Friday, December 30, 2005

The ALA, NEA and Kitzmiller v Dover

In Kitzmiller v Dover, one of the paragraphs struck down by the judge included the statement:

“Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.”

Imagine that a school board mandated that the following sentence be read in science classes before a sex education section: "The book, Heather has two mommies is available for students to see if they would like to gain an understanding of an alternative lifestyle.” Imagine further that a group of parents go to court demanding the removal of this statement. You can bet your last dollar that the American Library Association and the National Education Association would be nearly hysterical with cries of censorship!
We'll see if the ALA and NEA speak out against censorship in the Kitzmiller case. I wouldn't hold my breath.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Falsifying Intelligent Design

In Kitzmiller v. Dover, the attorney against Intelligent Design argued that those in the Intelligent Design movement do not test its claims. He says, “Of course, there's an obvious reason that intelligent design hasn't been tested. It can't be. The proposition that a supernatural intelligent designer created a biological system is not testable and can never be ruled out.”

This attorney is obviously no dummy. Notice how he inserted “supernatural” into the discussion. By framing the issue in this way, he automatically places the entire issue out of the realm of science simply by definition. Unfortunately for him, his argument is simply not true. Intelligent Design scientists argue that there are biological systems that are inexplicable on the basis of current evolutionary theory. These scientists, therefore, propose the theory that these biological systems are better explained as a result of an intelligent designer. This theory is entirely falsifiable and capable of being ruled out.

All scientists have to do to disprove the Intelligent Design Theory is to take examples of irreducible complexity presented by the advocates of Intelligent Design and show how they can be scientifically explained, measured and tested on basis of evolutionary theory alone. I would think that scientists would be thrilled by such a challenge. What are they so afraid of?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Kitzmiller v Dover and censorship

In Kitzmiller v Dover, the attorney for the school district said in his opening statement: “Your Honor, the evidence will also show that this four-paragraph statement is the total actual effect that the curriculum change has on science instruction in the district, because apart from that four-paragraph statement, science teachers teach evolutionary theory as required by Pennsylvania state standards. The use of texts presents the evolutionary theory. Biology by Miller and Levine, one of the coauthors, Ken Miller, is one of the plaintiffs' experts in this case. In this way, the evidence will show that while students are taught evolutionary theory, they are merely made aware of the existence of another theory, the intelligent design theory, and that while students are assigned a basal text that presents evolutionary theory, they're merely made aware of the existence of a reference text in the library that deals with intelligent design theory, if they care to check it out.”

It is a very sad day in America when it is illegal for a democratically elected school board to inform students of the existence of an opposing view and to direct them to the library for further information. This is not just censorship, it is tyranny.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Intelligent Design and Kitzmiller v Dover

In 2004, the Dover Area School District (Pennsylvania) required the following four paragraph statement be read in sciences classes prior to the evolution section:

“The state standards require students to learn about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and to eventually take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.”

“Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered. They Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.”

Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves. As is true with any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind.”

“The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life up to the individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, the class instruction focuses on the standards and preparing students to be successful on standards-based assessments.”

On December 14, 2004, eleven parents filed a lawsuit against the school district on the grounds that these policies violated the first amendment.

One of the special interest groups that supported the lawsuit was (who else) the ACLU. Just this month (December 2005), the court decided against the school board. In America it is now apparently legal for a school board to force students (against the wishes of their parents) to sit through gay-lesbian brainwashing (see my post on 12/13/05), but it is unconstitutional for a school board to inform students that the current scientific dogma may have “gaps,” that they can explore other alternatives in the library, and that they should keep an open mind.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone from Recliner Commentaries!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Intelligent Design and Kitzmiller v. Dover

The teaching of Intelligent Design is unconstitutional. So says a Pennsylvania court in Kitzmiller et al. v Dover Area School District. In the closing arguments, the attorney arguing against Intelligent Design argued that:

“Professor Behe admitted that his argument for intelligent design was essentially the same as William Paley's, which is a classic argument for the existence of God. Who else could it be? Michael Behe suggests candidates like aliens or time travelers with a wink and a nod, not seriously. Intelligent design hides behind an official position that it does not name the designer, but as Dr. Minnich acknowledged this morning, all of its advocates believe that the designer is God. Intelligent design could not come closer to naming the designer if it was spotted with the letters G and O.”

