Saturday, October 20, 2018

Stupid Mail - "Hawking said that there is no god"

Who died and made him God? 

Stephen Hawking was about as qualified to opine on the topic of the existence of God as he would have been on any other topic he never seriously considered or addressed.  Hans Kung is worth reading on the topic, Elizabeth A. Johnson is, Hawking isn't. I'd be about as interested in Hawking's opinion on brands of soap or shoe laces.  And I'm not.

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Glacio (?) - Utopia

Note:  The play is in English.

This week we received a mysterious submission from a mysterious stranger who only identified themselves as Icewater. Was it a dead-drop? Are we spies now? ARE YOU?! Who knows, and who cares! Utopia is a fascinating new project that takes place in an alternate timeline that diverged from ours shortly after the first World War; the entire planet is now unified under a single government, everyone speaks Esperanto, and there's money and services sufficient to give everyone plenty of leisure time. So why would anyone ever want out? Our protagonist, Glacio, explores an ineffable well of discontentment within himself as we play episode 1 of Utopia: "Gladness".

I am not a huge fan of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, sword and sorcerer, alternate history stuff, I prefer fiction that creates out of reality.  But, by a large percentage, drama, including audio drama is made by people who produce in those genera and it is very, very popular.  

Having this week been accused being a "utopian" by a play-lefty, "real"-lefty infant Maoist and having Simps try to embarass me by bringing up the fact that I'm a samideano which doesn't embarrass me at all, having started planning my next-years garden and having washed a plate (actually the dishes), I happened across this audio-drama and wondered if I was - somehow - meant to post it today.  Maybe I'm living in that kind of alternative reality.   Spooky.  Or not. 

It's a little bit of fun, what I could make out of the Esperanto was well pronounced, I think whoever produced this is a samideano, to which I say, saluton, geamikoj, la vera esperanta teatro eble devas esti aŭskult-teatro, ĉu ne?  Mi preferas aŭskult-teatron, la teatro de skribuloj kaj aktoroj kaj ideoj.  

Steampunk, I'm really not a fan of steampunk.  Though I used to watch Murdoch Mysteries.  Yannick Bisson, okuldolĉaĵo.

Update:  Here is the Utopia website. 

So you want a uniform, universal explanation of reality, do you?

Someone apparently thinks that the multiplicity of theologies is evidence that discredits theology.  The list I gave the other day, several named, prominent living theologians, Black theology, Mujerista theology, Liberation theology, . . . speaking in different languages, from different contexts and different points of view is asserted to be evidence the whole thing is bunk because it doesn't come up with one universal, final set of laws - laws in the sense that science is asserted in laws - that are fixed for all time.

My first resort was to point out that that view of science is naive and childish, that science has never come up with one law which has given a complete and absolute view of anything in the physical universe, even the greatest of those in history have either been modified through later science or they have given rise to a multiplicity of points of view.

According to several experts I had understood, quantum physics was interpreted six different ways, that is until not long ago I came across a list of 10 and those were listed as merely the Top 10 interpretations of some well established theory about some very simple phenomena in the physical universe. Quantum theory is still young, I'll bet as it is subjected to even more discovery there will be more modification and different interpretations will arise, Given some of the authors of those interpretations are dead and some alive, indeed some of them still elaborating their own interpretations, it's an ongoing thing.  And individual scientists are quite able to hold different pictures of their subject matter at different stages in their life.   Any one of those interpretations can give rise to a multiplicity of interpretations, the listing of what I think is the loopiest of them, #7 the "Many Worlds" interpretation attributed to Hugh Everett, has certainly given rise to all kinds of wild speculations, not only out of this world but out of this universe.  And even those give rise to a multiplicity of interpretations, look at the string-membrane fad within physics as critiqued by Woit and others.

And that is acceptable even among materialist-atheist physicists who insist that they will be or are on the cusp of an all-embracing Theory of Everything, including the atheist ideologue who reluctantly admitted that there isn't a single particle in the universe that science has a complete and exhaustive knowledge of.

A similar situation is typical of science about the physical world, the only place where any universal agreement happens is in mathematics and mathematics is done about objects which are entirely imaginary and have no absolute and securely understood connection with the physical universe or any other realm of reality.  It was an important development in my concept of proof and knowledge when I realized that the only place where something rationally considered absolute knowledge was found was in the imagination.

Knowledge is never objective, it can't be, it is a matter of choosing to believe.  The concept of objective knowledge is a delusion of snobs who choose to forget the development of their own minds.   That is especially true of 20th and 21st century scientists who have probably the strongest reason of anyone in human history to understand that but who, in large part, ignore that extremely important discovery of physics in the 21st century, generally out of motives of conceit and a desire to pretend it isn't true.

