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Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Theists of the World Unite!

I have a young Muslim friend of Punjabi origin. He was not brought up to be particularly pious but in his twenties he was persuaded to study Islam and became convinced that he should practise the faith of his forefathers. Having been as secular in outlook as most young Britons of Pakistani extraction (as conscientious, decent and law-abiding too), he now regards the practice of Islam as central to his life. How faithful he is to the letter of law, the famous Five Pillars, I have no way of judging. Nonetheless, he seems to me to be an admirable chap and a worthy role model for other young men of whatever background. He also seems to be an extremely fun-loving individual, childishly delighted with the outdoors, particularly after a heavy fall of snow. I know that he will be a good father. He doesn’t appear to take himself at all seriously. But he does take Islam seriously. So, he gives the lie to the idea that all Muslims are joyless fanatics (an idea which is encouraged by some high profile Muslims in Britain).

He and I are agreed that 9/11 was an abomination. Moreover, we are also agreed that the systematic slaughter of unborn children for the crime of being inconvenient is an abomination on a far greater scale than 9/11.

The way I see it is that for eleven joyless fanatics to choose to take the lives of 3000 human lives in one mad act of hatred was pretty bad. It was inexcusable. It was monstrous; it was evil. It was a perversion of religion. If that was bad – and it surely was (no matter how you define bad) – then how much worse is it that we condone, sanction and pay for more than 3500 abortions every week in England and Wales alone (2006 figures)? Our hearts are empty of hatred; we are not mad. We simply don’t think about it most of the time. We hardly ever debate it. But it is monstrous; it is evil. It is a perversion of humanity! Our collective soul must be dead.

Muslims believe (and long may they continue to believe) that Morality is absolute. They believe that the Creator has imbued all men with consciences. They believe too that the Prophets have revealed that the Creator loves justice and hates injustice. So do Christians. And nothing is more unjust than killing the innocent. The Koran is unequivocal about this. So is the Bible.

Muslims and Christians should be making common cause against the evils in the society we share. There is much that divides us. But there is much that unites us. Muslims see more clearly the faults of our post Christian culture than most Christians do. Muslims are critical of Christianity itself. Christians are critical of Islam itself. If these statements were not true, then Muslims would be Christians and vice-versa. I may hope for the conversion of the House of Islam to Christianity. My friend above certainly hopes for my conversion to Islam.

To be critical is not to be disrespectful. I personally wonder why it is that nearly all modern Islamic states are to some extent tyrannical; but that does not mean that I won’t join my voice with Muslims who denounce evil in my society.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Alvin Plantinga

Yet another new hero! Below is the man in his own words, reviewing Dawkins’ The God Delusion. I shall also post a link to a very witty lecture.

For the moment I will attempt to summarise (with apologies to Dr Plantinga) what seems to me to be the essence of his argument: that belief in unguided, purposeless evolution is incompatible with materialism – indeed, incompatible with coherent thought of any kind.

Theists (including Christians, of course) believe that God is the Author of the Universe. We believe that the Universe, like everything in the Universe, has a cause. We believe that God’s Purpose is the cause of the Universe. In other words, “In the beginning was the Word.” God is not part of the Universe any more than Jane Austen is part of Pride and Prejudice.

We also believe that the Universe is, to some extent, intelligible. One of the reasons we are unshakeable in this belief is that all of us (not just theists) are unshakeable in our conviction that we do understand, to various extents (depending on our education, intellect and interest), things about the Universe. We understand it because it is orderly and because we have tools for understanding it, including our power to observe it and our power to reason about it.

You may have considerably better developed reasoning power than I have and I may acknowledge this; but neither of us thinks that that Logic (or the Grammar of Thought) is arbitrary. Neither of us thinks that there are other equally valid ways of doing Science or Philosophy. So much so, that when I expose a flaw in your argument, I expect you to concede that you were wrong. You expect the same of me. Neither of us, even on the ropes, appeals to another way of thinking. Our appeal is always to Reason. Reason is absolute.

Up to this point the theist and the materialist are in agreement – Reason is absolute! The disagreement is in our answers to the question: What is the source of Reason?

The theist believes that Reason is part of the fabric of the Universe – it is given. Like space, time and matter/energy, Reason proceeds from the mind of God. Our minds (because we are made in God’s image) can do Reason.

The materialist has no such comfort. He has no answer to other questions: Why is there a Universe? How did inorganic matter produce life? He does have an answer to one (relatively trivial) question: How did the first life metamorphose into the plethora of life forms we see about us? Undirected, blind, random mutation and ‘natural selection’ is his smug answer. I am always surprised that materialists seem so content to ignore the more profound for the relatively trivial. Moreover, he was forced to this conclusion by his materialistic premise – there is no God; so evolution must be undirected. How can Dawkins entrust his ‘intellectual fulfilment’ to the Darwinian scheme of things – a theory that explains so little?

