31 January, 2006

DaveScot is Not a Laughing Matter

I pride myself on my intellectual honesty. Even when it would result in ridicule, embarrassment or humiliation I have aspired to confront and admit my mistakes.

I have done a great disservice to a scientist, a singular man in the evolution-Intelligent Design debate, whose unique and fresh look at the discussion deserves far more limelight from both sides.

I am talking about DaveScot. He is a man I cynically laughed at, denigrated and abused when I found he would be blogging at Uncommon Descent, the antievolution blog of Discovery Institute fellow William Dembski. As usual when reality counters my pessimism I am proud to announce that I was wrong and that I am truly sorry. I should have known better. The signs were there.

He is after all a free thinker: a man of science, reason and uncompromising skepticism. He is - or was - an engineer, working in a field where creative solutions to problems would always be strictly along the lines of parsimony; simplistic, elegant and functional. Clearly a man with credentials perfect for analysing biology. He displays an abhorrence of orthodoxy and dogma, proving himself a strict adherent to the empiricism and experimentation fundamental to science. Conciliatory, and without an emotional investment in ID, he is able to rise about the bickering childishness of the evolution-ID debate and offer a fresh appraisal of how it is conducted. He for instance cuts away the chaff and argues succinctly against the ad hominem fallacy which so permeates the thinking of evolutionists, overshadowing the research the Discovery Institute is no doubt conducting and publishing in respected peer reviewed journals somewhere. And such a warning is necessary - I personally was tempted to debase myself with a tu quoque, sinking so low as to point out the incredible hypocrisy of DaveScot in baselessly insulting a man who has contributed more to human knowledge than the entire fellowship of the Discovery Institute combined, and then whinging about character attacks. As you can tell from the link, other evolutionists have not been so careful.

As an agnostic DaveScot rejects the theism so common to his brothers-in-arms - he is living proof that supporters of Intelligent Design are not necessarily motivated by religion. He states his agnosticism thus: 'The game was rigged for life to win. Anyone who argues with that is either uninformed or in denial.' As an agnostic myself I can only admire the conviction he holds - so lacking in other agnostics - that the universe was crafted by some sort of intelligent entity with Godlike abilities. DaveScot is clearly not the man whose clear religiosity and lack of science training caused me to place Uncommon Descent in the 'religion' section of my blogroll.

Thankfully, all that may change - in the interests of curbing the open discussion that Uncommon Descent has long been famed for, DaveScot recently created a policy that would ban William Dembski from his own blog - by threatening to ban anyone who rejects common descent. Sad to say, DaveScot seems to have missed the posts of Paul Nelson - Discovery Institute fellow and young Earth creationist - otherwise he would presumably have already been banned, much like Dembski will be banned when DaveScot finds the time between conducting research programmes into Intelligent Design and publishing his findings.

My apologies, I am getting off track. My point is this: I am truly sorry for suggesting that it would be hilarious if DaveScot was made a blogger at Uncommon Descent. There is absolutely nothing funny going on over there, and DaveScot is a profoundly sciencey addition to the entire enterprise.

Update: the last link in this post no longer works, as it appears William Dembski deleted DaveScot's rant. Oh, DaveScot, had you only been faster with the ol' banning stick. Now religion will forever be a part of Uncommon Descent. This is a sad day for opponents to the Darwinian hegemony.

-The Rev. Schmitt.

17 January, 2006

Politics Is Fun!

This is the guy known as 'the robot'? What the Hell is wrong with you people!

I watched the Kerry-Bush presidential debates and thought both of them were tepid, ill informed and almost identical in policies (when either were coherent enough to have a stated policy.) I've never seen Al Gore speak and assumed his speech style was similar to the eyes down droning of Kerry (don't get me wrong, stylistically he slaughtered Bush in the debates - but look at the competition here.) Al Gore is accurate, clear, passionate - furious even, his eyes on the audience and his demands specific.

-The Rev. Schmitt.

16 January, 2006

There Is Nothing Happening In The World Today.

Shorter Matt (because God knows it's needed): my post was factually flawed because I was responding to a non sequitur. I was arguing that peoples' opinions about race had changed, so pointing out that this wasn't the case - anti-miscegenation laws were changed against public opinion by the judiciary - twisted my argument. 'Natural' has any meaning I'd like it to have because it can be be an antonym to 'supernatural' and 'artificial. They're gay and marriage is between a man and a woman. God is disgusted by the same people that disgust me.

