Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


Richard Dawkins’s Jewish Problem

posted by David Klinghoffer

The Anti-Defamation League, the country’s leading group dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, is rightly sensitive to the offense of trivializing the Holocaust. Why, then, has the ADL said nothing in protest against the Darwinian biologist and bestselling atheist author Richard Dawkins and his comparison of Darwin doubters to Holocaust deniers?

The ADL has objected to attempts to inject Nazi imagery into the health-care reform debate (“Such statements only serve to diminish and trivialize the extent of the Nazi regime’s crimes against humanity”), the abortion debate (“Such analogies can only trivialize and diminish the horror”), the animal-rights debate (“the issue should stand on its own merits, rather than rely on inappropriate comparisons that only serve to trivialize the suffering of the six million Jews”), and in many other contexts.
But if Rush Limbaugh, for example, used “outrageous, deeply offensive and inappropriate” Nazi comparisons to stigmatize sponsors and supporters of health-care reform, why is it no less outrageous to compare people (like the late Irving Kristol, for example) who doubt Darwinian evolution to the moral cretins who deny the Holocaust? In his new book, currently the #22 best seller on Amazon, The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, Dawkins calls Darwin critics “history-deniers” and dwells on the comparison, even remarking that “The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust.”
Is that some sort of cruel joke? The evidence for Darwin’s account of evolution and, more so, its controversial mechanism of natural selection is a matter of inference, no matter how strong you think the inference is. The evidence for the Holocaust includes countless eye-witness accounts — a very different and superior order of evidence.
“People who reject the theory of evolution should be placed on a level with Holocaust deniers, argues an author in his controversial new book,” headlined the London Times when the book came out there last month. Yet not a peep from the ADL.
In his last book, The God Delusion, Dawkins used incredibly offensive language in characterizing the God of the Hebrew Bible, whom he called among other things, “a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
Now in a Newsweek interview he repeats the insult, saying: “The God of the Old Testament is a monster. It’s very, very hard for anybody to deny that. He’s like a hyped-up Ayatollah Khomeini.” Asked by Newsweek‘s Lisa Miller where this leaves the “90 percent of Americans [who] say they believe in God” and of whom “some portion…are intelligent people,” Dawkins replies, “But they wouldn’t disagree with what I said about the God of the Old Testament. They’d probably say something like, ‘Oh, that’s quite different. We believe in the God of the New Testament.’”
This places Jews among the portion of believing Americans who would have to be characterized as unintelligent. Miller calls Dawkins on this. He then says of Jews: “Well, sure enough. They’d say, ‘OK, we’ve moved on since that time.’ Thank goodness they have.”

In other words, you can be an intelligent Christian who takes his Bible at least somewhat seriously, but not an intelligent Jew who does the same. And this is a statement, from a very prominent public intellectual, a popular and respected scientist and author, that neither the ADL nor any other Jewish anti-defamation group I’m aware of sees fit to protest? I find this bewildering.
The same Richard Dawkins paid a backhanded compliment to the “Jewish Lobby” a couple of years back in the Guardian, expressing the wish that if only atheists could throw their weight around like the Jews do, then how wonderful that would be: ”When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told — religious Jews anyway — than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place” (emphasis added).
There you have it. Not only does he trivialize the intellectual offense of Holocaust denial. Not only does he say the only intelligent Jews are either Christian converts or secularists. He tops it off by finding  plausible the idea that a shadow “lobby” of Jews controls U.S. foreign policy. 
The very term itself, Jewish Lobby, is of course a shibboleth. No one uses it who is friendly to the Jews. It’s even more of a red flag than “Israel Lobby.” The ADL’s Abraham Foxman is himself the author of a recent book, The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control. In short, where on earth is the ADL when you need them?


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Dan

posted September 29, 2009 at 8:35 pm


The ADL is correct in not condemning Dawkins.
The Holocaust occurred; evolution occurred. There is undeniably strong evidence for both. Those who dismiss the occurrence of one or the other (or both), are most likely psychologically delusional or severely uneducated/ignorant.
Dawkins is not claiming the evidence for “natural selection” is as strong… Rather, he claims the evidence for “evolution” is as strong. Remember, “natural selection”, as proposed by Darwin, is but one mechanism of evolution. Genetic drift, for example, is another mechanism of evolution. It is imperative to understand the science; otherwise, we are left with breathtakingly inane and inaccurate interpretations of science.
In my opinion, the evidence for the phenomenon of “natural selection” is as strong as the evidence for the occurrence of the immensely tragic Holocaust.
Further, the vast majority (actually, all) of my Jewish friends (self-proclaimed followers of Judaism as well as Judaic ancestral roots), take the Old Testament Christian Bible (King James or NIV) didactically and metaphorically, not literally… so they claim.
Similarly, I have heard Jewish individuals claim there is a “Jewish Lobby”; they claim this is a generic term for organizations, primarily composed of Jewish individuals, whose interest is Israeli affairs. I have little opinion on this as it appears a matter of semantics to some, but not others.
Dawkins would therefore have to define “Jewish Lobby” for me to formulate an opinion.
Regardless of said opinion, this issue is an emotional red herring. Dawkins’ views on Judaism are irrelevant to the data demonstrating evolution and the evidence supporting Darwinian “natural selection” as proffered by Dawkins. The ADL is therefore correct in contesting Dawkins’ claims as Dawkins is not trivializing the Holocaust. Given the magnitude (different from the morality) of both events (one still ongoing), the analogy is logical and appropriate. We need to logically be able to separate the morality of an issue from its magnitude (impact on the physical/natural world) to fairly evaluate such issues.



