16A006 Red, in Tooth and Claw by Jim Davies, 2/23/2016    


Fred Reed is an outstanding and often hilarious writer in the cause of liberty, except (as I've noted before) when he thumps his theistic drum, which fortunately is not very often. There was a recent example, though, that ought not to go unchallenged.

He uses and expands on the tired old "argument from design", updated with the latest knowledge about, for one example, the eye. Its vast complexity proves, he says, that "Something Else has to be involved." His caps.

What Reed doesn't mention is that this argument was comprehensively demolished thirty years ago by Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins in The Blind Watchmaker, the astonishing complexity of the eye being one of his prime examples of the wonders of evolution. That failure is a disturbing example of how Reed evidently begins with a conclusion and reasons backwards; exactly the opposite of the how one should examine government, freedom and every other subject. It detracts seriously from the credibility of everything else he writes.

Early in the TOLFA interactive course, students learn the vital need to think rationally, because the distinguishing characteristic of humans is that we reason. The importance of that foundation is that government is irrational; hence, the rational thinker will conclude correctly that it ought to play no part in human affairs.

Trouble arises when that is applied also to theistic religion. How can one consistently reject one set of myths (government) yet hang on to another (religion)? I doubt seriously that he can, but cannot go so far as to declare it impossible, for Reed is not the only fine libertarian to believe in some kind of creator.

However, I will point out how hard it is, and this ZGBlog offers one example: critters.

One of life's great pleasures is to befriend an animal, such as a dog. Many people can do so, and it's so pleasant as sometimes to be therapeutic. Many also do it with cats, and it's a wonder to watch trainers and others swim with dolphins, clearly communicating to and fro. Birds are trickier, for they are understandably very shy and fearful, but I have home movie of my wife persuading a sparrow to land on her hand to peck a morsel of food.

Francis, an Italian monk in the early 1200s, is known as one with an extraordinary measure of this ability, who is said to have preached to a whole tree full of birds without any of them flying away; another less well known is Eddie Slovik, upon whose arm wild birds would settle while he spoke with them but whom the FedGov shot dead when he refused to kill its enemies upon command. And "Francis" is the official name chosen by Jorge Bergoglio when he was picked as leader of the Roman subdivision of the Christian church. This Pope would like to emulate the Italian monk.

His encyclical last Fall begins with a peon of praise to the alleged creator for making such a beautful and harmonious environment for us to inhabit, including all those birds and critters, then moves on to upbraid man for fouling it. He targets capitalist man in particular, even though the progress produced by capitalism actually reduces pollutants.

Smoke is often emitted during industrialization, but then gets cleaned as spare money is generated. I saw this happen in the English Midlands when a boy (Stoke was the world center for pottery manufacture and hundreds of smoke-belching kilns made the city famous as the dirtiest in Europe) but as technology matured electric kilns replaced them and the old bottle shaped ones are now seen only by tourists. Hence now China, formerly run by government exclusively and more heavily polluted than any other country, is starting to get cleaner after a notable degree of capitalism has greatly increased standards of life.

So the encyclical gets it upside down; and there is worse yet. By blaming man for spoiling a spotless creation, His Holiness overlooks a few inconvenient facts: the natural world is by no means a Garden of Eden. That is pure fable.

Last year a small rodent (mouse, or chipmunk) was minding his own business on my lawn, when a predator bird swooped down and grabbed him with a huge claw. Don't know the model of hawk, but I opened the door hoping to scare it away - but failed. It spread its great wings and flapped off, but never let go of its prey. I could see the scared little eyes peeping out, and knew that sadly, in a few moments he would become lunch.

God has made beautiful creatures, designed to eat each other alive. That is the ugly truth presented (though never spelled out) by the creationist, religious world view. Sentient animals can survive, in most cases, only by killing and eating other sentient creatures. If that happened by divine design, the designer is a callous, capricious, sadistic monster and the other theological allegations (that he is omnipotent and benevolent) are pure rubbish, riddled with fatal contradiction from tip to toe.

Yet that is the theory Jorge Bergoglio is holding up as his standard of perfection. Hog wash! If I were creator, I could design a better system in half an hour; on the assumption that fruit and veg are not sentient, I would make all animals herbivores, except for scavengers who usefully dispose of corpses but kill nobody. What's so hard about that? Several are, of course; so if it can be done for cows and sheep and gazelles, why not for hawks and tigers?

If, conversely, there is no creator but all living species evolved by a process outlined by Darwin, that system would be amoral; no blame for what seems to us like cruelty could be attached to any designer. That's just the way it happened. The real marvel, then, is that blind random chance has happened to throw up a species that does have a moral sense, and is troubled by the evident cruelty in the natural world. I think that's just wonderful!

So instead of blaming man for spoiling what God has made, Pope Francis ought to have blamed God for a shabby piece of work and extolled mankind for trying to correct his errors; or, more rationally, admitted that no such creator exists and that therefore the whole of his recent encyclical can be consigned to the trash can, with the rest of his religion to follow shortly. Nature is, like it or not, red in tooth and claw; that fact on its own is sufficient proof of atheism and it should be acknowledged and dealt with. Religion is, literally, non-sense.

Have you browsed the bookstore yet? There are over forty titles that every serious student of liberty should have as the nucleus of his library. Some links show low-price used copies, and a few are free as e-books.


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