Friday, March 26, 2010
Scientist attacks ‘fundamentalism’ of atheist Dawkins
The “scientific fundamentalism” promoted by the atheist Richard Dawkins was criticised yesterday by the winner of a prize he had attacked.
Professor Francisco Ayala, who won the £1 million Templeton Prize for scientific thought, said that attacking religion and ridiculing believers provided ammunition for religious leaders who insisted that followers had to choose between God and Darwin. “Richard Dawkins has been a friend for more than 20 years, but it is unfortunate that he goes beyond the boundaries of science in making statements that antagonise believers,” he said.
Professor Ayala, of the University of California, Irvine, who is an authority on evolution and genetics, won the prize for his contribution to the question “Does scientific knowledge contradict religious belief?”. The prize, the largest of its kind, was founded by the late entrepreneur Sir John Templeton to honour scientists who contribute to progress in religion.
The professor, who was born in Spain and is a naturalised American, says science and religion cannot be in contradiction because they address different questions. It is only when either subject oversteps its boundary, as he believes is the case with Professor Dawkins, that a contradiction arises, he said. “The scientific fundamentalism proposed by Dawkins implies a materialistic view of the world. But once science has had its say, there remains much about reality that is of interest. Common sense tells us that science can’t tell us everything.”
This week Professor Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford, attacked the US National Academy of Sciences for hosting the Templeton ceremony. He said on his blog: “The US National Academy of Sciences has brought ignominy on itself by agreeing to host the announcement of the 2010 Templeton Prize. This is exactly the kind of thing Templeton is ceaselessly angling for — recognition among real scientists — and they use their money shamelessly to satisfy their doomed craving for scientific respectability.”
Professor Ayala was ordained as a priest in 1960, but left the priesthood to study genetics. He maintains links with the Vatican, but would not reveal whether he believed in God. “My arguments are valid independent of my personal beliefs,” he said. Professor Ayala has been a fierce opponent of the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in schools alongside evolution “for the same reason that we don’t teach witchcraft in medicine or alchemy in chemistry classes”.
Man’s “flawed” design made evolutionary theory more compatible with the idea of a benevolent creator than intelligent design. “Because of the flawed design of our reproductive systems more than 20 per cent of all pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion,” said Professor Ayala. “Do you want to blame God for that? No, science has provided an answer. It is the clumsy ways of nature and the evolutionary process.”
The Duke of Edinburgh will present the prize to Professor Ayala on May 5 in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Paul Davies, a cosmologist at Arizona State University and previous winner of the prize, said that the rise of fundamentalism had dampened what was once a productive dialogue between scientists and the religious community. “Most people do care whether there’s a deeper meaning to life and the Universe,” he said. “Some of the founders of science were religious thinkers. This prize is part of that tradition.”
Palestinians Glorify a Terrorist
Does building homes threaten peace? Or does holding a ceremony honoring as a hero and role model a terrorist who murdered dozens of civilians? Last week, Israel announced it would be doing the former. Palestinians did the latter. The Obama Administration condemned the Israeli words; it ignored the Palestinian deeds.
What could be wrong with building 1,600 homes for Jews in eastern Jerusalem? Nothing, except for Palestinians who do not accept Israel’s existence and intend as a first step towards ending it to set up their own Jew-free state and divide Israel’s capital in the process.
What could be wrong with the Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) publicly honoring Dalal Mughrabi, who led the 1978 coastal road terror attack that killed 37 Israeli civilians? Everything, where peace is concerned but, apparently, nothing where the Obama Administration is concerned.
Visiting Vice-President Joseph Biden condemned the Israeli building project. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it “an insult to the United States.” Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod described it as “destructive” and an “affront.” But no such words – in fact, no words at all – issued from this Administration over the PA publicly glorifying Mughrabi, which also occurred during Biden’s visit.