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Dan

posted September 29, 2009 at 8:37 pm


correction:
The ADL is therefore correct in NOT contesting Dawkins’ claims…



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Turmarion

posted September 29, 2009 at 9:53 pm


While he’s a good scientist and science popularizer, Dawkins is an a****** in his attitude and obviously has personal and vindictive feelings regarding religion. Also, even other evolutionary biologists find some of his ideas on sociobiology and “memes” a bit out there. Thus, while I’d defend Dawkins on the truth of evolution and the incorrectness of ID, I feel no need to defend him on anything else, including his current rather inflammatory statements.
I would point out this: if one took the Old Testament as is (e.g. the stereotypical “Martian” who reads it), God would come off pretty much as Dawkins describes. The thing is, neither Jews nor Christians take the Old Testament at face value. Jews have the Oral Torah, the Talmud, the Kabbalah, the midrashic literature, and all the vast interpretive framework around the OT; whereas Christians have the New Testament, the Creeds, Tradition and Magisterium (for some churches), the writings of the saints, and so on. Thus neither faith understands the surface portrayal of God in parts of the Scriptures to be literally accurate.
Dawkins is obviously unaware of tpture; but that’s not surprising, as his understanding of religion is highly biased, anyway.



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Turmarion

posted September 29, 2009 at 9:54 pm


That last line should be, “Dawkins is obviously unaware of the subtleties of Jewish and Christian interpretation of Scripture….” Sorry about that.



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Dave

posted September 29, 2009 at 10:41 pm


Sorry guys, gotta disagree with you. Dawkins may be a decent biologist – I’m not qualified to judge – but his major contribution to evolution and the “the public understanding of science” has been the spinning of Darwinian fairy tales. Having just reviewed his bio to see if I had missed some major accomplishment I see that his claims to fame are popular novels about the facticity of evolution and how we might “imagine” it happened. I had the pleasure of watching him participate in a televised town hall meeting while he was promoting his polemic “The Root of All Evil” and his arguments are so full of holes it is pathetic. The man hasn’t even bothered to learn about that which he teaches, let alone that which he attacks so vociferoulsy. Dawkins isn’t unaware of the subtleties, he doesn’e even get the broad strokes. Pathetic.



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Mergatroid

posted September 29, 2009 at 11:33 pm


@Dan: “Further, the vast majority (actually, all) of my Jewish friends (self-proclaimed followers of Judaism as well as Judaic ancestral roots), take the Old Testament Christian Bible (King James or NIV) didactically and metaphorically, not literally… so they claim. ”
Umm, just how many of your Jewish friends are reading the King James Bible or the NIV?



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Dan

posted September 29, 2009 at 11:46 pm


While Dawkins is not the most prolific scientist to ever grace the halls of academia, he is decently published in several prominent journals. By comparison, the combined efforts of the Discovery Institute have failed to publish a single paper advancing Intelligent Design with experimental data in the biological sciences, despite the fact that Behe published his book on ID nearly 15 years ago. ouch.
Additionally, Dawkins is the Oxford professor for the public understanding of science. I’m doubtful that he maintains an active science research program anymore as I have just searched his publication record.
Perhaps then, Dave, you can provide substantial scientific evidence (this means data, not questions) as to how Darwinian evolution (evolution by natural selection) is a “fairy tale”. Do you doubt that evolution has occurred or do you doubt natural selection can be a mechanism of evolution?



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Dan

posted September 29, 2009 at 11:59 pm


Mergatroid,
Apparently you need many qualifiers to connect the dots.
I have Jewish friends who have read the Christian Bible. When you take something metaphorically or didactically, you do not take it literally. I did not say they followed the Christian bible (ie, obeyed it), or even “believed” in it (whatever that means). Please try to intellectually keep up, your comment is at a rather juvenile level and one that a middle school debater might make as he or she struggles to grasp an argument.
I have also read the Quo’ran, Dianetics, and Greek mythology. It doesn’t mean I take them literally. I consider Greek & Roman mythology to be metaphors and didactic. Therefore, one can be of Jewish descent, be literate, read the KJV bible, and consider it to be of such a literary genre as well.
I doubt Yahweh is smiting Jewish people for reading the KJV bible. One could even be of Jewish decent and read the Koran, too, provided they are literate, have the necessary translation, and have not lost their sight.



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AlmostCertain

posted September 30, 2009 at 12:13 am


This article essentially rests on one absurd claim: “countless eye-witness accounts — a very different and superior order of evidence.”
The idea that eye-witness accounts are “a very different and superior order of evidence” to, say, DNA evidence of evolution, or the fossil record, is absurd. Eye-witness accounts are notoriously error-prone and highly subjective. I don’t mean to imply the myriad of eye-witness account about the Holocaust do not add up to solid evidence; of course they do. But do dismiss the overwhelming evidence of evolution is simply nuts, and embarrassing. You really should read this book.
The ad hominem attacks against Richard Dawkins in most of the other comments posted here say much about those posting, and it’s not complementary.



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Mergatroid

posted September 30, 2009 at 1:42 am


Hey Dan, do you need to misrepresent me in order to insult me? I meant my words quite literally.
That’s beneath you to misrepresent what I meant, without even asking what I meant.



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Your Name

posted September 30, 2009 at 1:48 am


Well, Dan, I guess you DID answer my question, sort of. Thanks…
After you wrote, “the vast majority (actually, all) of my Jewish friends … take the Old Testament Christian Bible (King James or NIV) didactically and metaphorically, not literally”
I wrote: “just how many of your Jewish friends are reading the King James Bible or the NIV”
And you responded with the ever-so-explanatory: “I have Jewish friends who have read the Christian Bible.”



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Your Name

posted September 30, 2009 at 10:54 am


Dawkins did say that all evolution deniers should be put in jail. He also said that denial of evolution is immoral. He did say that religious people are worse than child molesters. I think he has an agenda. And he did compare Rabbi Shumley Boteach to Hitler



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Dan

posted September 30, 2009 at 11:41 am


Mergatroid,
That would be 8 out of 9, second tally this morning/last night, who claim to have read and/or be familiar with, specifically, the Old Testament – KJV or NIV. I will now list said individuals by letter of first name: D., D., S., J., D., N., J., A., but not M. I have not heard back from L.
BTW, stating the truth is not an insult; if what I claim is untrue, then you should not be insulted.



