Both Anti-Evolutionists and New Atheists Get Science Wrong

March 25 2016

After courts repeatedly found their efforts at introducing “creation science” into school curricula to be in violation of the First Amendment, religious opponents of Darwinism in Texas have begun pressing for “intelligent-design theory” (ID) to be taught alongside evolution. Peter Berger notes a striking parallel between their misunderstanding of science and the intellectual arrogance of the so-called New Atheists:

[Intelligent design does] not challenge evolution or the modern cosmogony. Rather, it makes the argument that the order of the universe points to an intelligent mind behind it. This of course is what any Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) monotheist would say. I think that one can make a powerful philosophical argument here. The mistake made by the fundamentalists was to insist that ID was yet another scientific theory. The courts struggled a bit, but then again concluded that ID was yet another religious doctrine falsely claiming to be science. . . .

[T]he wish of religious movements to be recognized as “scientific” is not difficult to explain: science has attained enormous prestige in the modern world, not because its cognitive claims are universally understood (the scientific knowledge of most people is very limited), but because the technology created on the basis of science can be used without being understood. On the whole, this technology has greatly benefited human life on earth. One can drive an automobile without understanding why the internal-combustion engine works. . . .

[T]here is a curious resemblance between the Protestant fundamentalists besieging the Texas Board of Education and the “New Atheist” fundamentalists that have been besieging us all with their mostly silly books. Both propose a very “flat” universe—enclosed in very narrow limits, without any sense of transcendence or mystery. Real science conveys both. It creates an experience of wonder. That wonder is not yet religion. But it is its antechamber.

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More about: Charles Darwin, Education, New Atheists, Religion & Holidays, Science, Science and Religion


No, Israel Hasn’t Used Disproportionate Force against Hamas

Aug. 15 2018

Last week, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza launched nearly 200 rockets and mortars into Israel, in addition to the ongoing makeshift incendiary devices and sporadic sniper fire. Israel responded with an intensive round of airstrikes, which stopped the rockets. Typically, condemnations of the Jewish state’s use of “disproportionate force” followed; and typically, as Peter Lerner, a former IDF spokesman, explains, these were wholly inaccurate:

The IDF conducted, by its own admission, approximately 180 precision strikes. In the aftermath of those strikes the Hamas Ministry of Health announced that three people had been killed. One of the dead was [identified] as a Hamas terrorist. The two others were reported as civilians: Inas Abu Khmash, a twenty-three-year-old pregnant woman, and her eighteen-month daughter, Bayan. While their deaths are tragic, they are not an indication of a disproportionate response to Hamas’s bombardment of Israel’s southern communities. With . . . 28 Israelis who required medical assistance [and] 30 Iron Dome interceptions, I would argue the heart-rending Palestinian deaths indicate the exact opposite.

The precision strikes on Hamas’s assets with so few deaths show how deep and thorough is the planning process the IDF has put in place. . . . Proportionality in warfare, [however], is not a numbers game, as so many of the journalists I’ve worked with maintain. . . . Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against the anguish that the action might cause to civilians in the vicinity. . . . In the case of the last few days, it appears that even intended combatant deaths were [deemed] undesirable, due to their potential to increase the chances of war. . . .

The question that should be repeated is why indiscriminate rocket fire against Israeli civilians from behind Gazan civilians is accepted, underreported, and not condemned.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict