Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How Did We Get Here?

Proponents of theistic evolution such as Francis Collins would have us believe that biblical Christianity and Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection are compatible. They are not. Evolutionary theory says that we are here by accident. It is at odds with the biblical teaching that people are God’s special creation, set apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. It’s no wonder that evolution’s primary advocates, such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, are the most outspoken atheists of our time. But which view is correct? I find the idea that God created each species individually more plausible because there are too many questions for which evolution does not provide a satisfactory answer. Here are the main problems I see with the theory of evolution.

1. Information. Each species has a massive amount of information encoded in its DNA that distinguishes it from others. Evolutionary theory tells us that an unguided, random process has built up this vast store of information over time, but we do not observe random processes that produce information in any other field. In Carl Sagan’s book Contact, scientists looked for patterns in radio signals from outer space as an indication of intelligent extra-terrestrial life. When they found a signal repeating a list of prime numbers, they interpreted it as proof that there was an intelligence producing the sequence. DNA is almost infinitely more complex than a sequence of prime numbers, and yet some scientists believe that it comes from a random process. The idea that God wrote the code for each species seems much more reasonable to me.

2. Probability. For atheistic evolutionists, the big problem is how life appeared in the first place. Among these is Francis Crick, who discovered DNA along with Watson. He believes in what he calls “directed panspermia,” which is a theory that the first single-cell organism arrived on earth from somewhere else. That’s just passing the buck. The idea that God created the first cell and evolution took over from there would be more probable, but still too improbable for me to believe. Fred Hoyle, the mathematician and cosmologist, said the probability that evolution produced the variety of life we see was similar to a tornado passing through a junk yard and producing a fully-functional 747. I could almost accept it for organisms with asexual reproduction. Gradual changes over long periods of time could possibly produce great changes. But the probability seems far too remote for organisms with sexual reproduction. Evolution would have to produce two specimens of the same new species at the same time, in the same geographic location, and for the opposite genders. (This is true because the ability to reproduce is one of the key things that separates one species from another; if the evolved organism could still reproduce with the old species, it would not be a new species.) You have to wonder how many times natural selection would have to produce a horse from whatever came before it until you would get one male and one female horse at the same time in the same place. Thousands of times? Millions of times? Again, the biblical explanation that God created each species seems much more plausible.

3. Irreducible complexity. Scientists have discovered molecular machines inside cells that are irreducibly complex, meaning that they consist of parts that serve no purpose outside of the machine of which they are a part. The molecular biologist Michael Behe has written extensively about the bacterial flagellum as an example. It is similar to an outboard motor, and it consists of many parts that serve no other purpose. Evolutionary theory cannot explain how natural selection could produce a molecular machine like this through a gradual, undirected process.

4. Lack of evidence. Darwin predicted that archaeologists would uncover transitional forms in the fossil record. These were supposed to fill in the gaps between the species we observe today, but we haven’t found them. The fossil record does not show the gradual transitions that Darwin predicted. Furthermore, no one has ever observed the birth of a new species. Scientists can produce a new generation of fruit flies every few weeks, and they study their mutations, but after thousands of generations in labs, they only produce more fruit flies, never a new species. If our ancestors were a different species a few tens of thousands of years ago (roughly a thousand generations), why shouldn't we see a new species emerge from fruit flies breeding in labs?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Are you Ready to Lose your Liberty?