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Dan

posted September 30, 2009 at 11:45 am


Does anyone have any work by Irivng Kristol making a logical, evidence based refutation of “Darwinism” (presumed to mean natural selection as the mechanism of evolution)?
If Irving Kristol does not, then it appears his argument is akin to those of Holocaust deniers – it is without any compelling evidence and most likely just an emotional argument.



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hairy

posted September 30, 2009 at 12:07 pm


“The evidence for the Holocaust includes countless eye-witness accounts — a very different and superior order of evidence.”
How on EARTH is it superior? Eye-witnesses have many times been proven to be unreliable.
That’s not me denying the Holocaust at all (simply because I’m not a Holocaust-denier, and in fact I think it (the Holocaust) is something that should never be forgotten!). I don’t think eye-witnesses in this particular case have been that unreliable either, as they all paint a pretty consistent picture on the matter.
But it still doesn’t make eyewitness reports ‘superior’ to the evidence for evolution. Methinks someone needs to read The Greatest Show on Earth.



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Dave

posted September 30, 2009 at 12:42 pm


Hello Dan
How’s the kool-aid?
Dawkins’ Darwinian Fairy-Tales
“In chapter 2 of ‘The evidence for evolution’, professor Dawkins takes us on a walk through supposed evolutionary history by means of some imaginative storytelling and then follows his hero Darwin by considering the variation under domestication of animals. No actual evidence for evolution is produced, unless you define evolution as limited variation within species, the potential for which to extend indefinitely is assumed. Of course, this was exactly the trick Darwin pulled, and Dawkins attempts to pull again, with nothing added but selected examples and plenty of self-reference (and indeed self reverence).”
http://questiondarwin.blogspot.com/2009/09/experiment-in-thought-and-old-non.html
And for an entire book of “logical arguments” check out David Stove – an agnostic who thinks some sort of evolution must have happened, but knocks the stuffing out of Darwin and Dawkins.
http://www.amazon.com/Darwinian-Fairytales-Selfish-Heredity-Evolution/dp/1594032009/ref=tmm_pap_title_sr



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Mergatroid

posted September 30, 2009 at 12:42 pm


Dan, I just thought it was sad that nearly all your Jewish friends haven’t learned the Scriptures through Jewish eyes. I mean, maybe, just maybe, they also learned it in the original Hebrew, but I doubt it. Am I right?
“BTW, stating the truth is not an insult; if what I claim is untrue, then you should not be insulted. ”
Huh? In that case, there is no such thing as an insult. Listen, you /attempted/ to insult me; that’s the point. I merely wanted to point out that you misinterpreted me AND used that to try to insult me. I’m over it.
@ hairy: “How on EARTH is it superior? Eye-witnesses have many times been proven to be unreliable.”
Lets just remember that scientists have too. http://www.orc.ru/~yur77/statfr.htm “A scientometric study estimating the percentage of fabricated experimental data in biomedical scientific literature somewhere at 5-10 % ” I’ve seen the percentage even higher than that.



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Your Name

posted September 30, 2009 at 2:23 pm


hairy:
I’ve never actually seen any of the actual evidence presented by scientists for evolution, only pictures, descriptions, etc. I’m expected to believe that the evidence exists and is genuine based only on the testimony of scientists. And many cases of scientific fraud have come to light resently, so I’m not sure how much credibility scientists have.



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Tim

posted September 30, 2009 at 6:03 pm


There is little doubt one cannot argue against something one has no clue about. Dawkins has no idea what Christianity, judiasm, or most religions for that matter even teach. I object to Islam. I came about my objections through studying what the teachings of the koran actually are – after all, how can one know what to object to unless you even KNOW what it IS you are objecting to? Dawkins has some mental problems and he hates religion. Would love to see a psychanalytical review on this man to see what happend to him to make him such a staunch hater of religion.



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Your Name

posted September 30, 2009 at 6:04 pm


There is little doubt one cannot argue against something one has no clue about. Dawkins has no idea what Christianity, judiasm, or most religions for that matter even teach. I object to Islam. I came about my objections through studying what the teachings of the koran actually are – after all, how can one know what to object to unless you even KNOW what it IS you are objecting to? Dawkins has some mental problems and he hates religion. Would love to see a psychanalytical review on this man to see what happend to him to make him such a staunch hater of religion.



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Ian Thal

posted September 30, 2009 at 8:05 pm


Mr. Klinghoffer,
I feel that you are conflating two very different issues that you have with Professor Dawkins.
Quite rightly, you point out that Dawkins’ vehement contempt for Judaism cannot be excused as anything other than religious bigotry, betrays a deep ignorance both of the Tanakh and of Judaism as a living tradition, and oddly enough, for a self-proclaimed atheist, is deeply rooted in teachings that came from Church pulpits in the darkest days of Jewish-Christian relations.
On the other hand, Dawkins’ analogy of evolution-deniers to Holocaust-deniers, while displaying a great deal of insensitivity (see the reference to his religious bigotry,) is based on the argument that just as the evidence for the Holocaust is so vast, so robust, that the deniers have no plausible counter-argument, so too the case for evolution has been supported by a body of evidence so vast, so robust, that those who deny evolution have no plausible counter-argument.
Just as the claims of Holocaust deniers are not supported by historical, archeological, or forensic research, the claims of Creationists and proponents of Intelligent Design, are not supported by biology, physics, or chemistry. So, while the analogy is vulgar and insensitive, it is apt.
Does it trivialize the Holocaust? Somewhat, but nowhere nearly as much as Republican activists making comparisons between President Obama’s health-care plan and the Shoah.