The Obama Administration has noisily opposed Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. But last year even it accepted Israel’s unilateral concession (unreciprocated by the PA) of a ten-month building freeze in the West Bank, excluding Jerusalem. Indeed, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed this concession and called it “unprecedented” – which it was.
After all, throughout the Oslo process, Israel built homes for existing Jewish communities without Palestinians breaking off talks, and little wonder: an Israeli commitment to cease building such homes does not feature in the Oslo agreements. The use of such a pretext for walking out of talks could only have gone so far.
However, last year, the Obama Administration arrived on the scene.
Since loudly demanding a Jewish construction freeze, the only result has been that the PA now refuses to negotiate until Israel accedes to it. This lands an Administration — that has made a priority about restarting peace talks without inquiring into whether Palestinians actually want peace — in a self-made mess.
Having no-where else to turn and unable to acknowledge responsibility for the results of its own posturing, the Obama Administration has scrambled for an alibi to account for its failure by turning on Israel for doing something it had previously accepted.
This fit of pique is likely to be as counter-productive for the Obama Administration as it will be inconsequential for Israel’s Netanyahu government. Israelis do not like other people telling them to divide their capital and they will not turn on the Netanyahu government for opposing steps that could lead to it.
The Obama Administration has already abandoned Obama’s original, sonorously proclaimed goal of swift, direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks due the very Palestinian refusal to participate which it has incited. Now it may come to witness the disintegration of its painstakingly-orchestrated fall-back, proximity talks – basically the U.S. acting as messenger between the two sides – before they even begin.
Worse, this high-handedness with a friend will ultimately dismay other American allies – as other Obama stunts have done with the Czech Republic, Honduras and Poland, to name a few – while emboldening rivals and enemies.
Obama promised the Czechs and Poles that he would keep faith with his predecessor’s agreement to provide a missile defense shield, before telephoning both countries on the 70th anniversary of World War Two to tell them he had changed his mind at the behest of their worst nightmare, Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Honduras removed from office in accordance with its constitution a lawless president seeking to remain there and was rewarded with U.S. condemnation and the cutting off of military aid. Now Israel announces a housing project that Palestinians don’t like and the Administration reacts with rancorous hyperbole.
Meanwhile, the Administration presses ‘reset’ buttons with Russia, which sells the technology for nuclear weapons development to Iran. It restores an ambassador to Syria, having abandoned holding it accountable for the murder of Lebanon’s Rafik Hariri or dispatching jihadists to kill Americans in Iraq. And Obama personally bows before Saudi and Chinese despots who export the technology and ideology increasingly threatening America and its allies.
The Obama Administration fiddles about Israeli apartments while the Middle East burns.
A Tale of Two Cities
Washington and Hollywood, both tone-deaf to American attitudes
Washington, D.C. and Hollywood are two cities suffering from the same condition: they’ve not only become completely alienated from the people they’re meant to serve, they’re bizarrely blind to the fact of that alienation. Like deranged narcissists in a hall of mirrors, both our lawmakers and our culture-makers blow kisses at their own reflections, see a million kisses coming back their way, and think, “Oh, look, they love me—love me!”
For glaring proof in Washington, we have the passage of the health-care bill. Recently the Washington Post ran an op-ed by former Carter pollster Pat Caddell and former Clinton pollster Douglas E. Schoen expressing their amazement that Obama and the Democrats would go forward with this bill in the face of overwhelming evidence that the public doesn’t want it. Caddell—a moderate Democrat who sometimes sports a T-shirt reading I’M GRUMPY BECAUSE YOU’RE DOPEY—and Schoen are baffled that the Democrats continue to grow and grow and grow the government despite polls that show Americans feel the federal apparatus is now an immediate threat to their civil rights and is no longer operating with the consent of the governed.
And yet, even after losing a Senate seat in blue-on-blue Massachusetts almost entirely because of the health care and big government issues, the Democrats plunged forward, certain that we’re going to like what they’re forcing us to eat.