“ The deluge began, seven weeks after Easter….sheets of rain spread in waves over the sodden countryside, dripping from eaves, flowing in endless rivulets down muddy country lanes.  Freshly plowed fields turned into shallow lakes…floods swept away entire villages, drowning hundreds at a time… Throughout nearly all of May, July and August the rains did not cease…”   A description of early 21st century weather?   Hardly.  It is a description of 14th century Europe at the beginning of the Little Ice Age (1300-1850) when the weather, according to chroniclers and forensic evidence, turned violent and deadly.  In the summer of 1315 the torrential rains and cold weather prevented thousands of hectares of cereal crops from ripening, and the fall wheat and rye crops failed utterly.  The wet soggy weather triggered the Great Famine which visited the continent for the next six years.    Other weather disasters followed.    In 1362, 25,000 people perished  in  what was called “The Great Drowning of Men” when a storm surge inundated northern European shores.  More than 100,000 people were said to have died in the same area in the great storms of 1421 and 1446.  The sea swept into northern Netherlands in the 14th century, inundating the rich farmland and forming the vast inland sea called the Zuider Zee.  Cold, crop failures, catastrophic storms and violent and unpredictable weather during the Little Ice Age spawned wars, plague and famine.  Conversely, the 300 year long Medieval Warm Period preceding the Little Ice Age was a period of placid weather, increased crop yields and population growth.
Last week in the Caledonian Record, Deb Markowitz, Vermont’s Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources, wrote an op ed piece with a chilling title;  “The Climate Cabinet is Ready, are You?”   She began her piece with an equally chilling quote from our governor, Peter Shumlin who stated:  "I remain baffled as to how anyone -- Democrat, Republican, Progressive -- can look at the evidence that's before our eyes, look at the scientific data and not have [climate change] be the top priority of everything that we do, not only in government, but in our own personal and private lives."
There it is hidden in plain sight:  the archetypal scare tactics of those who seek to control the citizenry:  Hysterical predictions about the future coupled with a not so subtle warning to anyone who dares to question the wisdom of the ruler, along with the final denouement:  the citizens must be regulated in “everything we do” to protect us from the predicted disaster.
Rulers used to warn of invasion or pestilence to justify imposition of martial law, onerous taxes or far-reaching restrictions on people’s freedom.  Now climate change alarmism is the perfect substitute:  it is a prediction of future events which of course cannot be measured in the present;  it is backed up by “scientists” who earn their living on predicting global warming; and it requires uber regulation of the populace.   And as the actual evidence from the historical record demonstrates, even if there is global warming, there is absolutely no credible scientific evidence to support the alarmist predictions of climate disaster. 
Markowitz follows the global doomsayer’s playbook.   She cites  her  daughter’s loss of a school day because of flooding as evidence that global warming will cause weather disasters in the future.      If that is the case, then what does the June-perfect weather we have had since early June mean?     The silliness of Markwitz’ anecdote conceals a far more serious problem for Vermonters:  our rulers are willing to use anything, no matter how insubstantial or irrelevant, to justify massive restrictions on our liberty.

Markowitz’ government plan  to prevent these alleged disasters is, of course, couched in anodyne and vague terms.  She cannot be honest about what will be required of us in order to meet her goals.   For example, she claims that “experts from colleges and universities” are  “willing partners”  with the government  to help us minions make “right choices and investments”  She says that the new climate change government cabinet’s goal is “develop and implement a climate adaptation plan for the state  

Her only hint as to what will come for Vermonters is her claim that must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% below what they were 21 years ago.    She doesn’t say how, but others have.  The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund state that in order to obtain that goal, we must reduce our present 95% reliance on petroleum to fuel our transportation to 20%.  That would dramatically change how rural Vermonters live.  If this “goal” becomes a government edict, then we will all be forced to cluster together so we can ride the ghost buses of the RCT and  forget about taking the kids on a car trip to see Grandma.    Sound far fetched?  Environmentalists in rural Texas  are already calling for “urban infill to promote density rather than suburban sprawl, which in turn supports greater use of public transit and reduced car trip miles.”
Reduction in car trip miles will not be sufficient to meet Markowitz’s goal.  The Earth Advantage Institute notes that household greenhouse gas emissions must also be curbed in order to achieve the reductions set forth by Markowitz. .  It recommends a 50% reduction in house sizes and greater use of multifamily units.

And Al Gore, the Nobel Prize winning global warming guru, suggested this week that we need to reduce the number of children we have in order to reduce global warming.

None of this can be achieved by voluntary means.  The inevitable result will first be incessant government propaganda, and when that doesn’t work, government control of, as our Governor says, “everything we do …in our own personal and private lives”.  

The despots of history would be jealous.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Uh Oh Global Cooling may in the offing--will the Establishment promote greenhouse gases? NOT!

Here is a report from the National Solar Observatory indicating that we may be in for a Little Ice Age.  Anyone who has read about the Little Ice Age knows it was a terrible period of severe cold, erratic weather, massive crop failures and the Plague.  So, if the earth cools as a result of lower sun spot activity, will the Establishment promote  greater use of green house gases to counter the cooling?  Don't bet on it.  The risks the Establishment wants to shield us from  always mean more regulation and less freedom for us minions.  If there was a danger that could be alleviated by allowing us more individual choice, then the Establishment would pooh pooh the danger's significance. 

