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.

Read more at American Interest

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

How Lebanon—and Hizballah—Conned and Humiliated Rex Tillerson

Feb. 21 2018

Last Thursday, the American secretary of state arrived in Beirut to express Washington’s continued support for the country’s government, which is now entirely aligned with Hizballah. His visit came shortly after Israel’s showdown with Hizballah’s Iranian protectors in Syria and amid repeated warnings from Jerusalem about the terrorist organization’s growing threat to Israeli security. To Tony Badran, Tillerson’s pronouncements regarding Lebanon have demonstrated the incoherence of the Trump administration’s policy:

[In Beirut], Tillerson was made to sit alone in a room with no American flag in sight and wait—as photographers took pictures and video—before Hizballah’s chief allies in Lebanon’s government, President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law the foreign minister, finally came out to greet him. Images of the U.S. secretary of state fidgeting in front of an empty chair were then broadcast across the Middle East to symbolize American impotence at a fateful moment for the region. . . .

Prior to heading to Beirut, Tillerson gave an interview to the American Arabic-language station al-Hurra, in which he emphasized that Hizballah was a terrorist organization, and that the United States expected cooperation from the “Lebanon government to deal very clearly and firmly with those activities undertaken by Lebanese Hizballah that are unacceptable to the rest of the world.” . . . But then, while in Jordan, Tillerson undermined any potential hints of firmness by reading from an entirely different script—one that encapsulates the confused nonsense that is U.S. Lebanon policy. Hizballah is “influenced by Iran,” Tillerson said. But, he added, “We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in Lebanon”—which apparently makes being “influenced by Iran” and being a terrorist group OK. . . .

The reality on the ground in Lebanon, [however], is [that] Hizballah is not only a part of the Lebanese government, it controls it—along with all of the country’s illustrious “institutions,” including the Lebanese Armed Forces. . . .

[Meanwhile], Israel’s tactical Syria-focused approach to the growing threat on its borders has kept the peace so far, but it has come at a cost. For one thing, it does not address the broader strategic factor of Iran’s growing position in Syria, and it leaves Iran’s other regional headquarters in Lebanon untouched. Also, it sets a pace that is more suitable to Iran’s interests. The Iranians can absorb tactical strikes so long as they are able to consolidate their strategic position in Syria and Lebanon. Not only have the Iranians been able to fly a drone into Israel but also their allies and assets have made gains on the ground near the northern Golan and in Mount Hermon. As Iran’s position strengthens, and as Israel’s military and political hand weakens, the Israelis will soon be left with little choice other than to launch a devastating war.

To avoid that outcome, the United States needs to adjust its policy—and fast. Rather than leaving Israel to navigate around the Russians and go after Iran’s assets in Syria and Lebanon on its own, it should endorse Israel’s red lines regarding Iran in Syria, and amplify its campaign against Iranian assets. In addition, it should revise its Lebanon policy and end its investment in the Hizballah-controlled order there.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Politics & Current Affairs, Rex Tillerson, U.S. Foreign policy