God, in the view of just about any theologian of any reputation I'm aware or is considered to surpass not only that level of human understanding but the human capacity to understand.  In Christian theology and, though I've read very little of it, from what I'm told, Jewish and Islamic theology, God is not merely some remote Other but also immanent in the world naturally, biologically, socially, culturally and individually, both universal and local, as it were.  And whatever we can know of God will, like what we can know of physics or anything else, be based in our own minds.  That means that the God we can articulate or conceive of is a product of our own experience, as individuals, as members of our societies and as people with various identities within life.  It is absurd and incomplete, the construction of an idol in place of God to think you can think of God in 21st century America without Black Theologies, Women's Theologies, Latino Theologies, Asian Theologies, various theologies written by various Europeans and all others of different religious backgrounds and different experiences and anyone else who writes or talks out of their own experience.  Any dangers of any of them being wrong at any point is no more disqualifying or discrediting in theology than it is any other part of academic or intellectual discourse, that is merely one of the  vicissitudes of being individual human beings in different societies and other different  levels of classification.

So you want a uniform, universal explanation of reality, do you?  You claim that anything else only means what you're talking about is phony.

The fascist thuggery that we are seeing promoted in the media, on cable TV, certainly on hate-talk radio, and now in the pages of the New York Times is the opposite intellectual practice, the violent coercive pack formation that is based on thoughtlessness and assertions of will.  I have seen that being promoted on many online sites, some of them explicit in their nihilistic, anti-intellectual and overt patriarchal fascism.  A lot of what I saw the last time I researched online porn was promoting fascism of that kind, as I've mentioned a lot of gay porn online is indistinguishable from Russian and, now, other neo-Nazi anti-gay propaganda, including violence as an assertion of will and sexual dominance.  If you want uniformity, that's where you'll find it.  I think in a more dainty form you can find it in the intellectual coersion of the "skeptical movement" which has always been a kind of boys club of that kind, as so many a female "skeptic" has discovered as they've interacted with them.  "Skeptics" are just the would-be intellectual, less physical version of that.  And those "Skeptics" aren't, in any way skeptical.   Boys seem to be prone to that kind of thing.

I would bet you'd find lots of uniformity at a Nazi-style Trump rally where they beat up and throw out any other points of view.  Those they don't exclude to start with.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Amy Goodman Futility Now - Hate Mail

At your insistence I looked at a little of Amy Goodman and the panel she had on misrepresenting what Elizabeth Warren said, as always the Democracy Now! policy is hire the clueless.   As far as I'm concerned they can all go screw themselves. 

Looking at the archive of Democracy Now! as seen on Youtube, I'd say it's good for exactly one thing, her typical show is a test of what's never going to work for the left. Amy Goodman turned me off with her camera and mic hog ways years and years ago, she is worse than useless.   Far worse. Anyone who listens to her show as if it were important is a douche.  

Stupid Mail - It's another day I'm caring for my failing brother in law so, just a quick one

From Ducan's Daycare for the Demented and Conceited with commentary.

bongo fury • an hour ago
What we need is self writing blogs!

Stëve Sïmels, blog malignancy  bongo fury • an hour ago
You think That Idiot From Maine© actually writes his own drivel?

Anyone who's looked at Simp's blog which is dedicated to re-re-re-re-repeating the common received wisdom that pop-music writers write will repeat and have been since that venue of low-brow pretention started, will, of course, note the irony in this.  But it continued.

DWD  Stëve Sïmels, blog malignancy • 41 minutes ago
If he's paying for it he is a fool.

Now, I don't have anything in particular against DWD except that as a favor to him I tried reading some of his fiction.  You've heard of pro-biotics?  His writing is a sort of anti-anti-depressant, Samaritans should insist it carry a warning label.   Like what badly translated Kafka would be like if you took out the genius and culture.  DWD can bite me.  I have never pretended to be a writer.  He can't make the same claim.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Why I Gave Up On The Secular Left In Favor Of The Religious Left

Listening to that Youtube of Michael Brooks, a call-in Maoist, Jamie Peck, et all discussing Maoism and a "Marxism for the 21st century" put me in a really bad mood.  And then there was my brawl that started with me pointing out that anyone who seriously talked about Maoism as anything except a horrific oppressive example of the most murderous government in human history - which didn't morph into Marx's stateless worker's paradise but into one-party, dictatorial Victorian capitalism on steroids cum Orwellian surveillance state is as bad as any neo-Nazi Holocaust denier.  If you want to see how bad it is in that corner of play-lefty land, you could look up the total dweeb fat-faced pasty-white- Canadian in a quasi-Lenin-cap- sometimes-multi-colored spikey haired -Maoist-Kim apologist Jason Unruhe.  One of the play-lefties I brawled with threw one of his stupider Youtubes at me.   If that ass has ever done a day of physical labor in his life - well, no, I wouldn't eat his hat.  I might dope slap him with it.

Oh, he put up a Youtube about the Youtube linked above, he didn't like it, apparently.  I didn't bother listening to it or reading what his teensy little cult of play-lefties had to say about it.  I've seen his type a thousand and twenty-seven times before, they never go anywhere.

