Friday, September 27, 2013

Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist on death of Osama bin Laden story: "It's one big lie."

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh on the death of Osama bin Laden (here):

"Nothing's been done about that story, it's one big lie, not one word of it is true," he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.

HT:  Sibel Edmonds

Monday, September 23, 2013

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on the Significance of Monotheism: Hope

The Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Lord Jonathan Sacks, writes in the Introduction of his book, The Great Partnership: Science, Religion and the Search for Meaning :

    What made Abrahamic monotheism unique is that it endowed life with meaning.  That is a point rarely and barely understood, but it is the quintessential argument of this book.  We make a great mistake if we think of monotheism as a linear development from polytheism, as if people first worshipped many gods, then reduced them to one.  Monotheism is something else entirely. The meaning of a system lies outside the system.  Therefore the meaning of the universe lies outside the universe.  Monotheism, by discovering the transcendental God, the God who stands outside the universe and creates it, made it possible for the first time to believe that life has a meaning, not just a mythic or scientific explanation. 
     Monotheism, by giving life a meaning, redeemed it from tragedy.  The Greeks understood tragedy better than any other civilisation before or since.  Ancient Israel, though it suffered much, had no sense of tragedy.  It did not even have a word for it.  Monotheism is the principled defeat of tragedy in the name of hope.  A world without religious faith is a world without sustainable grounds for hope.  It may have optimism, but that is something else, and something shallower, altogether....
     ...But a culture that sees the universe as blind and indifferent to humanity generates a literature of tragedy, and a culture that believes in a God of love, forgiveness and redemption produces a literature of hope.  There was no Sophocles in ancient Israel.  There was no Isaiah in Ancient Greece.

Mike Gene Chooses to have Faith in Dawkins

Mike Gene's concluding paragraph here:

Now, let me be clear and note that I am NOT saying he did in fact make this story up. I simply do not know whether it is true or not. I do know there is no evidence it is true and there are reasons to think he could be lying about it all. I suppose in the end, I choose to believe he is telling the truth; I will accept it on faith. But then, I’m not the one who has serious problems with faith.
This despite the fact that in the comment section Mike notes that Dawkins once wrote: 
“And, next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: ‘What kind of evidence is there for that?’ And if they can’t give you a good answer, I hope you’ll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.””
Of course, this comes close to creating a paradox:  If we are to have faith in Dawkins' advice to doubt  people's claims, then should we have faith in Dawkins' claims?  Not quite as paradoxical as, "This sentence is false."  But close.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The East

Just watched The East, a fascinating film about a young woman working for a private corporation - Brood Hiller - whose purpose is to infiltrate anarchist communities and frustrate their actions against Brood Hiller's clientele (other corporations). A very thoughtful film that I recommend highly.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sir Fred Hoyle and the Origins of ID

I first posted this at Telic Thoughts, but since I link to it frequently when discussing ID at other blogs, I thought I would re-post it here.

On January 12th, 1982, Sir Fred Hoyle delivered the Omni Lecture at the Royal Institution, London, entitled "Evolution from Space," which was later reprinted in a book by the same title, along with a couple of other papers. In it he discussed the overwhelming improbability of getting the enzymes needed for even the simplest form of life to function by chance. "The odds…" he concluded were about the same as throwing a "sequence of 50,000 sixes with unbiased dice." (p.10) A few years earlier, Hoyle had come to the conclusion that life on earth was the result of panspermia, and he goes on to present some of his evidence in the lecture.

Then he returns to the problem of how life originated:

"Once we see that life is cosmic it is sensible to suppose that intelligence is cosmic. Now problems of order, such as the sequences of amino acids in the chains which constitute the enzymes and other proteins, are precisely the problems that become easy once a directed intelligence enters the picture, as was recognised long ago by James Clerk Maxwell in his invention of what is known in physics as the Maxwell demon. The difference between an intelligent ordering, whether of words, fruit boxes, amino acids, or the Rubik cube, and merely random shufflings can be fantastically large, even as large as a number that would fill the whole volume of Shakespeare's plays with its zeros. So if one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design [my emphasis]. No other possibility I have been able to think of in pondering this issue over quite a long time seems to me to have anything like as high a possibility of being true." (27-28)

Sir Hoyle then speculates as to why our kind of life was designed:

"My friend Willy Fowler and I discovered almost three decades ago that the existence of carbonaceous life depends on the fine-tuning of two so-called energy levels, one in the carbon nucleus, the other in the oxygen nucleus. If either were shifted only minimally, the balance of carbon and oxygen on which life depends, would be destroyed, for the reason that carbon and oxygen would not then be synthesized in appropriate proportions inside stars….My opinion has always been that the fine-tuning…is an environmental property of physics which could be different at other places and other times within the universe." (p.28)
He then goes on to suggest that just as one day the fine-tuning may change, and we may have to design a different form of life, so previously a different form of life had to design us. But unlike "the God of Judaeo-Christian theology [who] is outside the Universe and is said to be superiour to it…the intelligence responsible for the creation of carbonaceous life in the present picture is within this universe and is subservient to it." (p.32)

Finally, Hoyle suggests that life was front-loaded for evolution:

"If at our present level of sophistication we were to attempt a new material representation of ourselves, doubtless we would try for a grandiose solution all in one shot, an explicit new creature complete in itself, like the Greek story of Pygmalion, or like novices with a computer who almost invariably get themselves into a tangle by attempting to write a large complex program all in one go. The practised expert on the other hand, builds a large complex computer program from many sub-units, subroutines as they are called. Microorganisms and genetic fragments are the subroutines of biology, existing throughout space in prodigious numbers, riding everywhere on the light pressure of the stars. Because the correct logical procedure is to build upwards from precisely formed subroutines, we on the Earth had to evolve from a seemingly elementary starting point." (p.34)

So here we have the atheist Fred Hoyle claiming that life was intelligently designed, several years before the Intelligent Desgin movement got off the ground. What's more, his lecture was cited in several books that were influential in the ID movement: Bradley, Olson, and Thaxton's Mystery of Life's Origins; Robert Shapiro's Origins;The Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth; and Michael Denton's Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. It's difficult to believe that his views didn't have some influence on the ID movement. But as far as I know, no one in the ID movement has publicly credited him with much, if any influence. Still, I would guess that there was a connection. My hunch is that it would have gone something like this: After the defeat of the Creation Scientists in the courtrooms, Phillip Johnson's more moderate group realized that something less religious than Creationism was needed. Comparing their views to Hoyle's, it was clear that even though they differed on who the designer was, they agreed that life was intelligently designed. And so the movement was born.

But regardless of how or even if Hoyle's views had any direct influence on the ID movment, we can thank him for helping us to see that there is a conceptual difference between the intelligent design of life and creationism, and that the latter is a species of the former, not the other way around.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Seeing Collapse of WTC7 Changes People's Minds

A new poll pointed out something that always seemed rather obvious: Seeing video of the collapse of WTC7 changes people's minds:

  • 38% of Americans have some doubts about the official account of 9/11, 10% do not believe it at all, and 12% are unsure about it;
  • 46%, nearly one in two, are not aware that a third tower collapsed on 9/11. Of those who are aware of Building 7’s collapse, only 19% know the building’s name;
  • After seeing video footage of Building 7′s collapse:

    • 46% are sure or suspect it was caused by controlled demolition, compared to 28% who are sure or suspect fires caused it, and 27% who don’t know;
    • By a margin of nearly two to one, 41% support a new investigation of Building 7′s collapse, compared to 21% who oppose it.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Several Hundred MORE Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth?

I took a look at the "A's" list of Architects and Engineers who signed the petition asking for a new investigation of 9/11. Of the 137 signers, it looked as if one or two of them might not belong in the list. So then I decided to look at the "A's" list of the General Public who had signed the petition, and it looked as if more than 50 of them should be in the Architects and Engineers list. I'm curious why they aren't included. Perhaps the vetting process wasn't able to verify that they were architects or engineers. Or perhaps the Cass Sunstein method of infiltration includes infiltration of 9/11 Truth groups. It would be interesting to know which is the real reason. Meanwhile, if it turns out the 50+ people I found in the A's list are really architects and engineers, then I estimate that there are another 700 or so architects and engineers for 9/11 Truth, besides the 2,000 who have already been counted.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

There Are Now More Than 2,000 Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth

Just in case you missed it, more than 2,000 architects and engineers have signed the petition, which states:

On Behalf of the People of the United States of America, the undersigned Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth and affiliates hereby petition for, and demand, a truly independent investigation with subpoena power in order to uncover the full truth surrounding the events of 9/11/01 - specifically the collapses of the World Trade Center Towers and Building 7. We believe there is sufficient doubt about the official story and therefore the 9/11 investigation must be re-opened and must include a full inquiry into the possible use of explosives that might have been the actual cause of the destruction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers and Building 7.

When I first discovered, back in September of 2008, there were 470 architects and engineers who had signed the petition.  The number has been steadily growing since then.