Foolishly complacent, though, the materialist blunders on. Darwinism explains everything, he says, ignoring the origin of the Universe and of Life. But another trap awaits him.

Undirected, blind, random mutation and ‘natural selection’ explain everything about every organism, including human beings. Every adaptation, every organ, every facility, every behaviour, every feature of every individual and every society. Even the achievements of Shakespeare, Mozart and Bach and, astonishingly, the ability of some humans to do advanced mathematics! To what evolutionary pressure was that an adaptive response?

[Our thinking processes discover pi and Fibonacci sequences and, lo and behold, pi and Fibonacci sequences are everywhere!]

And here is the trap. Darwinian theory (to which the materialist must subscribe, or something very like it) is about adaptations which ensure reproductive success. So, some behavioural adaptations can (if we are generous) plausibly be ascribed to natural selection. Let’s go for altruism. This is hugely problematic for the materialist and, therefore, hugely amusing for the theist. But let’s go for it anyway. You can make a case for the reproductive advantage of altruism (feed babies; don’t eat them), provided you forget, for the time being, about somewhat less altruistic behaviours (gassing 6 million, for example). The point is: this is behaviour we are talking about! It’s not about thinking. Let’s suppose a mutation arose that made people believe that eaten babies haunt you, are poisonous, make the spirits cross or whatever. The adaptive advantage (more babies) would accrue whatever the belief, whatever the process (valid or not).

‘Natural Selection’ has no interest whatever in the validity of the thinking behind the behaviour; only in the effects of the thinking on behaviour. Rational – Irrational? What Me Worry?

So, although a particular belief might be a mutation, how do RM and NS manufacture the whole edifice of valid thinking?

The trap is sprung! Only the theist has any real justification in his allegiance to Reason. The materialist has sawn off the branch on which he was sitting. Reason, for him, is just an adaptive responsive that happened to work. What he calls Reason is a feature of the mind, which is nothing more than a feature of the brain, which was formed by RM & NS. NS wasn’t trying to invent the Grammar of Thought; NS was ‘trying’ to ensure more babies. The theist has a commitment to Reason as an absolute. The materialist has to believe that Reason is like any other contingent aspect of human behaviour or physiology.

The materialist pays lip service to Reason. He has no justification for his pretended veneration. Nothing he asserts, not his materialist philosophy, not his belief in natural selection, not his world view, not his morals, not his politics, not even his science, has the slightest rational foundation.

Fortunately, of course, most materialists behave (most of the time, when they are not preaching materialism) as though Reason is the God-given Word.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Hatred of the Human Race

I posted recently about Malthus, Ehrlich and the D of E. My attention has been drawn to an early “environmentalist” success, which anti-greens have rediscovered of late. How disgraceful that this monstrous policy should have somehow have become invisible.

I quote from the article which you can visit by the link below. Read it all.

The fact that DDT saves lives might account for part of the hostility toward it. Alexander King, founder of the Malthusian Club of Rome, wrote in a biographical essay in 1990:

"My own doubts came when DDT was introduced. In Guyana, within two years, it had almost eliminated malaria. So my chief quarrel with DDT, in hindsight, is that it has greatly added to the population problem."

Dr. Charles Wurster, one of the major opponents of DDT, is reported to have said,

"People are the cause of all the problems. We have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them, and this (referring to malaria deaths) is as good a way as any."

Who can doubt that those who would deny Africans cheap energy are as indifferent to human life and happiness as these men?

Paul Driessen

This man has suddenly become a hero of mine. Hear him tell it like it is. He's a former green activist, appalled (like Patrick Moore, co-founder of GreenPeace) by what the "environmental movement has morphed into.

Friday, 1 January 2010


There does, apparently, exist an organisation which approximates to The Democracies Club for which I was calling in one of the last posts of 2009 (Rudolph Rummel).

It is called The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. It was formed in 1960 and now has 30 members. Those 30 members do appear to be among the world's genuine democracies - every one imperfect, of course.

I know little about it. But, at first glance, it does not have the remit I am looking for. The DC I have in mind has ONE objective: to enroll all the nations of the globe. Moreover, the OECD hasn't made much headway. Still only 30 members after 50 years

Also, it seems to be fashionably concerned about AGW. Isn't the UN making enough (ie far too much) fuss about Climate Change?

Still, I propose to find out more. I shall be interested to read its constitution and to know who are the UK luminaries in our national chapter.,3351,en_33873108_33844430_1_1_1_1_1,00.html