NOMA Isn’t Working: Darwin Demands the Kingdom

Posted On Dec 19 2019 by

first_imgThe late evolutionary paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould had an idea for resolving conflicts between science and religion.  He called it NOMA, for “non-overlapping magisteria.”  The basic idea was, let science take the natural world, and leave everything else – morals, ethics, the arts and humanities – to the theologians and philosophers.  In Gould’s words, “we get the age of rocks, and religion retains the rock of ages; we study how the heavens go, and they determine how to go to heaven.”  The National Academy of Sciences, the NCSE and many other scientific organizations have adopted a similar peace treaty: science and theology are separate and distinct avenues to truth, and each controls their own territory.    Either nobody took Gould’s proposal seriously, or it doesn’t work, because the science journals routinely invade subjects long reserved for other departments of the university.  Here are some recent examples of scientific writings that not only try to explain moral and intellectual matters in naturalistic, evolutionary terms, but either overtly state or merely assume that it is perfectly legitimate to do so.1Might makes right:  Gavrilets and Vose, writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Oct 30, published a mathematical model of “The dynamics of Machiavellian intelligence.”  That this study was intended to take philosophy captive to Darwin was clear by the ending sentence of the abstract, “Our model suggests that there may be a tendency toward a reduction in cognitive abilities (driven by the costs of having a large brain) as the reproductive advantage of having a large brain decreases and the exposure to memes increases in modern societies.”  A meme is a cultural item transmitted through generations.  Memes include concepts and ideas – i.e., even the category logos.  In a view first proposed by atheist Richard Dawkins, memes, like genes, are propagated by evolution and obey the law of natural selection: survival of the fittest.Charity begins in the lab:  Earlier in October, six neuroscientists from Brazil, Italy and Maryland writing in PNAS, decided that the “Human fronto-mesolimbic networks guide decisions about charitable donations.”  They began, “Humans often sacrifice material benefits to endorse or to oppose societal causes based on moral beliefs.  Charitable donation behavior, which has been the target of recent experimental economics studies, is an outstanding contemporary manifestation of this ability.”  And how does this ability come about, seeing as this distinctively human trait is not observed in animals?  “We show that the mesolimbic reward system is engaged by donations in the same way as when monetary rewards are obtained,” they explained.    But their statements were not about mere observations of brain waves as effects of true charitable decisions: the machinery was the decisions.  “Furthermore, medial orbitofrontal-subgenual and lateral orbitofrontal areas, which also play key roles in more primitive mechanisms of social attachment and aversion, specifically mediate decisions to donate or to oppose societal causes,” they claimed.  Are we, therefore, determined by material neuronal connections?  “Remarkably, more anterior sectors of the prefrontal cortex are distinctively recruited when altruistic choices prevail over selfish material interests.”  Charity is thus the output, not the input.  But, then, is it really charity?Monkey say, Darwin do:  Since theology and philosophy are expressed in human language, where did language come from?  From biology, obviously, think Ghazanfar and Miller in Current Biology.  In a Dispatch entitled, “Language Evolution: Loquacious Monkey Brains?” they sought “rigorous comparative investigations of the neural evolution of speech and language.”  One problem: “Determining the substrates required for the evolution of human speech and language is a difficult task as most traits thought to give rise to the unique aspects of human communication – the vocal production apparatus and the brain – do not fossilize.”  No problem: “Thus, we are only left with one robust method of inquiry: comparing our behavior and brain with those of other extant primates.”  The implication is clear: from monkey vocalizations to Maxwell’s equations, the evolutionary path is continuous.Atheism: preach it, journal:  Does a book on atheism, or religion at all, belong in a science journal?  Apparently Nature has no problem with that.  In the Oct. 26 issue, Lawrence M. Krauss gave a mostly favorable review to the rabidly anti-religious book by Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion.  Krauss’s only objections pertained to style, suggesting Dawkins went a little overboard with his rhetoric.  As to the substance of the book, Krauss wrote, “With authority and wit, he [Dawkins] marvellously dissects the absurdity, hypocrisy and selectivity that is inherent in so much of modern biblical morality.  Perhaps there can be no higher praise than to say that I am certain I will remember and borrow many examples from this book in my own future discussions.”  Whether such discussions will be in Krauss’s cosmology classrooms at Case Western Reserve University, he did not say.  