Friday, July 31, 2009

A Cultural Experiment for the Ages

On Tuesday, a new book by Christopher Caldwell, a columnist for The Financial Times, was released: Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West.

Caldwell's book gives a comprehensive treatment to an issue that's intrigued me for a long time: how the rise of Islam and the decline of Christianity will affect Europe's political and cultural future. Up until now, Mark Steyn's book, America Alone, has been the definitive (and funniest) book on that topic, although I've written on it ocassionaly here, here, here.

The New York Times
(certainly no bastion for conservative thinking) gives Caldwell's book a very favorable review, and I've pasted some of the highlights below...

Through decades of mass immigration to Europe’s hospitable cities and because of a strong disinclination to assimilate, Muslims are changing the face of Europe, perhaps decisively. These Muslim immigrants are not so much enhancing European culture as they are supplanting it. The products of an adversarial culture, these immigrants and their religion, Islam, are “patiently conquering Europe’s cities, street by street.”

“Imagine that the West, at the height of the Cold War, had received a mass inflow of immigrants from Communist countries who were ambivalent about which side they supported,” he writes. “Something similar is taking place now.”

Muslim cultures “have historically been Europe’s enemies, its overlords, or its underlings,” he deposes. “Europe is wagering that attitudes handed down over the centuries, on both sides, have disappeared, or can be made to disappear. That is probably not a wise wager.”

There has been nothing, he suggests, quite like the recent influx of Muslims into Europe — he refers to it as “a rupture in its history.”

“In the middle of the 20th century, there were virtually no Muslims in Western Europe,” Mr. Caldwell writes. “At the turn of the 21st, there were between 15 and 17 million Muslims in Western Europe, including 5 million in France, 4 million in Germany, and 2 million in Britain.”

These immigrants are further swamping Europe demographically, he adds, because of their high fertility rates.

The problem, in Mr. Caldwell’s view, is less about sheer numbers than cultural divergence. What’s happening in Europe is not the creation of an American-style melting pot, he writes, because Muslims are not melting in. They are instead forming what he calls “a parallel society.”

The most chilling observation in Mr. Caldwell’s book may be that the debate over Muslim immigration in Europe is one that the continent can’t openly have, because anyone remotely critical of Islam is branded as Islamophobic. Europe’s citizens — as well as its leaders, its artists and, crucially, its satirists — are scared to speak because of a demonstrated willingness by Islam’s fanatics to commit violence against their perceived opponents. There exists, Mr. Caldwell writes, a kind of “standing fatwa” against Islam’s critics.

Mr. Caldwell, who is also a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, finds things to praise about Islamic society, but he is unsparing about its deficiencies. “The Islamic world is an economic and intellectual basket case, the part of the potentially civilized world most left behind by progress,” he writes. He adds, devastatingly: “Spain translates more foreign books in a year than all the Arab-speaking countries have translated since the reign of Caliph Mamoun in the ninth century.”

Mr. Caldwell’s book is well researched, fervently argued and morally serious. It may serve as a dense, footnoted wake-up call to many of Europe’s liberal democracies.

It is hard to argue with his ultimate observation about Europe today: “When an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture” (Europe’s) “meets a culture that is anchored, confident, and strengthened by common doctrines” (Islam’s), “it is generally the former that changes to suit the latter.”

I think I might have to read Mr. Caldwell's book. And if I do, I'll certainly write a review.


Is the Economic Crisis Over? HA!!

[Note: This is an update to my previous article, Will the Economic Crisis Inflame the Culture Wars or End Them?]

In light of the recent good news about the stock market, I thought I'd share a few interesting quotes from the year 1930 (a few months after the Great Depression began, and a full 11 years before it ended).

"While the crash only took place six months ago, I am convinced we have now passed through the worst -- and with continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover."

- Herbert Hoover, President of the United States, May 1, 1930

"For the immediate future, at least, the outlook (stocks) is bright."
- Irving Fisher, Ph.D. in Economics, in early 1930

"The spring of 1930 marks the end of a period of grave concern...American business is steadily coming back to a normal level of prosperity."

- Julius Barnes, head of Hoover's National Business Survey Conference, Mar 16, 1930

Indeed, click on the chart below...

