DIVIDED YOU FALL
Issue 17 Summer 2011
ophrenic Schizophrenic Schiz About Science
How the “Party of Science” is Nothing of the Sort Regis Nicoll p. 22 Do Clones Have Souls? Do We Have Souls?
Jim Kushiner p. 6
Art Cannot Be Reduced to Parts; Neither Can You
Paul M. Jannakos p. 64 $6.99US $8.99CAN
Indentured Graduate p. 14 Fertility & Futility p. 26 Amazing Grace p. 30
Try Before You Buy? p. 34 Dear Daddy #3066 p. 38 Qat People p. 40
God’s Other Particle p. 44 Neither/Nor p. 48 At a Loss p. 50
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Toward the Gleam A Novel T. M. Doran
etween the two world wars, on a hike in the English countryside, Professor John Hill takes refuge from a violent storm in a cave. There he nearly loses his life, but he also makes an astonishing discovery—an ancient manuscript housed in a cunningly crafted metal box. Though a philologist by profession, Hill cannot identify the language used in the manuscript and the time period in which it is was made, but he knows enough to make an educated guess—that the book and its case are the fruits of a long-lost, but advanced civilization... A story that features a giant pirate, a human chameleon on a perilous metaphysical journey, a mysterious hermit, and creatures both deadly and beautiful, this is a novel that explores the consequences of the predominant ideas of the 20th Century. T. M. Doran, formerly an Adjunct Professor at the University of Detroit School of Engineering, has been a contributing writer for the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, New York Times, and the Detroit Free Press. TOGL-H . . . 467 pp, Sewn Hardcover, $24.95 Read excerpts and see more at
praise for Toward the Gleam “Ingeniously inventive, it is startling, moving, horrifying at times, and ultimately consoling.” Michael D. O’Brien, Author, Father Elijah: An Apocalypse “This is a book richly imaginative, intriguing and metaphysical, exploring many vexing questions of the modern era and enduring truths to be discovered in the process.” David J. Theroux, Founder and President, C.S. Lewis Society of California “The works of Tolkien and Lewis continue to inspire new generations of writers, most of whom are not worthy to bask in the reflected glory of their mentors. T. M. Doran is a noble and notable exception.” Joseph Pearce, Author, Tolkien: Man and Myth
New Novels from 1-800-651-1531 • WWW.IGNATIUS.COM • P.O. BOX 1339, FT. COLLINS, CO 80522
Poor Banished Children A Novel Fiorella De Maria
ast out of her superstitious, Maltese family, Warda turns to begging and stealing until she is fostered by an understanding Catholic priest who teaches her the art of healing. Her willful nature and hard-earned independence make her unfit for marriage, and so the good priest sends Warda to serve an anchorite, in the hope that his protégé will discern a religious vocation. Such a calling Warda never has the opportunity to hear. Barbary pirates raid her village, capture her and sell her into slavery in Muslim North Africa. In the merciless land of Warda’s captivity, her wits, nerve, and self-respect are tested daily, as she struggles to survive without submitting to total and permanent enslavement. This historical novel, set in the 17th century, is the tale of one woman’s relentless search for freedom and redemption.
Fiorella De Maria was born in Italy of Maltese parents. She won the National Book Prize of Malta (foreign language fiction category) for her novel The Cassandra Curse. PBC-H . . . 299 pp, Sewn Hardcover, $19.95
praise for Poor Banished Children “A soulful, beautifully written, and haunting novel.” Ron Hansen, NY Times Best-selling Author, Mariette in Ecstasy “An absorbing tale... Catholic writer De Maria deserves a wide audience.” Publishers Weekly “A meditation on guilt, innocence, and transcendence that will haunt the reader long after the book is done.” Mary Eberstadt, Author, The Loser Letters: A Comic Tale of Life, Death, and Atheism “This is serious fiction with prose that is clean, strong, and worthy.” Thomas Howard, Author, Narnia and Beyond
Read excerpts and see more at
5/20/11 10:28 AM
Issue 17 Summer 2011
FEATURE q 22 Schizophrenic About Science The “Party of Science” Is Nothing of the Sort by Regis Nicoll
COLUMNS p 26 Foreign Intel with Michael Cook Fertility & Futility: Is Demography Really Destiny? 22
30 R & R with Marcia Segelstein Amazing Grace: Interview with Ken Wales 33
FEATURE q 34 Try Before You Buy? Not If You Are Looking for a Marriage That Will Endure Inevitable Trials by Greg Koukl
COLUMNS p 38 Undercover with Les Sillars Dear Donor #3066: A Father’s Day Message for You
40 Hazmats with Judith Reisman One Nation, Under Drugs: How California & the Rest of Us Can Become More Like Yemen 34
FEATURE q 44 The Other Particle
The Search for Sterile Neutrinos Is Heating Up by Hugh Ross
COLUMNS p 48 Deprogram with Denyse O’Leary Neither God nor Darwin? Atheists & Agnostics Who Dare to Doubt
50 Operation ID with Casey Luskin At a Loss: How Can Critics Still Not See That ID Research Programs Exist? 44
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DEPARTMENTS o 4 Incoming 6 Opening Salvo 8 Shrapnel Doctors Encouraging Abortion Modern Art Vindicated? Plan B for Minors? Suicide-Selling Granny Paint It Pink? Capture the Babe 11
14 The Trenches My Very Costly College Education: A Graduate Laments Piling Up $200,000 in Student Loan Debt by Kelli Space
16 Headquarters Suffering Defeated: A Dialogue About God & the Problem of Evil by Greg L. Bock
20 29 53 54
Fake Ad: Meanpeace Fake Ad: RooMating.com Fake Ad: Planet Parenthood Great Escapes How the Raving Atheist Became the Raving Theist by The Raving Theist
57 Crosshairs Eugenie Scott: Intellectual Imperialist by Terrell Clemmons
58 Camouflage Femi-Nihilism: The Feminist Mistake by Terrell Clemmons
Sex, Lies & Video Games: A Review of Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys by Kay S. Hymowitz reviewed by Rebecca Golossanov s Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, The Five Thousand Year Leap, The Housing Boom and Bust, The Unlikely Disciple, Loose Girl, Atheist to Catholic ] Freakonomics: The Movie, Waiting for Superman, Seeking Happily Ever After, Out of the Darkness
64 Parting Shot with Paul M. Jannakos Music & Truth: Art Cannot Be Reduced to Parts; Neither Can You
65 Fake ad: Auto-Correctness 66 Fake ad: Anything But Design 64
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Issue 17 Summer 2011 Founder Richard A. Moselle Executive Editor James M. Kushiner Senior Editors Rebecca Hagelin, Casey Luskin, Bobby Maddex Contributing Editors Hunter Baker, Terrell Clemmons, Marcia Segelstein, Leslie Sillars Columnists Michael Cook, Herb London, Denyse O’Leary, Judith Reisman Graphic Designer Jerry Janquart Managing Editor Anita Kuhn Business Manager Michele Driver
salvo n. (săl'vō) 1. 2. 3. 4.
A mental reservation An expedient for protecting one’s reputation A forceful verbal or written assault A group of shots fired simultaneously for effect
We use the language of war, a metaphoric conceit that is as old as literature itself, only to reflect the life-or-death seriousness of the endeavor in which we are engaged. Salvo does not advocate gratuitous violence in any form.
Credits/Salvo 17 p. 27 - www.squarecirclez.com/blog/singapores-population- bubble/808 p. 30 - Amazing Grace (2006), FourBoys Films, Walden Media p. 31 - Darling Lili (1970), Paramount Pictures p. 32 - Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978), United Artists p. 37 - www.ruthblog.org/2011/04/12/mapping-america-ever-hadan-unwed-pregnancy-by-current-religious-attendance-andstructure-of-family-of-origin p. 45 - Two Micron All Sky Survey p. 47 - ISAS/JAXA/ASD/NASA/GSFC
Editorial Advisory Board Francis J. Beckwith, Mark Brumley, Paul Copan, William Dembski, Dinesh D’Souza, Norman Geisler, Robert P. George, Gary Habermas, Craig Hazen, Hugh Hewitt, Phillip E. Johnson, Greg Koukl, Frederica Mathewes-Green, Michael Medved, Stephen Meyer, J. P. Moreland, Paul Nelson, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, John Mark Reynolds, Jay Richards, Hugh Ross, Fr. Ron Tacelli, John West, W. Bradford Wilcox Partner Organizations Stand to Reason MercatorNet
A publication of The Fellowship of St. James (www.fsj.org), Salvo is dedicated to debunking the cultural myths that have undercut human dignity, all but destroyed the notions of virtue and morality, and slowly eroded our appetite for transcendence. It also seeks to promote the Christian worldview. The opinions expressed by individual contributors are not necessarily those of the editors or publisher. SALVO (USPS #025-638) is published quarterly in Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter by The Fellowship of St. James at 4125 W. Newport Avenue, Chicago, IL 60641-4009. Periodicals Postage paid at Chicago, IL and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to SALVO, PO Box 410788, Chicago, IL 60641-0788. SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES For new or gift subscriptions, renewals, changes of address, or questions about your subscription, contact: Salvo Subscription Services, P.O. Box 3000, Denville, NJ 07834-9986, 1-800-783-4903. Back issues, missing or damaged c opies: Call Publishing Management Associates 1-877-375-7373. SUBSCRIPTION RATES U.S.: $25.99 for one year (four issues); $45.99 for two years (eight issues). Canada: $32.99 (U.S.) for one year; $59.99 (U.S.) for two years. Other foreign: $37.99 (U.S.) for one year; $69.99 (U.S.) for two years. Special rate for students and those on reduced incomes: $15.99 for one year. Bulk rates are available. Copyright © 2010, The Fellowship of St. James. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without permission.
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Reply by Regis Nicoll: Mr. Smith’s comments are well taken. The better, and more correct, phrasing would have made reference to “the liberal cant.”
LETTER RE: “Porn Is Not Free,” Salvo 16 Why would Regis Nicoll single out libertarians for a political potshot in an article that is entirely about the social impact of pornography? Most of my libertarian friends are Christians, and they agree with Mr. Nicoll. Surely he meant to say, “Contrary to the libertine cant, pornography is a serious social malady.” Libertarians simply do not believe it is the business of the federal government to protect adults from pornography—or to do anything else it has no constitutional authority to do. Such efforts always turn out badly anyway. If the government declares war on porn, we will end up with more of both, just as we did with the wars on poverty, drugs, and Iraq. Social problems are best managed by individuals and communities, ideally with Christian influence. But the impression we give today is that of hypocritical do-gooders or pious misfits. To gain any credible social witness, the Church has to clean up its own mess and become more culturally relevant, like Salvo magazine. —Doug Smith Millington, Tennessee
RE: “Collateral Damage,” Salvo 16 Hi. I’m a Vermonter, born several generations back. I can tell you that the unholy alliance of Vermont’s “live and let live” natives with 1960s radicals has given birth to the People’s Republic of Vermont (President: Bernard Sanders). This is not the Vermont of my youth. But Ethan Allen’s secular state has come to full fruition in the current crop, of which John Dewey was a kind of first fruits. —Billy Bean RE: “Got Whole Milk?”, Salvo 16 Some political hay has been made of the First Lady’s promotion of breastfeeding. Some see the IRS’s new tax breaks as favoring working mothers—who would express and store breast milk for bottlefeeding later—over mothers who nurse in “real time.” There may be something to these claims, not only on the political level but also from the scientific and organicfamily standpoint.
Mothers who actually nurse their babies provide more than a mere substance for physical nourishment; rather, they give their children custom-made antibodies that quickly respond to environmental hazards that both mother and child experience in real time. Also, nursing babies can modify their suckling technique when they need more fluid or more fat or protein. There is a complex symbiosis at work, and there are wellsupported claims that a child who has experienced this kind of love can weather many physical and psychological storms. Fathers, too, play a role by giving their families time and support for nursing. Many times I served as a “wall” for privacy when our little guy needed a nip while we were out in public. I also did my best to provide financially, so that Mom and baby had maximum time together. Nursing is not an isolated function, and shouldn’t be treated as such. It’s a kind of glue that can help hold families—and societies— together. —Peter RE: “Cohabitation,” Salvo 15 Excellent article by Alan Wisdom. It is true that the only real and lasting protection for women and
FEEDBACK Got a complaint? a commendation? a comment? some advice? Then write us. Letter submissions should include writer’s name, address, and daytime phone number and be sent by email to email@example.com or by mail to Incoming, Salvo, P.O. Box 410788, Chicago, IL 60641. Submissions may be edited for length and clarity and published or used in any medium. All submissions become the property of the publication and will not be returned. Salvo is not responsible for unsolicited artwork or manuscripts.
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their progeny has been marriage, even though marriage is a rather tenuous and not always perfect arrangement quite dependent upon the worldviews and moral values of the “alpha males” in each given society. Men commonly follow the alpha; hence, if he is a batterer, fornicator, or adulterer, this releases male “watchers” to behave similarly without being repudiated
by other men. If, however, the alphas set examples of purity, fidelity, or even virginity (read Teddy Roosevelt’s life), most males will tend to reflect this conduct as well. The latter always has been best for women and society. —Judith As Jiddu Krishnamurti once said, “It is no measure of health to be
Study of Social Trends, Human Rights and Media Forensics at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government and Social Thought. She is the author of Sexual Sabotage: How One Mad Scientist Unleashed a Plague of Corruption and Contagion on America (2010).
HIRED GUNS Greg L. Bock (p. 16) is an assistant professor of philosophy at Walters State Community College in Morristown, Tennessee.
mission is to equip “Christian ambassadors” to defend classical Christianity and its values in the public square.
Michael Cook (p. 26) is a Melbourne journalist and the editor of MercatorNet and the international bioethics newsletter, BioEdge.
Casey Luskin (p. 50), a senior editor of Salvo, is co-founder of the Intelligent Design & Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center and Program Officer in Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Discovery Institute.
Terrell Clemmons (pp. 57, 58, 62) is a freelance writer and blogger on apologetics and matters of faith. Rebecca Golossanov (p. 8, 61) is a freelance writer living in Wheaton, Illinois. Paul Jannakos (p. 64) is the pastor of St. Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church in Fenton, Michigan. Greg Koukl (p. 34) is the founder and president of Stand to Reason, an organization whose
well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” A person who has to question why cohabitation is not healthy for society and individuals is beyond address. Do we really need stats and evidence? Isn’t it common sense? Well, it is, but common sense is very rare, and the media and the zeitgeist do their best to keep it so. —Julian
Regis Nicoll (p. 22) is a Centurion of Prison Fellowship Ministries’ Wilberforce Forum, and his work regularly appears on BreakPoint Online. Denyse O’Leary (p. 48) is a Toronto-based author, editor, and blogger and the co-author of The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul (Harper One). Judith Reisman (p. 40) is Distinguished Senior Fellow in the
Hugh Ross (p. 44) is an astrophysicist and the founder and president of the science-faith think tank Reasons to Believe (RTB). Marcia Segelstein (p. 30) is a part-time writer and a full-time mother. A former senior producer for CBS News, she has also written for First Things, Touchstone, and OneNewsNow. Les Sillars (p. 38) lives in Stephens City, Virginia, and teaches journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is on staff at WORLD Magazine, and his work has also appeared in Reader’s Digest, the Washington Times, and the Calgary Herald. Kelli Space (p. 14) is an advocate for student loan reform and the creator of the website twohundredthou.com. She has recently partnered with EduLender, a startup that compares student loan rates and gives financial aid advice.
Summer 2011 SALVO 5
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OPENING SALVO Finding Ourselves
n Never Let Me Go, a novel by the Japanese- British writer Kazuo Ishiguro (and now a motion picture), children at a boarding school in the beautiful English countryside are raised with little contact with the outside world. The truth about the origin and identity of the students of Hailsham School is veiled.
But by picking up on subtle clues and hints dropped in guarded conversations, one might begin to figure out that the children are all human clones, whose sole purpose is to become, after reaching adulthood, sources for organ “donations.” After three or four such donations, a clone would “complete,” that is, die. In the course of their schooling, the students of Hailsham undertake many art projects, which are then sent away to a “Gallery.” Years later, the purpose of the Gallery is discovered; the authorities believe that an examination of the students’ artwork will help them find the answer to a much- debated question: Do clones have souls? Thus, just as P. D. James’s The Children of Men is not so much about a dystopian future of global infertility as it is a commentary on modern attitudes toward sex and
children, so Never Let Me Go turns out to be not so much about the issue of human cloning as about the way our society educates students to think about themselves— especially their souls. The students are simply never taught that they do, in fact, have immortal souls. They are treated as intelligent biological objects. Their health is looked after—they are given precise dosages of nutrition and vitamins—but only for the sake of their future “donations.” They are taught the mechanics of sex, but because they will never marry or have children, they are confused about what sex is for, and their teachers do not help them understand. Hailsham students are subtly indoctrinated to accept their sad fate. From early on, they are carefully prepared, with small bits of information they cannot fully understand, to see themselves as
donors. They are, in the words of Kathy, the narrator of the story, “told and not told” when they are young about their future place in society. They learn just enough to go along with things, a step at a time, as they approach and then enter adulthood, accepting in turn each new aspect of their sad fate, right up to their last breath. In much the same way, children in the secularizing West are being taught—though perhaps not in so many words—a soulless, and consequently spiritually destructive, version of themselves. Being taught that science is how we discover the only objective truths we can know, and being encouraged to pursue lifestyles that assume there is no life after death, they eventually arrive at the unspoken conclusion: Human beings are material objects and no more. Still, many feel a sadness that there is no more to life than satisfying carnal appetites and exercising a bit of creativity to amuse ourselves before we die. The truth that we have souls, that we are a little lower than the angels but higher than the beasts, has been closeted away from students. Instead of learning from Moses, Paul, Augustine, and Dante, they are presented with the revelations of Darwin, Freud, and other secular prophets who have supposedly unmasked the sham of outdated religious beliefs. One of those beliefs is that we each possess an immortal soul. Salvo magazine helps readers both get and keep a grip on the precious truth that we were made by God for moral purposes that have eternal consequences—that we each have a rational soul and the ability to think with a moral imagination, to exercise self-control, to develop virtuous habits, and to contemplate with wonder and gratitude our own existence and the world God has made. You, reader, have a soul. Take hold of that truth, and never let it go. —Jim Kushiner
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5/20/11 11:36 AM
Doctors Encouraging Abortions
aving an abortion is safer for a pregnant mother than carrying her baby to term— or so doctors, nurses, and counselors in Great Britain are instructed to tell women who are considering abortion, according to new guidelines drawn up by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). The guidelines also say that such women are to be told that, in most cases, abortion does not cause any psychological harm, according to a report by Laura Donnelly in the Telegraph. Whether or not it is true that abortion entails less physical risk than a full-term pregnancy, is the question even pertinent? Josephine Quintavalle of the Pro-Life
Alliance doesn’t think so. She told the Telegraph, “I don’t believe most women considering abortions are worried it will kill them or are worrying about dying in childbirth”; rather, she said, “this is a blatant attempt to force an absurdly liberal agenda on women when they are at their most vulnerable.” Even more blatant is the guidelines’ claim that abortion has little, if any, impact on a woman’s psychological health, because there is so much evidence to the contrary. Patricia Casey, a consultant psychiatrist and fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, told the Telegraph that “there are more than 30 studies showing an association
between psychological trauma and abortion.” So how did the RCOG come to promulgate such dubious guidelines in the first place? No doubt the fact that abortion providers were included on the 18-member panel that drew them up explains a lot. Donnelly concluded her story by noting that, in the wake of concerns voiced by the Sunday Telegraph and others, the RCOG plans to revise its recommendations, but somehow we’re not holding our breath. • (Source: www.telegraph.co.uk /health/healthnews/8349898/ Abortion-is-safer-than-having-ababy-doctors-say.html)
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Modern Art Vindicated?