So there you have it. It doesn’t matter whether Intelligent Design arguments are scientifically accurate. It doesn’t matter whether the idea that “God created” is true or not. It doesn’t matter that Intelligent Design would leave God out of the discussion (in a futile effort to appease the tyranny of those who would rob us of our freedom of speech). Forget open mindedness and tolerance. The high priests of the new dogma have spoken. It is apparently illegal in America to teach any theory of origins that is inconsistent with the idea that life originated entirely by chance apart from the design of any creator. Our country’s founders must be rolling over in their graves!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Spying and Presidents Bush, Clinton and Carter

Recently I’ve heard several TV pundits point out that President Bush is not the only president who signed executive orders authorizing spying on Americans. They say Presidents Carter and Clinton did it as well. I’m wondering if that’s supposed to comfort us. Judge Andrew Napolitano, in his excellent book, Constitutional Chaos spells out numerous horror stories and miscarriages of justice committed by President Clinton’s attorney General, Janet Reno, so comparisons between the current administration and President Clinton’s administration do not put my mind at ease.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The NSA and spying on Americans

President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Rice, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez all insist that the president’s use of the NSA to spy on Americans was legal. That’s good news because I really want to believe that my president is obeying the law and following the Constitution. On the other hand, ringing in my ears are the words of President Nixon who, shortly before resigning from office over illegalities, said, “I am not a crook.” So I hope you understand, Mr. President, that I need more than just vague assurances. On this one I’ll have to go with the words of the words President Regan who, in an entirely different context, said something like, “trust, but verify.’

On Monday, December 19, President Bush held a press conference in which he addressed this issue saying, “We use FISA still…Of course we use FISAs. But FISAs is for long-term monitoring. What is needed in order to protect the American people is the ability to move quickly to detect.” This certainly sounds reasonable. The president can’t wait for a special FISA court to convene every time some Al Qaeda operative makes a call to America. But he doesn’t have to! Under 50 US Code 1805f, when the Attorney General determines that an emergency situation exists he can authorize electronic surveillance as long as he informs the appropriate judge within 72 hours. This safeguard is to ensure that the government is really spying on foreign agents (or Americans working for foreign agents), and not just that the government want’s to keep tabs on someone like Michael Moore or Cindy Sheehan. I mean, Sheehan’s and Moore’s politics disgust me as much as the next guy, but that doesn’t give the government the right to spy on people like them without probable cause.

Personally, I trust President Bush. I think he honestly believes he is doing what is best for the country. But President Bush will not be president forever and to allow the executive branch of the government to unilaterally spy on Americans without checks and balances from congress or the judiciary, is not only unconstitutional, it could easily be the fast track to the end of democracy and the beginning of tyranny.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Churches 8.1—local governments 4.6

Louisiana State University recently conducted a study of Louisiana residents concerning their views of aid providers during Katrina. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “not effective” and 10 being “very effective,” churches received the highest rating at 8.1. New Orleans city and state agencies were rated the lowest at 4.6, even lower than FEMA (5.3) and insurance companies (5.2). The Salvation Army came in at 7.5, just slightly above the American Red Cross at 7.4. Churches and synagogues raised more than $100 million dollars in aid for Katrina victims (Washington Times, December 2, 2005).

Monday, December 19, 2005

NSA and President Bush

Almost everyone knows by now that President Bush has admitted signing an executive order requiring the NSA to spy on Americans, but it is not yet clear whether he has done so legally. The Constitution protects Americans from unreasonable searches, and even the much maligned Patriot Act re-asserts the necessity for the government to get approval from a special FISA court that rules on classified intelligence matters before the government can legally spy on Americans (FISA: Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act).

My understanding is that approval from this court is not difficult to obtain. In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seemed to imply that in many cases the president did not go through this FISA court but that he had “other” powers to authorize these wiretaps. Secretary Rice didn’t say what gave the President this authority.

But we are at war. Shouldn’t the President be able to defend us in time of war? Besides, law abiding Americans shouldn’t have anything to fear from the government anyway, should they? So this is really no big deal, right? Actually, it IS a big deal. The potential magnitude of this revelation is so enormous that both Republicans and Democrats have rightfully called for an investigation.

So what’s the big deal? Like the overwhelming majority of Americans, I have nothing to hide from the government, but that is entirely beside the point. Suppose for example, that members of congress or investigative journalists discovered illegal actions by a president (e.g. President Nixon). If the president had unrestricted power to use the NSA, FBI or CIA to spy on Americans, he could use these agencies to threaten to expose embarrassing personal information on his political opponents or their families in an effort to silence them. This could severely undermine freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and in fact, the foundation of our democracy.

But shouldn’t the President be able to defend us in time of war? Of course he should, and the FISA court provides a way for the President to protect us without trampling on our civil rights. When the President believes that surveillance on Americans is necessary, the FISA court independently determines whether sufficient cause exists, thereby providing (at least in theory) the checks and balances to ensure that executive power doesn’t turn into dictatorial power. This is precisely why it would be so disturbing if a President bypassed this protection.