A while back I came across a Youtube of Michael Albert the co-founder of South End Press and one of the founders of Z Magazine and Noam Chomsky which I listened to while doing chores, getting more and more annoyed as I listened to it, not because it was totally wrong but because it was so extremely uneven in quality.   I was going to type out a large section of it but decided it wasn't worth the time it would take, then I found a transcript.  Here, the beginning of their discussion of "religion" will give you a sense of what I found so annoying.

Michael Albert: Alright, what about religion? What do you think religion is?

Noam Chomsky: Well, for one thing it's virtually… Depending what you mean by religion, I mean, if you mean the Abrahamic religions?

MA: We're on weak ground here, because of course I'm religiously illiterate, but…

NC: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

MA: No, I mean, I guess… Yeah, and the other such religion of that type, what are those?

NC:Buddhism is different, spiritual beliefs among Native Americans was different, there's all kind of religions.

MA: But the distinction we're talking about there…

NC: We're talking about the Abrahamic religions?

MA: No, Catholicism…

NC: OK, that's…

MA: Protestantism, Hindu I guess…

NC: No, the Hindus are different. That's, I mean, quite different. Buddhism is quite different. I mean, if you really look at these systems of belief, they differ a lot. In fact, if you…

MA: No, but what I'm asking is what is religion per se, not…

NC: Some belief that there is something in the world which is beyond my grasp which is determining the way things happen and it's going to, you know, it will be a consolation for me, maybe, you know, if my child is dying I'll see him again in Heaven somewhere, I mean, these kinds of beliefs? And that there's sort of a spiritual force somewhere beyond my grasp, and that explains why things are happening? That's fairly ubiquitous. And it's perfectly understandable. I mean, you know, weird things are happening. Like, the sun is moving around the earth, you can see it. I mean, it doesn't happen to be happening but you see it. Well, something must be making it happen. OK, so it's Apollo on his chariot that's pulling the sun. And the same with everything else that goes on, you don't understand anything that's happening in the world. Why is my child, this sweet little wonderful kid, dying? He didn't do anything. So there's got to be some explanation somewhere.

MA: So it's a set of stories to make sense of reality, except not science…

NC:I mean, Apollo pulling the sun with a chariot, is early science. I mean, it's kind of a scientific theory, it's worked out, not trivial, like, for example the classical Greeks did discover a lot of things.

You might want to go read the rest of the transcript, which, it being Noam Chomsky has some valuable information in it though even he say some embarrassingly naive and inaccurate things about religion, some of what he says that is accurate is aggravatingly incomplete - though that's the nature of talking about "religion" as if it's a generalized topic. 

But Michael Albert's participation in it is even worse, about the only accurate thing he says in the course of it is "I'm religiously illiterate."   It makes you wonder on what other topic on which it would be deemed acceptable for someone who is as illiterate as he is on religion to be conducting such an interview.  My guess is none.   And don't for a second think I totally dismiss Michael Albert, he's a far, far more seriously realistic student of what's wrong with the left than most of the people you're likely to encounter (you should discount the title attached by whoever posted this, it is exactly what it isn't about).

I wonder, since he uses the framing of ignorance of anti-egalitarian, elitist, corporate-commercial sports to critique the same elite left such as I slammed this morning he doesn't take the one thing in such culture which has far more promise for the left, Christianity, as worth knowing more about than he does.  I think that ignorance is far more damaging for the left than not knowing about football.  I think his idea that lefties going into sports bars to talk politics as a means of making a dent in the problem is, to put it plainly, totally unrealistic and not a little condescending.  To start with you'll probably find most of them are old, white men with leisure time to waste in sports bars.  You'd be better off talking to their wives and daughters who are more likely to be at church.

I have been reading the great Swiss theologian, Hans Küng's book Does God Exist and from the first page on his great care to know what he's talking about on a huge range of issues is a complete contrast to this discussion.  I have read interviews with him and he's certainly a match if not more for Chomsky in terms of erudition.  I read Elizabeth A Johnson's book Quest For The Living God and she is far, far more in touch with poor and working people than anyone you're likely to read at Alternet or RawStory.  I've posted Youtubes by Walter Brueggemann talking about the Old Testament and his typical lecture or sermon is more radical or egalitarian than what you're ever going to hear on Majority Report or even most of what I've read in Z Magazine (though I haven't subscribed for a number of years, now).  And that doesn't even begin to mention Black theologians,  Mujerista and Liberation theologians not to mention many other theologians who are some of the most informed, some of the most connected to reality and radical writers there are now.   
I wish that all of those years I was reading the secular left, even much of the best of it, like Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, I'd been reading theologians because they are far more likely to point out the right direction for the left. The books that Brueggemann was writing in the 1970s can be read now and they stand up far better than the lefties I was reading as they came out back then.   I think the main reason that lefties are generally as ignorant as Albert almost proudly claims he is of religion is as much to do with academic snobbery and elitism and a general hostility to Christianity.  And I do think it has a lot more to do with the failure of the left than anything to do with secular pop-culture.   I've given up on the secular left.  They've gone nowhere, they will go nowhere.  If they were they'd have gotten someplace except backward. 