The large illustration in the book review shows a man wearing a sandwich board stating, in large capital letters, “Renounce God and Be Saved.”  Whose magisterium just got overlapped?Have faith in biology:  The next week in Nature (Nov 2), Kruger and Konner reviewed another book on religion – ironic in an issue with a prominent cover story on “Islam and Science” with nine articles about how to get the Muslim world to open up more to scientific progress.  The book is Minds and Gods: The Cognitive Foundations of Religion by Todd Tremlin, which “bravely attempts to discover the ‘natural cognitive foundations’ of religious thought and, more specifically, seeks a ‘complete, detailed explanation of the relation of heavenly gods and earthly minds’.”  No NOMA here, either.  The reviewers point out that “Religion is hardly uncharted scientific territory,” noting that Charles Darwin, William James and Sigmund Freud each explored natural foundations for religion.  See also the 10/02/2006 and 07/12/2006 entries.Work out your own evolution, for it is Darwin who is at work in you:  In the same issue of Nature, David Quellar explored the biological roots of work, cooperation and altruism.  He summarized it, “underlying affinities for kin emerge when coercion is removed: kin selection is what turns suppressed individuals into altruists.”  This explains honeybees as well as Shakespeare’s characters in Hamlet, Quellar is convinced.  The transition is seamless.  After discussing bee behavior, he said, “Many social conflicts create winners and losers.  But only kinship allows evolution to make creative use of the social losers, turning them into reproductive police, exquisite communicators and heroic defenders.”  What heroes does he have in mind?  “When Hamlet suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, he debated putting an end to himself.”  No different at all: “The stinging honeybee worker commits suicide when her sting is torn out, but this saves her kin.”  Makes perfect sense; Hamlet was acting out the behaviors programmed into humanity by evolution.  Question is, who is the person acting, Hamlet or evolution?Think on these neurons:  Jumping over to the other mainstream journal Science, on Oct 13 Elizabeth Pennisi connected the dots between the synapses in a slug and the cognitive complexity of a human mind – all via evolution.  “Over evolutionary time, the protein portfolio of the receiving side of the synapse has become more sophisticated–could that be why brains got bigger and smarter?”  If the answer is yes, though, how would she know it?  On what epistemological basis could she make the claim?  That question was not on the agenda of the scientific magisterium, apparently.Vote for determinism:  Moving along to the Oct. 20 issue of Science, we find Michael Goldman giving a mixed review to Lee M. Silver’s new book, The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the New Frontiers of Life.  While finding Silver’s bravado and radical futurism distasteful, he nevertheless agreed with the premise of this staunchly anti-religious book:Many scientists are afraid to ask what differentiates humans from all other animal species.  The Christian view is still heavily influenced by the idea that the human spirit remains beyond scientific inquiry.  In Silver’s view, the major emphasis of human genome analyses in the Western world has been to enhance health, but some investigators … have been asking how we differ genetically from chimpanzees.  Silver thinks that one day the difference will boil down to a few dozen genes, a kind of “soul code.”Why, someday we may even “transfer those very genes into a nonhuman primate… to imbue a chimp with a human soul.”  In the final analysis, Goldman gave the hi-ho to Silver: the book “provides a good injection of the rationalist view into one of the most important debates of our time,” he ended, thinking of public attitudes toward ethically controversial biomedical research.  “And Silver does so in a way that should be equally accessible and enjoyable to the general reader and the professional scientist, ethicist, or theologian.”  Presumably, the theologian is only allowed on the receiving end of this “scientific” idea.  See also the 07/07/2006 entry.Download your upgrade:  Speaking of futurism, the BBC News had an article about the ideas of Ray Kurzweil and other visionaries who see robots and humans battling it out in the last days.  If we are biological machines, and robots are artificial machines, then there is no deux ex machina.  Taking evolution into our own hands, we machines can make machines that will also evolve.  The next upgrade might be Humans 2.0, computer-enhanced people.  (This is not to be seen as intelligent design, but as a new stage of evolution.)    The downside is that our robot creations might one day supersede us, and view us as pests, like we view mosquitos.  They could decide to wipe us out.  After all, evolutionary theory expects they will eventually “evolve their own intelligence,” and will become so powerful, they will appear “almost God-like” – almost, of course, but not quite (since gods do not exist).  But whatever they do to us, practicing genocide or altruism, it will only be a manifestation of the central evolutionary law of nature: survival of the fittest.Dig these moral roots:  Bloom and Jarudi, writing in Nature Oct 26, decided that morality is the “product of an innate mental faculty – rather like language.”  