealing with those who would be much happier if they didn't exist at all.

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Evolution--On Ann's New Book

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I am no fan of Ann Coulter, just as I am no fan of any detractor. When one ceases to deal with issues and starts to deal with people in disrespectful ways, one ceases to command my attention. I haven't time for it.

However, this review has within it a provocative paragraph that may just go a ways toward supporting Ann's supposed hypothesis.

Rather, a lot of folks apparently like her ravings -- suggesting that, on some level at least, they must agree with her. And this means that the hundreds of thousands of Americans who put Coulter at the top of the best-seller lists see evolution as a national menace.

Well, that's hardly news. We've known for years that nearly half of all Americans believe in the Genesis account of creation, and only about 10 percent want evolution taught in public schools without mentioning ID or other forms of creationism. But it's worth taking up the cudgels once again, if only to show that, contrary to Coulter's claim, accepting Darwinism is not tantamount to endorsing immorality and genocide.

What I want to know is why anyone cares whether or not evolution is accepted as a theory outside of the scientific community. I am a staunch evolutionist (minus the philosophical trappings) and I could care less if all of St. Blogs were staunch young-Earthers. I would advise them to stay out of the fields of genetics, biology, and palaeontology, all of which have a certain necessity for the fundamental belief in the change of organisms through time. But so long as you are not a scientist practicing in one of these fields, why should I care about how you think the world came into being. It is utterly trivial and absolutely none of my business. And I like it that way.

I do not go about proselytizing evolution. I don't care who thinks it correct and who thinks it incorrect. What I do, and will continue to do is correct those who think they understand the matter at its base and then come of saying something like "ID is a better theory because." ID is merely a new smoke-and-mirrors philosophical construct built up around what is patently observable--organisms change through time. If people refuse to accept that empirical observation, I'm also fine with that--so long as they don't advance their opinions on scientific matters in ignorance of the facts. For example, if one wonders about the change of organisms through time, one must examine the cases of anti-biotic resistant bacteria and one must consider the case of ligers, and the many breeds of cats and dogs and horses. I don't want to belabor the point, but most people arguing for ID do so out of fear and plain ignorance of the facts of the matter. ID is not a scientific theory--it is a philosophical and religious construct that is no more subject to the rigors of the scientific method than is the neo-darwinist formulation of evolutionary theory. Both rely upon propositions that at base may be accepted or rejected but which ultimately can be neither proved nor demonstrated. It is no more probable that everything proceeds randomly than that everything is specifically designed and engineered to go the way it will.

In short, I don't care what any individual believes about how life came to its present diversity. It isn't my business, unless someone feels they must make it so, and I would prefer that it remain unknown to me. There are a good many evolutionists, myself among them, who at once hold to the essentials of evolutionary theory and to the complete teachings of the Catholic Church as understood outside of ultra-traditionalist circles. It is not beyond imagining, and it isn't really a problem for the faithful.

The problem is not evolution, nor its teaching, nor any number of other single attributes one might blame, but rather the whole societal synergy toward death. We live in the culture of death and this whole debate is about more of the same. It is a symptom rather than the disease, although, I suppose it gives some comfort to think that if only this evil thing could be rooted out condoms, pre-matital sex, abortion, and corrupt politicians would vanish at a single blow. It isn't going to happen--not by this mechanism at least. Those who think it will attribute far too much power to scientific discourse in the popular imagination of a fairly stringent anti-intellectual culture.

On a side note, this paragraph very aptly characterizes Ms. Coulter for me:

Coulter clearly knows better. I conclude that the trash-talking blonde bit is just a shtick (admittedly, a clever one) calculated to make her rich and famous. (Look at her website, where she whines regularly that she is not getting enough notice.) Her hyper-conservativism seems no more grounded than her faith. She has claimed that the Bible is her favorite book, she is rumored to go to church, and on the cover of Godless you see a cross dangling tantalizingly in her d├ęcolletage. But could anybody who absorbed the Sermon on the Mount write, as she does of Richard Dawkins, "I defy any of my coreligionists to tell me they do not laugh at the idea of Dawkins burning in hell"? Well, I wouldn't want Coulter to roast (there's not much meat there anyway), but I wish she'd shut up and learn something about evolution.