Do Preppies Know What Real People Are Like?

Duncan Black this morning


Do People Know What "Pre-Existing Conditions" Are?

I woke up too early and turned on local news so I saw some political ads. I am sure some people do, but I also think this is a bit wonk talk that normies don't understand. Correct me?

I wonder what you base your skepticism on except your prep=>Ivy Leaguer snobbery.  I wonder how many "normies" you really have ever talked to, as opposed to members of your fellow elite.   I live in a largely blue collar milieu in which I probably talk to fewer than two dozen prep=>Ivys in a year and I'd guess that virtually all of those with health insurance from before the ACA was adopted know what pre-existing conditions are.  If they haven't run up against refusals they know someone who had or who had had a family member refused the insurance they paid for on that basis.  Or had been refused a policy on that basis.

I don't know how many people like me have experienced it, but I'd imagine lots of us are familiar with this kind of conceit masquerading as something of the left.  It accounts for why so many people don't trust the left.  If Barack Obama hadn't been a prep=>Ivy kind of guy a. the ACA would have been written in a way that it was far more popular, b. he'd have actually made an effort to sell it to the American People in language they could understand instead of "wonk talk" which I would almost guarantee you "pre-existing conditions" isn't due to how many real people were introduced to the term when they or someone they knew were refused coverage on that basis.

Geesh! are you guys ever dense, clueless and tone-deaf.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Hey If The Management Of The NYT Is Soft Peddling Street Violence Maybe They Should Get To Experience Some

The New York Times has always been a fraud as a liberal paper.  What it always has been is the Susan Collins of "liberal" papers, always pushing the envelope in the direction of oligarchy while gulling its New York City readership with a gloss coat of liberal-lite.  In the period when we have an overt fascist in the presidency, overt fascists in control of the congress and a majority on the court, it doesn't surprise me that they're doing things like puff pieces trying to normalize Gavin McInnes, a racist, misogyinist, queer bashing scumbag who should be deported back to Canada where they have hate-speech laws or back to the Britain that spawned the guy.  

Since the piece is trying to normalize violence, maybe someone should spread the joy and knee cap A. G. Sulzberger or the editors who OKed this piece.  If someone's going to get it, I'm not going to cry if it's the ones who are trying to make it chic.  Someone tell me why what I said is worse than what the NYT printed. 

Stupid Mail - From The Strip Mall of Babel

I guess my scripto continua joke yesterday went over the heads of those I expected it to go over.   Scripto continua, the earliest form of writing of Greek and Latin in which words are written continuously, letter after letter, not taking note of lines, words not separated, with no punctuation and, in the Roman alphabet, everything is written in capital letters (punctuation and miniscules being a medieval monastic invention) is probably how almost all classical literature was written, even as English, up until the 19th century, was not written in standardized spelling.  Some late Roman monuments have dots between words but scripto continua was how Latin was written on parchment or paper.

From The Classical Journal Forum

That one of Duncan's doddering duffers doesn't know the difference between grammar (the structure of language) and mechanics (the mechanics of writing words on a page) isn't surprising.  Ignorance is what remains when the adults flee.  I'd probably be as ignorant of that difference if my excellent 6th grade English grammar teacher in my modest rural grammar school hadn't pointed out that difference to us. Spelling isn't grammar either, by the way.  I don't recall if our 6th grade English grammar book noted the difference but I know the Warriner's 9th grade English Grammar And Composition book did, having a copy of it. 

Maybe I should diss Strunk-White again, that really got Simps and the Simpletons knickers in a twist the last time I did it.  It's why they freak out at a sentence of more than 12 or so words, the idiotic idea that simple sentences of few words are the real, right way to write.  I've seen so many ignorantly praise Strunk-White, never in texts that followed their rigid, stupid commands, though.  Like those who praise Hemingway while not following his sterile 4th grade reader model of writing to do it.   They don't practice it, they just know they're supposed to say they like it even though they don't even know it.

Maybe I should have tried it in boustrophedon script, though I'm not going through the work of doing that typing without an app to do it with.  Too much work for a quick, minor joke.

An Article Worth Your Serious Reading

Got called out in the night.  I'm just back at my place to pick up a few thing before heading back so I don't have time to write. 

In the meantime, you might want to check out this fascinating  article that touches on some of the same topics I've been writing about,  Controlled Measures
Phrenology lies at the heart of biometric governance.   Like all good articles, it could lead on farther into the topics it presents.  I totally agree with the idea that what we're seeing in the technological control of our lives grows out of those tendencies of Victorian science that was responsible for eugenics and, in the fullness of time, the Nazi version of eugenics.  The framing of determinism that became inevitable with the adoption of Darwinism had a huge effect on even how people see things.