Hooray for Global Warming!

The BBC reported this morning that a rainy summer ruins Bordeaux wine, and that because of "climate change", Bordeaux summers have been sunny since 1992, resulting in good Bordeaux wines for the last 19 years.

This comports with the reports about the Medieval Warm Period, when crops flourished, and societies prospered.

Yeah for Global Warming!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Obama's Squandered Inheritance

President Obama uses every opportunity to blame the economy he "inherited" from the Bush administration for his failure to effectively deal with the serious problems facing our economy today.  The fact is that the economy  has deteriorated by a number of key measures since Obama took office is a direct result of his administration's poor policy decisions.

The gas price at the time of Obama's inauguration was $1.87 per gallon. Today, the average price nationally is $3.75 per gallon, a completely predictable result given his restrictions on exploration and drilling.

Unemployment stood at 7.2% when Obama took office.  It stands at 9.1% today.  The uncertainty created by the implications of Obamacare and the lack of an energy policy focused on lowering costs and his constant promises to raise taxes have caused a prudent business community to restrict hiring.

Housing prices have eroded an additional 20% nationwide since Obama took office representing an enormous loss of wealth among consumers helping to explain the persistently weak consumer sentiment.  The new financial regulations incorporated in the Dodd-Frank legislation fail to address the sources of the housing crisis...the government sponsored enterprises (GSE's) known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  The new regulations only serve to increase costs of doing business for financial institutions, costs that will be passed on to us consumers.

Obama "inherited" a national debt of  just over $10 trillion which has soared to over $14 trillion thanks to the cost of his failed "stimulus" program, and the failure of his administration to address the serious fiscal problems facing government.  This enormous debt overhanging our economy is contributing to the economic malaise reflected in the grim statistics associated with the Obama economy.

The dollar has lost 7% of its value in the world currency markets in the past year as the rest of the world takes notice of the precarious fiscal situation facing our government.

Obama is being disingenuous when he blames his inheritance from the Bush administration for the failure of his administration to succeed in addressing today's economic problems.  Even with all of the problems created by the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008, the economy was, by many measures, stronger when Obama took office than it is today.  Obama's policies have made a bad situation worse.  He has squandered his inheritance.  


A dinner offer

In light of the revelation that Sarah Palin  received many email death threats , I am wondering if President Obama,  the Democrats who called for civility after the Gabrielle Giffords shooting ,  or the media who blamed conservatives for the Gifford violence will renew their call for civility, or condemn the violent threats against Palin?  

I will treat any reader to dinner who can send me any evidence of any Democrat  or member of the mainstream media who condemns the violent threats against Sarah Palin and renews calls for political civility. 

I have no doubt I will not have to spend my money.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kindle and the Classics

History is littered with unintended consequences, most of which we would be better off without. But occasionally we see a positive consequence that no one intended. In the 1980s ships from Asia introduced the zebra mussel into the Great Lakes. Everyone worried that they would foul the cooling water intakes on marine engines, but to my knowledge that was never a real problem. Instead, they had the unintended consequnce of cleaning the water. Each year the water in Lake Erie where I grew up was noticeably cleaner and therefore more enjoyable for swimming.

I predict that Amazon Kindle will produce a positive but presumably unintended consequence. For decades academics have downplayed the value of classical Western literature. In school we were subject to a diet of multiculturalism. Instead of Frankenstein or Crime and Punishment, we read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

The Kindle changes the game, though. Most of the classics are available for free because they are no longer protected by copyright. Anyone with a Kindle can choose one of the classics, download it and begin reading it in a matter of minutes. The low price and infinite supply should increase demand for these books, and people everywhere will benefit from reading excellent literature that they otherwise would not have read.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

VPR Scandal

Rep. Peter Welch's  radio press secretary, VPR's Bob Kinzel, broadcast another  Peter Welch press release this morning.  The press release featured Welch expressing  counterfeit "outrage" about Rep Weiner's behavior with Kinzel making supportive comments.   Then Welch said that despite Weiner's disgusting behavior and his repeated lies, Welch concluded that Weiner shouldn't resign.  More supportive murmurs by  Bob Kinzel.  The trouble is Bob Kinzel is supposed to be a VPR "reporter" paid by Vermont and U.S. taxpayers.   This is a scandal at VPR.   VPR broadcasts radio press releases from elected officials who support taxpayer funding for public radio.