any in the art world celebrated the results of a recent study that compared viewers’ reactions to paintings by well-known abstract impressionists with their reactions to works by children, chimpanzees, and elephants. Two psychologists at Boston College, Angelina HawleyDolan and Ellen Winner, paired each of 30 professional paintings with a work by a child or animal, labeling some of the pairs correctly, mislabeling others, and leaving still others unlabeled. They then asked 72 undergraduates—including 32 art majors—to state which painting in each pair they liked better, and which they thought the work of a real artist. The result? The participants preferred the famous art works 60 to 70 percent of the time. That testifies to the greatness of modern art and its ability to stand up against the muchheard criticism, “Anyone could
do that”—right? Not so fast, says A. Baron Hinkle in an op-ed for the Richmond (Virginia) TimesDispatch. He points out that the experiment put the works of individuals who are supposed to be some of the greatest artists of the past century—such as Mark Rothko, whose works have sold for as much as $72.8 million— up against scribbles by children, chimps, and elephants . . . and the great artists barely managed to squeak to victory. Hinkle further observes that there would be no ambiguity if the children’s and animals’ paintings were put up next to a Rembrandt or Monet: Take a hundred people off the street. Show them a
kid’s finger-painting next to a reproduction of, say, the Sistine Chapel or Bierstadt’s “Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains.” Ask them which one the toddler did. Five bucks says they’ll get it right 100 times out of 100. Heck, even art majors could probably score a solid Bplus. Hinkle’s critique is a breath of fresh air among the mostly triumphant news reports. Modern art fan or not, it appears that this study is not so definitive after all. • (Sources: www2.timesdispatch.com/ news/oped/2011/apr/05/tdopin02quotbetter-than-a-chimpquot-isnot-high-p-ar-949925; www.artinfo.com/ news/story/37158/how-psychologists-anda-team-of-monkeys-babiesand-elephants-proved-that-abstractart-takes-talent)
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Plan B for Minors?
hy would an 11-year-old need the morning-after pill—the drug that purportedly acts as a post-coital contraceptive but is just as likely to be a very early form of abortion? For Teva Pharmaceuticals, the company that manufactures the controversial drug and markets it under the name Plan B, it is not sufficient that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has permitted this so-called emergency contraceptive to be sold over-the-counter to women over age 16. The company now wants 11-to-16-year-olds to have overthe-counter access, too. Just what every parent wants—their 11-yearold daughters buying an abortioninducing drug at their local CVS or Walgreens without their knowledge or even any oversight by a doctor.
In February, Teva formally requested the FDA to lift the age restrictions on non-prescription sales of Plan B, citing, for support, previously submitted data supposedly showing that 11-to-16-yearolds have already used the drug safely. The company also argued that since Plan B must be taken within 72 hours of intercourse to be effective, there often wouldn’t be enough time for a girl to see a doctor and procure a prescription quickly enough. It was therefore important, Teva spokeswoman Denise Bradley said, “that we remove all the barriers to obtaining Plan B . . . as quickly as possible”—even, apparently, those barriers put in place to safeguard young girls. For even if Plan B is physically safe for minor girls—which has
hardly been conclusively established—one still must ask whether giving them over-the-counter access to it is the right way to handle the matter of girls as young as 11 being sexually active. Though uncommon (a 2002 study indicated that 6 percent of girls were sexually active by age 14), it is hardly a trivial matter for those involved, and to pave the way for such young girls to obtain abortifacient contraceptives without their parents’ knowledge, much less consent, seems a practice hardly motivated by concern for their well-being. • (Source: http://www.foxnews.com/ politics/2011/02/22/fda-considerscounter-status-morning-pill-girls17/#ixzz1Igo7291H)
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SHRAPNEL This item
e’re all familiar with the debate over assisted suicide, but here is a piece of news that even sympathizers should find disturbing. A 91-yearold California woman has been selling suicide kits by mail order for four years—apparently legally. Sharlotte Hydorn, a San Diego-area resident, charges $60 for a customized plastic hood and some tubing designed to be connected to a tank of helium, a gas that is lethal when breathed in its pure form. Hydorn sells the kits under the company name The Gladd Group, and business has been growing steadily; from small beginnings she reportedly now sells about 1,600 kits per year. The Gladd Group came under scrutiny in March when it was learned that a 29-year-old Oregon man named Nick Klonoski used
a kit purchased from Hydorn to take his own life. Nick’s brother Zach later testified at an Oregon state legislative hearing that his brother suffered from depression but was not terminally ill. The incident sparked outrage and controversy but left Hydorn undeterred. Though she claims that her kits are intended for the terminally ill and those in severe chronic pain, she does not screen her clients, and she’ll send a kit to anyone who requests and pays for one—no questions asked. Zach Klonoski said that Hydorn’s business “is analogous to putting a gun-vending machine next to a depression clinic,” and psychiatry professor Ken Robbins noted that even those who think assisted suicide ethical balk at the idea of facilitating it for those with treatable emotional illnesses. But
Hydorn takes no responsibility for anyone who uses her kit. “If someone gets hurt, I’m sorry, but that’s their decision,” she told a reporter for ABC News. “It’s not my responsibility to help emotionally sick people.” Hydorn claims to be motivated by memories of her husband’s painful death from colon cancer 30 years ago. Her business is not meant “to hurt anybody, but to offer people comfort when they die.” Alas, for Nick Klonoski and untold others, there was very little comfort. • (Sources: http://abcnews. go.com/Health/91-year-womansells-controversial-suicide-kits/ story?id=13494376; www.thedailybeast. com/blogs-and-stories/2011-04-27/ suicide-kits-the-91-year-old-womanselling-instant-death-on-the-internet)
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Paint It Pink?
ave we gone too far in the effort to narrow the gender gap and equalize the sexes? Dressing children in neutral clothing is one thing, but what about dressing a boy in a pink floral dress? Doesn’t that cross a line? It seems, however, that there no longer is a commonly recognized line; the decision is left to the individual. Even pop celebrity psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow was prompted to bring up the issue of gender homogenizing when he saw a recent J. Crew ad featuring a photo of a mother painting her little boy’s toe nails hot pink. In an article for FoxNews.com, Dr. Ablow asserts
that, although the long-term effects of removing traditional gender distinctions are still unknown, there are certain to be profound psychological and social costs. He says that “encouraging the choosing of gender identity, rather than suggesting our children become comfortable with the ones that they got at birth, can throw our species into real psychological turmoil.” It is ironic that with all our society’s efforts to “get back to nature” and connect with our biological instincts in so many matters, when it comes to gender distinctions, people are ready to abandon nature and embrace
purely artificial or (as Dr. Ablow calls them) fictional identities. Even animals have such distinctions in both appearance and behavior, and throughout history, all human societies have recognized clearly defined differences—except ours, that is. Well, it’s obvious on what side of the fence J. Crew falls. As Dr. Ablow says, they are challenging the “gender distinctions that actually are part of the magnificent synergy that creates and sustains the human race,” and he’s right on. • (Source: http://www.foxnews.com/ health/2011/04/11/j-crew-plantsseeds-gender-identity/# ixzz1JboDjKyU)
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Capture the Babe
ideo games seem to be a never-ending source of controversy. They’re addictive, violent, filled with bad language, major time-wasters . . . and the list goes on. They can also be too sexualized. A soon-to-be released video game, Duke Nukem Forever, is under scrutiny because of a multi-player mode titled “Capture the Babe.” The player abducts a woman, and if she panics, gives her a “reassuring” slap. There are also sequences in the game that require players to retrieve sex toys and pictures of topless women, and still others that depict or strongly suggest sexual acts. The highly successful precursor of this game,
Duke Nukem 3D, featured strippers and prostitutes, but this new version is reportedly even more offensive. Unsurprisingly, women’s groups are calling Duke Nukem Forever sexist, and Jamia Wilson, vice president of the Women’s Media Center, says that the game’s depictions of women “are extremely harmful, especially to young women.” Duke Ferris, editor-in-chief at GameHelper.com, says that the sexism label is not only accurate but intentional. “The game is meant to objectify women—that’s the point,” he stated. The Entertainment Software Rating Board has given Duke
Nukem Forever a rating of “M” for “mature,” but that doesn’t mean that only those 17 years and older would be able to acquire it; to purchase an M-rated game online, one just has to check a box stating that he is of age. But there is a slim hope: FoxNews.com reports that the release date for the game has been delayed; maybe enough controversy can be generated to keep it from ever getting to market at all. (Source: http://www.foxnews.com/ scitech/2011/03/25/duke-nukemdustup-games-capture-babe-modeplayers-slappingwomen/# ixzz1Hr9K1ouy)
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this coveted experience. “Private loans,” advisers suggested. “Everyone does it. It’s good debt!”
If I Knew Then . . .
Dispatches from the Academic Front
My Very Costly College Education A Graduate Laments Piling Up $200,000 in Student Loan Debt by Kelli Space
oung Americans never think that their lives will turn into financial disasters. I certainly didn’t, yet I now have a huge amount of student-loan debt that will be extremely hard to pay off. True, I now have a college degree to my name, but I don’t believe my degree will be much help in my effort to get out of this deep hole.
October of 2004 marked the beginning of my financial debacle. The college search was upon me and I was sure I knew exactly what I wanted in a college: fellow students decked out in collegiate gear tossing footballs among the foliage of an attractive campus. I wanted a college experience that mimicked what I had seen in movies, and echoed what guidance counselors and teachers had been pushing in my college preparatory classes. I also felt I deserved it, after working so hard through four torturous years of high school. Early on, I applied to my dream schools, but after the rejection notices came, I was forced to reprioritize. I dreaded the idea of community college, in part
because of the acceptance letter my best friend had received from Princeton. I used this comparison as a reason why affordable public school wasn’t for me. By March of 2005, Northeastern University had become my final pick, even though attending Fordham and living at home was certainly a viable option. Northeastern was farther away from New Jersey, and after all, wasn’t that the basis of the college experience? Going away to school was all the rage. I bought into every piece of college propaganda on the supposed personal and financial benefits of experiencing campus life and getting my degree. Unfortunately, I also overlooked the minor detail of how I would pay for
Looking back, I wish someone had instead brought me back down to earth by asking the right questions: What is “good debt” to an 18-year-old? Do you have any idea what the cost of repaying your loans will be? How will those payments compare with your anticipated income? Do you recognize the consequences of not making a payment? To me, getting my college education was just a matter of borrowing money. About five years and $200,000 in borrowed money later, I realize that my selfappointed pressures, expectations, and desires were not appropriately founded. My major was undecided for a good portion of my college career. From psychology to marketing, it all sounded so interesting. I finally settled on sociology, and as a consequence, my mind was opened to issues our society faces that I probably would not have recognized otherwise. My vocational hopes and dreams were framed around those issues. The once-delusional girl who entered Northeastern emerged a much more knowledgeable young adult—but one without a job. I was financially desperate. Knowing what I now know about college education and its related costs, I realize the importance of educating high-school students about their future options. It’s easy to assume that going to a distant four-year college is the best decision; however, that might be a serious mistake. Students should definitely consider all possibilities.
The Business Alternative An idea that some students may want to consider is going into business rather than going to college. Peter Thiel, the billionaire
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co-founder of PayPal, recently launched an initiative to encourage students under 20 years of age to focus on their entrepreneurial ideas as opposed to dutifully fulfilling the expectation for college. The Thiel Fellowship offers $100,000 each to twenty young people who are willing to put their education on hold in order to pursue these ideas. Thiel understands that the massive amounts of debt that many students have incurred by the time they graduate is so burdensome that while they spend their lives paying off the borrowed money, they have neither the drive nor the means to tend to other worthy pursuits. Only a few can get the Thiel grants, but his idea has much wider application. I suspect there are quite a few ambitious young Americans who would come out much further ahead if they went into a business or trade after high school and saved the money their families would otherwise spend on college tuition. The thought of Thiel’s fellowship, coupled with my personal Mt. Everest (my hefty student loans), has opened up a world of regret for me as I look back and recognize all the options I left unexplored at the age of eighteen. I often dream of how I could have worked full-time and gone to com-
munity college part-time while living at home, saving money, and paying my own way through school. Maybe I could have worked while taking foreign language classes (another interest of mine) and, once fluent, applied to become a translator. Honestly, nearly any path after high school would have been better than amassing $200,000 in debt for an assumed rite of passage.
Website Attention Unable to find work related to sociology, I eventually found a job with an internet company in New York City. I work relatively long hours and have taken on additional responsibilities, but having such insurmountable debt in this economy is not sustainable, no matter how much I work. In an act of desperation, I created twohundredthou.com. This was something of a jest, since I didn’t expect that people would give me large amounts of money toward repaying my loan, but every little bit helps. I also wanted to make a statement about the quicksand students can get into with college loans so readily available. Unfortunately, I have received many more negative than positive responses on the site, but I’m
Higher Ed & Debt “Student loan debt outpaced credit card debt for the first time last year and is likely to top a trillion dollars this year as more students go to college and a growing share borrow money to do so. . . .
“‘In the coming years, a lot of people will still be
paying off their student loans when it’s time for their kids to go to college,’ said Mark Kantrowitz, the publisher of FinAid.org and Fastweb.com, who has compiled the estimates of student debt, including federal and private loans.” —New York Times, April 11, 2011
exceedingly pleased with the amount of attention the topic of student loans has received in recent weeks. I’ve even teamed up with a startup called EduLender, which helps students exhaust all other college financing options before borrowing money, and then provides options for loans with the lowest possible interest rates. Recently EduLender created a platform for all students and graduates to create fundraising pages, either to preemptively avoid debt or to help them pay off existing student loans. I hope many others benefit from the work EduLender puts into helping students find the best way to pay for a college education.
Preventative Measures More should be done, though. High schools should make sure that students graduate with an understanding of personal finance, salary expectations, average monthly living expenses (rent, car, bills, etc.), and how the ebbs and flows of the economy can affect them. It is also critical that highschool guidance counselors and college financial aid advisors be upfront about a student’s ability to afford a given college or university, based on a number of financial factors: financial aid package, parents’ salaries, and money saved or expected to be saved. An unbiased, honest opinion is priceless to students and parents throughout the college decision process and can save a ton of money and stress in the long run. I hope that students going forward will learn a great deal from the current wave of college graduates. There are many who, like me, plunged into easily available student loans without weighing the questionable benefits against the guaranteed costs. Others can learn a lot from my mistakes. The original version of this article was posted online at the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy (www.popecenter.org) on January 4, 2011, and is used by permission.
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DEPARTMENT: Headquarters o
Suffering Defeated A Dialogue About God & the Problem of Evil by Greg L. Bock
This conversation is meant to capture the main arguments in the philosophical problem of evil and make them accessible to the layperson. Both characters are fictional. Dr. Shepherd is a professor of philosophy at a four-year college, and Jill is one of his brightest students. After listening to Dr. Shepherd’s lecture on the arguments for the existence of God, Jill comes to his office to talk about the problem of evil.
r. Shepherd, the reason I am an atheist is because of the problem of evil: I don’t believe that the existence of God makes sense, given all of the evil and suffering in the world. I mean, if an all-powerful, all-knowing, allgood God exists, there would be no evil in the world. He would simply do away with it.
But there is evil in the world, so it seems clear that God doesn’t exist. In fact, I think this shows that the Christian view is a contradiction: God and evil cannot both exist.
Dr. Shepherd: Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. We are actually going to talk about the problem of evil in class next week, but we can talk about it now. I, too, have struggled with the problem, but I’ve come to a different conclusion. I believe they can coexist and there are also good reasons to think that they do. First, consider this scenario: God exists, and evil is the result of human freedom. The Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga says that God might not have been able to create a universe that contained human free will and, at the same time, contained no evil. Maybe in creating creatures
capable of making evil choices, he cannot prevent them from doing so.1
Jill: But that assumes that human beings have free will. Can Plantinga prove it? I tend to think that we don’t have free will; it is just an illusion to think that we do.
Dr. Shepherd: Well, it’s possible that we don’t have free will, but I don’t think we need to prove that we have it in order to avoid the logical problem of evil, which is what we call the problem that you raised, that God and evil cannot (logically)
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which even natural evil would never occur, given the free will of these nonhuman persons.
Jill: But if God is all-good, I would think he just wouldn’t create the world, knowing that free creatures would cause so much suffering.
Dr. Shepherd: I see your point, but it is possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil in the world—for example, to form our characters. This might be something that could not take place in a world without evil, and I think God will ultimately use this world and the evil in it to destroy evil itself, a strategy that requires tolerating evil for some time in order to defeat it.
coexist. To answer this specific problem, we only need to determine whether it is merely possible that they coexist, which will prove that there is no logical c ontradiction. And there are good reasons to believe in free will. For example, it appears to us that we choose between equally possible alternatives all the time and that we are morally responsible for what we do. If you think about it, moral responsibility would ultimately be impossible if we weren’t free. Imagine a murderer who argued at his trial that since our actions are determined by our genetics and environment, the court couldn’t hold him responsible for his crime. This seems clearly wrong, so we must be free.
Jill: That’s interesting, but even if the free will defense is successful, you’ve only solved the problem of moral evil. You haven’t addressed the problem of natural evil—things like earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. If an all-powerful, all-good God exists, he would be able and willing to prevent those things from occurring and from causing so much needless suffering.
Dr. Shepherd: Actually, the two problems can be solved in a similar fashion. Plantinga points out that it is possible—remember we are just talking about mere possibility—that natural evil is caused by demons, in the way, for example, that the torments of Job were caused by Satan. Maybe God could not create a world in
Jill: Well, I can see how suffering sometimes can make us stronger, but really, I wonder whether the amount and horrific nature of the evil in this world is compatible with a benevolent God or character formation. Just consider any of the recent mind-numbing murders in the news, or the Holocaust.
Dr. Shepherd: So it comes down to a matter of the amount? I think it is at least possible that no better balance of good and evil is feasible for God among all the possible worlds that contain free creatures. If this response to your concern is even remotely possible, then the logical problem of evil can be answered. Remember, the reasons I’ve mentioned do not have to be true, or even plausible. As long as they are possible responses, the logical problem of evil has been solved, meaning that Christian belief does not entail a contradiction. Does that make sense?
Jill: Well, I guess I see how it is possible that God and evil coexist, but I don’t think it is very likely. I guess I would say that the existence of evil makes the existence of God less believable to me.