They got this from reading a new book by Marc Hauser whose title tells all, Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong.  An illustration for the book review shows a signpost with arrows toward right, wrong, duty, corrupt, forbidden and good with roots in the soil of natural biology.    The New York Times reviewed the book, calling this “An Evolutionary Theory of Right and Wrong.”  Nicholas Wade gave it a good review with only minor reservations.  He was not quite sure Hauser’s proposal of “innate moral grammar” à la Chomsky is plausible, but he seemed apparently satisfied that the place to look for an explanation of morality is not in church or the philosophy department, but in evolutionary biology.Anika Smith on Evolution News used this last article as Exhibit A of the charge that NOMA has been officially discarded, at least by the New York Times: “it seems that more and more Darwinists are rejecting the NOMA facts-values dichotomy for reasons as old as Darwin’s theory.”    One final example.  The cover story of Sky and Telescope for December is: “Where did our universe come from?”  Any theologian hoping for a chance at the microphone will wait in vain.  From ultimate origins to ultimate destinies, only materialists and evolutionists need apply.  Author Anthony Aguirre said at one point, “The idea of creating an entire universe out of nothing sounds absurd….” but then proceeded to explain how from certain “surprising truths” in quantum physics, that is exactly what happened.1Rather than detail each paper’s source, we are providing links to the abstracts to save space.OK, pastors and teachers, now do you see why this issue is important?  The Darwin Party has aggrandized itself, and arrogated to itself the right to decide what constitutes knowledge on every subject, from alpha to omega.  All of reality must be expressed on its terms.  You have no voice, no objection, no dissent, no credibility, and no platform – nothing but the disappearing grin of the Cheshire cat.    Even if you try to reason with these people, to point out how their view refutes itself by undermining its own epistemology, you will be shouted down (10/27/2006, 04/21/2006, 03/14/2006).  They will claim you are talking “religion” (meaning, mythology) while they are talking “science” (meaning, Truth).  Unless you talk in Darwinistic terms, you are disqualified from making any claims to knowledge.  Out of their altruistic hearts, they will grant you the freedom to believe myths, if you must (in your own prison cells, called churches), but you must not have access to public education or government policy.    It’s time to recall a short fable we told awhile back that puts this situation in perspective.  The epistemological war was lost in the 19th century, when theologians, even the great Spurgeon, capitulated to what the Darwin Party was saying, and decided it didn’t matter what they claimed about biology and prehistory, because the church’s only concern was to save souls.  Here’s the fable that illustrates what discerning thinkers should have known was coming.ACT I.Two boys, Joe and Moe, were fighting over who controlled the game, so Joe finally proposed,“Tell you what, Moe.  Give me the guns, and you can have all the toys.”“Wow, you mean it?  I get all the toys?  Zoweeeee!” Moe exclaimed at this incredible deal.  “You can have your guns.  I get all the toys, I get all the toys,” he sang out like a lottery winner.ACT II.Moe felt a gun to his head.  The winning strategist demanded, “Hand over the toys.”    So we offer the theologians and philosophers Act III, with the forgotten secret that comes out in the nick of time and puts them on the winning side of the denouement.  If you have been reading Creation-Evolution Headlines for long, we have been showing you, over and over, that the Darwinists only have fake guns loaded with blanks (09/07/2006, 08/30/2006).  Their philosophy of science is so shallow, it has about as much firepower as bubble gum.  Stop cowering, then.  Stand up to them and let them fire all they want.  Let them cry, “bang, bang, you’re dead!” till they are blue in the face.  And they will be blue in the face, because their view is self-refuting; if morality and intelligence are products of evolution, and if our ideas and values are determined by our genes and memes, then the Darwinists have no way of knowing anything – even that evolution is true!  Push on their weapons, and they will backfire and blow smoke in their faces, making them run off like scalded dogs.    One other thing.  Let’s stop playing with toys.  There are more important things to do with our minds than deal in religious platitudes, when the intellectual war of the words is at fever pitch.  The battle calls for real men with chests and souls, who can stand up to bullies and exercise intellectual and moral leadership.  NOMA has been a bad deal.  We see now that is was a ruse for the usurpers (09/252006).  It’s time to liberate the masses of people enslaved to a deadly world view (08/31/2006, 08/23/2006) since Darwin stole epistemology from its rightful owners (02/18/2006).  Hopefully we have learned a painful lesson; secure the intellectual guns first, and the joys will come with the territory.(Visited 32 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