As noted by the folks at Trading Stock Market:

*In the final 2 months of 1929, the Dow Jones fell 200 points (a 50% drop from the top of the market)

*Then, for the next 5 months (until May 1930), the Dow Jones went up 100 points (a 50% increase from the market's bottom).

*Then, for the next 2 years and 2 months (until July 1932), the Dow collapsed to the $40 level

Why is this interesting?

Click on the chart below...

Note the following:

*From the time the Wall Street Crash began in September 2008 through March 2009, the Dow Jones fell from about 11,500 to about 6,500 (a 44% decline).

*Since March 2009, the Dow has increased to over 9,000 (a 40% increase from the market's bottom).

As The Daily Reckoning guys note, "As a general rule of thumb, a [stock market] bounce can be expected to recover half of the losses from the crash."

If that rule applies this time, the Dow may reach 10,300 very shortly, before leveling off and falling again.

What's the bottom line?

The economic crisis ain't over. Not by a long shot.

Oh, and one final note: When people start to realize the crisis ain't over, I wonder if they'll start paying attention to news items like this one...

Spitzer: Federal Reserve is 'a Ponzi Scheme, an Inside Job'

In a wide-ranging discussion of the bank bailouts on MSNBC’s Morning Meeting, host Dylan Ratigan described the process by which the Federal Reserve exchanged $13.9 trillion of bad bank debt for cash that it gave to the struggling banks.

Spitzer — who built a reputation as “the Sheriff of Wall Street” for his zealous prosecutions of corporate crime as New York’s attorney-general and then resigned as the state’s governor over revelations he had paid for prostitutes — seemed to agree with Ratigan that the bank bailout amounts to “America’s greatest theft and cover-up ever.” [snip]

“The reality is the Fed has blown it. Time and time again, they blew it. Bubble after bubble, they failed to understand what they were doing to the economy.

“The most poignant example for me is the AIG bailout, where they gave tens of billions of dollars that went right through — conduit payments — to the investment banks that are now solvent. We [taxpayers] didn’t get stock in those banks, they didn’t ask what was going on — this begs and cries out for hard, tough examination.

“You look at the governing structure of the New York [Federal Reserve], it was run by the very banks that got the money. This is a Ponzi scheme, an inside job. It is outrageous, it is time for Congress to say enough of this. And to give them more power now is crazy."

Quote of the Day

"We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality." - Ayn Rand

Weekly Wrap-Up

Johnson-Provine Debate on Darwinism and Intelligent Design: Warning: This is an 11-part series, so you might want to drink a cup of coffee beforehand. I tried watching the whole thing from start to finish, but I found Provine so infuriating I stopped watching midway through the 4th clip. Besides, the best part of the debate - Provine's 30-second assessment of Darwinism's implications - can be found here.

Darwinists and Their Strategy of Intimidation: "'There are so many bodies by the side of the road that people get the message,' said Robert Marks, who teaches engineering and computational intelligence at Baylor University."

Science Czar as Science Abuser:
"Scientists are as fallible as the rest of us, as are their scientific theories. Indeed, the history of science is filled with failed scientific theories that once were confidently asserted and now have been radically modified or even abandoned (see Thomas Kuhn's 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions'). The new scientific priesthood, however, has raised the stakes considerably for the mischief that science can do. In claiming to find and then resolve problems that threaten to overwhelm humanity, they have invaded the political scene, commanding vast research moneys and attempting to force on the wider population government-sanctioned programs for social control."

Please note that I've added 2 blogs to my Blog List: Gates of Vienna and Kingdom of Priests.

Also, I've updated the following articles...

Martin Luther Quote of the Day

Life is About Choices

"Hear Yee, Hear Yee!"

On Tuesday, Dog Ear Publishing sent a press release officially announcing the release of my book, The Mustard Seed: A Story of Life and Faith. So we're officially off and running!

Now's the perfect time to buy your copy. Click here, here, or here.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Secular Right-eousness

Last week, “David Hume” at Secular Right posted an article, Intelligent Design as Philosophy, in which he reviews an online discussion between Paul Nelson, an I.D. advocate and Ronald L. Numbers, an I.D. critic.

