Friday, September 22, 2006

Weekend Humor #8

Take a look at this this post about Monty Python, Eugenie Scott's orthodoxy tests, and duck aphorisms.

On reading this again, I saw an additional element of humor that I missed the first time: Scott's apparently unintended double meaning when she said "it argues for zealotry."

For background on the Sternberg affair, go here.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Jewish Perspective On Social Darwinism and the Holocaust

Dr. Arnold Slyper, Director of Pediatric Endocrinology at Loyola University Medical Center said this in one of the articles on Jewish Action Online that I cited in my last post:
Darwinian evolutionary theory captured the popular imagination of the nineteenth century because of the social implications of natural selection as well as its biological implications. If man were no more than a higher functioning animal, argued social Darwinism, survival of the fittest would justify the powerful exploiting the economically and politically vulnerable, since this was the way the natural world functioned. By World War I, many of the implications of social Darwinism, such as colonialism and the extremes of capitalism, had largely become untenable from both a political and moral standpoint. Nevertheless, the Jewish people were to experience firsthand the horrors of this theory when it resurfaced, unbridled, in Nazi Germany.

I was quite struck when I read this, given Abraham Foxman's recent strident and insulting comments alleging that examining the influence of Darwinism on Nazism was an "outrageous and shoddy attempt . . . to trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust." (Many other Darwinists joined in the attacks as well.)

We must never forget the Social Darwinist movement and its effects. We must never ignore the important moral, philosophical and religious implications of Darwinian theory-- no matter how many people want to deny them or sweep them under the carpet.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Jewish Perspectives on Intelligent Design

Jewish Action Online, the magazine of the Orthodox Union has posted three articles that are to some extent favorable to Intelligent Design. I have only had time to skim these articles, but I thought that I would alert my readers. I do not necessarily endorse these articles, and, in my quick review, I have already located points on which I disagree. But they, at a minimum, broaden the debate and encourage reflection and civil discourse.

The Faith of Darwinism and the Science of Intelligent Design,
by Dr. Arnold Slyper, who is the director of Pediatric Endocrinology at Loyola University Medical Center.

Finding the Intelligence Within the Design
by Gerald Schroeder, who received his PhD from MIT in nuclear physics and earth and planetary sciences.

Intelligent Design: Why Has it Become a Battleground Between Science and Religion
by Nathan Aviezer, who is a professor of physics at Bar-Ilan University and a fellow of the American Physical Society.

Do these articles prove that Intelligent Design is inherently religious? Of course not. For more on this issue, see here. For even more on this, go here.

Do these help show that the Barbara Forrest conspiracy theories are a pile of rubbish? Of course they do-- unless these authors are part of the vast Christian Fundamentalist theocratic conspiracy. Perhaps Ms. Forrest would allege that they are only unwittingly playing into the hands of the conspiracy. In this case, she would not just be foolish, but also insulting- some might say defamatory- to thoughtful Jewish scholars.

No, this is a good example of the range of backgrounds of people questioning Darwinian theory and Darwinian Fundamentalism, which includes, Agnostics, Jews, Muslims and others.

The home page for Jewish Action Online is here.