President Bush says he broke no laws and, like any other American, he should be presumed to be innocent until he is proven guilty. I certainly hope that President Bush is vindicated, but if it appears that he did in fact order the NSA to spy on Americans in violation of the Constitution, I believe he should be impeached and, if found guilty, removed from office. A president cannot be allowed to run roughshod over the Constitution even if he thinks it is in America’s best interest, not even in time of war.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Klingenschmitt and Navy intolerance

According to a television news report last night (Dec 15), a U.S. Navy chaplain may soon be fired. His offense? Praying in “in Jesus’ name (gasp!). Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt is a U.S. Navy chaplain for the Evangelical Episcopal Church (a conservative, Evangelical offshoot of the ultra-liberal Episcopal Church). According to an Associated Press article, this is not the first time Lt. Klingenschmitt has been in trouble with the Navy. He has also been disciplined for preaching “proselytizing sermons” and for complaining about the fact that the Navy did not provide enough Kosher meals for a Jewish sailor on his ship—the sailor lost 17 pounds! (“Navy investigating chaplain’s allegations of religious discrimination.” Matt Kelly, Associated Press, April 30, 2005).
Imagine that--A Christian chaplain having the audacity to actually obey the tenets of his faith! The Navy's intolerance toward Lt. Klingenschmitt is actually being done in the name of tolerance! Click here if you’d like to sign a petition asking President Bush to end this intolerance.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The ACLU and infanticide

“But the ACLU’s anti-life agenda does not stop at abortion. It has progressively moved toward infanticide. Nat Hentoff realized this when he was involved in the infamous ‘Baby Doe’ cases. One of these cases involved a couple in Bloomington, Indiana, who gave birth to a Down’s syndrome infant with a defective digestive system that could have been corrected by routine surgery, but the baby died of starvation on order of the parents.”

“In fact, these cases, and the ACLU’s position concerning them led to Hentoff’s splitting from the ACLU. As other similar stories occurred, Hentoff noticed the ACLU repeatedly stood on the side of protecting the ‘privacy’ rights of parents to kill their children.”

“Hentoff also shared the following incident: ‘And then I heard the head of the Reproductive Freedom Rights unit of the ACLU saying…at a forum, ‘I don’t know what all this fuss is about. Dealing with these handicapped infants is really an extension of women’s reproductive right to control their own bodies” (Quotes from The ACLU vs. America by Alan Sears and Craig Osten, 2005, 109-110).

So while the ACLU is strongly against the right of a democratically elected government to execute sadistic murderers or even serial killers, it appears that they are willing to protect the privacy “rights” of parents to kill their innocent children? Make no mistake about it—the ACLU is not about civil liberties. The ACLU is about forcing their ideological social agenda down the throats of unwilling Americans.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"Let them go to hell"

“Anyone who doesn’t appreciate what America has done, and President Bush…let them go to hell.”
(This is a quote from an elderly Iraqi woman after casting her vote in the latest Iraqi election. It was shown in a video clip aired last night, 12/13/05, on Fox News. For the record, I don't think they should go to hell for this...maybe they should just spend a few years in Saudi Arabia, southern Sudan, or North Korea :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The ACLU and cross-dressing

In a California elementary school some time ago, children were required to attend a mandatory assembly by a homosexual theater troupe which included, among other things, a poem read by a young boy (excerpts below):

“In Mommy’s high heals the world is beautiful,
Let the peasants choke way down below.
I’m standing high above the crowds,
My head is breaking through the clouds….”

“When I grow up I’ll have the cash
To go out and buy a bag to match!
So let them say that I’m a girl!
What’s wrong with being like a girl?!
And let them jump and jeer and whirl—
They are swine, I am the pearl!
And let them laugh and let them scream!
They’ll be beheaded when I’m queen!”

When parents heard their children had been exposed to this presentation without their knowledge or consent, they were outraged and filed a lawsuit against the school. After two years, the parents had to give up the fight, being outgunned by the substantial resources of the ACLU! (Quotes from The ACLU vs. America by Alan Sears and Craig Osten, 2005, 55, 56).

Excuse me, but exactly whose civil liberties were the American Civil Liberties Union protecting? Certainly not those of the parents or children! Imagine if the case had been different. Imagine that the school board had, without parent’s consent, forced children to listen to a group that called pro-choice or gay rights advocates “swine” and threatening to behead them.” If you think for one minute that the ACLU would have sided with the school, you are delusional!