In his otherwise vague and meandering post, Mr. Hume concluded, “Numbers’ defense of methodological naturalism by virtue of its fruits nods to these lived realities of science.”

I took issue with Mr. Hume’s conclusion, and since I’m a frequent visitor to the Secular Right website, I felt obligated to post a comment…

I wrote…

David Hume writes, “Ronald Numbers’ defense of methodological naturalism by virtue of its fruits nods to these lived realities of science.”

In the early 1900s, did physicists dismiss research into quantum theory by saying “we’re satisfied with the fruits of Newtonian physics?” Of course not.

The Scientific Establishment’s desire to quash any criticism of Darwinian theory reveals their inherent insecurity about the validity of their theory. There is no justification for the tactics they’ve used to stifle debate, including firing Professors who’ve merely spoken favorably about Intelligent Design.

The statement that “I.D. isn’t science” is silly. What’s really NOT science is the quashing of dissent.

The story should end there…but a funny thing happened…my comment was never posted!...according to the webpage that popped up when I posted my comment, all comments are reviewed by the moderator before they’re posted on the webpage…24 hours later, when I noticed that my comment was missing – but at least 4 other new ones had been posted – I wrote to the Secular Right authors.

In my email, I said…


I wanted to know why my comment on the Jul. 25 article, "Intelligent Design As Philosophy" was never posted. It was not "insulting." Nor did it contain "abusive language." It did, however, speak favorably about the idea of allowing Intelligent Design to be given a fair hearing in our public discourse, as opposed to being deliberately stifled. I would hate to think that my own comment was also stifled on a website whose tagline is "Reality and Reason." Can you please clarify? Thank you.

Needless to say, I never got a response, and since it’s been 48 hours since I sent that email, I’m pretty confident I’ll never receive a response.

I don’t want to get too hung up on this, but I think it’s pretty brazen of the Secular Right contributors to spike my factual, level-headed defense of Intelligent Design, while allowing critics to make non-factual, antagonistic comments like, “ID is just another religious honey pot to attract the religious right.” After all, the tagline for Secular Right is “Reality and Reason” and under their “Frequently Asked Questions” tab, it says…

Q: Was Secular Right established with the aim of combating religion, or converting the world to religious unbelief?

A: No.

It’s not clear to me why Secular Right wants to be a cocoon for atheists, when it can spark an informative dialogue between atheists and believers. But hey, it’s their website! They can do whatever they want. But it’s pretty clear what their agenda is. And it ain’t “Reality and Reason.”


P.S.: This is just more evidence that “radical materialists have a credibility problem.”

P.P.S: I’ve emailed my post to the Secular Right folks. If they reply, I’ll let you know.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Weekly Wrap-Up

Atlas Shrugged Miniseries?: “Charlize Theron's interest in the project has apparently spurred Lionsgate to considering firing the starting pistol…According to The Hollywood Reporter, Theron has been eager to play the role but has been concerned that a feature would lose many of the nuances of the monster-sized novel. Solution? Theron wants to do a mini-series, not a movie.”

More Secrets: "Rhonda Byrne's self-help multimedia phenomenon, which has sold millions of copies, will come out this fall in an edition for young people.”

If Al Gore is "Wrong," Who is Else is Wrong?: Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environment, writes a comprehensive, factual article against global warming scaremongering. As I’ve mentioned before, global warming is a good example of how ideology trumps the quest for truth among today’s Scientific Establishment - even if you try – as I have – to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The Mystery of Gravity: Not so mysterious? Denyse O'Leary explains.

The World Has Lost A Great Mind: The anti-Marxist philosopher Leszek Kolakowski has passed away at the age of 81. Sadly, I can’t claim to have ever read him. But I hope to rectify that.

Also, I've updated the following articles...

The Link Between Darwinism and America's Economic Competitiveness

Strange Thinking By the Conservative Elite

Does This Look Like One of Your Relatives?

2010: The Start of a Major National Debate

Radical Materialists Have a Credibility Problem


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Problem with Bonzo

I love it when Darwinists use the cliche “human beings are 98% chimp” as if that cliche should end the argument and make you bow your head in shame.

Let’s dissect that cliché, shall we?…

First, it refers to the fact that – according to the latest scientists – human beings “share 98% of their DNA with chimpanzees.”