Dr. Shepherd: Well, that’s what we call the evidential problem of evil. To people like yourself, the evidence seems to be stacked against belief in God. In our textbook, philosopher Richard Gale discusses two examples of horrible evil: (1) the case of a five-year-old girl who is raped, beaten, and strangled to death; and (2) the case of a deer that is injured in a forest fire and dies a painful death over a period of three days. Gale thinks that in both cases the evil suffered cannot be justified by any outweighing good.
Jill: Absolutely, I agree. If God exists, he ought to intervene in such cases, preventing such horrible events from taking place. The girl’s death doesn’t benefit her in any way, and the death of the deer seems equally pointless. Summer 2011 SALVO 17
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Dr. Shepherd: I agree that these are awful cases, and if we focus on tragedies like these, we might conclude that God does not exist. However, relative to the background evidence, I think the existence of God is still likely.2 Consider the arguments for the existence of God, such as the cosmological argument. Arguments like these are what I mean by “background evidence.” We could say that these arguments together make up a cumulative case that supports the idea that God is the best explanation for the following facts: (1) the existence of the world, (2) the finely tuned order in the universe, (3) the existence of objective moral precepts, and (4) the widespread occurrence of religious experience. If you take all of these (and more) as evidence and weigh them against the evidence that the problem of evil represents, then it seems that God’s existence is still plausible.
Jill: But as I pointed out in class, the being that is the best explanation for the facts above is not necessarily the omnipotent, omni-benevolent God that the problem of evil is directed at.
Dr. Shepherd: Well, if we just take omnipotence for a moment, the being that is offered as an explanation for these problems is obviously very powerful, and it seems plausible that a being that powerful is omnipotent in the relevant sense, don’t you think?
Best World with Free Will
ccording to the doctrine of “middle knowledge” defended by Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig, it is possible that the actual world is the best world among all the possible worlds that God could have created in which his creatures have free will. In other words, among the creation options available to God in his omniscience prior to the creation of the actual universe, this world may have had the largest amount of good possible for the least amount of evil. In other possible worlds, free beings would have made more evil choices and fewer good ones.
Jill: But another problem is that there could be several gods, right? I mean, one of them might explain the existence of the world, while another explains the order in the universe, and so on.
Dr. Shepherd: I can see how that might be possible, but wouldn’t Occam’s razor be relevant here?
Jill: Please remind me what that means.
Dr. Shepherd: No problem. Occam’s razor is a logical principle that says that the simplest explanation is most likely the right one. In this case, it would reduce the plurality of explanations to one: a single all-powerful God is the better explanation.
Jill: I see.
Dr. Shepherd: But back to your point about God not having a morally sufficient reason for allowing suffering, as in the case of the five-year-old girl. Do you think that our finite and limited perspective is a good one from which to assess the probability that God—an all-knowing being—lacks morally sufficient reasons for allowing evils like these?3
Jill: Well, if the bad things in the world do not count as evidence against God’s existence, then you can’t appeal to the good things in the world as evidence for his existence, which is what the arguments for the existence of God seem to be doing.4
Dr. Shepherd: Good point. It does seem right that a Christian must admit that the problem of evil counts as evidence against God’s existence even if he doesn’t find the evidence persuasive.
Jill: And if God’s reasons are so unknowable to us, it seems impossible for us to be in relationship with him. Maintaining a relationship requires that we
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Two Aspects to the Problem of Evil The Logical Problem
The Evidential Problem
It is contradictory for both God and evil to exist.
Even if God might exist along with evil, the evidence still points against it.
he proper response to the logical problem of evil is a defense, that is, a showing that it is at least possible for both God and evil to exist, that there is no logical contradiction. The purpose of a defense is simply to disarm the logical problem of evil, not to claim that this is the actual story. The proper response to the evidential problem of evil is a theodicy, that is, an attempt to explain how evil fits in Christian theology.
know the reasons behind the actions that affect us, at least to some extent.5
Dr. Shepherd: I agree somewhat, but Christians do claim to have reasons of a sort. First, they believe that, ultimately, evil is the result of human sin. But we can learn from that evil; it’s a message from God that we are lost without him.6 Second, Christians are assured in the Bible that even bad events work for “the good of those who love the Lord” (Romans 8:28). In this case, Christians have a scriptural promise that reveals a divine reason. Third, Christians know that their God empathizes with those who suffer. In fact, they believe that God himself came to earth as Jesus Christ to fully experience human suffering. What is more, Christian theology teaches that Christ suffered the punishment that all human evil deserves. Fourth—and this is an element of Christian theology that often goes unmentioned—Christians believe that, through Christ, God has conquered evil and has promised to eternally destroy it, ultimately removing all suffering from those who follow him. Thus, Christians often point to God’s greater actions in the world, which show that he has an overarching plan to destroy evil and cure its effects. They also point to personal experiences in which God assures them of his love and goodness in the midst of suffering. This may not amount to a specific reason for a particular tragedy, but it would help maintain the relationship.
We cannot evaluate the “problem of evil” apart from consideration of other Christian teachings: (1) Happiness is not the goal of human life; knowledge of God is. Suffering would indeed seem pointless if the goal of life were comfort and pleasure, but suffering can bring us to a deeper knowledge of God. (2) Humanity is in rebellion against God, a fact that explains the widespread moral evils in our society.7 (3) Natural evils are sometimes caused by demons or by God (directly or indirectly). (4) God’s purposes are fulfilled in this life and in the afterlife. (5) The good of knowing God is incomparably greater than the amount of suffering one experiences. (6) Suffering produces character (soul-making). (7) And, of course, under Christian theology, we see God actively implementing an overarching plan to destroy evil and completely remove it in the long term. Solving the “problem of evil” is in fact exactly what the Christian God is all about.
Jill: Well, you’ve given me a lot to think about—many new ideas that I’ll have to reflect on. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me, Dr. Shepherd.
Dr. Shepherd: Anytime, Jill. My office door is always open.
Endnotes 1. Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil (Eerdmans, 1974), pp. 30–31. 2. This and the following responses are adapted from: J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (InterVarsity Press, 2003), p. 542. 3. Ibid., p. 542. 4. Richard Gale, On the Philosophy of Religion (Wadsworth, 2006), p. 107. 5. Ibid., pp. 107–108. 6. Ibid., p. 107. In The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis called pain God’s “megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” 7. Moreland and Craig, p. 545.
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You are the leading source of carbon emissions. So what can you do to stop global warming?
Do we really need to spell it out for Y
MEANPEACE Provoking Humanity for Over 35 Years
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SOCIETY SEX SCIENCE “While the left casts a jaundiced eye on absolute truth, its own dogmatism in certain matters matches that of the most ardent religious fundamentalist. In leftists’ blinkered imagination, all truth is suspect, except the scientific truths that they find convenient.”
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c i n e r h Schizop e c n e i c Ab out S
Sor t e h t f o g in h t e” Is No c n ie c S f o y t r The “Pa ll by Regis Nico
hen President Obama, newly elected and riding high on the wave of hopes he had created, announced in his inaugural address, “We will restore science to its rightful place,” he was really making two points:
(1) The previous administration, with its anti-science policies, had nearly run our ship-of-state aground on its voyage of social progress; and (2) his administration, in contrast, would be guided by science and so would free our vessel from the shoals of stagnation and steer a new course toward unending human betterment. In short, the “Party of Science,” he suggested, would bring us smoothly and safely back to the calm seas of progress. In fact, however, for the better part of four decades the ship has been caught between the currents of modernism and the riptides of postmodernism, and risks foundering in treacherous waters that the “Party of Science” does not fully understand and is unable to negotiate. Over the past century, both modernism and postmodernism have showed the dangers of science wrongly used.
Modernism & Thoroughbreds Spawned in the Enlightenment by the world-changing discoveries of the Scientific Revolution, modernism, the
story goes, promoted the advancement of society through mankind’s conquering and harnessing of nature. Ignited by its three articles of faith— the infallibility of human reason, the omnipotence of science, and the perfectibility of man—modernism triggered an explosion of technological wonders in the last century—and also of humanitarian horrors. In the brief span of ten decades, the twentieth century experienced more scientific discoveries and technological advancements than all the previous centuries combined— and it also, with great technological efficiency, produced more bloodshed than ever seen before. Highlighted by the devastation inflicted by Fat Man and Little Boy on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the meteoric rise of modernism was accompanied by two world wars,
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SOCIETY Science (as the true postmodernists know) is the foremost font of modern power, and the underlying source of almost all the expressions and incarnations of power the left does find troubling: industrial power, . . . a woman’s inconvenience over an u nwanted corporate power, pregnancy trumps the scientific fact of an military power, imperial power, and unborn child’s humanness; irrational sentiments especially human about n uclear power leave our country power over the dependent upon foreign and even hostile natural world.2
entities for its energy needs; a man’s desire to be a homosexual woman overrules the iological and physiological facts of his sex; . . . b
This tension is especially evident in the left’s environmentalism:
In the past three decades, environmentalism has become a fully integrated component of the worldview of the American left. . . . But the perspective of environmentalism could hardly be more different than that of modern science on the questions of nature, power, progress, and man. a cold war, and the totalitarian “advances” of death camps, gulags, and “re-education” centers. And on both sides of the Atlantic, social engineers, enamored with the theories of Darwin, worked to wrest the reins of “selection” away from brute nature and into human hands through eugenics. Although social Darwinism reached its heinous apogee in Nazi Germany, it had gained a foothold a decade earlier in the United States. By the 1920s, the social left, convinced that improving the human stock was essential to its progressive ideals, facilitated a eugenics movement involving targeted sterilization, abortion, and birth control. The targeted populations were those deemed feeble-minded, physically defective, or otherwise unfit “to create a race of thoroughbreds,” as Planned Parenthood founder and eugenics pioneer Margaret Sanger so indelicately put it.1
By helping man conquer nature and gain mastery over it, science is at once the engine of the left’s progressive hopes and the cause of its environmental fears. This has led to an ideological schizophrenia exemplified, for example, in the left’s views on nuclear power. Undoubtedly, harnessing the atom ranks as one of the greatest achievements of modern science. Nuclear power provides an abundant, reliable, and efficient source of energy that both reduces our dependence on foreign oil and is carbon-neutral, which, according to the Party of Science, is essential if we are to avoid a climate-change apocalypse. So, expanding the use of nuclear power would be a win for the environment and a win for human progress, right? Well, no. Despite its considerable benefits, including a safety record that—Three Mile Island, Chernobyl , and the recent Fukushima accident nothwithstanding—far exceeds that for all other major energy industries, as well as solutions to nuclear waste that are technologically sound, nuclear power receives a near unanimous thumbs-down from the left, the Party of Science. It turns out that the left is only for the science that fits its particular ideological—and non-scientific—social agenda.
Selectively Equal & Not
Though still claiming to be the Party of Science, today’s left ironically finds itself at cross-purposes with the main currents of science in many respects. As New Atlantis senior editor Yuval Levin explains in a recent article:
The left also prides itself on being the Party of Equality. But its alleged scientific platform provides no basis for its egalitarian values. Rather, as Levin points out, Science measures our material and animal qualities, and it finds them to be patently unequal. . . . We Summer 2011 SALVO 23
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FEATURE q are born physically and mentally unequal, and always remain so. . . .
genetically complete and unique human being is formed at the moment of conception. So while the left insists that all human The left insists, however, on ignoring these differences and beings have intrinsic rights deserving equal actively attempts social engineering to equalize society protection by the state, it excludes from (wealth redistribution is only one example). Levin goes on said protection anyone who is unfortunate to note another aspect of the left’s attitude toward science: enough to be living in his mother’s womb. What’s more, not only can the smallest The closer the left aligns itself with the ideology among us be denied the most basic of all of modern science (taking, for instance, all human human rights, the right to live, but they are also eyed by the left as utilitarian means to its utopian ends; i.e., The social constructions of “personhood” and they can be destroyed through extraction of their stem cells for “gender” reveal the intrinsic incompatibility of the the sake of medical research. left with modern science. In this regard, the left is So, despite its moralizing epistemologically and ideologically postmodern. rhetoric about equality, the left regards some human beings as more equal than others. What actions and beliefs to be mere functions of neural make this Animal Farm possible is the current of postmodernism, with its social conbiochemistry) the further it seems to distance itself struction of “personhood.” from any sensible case for egalitarianism. That is, the left generally has abandoned the longstanding Judeo-Christian notion of the equal dignity of all humans as beings created in the image of God. As the “Party of Science,” it embraces a reductionist and materialistic view of man—human life is not intrinsically sacred. Yet even here, the left ignores what science does reveal about human beings. For example, science reveals that a
ays cience s S f o y t r The Pa
y l i r a s s e Not Necon a Pers
Postmodern Persons While leftists will concede that a human fetus, embryo, or even a zygote is a human being, they will also argue that it is not a “person,” and therefore that it does not qualify for the full range of human rights due to persons. In order to qualify as a person, a being not only must be human and alive but also must be self-aware, as Peter Singer has infamously declared. Of course, by that criterion, Singer himself—not to mention the rest of humanity—would fail to qualify for personhood if he happened to be under general anesthesia, or passed out from intoxication, or knocked out from stumbling into a door, or any other time he was unconscious, including during the one-third of his time he spends sleeping. But none of that seems to keep Singer, or anyone else in the prochoice camp, awake at night. Social constructions have also been concocted by the Party of Science to get around the science of human sexuality. It is a stubborn scientific fact that one’s sex is determined by a pair of sex chromosomes called the X and Y chromosomes. If a person has a matched pair (two X chromosomes), she is female; if a mismatched pair (one X and one Y chromosome), he is male. But since the binary fact of sexuality doesn’t fit with their social agenda, leftists
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SOCIETY co-opted the term “gender” to blur the distinct categories of male and female. They converted a grammatical term for classifying nouns into a free-floating, movable variable for indicating a person’s sexual desires, identity, orientation, and behaviors. Where people had formerly thought only in terms of the two sexes, they were now expected to think in terms of multiple “genders.” The left thus discarded the (true) notion that sex is determined by the physical facts of one’s genes or physiology and replaced it with the idea that one’s gender is determined by the sense of being male or female—or something in between, for a person’s “sense” can place him anywhere along the gender “continuum” and can even change at different stages of life or even from moment to moment: male yesterday, female today, male-female hybrid tomorrow. Think of the transgendered man who imagines himself a lesbian trapped in a male body. If your head can stop spinning around that one, you can get the picture.
Not Scientific These social constructions of “personhood” and “gender” reveal the intrinsic incompatibility of the left with modern science. In this regard, the left is epistemologically and ideologically postmodern. Science is based on the belief that objective truth exists and is discoverable through empirical observation and investigation. But despite its own dogmatism on certain matters, the left claims to be skeptical of truth and of people who claim to have it. For the left, truth is a mere construct of the “ruling class” (except when they are the ones in power); thus, truth claims are exclusive by nature and inevitably result in social injustice. More important than objective facts teased out of nature by scientific study are subjective feelings, choices, and experiences. This is a relativistic view of truth that, over the past forty years, has created a culture in which, among other things: a woman’s inconvenience over an unwanted pregnancy trumps the scientific fact of an unborn child’s humanness; irrational sentiments about nuclear power leave our country dependent upon foreign and even hostile entities for its energy needs; a man’s desire to be a homosexual woman
ys ience sa
y of Sc The Par t
y l i r a s s e Not Nec a Male overrules the biological and physiological facts of his sex; policymakers eschew references to God, despite the necessity of transcendence and the failure of science to ground the concepts of inalienable human rights and dignity; environmental policies are driven by climate-change hysteria and ignore the inability of climate science to nail a local weekend weather forecast, much less a global hundredyear trend. There is more than a touch of irony in all this. While the left casts a jaundiced eye on absolute truth, its own dogmatism in the matters listed above matches that of the most ardent religious fundamentalist. In leftists’ blinkered imagination, all truth is suspect, except the scientific truths that they find convenient. We can be sure that if the Party of Science succeeds in restoring “science to its rightful place,” true science will become increasingly subservient to the social constructions of the left’s utopian enterprises, and our ship-of-state will founder on the rocks. Endnotes 1. Ben Wiker, “Angry White Female: Margaret Sanger’s Race of Thoroughbreds,” National Catholic Register (June 24, 2001); www. catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0057.html. 2. Yuval Levin, “Science and the Left,” The New Atlantis (Winter 2008); www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/science-and-the-left.
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/ / F oreign I ntel _ wi th M ic h a el C o ok /
Fertility & Futility Is Demography Really Destiny?
emography is a science of many facts and surprisingly little predictive power. In the 1960s and 1970s demographers worried about the dangers of over-population. Spaceship Earth was going to be so crowded with people that it would surely crash without some form of population control. But what actually happened? The world today is facing an aging crisis—there is a dearth of young people, and world population is set to decline after 2050.
More than half the world currently has sub-replacement fertility. In other words, couples are not bringing enough babies into the world to replace themselves. The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of a country, that is, the number of live births per woman, must be about 2.1 to be at replacement level. But nearly all Western countries have TFRs far below that. The only significant exception is the United States, which has an estimated TFR of 2.1, thanks mainly to Hispanic immigrants. Even in Middle Eastern countries fertility has fallen dramatically. In Iran, which is reputed to be a breeder of Islamic fundamentalism, the TFR has fallen to 1.7 in the swiftest decline ever seen in history. In Eastern Europe the figures have been particularly sobering. Russia is facing a potentially catastrophic demographic decline. There, deaths exceed births, even though, as both President and Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin has set increasing the birth rate as a national priority. The country’s TFR has risen in the past decade, from 1.19 in 2000 to 1.44 today (1.42 in urban areas and 1.90 in rural areas), but even so, simply maintaining the population level of that vast country will require immigration, much of it from neighboring Muslim countries. This situation has prompted fears that Russia will become a Muslim nation—or that the Chinese will take over its sparsely populated eastern territories. In other former Communist countries, the TFR has been hovering around 1.3 or 1.4. There is some good news for the European Union as a whole, however. The latest figures show that there has been a births rebound in recent years. Overall, the TFR of EU member states rose from 1.47 in 2003 to 1.60 in 2008–2009. Lowest-low fertility, that is, fewer than 1.3 children per woman, has ended throughout the EU. The UK and France are actually
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SOCIETY approaching replacement fertility, with TFRs of 1.83 and 1.97, respectively. So far, so good. But is this the beginning of a continuing trend or just a dead cat bounce, as they say in the markets—a quick recovery followed by another decline?
of a small uptick in a severe overall decline, they may concentrate on the uptick and become unduly optimistic. The name of the worst-case scenario is the “low fertility trap
The demographic force tends toward a kind of implosion. “Fewer and few women enter the reproductive age, and, hence the number of births will decline, even if fertility instantly jumps to replacement level.” The number of births spirals downwards.
Too Ingrained to Change? It’s unhealthy to be unduly pessimistic, but sometimes you have to look at worst-case scenarios to avoid falling into complacency. This is particularly true with respect to population statistics. Few people appreciate the world’s almost unstoppable advance towards depopulation, because it is occurring at a glacial pace. Of those who do, if the only news they hear is
hypothesis,” a theory developed by the Austrian demographer Wolfgang Lutz, of the Vienna Institute of Demography.
