Archives for November 2014

Amazing Display of Episcopal Tolerance

(Public domain photograph from the from the Carol M. Highsmith Archive at the Library of Congress.)

Saints Peter and Paul must be quite alarmed right now after their namesake place of worship, The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, better known as the Washington National Cathedral, held an unprecedented Muslim worship service last week.

The event in the Episcopal-run cathedral was intended to “make a statement about religious tolerance that would resound around the world,” according to the Washington Post.

The implication from that article is that we’re supposed to conclude that the event shows how tolerant Muslims are toward Christians. “Other speakers said they hoped the service would help correct some Americans’ misperceptions of Muslims as extremists and reinforce tolerance among faiths,” wrote the Post.

Assuming that’s the intention, are they for real? Do they actually think that a Christian church allowing a Muslim worship service therein shows how tolerant Muslims are? To my knowledge there are no reports of prominent mosques opening their doors to non-Muslim services.

The only thing it shows is that the Episcopalians are a tolerant lot – so tolerant that they’re willing to run counter to the First Commandment smack dab in the middle of their church. It makes one wonder how firm the Episcopal leadership’s beliefs are in the teachings of the Christian Bible.

Tolerance of different religions and love for other peoples is, of course, a prized virtue. But encouraging the worship on Jesus Christ’s altar and/or within His hallowed halls a perceived deity that is radically different from the deity to which He belongs, is a different matter altogether.

 

 

Wall Street Journal Gives Socialized Medicine a Platform

Most on the left, of course, were never really satisfied with Obamacare. It’s obvious they always wanted full socialized medicine, with health insurance companies completely out of the picture. But they had to settle with Obamacare, with its mix of socialized medicine and insurance companies.

It was predictable that when the inherent flaws of Obamacare become manifest, there will be a clamor on the left to toss it out in favor of full socialized medicine, as well as on the right to replace it with a market-based system. The question is, which side will squeal the loudest and win out?

We’re in the beginning of that showdown. The right has been arguing for its repeal all along, but lately those voices have been getting softer, with proposals to change Obamacare rather than repeal it. The left, meanwhile, is showing signs of launching their campaign to go full socialized or “single payer” as the euphemism goes, as evidenced by this recent op-ed by Burke Beu: This Democrat Is Giving Up on ObamaCare. Of course, that Democrat isn’t giving up on it in favor of a market-based system, but a full socialized one.

The eyebrow-raising thing is the outfit that gave the above-mentioned article a platform. The Huffington Post? No. The Nation? No. Daily Kos? No.

It was the Wall Street Journal editorial page, that bastion of free-market solutions, at least usually.

Brilliant work, Wall Street Journal. You’re playing right into the game plan that the left had from the beginning: come up with the health care contraption that’s now in place, and when it inevitably fails, use that as a rallying cry to push through full socialized medicine (which would fail even more miserably).

Who would have guessed that the WSJ editorial page would offer prime real estate toward this objective?

It’s of course good to present contrary opinions in the opinion pages. But what they should do now is pen an editorial pooh-poohing Mr. Beu’s ideas, in anticipation that a lot more articles like his likely will be appearing in left-leaning publications as well.

Taking Abortion to its Logical Conclusion

1984There is an additional reason why legalized abortion is such a horrifying phenomenon. It’s not just a matter involving unborn humans, although that’s horrifying enough. It’s the foundation of a slippery slope that is being used to justify the killing of born humans. Someday, somewhere in the world, it could be used to justify genocide.

A line got crossed in 2012 when an academic journal published a paper saying that if abortion is permissible, then killing healthy newborns should be permissible as well. And just last week, The College Fix reported that U.S. college students are increasingly accepting of “post-birth abortion”, i.e. the killing of babies. Even more outrageous, some students reportedly even would accept the killing of children up to 4 or 5 years old, on the grounds they are not yet “self-aware.”

That’s the logic of a materialist, atheistic worldview that sees humans nothing more than molecules that, way back in our evolutionary history, came together by mere chance. The value of a human life is no higher than that of an insect or an amoeba, based on this worldview.

It is chilling to read the dry, matter-of-fact summary of the 2012 paper, written by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, published in the U.K.’s Journal of Medical Ethics:

“Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”

With those 90 words, infanticide is given credence, legitimacy and affirmation in polite society.

Princeton professor Peter Singer is infamous for his writings on infanticide, mainly in cases where the infant is disabled. “Characteristics like rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness make a difference,” writes Singer. “Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings.”