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AlmostCertain

posted September 30, 2009 at 8:05 pm


Tim, you say, “There is little doubt one cannot argue against something one has no clue about.” Are you saying this in a discussion about a book that you have not read by an author who has written over a dozen books or so and of which you have read exactly zero (pardon me if I’m wrong about that number).
You suggest this little adage applies to Dawkins. Why? He has written a book about the evidence for evolution, something he knows a great deal about, and about which he is even arguably a foremost world authority. Do you know anything about it?
You say that “Dawkins has no idea what Christianity, judiasm, or most religions for that matter even teach”. Really? I suggest that what Dawkins knows about what these religions teach is something that you have no clue about. That is, you don’t know what Dawkins knows or doesn’t know about this, but that doesn’t keep you from writing about it.
At any rate, in his book Dawkins is not talking about what these religions teach, but what the Creationist/ID arguments are, and he is quite knowledgeable about that.



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Dan

posted October 1, 2009 at 12:30 am

Anon

posted October 1, 2009 at 2:07 am


AlmostCertain wrote: “Really? I suggest that what Dawkins knows about what these religions teach is something that you have no clue about. That is, you don’t know what Dawkins knows or doesn’t know about this, but that doesn’t keep you from writing about it.”
Suggest? Just “suggest”? You mean you don’t /know/ if Tim knows what Dawkins knows about religions, and yet you still write about it? Whew!



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Mark

posted October 1, 2009 at 2:14 am


Dan, you realize that abstracts about microevolution make creationists yawn. Give’m one about macroevolution.



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Ray Ingles

posted October 1, 2009 at 9:25 am


Okay, I’ve got one for y’all. It’s called the “twin nested hierarchies”.
Books used to be copied by scribes, and (despite a lot of care) sometimes typos would be introduced. Later scribes, making copies of copies, would introduce other typos. It’s possible to look at the existing copies and put them into a ‘family tree’. “These copies have this typo, but not that one; this other group has yet another typo, though three of them have a newer typo as well, not seen elsewhere…” This is not controversial at all when dealing with books, including the Bible.
Now, this process of copy-with-modification naturally produces ‘family trees’, nested groups. When we look at life, we find such nested groups. No lizards with fur or nipples, no mammals with feathers, etc. Living things (at least, multicellular ones, see below) fit into a grouped hierarchy. This has been solidly recognized for over a thousand years, and systematized for centuries. It was one of the clues that led Darwin to propose evolution.
Today, more than a century later, we find another tree, one Darwin never suspected – that of DNA. This really is a ‘text’ being copied with rare typos. And, as expected, it also forms a family tree, a nested hierarchy. And, with very very few surprises, it’s the same tree that was derived from looking at physical traits.
It didn’t have to be that way. Even very critical genes for life – like that of cytochrome C – have a few neutral variations, minor mutations that don’t affect its function. (Genetic sequences for cytochrome C differ by up to 60% across species.) Wheat engineered to use the mouse form of cytochrome C grows just fine. But we find a tree of mutations that fits evolution precisely, instead of some other tree. (Imagine if a tree derived from bookbinding technology – “this guy used this kind of glue, but this other bookbinder used a different glue…” – conflicted with a tree that was derived from typos in the text of the books. We’d know at least one tree and maybe both were wrong.)
The details of these trees are very specific and very, very numerous. There are billions of quadrillions of possible trees… and yet the two that we see (DNA and morphology) happen to very precisely match. This is either a staggering coincidence, or a Creator deliberately arranged it in a misleading manner, or… common ancestry is actually true.
(Single-celled organisms are much more ‘promiscuous’ in their reproduction and spread genes willy-nilly without respect for straightforward inheritance. With single-celled creatures, it looks more like a ‘web’ of life than a ‘tree’. But even if the tree of life has tangled roots, it’s still very definitely a tree when it comes to multicellular life.)



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MP

posted October 1, 2009 at 10:13 am


Mr. Klinghoffer,
Once again you hit the nail on the head in regards to the inconsistencies of the groups that say they “stand for something.” The inconsistencies of certain groups of people astound many of us. Dawkins continues his atheistic evangelistic rant as a person that will find it difficult see the fact that God is a loving being and sometimes he has to protect those that love him from those that don’t love him.
From a person that lives in a country that still has a queen and will again soon have a king should understand the sovereignty of a King and what they have to do to protect the interest of their realm. This statement, “The God of the Old Testament is a monster. It’s very, very hard for anybody to deny that. He’s like a hyped-up Ayatollah Khomeini.” Is designed to shock, but is also another view of his disconnection from the society in which he lives.
There is no doubt that the Queen loves her country and the people within its borders and will do what she must to protect that interest. Yes, it can be argued that the Queen has less power than she once did, but let Dawkins form a military group against the sovereignty of England and he would be crushed. The question was not did God love the people that were destroyed in the Old Testament, but was the plan to save those that loved him more important?
No one creates anything without a plan. Just like Dawkins doesn’t write a book without a plan. Eventually he will be proven wrong just like every lie and disconnected view is proven wrong. Keep up the fight for freedom of ID and to define what is true.



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Chris Pearce

posted October 1, 2009 at 12:10 pm


His adjectives to describe God are appropriate. From a Christian viewpoint:
- unforgiving: Believe in me/Jesus, or I won’t forgive your sins.
- misogynistic: women are lesser than men
- homophobic: the Bible generally says homosexuality is a sin
- racist: he was pro-Jew, anti-everyone else
- infanticidal: kill all first-born sons
etc.



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Dan

posted October 1, 2009 at 12:44 pm


Mark,
Visit a museum… and a library.
BTW, Science had an interesting article just last week.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19762636?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
Or, if you prefer more of a recent overview of the topic:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19212402?ordinalpos=17&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
Or, if you prefer a more contemporary research article on macroevolution:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19640882?ordinalpos=4&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
Or, if you prefer living examples, read up on beetles and salamanders, for example:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19361692?ordinalpos=15&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
Seriously, do religious people read much beyond their mythology?
Mark, I just can’t displace your ignorance in a simple post. You need to do that for yourself.