Age pyramid of resident population Singapore Age Group (years) 80+
60 50 40 30 20 10 0
Why should we assume that people will want to return to replacement-level birth rates? Lutz asks. One might answer that, as Winston Churchill reportedly said, “people will always want to have
Persons (in thousands)
children.” But is it true that peoSingapore’s population bubble ple’s desire for children will prevent birthrates from falling toThis anpopulation pyramid for Sing irreversibly low level? Once upon moving through the system: a time, demographers wondered whether the TFR would ever sink population pyramid Chart source: The Edge below replacement level. In many places it did. They then thought that it would recover once it In hitthe 1970s, the government in realised earlier population grow 1.5. It didn’t. It has even sunksuccessful bethat policy proved to low 1.0 in some areas, like Hong to its current level of 1.26. Kong and Moscow. Why should we assume that it will rise again?There is great concern about the Take one astonishing case:in Singapore. With one of the mo been a flurry of activity at govern China. many people. In Committee on A After 40 years of a draconian tion, we see the following graph one-child policy, Chinese officials over 65s will grow to nearly 19% are beginning to realize that demographic disaster looms. China is proportion of over 65s in Singap on a course to become old before This means that the proportion o it becomes rich. By the year 2040, drop considerably. the median age of the Chinese will How to fund all these retirees? be higher than that of Americans, but the Chinese will have only Traditionally, older citizens were one-third of Americans’ per-capita common in Singapore for 3 gene income. “There are tremendous was fine when life expectancies demographic crises pending, someone unretires at the compulso precedented in Chinese demograof retirement. phy,” Wang Feng, of the Tsinghua Actually, it is not that simple. Ma Center for Public Policy in Beijing, often out of necessity. Retiremen told the New York Times. for the current batch of over 59s There are signs that the enigmatic Chinese hierarchy is conCPF retirement savings in Singap sidering relaxing the one-child Total CPF Savings at Age 55 Amo policy to allow population growth. 1999 [Source] But—surprise, surprise—its people It is sad that the traditional exten may not respond. “The one-child How will retirees support themse culture is now so ingrained among
has been topping up retirement this be enough?
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Interesting days ahead.
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COLUMN p Chinese that the authorities may not be able to encourage more births even if they try,” the Times article continued. Japan, South Korea, and Singapore face similar problems. In Japan there is no national consensus on how to boost the birthrate in
atable consequences. It is true that France and the Nordic countries have managed to maintain relatively high birthrates because of very generous taxpayer-supported pro-natalist policies. But these are relatively wealthy countries whose policies
The economic force leads people to set their ideal family size at a level determined by their aspirations for consumption and for expected income. If they want to consume more than they can earn, they have fewer children. Thus, a generation that sees a bleak economic future ahead will not raise the TFR. This reinforces the downward spiral. a country that has already begun to decline in population. Japan’s TFR has stayed at about 1.3 for ten years or more. South Korea’s government actively promoted one- or twochild families for decades. But now that its TFR is about 1.29, it has discovered that it may not even have enough men to maintain the strength of its army. But getting Koreans to have more children is proving difficult. The same goes for Singapore. Its government introduced draconian laws in the 1970s that made life very difficult for families with more than two children. But now its TFR is stuck at 1.25, and not even tax breaks, subsidies, cash bonuses, and goofy government matchmaking services for public servants have provided enough incentive to get it to go higher.
Three Powerful Forces The chilling possibility is that it may be impossible to raise birthrates once they have fallen to the lowest low-fertility rate. If this is true, the future looks grim for these countries. They will have a growing number of unproductive elderly supported by a shrinking number of young workers. Tax rates and immigration will both rise, with unpredictable and unpal-
have been in place for decades. Handouts are not a quick fix. Nor have their TFRs risen above the replacement level. Lutz argues that there is no clear reason to believe that fertility cannot continue to sink—even below 1.0, improbable as that may seem. He says that there are three “powerful forces toward still lower fertility in countries which already have very low fertility.” First, the demographic force tends toward a kind of implosion. “Fewer and fewer women enter the reproductive age, and, hence the number of births will decline, even if fertility instantly jumps to replacement level.” The number of births spirals downwards. Second, the sociological force reflects the power of public opinion. “The norms and in particular the family size ideals of the young generation are influenced by what they experience around them. If their environment includes few or no children, children will figure less prominently in their own image of a desirable life.” Third, the economic force leads people to set their ideal family size at a level determined by their aspirations for consumption and for expected income. If they want to consume more than they can earn, they have fewer children. Thus, a generation that sees a
bleak economic future ahead will not raise the TFR. This reinforces the downward spiral. The implications of these theories are terrifying for countries like Taiwan (a TFR of 1.1), Slovakia (1.27) or Italy (1.38). Those countries, and many others, could disappear, swamped by immigrants who flow in to fill the gaps left by young natives who were never born, or absorbed by force into a more powerful neighbor.
Hope & Spiritual Change But the point that Lutz makes is that we are looking ahead into demographic darkness when we contemplate the declining fertility of the developed world. “The social sciences as a whole have yet to come up with a useful theory to predict the future fertility level of post-demographic transition societies,” he writes. “How can we meaningfully talk about the future of fertility when there is no consistent theory?” The recent uptick in European fertility rates is encouraging. But it is unlikely to be the first sign of a trend. The only really convincing sign would be the conversion of an entire generation to the belief that life is good, that children are a delight, and that the future is full of hope. But such spiritual changes lie outside the power of demographers to predict. Sources Consulted • Sharon LaFraniere, “As China Ages, Birthrate Policy May Prove Difficult to Reverse,” New York Times, April 6, 2011 (www.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/ world/asia/07population.html?_ r=1&pagewanted=all). • Wolfgang Lutz, “The Future of Human Reproduction: Will Birth Rates Recover or Continue to Fall?”, Ageing Horizons, issue no. 7 (Oxford Institute of Ageing, 2007), pp. 15–21 (www.ageing.ox.ac.uk/ system/files/ageing_horizons_7_lutz_ fd.pdf). • United Nations Population Division, World Population Prospects, the 2010 Revision (http://esa.un.org/unpd/ wpp/Excel-Data/fertility.htm).
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Find a Flat & a Mate
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Amazing Grace Interview with Ken Wales
ven by Hollywood standards, Ken Wales has an impressive resume. He started as an actor under contract to MGM until he got the itch to work on the production side. His producer credits include the films Amazing Grace, Darling Lili, The Tamarind Seed, and The Revenge of the Pink P anther. He was Executive Producer of the award-winning CBS television series Christy and co-producer of the ABC miniseries East of Eden.
Ken Wales is also one of Hollywood’s best-known Christians. In a recent interview, Wales shared some of his thoughts on perseverance, advice for young people interested in a Hollywood career, a true story of being told he’d “never work in this town again,” and reflections on the role Walt Disney played in his life. Many of the productions you’re known for, such as Christy and Amazing Grace, highlight faith and morality. Was it ever difficult for you, working in Hollywood, to stay true to your values? Did you ever feel ostracized because of your beliefs? No, I’ve never felt ostracized because of my beliefs as a Christian. I think the most important thing is that I laid down the groundwork as a growing professional, beginning from the time I started as an actor, in my acting apprenticeship under contract to MGM, on into doing production work after my four years as a cinema student at USC, and then working with Blake Edwards. So the important thing was to grow proficiently and professionally. I don’t think there’s a problem with faith when you also exhibit competence and excellence. How you do your job is important. It matters how kind you are to associates you work with, how you care about them and are willing to help. Perhaps one of the most important things is really just to pitch in when things are going wrong, even if it’s not your problem. The key thing is to be well prepared in terms of your profession and then exemplify your Christian principles in the way you carry that out. Did you ever have to turn down projects because they conflicted with your beliefs?
Amazing Grace - 2006
When I was a young actor under contract to MGM, I was cast in Some Came Running. It had
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SOCIETY Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and co-starred Shirley MacLaine in her first film. I was cast in a part that required me to take the girl out, buy liquor, and get her drunk. I had been speaking to a lot of church youth groups and conventions around the country on the subject of making the right choices. So when I read what the script required me to do—the bad language and to attack and rape the girl—I knew this wasn’t something I was comfortable doing. I had to meet with the director, Vincente Minnelli, to tell him I couldn’t do it. He told me, “You’ll do it or you’ll be out of your contract, you’ll go on suspension, you’ll have no salary for a year, and I’ll see that you never work in this town again!” I told him he’d have to find somebody else, and he literally threw me out of his office. Then what happened? I was put on suspension. When the film came out the following year, I was speaking at a youth convention in Denver, to about 600 kids. We took a break at dinnertime, and everybody piled out to see a movie and go get pizza. As we started to walk across the street, there was a huge mar-
Darling Lili - 1970 quee with a sign for the movie I’d turned down. And I thought that was interesting. What if I’d done that film and the kids had gone in and seen it? How did you survive? Minnelli obviously didn’t ruin your career, but was your life difficult as a result of that? No, not at all. I did some more acting, but started to move more into the production end of things and never regretted that choice at all.
How did you end up doing Christy? It took me nineteen years to get Christy done from the time I started. It began as a feature film for MGM but I couldn’t get the rights to it. It got put on the rear burner, and was ultimately cancelled when the studio was sold. Eventually, CBS asked me to do it as a television series, but I said that first we needed to do it as a feature film. The president of the network said they needed it done now, for TV. I told him I’d pray about it, which I did. And I told him I was sticking to my guns. He told me he respected my decision, but the network was going to put on something very much like it. And sure enough, six months later, there was Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. They’d copied Christy—she was a doctor instead of a teacher—and there was my dream. I felt very downhearted about it. The network president called and asked if I was enjoying Saturday nights at 8:00, and I told him, “Not very much.” He explained that they still wanted to do Christy, and they wanted me to do it. I told him I’d pray about it, and he reminded me what happened last time. This time when Summer 2011 SALVO 31
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COLUMN p I prayed I went back to Catherine Marshall’s books, Something More and Beyond Ourselves. [Marshall is the author of the book Christy.] In there is Catherine’s prayer of relinquishment about giving up your way of doing something. And suddenly it was very clear that I should do it. When we debuted on Easter Sunday of 1994, we had a viewership of 42 million people. That was huge. It broke records. What can you tell us about Unlikely Angel, the project you’re working on now? [Unlikely Angel is based on the book of the same name by Ashley Smith, the young woman made famous by reading portions of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, to the man who held her hostage for several hours.] After approaching several networks and cable outlets that refused to see the faith element in it, I decided to make it as a feature film under my own company’s auspices. I wanted to be able to craft it and tell the story accurately of Ashley’s deep belief in God. We found a good home for it at 20th Century Fox Searchlight, and they’ve embraced it. We’re hoping to go into production this summer.
Revenge of the Pink Panther - 1978
What about the sequel to Chariots of Fire? That is the continuation of the story of Eric Liddell and what happens after he runs the Olympic race. He goes to China to serve as a missionary just as World War II begins and the Japanese invade. They capture the school where he is and turn it into a concentration camp. It’s a remarkable, dynamic story with a super ending. It’s not really a sequel as much as it is the rest of the story. Do you have a favorite movie?
The Sound of Music! If I were going to a desert island, that’s the movie I would take. It has everything in it: faith, romance, jeopardy. It was Walt Disney who taught me about the importance of jeopardy. When I was a senior in high school, I got to spend a week with Walt at the studio. He was interested in getting a teenager’s reaction to everything they were doing: stories, music, Disneyland. At the end of that week, he wrote me a check for $5,000, and that paid for my entire college education at the University of Southern California cinema school. So I try to do a lot of teaching and mentoring to help return that wonderful thing that Walt did for me. Any words of wisdom for young Christians interested in the field of entertainment? Well, as I said before, I think it’s important to be excellent at your craft. Writing is really at the heart of so much of it. If they want to tell good stories, they first need to become good writers. Then look for good stories. They’re out there. Read good books, see good films, emulate them. Most of all, keep God at the center. You’ll be amazed at the creativity that will come through you.
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SOCIETY SEX SCIENCE
“Is your sweetheart patient, sensitive, self-sacrificial, understanding, kind, and concerned about your particular needs? Those qualities make the real difference in the long run, and you can discover them without jumping into the sack together to test the machinery.”
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Try Before You Buy? Not If You Are Looking for a Marriage That Will Endure Inevitable Trials by Greg Koukl
f you want a guaranteed nomination for oddball of the year, announce to your friends or co- workers that you think sex is only for marriage. Most view such archaic notions as eccentric and even bizarre. Virgins are made to feel like nerds. If you haven’t “gotten lucky” by age 18, it’s probably because you’re a social reject.
Yet in spite of the social pressure, a growing number of brave singles are making the promise to wait. Still others who have been sexually active in the past are committing to what might be called a “second virginity.” Regardless of their history, they’re making a commitment to start over, to live as “virgins” until they make a lifelong commitment in marriage. The reason is not that they’ve got crooked teeth, bad complexions, or don’t bathe. Rather, they’re choosing to wait because they believe the Judeo-Christian tradition holds the best insight on building strong relationships and durable marriages. This is not the conventional wisdom of today, however.
To many, it just makes sense to test the sexual waters before agreeing to settle down with one person. Those who are courting, according to this view, should find out if they’re sexually compatible. Furthermore, it’s just more realistic. Peer pressure on singles is intense. “Just say no” may work with drugs, but not with sex. Is it wise to “test-drive” a potential mate in bed to check for sexual compatibility? Is chastity unrealistic given the realities of modern life and the pressures adolescents and adults face?
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SEX r econciliation, which is characteristic of unstable unions, can really launch the libido. That’s why making up is so sweet. Later in life, though, this emotional seesaw gets old. The eroticism dissipates, but the fighting and distancing remain. The very pattern When sexual exploration becomes part of that stimulated passion ends up the acquaintance-making process, it quickly ruining the marriage. Conversely, qualities that make for a healthy b ecomes the first part, rather than the last marriage—respect, self-control, part, and then often the only part, rather kindness, charity, sensitivity, patience—do not lend themselves to than one part of many. Often the result is sexual intensity at the outset. In the the illusion of intimacy when there is no long run, however, these virtues true safety, the false impression of stabilize the relationship and contribute to a satisfying sex life. closeness between strangers. Is your sweetheart patient, sensitive, self-sacrificial, understanding, kind, and concerned about your particular needs? Those qualities make the real difference in the long run, and you can discover them without jumping into the sack together to test the machinery.
Love versus Pleasure
I think not. This notion reflects mistaken ideas on the nature of human sexuality, creates serious practical problems, and runs aground of millennia of wisdom.
More than Mechanics The first problem with the “try before you buy” approach is that it reduces sex to physical mechanics. The title of a wellknown book, Sex Begins in the Kitchen, makes a great point: A critical part of our sexual fulfillment has nothing to do with what goes on in the bedroom, a truth women understand better than men. Simply put, the power of sex and the effectiveness of a good sex life are not to be found merely in mechanics, but are primarily—though not entirely—relational. A good relationship can be improved by better mechanics, but good technique can’t build a sound partnership. Ironically, “good” sex can actually be a danger sign. Some of the most unhealthy relationships are accompanied by tremendous sexual intensity. The cycle of conflict, then
The “try before you buy” view misrepresents the nature of sexuality a second way: It diminishes lovemaking to physical pleasure. Sex is not just for procreation and recreation. It’s also for identification: two become one. One of the most powerful aspects of physical intimacy is the bonding that results from surrender, vulnerability, and physical and emotional transparency. These elements create a deep identification, a collapse of the ego boundaries, forging a profound union. This is not a skill that’s developed through short-term sexual adventures. It’s a oneness that is only built over time, in the protective environment of stability and commitment. Some people do have unhealthy inhibitions, but I’m not convinced that testing the sexual waters is going to bring them to the surface. Some “problems” are merely the product of naiveté, inexperience, and simple modesty. They could easily be overcome with kindness, patience, and a little time, but they can be magnified in the performance environment of a sexual test run. In fact, that’s part of the problem with the test-drive view. How comfortable would anyone feel jumping into bed to have his or her sexual competence tested? Will this environment bring out a person’s best performance? No, sexuality is developed in its deepest and most satisfying way in an atmosphere of safety and commitment, where neither person is concerned that his performance is going to disqualify him. Furthermore, sexual tastes are malleable. They change with time. After all, what do two young people experimenting with sex really know about what they want? That’s the beauty of marriage, which brings two people together who are committed for life and who know little about Summer 2011 SALVO 35
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FEATURE q what they like. They begin growing and experimenting together, developing their sexual tastes with one another, so that each can become the other’s sexual ideal.
Sex versus Intimacy Sex is powerful and can easily get out of control if given the reins. If sex is on the agenda, it quickly goes from being the dessert to being the main course. Men and women both know this from experience. Men know it viscerally, in their gut; they go for the gold the first chance they get. Women know it as a vague but growing sensation of being used. Soon, every date ends up in the sack or rolling around in the back seat. Instead of channeling energy into discovering each other’s unique differences, couples spend it probing each other’s body, robbing the relationship of its depth. When sexual exploration becomes part of the acquaintance-making process, it quickly becomes the first part, rather than the last part, and then often the only part, rather than one part of many. Often the result is the illusion of intimacy when there is no true safety, the false impression of closeness between strangers. If sex is not an option before marriage, then all of a couple’s energies are directed toward developing more “soulish” or interior dimensions of their relationship, allowing them to build a stable foundation for a healthy future sex life to rest upon.
Passion & Judgment There’s another problem. Sex distorts judgment. Just as a blazing torch can twist a solid piece of steel, the heat of passion can bend a relationship all out of shape, warping a person’s focus and twisting his good judgment. When a couple is thinking of marriage, they need to be able to assess the strength of their love and commitment. Even under the best of circumstances this can be difficult, but sexual involvement complicates the issue. In Finding the Love of Your Life, psychologist Neil Clark Warren warns: If we continue telling single persons that sexual intimacy is healthy at whatever stage of their relationship, they will continue getting married for all the wrong reasons. Once they have made this fundamental error, their marriage—and ultimately their family—will evolve into a struggle with no winners.1 How do you know, for example, that the closeness and intimacy you feel are a result of strong partnering skills? If your libido jump-starts the relationship, how do you know if the two of you are good in life together or just temporarily good in bed? It’s a lot easier to discern this if you’re not sexually involved. When the foundation for a life commitment is a couple’s shared personal depth, then sexual favors in marriage become the gilded edge. They are a type of “relationship glue” designed by God to bind the good stuff together
when the going gets tough, which inevitably happens even in the best marriages. The glue works in unhealthy couplings, too. It’s no s ecret that many lousy relationships survive on sex drive alone long after they should have been abandoned on their own merits.