Also of life changing importance:

A paucity of archaeological evidence suggests that cannibalism may not have been very prevalent amongst the Donner Party, or that it was done in such a way that it didn't leave much evidence. In my opinion this is a far less interesting reality and I suggest you ignore it.

Reports of al-Zawahiri's death in Pakistan were greatly exaggerated; the threat in New York was based on faulty intelligence, the WoMD were not there, and all but one of the miners had in fact died. The air strike - unauthorised by the Pakistan government - was intended to kill the al-Qaeda number two (one of apparently dozens,) but instead killed 17-25 civilians. Pakistan's tumultuous political climate temporarily stabilised as thousands came together to express their hatred of America, their disgusting liberalism trying to paint America as a treacherous ally. Yet such unheard of unity represents another partial foreign policy victory for the CIA, thankfully stripped of oversight so that they may more efficiently foil their own attempts at assassination while harming American interests abroad.

Michelle Malkin is morally opposed to education.

Taung child - a young Australopithecus africanus - may have been killed by an eagle or other large bird of prey. This, I submit, is hilarious.

Uncommon Descent - blog of Dr William Dembski, non scientist and one of Intelligent Design's brightest lights - has become something glorious, rising from the ashes of depressing ignorance, complaining and antiscience to amusing self parody. We hope, nay, pray that DaveScot's racist diatribes will no longer be confined, in the Little Green Footballs fashion, to the blog's comments section.

Dinosaur blogging coming soon!

-The Rev. Schmitt.

11 January, 2006

Gays and Blacks Together Again

We find, in our public service, a blog post. It is not a very good post, oh no. It lacks all justification and reference, it rambles, it makes things up. It is in short a creature of darkness. But it is comprehensive enough that I can use it to discuss things.

I’ll begin with a simple statement: gay marriage is not the same as the civil rights movement.

English is a frigid mistress, her calloused fingers pushing our groping hands forever from comprehensibility! An auspicious start. Onward!

To those of you who would boggle at my ignorance

Never, sir! Allow me to assert most passionately that I accord respect and dignity (as persons as persons,) to all my fellow travellers.

To say that the civil rights movement fundamentally altered our concept of marriage is probably only half true. It eliminated systematic prejudices against blacks. It beat home the realization that blacks and whites were (gasp) equal in all ways

Ah, the conclusion comes before the argument, forcing me to spoil a surprise 40 years in the making. No, anti-miscegenation laws were reversed because marriage was regarded as a fundamental human right that should not be denied anyone on as baseless and necessarily discriminatory a premise as ethnicity, an argument with no relevence to anything occuring today:

...the Court has merely asked whether there is any rational foundation for the discriminations, and has deferred to the wisdom of the state legislatures. In the case at bar, however, we deal with statutes containing racial classifications, and the fact of equal application does not immunize the statute from the very heavy burden of justification which the Fourteenth Amendment has traditionally required of state statutes drawn according to race.


Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

-Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren (1967)

Pesky facts! And as dear Matt asserts, has the civil rights movement 'beat home the realization that blacks and whites were (gasp) equal in all ways'? To borrow a phrase from a conservative humour site, Sadly, No!

Alabama voters on Tuesday repealed the state's century-old ban against interracial marriage, an unenforceable but embarrassing throwback to the state's segregationist past.

The vote was running 59 percent to 41 percent, with 58 percent of the voted counted.


Alabama became the last state with such language in its organic law in 1998 when South Carolina voters approved a measure to remove similar wording from their state's constitution. In South Carolina, about 62 percent of voters favored lifting the ban.
-Sweet, sweet victory.

But I’m not sure that peoples’ basic perceptions of marriage were changed.

I'm absolutely positive that they didn't.

Only, instead, our perceptions of equality. I do not think there was a mental addendum to marriage in our minds that said “only people who are the same may marry.”

Indeed; could any such belief even genuinely exist? What sort of sordid, disgusting, primitivist philosophy could even serve to justify such a ridiculous and vacuous idea?

An Act To Preserve Racial Integrity
-Racial Integrity Act of 1924

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

-Virginia's Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Trial judge Leon Bazile (1959)

I think there was an addendum in our minds that said, “since races are not equal, we should marry only inside our own.”

It may have occurred to one or two people.

Intermarriage between whites and blacks is repulsive and averse to every sentiment of pure American spirit. It is abhorrent and repugnant. It is subversive to social peace. It is destructive of moral supremacy, and ultimately this slavery to black beasts will bring this nation to a fatal conflict.