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Mike

posted October 1, 2009 at 1:00 pm


Could it be possible that the ADL agrees that there are indeed kooks akin to Holocaust deniers? There are kooks that do rise to the level of Holocaust deniers, like, for instance, terrorists that deny Israel’s right to exist, and I’d hope the ADL would agree with me. Believe it or not, there are even God fearing conservatives who think that anti-science activists aren’t worth their time.
In trying to meet his obligation to write fresh anti-science propaganda for his employers, The Discovery Institute, Klinghoffer is trying to discredit Dawkins’ authority to speak for the biological science community by pointing out his oafish intolerance of religion. Logic takes a back seat when writing propaganda. Its like noting that Ahmadinejad denies both the Holocaust AND evolution and therefore denying the Holocaust must be alright.
I must now go finish my Sukka.



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Mark

posted October 1, 2009 at 1:10 pm


Ray Ingles had a thought-provoking post. One criticism, though: “There are billions of quadrillions of possible trees… and yet the two that we see (DNA and morphology) happen to very precisely match. This is either a staggering coincidence, or a Creator deliberately arranged it in a misleading manner, or… common ancestry is actually true.”
I think it is a lack of insight that caused you to neglect one other option. A very simple answer, actually. I think I’d insulting your intelligence by posting it, though. So good luck.



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JoeB

posted October 1, 2009 at 1:29 pm


@MP:
“Yes, it can be argued that the Queen has less power than she once did, but let Dawkins form a military group against the sovereignty of England and he would be crushed. The question was not did God love the people that were destroyed in the Old Testament, but was the plan to save those that loved him more important?
No one creates anything without a plan. Just like Dawkins doesn’t write a book without a plan. Eventually he will be proven wrong just like every lie and disconnected view is proven wrong. Keep up the fight for freedom of ID and to define what is true”
First of all, your correlation between ‘God’ and the Queen of England is .. well … severely misguided. And if you weren’t comparing the two, I’m not really sure what support it offers your argument, except to say that certain people like being ruled without thinking for themselves.
To this point, your last sentence is the tell-all. You merely ruled out his logical & provable truth by reasoning that ID and those who perpetuate it ‘design’ truth by having the ‘freedom … to define what is true’ … Did you really just say that people have the ability to define what is true or not when it comes to our existence? I thought that was a divine right bestowed upon God, not his blind servants…
As for this article in general — The premise that the ADL should speak up is false. The dismissal of Dawkin’s claim that those who refuse to believe in evolution can be likened to those who refuse to acknowledge the Holocaust, is also wildly ignorant. In both cases, certifiable fact is established by empirical evidence. Do you even understand the principles of evolution, and do you understand genetics
and morphology?
I’ve always wanted to ask a religious nut, if you are willing to believe such outrageously fictional paradigms for the origin of life, its design, and also are willing to understand people have choice, and that your life is complicated because of this ‘free choice’ … etc etc … why then wouldn’t it be likely that God would create every living being just like he did the original man and woman? Why aren’t babies delivered via talking storks?
I’m all for allowing you to conceive in your own wild imagination such a crazy and fanatical tale that helps you find solace in your life and help you put things out of mind, out of sight … but the moment you start projecting those beliefs onto others, and REFUTING certifiable FACT, i’ve lost all respect for your intelligence.
Ray Ingles, you hit the nail on the head buddy. Good work.



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Ray Ingles

posted October 1, 2009 at 1:33 pm


Mark, if by chance you’re hinting at the notion that there’s a functional requirement that forces the trees to match… I didn’t neglect that option. I very explicitly pointed out that it won’t wash. Read the section discussing the gene for cytochrome C.
(And then go look up “endogenous retroviruses” and how they fit into the ‘nested hierarchies’.)



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Your Name

posted October 1, 2009 at 3:08 pm


Almostcertain,
You make a huge assumption on my behalf. Do I know what Dawkins believes as far as religion goes? All I know is what he has written in his books and has said in programs. I invite you to watch Ben Stein’s video “Expelled” in which Dawkins, upon being asking about Intelligent Design, in particular Stein points out the fact that Darwin knew nothing about DNA, and DNA has all the information about the creature or plant or what have you already included in it. When he asked Dawkins who put it there Dawkins actually states and I quote “perhaps it was PLANTED by some other intellegence – that does not mean this was God–” watch it- he actually is suggesting some sort of mystyious Intelligence PUT the information in DNA – hinting at being “seeded” to use his own words – uhmm aliens? this all comming from Dawkin’s own lips – he gets upset and says “the thing is we DON’T KNOW how it got there” – uhmm agnostic atheist? very odd fellow indeed – I challenge you all to watch this video to see it for yourselves. Dawkins at his best.



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Mike

posted October 1, 2009 at 3:58 pm


Re: Dawkins and “Expelled”
Actually, the silly interview of Dawkins on Colbert last night was of superior educational value, and more entertaining:
http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/250617/september-30-2009/richard-dawkins
The truth about “Expelled” can be found here: http://www.expelledexposed.com/
Its fallacious propaganda for the paranoid far right anti-science education campaign.



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Tim

posted October 1, 2009 at 4:43 pm


I don’t deny what your website is quoting, however, can you deny what Dawkins said to stein when confronted with the idea of ID and DNA? All one has to do is listen. As to the other claims in the video, I don’t claim to agree with all of them. I just invite everyone to listen to Dawkins explain DNA and how the information in DNA got there. This is what I find really interesting.



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Mark

posted October 1, 2009 at 4:55 pm


For Mike:
http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/02/expelled_exposed_exposed_your.html
Let me know when you’ve got the site “Expelled Exposed Exposed Exposed” up and running.



