Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why I'm for the Legalization of Marijuana (maybe)

I've heard lots of arguments pro and con today on the bill introduced in Congress by Barney Frank and Ron Paul to allow the states to legalize marijuana without federal interference, so I thought I'd throw my two cents out there.

I think the best argument for the legalization of marijuana is not the civil liberties one, nor is it the "it's only fair" argument.  To me, the best argument is that it takes money out of the hands of the drug cartels and puts it into American coffers.

In the 1920's America experimented with prohibition - the illegalization of alcohol - and all it did was make gangsters richer and make average citizens criminals.  It's the same today with marijuana.  Back then, once the country wised up and re-legalized alcohol, the gangsters got out of the liquor business and had to find another source of revenue (for most it was drugs.)  So (the argument goes) let's legalize marijuana and give today's gangsters one less source of revenue.

It's a powerful argument - one that almost has me convinced!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Intelligent Design According to Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas, (arguably Christianity's foremost intellect since the apostle Paul), famously submitted five proofs of Gods existence.  (See Article 3. "Whether God exists?" here)  Of the "Five Ways", my favorite - and the one most relevant to ID - is the Fifth Way.

In Aquinas' own words:
"The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God."
What Aquinas is saying here, put simply, is that:

A) We observe in nature, things with no mind or intelligence, acting as if they have intention, purpose or goals.

B) It is a truth that only a being with a mind can truly have intentions.

C) Therefore, an intelligent being must be responsible for the intentionality we observe in nature.

There, in just a few sentences, Aquinas submits a rational proof that all of nature is intelligently designed!  There is no need to argue, as most ID proponents do, that it is complexity and sophistication in nature that requires design.  No, to Aquinas; even the rocks cry out "Design"!  And this is true of nature everywhere we look!  Everything we see, everything made of matter, has bits and particles within it whose job seems to be simply to maintain and sustain that very thing that they are a part of.  There is absolutely no materialist explanation for this.

It's a beautiful thing.  What's more, if one understands the full implications of Aquinas' simple proof, the designer must itself be outside nature.  You can't cite nature to explain all of nature - so the explanation must be something separate from nature.  Hmm... an intelligent being outside nature... I wonder who that could be?

Which leads me to the other attractive aspect of Aquinas Fifth Way: the fact that it points explicitly to God - not some other being who "may or may not be" God (as ID theory is so fond of saying.) 

It's refreshing to be able to unequivocally say that all of nature (not just the complex stuff) is designed and that this designer must be God.

The further implications of this is that it reduces questions of evolution and abiogenesis strictly to scientific inquiry.  Whether or not nature can produce a lifeform from non-living material has no implications philosophically or theologically.  Either way, God was behind it.  The same goes for the evolution of new biological types.  It's all design, all the way down.

Friday, June 3, 2011

More on the Debt Ceiling

Ever notice how nobody tells us what would really happen if we don't raise the debt ceiling?

We hear constantly how the US is going to "default on its obligations", but no one explains how not raising the debt ceiling means automatic default.  I have to believe that the US government can continue to pay the interest on its debt (yes, that's all we're obligated to pay - if you can believe it!) out of the measly $250 billion we take in in tax revenue per month.

What's more, if we are constitutionally prohibited from borrowing any more money, we will be forced to get our financial house in order.  Our government would have a mandate to live within its means (well, its means plus $14.3 trillion of debt) and would have to make tough decisions about which programs are essential and which are not.  It would seem that any small government conservative politician would recognize this and steadfastly refuse to vote to raise the debt ceiling - no matter how deep the spending cuts proposed!  It seems, however, that---while any small government conservative knows this---the "small government conservative" politicians are having trouble with the concept.

We really need to watch this debate in the upcoming months and voice our opinions to our elected representatives about the foolishness---the fiscal suicide---of taking on any more debt as a nation.