I had a brawl on a comment thread of a Majority Report video promoting (the title says "debating") Maoism as a possible good.  I was, of course, disgusted and horrified, pointing out that when you are talking about Maoism you're talking about the version of Marxism which is, actually and irrefutably, the most murderous of all political regimes in human history.   Yet what passes as serious people on the left, in 2018, even as we have seen that in real life Marxism doesn't lead to a glorious stateless worker's paradise but a horrific Victorian capitalist gangster state on steroids, can, CITING THE 1960-70s ERA BLACK PANTHERS (also defunct after a brief era of violent futility) seriously promote Maoism as something admirable to young and youngish people. 

I pointed out that these folks, among those suitably horrified by the surveillance of Americans by the NSA and that even larger invaders of our privacy, private business, were promoting what was and is one of the most brutal surveillance states in human history.   I was hoping that if the mass murders didn't open their eyes to the nature of Maoism and the Marxism that has produced other such regimes, that the invasion of privacy issue might get their attention. 

But the article by R. Joshua Scannell touching on that is more worth reading than that video is worth listening to.

Got to go.  Till later.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Simps Is Trying To Impose Himself As My Editor


Update:  The question mark was a nod to modern convention.  I'm nothing if not flexible.

Donald Trump Owes Elizabeth Warren A Million Bucks - And Why Democrats Must Take Direct Control Of Its Nominations Process

I so hope this means she is running and that she is running is going to persuade Bernie Sanders to announce, early, that he is not running because the online cult that aggregated around him in 2016 is already attacking Elizabeth Warren in favor of Bernie Sanders  - who, last time I looked, had dropped his temporary Democratic Party membership after he was done using the Democratic Party to promote his divisive, harmful and dangerous presidential campaign. 

If Bernie Sanders doesn't early announce he is not running he is only going to hurt Elizabeth Warren's chances of winning and helping Republicans either reimpose Trump or some other and equal horror.  If he wanted to prevent that he would endorse Elizabeth Warren and tell his cult to can it with trying to tear her down and talk against her.  And he can start with that total, egomaniac jerk he introduced to a national audience, Jeff Weaver.

The Democratic Party needs to take control of its nominations process to protect it from carpetbaggers and marginal figures.  It should conduct a mail-in ballot for the nomination along the same lines that Washington State conducts its elections of Democrats registered as being in the party six months before the date of the nominations process.  Take the bull shit state-elections patch work out of it, entirely.  State elections processes are too vulnerable to corruption such as can be seen wherever Republicans have control of state governments but also to the idiocy of state Democratic officials who are quite capable of coming up with total idiocy all on their own.   If you want an example of that, wherever the 19th century anti-democratic atrocity of caucuses are still used.  It's time for the Democratic Party to take control of its own presidential nominations process.   Such alleged reforms as same day party-declaration leads directly to Green Party (Republican Party) ratfucking such as I witnessed at the 2016 caucus in my town.   For assholes who are not even party members like Sanders to be able to do what he did in 2016 is unacceptable.

Monday, October 15, 2018

An Answer

I think to a large extent it's ridiculous to still be battling over Charles Darwin and his theory of natural selection.  What science still holds such a rigid requirement of ideological faithfulness to a scientist who died 136 years before and a theory as vague and problematic as his version of natural selection? 

If his theory hadn't become a tool for atheists on the one hand and Biblical fundamentalists on the other, I think it would never have maintained its importance, cultural or political. Though it also being The Good News for economic elites, that could have kept it going, too.

Its position in science is part of that Kulture Kampf but also because it gave biologists something they lacked, a general, central theory that could rival those of Newton and Laplace and Faraday in prestige.  The motive of prestige, which is certainly something scientists thrive on, is way too seldom considered in why scientists do and say what they do.

A combination of those over the years, enforcement of Darwinism as a requirement for maintenance of a career in science and the willful ignoring of the gradual erosion of many of Darwin's contentions - they'd already ignored enormous problems with his theory, so why not continue with that practice - even as rival explanations for how evolution occurred had to have diminished any possible force that "natural selection" had in it, have gotten us to where we are, today.  Those start with the undeniable position that chance had in creating new species, something Darwin, himself, and his atheist-materialist disciples ideologically insist is part of it, though not as the actual "mechanism" of species creation.

The fact is, Charles Darwin and scientists up to and including Frances Arnold have not made a connection between the artificial selection by which human beings from time immemorial intentionally plan and carry out among captive populations of organisms according to intelligent design in which they control everything from original intent to achieving of their goal (when that works) and what they claim happens in nature as a result of a "natural selection" in which, according to their ideological assertions, nature is a mindless something which doesn't have goals, doesn't plan, doesn't actually have the consciousness to choose - the very act of selection - and without intent enforces that very odd invention of not-selecting selection. 

It would be a very odd thing if two things which are nothing alike, this mindless, purposeless, unintentionally acting "nature" doing that thing which Darwin called "selection" and human beings, being conscious beings having purpose and intent and minds using all of those mental processes to do the animal breeding that Darwin claims is a rapid demonstration of natural selection were, in fact, the same thing.  I think it makes more sense to consider the conscious human breeding of new varieties more in terms of an industrial process than anything that happens in nature.