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MP

posted October 2, 2009 at 10:10 am


@JoeB
Truth is not some arbitrary view by one person. Truth must have an exact measure. I believe that Mr. Klinghoffer is trying his best to base his arguments from the more exact measure. Unfortunately, individuals want to define something that is true without some sort of measure. I would never try to build a house without a good level. To do so would put the structural integrity of the house at stake.
My point is that without that measure, which is where Darwin started, the walls of his structure will eventually fall. Sure, you can prop an unleveled wall for a time by putting supports in place, but another portion of the wall will start sagging.
Darwin’s view is a conclusion. Chasing after the evidence to support an incorrect conclusion will get you nowhere. When you chase this elusive view your entire life trying to support something that is untrue your life will be wasted.
The argument that 0 + 0 equals 1 will be no more true today than you say it was 100 billion years ago. The idea that someone rants and yells at the top of their lungs still will not make it true.
All the props in the world cannot hold up a dying theory. Keep trying to support it. The supports usually break when the wall falls.



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Ray Ingles

posted October 2, 2009 at 10:52 am


For the actual scoop on what happened in the “Expelled” interview, before editing, see here: http://richarddawkins.net/article,2394,Lying-for-Jesus,Richard-Dawkins
“Stein asked whether I could think of any circumstances whatsoever under which intelligent design might have occurred. It’s the kind of challenge I relish, and I set myself the task of imagining the most plausible scenario I could. I wanted to give ID its best shot, however poor that best shot might be. I must have been feeling magnanimous that day, because I was aware that the leading advocates of Intelligent Design are very fond of protesting that they are not talking about God as the designer, but about some unnamed and unspecified intelligence, which might even be an alien from another planet. Indeed, this is the only way they differentiate themselves from fundamentalist creationists, and they do it only when they need to, in order to weasel their way around church/state separation laws. So, bending over backwards to accommodate the IDiots (“oh NOOOOO, of course we aren’t talking about God, this is SCIENCE”) and bending over backwards to make the best case I could for intelligent design, I constructed a science fiction scenario. Like Michael Ruse (as I surmise) I still hadn’t rumbled Stein, and I was charitable enough to think he was an honestly stupid man, sincerely seeking enlightenment from a scientist. I patiently explained to him that life could conceivably have been seeded on Earth by an alien intelligence from another planet (Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel suggested something similar — semi tongue-in-cheek). The conclusion I was heading towards was that, even in the highly unlikely event that some such ‘Directed Panspermia’ was responsible for designing life on this planet, the alien beings would THEMSELVES have to have evolved, if not by Darwinian selection, by some equivalent ‘crane’ (to quote Dan Dennett). My point here was that design can never be an ULTIMATE explanation for organized complexity. Even if life on Earth was seeded by intelligent designers on another planet, and even if the alien life form was itself seeded four billion years earlier, the regress must ultimately be terminated (and we have only some 13 billion years to play with because of the finite age of the universe). Organized complexity cannot just spontaneously happen. That, for goodness sake, is the creationists’ whole point, when they bang on about eyes and bacterial flagella! Evolution by natural selection is the only known process whereby organized complexity can ultimately come into being. Organized complexity — and that includes everything capable of designing anything intelligently — comes LATE into the universe. It cannot exist at the beginning, as I have explained again and again in my writings.”



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Mark

posted October 2, 2009 at 12:47 pm


“Organized complexity cannot just spontaneously happen. That, for goodness sake, is the creationists’ whole point,”
Did Dawkins really write that? Umm, don’t you think that Creationists are absolutely comfortable with God “suddenly” creating an organized complex creature?



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Your Name

posted October 2, 2009 at 4:52 pm


Wow, Ray, your post really puts light on Dawkins and how he loves to backtrack his comments. He was basically patronizing a stupid man with his notion of “seeded” information in DNA? So us poor saps who are looking to Dawkins and his enlightened ones for answers – when we come before him asking serious questions he simply is going to patonize us with silly answers because we are so stupid and he is so far advanced and above us. The only thing that surpasses this man’s errogance is his ability to double talk and cover up his views with notions such as what he said in your quote. I keep forgetting how stupid I am, or I would never be questioning the great Dawakins and his views. Perhaps Dawkins hates religion because no one has made him god yet?



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Larry Fafarman

posted October 5, 2009 at 1:00 am


David, you are completely clueless here — what we have here has nothing to do with “trivializing” the holocaust. To the ADL, “trivializing” the holocaust means cynically exploiting the holocaust to further a political agenda, and by that standard, the hypocritical ADL “trivializes” the holocaust as much as anyone. The “trivialization” issue is just a pretext cooked up by the ADL. What the ADL does in regard to Darwinism is try to show it in the most favorable light. The ADL is rabidly pro-Darwinist for the following reasons: (1) Darwinism is opposed by Christian and Moslem fundies, who are despised by the ADL, and (2) the ADL fears that teaching criticisms of Darwinism in the public schools threatens the principle of church-state separation. The ADL went so far as to call the Kitzmiller decision a “victory for students.” ADL national director Abraham Foxman angrily denounced the Darwin-to-Hitler message of the Coral Ridge Ministry’s TV documentary “Darwin’s Deadly Legacy” and an accompanying book, saying, “Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people.” However, when Ben Stein’s movie “Expelled” also carried a Darwin-to-Hitler message, the ADL was faced with a problem: Ben Stein is Jewish and the movie includes two prominent Jewish supporters — David Berlinski, an agnostic Jew, and Gerald Schroeder, who even wears a yarmulke in the movie. The ADL initially “solved” the problem by pulling the article denouncing the Coral Ridge Ministry but finally bit the bullet by reinstating that article and adding an article denouncing “Expelled.”
Links and more info are on my blog at –
http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2009/10/anti-defamation-leagues-darwin-problem.html



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Mariano

posted October 5, 2009 at 8:43 am


This is merely the latest round of likewise correlations and dehumanizations.
I gave Dawkins the Reductio ad Hitlerum award:
http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com/2009/08/boba-digest-part-4-reductio-ad-hitlerum.html
When one is short on substance one must rely on sensationalism and emotionally charged statements.