I won’t argue that fact. But what does it mean, precisely? Two related facts might put things in perspective:

You share 90% of your DNA with a mouse.

You share 50% of your DNA with a banana.

Quick: Do you think you’re 90% “mouse?” Do you think you’re 50% “banana?” If the answer is “no,” then the relevancy of the “human beings are 98% chimp” factoid is called into doubt.

So why AREN’T you 50% banana, or 90% mouse, or 98% chimp?

Well…quite simply, while DNA is a physical substance, what makes it special is the information contained within it…in that sense, DNA is a code...a language...think of the word, “GOD.” Now think of the word, “DOG.” If you read those words in a book, you could say, “those words are made up of the same 3 letters," and you would be right...but the ORDER of those 3 letters changes the INFORMATION contained in it…so you can’t say, “since those words have the same letters, they mean the same thing.” No, the INFORMATION contained in those letters gives them a TOTALLY DIFFERENT MEANING. “God” is NOT “Dog.” And “Dog” is NOT “God.” The information contained in the code is what matters.

Let’s expand the analogy…If a guy gave you 2 books – let’s say, The Holy Bible and The God Delusion – and said, “these books contain 98% of the same words; therefore, these books are 98% the same,” you would laugh at him…as you should…because the words don’t matter…it’s the information contained in those words, which – when put in a different order – change the meaning of the book dramatically.

So while it's true that “human beings share 98% of our DNA with champs” tells us something (in this case, yes, we have more in common with chimps than with mice or bananas), it doesn’t tell us a whole lot. And the cliche that “humans are 98% chimp” is blatantly untrue. It defies common sense (go to a zoo sometime and compare the humans to the apes; hint: we’re the ones OUTSIDE the cages). But it also defies logic and science itself.


Note: The book analogy comes from Walter ReMine.

Atheists Choose 'De-baptism' to Renounce Faith

Some highlights from yesterday’s USA Today article, Atheists Choose 'De-baptism' to Renounce Childhood Faith...

“In a type of mock ceremony that's now been performed in at least four states, a robed ‘priest’ used a hairdryer marked ‘reason’ in an apparent bid to blow away the waters of baptism once and for all. Several dozen participants then fed on a "de-sacrament" (crackers with peanut butter) and received certificates assuring they had ‘freely renounced a previous mistake, and accepted Reason over Superstition.’”

"'It was very therapeutic,’ Gray said in an interview. ‘It was a chance to laugh at the silly things I used to believe as a child. It helped me admit that it was OK to think the way I think and to not have any religious beliefs.’”

“Some of the so-called "de-baptized" have used their certificates to petition churches to remove their names from baptismal rolls.”

“De-baptism efforts have been growing internationally in recent years. More than 100,000 Britons downloaded de-baptism certificates from the National Secular Society (NSS) between 2005 and 2009.”

“Public ceremonies to confer de-baptism, however, seem to be primarily an American phenomenon.

"'I think a de-baptism ceremony (in Europe) would strike a lot of secularists and atheists as kind of pointless,’ Evans said. ‘They would leave the ceremonies to the religious.’"

"'For a long time, non-religious people in the Bible Belt just kept quiet, but they aren't keeping quiet anymore,’ Zuckerman said. ‘I think that's largely a reaction to George W. Bush's presidency.
(Atheists) were saying, 'The government is being taken over by very religious people. We need to stand up and say: 'We're here. We're secular. Deal with it.'"

Thought of the Day

This week, I’ve been following an email battle on Andrew Sullivan’s website in which Christians and atheists go back and forth on why they believe what they believe. Normally, this kind of discussion would be right up my alley, but what strikes me after reading about 15 of these emails, is how uninteresting they are.

The basic atheist argument is: “There’s no proof for the existence in God; it’s irrational.” And the typical Christian response is: “There’s no proof that God does NOT existence. Besides, I have the right to believe whatever I want.” While the words change, the basic argument is repeated over and over again.

I keep waiting for the NEXT email to actually be interesting and informative, but it never happens.

I can only bow my head and ask: We can do better than this, can’t we?? Can’t we??


Quote of the Day

"Human beings are spiritual creatures, and that side of our nature must find nourishment. That the big old institutional faiths — Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism — will continue to provide that nourishment is open to reasonable doubt.