So why is it that the ACLU will side with a parent’s “right” to keep their children from being exposed to a voluntary, non-sectarian prayer, but will not support parents right to keep their children from being exposed to intolerant homosexual propaganda as exemplified by the above poem? Make no mistake about it—the ACLU is not about civil liberties. The ACLU is about forcing their ideological social agenda down the throats of unwilling Americans.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The ACLU and NAMBLA

The book The ACLU vs. America recounts the story of a fifth grade boy who was abducted from his front yard by Salvatore Sicari and Charles Jaynes. These perverts took the boy to a public library where they accessed the web site of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). After choking the boy with a gasoline-soaked rag, they molested his dead body.

The attorney for the boy’s family said that “Jaynes wrote in a diary he had used NAMBLA’s Web site for ‘psychological comfort’ before he and Sicari killed and molested” the boy. According to the lawyer, NAMBLA is “not just publishing material that says it’s OK to have sex with children…[it] is actively training their members how to rape children and get away with it.” The ACLU then got involved—not because a child’s civil liberties had been violated, but to defend NAMBLA!

According to the authors of The ACLU vs. America, “This sad story is another example of the ACLU’s duplicity. On one hand, the ACLU states that NAMBLA cannot be held accountable for advocating sodomy of young boys on the internet. Yet after [a gay man, Matthew] Shepard’s murder by two thugs (who were neither Christian nor conservative), ACLU supporters have been among the many left-wing voices loudly calling for ‘hate-crimes’ legislations that could criminalize and punish speech that does not affirm homosexual behavior” (Quotes from The ACLU vs. America by Alan Sears and Craig Osten, 2005, 74-76).

Friday, December 09, 2005

Torture and allegations of torture

The news media seems completely obsessed over the alleged torture of terrorists by the U.S. Government, but they rarely seem to get around to investigating the many reports of even more serious atrocities around the world. For example, Voice of the Martyrs reports:

“An Iranian Christian convert was kidnapped from his home in northeastern Iran last week and stabbed to death. His bleeding body was thrown in front of his home a few hours later. Ghorban Tori, 50, was pastoring an independent house church of converted Christians in Gonbad-e-Kavus. Within hours of the November 22nd murder, local secret police arrived at the pastor's home, searching for Bibles and other banned Christian books written in the Farsi language. According to one source, during the past eight days representatives of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) have arrested and severely tortured 10 other Christians in several cities, including Tehran. (Click here for original story posted on 12-05-2005, for most recent update, click here.)”
The December 7 Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin reports that in Sangla Hill Pakistan,

“A Muslim falsely accused a Christian of desecrating the Koran during an argument over gambling remittances. Exploiting the situation, Islamic clerics called Muslims to the mosques and incited them to 'defend Islam' and attack the Christians. The subsequent pogrom involving more than 2000 Muslims drove some 450 Christian families from their homes. Three churches along with manses and libraries were razed, as well as a convent and two church-owned schools. According to an editorial in Pakistan's Daily Times (28 November) the mob, armed with 'sticks, stones, big hammers and bottles of chemicals' went out to attack the churches. 'They raised cries of "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) and "Asai kuttay hai-hai" (Down with the Christian dogs).”

I don’t want my government torturing prisoners and I think the news media is entirely justified in investigating these allegations. I often wonder, however, why the reporting is so unbalanced. The stories above are not even the tip of the iceberg and yet they never seem to make the network news. Muslims in Sudan were kidnapping, enslaving, raping and torturing large numbers of Christians for years before the major networks even noticed (and then only briefly). Or, in a different illustration: In news reports that seemed to go on for weeks, if not months— the news media falsely implicated Christians in the tragic murder of the gay man, Matthew Shephard, yet atrocities committed against large numbers of Christians hardly make the news at all. Why is that?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Red state more generous than blue states?

Several days ago, radio talk show host Michael Medved pointed out that the overwhelming majority of states that had the highest per capita giving to charity were “red” states (voted for Bush). By contrast, nine of the ten states with the lowest per capita giving to charity were “blue” states (voted for Kerry). An atheist caller responded by arguing that the reason red states were more generous was because conservative religious people gave their money in an effort to bribe God.

It was obvious that the atheist caller has a profound misunderstanding of Christianity. One of the bedrock, foundational doctrines of Christianity is the idea that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” that is, that everyone has in various ways rebelled against God, and no amount of money, good works, or bribery can ever atone for this sin. New Testament writers taught that being made right with God is not possible through human effort but is an act of God’s grace, open to everyone who genuinely repents of their sin and turns to Jesus Christ in faith. Any idea that we could somehow bribe God with money or good works is practically the definition of what it is to not be a Christian.

