Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Looking Back – Not Necessarily in Anger

Better bring together some threads. Intelligent Design – 28 January.

Scientists trying to prevent US schoolchildren from being taught to doubt the theory of evolution are seeking to recruit mainstream churches to back them up.

Good plan. Scientists have decided to call the churches' bluff – at least the mainstream ones. They are asking for support from church leaders in stopping the Intelligent Design lobby from hi-jacking the teaching of the origin of life in schools.

This may work – as long as a true debate can be held. It's no good just stopping your opponents ideas from getting an airing. Much better to convince people by the force of your argument.

"The intelligent design movement belittles evolution. It makes God a designer - an engineer," said George Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory. "Intelligent design concentrates on a designer who they do not really identify - but who's kidding whom?"

Nice one George. But, the opposite view makes God into an indifferent, rather than omnipotent, father. Evolution seems to suggest that God may have started the ball rolling – but that's about it. Might be nice if someone could suggest a theory (that's what evolution is – though you would be hard pressed to get some people to admit it) that could bring together both strands of this argument. Don't hold your breath waiting.

Warren Eschbach, a retired Church of the Brethren pastor and professor at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, helped sponsor a letter signed by more than 10,000 other clergy, according to the Reuters news agency.

"We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests," the clergy wrote

Of course Warren is entitled to believe whatever he wants, but I'm not sure he's entitled to describe evolution as “a foundational scientific truth”. What “evidence” there is for evolution is still circumstantial and conflicting. I suppose that's better than no evidence at all as in the case of intelligent design – but it's still less than satisfactory. All quotations from The Times.

Back to Guantanamo – which simply will not go away.

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said today that he did not believe that the United States wanted to be burdened with a permanent Soviet-style Gulag at Guantanamo Bay.

Jack gets first prize for stating the obvious. However, he forgot to clear this with Dubbya who only last week strongly implied that some terrorist attacks had been prevented due to evidence gained from the detainees. In those circumstances, the chances that Jack and Tone will be able to convert Dubbya into a human rights activist seem about as likely as the Second Coming. You know, Jesus turns up, takes a look and holds a press conference where he complains bitterly about the mess we have made since his last visit.

A panel of UN human rights experts called last week for the camps, at a US naval base on Cuba, to be closed as soon as possible. The experts said that almost 500 terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay were being denied justice and subjected to inhumane treatment that sometimes amounted to torture.

In case anyone is in any doubt - the Bush administration is not listening. They're more concerned about keeping well behind the Vice-President – in case he's carrying a shotgun. Can't say I really blame them.

Foxy Gets Away With It

THOUSANDS of huntsmen and women will be out in force today in defiance of the year-old ban on their support. But there is nervousness after last week’s BBC documentary, The Last Tally Ho, when hunters admitted that foxes were still being killed by hounds in hunting “accidents”.

On the fox hunting front not much has changed. Hunts rode out all over Britain last week in celebration of the first anniversary of the “ban” on hunting. TV presented documentaries that clearly show the ban isn't working. Hunts were interviewed and solemnly swore that they were doing their best to avoid foxes and no-one much believed them. Just a classic example of bad law.

Some hunting figures are also worried that forces may feel the need to bow to the pressure from anti-hunt organisations. The League Against Cruel Sports believes it now has sufficient evidence to prove to police chiefs that there is widespread abuse of the hunt ban and that breaches are regularly occurring during early morning weekday meets.

Notwithstanding that there are some very nasty characters indeed in the League, it should be obvious to anyone with brain zero that the police have no time, no inclination and no surplus manpower to start a concerted campaign to catch naughty hunters. It's just not going to happen. Unless people are prosecuted and fined or jailed, being a fox in rural Britain is likely to remain a risky occupation for some time to come.

Quotations from The Sunday Times

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