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Mark

posted October 15, 2009 at 10:15 pm


David,
Natural Selection is not a “controversial” mechanism – though I guess you could create it as one in your own mind which you seem to have done – and while we can make 3 inferences from it, it’s explanatory power originates in 5 FACTS.
F1) Every population has such high fertility that its size would increase exponentially if not constrained
F2) The size of populations, except for temporary annual fluctuations, remains stable over time
F3) The resources available to every species are limited
I1) There is intense competition among the members of a species
F4) No two individuals of a population are exactly the same
I2) Individuals of a population differ from each other in the
probability of survival
F5) Many of the differences among the individuals of a population are, at least in part, heritable
I3) Natural selection, continue over many generations, results
in evolution
This last inference can correctly be considered as a FACT as we have directly observed gene pool changes in rapidly reproducing populations over time.



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Mark2

posted October 16, 2009 at 8:05 am


(David, the last “Mark” is not me, who has generally been very supportive your writings. I might have to change to “Mark2″.)
I believe Mark has successfully shown that PART of natural selection is not controversial, but conveniently ignored the part that is.



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Castor

posted October 20, 2009 at 9:09 pm


Larry Fafarman said:
“To the ADL, “trivializing” the holocaust means cynically exploiting the holocaust to further a political agenda”
Aren’t you exploiting the holocaust to gain attention? If it weren’t controverisal you wouldn’t even mention it.
Please note that the blog to which he refers is heavily censored, a practice he decries in others.



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Your Name

posted October 25, 2009 at 6:00 pm


Natural selection may be controversial to people that study creation myths and religious texts, but it is a cornerstone of the biological sciences, and you would be hard pressed to find a person that actually studies any aspect of biology that has any doubts about the soundness of it as a theory. Phenomena explained by natural selection have been observed in the real world countless times. From the height of the seed pods your grass produces in your lawn, to the mating habits of fruit flies, to the morphology of goldfish, and every vegetable and fruit in your local grocery store, natural selection is an integral part of our lives. We may not develop a perfect theory to describe natural selection, but there can be no doubt that it is the driving force of life on Earth. Any controversy surrounding natural selection has nothing to do with natural selection, but with the fact that observable science of it may conflict with unscientific beliefs.



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Mark2

posted October 26, 2009 at 5:46 am


The other Mark thinks that Natural Selection is not controversial.
Keep up with the research, okay?
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/326/5951/368
A Fresh Theoretical Framework
Odenbaugh
Science 16 October 2009
Oct 16, 2009 — It’s called “a fresh theoretical framework” but it undermines the popular conception of natural selection. It’s called a “dense and deep work on the foundations of evolutionary biology” but it criticizes as simplistic and false the ideas of Richard Dawkins, one of the most outspoken proponents of natural selection as “the greatest show on earth.” It produces a new scheme for how natural selection works, but raises more questions than it answers. What is it? It’s a new book by Harvard philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith, Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection (Oxford, 2009), reviewed mostly positively by Jay Odenbaugh in Science.
Odenbaugh is in the philosophy department of Lewis and Clark College, Oregon. Get ready to jettison your “classical” concepts of fitness, selection and reproductive success. Unload your simplistic ideas of gene selection, individual selection and group selection. Prepare to see Richard Dawkins demoted from his status as a leading spokesman for modern Darwinism. In his first paragraph, Odenbaugh clears the deck to get ready for the “fresh” ideas of Godfrey-Smith:
Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection is a dense and deep work on the foundations of evolutionary biology. Evolutionary biologists tell us that evolution by natural selection occurs when a few ingredients are present—specifically, when there is variation with respect to a trait, those variants differ in the numbers of offspring produced, and this variation is heritable to some degree. Unfortunately, as Godfrey-Smith argues, this recipe is far too simple, and even more complicated versions such as the replicator approach offered by Richard Dawkins suffer serious flaws. This “classical recipe,” for example, ignores the fact that for some organisms numbers of offspring don’t necessarily determine reproductive success (“fitness”) whereas rates of population growth, age structure, or variation in expected numbers of offspring do. Likewise, natural selection and patterns of heredity can “cancel” each other out, leaving no evolutionary change. The concept of Dawkins’s replicators—those entities that interact with like entities and of which copies are made—presupposes that there can be no reproduction without replication, which is false when we have continuously varying traits evolving by natural selection. Thus, our standard models for understanding what evolution by natural selection is are just too simple.
Wow. If you have survived that devastating paragraph, you realize that Godfrey-Smith had better replace all the simplistic notions with some profound and testable alternatives quickly before the creationists latch onto what Odenbaugh just admitted. Unfortunately, Godfrey-Smith replaces it with a scheme that is more ethereal than empirical. He envisions three parameters, H (reliability of inheritance), C (relation of traits to fitness), and S (dependence of reproductive differences on intrinsic traits). Then he graphs them in “population space.” Odenbaugh tries to give this scheme respect: “Godfrey-Smith then uses this spatial framework (along with others concerning reproduction) to understand controversies concerning the nature of random genetic drift, levels of selection, major transitions in evolution (such as the appearance of multicellular organisms), and cultural evolution.” Then he starts the clock: “Let’s consider what light Godfrey-Smith’s framework shines on some of these topics.” OK; we have just been promised light on the Cambrian explosion, the units of selection (genes, individuals, or groups), and whether natural selection produced the university itself (cultural evolution).
Odenbaugh delves into some examples to illustrate the new framework (e.g., a twin struck by lightning can’t reproduce, whether or not the other twin is less fit). He explains Godfrey-Smith’s view that neutral drift is not a “force” or label for ignorance; “rather it concerns where one is in the space of Darwinian populations” (got that?). Regarding units of selection, we hear more that Godfrey-Smith rejects group selection than offers a plausible replacement: “For example, in cases where selection occurs in neighborhoods, there are no causally cohesive groups for selection to operate on.” Well, then, what does natural selection operate on? If Godfrey-Smith has an answer, Odenbaugh did not reveal it.
Let’s see if the book has an answer for the controversy of where great transformations and innovations come from (the classic case being the Cambrian explosion). “With regard to evolutionary transitions, he notes that often the formation of new biological individuals involves marginal Darwinian populations moving to paradigmatic ones and the parts of such populations (that is, the lower-level entities) moving from paradigmatic ones to marginal ones—a process he terms ‘de-Darwinizing.’” The casual reader might have to re-read that sentence a few times. Did he just say that members of a population move, by some unexplained force, into a new paradigm? Like from a sponge into a trilobite or something? And that others move out of the paradigm into the margins? It is difficult to see how any of this wording explains the origin of complex biological information such as eyes, wings, and new body plans. And how appropriate is it to introduce a new concept like “de-Darwinizing” right now, right at the pending 150th anniversary of Darwin’s book on natural selection, what E. O. Wilson calls “the greatest idea anyone ever had”?
The next paragraph involves debating distinctions about reproducers – whether they can be described as collective, simple, or “scaffolded” (i.e., parts of reproducing entities that get reproduced, such as a gene in a mammal giving birth). Here’s where Dawkins gets another sucker punch:
These distinctions are skillfully employed. For example, contrary to Richard Dawkins, many instances of genic selection are instances of scaffolded reproduction of genes by cells, and evolutionary models are ultimately representing selection of organisms via their genetic properties. Often (though not always), when we treat genes as evolutionary units we imbue evolutionary biology with an “agential” framework involving agents, goals, strategies, and purposes that can corrupt the foundations of evolutionary biology.
So we certainly must have none of that. No teleology allowed. Dawkins’s “selfish genes” have just been criticized as imbued with the concept of agency or strategy or purpose. Dawkins is corrupting the foundations of evolutionary biology, Odenbaugh and Godfrey-Smith said. One can only imagine his reaction at such a charge from fellow evolutionists.
The last paragraph of the book review arrives. The Cat in the Hat had better show up in the nick of time to clean up this mess. No; now, philosopher Odenbaugh turns on philosopher Godfrey-Smith and accuses him of hypocrisy and obfuscation:
Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection raises difficult questions as well. Godfrey-Smith and others have argued that there is a role in evolutionary biology for “functional” notions. For example, they hold that it makes sense to claim that the heart in humans has the function of circulating blood. However, given the author’s criticism of the “agential” framework and the teleology behind it, is this new work compatible with the old? In addition, although spatial frameworks or state spaces can be exceedingly useful for understanding evolutionary processes, one can ask if they also conceal much of importance. Their use is critically dependent on which dimensions are included (and which omitted) and on whether one can “score” those dimensions in plausible ways. Sometimes one wonders whether too much is being omitted and worries that variables like S cannot be scored in any object sense.
Not to leave any bad feelings, he finds something to praise: “Nevertheless, Godfrey-Smith’s book fruitfully forces us to think in new ways about evolution and natural selection.”



