Thursday, April 17, 2014

All Around the Web - April 17, 2014

Charles KrauthammerThought Police on Patrol
Two months ago, a petition bearing more than 110,000 signatures was delivered to The Post, demanding a ban on any article questioning global warming. The petition arrived the day before publication of my column, which consisted of precisely that heresy.

The column ran as usual. But I was gratified by the show of intolerance because it perfectly illustrated my argument that the left is entering a new phase of ideological agitation — no longer trying to win the debate but stopping debate altogether, banishing from public discourse any and all opposition.

The proper word for that attitude is totalitarian. It declares certain controversies over and visits serious consequences — from social ostracism to vocational defenestration — upon those who refuse to be silenced.

Sometimes the word comes from on high, as when the president of the United States declares the science of global warming to be “settled.” Anyone who disagrees is then branded “anti-science.” And better still, a “denier” — a brilliantly chosen calumny meant to impute to the climate skeptic the opprobrium normally reserved for the hatemongers and crackpots who deny the Holocaust.

WORLD Magazine - The gradual anti-Darwin revolution
I guess the impression I get when I hear Darwinists talk is that just a mutation or a few mutations can produce a new body plan, or a new organ, or some new trait in a creature. Is that true? Well, this is the second mystery that I address. … The first mystery has to do with the missing fossils that bothered Darwin. But at a certain point, I make a turn, and I show that there’s actually a deeper problem … and that problem has become very much more acute because of what we’ve learned in the last 50 or 60 years about the primacy of information to living systems. … Here’s maybe a way that would help: When I was teaching, I used to ask my students the question, if you want to give your computer a new function, what do you have to give it? Software. Code. Information. Instructions. So it turns out the very same thing is true in life. To build a new animal requires a huge infusion of new information into the natural world, into the biosphere. And that’s the critical question: Where did that information come from? … I show based on what we now know that [Darwin] didn’t know—namely, that life depends critically on these big infusions of information—that intelligence is the best explanation. In fact, whenever we see information and we trace it back to its source, we always come to an intelligent agent, whether we’re talking about a hieroglyphic inscription, or a paragraph in a book, or a section of software, or information embedded in a radio signal, information always issues, it originates from an intelligent source. 

So let’s move to your latest book, Darwin’s Doubt. What exactly did Darwin doubt? Well, the doubt that Darwin had has to do with an event in the history of life known as the Cambrian explosion, in which the first major animal forms suddenly emerged in the fossil record. And they appear very abruptly. And so instead of seeing life very gradually morph from a very simple one-celled organism through lots of intermediate forms and then finally animal, … what we see in the fossil record is the sudden appearance of these complex animal forms. … And he expressed doubt about this right in [On the Origin of Species]. … Our modern biology textbooks don’t even learn about the Cambrian explosion, but they certainly don’t learn that Darwin himself was concerned that his theory couldn’t explain this evidence.

Justin Taylor - Gay Marriage: Not Just a Social Revolution but a Cosmological One
Rod Dreher has an important essay on “Sex After Christianity.”

Here is an excerpt:
Conservative Christians have lost the fight over gay marriage and, as we have seen, did so decades before anyone even thought same-sex marriage was a possibility. Gay-marriage proponents succeeded so quickly because they showed the public that what they were fighting for was consonant with what most post-1960s Americans already believed about the meaning of sex and marriage. The question Western Christians face now is whether or not they are going to lose Christianity altogether in this new dispensation.

Too many of them think that same-sex marriage is merely a question of sexual ethics. They fail to see that gay marriage, and the concomitant collapse of marriage among poor and working-class heterosexuals, makes perfect sense given the autonomous individualism sacralized by modernity and embraced by contemporary culture—indeed, by many who call themselves Christians. They don’t grasp that Christianity, properly understood, is not a moralistic therapeutic adjunct to bourgeois individualism—a common response among American Christians, one denounced by Rieff in 2005 as “simply pathetic”—but is radically opposed to the cultural order (or disorder) that reigns today.
They are fighting the culture war moralistically, not cosmologically. They have not only lost the culture, but unless they understand the nature of the fight and change their strategy to fight cosmologically, within a few generations they may also lose their religion.

Eric MetaxasNobody Expects the Rainbow Inquisition
Inside of Mozilla, the response was mixed: some employees, including gay ones, disagreed with Eich’s position but defended his hire as an expression of the openness that Mozilla regarded as one of the highest values. Others, including application developers, threatened to stop working with Mozilla if the hire stood.

After trying to explain himself and vowing to remain on the job, Eich succumbed to the inevitable and resigned.

Then something odd happened: Many prominent gay marriage supporters were appalled at what happened and didn’t hesitate to say so. Andrew Sullivan, who was probably the first major figure to champion same-sex marriage, called the reaction to Eich’s views “a repugnantly illiberal sentiment.” He also called it an “unbelievably stupid” and “bad, self-inflicted blow” for the gay-rights movement, one that it may come to regret.

Bill Maher on his HBO program, “Real Time,” said “I think there is a gay mafia. I think if you cross them, you do get whacked.”

It’s a measure of how distasteful some gay-marriage supporters found Eich’s treatment that Maher of all people felt free to voice that sentiment.

As Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic, another gay-marriage supporter, put it, “This is a mess.”

Canon and Culture - Why Younger Evangelicals Are Leaving the Church: Some Arguments against the Conventional Wisdom
Many young people are leaving Evangelical churches. Statistics vary, but there is general consensus that large numbers of post-high school age Evangelical youth shed the faith of their fathers and mothers upon beginning their college years.

The reasons given are multiple. They include such things as over-identification of older Evangelicals as angry Right-wingers who disdain homosexuals and are skeptical of global warming; a subculture that is unwelcoming to the young and secular; Christianity’s claim of exclusivity as to truth and salvation; and the general superficiality of the preaching and teaching.

Summing up much of this line of thinking, Carol Howard Merritt writes, “There are three major reasons that a younger generation is leaving Evangelicalism: pernicious sexism, religious intolerance, and conservative politics”

Yet this analysis, so neat and damning (and, for critics of Evangelicalism, rewardingly severe), seems woefully incomplete.

What does sound look like?

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