-Georgia's Democratic Rep. Seaborn Roddenberry (1911)

This is a hard argument to prove,

So why bother trying, right?

marriage, to me, is an institution which is both simplistic and purposeful. Its purpose is as a structural unit of society, a building block for the family, and for some a special tenant of their religion.

That can't be its full purpose, surely? Marriage can also be used as a political tool: for instance you can use it to deny rights and financial benefits to people whom your prejudices regard as subhuman.

Therefore, I think it is actually much harder to argue that people specifically defined marriage as “between the same race,” and that it was more likely they defined other races as “fundamentally different/separated/inferior,”

This absolutely floored me. He had spent the entire first half of the post arguing that anti-miscegenation laws were expressions of the belief that other races were inferior, and had nothing to do with asserting that marriage should only occur between people of the same race.

I do not think there was a mental addendum to marriage in our minds that said “only people who are the same may marry. [...] I think there was an addendum in our minds that said, “since races are not equal, we should marry only inside our own.

And now we learn that 'it was more likely they defined other races as “fundamentally different/separated/inferior”. So rather than anyone trying to keep the right of marriage purely for people who were the same, it was intended to keep everyone who was different out.

and in a conservative age, would have avoided and abhorred bi-racial marriages even more than I would avoid marrying, say, a biker chick named Wanda with a bull-ring in her nose.

English! My love! NO!

What I’m saying and what most conservatives would tell you is that marriage in its essence and as it should be never changed through the civil rights movement.

No, instead activist liberal judges argued that the government couldn't keep people with different ethnicities from marrying because marriage is a fundamental human right.

Black is white, white is black, we’re all the same underneath. However, this is not a change which can occur for the debate on gay marriages.

Agreed, women are inferior.

But marriage is and has always been defined* by man and wife.

Science and history disagree. Alas, mighty Belgium, Spain, Canada and the Netherlands have fallen for such despicable reality, and many countries have crafted civil partnerships with many or all of the rights of marriage. The end of marriage as we knew it ensued, and men all over the lands have fallen out of love with their wives. Even precious Britain – bulwark of tradition and throbbing Imperial pride, has allowed civil partnerships with most of the rights of marriage. Already I can feel the icy grip of homosexuality clawing at my masculinity, drowning out my affection for all things poontang.

So anyway, man and wife. Yeah. That’s, you know, one of those kind’ve important things about marriage.

Well argued!

Let me give you another one: between people.

Indeed, there is no difference between dolphins marrying people and homosexuals marrying. I hope to God that whatever it is keeping Senator Santorum from buying a dog keeps this man from ever owning a dolphin.

That’s the problem with this “natural/unnatural” debate

No, the problem with the 'natural/unnatural' debate is that everything we can observe and empirically test in the universe is natural, including polyester and air conditioning. The unnatural is beyond science and evidence; there is no way of showing that there is any evidence supporting its reality at all. Now, any guesses as to why predicating law on the latter might cause a few problems?

Out of sheer self control I will ignore his incompetent rendition of evolution as 'random chance' and the sycophantry he heaps upon John Paul II.

But obviously the sexual commandments of the Bible were not “lifted” in the same way, but strengthened in –their- fulfillment.
Indeed, and I for one am sick of the secular war on polygamy.

Behavior is (duh) complex.

The closest thing to a true and noncontradictory statement in the entire piece.

And now, a closing comment.

If marriage is regarded as an important institution and one we feel necessary to society as a whole then we should ask ourselves why this is so.

Many would point to the family unit and the way in which marriage forms a somewhat stable platform to raise children by placing social and financial entanglements on a couple, thereby enforcing something of a commitment and using that commitment as a context for childrens' upbringing. I think that this is important and I think it is
largely true.

If this were the only factor, however, the only justification for sterile couples to marry would be in the event that they wished to adopt - and yet such an idea blatantly isn't enforced, I sincerely doubt anyone would want it enforced, and it would legitimise same-sex marriages anyway. Clearly the further fundamental belief in the importance of marriage is in allowing a loving couple to support each other, to support their interdependency, particularly important as single people are particularly vulnerable to the whims of the market and the economy.

Again, I think this is important for social stability. Again, I fail to see how this would take homosexuals out of the picture, or even any other couple, regardless of whether there's any sexual element to the relationship. I sincerely doubt anyone would want sex to be forced upon married couples; I also see no reason for this to be so. Security and stability seem the only consistent reasons for marriage and are the only reasons I can see why the state should be involved at all in the first place - without a secular justification it deserves no special perks from the state.