Sex Is Dangerous Finally, sex is physically dangerous, now more than ever. Sexually active young people face the risk of a parade of sexually transmitted diseases—syphilis, chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea—that have been increasing at alarming rates annually. Then there’s the human immunodeficiency virus, the deadly HIV, which makes other sexually transmitted diseases look like diaper rash. There’s also the risk of pregnancy. The experience of becoming a parent should be one of the most wonderful events in life. Instead, the beautiful phrase, “I’m going to have a baby,” is often transformed into a lament. Once a proclamation of joy, it now signals tragedy and remorse. Even deeply committed pro-lifers often waver when they’re the ones facing an unplanned pregnancy. Abortion starts looking like a reasonable alternative. Reports show that abortions among Christians are surprisingly common given their professed beliefs.2 The courageous women who do carry their children to term face a host of overwhelming difficulties. Education plans are postponed or abandoned altogether. Career hopes are dashed. The financial burden can be staggering, especially for young adults. Often a mother finds herself deserted, facing all these problems alone. She nurses her heartache in solitude, overcome by the responsibility of caring for another human being with little or no help from others. The children are often robbed of a stable home anchored by two parents, which is best for children. Frequently, there’s hardly a parent in the home at all. Little boys and girls are raised by daycare center staff because mom must work to support the family by herself. Unplanned pregnancies are not always this bleak, but they’re always much more difficult than anyone imagines in advance. Frequently, there’s a heavy strain on the extended family, which has to share parenting
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SEX chores. There’s very little extra money and no extra time. Add to that the difficulty of courting when you’re a single parent, and it’s easy for life to seem hopeless. In fact, a woman’s life will never be the same, and the clock cannot be turned back. The private act of sensuality that “isn’t hurting anybody” becomes a public concern that robs everyone of the best, especially the children. Unfortunately, many become convinced of the wisdom of abstinence long after it’s too late.
“Ever Had an Unwed Pregnancy” by Current Religious Attendance and Structure of Family of Origin
Rx for Safety Sex is powerful. It’s so powerful that we must manage it with care. The best protection I know of is being accountable to a third party for your sexual behavior. This may seem like strong medicine, but it’s a compelling incentive to do what’s right. Here’s the reason we need this. When we exceed our limits, retreat is very difficult because the law of diminishing returns sets in. What thrilled us last week is ho-hum today, so we have to go further next time to get the same sexual wallop. It changes the whole equation, though, when a third person enters the picture. Here’s how it works. First, enlist the aid of someone who will take this issue seriously—a parent, a conscientious friend, or a pastor. Next, set precise, well-defined limits you both agree on. Finally, schedule regular check-ups and be honest when you’ve crossed your boundaries.
A Different Drummer Virginity and sexual chastity are nothing to be ashamed of. They’re not unnatural, and some wonderful benefits accrue for those who are willing to “just say no” and delay sexual gratification. The “try before you buy” mentality, on the other hand, shows a profound misunderstanding of the nature of human sexuality. It can be emotionally destructive and physically dangerous. “Try before you buy” may feel good in the short term, but it’s a dead end in the long haul. Those who live their lives in fidelity, regardless of what the contrary pressures may be, are the ones who reap lasting rewards. I once owned a cleverly worded T-shirt that said, “Practice safe sex. Get married
Current Religious Attendance and Structure of Family of Origin Combined, Scott Talkington, Ph.D. This chart looks at females who have had an unwed pregnancy at the extremes of four demographic quadrants. These four quadrants are derived from combining two sets of family structures (always-intact vs. non-intact*) and two sets of religious attendance (high vs. low). The families occupying the four corners (or four extremes) of these quadrants are: The always-intact married family that worships weekly; The always-intact married family that never worships; The non-intact family* that worships weekly; The non-intact family* that never worships. (* The non-intact group consists of women in the following categories: married stepfamily, cohabiting stepfamily, single divorced parent, and always single parent. In all these structures, there has been rejection between the biological father and mother, and thus the original pairing is no longer intact.) www.mappingamericaproject.org
and stay faithful.” This simple truth offers more peace of mind than a closet full of condoms and more wisdom than any “safe sex” curriculum. This article is adapted from the Stand to Reason booklet, Try Before You Buy?: The Case for Premarital Chastity, by Gregory Koukl, available at www.str.org. Endnotes 1. Neil Clark Warren, Finding the Love of Your Life (Focus on the Family Publishers, 1992), p. 85. 2. According to a 2008 poll by the Guttmacher Institute (an arm of Planned Parenthood), 20 percent of all abortions were performed on women who identified themselves as born-again Christians. When you add in those who identified as either Protestants or Catholics, the number shoots up to 65 percent.
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/ / U n d e r c o v e r _ w i t h L e s S il l a r s /
Dear Donor #3066 A Father’s Day Message for You To Allyson’s biological father,
think you’d like her. Allyson is a slim girl of about 12, with braces, blonde hair, and pretty blue eyes. She lives here in Winchester, Virginia. She’s a little shy around strangers, but she shakes hands very politely and seems, sitting next to her mother, Dawn, at the north-side IHOP, to be the kind of daughter from whom any dad would love to get a Father’s Day card.
But you won’t be getting one from her this year. Dawn knows how to find you, but Allyson doesn’t seem all that anxious to meet you. So I thought you might like a quick update. You’ve heard that Allyson is one of at least 13 children—most in California, but a few back east—who were born as a result of sperm provided by you, Donor #3066, to the California Cryobank. There are about 150 donor clinics around the country, a $3.3 billion industry that generates perhaps 30,000–60,000 new births annually. Some estimate that about a million Americans are, like Allyson, donorconceived. In our community of 100,000 people, Allyson may be one of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of donor-conceived people living here.
The Clincher Number Dawn’s ex-husband was unable to have children, so in about 1995 her fertility doctor recommended artificial insemination. “It made perfect sense to me,” she said recently. “I could just never imagine myself not being a mother. If I’d never found anybody to marry, I’d have done it anyway.” After the first two attempts ended in miscarriages, Dawn turned to the California Cryobank, whose descriptions of the donors seemed more complete than the ones her doctor’s supplier was offering. Apparently these sperm supply companies advertise heavily to prospective donors on the campuses of elite colleges. “Come get paid for doing what you’re doing anyway,” is the gist of their sales pitch.
Dawn found you: blonde and blue-eyed, like herself; with a BA in theater/voice; German/Norwegian; a six-footer, but still trim at 162 pounds; speaks Spanish; likes to bike, swim, work out. Catholic. Dimples, even. “It’s kind of like picking from a menu,” Dawn said. The clincher was your number: 3066. Dawn was then 30 years old and born in 1966. “Here’s somebody who matches myself, and here’s this number that kind of corresponds to my life. It made sense.” Dawn found the process of artificial insemination tedious, between the test-induced cramping, the fertility drugs, and the daily visits to the doctor’s office for blood work and hormone monitoring. But in the end, there was Allyson.
Meeting Some Siblings Dawn and Allyson moved from Pennsylvania to Taneytown, Maryland, in 2005. While there, Dawn saw a story on the Today Show about how an organization called the Donor Sibling Registry (www. donorsiblingregistry.com) was putting donor siblings in touch with each other. She signed up, and within 24 hours had heard from two other moms who had picked you out of a line-up, so to speak. Speaking of the Donor Sibling Registry, someone wrote the website saying that you donated sperm
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SEX for eight years, from 1995 to 2003. Man, that could be a lot of sperm. Could you have more than 13 kids out there? These sperm banks say that they limit how many offspring you’ll have, but some sibling groups on the registry have more than 50 members, and that’s just the people who signed up. How much did they pay you, anyway? These days you could make “up to $100 per donation and up to $1,200 a month by donating 3 times a week. We periodically offer incentives such as movie tickets or gift certificates for extra time and effort expended by participating sperm doThere are about 150 donor clinics around the country, nors,” says the company website. Wow. a $3.3 billion industry that generates p erhaps 30,000–60,000 Gotta love those new births annually. Some estimate that about a million incentives. By the way, the Americans are, like Allyson, donor-conceived. IRS classifies you as an “independent contractor.” Dawn and any one of your offspring could 18–45 are a bit more likely to feel Allyson were at first very excited track you down—oh, wait, I forconfused and isolated than those to meet the half-siblings. “It was got! One already did. One of your who were adopted or who come cool,” Allyson said. “I’ve always children’s moms started with a from biological families, and they mail-order DNA testing company wanted brothers and sisters.” So are somewhat more likely to excalled Family Tree DNA, matched she and her mother took some perience depression, delinquency, up some genetic markers, and trips out to California to meet and substance abuse. Nearly half started making phone calls. some of them, and they still get to- are disturbed at the thought that “There’s no such thing as anomoney was involved in their congether with a few, sometimes. The nymity anymore, not with Google ception. kids look a lot alike, apparently. and [DNA testing],” Wendy More than half say that when Kramer, the founder of the Donor they see someone who resembles Telling & Its Troubles Sibling Registry, told me. “The them, they wonder if they are re[sperm banks] all say they’re selfBut as the group grew, their lated. Some worry about unknowregulating, but there’s really no enthusiasm waned. Now Dawn ingly getting intimate with a halfregulation,” she added. “So far, and Allyson are settling into Winsibling. Other studies have found the industry has moved forward that donor-conceived people who chester. Dawn, a counselor, has only considering the rights of the are told about it later in life often been telling Allyson what hapindustry, the rights of parents, and pened since she was old enough to don’t take the news well. It comes the donors’ right to be anonyunderstand. “I can’t imagine not as a shock, apparently. mous. But what’s in the best interhaving her know that,” Dawn said. But I don’t want to worry you. est of the child?” Allyson seems just fine with it. “That’s not information that you Even Dawn seems a bit trouDawn calls it a “blessing” that this keep from somebody.” bled that you were so, uh, prolific. But many people don’t tell option was available. “I just think it should be regulated their offspring, according to a study released a few years ago Who Considers the Child? as to how many children can be conceived by one donor,” she said. from the Institute for American “I’m not exactly sure why. The idea Values, called “My Daddy’s Name is Still, you should be aware that that there are 15 kids out there Donor.” (The report is available for many donor-conceived people with the same donor is just disdownload at http://familyscholars. feel a real need to know where turbing.” org/my-daddys-name-is-donor-2). they came from. And despite the Happy Father’s Day, anyway. In general, donor offspring aged Cryobank’s promise of anonymity, Summer 2011 SALVO 39
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//Hazmats_with Judith Reisman/
One Nation, Under Drugs How California & the Rest of Us Can Become More Like Yemen
hen a star promotes a product in a film, it’s called an “advertorial.” So is the film It’s Complicated an advertorial for smoking marijuana? Jason Silva notes in his review of this movie at the Huffington Post that it shows “successful, cosmopolitan adults enjoying a marijuana joint with no consequences.”1 Upset that the film received an “R” rating merely because of its potheads, Silva protests, “We should all be proud of director Nancy Meyers, and actors Meryl Streep and Steve Martin for helping solidify marijuana’s entry into acceptable pop culture status.”
Apparently pot is acceptable these days, with starring celebrities toking in feature films such as It’s Complicated, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Even three years ago The Christian Science Monitor noticed a trend: “Films featuring characters using marijuana have mushroomed.” It is “cinema’s stoned age.”2 (There’s even a list of the 20 best stoner movies.3) Silva happily notes, “Our 10,000-year relationship with cannabis can now exist without shame
or rebellion.” (Our 10,000-year relationship with cannabis? The cannabis “relationship” here began in earnest in the 1960s.) In GQ Mark Healy agrees: By all accounts this should be a golden age for stoners. Weed has never been stronger, more accessible, and less criminal—particularly if you’re wealthy, white, and living in one of the thirteen [now fifteen] states where it’s approved
for medicinal purposes.4 How did this come about? Healy says, I guess it began the moment medical-marijuana advocates began equating pot with something healthful and people started actually believing them . . . to treat nausea and headaches. . . . You won’t likely hear of pot’s harms,5 while millionaires like Hugh Hefner and billionaires like George Soros have helped finance marijuana legalization.6 Making it “healthy” has made pot seem no more dangerous “than a bottle of spirulina,” says Healy, who complains that pot is now so widespread, it’s no longer cool. How widespread? Silva crows, “There are now more marijuana dispensaries in L.A. than there are Starbucks.” And to date, fifteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized “medical” marijuana. More states are likely on the way. A 2010 Franklin & Marshall poll “found that 81 percent of Pennsylvanians supported making medical marijuana legal—up from 76 percent in 2006,” noted Mackenzie Carpenter in the PittsburghPost Gazette: They’re lighting up joints in Bryn Mawr and Squirrel Hill [Pennsylvania] after putting the kids to bed. At [Ava Lounge] in East Liberty, pro-medical marijuana activists are recruiting and organizing new members over martinis.7 What about those medical reasons for marijuana? In California, writes Mackenzie, “otherwise healthy young people with ‘back pain’ are wangling permission from unscrupulous doctors to obtain the
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SEX drug.” She quotes Lynn Abraham, Philadelphia’s former district attorney: “Why is it that in California most people using it are 20 to 35 years old? Give me a break. Is this what we want to become in Pennsylvania? . . . A pleasure palace? Yikes. We’re just going to turn into a bunch of spoiled, self-indulgent dope heads.” Defenders of cannabis legalization, of course, would say Abraham is just wrong.
Yemen’s Woes What might a society with widespread drug use over a few generations look like? My interest in this question began in 1978, when I read an article called “Qat’s Cradle” in Human Behavior. It recounted how the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare had paid two UCLA researchers to spend two years in Yemen to ascertain what life would be like “in a total drug culture.” Yemen was a good place for such a study because a large proportion of its population culti-
vated and used qat (pronounced “khat”), a so-called “mild” narcotic leaf, considered less addictive and less harmful than marijuana. The researchers reported that Yemenis of all ages used qat: Students chew [the leaves] liberally. . . . Children chew qat starting at seven or eight years of age . . . women . . . have their own qat parties . . . taxi drivers chew. . . . Politicians chew with politicians; religious leaders and scholars chew with their groups. Qat chewing even plays a role in the highest government circles.8 This habit of qat chewing in Yemen is some 400 years old, the researchers reported, citing a 19th-century traveler to Yemen who tried it and commented, “The Yamini can go for several days without food, but not a single day without qat. Men and women and children, they all use it.” 9 The society that en-
gaged in all this qat chewing was described as a lethargic population that endured widespread malnourishment, impoverishment, and infant mortality. A World Bank report issued in 2007 corroborates the picture painted by the UCLA researchers. Titled “Yemen: Towards Qat Demand Reduction,” this report states that “until the 1960s, qat chewing was an occasional pastime, mainly for the rich,” but that in the last half-century, it has become much more widespread, with “trend” data showing increasing use by children as young as five years old. The report shows how qat use has been “linked to widespread child malnutrition and household food insecurity” and numerous other problems. It states: The adverse health effects of qat . . . include high blood-pressure, underweight children (when pregnant women chew qat), cancer (from consuming pesticide residues), and dental diseases. Consumers spend, on average, nearly 10 percent of their income [on qat]. . . . [Qat Summer 2011 SALVO 41
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COLUMN p is] inimical to the development of a productive work force, with as much as one-quarter of usable working hours allocated to qat chewing.10
A Universal Problem Yemen is not unique. “Joints” and various hallucinogens have long been with us. In his book The War on Drugs, James Inciardi, an authority on drugs and crime, writes that references to marijuana appear in early Persian, Hindu, Greek, Arab and Chinese writings [and the] chewing of coca had already been in Inca mythology for centuries.11 Though surrounded by rich national resources, most indigenous peoples in Central Mexico, Costa Rica, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, Jamaica, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, and Fiji live in dire poverty with culturally accepted use of drugs filtering down to children. Marijuana and betel nut are common in most of Egypt and Asia. The Cree Indians of North America brew and chew calamus or “rat root,” while farther south, from Central Mexico to Costa Rica, hashish and thle-pela-kano (“Leaf of God”) keep the inhabitants hooked. Opium, heroin, hash oil, and hashish are indigenously Asian. Hashish abounds in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Nepal. Like other Third World countries, Nepal’s life expectancy hovers at about 51 years of age, in sync with its annual per capita income of about $1,010.12 Widespread consumption of indigenous drugs often correlates with poverty, early mortality, and illiteracy, and it may explain a general condition of apathy or lethargy called amotivational syndrome. Adult use often leaves children
vulnerable to neglect or abuse, by their parents or others.
Kick It! What do the people of Yemen think about their qat habit? The World Bank report states: Most users believe that qat is bad for them. More than 70 percent of the respondents describe qat chewing as a “bad habit” that is also bad for the economy and bad for the nation’s image. Users want to “kick the habit” but they cannot. Either because of social pressures, or because of the psychological dependency resulting from prolonged use, users do not feel that they can stop using qat on their own. Some 53 percent of all male and 61 percent of all female respondents declare that Government intervention is necessary to address the qat problem.13 They want government help to quit? Do any of the legislators from the fifteen U.S. states that have legalized marijuana know about Yemen? They should. Meanwhile, back at the Huffington Post, Jason Silva concludes his story about our new marijuana culture thus: One thing is certain. It’s Complicated does a good job of showing something not so complicated: marijuana can make you giggly, hungry and maybe even hyper-philosophical . . . but it doesn’t make you a couch-dwelling, pizzaeating sloth or criminal. There probably is little danger that rich Hollywood elites like Meryl Streep and billionaires like George Soros will become sloths,
whether or not they smoke pot or chew qat leaves. And even if they did, their wealth would mitigate the ensuing problems for themselves and their families. But what about poor and workingclass citizens? Take Detroit, about which Matt Labash wrote last fall in the Weekly Standard: “[T]hat’s exactly what a city with 15 percent unemployment that’s as chronically crime-ridden and dysfunctional as Detroit needs: more drugs.”14 Michigan did approve “medical” marijuana, and up to 900 people a day were applying for marijuana use when Labash wrote: A state court of appeals judge recently lamented in a decision, “Michigan will soon have more registered marijuana users than we do unemployed—an incredible legacy for the Great Lakes State.” The Yemenis might warn us about our grand experiment in medical marijuana. Are we in any state to listen? Jim Kushiner contributed to this column. Endnotes 1. www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-silva/ its-not-that-complicated_b_415332.html. 2. www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Movies/2008/0516/p15s01-almo.html. 3. http://movies.popcrunch.com/the20-best-stoner-movies-of-all-time. 4. www.gq.com/entertainment/humor/201001/pot-culture-stoner-culture. 5. www.ncfamily.org/FNC/0901S2.html. 6. http://cannabisnews.com/news/20/ thread20166.shtml. 7. www.post-gazette.com/ pg/10192/1072041-51.stm. 8. Kennedy, J. and R. Hurwit, “Qat’s cradle,” Human Behavior (October 1978), pp. 38–39. 9. Ibid. 10. www-wds.worldbank.org/external/ default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/20 07/06/26/000090341_20070626112355/ Rendered/INDEX/397380YE.txt. 11. James Inciardi, The War on Drugs (Mayfield Publishing, 1986). 12. www.who.int/countries/npl/en. 13. Op. cit. 14. www.weeklystandard.com/articles/ gone-pot.
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SOCIETY SEX SCIENCE “The existence of sterile neutrinos holds the potential to explain many anomalies confronting the current big bang scenario. The remarkable explanatory power and scope provided by sterile neutrinos has convinced physicists and astronomers that such particles must exist. But how to prove it—that is the question.”
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The Other Particle The Search for Sterile Neutrinos Is Heating Up by Hugh Ross
A A simulated event, featuring the appearance of the Higgs boson
mong physicists who seek to explain the origin and structure of the universe on both the smallest scale and the largest, one particular particle has gained a position of extreme importance. The Higgs boson, which theoreticians anticipate as the best way to explain how many of the known fundamental particles acquired mass, is labeled “the God particle.”