To get a sense of the psychology behind this self-destructive self-deception, let’s take a look at a similar act in D.C.’s ideological sister city, some 3,000 miles away. Here, Universal studios recently released Green Zone, a $100 million anti–Iraq War movie, despite the box-office failures of over a dozen similarly themed films. Matt Damon stars as the soldier who discovers—though in reality, this is provably untrue—that the Bush administration lied about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction in order to drag us into war. Operation Shock and Awe was nothing compared with the way this picture bombed. HBO’s World War II series, The Pacific, also did only modest business, its chances possibly poisoned by executive producer Tom Hanks’ idiotic remarks that America had “wanted to annihilate [the Japanese] because they were different,” and that this made the war in the Pacific similar to today’s wars against Islamic terror.
As a result of these two failures, showbiz trade magazine Variety ran an almost hilariously purblind article saying that Hollywood was calling a “truce” on making war films because “with U.S. troops embroiled in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, American audiences continue to suffer from war fatigue.”
Yeah, that must be it. It couldn’t be that we’re nauseated by a bunch of showbiz yahoos depicting our troops and leaders as evil while they’re in the field defending us. Or wait, maybe it is: the one film—the single film—that, while taking no political position on these wars, nonetheless treated our military with deep honor, respect, and patriotism—HBO’s brilliant Taking Chance—was one of the network’s signal successes despite the mainstream media’s blithering negative reviews.
Here’s the thing. The American people want government that acts in keeping with our principles of free markets, self-reliance, and individual liberty. The people want culture that depicts the moral order as we know it is, not as sequestered elites dream it should be. But in Hollywood and in Washington, they can’t hear the people because they’re making too much noise talking to themselves, confirming themselves, and loving themselves.
They say that Washington is Hollywood for ugly people. But as long as our leaders and artists are displaying such blindness, arrogance, and narcissism, they’re all ugly.
Flight attendant reality show slammed for sexism
Attractive females are always suspect to feminists
A new TV show featuring five female flight attendants living together has been panned by critics who claim it is restoring sexist attitudes towards the profession.
Fly Girls, which debuted on US channel The CW yesterday, features five Virgin America flight attendants and follows their lives together as they try to get along in the one California household, as well as following their working lives at the airline.
The official website describes the show as following "five beautiful Virgin America flight attendants as they jet from one glamorous location to the next, including Las Vegas, South Beach and New York City, while pursuing good times, great parties, adventure and love."
Critics and unions have slammed the show for restoring the stereotype of the flirty, promiscuous flight attendant that the industry has been trying to throw off since the 1960s.
“The show implies that a flight attendant's main job requirement is to keep her legs oiled,” wrote Megan Angelo in the Wall Street Journal. “The girls flounce from their sprawling house to cocktail parties and back again; the only time we see them on a plane is when they're discussing the (planted?) handsome guy in first class who invariably ends up hitting on one of them.”
“Flight attendants will be losing any dignity that was gained if Fly Girls becomes a hit,” wrote Walt Belcher in Tampa Bay Online.
Corey Caldwell, spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants, told the Wall Street Journal the show was a misogynistic throwback to the “Coffee, Tea or Me?” era of the 1960s.
The Transport Workers Union has claimed that, contrary to the glamorous lifestyle Fly Girls portrays, flight attendants in the US are poorly paid and sleep in cars or crew lounges because they can't afford housing.
The TWU is hoping to use the show to kickstart a campaign to unionise Virgin America's flight attendants.
However, the biggest problem with the show, according to critics, is that it's boring. The AV Club's Todd VanDerWerff called the show “idiotic”, saying much of the conflict and incidents in the so-called 'reality' show appeared scripted. He also criticised Virgin America's apparent role in the show, pointing out much of the action was dedicated to the airline's publicity events.
The five flight attendants fall into to the regular reality TV show stereotypes, with the debut episode featuring the designated 'mean girl' of the group stealing her colleague's seat in order to get next to Virgin boss Richard Branson.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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