The fact that homosexuals are fighting for the right of marriage indicates a desire for them to strengthen such stability by opting to take on the burdens of marriage aswell as the benefits for their relationship, standing in contrast to straight people who are ruining marriage with cheating, rising numbers of single parent families and ridiculously spiralling divorce rates, themselves perverting what marriage should stand for and of the family unit.

The idea that couples should be excluded because they share a gender, and that this is a massive focus of people claiming to protect marriage, seems a further degredation to the notion of the strong unions that marriage should provide and which it should represent; the secular arguments provided by traditionalists seem to make a mockery of marriage, turning it into some semantic issue deliberately intended to segregate rather than protect the importance of the institution or why it should be implemented. Secular reasons for why same gender couples should be excluded are never explained beyond 'they're gay and marriage is between a man and a woman'. Such an explanation is unsatisfactory and merely repeats the question, why should marriage only be between a man and a woman?

I also like The Two Percent Company's The Score take on marriage-as-a-contract, a somewhat different approach from mine and exceedingly reasonable and rational.

A response! Will our intrepid hero wade into battle against the NRO and Weekly Standard, fortresses of fact telling? Will he suddenly realise that demolishing someone repeatedly with a blog feels like duelling with a chest of drawers? Stay tuned to find out!

-The Rev. Schmitt.

04 January, 2006

I Swear To God I'll Never Do This Again, aka Best Post Ever.

I have hoped to keep this blog as a topical and professional filter into the things which interest me most. As one year segues into the next and coursework deadlines actualise into terrible and very real opponents to my continued happiness (or at least a happiness-flavoured substitute,) my priorities similarly become clear and obvious. So, sad to say, in the interests of self preservation, and not wishing to maintain this blog unless it represents the most high quality analysis of current events, I will now discuss The Matrix: Reloaded.

Or rather, I want to ask something about a specific scene from it. I first watched this movie in a cinema with a pair of friends, my closest at that point in time; both enjoyed it immensely. I submit, dear readers, that these friends are idiots. The fight scenes were drawn out, unconvincing and boring; the special effects somehow regressed from the first movie into surreal waxen figures, and the drawn out conversations caused philosophy majors the world over to develop nervous tics. Except English students and postmodernists of course; they loved it, they would do. Last but not least, Keanu Reeves is a God damn useless actor and I hate him.

Left: Carrie-Anne Moss is an attractive young lady indeed.
Right: Keanu Reeves portraying an emotion. Happiness, perhaps? Anger? Who cares!

Two scenes in particular stuck out for me as horrific stains upon the English language and all reason: the Merovingian, and Neo's meeting with the Architect. It is the latter which concerns me today, mainly because even in the cinema it was entirely obvious that the man was quite clearly being told to eloquently - and let me be clear, the light and precise way he caresses his utterances into existence is a thing of genuine beauty - state absolutely meaningless dribble. A sample of the nonsense (and from Neo, inanity,) from this blight on cinematic integrity - hallowed that it is:

Concordantly, while your first question may be the most pertinent, you may or may not realize it is also the most irrelevant.


There are only two possible explanations: either no one told me, or no one knows.


You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate ... I prefer counting from the emergence of one integral anomaly to the emergence of the next...the anomaly's systemic, creating fluctuations in even the most simplistic equations...thus creating the otherwise contradictory systemic anomaly...Your five predecessors were by design based on a similar predication...
And so on. That the movie was terrible is old news, though. I saw something which - I didn't expect it, and it may well have been nothing, I need keen minds to clarify this mystery for me, preferably keen minds with a DVD of a certain rubbish movie. While diligently working on the two assignments due by the end of this week channel surfing I just happened to catch the Architect scene. And it gets to this line:

The inevitability of its doom is as apparent to me now as a consequence of the imperfection inherent in every human being, thus I redesigned it based on your history to more accurately reflect the varying grotesqueries of your nature.
Images flash across the television screens - Hitler, marching troops, an explosion? Self immolating Buddhist monks, starving Africans, Donald Rumsfeld -

It was just for a moment - and checking online someone saw a rather different figure flash up, and yet another states that daddy also appears (I may well have confused HW for Mr Rumsfeld.)

How well known is this? Is it genuine? Was I just really out of the loop? Are the Wachowzki brothers terrorists? Why do I care, actually? There've been more obvious and nasty attacks on contemporary presidents. Bloody blog.

Actually that's a good note to end on. To the grindstone!

-The Rev. Schmitt.