However, all the media attention and glamour surrounding the Higgs boson—not to mention the costly collider built for its detection—has overshadowed another tiny particle that carries even greater significance on a cosmic scale. What’s more, this other particle is much easier (and cheaper) to discover. In fact, astronomers seem to have found it already, and the news is just beginning to spread.1 This elusive and enigmatic particle bears the unglamorous designation “sterile neutrino.”
Eunuchs of the Universe All neutrinos, both regular and sterile, fall into the category of exotic matter. This kind of matter, by contrast with ordinary matter, interacts only weakly, if at all, with photons (light). Ironically, ordinary matter (mainly protons, neutrons, and electrons), which is far more familiar to us, makes up
just 4.6 percent of all the stuff in the universe. Exotic matter makes up 23.3 percent, nearly six times as much. (A mysterious something called dark energy comprises the other 72.1 percent.) Regular, or active, neutrinos—extremely low-mass, electrically neutral particles—come in three “flavors:” tau, muon, and electron. All three exhibit left-handed spin. Although they cannot interact with ordinary matter via electromagnetism, they can and do interact weakly via the weak nuclear force and gravity. When physicists say weakly, they are not kidding. Most neutrinos pass right through Earth without interacting with even one proton, neutron, or electron.
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SCIENCE not just the mass and spin of active neutrinos, but also much more (see list below). On a grand scale, it provides the simplest and best explanation for the universe’s overall structure by solving the riddle of why the universe contains so few dwarf and sub-dwarf galaxies.
Great Problem Solver The existence of sterile neutrinos would answer eight more specific challenges confronting the standard cosmological and particle physics origins models:
Sterile neutrinos, on the other hand, spin in the opposite direction and have no “flavor.” They interact with ordinary matter only through the weakest (by far) of all forces, gravity. However, the impact of these humble particles on the formation of the universe can best be described as enormous. The introduction of sterile neutrinos into the particle physicists’ standard scenario for the origin of the universe’s particles represents the simplest way to e xplain
The Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy NGC 147 About 2.6 million light years away, NGC 147 is a satellite galaxy of the Andromeda Galaxy. Dwarf spheroidal galaxies are devoid of bright stars and are dominated by exotic matter. Thus, they are excellent candidates for studying the properties of exotic matter such as sterile neutrinos.
1. Why did the first stars form just 200–300 million years after the cosmic beginning? 2. Why did the creation of the universe produce slightly more baryons (protons and neutrons) than anti- baryons? (If it hadn’t, no galaxies, stars, or planets would ever have come to exist.) 3. Why did certain pulsars manifest rapid kick-out velocities from their birthing location? 4. Why did core-collapse supernovae produce the observed abundance of elements with atomic weight greater than 100? 5. Why are certain supernova shocks so energetic? 6. Why are exotic dark matter halos so smooth and symmetrical? 7. Why did supermassive black holes form so early in cosmic history? 8. What accounts for the additional warmth of exotic matter required by the most successful (big bang) cosmic creation models? (Sterile neutrinos are “warm” in that they move at velocities intermediate between nearly zero and light speed.) No other proposal holds the potential to explain all these anomalies confronting the current big bang scenario. The remarkable explanatory power and scope provided by sterile neutrinos has convinced physicists and astronomers that such particles must exist. But how to prove it—that is the question.
Where to Look Because neutrinos undergo decay, researchers first attempted to discern sterile neutrinos’ existence by detecting the energy released in their decay process. Given the sterile neutrino’s apparent mass (a few millionths of the mass of the proton), this decay would produce a special signal, a faint spectral line at x-ray wavelengths. But almost everywhere astronomers point their telescopes, the x-ray background radiation overwhelms their capacity to detect any such line. While this approach yielded no definitive results, renowned physicist Joseph Silk and astronomer Dmitry Prokhorov turned the search in an entirely new direction. They suggested that sterile neutrinos come from the decay of very light inflatons. As their name indicates, inflatons Summer 2011 SALVO 45
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FEATURE q help drive the extremely rapid expansion of the universe that occurred in a miniscule moment between 10-35 and 10-34 seconds after the cosmos began—a sliver of time known as the big bang inflationary era. Physicists Nemanja Kaloper, Albion Lawrence, and Lorenzo Sorbo picked up on Silk and Prokhorov’s idea and submitted a preprint (late in 2010) in which they suggest that Silk and Prokhorov’s inflaton may be, more specifically, a particle called the axion. Through the past decade, both astronomers and theoretical physicists have come to believe that axions make up the majority of the universe’s exotic matter. Thus, if Silk and Prokorov’s proposal is correct, not only could it account for the existence of sterile neutrinos but it could also confirm the identity of the kinds of particles that comprise most of the universe’s exotic matter.
Already Found? Silk and Prokhorov argued that if indeed the majority of sterile neutrinos arise from the decay of very light inflatons, such as axions, then we can confirm not only the sterile neutrino’s existence but also its mass by making comparisons between observations and predictions arising from computer simulations. As it turns out, simulation studies based on the latest cosmological models, which incorporate sterile neutrinos, predict the sterile neutrino’s mass as 17.8 keV (kiloelectronvolts). Given a sterile neutrino mass of 17.8 keV, the decay of very light inflatons (such as axions) into sterile neutrinos would produce a telltale x-ray spectral line near 8.5 keV, and this spectral line should be most evident in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Silk and Prokhorov then point to x-ray spectrometer observations of the galactic core made with the Suzaku telescopes and analyzed (back in 2007) by astronomer Katsuji Koyama and his research team. This team reported on the 8.7 keV spectral line that corresponds to highly ionized iron. When Silk and Prokhorov re-analyzed the strength of that iron line, they found an unexpected excess of strength. They proposed that this excess results from inflatons’ decaying into sterile neutrinos, with a mass of 17.4 keV per neutrino. This measurement falls just short of a “proof positive” detection of sterile neutrinos. It shows the excess level at about 3.5 to 4 times above what’s called (in physics) the “noise” level—the random, persistent disturbance that obscures the clarity of a signal. In astrophysics, a detection is considered firmly established when the signal measures at least five times above the noise level.
Additional Confirmation Silk and Prokhorov offer a relatively easy test of their findings. If the measured excess does arise from the decay of inflatons into sterile neutrinos, then a fairly uniform narrow band map at the 8.7 keV spectral line would be seen across all the Suzaku telescopes’ fields of view. Such an observational test could be achieved within the next few months. While Silk and Prokhorov were the first to claim that the excess detected in the 8.7 keV spectral line in the Milky Way Galaxy’s center provides observational evidence for sterile neutrinos, they were not the only ones to make the claim. Two physicists from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Man Ho Chan and Ming-Chung Chu, independently published the same conclusions. Another way to establish Prokhorov and Silk’s detection of sterile neutrinos
lementary particles (i.e., not composed of smaller particles) that travel nearly the speed of light, have no electrical charge, and can pass through ordinary matter with little affectation. Neutrinos do not interact with electromagnetic force or the strong nuclear force, but only with the weak nuclear force and the gravitational force. Newly discovered “sterile neutrinos” interact only with the gravitational force.
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SCIENCE would be to confirm the existence and abundance of the inflatons from which they derive.
The Axion Connection In June 2009 a team of astronomers from Spain published a paper2 showing that if axions exist, they will freely escape from white dwarfs (burnt out stars). If a high abundance of axions exists in white dwarf stars, this free escape will substantially accelerate the cooling of white dwarfs. The theoretical data and observational data matched, providing confirmation of axions’ abundance. In March 2010 two astronomers from Argentina collaborated with two members of the Spanish team to add a second piece of evidence for axions. Their work showed how the white dwarf cooling process translates into an increase in the pulsation periods of certain white dwarfs that undergo cyclical variations in brightness. Because axions would increase the white dwarf’s cooling rate, astronomers can use measurements of the rate of change in the pulsation periods to verify the existence of axions. This team’s paper presented values of the pulsation period rate change for the white dwarf G117-B15A, and these values were precisely compatible with the existence of axions at the mass level suggested by the luminosity function established in the 2009 paper. Further confirmation of axions has thus become a more straightforward possibility. Measurements of pulsation period changes in not just one but rather in dozens, perhaps hundreds, of variable white dwarfs could firmly seal the case for axions’ existence. It could also establish axions’ cosmic abundance and mass, shed light on sterile neutrinos’ abundance level and properties, and yield insight on the constituent components of exotic matter.
Theological Prize The bigger trophy from a theological perspective will be determining how much the mass, average momentum, abundance, and location of sterile neutrinos and axions must be fine-tuned to explain the possibility for life, especially human life, in the universe. Thus, the anticipated confirmation of sterile neutrinos and axions holds
The Suzaku Satellite Before Launch This satellite, designed and constructed by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of Japan, houses four different x-ray telescopes along with their spectrometers. The satellite was launched into orbit in 2005 and covers a spectral energy range from 0.2 keV to 700 keV.
potential to hugely bolster the biblically predicted hot big bang creation model.3 In other words, we can reasonably anticipate that this research will simultaneously resolve eight or more anomalies in the most advanced and widely accepted creation model and, in doing so, significantly augment the body of evidence for the supernatural, super-intelligent design of the universe for humanity’s sake. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize. Endnotes 1. For a more extensive explanation of these discoveries, along with figures and citations, see www.reasons.org/have-real-god-particlesbeen-found-part-1-4. 2. Jordi Isern et al., “Axions and the White Dwarf Luminosity Function,” Journal of Physics: Conference Series 172 (June 2009), id. 012005. 3. Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days (NavPress, 2004): pp. 139–148.
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//Deprogram_with Denyse O’Leary/
Neither God nor Darwin? Atheists & Agnostics Who Dare to Doubt
o hear it from the New Atheists, Darwinism is the atheist’s creation story, the Genesis from which no Exodus follows. As Richard Dawkins is often quoted as saying, Darwinism enables an atheist to be intellectually fulfilled. If so, there are a number of atheist and agnostic thinkers out there who are intellectually deprived. Or are they?
Consider, for example, the Humean philosopher Antony Flew (1923–2010). In 2005, at the age of 81, after fifty years as the world’s leading intellectual (as opposed to polemical) atheist, he asserted that—as the title of his 2007 book puts it—There Is a God. He concluded this from the design of the universe and its life forms.1 Many saw in Flew’s change of mind a sign of failing mental health, attributable to his advanced age, yet, as late as 2008, Flew displayed enough clarity to label Dawkins a “secular bigot” because of the latter’s increasingly frenzied attacks on religion. There were also rumors that Flew had been frightened into his “conversion” by approaching death, but
he did not, so far as is known, ever embrace a religion or believe in an afterlife. His was not a full-fledged conversion in that sense; he simply saw that the evidence was moving away from the arguments that had, for him, cemented atheism, and so he changed his views accordingly.
Commonsense Reasoning But Flew was hardly alone. A pair of Australian commonsense philosophers, David Stove (1927– 1994) and Hiram Caton (b. 1936), both agnostics, also fell afoul of contemporary Darwinian culture. Commonsense philosophy holds that the basic principles by which we reason and form beliefs can guide us to true knowledge of the world. Such a philosopher would dismiss cognitive scientist Steven Pinker’s claim that our brains are shaped for Darwinian fitness, not for truth, by responding that the measure of a brain’s fitness is its ability to perceive truth. Stove, sometimes considered “the funniest and most dazzling defender of common sense,” wrote a brilliant takedown of evolutionary psychology, Darwinian Fairytales.2 Evolutionary psychologists claim to explain everything from voting conservative to why children dislike vegetables by speculating on how the behavior supposedly aided the survival of our ape-like ancestors and thus got encoded in our genes. Stove admitted that his only professional qualification was “40 odd years’ acquaintance with Darwinian literature, and a strong distaste for ridiculous slanders on our species.” That was quite enough. Caton has responded3 to the recent frenzy of almost-literal Darwin worship in recent years by keeping track of these idiocies and excesses on a website. Another commonsense
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SCIENCE hilosopher, the American matep rialist atheist Jerry Fodor, has also broken ranks with the Darwinists. In What Darwin Got Wrong (Profile, 2010), co-authored with the evolutionary biologist Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, Fodor writes dismissively of the “plethora of spooks” haunting Darwinism. By “spooks” he means “Mother Nature, selfish genes, imperialistic memes”—ghosts without corpses really, because no one has ever confirmed the existence of these entities. Fodor wants a naturalistic account of evolution, but he realizes that an increasingly embattled Darwinism cannot supply it. Somewhere near Fodor’s camp we also find the agnostic mathematician and philosopher David Berlinski. Among his several skeptical books on Darwinism is The Devil’s Delusion (Basic Books, 2009), which is aimed, of course, at Dawkins’s The God Delusion. Berlinski writes, One of the reasons that people embrace Darwinian orthodoxy with such an unholy zealousness, is just that it gives them access to power. It’s as simple as that: power over education, power over political decisions, power over funding, and power over the media.4
The Mind Is Real Other atheists get off the train to nowhere at the origin of life or the origin of the human mind. In his famous essay, “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?”, Thomas Nagel provides a sensitive account of the limits of human understanding of animals’ minds.5 Less well known is the fact that he named Steven Meyer’s ID-friendly Signature in the Cell
(Harper One) a Book of the Year for 20096 and that he questions whether human intellect is explicable on Darwinian principles.7 Yet this is a man who also says, “I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”8 Similarly, atheist philosopher Raymond Tallis denies9 that Darwinism can explain the human mind, which largely defeats the theory’s purpose in the view of most evolutionary biologists, who are pure naturalists (i.e., no God and no free will).10 Lastly, among the younger set, agnostic Warwick University sociologist Steve Fuller and atheist University of Colorado philosopher Bradley Monton both question the current fear of design in nature. Indeed, Fuller appeared in the Expelled documentary, where he observed to host Ben Stein that a Darwinian mindset leads logically to abortion and euthanasia. He has also noted that “the greatest scientific advances presuppose something that looks very like the mind of God.”11 In a recent book, Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design (Broadview Press, 2009), Monton offers a sympathetic hearing to the idea of design in nature, using what amounts to a Socratic method. The young, after all, will gamble. So can people profess agnosticism or atheism and still doubt Darwin? Yes, and it seems that some do. But they need a deep common sense, and they must actually be smart instead of just pretending to be. They should also believe that the mind is real and that humans are different from animals. But if they are going to live so far outside current mainstream culture, they might as well believe
in God, too. They will have all the same enemies but many more friends. Endnotes 1. Here is a video interview with Flew on his change of mind: http://tinyurl. com/3q4okdo. 2. For a long review of the book by this author, go here: http://tinyurl. com/4ac2kkk. 3. At www.darwin-legend.org. 4. Quoted by Gil Dodgen, “David Berlinski on Science, Scientists, and Darwinism,” Uncommon Descent (5 February 2008); http://tinyurl.com/3veus9v. 5. Excerpts are available here: http:// tinyurl.com/6jpaxsq. 6. Thomas Nagel, “Books of the Year 2009,” The Times Literary Supplement (November 25, 2009); http://tinyurl.com/ ykfumgk. 7. Denyse O’Leary, “Philosopher Thomas Nagel disowning Darwinism,” PostDarwinist (May 10, 2009); http://tinyurl. com/o5r5r8. 8. Thomas Nagel, The Last Word (Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 130–131; http://tinyurl.com/4yh27e5. 9. Raymond Tallis, “The unnatural selection of consciousness,” TPM: The Philosophers’ Magazine, issue 46 (July 23, 2009); http://tinyurl.com/yktbgc3. 10. Gregory W. Graffin and William B. Provine, “Evolution, Religion and Free Will,” The American Scientist (vol. 95, 294ff)); http://tinyurl.com/3uvzz3b. 11. Steve Fuller, “Science in God’s image,” The Guardian (3 May 2010); http:// tinyurl.com/3ulf5eq.
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//Operation ID_with Casey Luskin/
At a Loss How Can Critics Still Not See That ID Research Programs Exist?
n Salvo 16, I introduced some of the scientific research being conducted by leading proponents of intelligent design (ID), particularly scientists affiliated with the Biologic Institute. When confronted with this growing body of ID research, a typical response from critics is simply to deny that it exists.
For example, in March 2011, journalist Lauri Lebo, a science writer who covers the debate over evolution for anti-ID outlets like Scientific American, blithely declared that “as we all know, there is no such thing as ID research.”1 In the last issue of Salvo, my article provided ample documentation to
refute Ms. Lebo’s claim. Let’s add some more weight to this pile.
Natural Selection Breaks Down In his Origin of Species, Darwin admitted that if “any complex organ existed which could not
possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” My previous article discussed work by Douglas Axe and Michael Behe that confirms that many complex structures in biology are beyond the reach of natural selection. These theoretical studies found that Darwinian processes would be unlikely to produce “multi-mutation features” that require multiple mutations to function (see Sidebar). In 2010, research published by molecular biologist Ann Gauger of the Biologic Institute, Ralph Seelke at the University of Wisconsin–Superior, and two other biologists provided empirical backing to the claims of Axe and Behe.2 Their team started by breaking a gene in the bacterium Escherichia coli required for synthesizing the amino acid tryptophan. When broken in just one place, random mutations in the bacteria’s genome were capable of “fixing” the gene. But when two mutations were required to restore function, Darwinian evolution could not do the job. Such results show that it is extremely unlikely for blind and unguided Darwinian processes to find rare amino acid sequences that yield functional proteins. In essence, functional proteins are multi-mutation features in the extreme. But Drs. Axe, Gauger, and Seelke are by no means the only scientists to observe the rarity of functional amino acid sequences. A leading pro-evolution college-level biology textbook states that “even a slight change in primary structure can affect a protein’s conformation and ability to function.”3 Likewise, evolutionary biologist David S. Goodsell writes: [O]nly a small fraction of the possible combinations of amino acids will fold spontaneously into a stable structure. If you make a protein with a random
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SCIENCE sequence of amino acids, chances are that it will only form a gooey tangle when placed in water.4 Goodsell goes on to assert that “cells have perfected the sequences of amino acids over many years of evolutionary selection.” But if functional protein sequences are rare, then natural selection will be unable to take proteins from one functional sequence to the next without getting stuck in some maladaptive or non-beneficial stage.
Running out of Functions to Lose In 2010, Michael Behe published a peer-reviewed paper in the journal Quarterly Review of Biology that helped explain why we don’t observe the evolution of new protein functions. After reviewing many studies on bacterial and viral evolution, he concluded that most adaptations at the molecular level “are due to the loss or modification of a pre-existing molecular function.”5 In other words, since Darwinian evolution proceeds along the path of least resistance, Behe found that organisms are far more likely to evolve by losing a biochemical function than by gaining one. He thus concluded that “the rate of appearance of an adaptive mutation that would arise from the diminishment or elimination of the activity of a protein is expected to be 100–1,000 times the rate of appearance of an adaptive mutation that requires specific changes to a gene.” A hypothetical situation may help explain the implications of Behe’s paper. Let’s start with a hypothetical order of insects, the Evolutionoptera, which, we’ll say, has one million species. Let’s also suppose that ecologists have found that the extinction rate among Evolutionoptera is 1,000 species per millennium, while the speciation rate (the rate at which
Multi-Mutation Features & the Limits of Natural Selection
atural selection tends to preserve structures only when they provide some advantage to an organism. There is no reason for natural selection to preserve mutations that do not aid the organism in survival and reproduction. Thus, structures that require many mutations before they provide some functional advantage (called “multi-mutation features”) are not readily produced by natural selection. The vast majority of mutations are either harmful to an organism or have no effect—and are thus not the type that natural selection tends to preserve. Four possible effects of mutations are seen below.