Perhaps it's not surprising such an inbred culture of biological science that can attribute an act requiring purpose to a theoretical entity they insist has no purpose would, in the fullness of time and the accretion of generations of decadence, come up with stuff like the current and idiotic atheist philosophical dogma of eliminative materialism that denies the reality of the human consciousness that creates eliminative materialism.  A dogma so philosophically inept that it could only possibly be true if it were false but which can be held by people holding academic positions considered intellectually reputable.   That such complete and utter nonsense can be asserted - on the alleged basis of science - in an academic setting and as a matter of intellectual repute should win such an academic and intellectual culture a dunce cap instead of an oak wreath in history.  It makes the follies of scholastic academic culture look like minor follies.  Modernism is no less decadent, though earlier in its history it might have seemed fresher.

Darwin's assertion, everywhere, depends on the vaguest of definitions of nature and selection and all of the attributes and actions involved in its "selection".  It requires more wiggle room than a can of bait. That vagueness is exactly what Alfred Russell Wallace, his co-inventor of natural selection, complained about and which Darwin and he tautologically resorted to Herbert Spencer to bypass.  In the case of human beings and what defined the word "selection", we have a far more complete knowledge of what those are and, if one thing is obvious, in human breeding of lines of animals and plants and, now, bacteria*, the action is nothing like what the atheist, ideological contentions about natural selection are.

I think the safest assumption to make isn't that natural selection is a thing in nature, it is that it is entirely a product of the imagination of a British aristocratic who explicitly, on his own testimony, rested his theory on the economic depravity of one of the prophets of the British class system, Malthus. 

Entirely too little investigation of the intellectual foundations of Darwinism is done, I think something in line with the methods of modern Biblical scholarship in which the things that the Biblical text were based in, when those can be known, are taken into effect.  In that case it is one of the older practices of atheists to use parallel stories and ideas written on clay tablets or in hieroglyphs to those found in Genesis to scoff at and debunk the Bible, anachronistically applying standards of modern reading and culture to those books, as well.

Why isn't it isn't as valid to look at the claims of science, especially those sciences as incomplete and inexact as a Darwinian telling of the story of evolution according to the same principles and practices of scholarship?  Darwinism is a long series of invented scenarios explaining things which happened in the lost past and which are not recoverable and, so, can't be checked by observation.  It is, from start to finish, from alpha to omega, an act of human imagination done by human beings who are inescapably people of their time, their circumstances, their cultures, including the culture of science they came up in.  That scientists, trained in the thinking of Darwinism, can't come up with alternative stories to explain contemporary observations isn't very surprising, especially as anything they come up with must be in line with that very Darwinism or it will be discounted and those who propose such explanations ridiculed and dismissed from polite and academic life.  It would be surprising if they were able to come up with alternative explanations and those who had were listened to and taken seriously.

Well, I'm not telling some other story and I don't have anything to lose by way of profession and I don't give the slightest care about the ridicule or the scoffing.  I'm just someone who looked at the primary evidence and am reporting on what it says and what its position in history has been.   I don't feel even slightly obliged to uphold Darwinist orthodoxy, especially when I look at how many millions of people have been killed through an explanation that what the killers were doing was in line with the workings of nature.

*  I have seen no discussion of the fact that Frances Arnold wasn't working with natural organisms but bacteria which had been artificially created by inserting bits of alien DNA into them.  They were intelligently designed organisms which were, further, intelligently selected to produce a desired outcome.   If anything her work was more definitively removed from the natural world than the work of the hundreds of generations of people who bred sheep and cattle and dogs and house cats and corn and wheat, who were working with organisms which hadn't been so artificially altered by modern science.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

On Scientists Using Metaphors They Don't Really Understand or Having It Both Ways At Once

I was asked to comment on the recent Nobel Prize in Chemistry, for which one of the three scientists awarded this years prize, Dr. Frances H. Arnold, claims to have used Darwinian theory to do the work.   Since the piece I was asked to comment on is by the atheist hack Hemant Mehta I'll start with what he referenced in the New York Times:

“I always wanted to be a protein engineer,” Dr. Arnold said in an interview. “Proteins are marvelous molecular machines, tremendously complex but responsible for all the functions of life. I wanted to be an engineer of the biological world.”

At first, Dr. Arnold attempted “rational design,” employing logic and knowledge of how proteins function to try to build new enzymes — proteins that act as catalysts for chemical reactions. But enzymes are large, complicated molecules — some consisting of thousands of amino acids — and it is hard to figure out how a shift in one twist of the molecule affects how it works.

In desperation, she said, she turned to evolution.

“I copied nature’s inventions, this wonderful process of evolution, to breed molecules like you breed cats and dogs,” she said.

For this “directed evolution” research, she inserted the gene that produced the enzyme she wanted to study into fast-reproducing bacteria. With mutations of the gene, she could then examine how well variations of the enzyme worked. She chose the one that worked best and repeated the process — just like evolution chooses the survival of the fittest over succeeding generations.