I’ll leave it to the adherents of other religions to answer whether they are trying to bride God or not, but the caller to Mr. Medved’s show demonstrated a profound and fundamental misunderstanding of Christianity. So whatever the reason is for greater generosity among red states, I doubt that bribery of God is one of them.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Hezbollah and the PCUSA

Let’s play “name that group.” What group is responsible for slaughtering 241 Americans in Lebanon, 19 Americans in the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and dozens, if not hundreds of other people around the world? If you said Hezbollah, you move up to the next round.

What group sent a delegation to Lebanon a few weeks ago, praising Hezbollah and undermining America’s government? If you said, the Presbyterian Church USA, you win and move up to our bonus round.

Bonus question: What is the word for “adhering to [America’s] enemies, giving them aid and comfort?” If you said, “Treason,” congratulations, you get a free link to our Constitution in which that definition is found (Article 3, section 3).

Tragically, the fact a liberal church like the PCUSA would add legitimacy to a terrorist group is not much of a surprise. The real mystery is why so many Americans continue to attend and financially support a church like this (ABC News, FreeRepublic, Dhimmi Watch, Jerusalem Post).

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Jews and the Qur'an

Remember when rumors of Qur’an abuse at Guantanamo flooded the airways? (some of which truned out to be untrue). It seemed like the stories were repeated endlessly in the media, day after day, week after week, on all the network news shows--and the world was outraged. On Monday an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber killed five innocent people and wounded thirty-five others at a shopping mall in Netanya Israel! Last night I flipped back and forth between ABC, NBC and CBS news and didn’t find a single mention of the incident. How is it possible that the mainline media, the congress, Hollywood, and even the world seem to get more worked up over the alleged abuse of some terrorist's Qur’an, than they do over the wanton destruction of innocent Jewish lives?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Hollywood and global warming

Last month a virtual who’s who of Hollywood stars appeared at Caesar’s Palace for a live “environmental consciousness-raising” show focusing on global warming. I’ve read that the lineup included such superstars as Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, Leonardo DiCaprio, Steve Martin, Dustin Hoffman, Ray Ramano, Will Ferrell, Jason Alexander, Ben Stiller, Bill Maher and others.

Quite honestly, I don’t know if there is a global warming crisis or not, but global warming opponents point to buildings, aviation and motor vehicles as significant causes of global warming. Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t some of these celebrities live in buildings so large they would make that average American’s home look like servant’s quarters? Don’t some of them own more than one home? Don’t some of them regularly fly all over the world, sometimes just for “fun in the sun”? Don’t some of them even own their own private jets for their numerous trips? Don’t some of these stars own three, four, five or more gas guzzling cars, including a limousine or two?

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe all the stars at this event live in modest homes, drive fuel efficient cars, try to limit their travel and, when necessary, fly only on commercial airlines like the rest of us. In fact, maybe they all car-pooled to Caesar’s Palace in fuel-efficient cars. Actually, I don’t mind if they have huge mansions, drive gas guzzling cars or fly in their own private jets, but if they do, I find it somewhat annoying that they would then lecture America on the evils of global warming!

Friday, December 02, 2005

AIDS and Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the author of The Purpose Driven Church (a 20 million best-seller) and the pastor of the 20,000 member Saddleback Church in California. Last night ABC News reported that Warren recently spoke at a large AIDS conference, calling for Evangelicals to do more to help those with AIDS. The conference was co-hosted by Bill Hybels, pastor of the 18,000 member Willow Creek Church. Both men were once named by Time Magazine as being among the most influential Evangelical leaders in America.

Frankly, I really haven’t followed the ministries of Warren or Hybels’ and I’ve not jumped on Rev. Warren’s Purpose Driven bandwagon, but when they’re right, they’re right—and in this case they’re right. I’ve told students for years that Evangelicals need to do more to help those affected with AIDS. Its not that Evangelicals have never done anything for those with AIDS—long before there was an AIDS epidemic Evangelicals have had ministries providing food, clothing, shelter and medical care for the poor and homeless, including those with AIDS. But too many Evangelicals have avoided those with AIDS like the Pharisees avoided lepers in Jesus’ time. Hopefully, with Warren and Hybels’ help, that will now change. If I had a hat, it would be off to them.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Night before Chrstmas

Tis the first of December
and Christmas is near
tho't I'd give you a poem
to bring you good cheer

That's about the extent of my poetic ability, but check out the great poem by John Leo on Christmas and the ACLU:

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
There was Santa again, on his annual journeys,
Ensnared in a group of eight tiny attorneys.
They looked pretty grim and they threatened to sue,
So we knew in a flash -- "It's the ACLU!"

For the rest of this delightful little poem check out John Leo’s column.