(1) Mutation Improves function: Benefit preserved by natural selection.
(3) Mutation decreases function, but function still present: The mutation would not be preserved, as it diminishes competitive advantage.
new species arise) during the same period is one species. At these rates, every thousand years, 1,000 species of Evolutionoptera will die off, while just one new species will develop—a net loss of 999 species. In 1,000,001 years, there would be no species of Evolutionoptera left on earth. If Behe is correct, molecular evolution faces a similar problem. If a loss (or decrease) of function is much more likely to occur than a gain of function, then logic dictates that an evolving population will eventually run out of molecular functions to lose or diminish. Behe’s paper suggests that if Darwinian evolution is at work, then something else must be generating the information for new
(2) Mutation has no increase or decrease in function: Natural selection has no reason to preserve.
(4) Mutation decreases
function, leading to complete loss of function: The mutation would not be preserved, as it destroys needed function.
molecular functions. Where does that information come from?
The Evolutionary Informatics Lab Another ID lab is focused on answering that precise question. According to the website of the Evolutionary Informatics Lab, computer programming “points to the need for an ultimate information source qua intelligent designer.” The lab’s founders, William Dembski and Robert Marks, have impressive credentials. With Ph.D.s in both mathematics and philosophy, Dembski is one of the leading lights of the ID movement. Dr. Marks is Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer EngineerSummer 2011 SALVO 51
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COLUMN p ing at Baylor University and has over 250 scientific publications to his name, including many in the field of evolutionary computing. Their lab got off to a rough start in 2007 when Baylor University administrators learned that Marks was doing ID-friendly research on the campus. A Baylor dean promptly emailed Marks and
Dembski and Marks disagree. They have been able to quantitatively measure the amount of “active information” smuggled into these simulations by the programmer, and their analyses support “no free lunch” theorems—the notion that without intelligent input there can be no gain in complex and specified information.
Key Websites for ID Research Biologic Institute:
BIO-Complexity Journal: http://bio-complexity.org
Evolutionary Informatics Lab: www.evoinfo.org
Peer-Reviewed Pro-ID Papers:
ordered him to “disconnect this [lab’s] web site immediately.” Before the thought police at Baylor were finished, the administration forced the Evolutionary Informatics Lab not just to remove its website from university servers, but also to return a five-figure grant. Universities aren’t usually known for turning down free money, but apparently ID opponents at Baylor would rather not have $30,000 for research if that money might be used to support ID. Despite the setbacks, the lab carried on. It has attracted graduate-student researchers and has published multiple peer-reviewed articles in technical science and engineering journals.6 Its work has developed a system for studying evolutionary algorithms—computer programs that purport to simulate the evolution of digital organisms. ID critics claim that these simulations show that Darwinian processes can create new information.
Thus far, Dembski, Marks, and their team have identified sources of active information in programs such as “Avida” and “Ev”—two programs that are widely touted by Darwin theorists as refuting ID. The work of the Evolutionary Informatics Lab shows that these evolutionary algorithms do not model truly blind and unguided Darwinian processes. Instead, the simulations “cheat” in the sense that they were pre-programmed by their designers to achieve their digital evolutionary goals. Just as the lab’s website predicted, research shows that even the best efforts of ID critics cannot escape the fact that intelligence is required to generate new information.
The Zero Concession Policy Lauri Lebo continued her attack by claiming that ID “has not yet produced one single legitimate peer reviewed paper.” Yet just this brief
introduction in Salvo 16 and 17 has covered pro-ID research published in peer-reviewed journals such as Protein Science, Journal of Molecular Biology, BIO-Complexity, Quarterly Review of Biology, and the Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics. There are many additional peer-reviewed pro-ID papers published in mainstream scientific journals.7 At what point can we ask whether ID critics like Ms. Lebo really believe what they are saying? The purpose of ID research programs is not to convince unconvincible critics like Lauri Lebo, who proudly boasts in her book The Devil in Dover that she has the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” tattooed on her hip. William Dembski has aptly called her approach the “zero concession policy” of ID critics. Rather, the purpose of ID research is to engage open-minded scientists with credible, persuasive, peer-reviewed, empirical data supporting intelligent design. And as more and more ID research is being published, more and more heads are turning in the scientific community. The refusal of diehard critics like Lebo to acknowledge such progress cannot impede it. Endnotes 1. www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/ laurilebo/4364/record_number_of_ stealth_creationism_bills_introduced_ in_2011. 2. Ann K. Gauger, Stephanie Ebnet, Pamela F. Fahey, and Ralph Seelke, “Reductive Evolution Can Prevent Populations from Taking Simple Adaptive Paths to High Fitness,” BIO-Complexity, vol. 2010 (2). 3. Neil A. Campbell and Jane B. Reece, Biology, p. 84 (7th ed., 2005). 4. David S. Goodsell, The Machinery of Life, pp. 17, 19 (2nd ed., Springer, 2009). 5. Michael J. Behe, “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution,’” Quarterly Review of Biology, vol. 85(4) (December 2010). 6. A list of these can be found on its website: www.evoinfo.org. 7. For partial listings, see www.discovery. org/a/3164 and http://biologicinstitute. org/research.
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Coming soon to a galaxy very very close . . . Planet Parenthood (Artist’s rendition of Phase 1 construction)
FUNDRAISING DRIVE Planet
“That’s no moon. It’s a space clinic!” “We have faced many anti-choice protesters and the ultimate health clinic in any known star system is being delayed. Just because some rebels don’t agree doesn’t mean that other life forms—especially Wookies and Sand People— should be denied the right to reproductive education and health services. With your ﬁnancial contribution, and with the use of (the) force, I assure you that Planet Parenthood will be quite operational.” —Vara Palpatine Planet Parenthood Operations Manager
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GREAT ESCAPES How the Raving Atheist Became the Raving Theist In December of 2008 a popular blogger known as “The Raving Atheist” announced his conversion to Christianity and changed the site’s masthead to “The Raving Theist,” dedicating it “to Jesus Christ, now and forever.” The unbelievers in his readership reacted with a combination of vitriol and, for lack of a better word, unbelief. The Raving Atheist had frequently denounced such conversion stories as hoaxes and believed it could never happen to him, until he experienced for himself what he now knows was God’s grace. Nor did his readers have the benefit of the account he is about to give.
grew up in a largely secular area of Long Island. My mother was the daughter of a Protestant minister, and my father was an agnostic whose family was once active in Communist circles. A lthough I attended my mother’s church every week until sixth grade, it was more for cultural and social reasons than spiritual ones.
I didn’t have a relationship with God; that wasn’t even something we talked about. But I remember once, when I was seven or eight years old, my mother fainted, and my first reaction was to run upstairs and pray about it, to ask God for help. During my last year of high school, I began taking a greater interest in religion. I’d become close friends with a Reform Jewish kid who had a brilliant scientific mind and who openly mocked religion. That year I read Bertrand Russell’s essay “Why I Am Not a Christian.” I was captivated by the irreverent humor and whimsical tone. His reasoning made perfect sense to me, and by the time I entered college, I considered myself an atheist as
well. (My conviction was such that I saw fit to dramatically—and quite irrelevantly—proclaim that fact in the opening sentence of a cover letter seeking a PBS internship.) In the summer after my freshman year of college, I hopped a bus to California, excited by the prospect of adventures out West. My enthusiasm quickly waned after a couple of weeks on skid row and a failed stint as a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. I settled into a clerical job and found less seedy lodgings, then spent much of my free time holed up in the Los Angeles library, reading about cults and deprogramming. In addition to having a devout Scientologist landlady, I’d begun noticing the Moonies all over L.A.
One afternoon I just happened to loiter near a corner where the Moonies were proselytizing. They invited me into their group, and I hung out with them for a weekend retreat in the San Bernardino Mountains. When they tried to convince me to send for all my worldly belongings, my suspicions were confirmed. I packed my bags and headed back to college, determined to write about my experiences and my conviction that all religions were cults. The piece I wrote helped formulate most of my thoughts about religion. Eventually it was published in the college newspaper, although the editors cut a section that attempted to draw unflattering parallels between the Moonies and the Catholic Church. After college I had little time to think about religion or atheism. I was too busy going to law school and having a life. My career as a lawyer flourished, and eventually I began teaching law as well.
Blogging for Atheism In the late nineties I attended a series of continuing education courses in philosophy. The professor, a philosopher who edited and wrote
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the introduction to Bertrand Russell’s collection of essays, was very sarcastic. He hated religion and religious people. I got to know him and soon was engaging in debate with other lawyers about atheism. My focus on atheism as a lifestyle led a friend to suggest that I begin a blog. So in late 2001 I began cowriting a political blog with a college acquaintance, my posts focusing frequently on religion. Soon I started my own blog attacking religious people as demented, deluded “Godidiots.” I wrote scathing essays explaining how the “culture of belief” was destroying America. I would track down faithbased blogs, ridicule their motives as suspect, and pronounce them guilty of insanity—despite the fact that these people lived simple, good lives. True atheism, I believed, was not about “live and let live.” It was a cause that needed an evangelist as much as any faith. In an effort to provide a set of atheistic principles for such a ministry, the “basic assumptions” of my blog declared that all definitions of God either were self-contradictory, incoherent, and meaningless or could be refuted by empirical, scientific evidence. Despite my bold posturing, I felt ill-versed in scientific matters, and I recognized that my “logical disproofs” could only go so far. In fact, in an early essay I conceded that it was technically possible for a rational person to have a belief in God. To my mind, however, it was still only possible in the sense that one might be sharing the room with a purple hippopotamus that evaded detection by darting away the moment one tried to turn around and see it. In other words, there was no evidence for it. So while it was a possibility, it wasn’t worth much consideration.
Surrounded by Life In late 2002 I attended a blogger party where I sat next to a Catholic blogger named Benjamin. At one
point the conversation turned to abortion, and I asked Benjamin’s opinion of the practice. The calm, confident reply was: “It’s murder.” I was stunned. Here was a kind, affable, and cogently reasonable human being who nonetheless believed that abortion was murder. To the limited extent I had previously considered the issue, I be-
gentle and reasonable writings, particularly the story of a woman named Ashli, who wrote with painful honesty about how her late-term abortion had affected her. She now channeled her suffering into efforts to help women in similar situations and save them from the fallout of abortion. I began communicating with
Despite my bold posturing, I felt ill-versed in scientific matters, and I recognized that my “logical disproofs” could only go so far. In fact, in an early essay I conceded that it was technically possible for a rational person to have a belief in God. lieved abortion to be completely acceptable, the mere disposal of a lump of cells, perhaps akin to clipping fingernails. This unsettling exchange spurred me to further investigate the issue on Benjamin’s blog. I noticed that pro-choice Christians did not employ scientific or rational arguments but relied on a confused set of “spiritual” platitudes. More significantly, the overwhelmingly pro-choice atheistic blogosphere also fell short in its analysis of abortion. The supposedly “realitybased” community either dismissed abortion as a “religious issue” or paradoxically claimed that pro-life principles were contrary to religious doctrine. Having formerly equated atheism with reason, I was slowly growing uncertain of the value of godlessness in the search for truth. I nevertheless continued my atheistic ravings full force. In early 2003 I engaged in a particularly venomous exchange with an online Catholic scholar over Thomas Aquinas’s “first cause” argument. In a later, conciliatory gesture, I linked to a post-abortion healing blog favored by my religious adversary—an act that brought me into contact with a group of pro-life advocates whose selfless dedication to their cause moved me deeply. I was inspired by their
Ashli, and eventually she asked for my assistance in some of her prolife work. When she gave birth to a healthy baby girl on Mother’s Day 2004, I decided to use the occasion to announce that the Raving Atheist would become, in part, a pro-life blog. This decision stirred an angry mutiny among my readers. But I had become convinced that the secular world had it wrong on the very foundational issue of life. With Ashli’s encouragement I began volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center. Suddenly I was surrounded by life. Here were people who were kind and loving and who lived out their faith in a very tangible way. The pictures on the walls of the center confirmed this. Smiling babies were everywhere. The tangible expression of pro-life work was life itself. It was becoming clear to me that people who lived out their Christian faith were happier and better people as a result.
No More Mockery Despite this evidence I maintained a lingering intellectual attachment to atheism. In late 2004 I organized a blog interview with the bestselling atheist author Sam Harris (The End of Faith). Assisting in the questioning was filmmaker Summer 2011 SALVO 55
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Brian Flemming. This association led both me and Harris to appear the next year in Flemming’s anti-Christian documentary, The God Who Wasn’t There. I attended the documentary’s New York premiere. At the end of a subsequent summertime showing in the city, however, I found my atheistic enthusiasm waning. The appearance of my pseudonym in the credits inspired less pride than I had expected. As the lights turned on, I felt alienated from the audience and its contemptuous, antireligious laughter. I briefly considered joining a small group that had formed to discuss the film over dinner. In fact I followed them for several blocks while debating whether to invite myself. But halfway across a darkened midtown street, I walked away. That fall I began a friendship with a Catholic blogger, Dawn. I frequently guest-posted on her site about pro-life issues. I also continued working on certain “hard cases” with Ashli. Near Thanksgiving of 2005, Ashli opened her heart (and home) to a young woman coping with a particularly difficult and tumultuous pregnancy. Dawn, other bloggers, and I came together on this woman’s behalf.
In June 2006 I saw the woman’s sonogram ripen into a baby. In honor of Ashli’s efforts, I vowed that the birth of the child would spell the death of atheism on my blog. Late that month I announced that I would no longer mock God on my site.
The Voice in the Church Although still a doubter, my subsequent posts entertained the possibility of God. I asked Dawn if I could join her at church, and at her suggestion I began daily prayer. I still didn’t believe in God, but I wanted to change. I wanted the deep, abiding joy I’d observed in my pro-life Christian friends. Because of Dawn’s great kindness to me, in the summer of 2006 my wife and I began attending church with her. On July 23 we went together to the Church of Our Saviour on Park Avenue and 38th Street. I walked up for Communion (though I learned later that I shouldn’t have). At the very instant that the wafer touched my lips, an angry, mocking voice from behind hissed, “So much for the atheist.” I returned to the pew but said nothing. I tried to tell myself that I had misheard what was said, although the voice was so articulate that there was really no doubt in my mind. Colin, a friend of Dawn, had been in line several people behind me. He sat down next to me and asked if I had heard the same thing he had. He had looked at the speaker (I had not), a disheveled and possibly schizophrenic man. Colin did not realize that the timing of the utterance coincided with my taking Communion. Dawn, also behind me in the Communion line, was late in returning to the pew. Having heard the same thing, she had scooted off to
a row of candles to say a prayer for me. Very matter-of-factly she hypothesized that Satan had been stirred. He was enraged at the prospect of losing one of his most “faithful” advocates. Ninety-five percent of me was blowing the incident off as coincidence. My main concern was that I would never hear the end of it or, worse yet, that Dawn would post about it without my permission. My atheistic instincts compelled me to categorize the event as the sort of worthless spiritual personal experience that nonbelievers immediately recognize as a sign of credulity, mental illness, or simple lying. I was ashamed to even pretend to take it seriously. Two witnesses though. It did make enough of an impression on me that I memorialized it as my “Quote of the Day” that evening. And freed from the compulsion to launch a blog-attack on God, I was eventually able to view the incident as a rational person should: if not conclusive proof, at least evidence pointing distinctly in one direction.
Opened Eyes I applied this approach to my consideration of theology in general. In time I found it impossible to believe that the universe was created out of nothing. There was order, direction, and love. Those things all pointed to some larger, unfathomable consciousness. I realized I could not believe that human hearts and minds came into being randomly. My eyes were also opened to the core truth of Christianity. Whereas I had formerly concurred with Nietzsche’s appraisal of the faith as a “slave’s philosophy,” a cruel celebration of senseless suffering, I saw that his experiences had brought even him to appreciate the nobility of sacrifices made for the sake of life. This “Great Escape” is reprinted, with permission, from Atheist to Catholic: Stories of Conversion, Rebecca Vitz Cherico, editor (Servant Books, 2011).
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CROSSHAIRS by Terrell Clemmons
Eugenie Scott Intellectual Imperialist Background Anthropologist Eugenie (“Genie”) Scott received her BS and MS from the University of Wisconsin– Milwaukee and her PhD in Physical Anthropology from the University of Missouri. As a young college professor in the 1970s, she attended a debate between her mentor-professor James Gavan and creation scientist Duane Gish and left appalled. “After seeing the enthusiasm with which the audience received Gish and his message, the cold water of the social and political reality of this movement hit me for the first time. . . . I realized that there was a heck of a lot more in this . . . than just the academic issues.” Addressing that “heck of a lot more” became her life’s mission. In 1980, when the “Citizens for Balanced Teaching of Origins” approached a local school board, Scott spearheaded the opposition effort, and in 1987, she joined the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) as its first executive director, a position she still holds today.
Wanted For Several years ago, I engaged in a lengthy dialogue with some Jehovah’s Witnesses. As pleasant as they were, their communication tactics were those common to religious cults: presenting themselves as the sole possessors and arbiters of knowledge; giving pre-scripted answers for anticipated objections; using carefully crafted talking points to dismiss, rather than address, challenges—all subservient
to the cardinal rule, Never entertain questions that challenge fundamental dogma. After reading Scott’s writings and hearing her speak, it hit me. Her communication tactics were just like theirs. A skilled communicator, Dr. Scott travels, speaks, and writes extensively in pursuit of her stated goal to “keep evolution in public school science education.” But what she actually does is impose her particular metaphysical worldview—metaphysical naturalism—onto science education. This became apparent in the 46-page talking-point document the NCSE prepared for activists testifying before the Texas State Board of Education in 2009. For example, it states: “Science posits that there are no forces outside of nature. Science cannot be neutral on this issue.” Dissent from this prior philosophical commitment, whether it comes from an African witch doctor or an intelligent-design biologist with two PhDs (they’re all the same to Scott), amounts to ignorance and constitutes grounds for exclusion from the table. “All educated people understand there are no forces outside of nature.”