If that's an accurate account of what Dr. Arnold is claiming as comprising the "Darwinian" nature of her work, there are several big problems with it.  First "Darwinism" is natural selection, the theorized action of nature in creating new species by the selection of individuals to die or otherwise fail to reproduce or to maintain the percentage of "traits" in their species.  That is obvious from the title of On the Origin of Species to the last thing that Darwin wrote as a scientist on the topic.

But Dr. Arnold, herself, gives away that what she was doing was nothing like natural selection and that she, like most others, it would seem, don't really understand what Darwin, himself, was claiming to have discovered.

I copied nature’s inventions, this wonderful process of evolution, to breed molecules like you breed cats and dogs

"I" and "you" are not nature.  Nothing we do as an act of conscious intent to try to achieve an end can be called "nature" or "natural" in the sense that Darwin called his theory "natural selection" it is human selection, it is artificial.  The very simile that she used, "like you breed cats and dogs," gives that away.  Cat and dog varieties, bred by human beings are not the product of natural selection, they are the product of artificial selection as is what Dr. Arnold did.  And, it obviously needs to be pointed out, neither cat nor dog varieties are new species, they are artificially produced varieties of cats and dogs, even Darwin's use of animal breeding in his book was deceptive because he claimed to be showing the production of new species, not new populations of a species in which certain traits predominate.  He never did demonstrate human breeding producing a new species, the last time I looked, no one has ever done that.

I don't know about house cats as opposed to their wild progenitors but that dogs even can credibly be claimed to be a different species than the wolves they came from is doubtful because dog-wolf crosses are not only known, they are easily, sometimes naturally produced.  Dogs and wolves are probably most rationally seen as different varieties of the same species. I don't know the rules of how they distinguish among closely related species in bacteria so I can't comment on whether or not what she produced counts as new species. If the rules of determining species in bacteria differs from how you do it among, for example, species of mammals, it calls a lot more about such assumptions into question but I'm not getting into that right now.

Furthermore, as an ideological claim - though not even in his own elucidation of his theory - the actions of Darwin's asserted "natural selection" by his own assertion  is not a matter of intentional design, it is a matter of random chance mutations that result from other, chance circumstances to produce a variation in the rate of reproductive success, sometimes by the death of some variants due to the "traits" they have, sometimes by the "favored" variant leaving more offspring which breed with the offspring of the "unfavored" variants and leave the favored trait in the line of the previously "unfavored" variant.

As seen in a number of places in Darwin's own elucidation of his theory, he, himself created a problem when he called his theory natural SELECTION.  Selection is a conscious act which means that some conscious agency is making a choice.  To deny that problem by saying that Darwin's use of the term "selection" is merely metaphorical, that whatever it is you are calling "selection" as done by some unconscious entity only points to the fact that you haven't defined what that unconscious entity is or what it is doing even as you claim it has the same outcome as conscious selection.  If you think that's an unimportant problem, I point to you the very real selections made by eugenics committees in American states and Canadian provinces of who to cut off from the future through forced or coerced sterilization, the very intellectual and scientific framing of what they were doing, always, from the start and by explicit claims, based on Darwin's theory of natural selection. Eugenics is and was from its beginnings, by Francis Galton's own admission, inspired by his reading of On the Origin of Speices.

And, of course, that same eugenics leads to the selections Mengele made at the train stop at Auschwitz to select who was to be killed immediately, who was to be used for his experiments, who was to be worked to death.  Or the selection of who to kill, to start with.  There is everything about Darwin's use of the word "selection" that links it to the human, political and legal application of his theory of natural selection in the most non-metaphorical, most non-theoretical ways possible.  Darwin himself complained that "civilised man" was not making such selections in allowing those he deemed unfit to reproduce instead of die, explicitly comparing human societies to animal breeding operations in which those artificially, humanly, deemed of lesser quality were chosen for early slaughter.  There was never anything metaphorical about the term as used by Darwin when it came to that and even when he stuck closer to his sometimes claims about unconscious agency, he was never slow to make assertions about the supposed superior quality of those which survived his imagined culling.  The inept use of metaphor by scientists and others who are given such authority to bend fact asserting they are explaining nature is extremely dangerous and scientists should always be called on their inept use of metaphor because they so often prove that they, themselves, don't get what they're doing.   We put way too much faith in the care with which many of their claims are made and too much faith in their reliability in such matters.

Leaving aside Darwin's massive, basic and illogical inconsistencies aside, nothing about what Dr. Arnold did either is in line with what Darwin and his ideological successors proposed as being natural selection and nothing that Dr. Arnold did is anything but an act of intelligent design in which a person chose which lines of bacteria to keep and which to dispose of, choosing which would succeed, putting herself in the place of "nature." What Dr. Arnold did was Dr. Arnold Selection, not "natural selection".  What she did is an act of bacterial design and then bacterial husbandry.  You can't get from there to saying that nature did it any more than you can really get from sheep and dog breeders that Darwin used as a model and then claim that that proves "natural selection".  It might produce a plausible seeming argument if you are predisposed to ignore the fatal problems with that imaginary link but that doesn't make those problems disappear.