We are more and more accustomed to high evidentiary standards in our work and leisure — if only from watching courtroom dramas on TV or doing quality control and evaluative work.
Each of us has his own threshold of credulity, of course, but it's hard to believe the average hasn't been creeping up, and will continue to do so.

This saps away at faith in the magical and miraculous, without which the big old religions are holed below the water line."
- John Derbyshire

Monday, July 20, 2009

Quote of the Day

“Reason is the devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom . . . Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is, and she ought to be, drowned in baptism . . . She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets [i.e. toilets].” - Martin Luther
Luther's quote should give pause to those who think it's "common sense" that reason and faith are compatible, and that Christian dogma has always held that there's a positive relationship between the two.

**UPDATE, JUL. 24, 2009**

Some other charming Luther quotes on reason can be found here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Picture of the Day

This might settle the recent debate over Thomas Jefferson's position on Intelligent Design. The above picture is from one of the signs in the Library of Congress. The LOC, as you may know, was started, in large part, by President Jefferson's donation of his personal library (a total of 6,487 books) in 1815.

Note: Picture is from Denyse O'Leary's website.

Quotes of the Day

"If we present a man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present man as an automaton of reflexes, as a mind-machine, as a bundle of instincts, as a pawn of drives and reactions, as a mere product of instinct, heredity and environment, we feed the nihilism to which modern man is, in any case, prone.

I became acquainted with the last stage of that corruption in my second concentration camp, Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment--or, as the Nazi liked to say, of 'Blood and Soil.'

I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers."

- Viktor Frank, Holocaust survivor, and author of the legendary best-seller, Man's Search for Meaning.

Dr. Frankl's quote opens Richard Weikart's essay, The Dehumanizing Impact of Modern Thought: Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, and Their Followers.

In his essay, Weikart concludes...

"The underlying vision of human nature in any society shapes the political and social institutions, the laws, and the entire culture in far-reaching ways.

The converse is also true--the political, social, and legal developments in a society influence its view of human nature and the dignity of human life.

People who believe that humans are created in the image of God will have different values, ideals, practices, and institutions than those who view humans as merely the sum total of environmental and biological inputs, or those who believe that humans can create whatever truths they desire."

So true.

I've written about Darwin, Marx, and Nietzsche here and here.


Weekly Wrap-Up

Darwin Movie Coming Out:
"Real life couple Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany will kick off the Toronto International Film Festival with the life story of Charles Darwin...The movie centers on Darwin's struggle between science and God as he refines his theories amid his wife's deep religious conviction and grief over the death of his young daughter." The trailer can be seen here.

Enron and Darwinism: A Perfect Fit: A TV series about the notorious Enron Corporation. One viewer writes: "Of interest to me was the unapologetically explicit philosophy of Darwinism which was prevalent at Enron from top management to commodity traders."

David Brooks Criticizes Evolutionary Psychology. But within a materialist framework, of course. For more on Brooks, click here, here, and here.

What do Mike Gerson, Dr. Francis Collins, and Neville Chamberlain have in common? David Klinghoffer explains.

Ayn Rand Revival Gathers Pace in U.S. Universities, Despite Detractors: "Sales of Atlas Shrugged have tripled this year, and Dr Gotthelf, along with Bill Brewer of the University of Warwick, is editing a collection of 20 essays on Ms Rand."

This should be a good book. They need to reduce the price, though.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Future of Science: Decline or Rebirth?

According to Charles Murray, David Brooks, Tom Wolfe, E.O. Wilson, and other experts, we are on the cusp of major scientific breakthroughs – especially in neuroscience, genetics, and artificial intelligence - that will revolutionize society forever…Scientists will learn so much about the brain, the genetic code, life on other planets, etc. that it will destroy any remaining doubts about materialism, and radically reorder the moral basis of society.

Well, there's one problem with that… We’ve been hearing those predictions for a long time and yet they STILL haven't come true...E.O. Wilson published Consilience in 1975...Tom Wolfe published his essay, Sorry but Your Soul Just Died in 1996…Next year, David Brooks will release the latest pop culture book that breathlessly declares: "Repent, For Materialism is at Hand!...And yet I (like the rest of the public) is left to wonder, “Where's all the NEW evidence? Where's the smoking gun?”