Most Recent Offense Scott, a Notable Signer of Humanist Manifesto III and a self-identified “non-theist,” takes it upon herself to psychoanalyze theists en masse. “The reason why people reject evolution—trust me on this one—is . . . for emotional and religious reasons,” she told Atheist Talk radio. “So you have to deal with this from . . . a more holistic perspective,” because people “are
reluctant or unwilling to relinquish their belief unless those needs or concerns are otherwise assuaged.” To assuage those concerns, she coaches science teachers in ways to reorient students’ theology. In a communiqué titled “Defuse the Religion Issue,” she cites “a teacher in Minnesota [who] told me that he had good luck sending his students out at the beginning of the semester to interview their pastors and priests about evolution. They came back somewhat astonished, ‘Hey! Evolution is OK!’ . . . it was educational for the students to find out for themselves that there was no single Christian perspective on evolution.” Scott speaks in soothing tones, like a kindly grandmother gently guiding young ones in proper ways to think and behave. It would be nice if other contenders in this debate would adopt her demeanor. But the intellectual imperialism behind all her niceness is staggering. Donning the mantle of science, it proclaims, I am the way of knowledge. Do not question me. Summer 2011 SALVO 57
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CAMOUFLAGE Femi-Nihilism: The Feminist Mistake by Terrell Clemmons
hen I turned 27, I thought my life was right on track. Respectable job? Check. Marriage? Check. Nice home in the suburbs? Check. Family? Check. Well . . . almost. My husband and I were expecting our first child. Three months later, when she was born and I laid eyes on her and held her in my arms, my heart jumped tracks. But my life didn’t, at least not yet.
Four months later, I suppressed an emotional tsunami, and dragging my kicking and screaming heart by the scruff of the neck, began handing her over daily into the care of another woman so I could return to work. At the time it seemed I had no choice. It wasn’t until years later that I realized what had led me to that conflicted place. It was feminism.
Modern Malaise There’s a general malaise among women in America today. In an
article titled “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness,” in the American Economic Journal (August 2009), researchers Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers reported that, while the lives of women in the United States have improved extraordinarily “by many objective measures, yet we show that women’s happiness has declined both absolutely and relative to men.” As women have gained more freedom, education, and power, they have become less happy. According to feminists, this only shows how much work still
needs to be done. “I am fortunate enough to inherit the opportunities for which my second-wave foremothers pioneered in the 1960s and 1970s,” writes feminist author Kimberly George. “But I also find myself in a historical moment with so much left to do . . . to ensure that new generations of women are able to make new progress in gender justice.” Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly, authors of a gutsy new book, The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know—and Men Can’t Say, give a startlingly different reason for female discontent. There is no gender injustice, they say, and the problem is not that feminists still have work to do. The problem is feminism itself. “If you ask a feminist to define feminism,” they write, “she’ll give you the standard, bogus answer: ‘Feminism is about equal rights for women.’ That benign, but very inaccurate, definition gives people the impression that feminism is a good thing. After all, who doesn’t believe in equal rights?” “But feminism is not about equal rights at all,” they state
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flatly. And with refreshing straight talk, the niece and aunt co-authors proceed to dismantle feminism and to show just how destructive it has been.
Seething in the Suburbs Modern feminism was born in 1963 with the publication of The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan. An at-home mother of three, herself the product of a dysfunctional home, Friedan came to despise what she called her “comfortable concentration camp.” Raising children and maintaining a family home has always been hard, but rather than face her personal problems and develop coping skills, as most of her contemporaries did, Friedan turned her focus outward and blamed society. Having been involved in Marxist politics before getting married, she diagnosed the problem as one of class struggle: American society was steeped in patriarchy, and women were the subservient underclass. To overcome their oppression, they would have to revolt. And to achieve fulfillment and self-actualization, they would need to pursue careers, just like men.
False Pretenses Venker and Schlafly handily debunk several of the pervasive myths that launched and continue to propel feminism. For example, feminism has been credited with securing a host of gains for women, such as equal opportunities in the workforce and in education.
Passionate Journey,” Friedan cast herself as a second-wave general, as one who was picking up the battle where our courageous foremothers had left off. The first wave in the struggle, as she portrayed it, was the suffragette movement, which succeeded in gaining voting rights for women in 1920. Today, this construct is the
Ironically, in grasping for empowerment, the feminists dismissed and forfeited the real power that women possess. Contrary to the feminists’ victimhood paradigm, prefeminist women usually held the upper hand where it mattered most—in the home. But feminism should not get credit for any of these things. Women in America have always been free and rich in opportunity, as Phyllis Schlafly’s own life demonstrates. “Phyllis knew feminism was a farce long before other folks wised up,” Venker writes. She worked her way through college in the 1940s, testing ammunition for the government by night and going to school by day, to earn a master’s degree in political science from Harvard. She wrote and selfpublished her first book in 1964, and by the end of the 1970s, she had raised six children and received a law degree from Washington University Law School. Her success shows that, whatever isolated injustices may have occurred, entrenched suppression of women in America comparable to pre-Civil War oppression of blacks simply did not exist. Another myth is the overall feminist construction of the “women’s movement.” In Chapter Four of The Feminine Mystique, titled “The
commonly held view of women’s standing in America. But Venker and Schlafly expose this narrative as historical revisionist posturing. While it is true, they note, that the suffragettes were courageous leaders, it is not true that Betty Friedan followed in their footsteps. The suffragettes were family-oriented women who valued marriage and children and who adamantly opposed abortion as “the ultimate exploitation of women.” They were not radical revolutionaries leading a revolt.
Demanding Power, Forfeiting Influence Betty Friedan was. But oddly, hers was in many ways a revolt against the natural expressions of womanhood. Ironically, in grasping for empowerment, the feminists dismissed and forfeited the real power that women possess. First, contrary to the feminists’ victimhood paradigm, pre-feminist women usually held the upper hand where it mattered most—in the home. They raised the children, perpetuating their influence into the next generation. They made most of the household decisions, freely spending their husbands’ paychecks to manage the home as they saw fit. In fact, in pre-feminist times, laws in all fifty states reSummer 2011 SALVO 59
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quired a man to provide financial support for his wife and children. Even more significant is an all-but-forgotten reality about male-female dynamics, which Venker and Schlafly revive. “Before the 1960s,” they write, “Americans understood that women had something men wanted, needed, and couldn’t have without a woman’s consent: sex and his own children. By equating sex with love, as women naturally do, men become better human beings—and society is better for it.” George Gilder, author of Men and Marriage, underscores this profound female ministration: The crucial process of civilization is the subordination of male sexual impulses and biology to the long-term horizons of female sexuality. In creating civilization, women transform male lust into love; channel wanderlust into jobs, homes, and families; link men to specific children; rear children into citizens; and change hunters to fathers. The prime fact of life is the sexual superiority of women. For statements like this, Gilder was named “Male Chauvinist Pig of the Year” by the National Organization for Women (NOW).
The Grit & Glory of Motherhood NOW, of which Betty Friedan was a founder, is clueless about the soul of womanhood, especially when it comes to motherhood. While NOW feminists were sloughing off motherhood and clamoring over petty grievances in America, one American mother found herself thrust into real patriarchal oppression, and her response proved the greatness of which women are capable.
Betty Mahmoody had misgivings about traveling to Iran with her Iranian-born husband and their preschool daughter Mahtob in 1984, but she consented to his pleas for a visit with his family. It
under such oppression, and so she expended all her efforts, at great personal risk (if captured, she could have been executed), for the well-being of her child. This is the kind of sacrificial love that God plants in every mother’s heart, and it is what modern American feminism marginalizes.
Free of Feminism
was only to be for two weeks, so they went. But on the day before their scheduled return, Mahmoody informed his wife that they would be staying in Iran permanently. She had no say in the matter. Over the ensuing eighteen months, Betty navigated an environment that might accurately be described as a comfortable concentration camp. As a woman in a polity where men were free to wield despotic authority over their chador-clad wives, she had no legal standing whatsoever. And because her husband knew she wanted to return to America with Mahtob, he had her movements constantly monitored, and he strictly forbade her to take Mahtob anywhere without his permission. But eventually, with the help of a few sympathetic Iranian nationals, Betty was able to escape with Mahtob—by fleeing 500 miles overland into Turkey. Betty’s story is told in her 1991 book and film, Not Without My Daughter. What is notable is that, at any time during the ordeal, she could have left Iran and never returned—as long as she left Mahtob behind. But she didn’t do that. Instead, she resolved that she would not leave her daughter to live the remainder of her life
I think the most devastating aspect of the feminist agenda is the way it sets mothers at odds with their children and devalues motherhood. The most extreme manifestation of this is abortion (the nonnegotiable emblem of women’s rights, according to feminists). But a tamer manifestation, the idea of seeking fulfillment and identity in the workplace and relegating motherhood to an accessory in life rather than a full-fledged, worthwhile calling, has become deeply rooted in the American psyche, even among the non-feminist general public. It heavily influenced my decisionmaking as a young adult, and it’s what led me to return to the office when what I really wanted to do was care for my child. Had someone asked me at the time if I was a feminist, I would have said, truthfully, no. But I had thoroughly absorbed the feminists’ value system without even realizing it. Three years would pass and a second child come along before I would leave the workplace to be with my children, but ever since then, I have loved and respected my husband for saying, “We’ll figure out how to make it work.” We did, and I have never regretted that decision. So as a post-feminist mom, I say kudos to Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly for writing the book I wish I’d had when I was twenty. To open-minded feminists, I recommend a thorough reading. The closed-minded ones might flip out.
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FEATURED BLIP by Rebecca Golossanov
Sex, Lies & Video Games Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys by Kay S. Hymowitz
e’ve all heard that women are victims in our society, discriminated against in the workplace and in society at large. But is this really the case? Mightn’t today’s women even be higher achievers than men in certain respects?
According to Kay S. Hymowitz, author of Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys, this is very much the case. Hymowitz, who has written extensively on American childhood, family, and culture, paints a convincing picture of men’s gradual decline, beginning with the Industrial Revolution, and of the corresponding ascendency of women. Hymowitz attributes the rise of modern women to a combination of factors, including technological developments that made household tasks easier, modern birth-control methods, the feminist movement, and economic changes that created jobs particularly well-suited to women. These things helped untether women from their homes and ease their move into the formerly maledominated career world. Young women now pursue careers with enthusiasm, having been carefully groomed for success by their parents, teachers, and society in general. As for the fathers of these modern women, Hymowitz writes,
They loved having daughters who played sports . . . it sure beat jump rope and tea parties. Sports, they realized, promoted the strengths their girls would need to make it in a competitive marketplace: discipline, courage, and a rivalrous spirit. It has been almost universally true throughout history and across cultures that boys become men once they are able to support and protect a wife and family. In Western countries, however, this expectation has drastically diminished. Gone are the days when boys underwent rigorous trials and rites of passage to establish their status as men and their ability to undertake familial responsibilities and cultural leadership. Today’s boys are often left aimless, without being given a clear picture as to what makes a man. Largely free from societal expectations, they waste away much of their 20s and 30s playing video games, watching ESPN and Adam
Sandler movies, drinking, and enjoying casual sex. The author calls this historically new life-stage pre-adulthood. As these pre-adult men falter through life, their female counterparts increasingly excel in both school and career, often outperforming the men. But in order to pursue their dreams, many young women delay starting a family. Then, as they approach their mid-thirties, with biological clocks ticking, they discover that there is no suitable life-partner to be found. Some, determined to have children anyway, resort to sperm banks. Single motherhood is on the rise, but this exacerbates the problem, for again, it leaves men out of the picture. This is clearly not good for the children—as many studies show—but it is not good for men or women, either. The problem is clear, the solution less so. But Hymowitz finds encouragement in studies indicating that most pre-adult men and women still desire a family, even if they don’t know how to go about achieving it. Her advice: Women need to be more aware of their biological limitations (i.e., try to marry and have children sooner), and men, well, they need to grow up. Manning Up refreshingly gives the flip side to the conventional modern story, arguing that women are on the rise and it is young men who are left stumbling through life. Hymowitz isn’t eager to bash men, but she objectively presents a major sociological change in our culture. Her book is packed with enlightening statistics, studies, and quotes that lend support to her argument. For the young woman who is frustrated with what she finds in the dating world, Manning Up may explain why; as for the adrift and perplexed young man, this book may help him find his bearings and begin to make his way from pre-adulthood to real manhood. Summer 2011 SALVO 61
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BLIPS: Books & Movies
s Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think by Bryan Caplan
An economist mixes entertaining reflections on fatherhood with tedious reports of debatable social science. His central thesis, “Children are more blessing than burden,” is good, but the supportive reasoning is marred by arbitrary, utilitarian values that lack any transcendent grounding.
s The Five Thousand Year Leap: 28 Great Ideas that Changed the World by W. Cleon Skousen
George Washington and James Madison both characterized the creation of the U.S. Constitution as a miracle. Skousen explains the 28 foundational principles (virtually all of them derived from the Bible) that led to unprecedented liberty and prosperity. First published in 1981, it is now available in a 30th Anniversary Edition.
s The Housing Boom and Bust
by Thomas Sowell Economist extraordinaire Thomas Sowell traces the political chain of events that created the housing boom, which peaked in 2005, began to collapse shortly thereafter, and culminated in the 2008 meltdown of several financial institutions. The facts fall like sledgehammers on politicians of both stripes, whether well-meaning or not, for their political posturing, questionable policies, and postliminary finger-pointing.
s The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose
In lieu of studying abroad, an agnostic Brown University journalism student attends Liberty University for one semester to immerse himself in Christian college life as a cultural experiment. The experience proves transformative in unexpected ways. Roose discovers that he enjoys contemplating the non-trivial, that Christian students are “rigorously normal,” and that relationships without sex can be refreshingly authentic.
s Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity by Kerry Cohen
The daughter of affluent, permissive, divorced parents, Kerry desperately tried to attain love by freely giving sex, “each boy anodyne to the last.” Heartbreakingly honest, her story illustrates the deep needs of children and adolescents for the love and grounding that can only come from a stable home and parents who behave like grownups.
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BLIPS: Books & Movies ] Freakonomics: The Movie Six filmmakers examine such diverse phenomena as cheating teachers in Chicago public schools, corruption in Sumo wrestling, and an experiment in bribing high-school freshmen with dollars for grades. At times insightful despite being clouded by dubious ethics, this film version of the best-selling book by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt demonstrates the usefulness of incentivesbased planning and problem-solving.
s Atheist to Catholic: Stories of Conversion edited by Rebecca Vitz Cherico
The conventional wisdom right now is that atheism is on the ascendancy and that it’s for “thinking people.” For others, it may just be the fashionable new thing. Yet there are also plenty of once-committed atheists who changed their minds. Atheist to Catholic relates the personal stories of eleven atheists who, for good and compelling reasons, lost their faith in atheism and became Catholic.
] Waiting for Superman
] Seeking Happily Ever After
Director Davis Guggenheim regularly drove past three public schools before dropping his kids off at a private school. Realizing that “my kids are okay, but I’m a part of this big problem,” he set out to make a film about public education in America. The result is a scathing indictment of the unholy alliance of education politics and teachers unions.
If little girls of yesteryear hoped to marry a prince and live happily ever after, what is the post-feministrevolution version of the fairy tale? In this film, Michelle Cove explores the hopes, dreams, and frustrations of contemporary single women. The ultimate answer is a hip but wanderingly selfreferential, “whatever you decide it is.”
] Out of the Darkness When Kinsey published Sexual Behavior in the Human Male in 1948, some reports called it the K-bomb. In this documentary, ex-porn star Shelley Lubben, recovered porn addict Mark Houck, Kinsey expert Dr. Judith Reisman, and psychiatrist and marriage counselor Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons discuss Kbomb fallout in terms of human lives, and the way of healing and restoration for individuals, marriages, and communities.
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/ / P a r t i n g S h o t _ w i t h P aul M . J a n n a ko s /
Music & Truth Art Cannot Be Reduced to Parts; Neither Can You
n the level of simple physics, music is the reverberation of pitches or tones that pulsate at so many wavelengths per second. The standard “A 440 hertz,” which in Western musical practice has become the default pitch by which all orchestras “tune,” is a pitch that reverberates a musical tone at 440 wavelengths per second. Every other pitch, or note, thereby has its own standard wavelength, all in relation to A 440. Yet if one were to limit music simply to the level of tonal wavelengths, music itself would make no sense, and would be literally incomprehensible. To illustrate, imagine translating the whole of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony into the digital codes used by a synthesizer—as has been done many times, much to the chagrin of musical purists like myself. Within this physical medium, music is nothing more than a collection of tens of thousands of zeros and ones, as related strictly to binary mathematics. On a basic level, some would say that this is what music “is”: tonal wavelengths that correspond to predetermined pitches, or in this case, binary numbers that correspond to predetermined pitches. Yet in order to be understood for what it truly is, music must be listened to not simply as an arbitrary collection of sounds, each being emitted by a different instrument at a different pitch, but as a meaningful creation of melodies and harmonies that, when experienced as an integral whole, that is, as art in its own right, conveys
the experience (and in many cases the ecstasy) of genuine beauty. And this is what we mean by the “aesthetics” of music: the movement, resonance, and texture of sound that makes music a harmonious, lyrical, and idyllic reality. It should be obvious why science cannot explain what makes music, music. This is where the higher level of aesthetics comes into play, that is to say, when pitches and rhythms and contours of sound all add up to something that is “more than the sum of its individual parts.” Thus, if one were to ask a science professor what makes Beethoven’s 9th so powerfully graceful, he would say, “You’re asking the wrong professor—go to the department of music instead.” The same analogy might be used in the visual arts or poetry, where no one in his right mind would venture to use the laws of science to explain the unique hues and textures of Van Gogh’s thick painting style, or the curt, vocal rhythms employed by Emily Dickinson in her poems. These artful things belong, not to the world of the laboratory, but to the universe of aesthetics, as things that can only be known and valued by the power of beauty. That science is the only sure way to genuine knowledge is a dogma that today’s new atheists rigorously espouse, but it is a dogma that leads to the negation of the human soul. Yet if this is the case, then the atheist must logically negate poetry and literature
and painting and music as well. For each of these art forms uses a language that transcends the language of simple science. Here in the West it is the function of the arts to belie the claim that science is the ascendant path to knowledge—to show how absurd such a claim really is. In turn, this allows us to ask: What is it that makes a George Winston piano piece so profoundly enthralling? Or a Shakespeare play so poignantly heart-rending? Or a Renoir painting so wonderfully luminous? Are these artistic truths any less real than Euclidian geometry and Newtonian physics? Of course not. They are just different realities. They are truths that point to the higher sphere of beauty and grace and splendour that are recognized by the soul. The claim of believers is that the epic biblical narrative employed by God to fully manifest himself on earth is much more akin to Beethoven and Renoir and Shakespeare than most realize, and is something about which science has very little to say. And this is why heaven itself, like beauty, will ever remain a mystery to which the mind will always be a servant, a mystery that can be understood only within the deepest recesses of the human heart and soul.
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ANYTHING BUT DESIGN The SCIENTIFIC Explanations for the Universe A Six-Part DVD Exploration
C C B But how can we know the universe is definitely NOT designed? Simply follow the evidence. In this six-part series, we take a look at the cold, hard scientific explanations for the universe. Filled with interviews, event simulations, and colorful commentary, each segment of ANYTHING BUT DESIGN takes an in-depth look at why we know design to be the only impossible explanation. Disc 1 - The Multiverse Disc 2 - Panspermia Disc 3 - Spontaneous Generation Disc 4 - Punctuated Equilibrium Disc 5 - Self-Creation Disc 6 - Self-Organization
Your host, Pritchard Hawkens
This award-winning CCB television event, narrated by Pritchard Hawkens, is now available on DVD. Order today at www.anythingbutdesign.com.
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