As for Hemant, I read his bilge and don't see that he understood either the claims made by Dr. Arnold or the creationists' claims against it.  His commenting community, stupid even for an atheist blog, certainly doesn't. To start with he scoffs at the entirely logical observation that you can't dispel the possible necessity of intelligent design in the origin and development of life in nature by an artificial, humanly designed science experiment.  Claiming what Dr. Arnold did discredits intelligent design is as stupid as claiming that what the animal breeders she cited did disproves the transmogrification of species.  Though what Hemant claims is, in fact, even stupider than that.  The simple fact is that you cannot use an intelligently designed experiment to demonstrate an absence of intelligent design.  The intelligent design of the experiment is as intrinsic a part of the experiment and its result as the materials or, in this case, organisms (artificially, intelligently designed and produced organisms, by the way) or the methodology used to produce them. It is an inescapable and fatal flaw in that line of ideological resort to lab science to deny intelligent design that intelligence and design are intrinsic to what is done, the results wouldn't be had without those.  Though, as can be seen even among some extremely sophisticated scientists, not to mention blog blatherers, you can unintelligently kick the legs out from your ideological position by trying to use lab science that way.

While I wouldn't express myself in the way the creationists did and am certainly a political and religious opponent of them, that does nothing to invalidate the valid points they made.  That you don't like them and think they have cooties doesn't invalidate those either.  I certainly don't care for the kind of people who are creationists, I certainly don't think you can turn their religious ideology - which, in the Biblical Fundamentalist form, I certainly reject - into science, but that doesn't mean they can't come up with valid criticisms of the claims of even Nobel Prize winners.  The primary requirements for a claim to be valid is that they get the facts they claim to be based on right and that their claim is in line with logical coherence.  I'm afraid in this case, Dr. Arnold's comes up short.   Though what she did was very real, her Darwinian claims about it are entirely wrong.

I do think that Arnold's automatic, unfortunately uninformed and illogical attempt to back-engineer artificial experiments intelligently carried out by a scientist to achieve a planned end into "natural selection" unwittingly shows a flaw in atheist-materialist-scientistic Darwinism that would seem to be almost inevitable, using artificial, intelligently designed things to both stand in as proposed explanations of natural phenomena and in entirely irrational assertion that "nature" as they conceive it, an unreasoning, unthinking, non-teleological something which is no "thing"  is an entirely adequate explanation that replaces God.

They do that by a logically incoherent dualism in which nature is both all of the things they like, while claiming all along that humans using their pridefully asserted intelligence can do things that are magically transformed into the unintelligent purposelessness of nature.  That nature is both unlike what humans intelligently do while being entirely like what human beings intelligently do, only you have to, somehow, remove the intelligence to get there.

Such leaps from artificial lab science to what happens in nature should probably be limited to the most simple and generalized phenomena of chemistry and physics, perhaps some simple physiological  aspects of biology.  And they should leave out claims about it that impinge on God.  Once you start trying to do it to explain complex phenomena or something as massive and unknowable as the billions of years of evolution, its atheist-materialist claims merely erect a quasi-religion within science but which is even more vulnerable to rational criticism than much of religion is.

That is obvious from the start of Dariwnism  as seen in that passage from the fifth edition of origin of species I've often discussed in which he, at the urging of Alfred Russell Wallace tried to remove the obvious implications of intelligence in nature which he asserted "selects" things and which is not teleological or even progressive, an assertion which is disproved by the constant and continual assertions of Darwin about the action of "natural selection" all through his work, most of all in The Descent of Man, something which all Darwinists seem to assert at one time or another.  Even those most angrily resistant to people pointing out that they are asserting intelligence and teleology to nature as they deny it.   You can call God "nature" or "chance" or "probability" or, as Hawking and Krauss did "the law of gravity" but it's just a different word even as their assertions prove they're talking about God no matter how much you angrily deny that's what they're doing.   Atheists, when they insert science into their ideological ranting are so often merely erecting idols,  material gods in the way of primitive fetishists and pagan statue worshipers.  They always do it out of the cultural biases of their particular tribe.

Atheists want to have it both ways in a number of things. They want to be able to claim that nature is purposeless while asserting purpose in nature, they want to claim intelligent design in science disproves intelligent design in nature, they want to set up all sorts of physical phenomena and mathematical entities and procedures as gods as a way to disprove God.   They want to claim their superior intellectual rigor while demonstrating they are as willing as anyone to cut corners and refuse to work out arguments to their ends.  They aren't alone in that, those habits are all far too commonly found among human beings but atheists love to believe they are not like other human beings who they love to believe are deluded while they are enlightened.  Conceit is another widespread human trait.  I'm sure Darwinists could cook up some just-so story to explain that.  Cooking up just-so stories is mostly what they do.