In the spirit of non-conformity, in 1996, John Horgan published a controversial book, The End of Science, which declared that “scientists have solved most of the universe's major mysteries” and that we are approaching thelimits of knowledge.”

Ten years later, Horgan stood by his thesis in Discover magazine, declaring that the “limits of scientific inquiry are more visible than ever.”

In case you think I'm quoting Horgan because he's a fellow traveler, I'm pretty sure he isn't sympathetic to Intelligent Design - at least if you go by his casual statement: "Evolutionary biology reminds us that we are animals, shaped by natural selection not for discovering deep truths of nature but for breeding."

The point is….Even from the perspective of a materialist such as John Horgan, there is reason to be skeptical about the claims of science's boosters.

Contrary to Brooks, Murray, et. al, everything we’ve learned over the past decade suggests that the brain, DNA, and artificial intelligence are A LOT more complicated than we think…and therefore, any attempt to reduce human beings to “meat puppets on a stick,” or “computers with flesh,” etc. are going to run into a brick wall.

In my recent article, What is the Function of Science?, I observed that the scientific establishment gives nearly all of its funding and attention to studies that de-emphasize the mind, while ignoring projects that demonstrate the power of the mind (for example, see this study on sexual arousal). This misallocation of resources begs the question: Is the philosophy of reductionism preventing science from achieving new breakthroughs? Sadly, I fear the answer is, “yes.”

Now don't get me wrong...I do think we will see scientific progress in the future - especially in the fields of energy, nanotechnology, and health care...but even those scientific gains will be incremental, not revolutionary…advances in neuroscience, genetics, and artificial intelligence will be nowhere near the hype…future breakthroughs (if any) will come from new, non-materialist paradigms that are built on respect for the mind and design...Since it might take decades for scientists to allow themselves to entertain a non-materialist paradigm, I share Mr. Horgan's pessimism about the future of theoretical science in the near-term...but I would be glad to be proved wrong!

Thankfully, there is reason for at least a crumb of optimism. The Intelligent Design movement is starting to move beyond theory by diving head-first into scientific research. In that mission, 2 organizations are worth a close look.

The first is The Biologic Institute.

According to its website...

Biologic Institute brings together scientists with diverse expertise, unified by the realization that a revolution in biology—with far reaching implications—is well under way. Like many revolutionary ideas, this one is powerful in its simplicity:

The more we learn about the organization of life, the more clearly it reveals design.

When you realize that living cells store, transmit, and process information, the similarities with human technology are unavoidable. But when you get a glimpse of the remarkable sophistication of the cellular processes—and the almost unbelievably small scale of the molecular systems performing them—you begin to realize that humans are novices when it comes to complex design.

If you’re like us, you also begin to think about the exciting possibility of bringing these two worlds together: the world of human designs and the world of living designs. Biology is already informing technology, and we think the reverse will prove true as well.

Our team of researchers is exploring this from every angle—the experimental, computational, and theoretical—and at every scale, from the molecular to the galactic.

We are not the only ones expecting big things to come from the connection of engineering to biology. Biomimetics, the growing field that emulates engineering principles found in biology, has similar expectations. What distinguishes us from most scientists, though, is our interest in turning this around—allowing what we know as engineers and designers to inform our understanding of biology.

Next is The Evolutionary Informatics Lab.

Evolutionary informatics merges theories of evolution and information, thereby wedding the natural, engineering, and mathematical sciences. Evolutionary informatics studies how evolving systems incorporate, transform, and export information. The Evolutionary Informatics Laboratory explores the conceptual foundations, mathematical development, and empirical application of evolutionary informatics. The principal theme of the lab’s research is teasing apart the respective roles of internally generated and externally applied information in the performance of evolutionary systems.

This is cool stuff.

The future of science belongs to The Biologic Institute, The Evolutionary Informatics Lab, and other organizations that aren’t afraid to think outside the materialist box. They will unleash the next wave of scientific breakthroughs. While it's true that we may have reached to the limits of materialist science (sorry reductionists!), we are far from reaching the limits of science itself. Nonetheless, to go forward, we must break the self-imposed limits of materialist philosophy. And breaking those chains - needless to say - could pose quite a challenge.


