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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Read more at American Interest

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

Palestinian Acceptance of Israel as the Jewish State Must Be a Prerequisite to Further Negotiations

Oct. 19 2018

In 1993, in the early days of the Oslo peace process, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasir Arafat accepted the “right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security.” But neither it nor its heir, the Palestinians Authority, has ever accepted Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. Robert Barnidge explains why this distinction matters:

A Jewish state for the Jewish people, after all, was exactly what the [UN] General Assembly intended in November 1947 when it called for the partition of the Palestine Mandate into “the Arab state, the Jewish state, and the city of Jerusalem.”

Although the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state does not stand or fall on this resolution—in declaring the independence of Israel on the eve of the Sabbath on May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council, [the precursor to the Israeli government], also stressed the Jewish people’s natural and historic rights—it reaffirms the legitimacy of Jewish national rights in (what was to become) the state of Israel.

The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to recognize Jewish self-determination. [Instead], the PLO [has been] playing a double game. . . . It is not simply that the PLO supported the General Assembly’s determination in 1975, rescinded in 1991, that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It is that that the PLO leadership continues to speak of Jews as a religious community rather than a people, and of Zionism as a colonial usurper rather than the national liberation movement that it is.

The U.S. government, Barnidge concludes, “should demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state” and refuse to “press Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians unless and until that happens.”

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Peace Process, PLO, US-Israel relations, Yasir Arafat