One is left to wonder what the quotation taken out of context might mean. The charitable might consider that she is saying the notion of even so arrant a servant of the atheistic agenda as Dawkins burning in Hell is laughable; however, I don't think that my charity extends that far.

But I do agree with the first sentence. Ann manufactured for herself a certain celebrity in her abrasive brashness--she competes toe-to-toe with Al Franken, Molly Ivins, and Maureen Dowd, and I suppose there is some divine justice in leveling the sides in such a way.

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Here's the problem.

If we take as a starting premise, a premise I accept and even embrace and to which I can propose no reasonable alternative, that one may not do evil that good may result, one might be forced to conclude that information derived from certain sources that help to define today's potential catastrophe should not have been obtained and should not be used.

Let's consider several examples:

(1) Information derived from listening in on conversations: So far as I can tell there is nothing MORALLY wrong with this, nor within the profession of spies ethically wrong with it. There may in some instances be problems with it legally, but legality and morality often don't coincide. So unless one can tell me otherwise, it would seem that information obtained this way is "clean."

(2) Information from a plant or a mole. This, it strikes me, is much more problematic. In order for a plant or mole to succeed he must mimic the surroundings. He must dissemble or lie in order to fit in. There may be things that the group does as a whole that are completely immoral that he must participate in in order to remain undercover. Information derived from dissembling (bearing false witness) would seem to be tainted under the "You must not do evil that good may result."

(3) Information obtained from a paid informant. Once again, we're at a place that I wonder about. If betrayal of one's friends and comrades is a sin (Dante certainly seems to think it is) then suborning such action is supporting such action and is, how is it phrased proximate material collusion? It would seem that information obtained by paying someone to rat out his friends is indeed "tainted."

All of that said, I don't know if any of it is true, and it is the reason that I've decided that I need to be just an interested spectator in the bloody arena of practical and applied theology. If I really stopped this long to analyze all of my actions of a day I would just have to admit complete paralysis and give up doing anything other than analyzing the potentials. Obviously theologians don't do this because they know of some "loophole" that gets them out of the eternally descending spiral (Uzumaki) of omphaloskepsis.

Oh, and before you start badgering me about saying that I think the actions and information acted on today were bad, please know that I don't. I just wanted to use this illustration to show how my brain gums up the works and why it is simply better for me to sit staring at Jesus than to try to figure out the mind of God on matters too lofty for me.

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Two Posts on the Plot--I

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My first point about the plot uncovered in Great Britain to explode several airplanes at once should be noncontroversial. Praise God that it was discovered!

More than that, I am always astounded when we do discover these things. When you consider that they are the work of 25 or 30 people out of millions of possible "suspects," it seems nearly miraculous that we can avert any of the attacks. Unlike most of the nation, I was not disappointed in our security services with the 9/11 incident, rather, I figured it was only a matter of time before some key link was missed. In this case, let us hope that all of the key links have been found and all take caution from what was discovered today.

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Where Is Truth to be Found?

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According to this article found at Western Confucian, the one defense offered for Israel's actions against the Lebanese is false.

This is one of the reasons why I rarely bother with the news. Is this article reporting the truth? Is CNN reporting the truth? Does the truth lie somewhere between? How are we to discern justice if we can't know the plain facts of the matter? Where is truth to be found in reporting? Where is enough of the bias stripped away that there is some discernible smidgen of reality? In this case I do not know if it can be because whoever is reporting has such a strong bias one way or the other in the matter.

However, if it is true, what does THAT say about the conflict? We need to be careful to separate the unquestionable right and responsibility of Israel to protect its people from a carte blanche to do whatever is required. We must support Israel as a sovereign nation while reining in the impulse to smash everything around them that might give rise to difficulty--an understandable impulse in an unstable part of the world.

I am a supporter of Israel and of her people, but not one who is willing to say that everything done in the name of defense is defensible. As with so many things I simply don't know, and frankly I don't even know how to find out. Whatever may be the truth I have grave misgivings about the present approach to the resolution of the difficulties between Israel and Lebanon. But I also have no advice to give on how to secure one's homeland in a fair and equitable way.

But back to the point--how do we know the truth?

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Critiques & Controversies category from August 2006.

Critiques & Controversies: July 2006 is the previous archive.

Critiques & Controversies: September 2006 is the next archive.

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