Monday, July 13, 2009

The Best of Spengler

Recently, I discovered a treasure trove of social commentary by David R. Goldman - a former musician and financial analyst who now serves as the Associate Editor of First Things, a thoughtful (and highly-recommended) religious magazine.

Goldman (who formerly wrote under the pen name "Spengler") has a vast library of knowledge on history, geopolitics, and - as it pertains to The Mustard Seed - the influence of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam on the modern world.

I don't agree with all of his conclusions (for example, I don't share his optimism about the spread of Christianity in China), but even when I disagree with him, I remain impressed by his rational (yet passionate) arguments.

I've posted links to some of his best articles below. A full list of his writings can be found here, here, and here.

Death by Secularism: Some statistical evidence (8/2/05): "
My analysis, preliminary as it is, supports the conclusion that religious belief strongly influences fertility after controlling for wealth and education... Underlying the demographic crisis of the industrial world, I believe, is a spiritual crisis."

Why Radical Islam Might Defeat the West (7/8/03): "Not a single Western strategist has proposed an ideological response to the religious challenge of Islam. On the contrary: the Vatican, the guardian-of-last-resort of the Western heritage, has placed itself squarely in the camp of appeasement. Except for a few born-again Christians in the United States, no Western voice is raised in criticism of Islam itself. The trouble is that Islam believes in its divine mission, while the United States has only a fuzzy recollection of what it once believed, and therefore has neither the aptitude nor the inclination for ideological warfare."

Christianity Finds a Fulcrum in Asia (8/7/07): "China may be for the 21st century what Europe was during the 8th-11th centuries, and America has been during the past 200 years: the natural ground for mass evangelization. If this occurs, the world will change beyond our capacity to recognize it. Islam might defeat the western Europeans, simply by replacing their diminishing numbers with immigrants, but it will crumble beneath the challenge from the East."

Mideast: Lessons from Classical Warfare (11/7/06): "Islam cannot withstand the final dissolution of traditional society that comes with the triumph of globalization. Its entire raison d'etre is a stubborn refusal to adapt, in the fashion that the Chinese have adapted, to a new world with new ground rules. To intervene in the Islamic world is to hasten the dissolution of traditional society and with it the world of Islam."

Ayatollah al-Sistani and the End of Islam (9/8/06): "Islam is the focal point of the civilizational crisis, precisely because the sudden leap into the modern world puts the severest test to Islamic faith. Christianity barely survived the end of traditional society in the industrial world, flourishing as a religion of personal conscience only in the United States. Yet Christians had half a millennium to prepare for the transition. Islam's prospects for survival outside of traditional society are poor. It is a fallacy to imagine that a deeply religious Muslim world confronts a secular West. On the contrary, Islamic radicalism is a response to a deep - I believe fatal - crisis of faith in the Muslim world."

Lessons for Islam from Quebec (8/30/05): "Should the Islamists fail in this generation as badly as the Arab nationalists failed during the generation of Gamel Abdul Nasser, it is quite possible that the Islamic world will sink into demoralization as its population growth falls...Islamist sentiment has surged in face of the threat of a sharp decline a generation hence. That is why the first half of the 21st century may be the time of maximum danger for confrontation between Islam and the West."

Harry Potter and the Decline of the West (7/20/05): "Harry (like young Skywalker) draws his superhuman powers out of the well of his 'inner feelings'...The spiritual tradition of the West, which begins with classic tragedy and continues through St Augustine's Confessions, tells us just the contrary, namely, that one's inner feelings are the problem, not the solution. The West is a construct, the result of a millennium of war against the inner feelings of the barbarian invaders whom Christianity turned into Europeans...Western tradition demands that the individual must draw upon something better than one's inner feelings. Narcissism where one's innermost feelings are concerned therefore is the supreme hallmark of decadence."

They Made a Democracy and Called it Peace (3/08/05): "For today's Europeans, there is no consolation, neither the old pagan continuity of national culture, nor the Christian continuity into the hereafter...Europe will offer no resistance to Islam, which will triumph in that continent no later than 2100...I do not believe that the Islamic world will abandon its long-developed sense of collective identity in favor of US-style democracy without tragic consequences."