The Fourth Estate is supposed to scrutinize our elected officials.  This watchdog role  a vital part of democracy.  But if government funded media use its taxpayer funded resources to provide free press releases for elected officials, with no scrutiny,  then the fourth estate has become a corrupt arm of the government.   That is exactly what has happened at VPR.

 I have never taken a journalism course, but here are some suggestions for questions Mr. Kinzel might have asked Rep. Welch if he wants to be a real journalist rather than a mouthpiece for Rep. Welch:

  1. Why an ethics investigation?  We already have all the information about what Weiner did. 
  2. Isn't it a waste of taxpayer's money to have an ethics investigation?  How much will an ethics investigation cost the taxpayers?  
  3.  An ethic investigation is confidential until the committee makes its findings public. Rep. Charles Rangel's ethics investigation lasted almost 735 days with his censure occurring five months later after the 2010 November elections.  Isn't a call for an ethics investigation just an opportunity to take this scandal off the front page until after the next Congressional election? 
  4. Republican Rep Chris Lee  resigned hours after it was revealed he posted a shirtless picture of himself online because John Boehner demanded he do so.  Democrats gained another Representative in a special election for Lee's seat because Republicans would not tolerate such behavior. Rep. Weiner sent an obscene picture of his naked body to several young women, and lied about it for a week.  Why don't Democrats demand resignation by this obviously worse behavior?  
  5. Isn't your "outrage" hypocritical?  Isn't it cynical for you to come on the air and express outrage at Weiner's behavior, yet not call for any consequences for his behavior? 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

President Obama's inheritance

President Obama is fond of telling us that he "inherited" a terrible economy  even after 2 1/2 years in office.  The supine media have dutifully parroted Obama's "I inherited"... mantra.

George W. Bush never said he "inherited" anything, not even the Clinton recession, the dot com bubble burst, or an intelligence community in shatters.  He manned up and took responsibility for anything that happened on his watch.

Was Obama faced with such terrible circumstances that we should continue to give him a pass in the third year of his Presidency?  Hardly.

Obama actually  inherited an average recession, and since he has been in office, has made it much worse than any other post war recession.

Obama inherited $1.87 a gallon gasoline on the day he took office, thanks to George W. Bush opening up drilling in July 2008.  Now gasoline prices are $3.84 a gallon.  Funny how Pres. Obama never talks about this inheritance.

Obama inherited $10 trillion in debt; he increased our debt in 2 1/2 years another four trillion and counting. 

Obama inherited a superb military and intelligence community, thanks to the efforts of  President George W. Bush.  Because of the efforts of Pres. Bush,  we had the capability to finally kill Osama Bin Laden.  Yet, the President failed to mention President Bush when announcing Bin Laden' death,  patting himself on the back instead.   Funny how this inheritance gets overlooked by our Commander in Chief.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

BBC's Liberal Bias on Display in London

Debbie and I had a good time visiting London for several days in May.  We were concerned when we heard that President Obama was planning to be in town while we were there because we envisioned crowds and traffic tie-ups.  While walking around London on May 24th, a beautiful sunny day, we happened to arrive at Downing Street just as Obama's motorcade arrived for a cookout with the prime minister.  There were hundreds of police officers, hundreds of protesters across the street (protesting U.S. involvement in Afghanistan), and a crowd of casual onlookers.  One of them asked us if we were there to see Obama and when we said "no", he responded "me neither, I just want to cross the street".   We then proceeded up the Mall toward Buckingham Palace.  The Mall was impressive with alternate American and British flags lining both sides, but there were no crowds, only tourists, and lots of police and baricades as if large crowds had been expected.

Upon our return to the hotel that evening, we watched the BBC news. As expected, the BBC gushed over the Obama's visit, how beautiful Michelle looked, etc., etc.  There was no mention of the protesters, no mention of the lack of crowds, and no mention of Obama's gaffe during his toast to the Queen at the State dinner which she hosted at Buckingham Palace.  Typical BBC.