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Mark2

posted October 26, 2009 at 5:51 am


Note of clarity: the essay above was not from the sciencemag link, but was a critique of it.



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Your Name

posted October 27, 2009 at 3:50 pm


“The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust.”
The ADL agreed with this statement.



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Mark2

posted October 27, 2009 at 7:09 pm


“The ADL agreed with this statement.”
So did the National Academy of Basket Weavers.



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Josh

posted April 7, 2012 at 10:23 pm


I listen to all you acedemics and some of you have very vaild points so this is not meant for everyone. I am not acedemic I never graduated Highschool, the furthest I went on to was 9th grade and I admit i lack in the intellect that you all have. Maybe not the IQ but the Schooling so I will let someone that is very relatable to me but had more education than me sum up my feelings on this. I think you will get a kick out of it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSE4DodXdxw&feature=plcp&context=C4f00a5cVDvjVQa1PpcFOEzisb30uLbGR2qeyhNlaR0otT_5JG3ZM%3D



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Andy Carloff

posted October 31, 2012 at 8:58 am


“The Anti-Defamation League, the country’s leading group dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, is rightly sensitive to the offense of trivializing the Holocaust.” I was in a pogrom and I was thrown out of high school for not being Christian, and all the ADL could say was “Jews who don’t believe in god don’t count as Jews.” You’re the ones trivializing the Holocaust by hijacking what my family went through, just for your political gains in Israel. So why not attack another Atheists? It’s not like you could be bigoted enough by defending nations that build and maintain concentration camps.



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Graeme Bird

posted February 12, 2013 at 7:43 pm


As bad as the crypto-Jews that took over Germany under Nazism were ….. These were really bad people. But as bad as they were the official story of the holocaust is all lies. We’ve just got to stop lying about this. The holocaust is what happened to everyone else. What happened to Europes Jews was basically a roundup. They weren’t being rounded up and victimised by Germans. But rather by other Jews financed by Jews.

The rest of us lost tens of millions of Christians by way of a genocide masquerading as a war. The financiers for this effort were Jewish bankers and the frontmen politicians were all Jews. Churchill was a Jew. Roosevelt a Jew. Stalin was a Jew. As was Hitler.

So the roundup of Jews, and the real Holocaust of World War II was simply Jewish blood sacrifice in action. This is what these people do. The problem of Jews pre-dates Christianity. It is a satanic genocidal cult.



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Graeme Bird

posted February 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm


“”The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust.”

Dawkins is a fool. Look how he undermines his own case for evolution comparing his theory with a known lie. He also believes all the rubbish science the Jews have locked in. He’s never said anything against the Talmudic idiocy of Special Relativity. He actually believes in the Big Bang. The big bang is a feeble young universe creation myth with nothing going for it save its attempt to parrot the Torah.

Note also that Dawkins doesn’t discriminate between the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Talmud or the Koran. The old testament is a catalogue of despicably racist and malignant behaviour of Jewish heroes. The Talmud is much much worse. More disgusting and hard to get through then the Jew Hitler’s Mein Kampf. The Koran was written on a war footing and isn’t really appropriate for peacetime instruction.

The new testament is the cure for the virus of Judaism that came before it. Dawkins and his other radical atheist fools look at the illogic of the New Testament as if its there on a stand-alone basis. Its not food its an antidote for disease. Its medicine.



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