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I saw Ben Stein’s movie expelled this week. I thought that in general it was very interesting. If you do not like a philosophical documentary, you may not enjoy it. It is certainly a piece of propaganda, and some of the claims of ‘expelled’ professors and writers may be a bit exaggerated. But there are some very interesting points he makes, and in general, it was well done. Some general thoughts:

1. I hope his main point is not lost. The point of the movie is that the debate between Intelligent design and evolution is over the interpretation of the data, not necessarily the data itself. Since there is agreement on most of the data, it is the interpretation of that data which is up for grabs. This being the case, the ID-evolution discussion is a theoretical one. Stein’s point: the discussion in educational institutions should not be one sided.

2. Some may get lost in the discussion over Nazism. However, it does show the rational end (eugenics) to consistent naturalistic-darwinistic thinking.

3. Here is an argument to consider:

A. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design
B. It is not due to physical necessity or chance
C. Therefore, it is due to design

There are no other options to A

There are scientific reasons to support B

It could be said that since the science is agreed upon, then the science classroom is not the place for the debate. It should be in the philosophy department. However, when other theories of science (quarks and dark matter for instance) were theorized, these discussions on the interpretation of the evidence were held in the science classroom as well. So why not this one? Obviously because one of the viable options has a theological attachment, it has been excluded.

I just saw a debate in which atheist Peter Singer dismantled Christian Dinesh D’Souza. It was not on the basis of facts, but on the basis tactics and ability. At any rate, Singer says we should not denounce atheism simply because it leads to subjective morals. If something is correct and but it leads to undesired ends, it is still correct. To quote Singer’s own words, “sometimes things are true, even if we do not like the consequences.” Maybe the atheists should take a page from one of their own and open up classrooms to discuss the interpretation of the data even if they do not like the consequences of the truth.

Consistency between beliefs and action

In his editorial, “Misreading U.S. society,” Richard Larsen himself misreads the Pope. I am not a Roman Catholic, but I am a Philosopher, and Larsen not only allows his presuppositions regarding religion to cloud his arguments, but also makes logical fallacies himself. I will only touch on a few due to space, I am leaving out at least two.

Pope Benedict XVI is quoted as blaming secularism as the cause of a, “growing separation of faith from life.” Larsen translates this to mean, “secular society must always take a back seat when a religion decides its moral and social beliefs must take precedence.” In a number of ways, Larsen simply misses the point. His ‘translation’ is a non sequitur. The Pope, from this and other comments he has made, means that people should live out their faith. In other words, if Americans believe something, they should act upon it. Why would he criticize that?

The Pope is later quoted as saying, “overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness,” is one of the goals of religious belief. Larsen criticizes this as being un-American. But is it? Everyone’s belief, in a god, in humanism, in atheism, or in themselves, should be consistent with their actions. No one has the right to unbridled freedom and happiness. Besides that, to trade in your beliefs for freedom or happiness is not at all honorable.

Larsen states, “[i]f people are making choices in life that a religion feels go against faith, the fault does not lie with secular society, but with that religion.” Here, both the Pope and Larsen are incorrect, but Larsen’s view creates a straw man while Pope Benedict’s does not. Secularism may indeed contribute to inconstant living, but it is certainly no the cause. The Pope seems to put too much blame on society and not enough, from what is quoted by Larsen, on the individual. However, if an individual is living an inconsistent life, it is also not a religion’s fault. For instance, if a man believes adultery is wrong, but goes out and commits it anyway, how is that the fault of religion? Christianity made me do it? Hinduism forced me to compromise? I cannot be the fault of religion. Either way, it is still the husband who has made the choice, not religion or secularism. And, if the husband commits adultery, we also assume he has rationalized his actions or changed his beliefs.

The largest mistake Larsen makes is justifying humanity’s propensity to believe one way and act another. It seems as though all of us should seek to grow in consistency between our beliefs and our actions. Most would call this integrity or character. If I believe in atheism, then I should act consistently as I follow the outspoken leaders of my ‘faith.’ If I believe, as atheism does, that this life is all there is, then should I not act in a manner that will bring me happiness? It would be inconsistent to do otherwise. So why does Larsen promote an incongruency between beliefs and actions? I assume the writing of his editorial is in line with his beliefs. If he believes the Pope is correct and writes the article, this would be odd. I can only suppose, from reading his piece, that Larsen truly believes the Pope is wrong. At least that is the way the editor is acting.

Reasons to Fire Mr. Nandor

A little list compiled in class at my request this year.

Poetry of the Young

Hannah and Daniel entered a poetry contest at school. Daniel won for his grade, but Hannah’s is no less wonderful. Neither had prompting for their poem, they simply composed the following on their own:

Jesus’s Birth and When He Died
By Daniel Nandor- Rm. 21 Mrs. Bruns

Jesus was small
As small as can be
He was small,
Very small, Like you and me.

When He was a child,
He saw lots more
Like you and me did before.

And Judas Iscariot
Betrayed Jesus
And Got 30 pieces of silver
To make them crucify Jesus.

Jesus was on the cross
With two other robbers
One did not believe
And the other did.

And Joseph from Arimethea
Got him down from that cross,
And put him in a tomb.

Three days later
He rose from the dead.
An angel rolled the stone and said,
“He is risen,” To two women.
And they ran back and told the disciples.

They didn’t believe He was risen
And Jesus came to where they were .
And they all believed in Him.

My Ruler by Hannah Nandor

My ruler is peculiar
In many many ways
He is the Holy Ruler
He is the one who paid
I love my peculiar Ruler
He paid for all my bad ways
He is stronger than the fooler
My sins are something that cannot be weighed
My one and only Ruler is Christ