Giubilini and Minerva go a step further, saying it is okay to kill healthy babies in addition to disabled ones.

Why not give the baby up for adoption? Because doing so may bring the mother psychological distress, they explain. They cite a source that states “Natural mothers often dream that their child will return to them. This makes it difficult to accept the reality of the loss….” The authors’ solution? Kill the baby.

No, this isn’t satire, science fiction, or excerpts from treatises of some past totalitarian regime. It’s what today’s culture of abortion has wrought. And it’s much more than the theoretical musings of the youthful Giubilini and Minerva. That a well-established peer-reviewed journal, whose editor hails from the Oxford University philosophy department, and whose editorship and board consist of numerous academics from Europe, the United States and elsewhere, would publish such a paper speaks volumes of the degeneration that is pervading aspects of Western academia.

The irony that the paper was written by “ethicists” and accepted by a publication called the Journal of Medical Ethics seems right out of the novel 1984.

The authors simply are taking abortion to its logical conclusion. Apart from the manner in which a newborn gets its oxygen and nourishment, there’s little biological difference between it and a developed fetus.

As the idea of infanticide gains greater acceptance in social and academic circles, it could gain greater acceptance in legal circles as well. A lawyer could argue that a newborn infant differs little from an infant still in the womb, and therefore if abortion is permissible, then infanticide should be permissible.

Once they’ve opened the Pandora’s box by declaring that birth is no longer the dividing line between personhood and non-personhood, then their logic can be applied to anyone. Killing a human of any age is consistent with legalized abortion.

That’s one of the reasons why abortion is so repugnant. Lack of sanctity for unborn human life spills over into lack of sanctity for all human life. Such ideas could help beget a colder, more callous world among ordinary persons, and more violent crime among the amoral. “Let’s go out and perform an after-birth abortion,” a criminal may say.

Another frightening potential application of this mindset involves governments. In the past, National Socialist and Communist governments justified their genocides using arguments by racist and Marxist scholars. In the future, governments of certain countries could engage in forced infanticide, selective homicide, or even genocide using scholarly arguments from publications such as that cited above, arguing that killing (born) humans is no different from abortion.

Typically, in the modern Western world, whenever someone uses media outlets to incite the killing of innocents, they’re quickly relegated to the ash heap of polite society. But that’s not happening with the pro-abortion/infanticide academics of today. Their ideas are gaining momentum.

Now’s the time to bring the issue of abortion to center stage, this time making clear that the stakes don’t involve just pre-born humans, but all of humanity as well.

NatGeo’s Missing Info on China’s Mysterious Mountains

towerkarstNational Geographic magazine has some good articles, but it has some bad articles too – either containing misleading information, or containing a lack thereof. Regarding the latter, the latest issue of NatGeo has an article on the famous and mysterious tower-like mountains of southern China and the associated caves, near the city of Guilin.

The article mainly discusses the authors’ and rock climbers’ experiences there. As always, there are good photographs. And there’s a cool diagram of the caves. But if you want to know how the tower-like mountains were formed, you’re in for a letdown. That should be the first question in any discerning reader’s mind. Apart from a couple of comments about erosion over the eons – just in the captions no less – nary a word is written about how the geology of that region came to be.

So allow me to plug in some of the gaps in the NatGeo article, borrowing from this web page. The type of geologic feature is called tower karst formations. In addition to the southern China region, they’re also found in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Honduras, Cuba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. It forms through the erosion/dissolution of limestone, of which the whole region consists.

The limestone base was formed when the area was at the bottom of the ocean, when calcium carbonate in the water settled to the bottom, building up layer upon layer over millions of years. When the seas recede or when the rock is uplifted, water easily percolates through the limestone and dissolves it, forming caves and other features.

Tower karst only develops in humid, tropical areas with a lot of rainfall. That water reacts with the vegetation to erode the limestone. But at the beginning of the process, certain spots are resistant to erosion. So those spots or mounds remain intact while the area immediately around them erode away. There is much less soil or vegetation on the slopes, which means less acidity on those slopes when it rains, making the slopes also resistant to erosion. They form into steep, erosion-resistant surfaces, while the base of the structure erodes away. So the landscape is peppered with these steep mounds, while the flat area erodes. Over millions of years the flat area keeps eroding to a lower and lower elevation, while relative to the surrounding countryside, the mounds turn into tall, thousand-foot-high towers.

Meanwhile elaborate caves develop within the towers, as the limestone dissolves inside.