South Africa’s macro-economic environment is resilient and we are open for business

Posted On Dec 18 2019 by

first_img• Our prudent fiscal management and monetary policies have created macroeconomic stability.• According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2015/16, South Africa improved by four places to stand at 85 out of 140 countries in terms of its macro-economic environment.• South Africa is a competitive business and investment destination.• The country recently climbed seven places to take a spot in the top 50 out of 140 countries in WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index.  South Africa stands at number 49.• South Africa is also ranked fourth out of 54 African countries in the Ibrahim Index on African Governance.• Changing global economic conditions will necessitate the strengthening of our policy framework to ensure we can respond effectively.• South Africa is cognisant of the impact of the falling commodity prices, on our economy.   The weakness in commodity prices is a concern for major commodity exporters such as South Africa. The fall in commodity prices is unlikely to reverse and will have a sustained impact on emerging market economies.  This will serve as an impetus to prioritise the further diversification of our economy away from an over-reliance on commodities.• The depreciation of the rand occurs within a broader international context which is currently characterised by a fair amount of turbulence• The implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) remains the cornerstone of our economy.• The NDP is supported by the Nine-Point plan for economic renewal.• In supporting the NDP government is acting to alleviate the most binding constraints to growth and has set out a series of urgent economic reforms to build a more competitive economy. These include:1. Continued investment in economic infrastructure2. Reforming the governance of the State Owned Companies, rationalising state holding and encouraging private-sector participation3. Expanding the independent power producer programme4. Encouraging affordable, reliable and accessible broadband access5. Promoting black ownership of productive industrial assets6. Finalising amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (2002), and continuing dialogue with the industry; and7. Reviewing business incentive programmes in all economic sectors to ensure that resources support labour-intensive, job creating outcomes.Operation Phakisa is a national response to unlocking constraints to economic growth and development.last_img read more

Exams made easy

Posted On Nov 28 2019 by

first_imgIf you could subtract examinations from student life, those years would add up to magic. Unfortunately, studies and evaluations go hand in hand and often lead to undue stress in your child. Fix it fast!Stress is a vicious cycle: Once you start worrying, it can block the mind and make you forget faster than you learn. It manifests itself in inexplicable stomach pains, menstrual cramps, headaches, nausea, diarrhoea. It could express itself with sweating, irritability, insomnia, asthma and blackouts. “High levels of stress lead to the secretion of the stress hormone cortisol which weakens your immune system,” explains Dr PV Vaidyanathan, Mumbai-based paediatrician and author of two parenting books, Make Your Child Stress-Free and Managing the Unmanageable Child.However, experts say some amount of stress is necessary for a student taking exams. This is called eustress or good stress which boosts performance. If your child is absolutely cool about the exams, her performance may not be up to the mark. So balance it out.To help your child retain everything, perform well and keep upbeat in the run up to the exams and during those days you need to start ahead. Make sure her immunity is built with good food, exercises, enough rest and sleep and a happy environment.Serve her the right food: She will not only be stronger and more energetic, but her memory will also be strengthened with the right foods. “Turn her plate into a colourful palette with a rainbow of fruits and veggies that includes a variety of colours-red, green, yellow and orange. Strawberries, tomatoes and carrots are all great immunity boosters,” says Mumbai-based nutritionist Naini Setalvad.”Serve up food rich in memory-boosting Omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds, etc,” she says. Grapes, cherries, apples, spinach, broccoli and beet root are also great for memory. “Vitamin B-complex is excellent for better memory too. So reach out for oats, bananas and avocados,” adds Setalvad. Make sure she drinks enough water. Dehydration can play havoc with memory.Allow her enough rest: Sleep rests the brain, sharpens concentration, boosts memory and retrieval of facts. So make sure that your child follows a healthy sleep pattern. “While eight to nine hours should do, some children may need 10 to 12 hours’ sleep a day,” says Vaidyanathan.Leave her with free time: Stress and physical inactivity are directly linked. “Dance or a sport like cycling, skipping, swimming or a short sprint will not only give him a rush of happy hormones but also improve his concentration,” says Dr Gaurav Sharma, sports medicine specialist, Holy Angel Hospital, New Delhi. Make sure that he gets enough free time and breaks. Sometimes indulging in a comparatively sedentary hobby like music can also lift his spirits.Fight the fear factors: Identifying the exam fear factors that are stressing out your child and addressing them immediately are essential to steer through these days. We have identified some for you along with expert solutions. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you think you can’t cope alone.I have sudden panic stations: Where it comes from: Inadequate preparation, poor time management, frequent comparison with others.How to handle it: Comfort your child and try to cheer him up by chatting about lighter matters. Help her strategise well and seek tips from teachers. “Let her not waste time by discussing with friends or class mates over the telephone,” says Jeromey Jaypaul, guidance counsellor, Bishop Cotton Boys School, Bengaluru. Friends can mislead and want to distract and unnerve you. “Ask your child to avoid people who make him feel low,” says Dr Jayanti Dutta, consultant clinical psychologist and associate professor, Clinical Psychology, Lady Irwin College, New Delhi.I won’t retain a thing! where it comes from: Poor sleep, bad eating habits, stress-induced panic.How to handle it: Says Dr Jitendra Nagpal, senior consultant psychiatrist, Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences, New Delhi, “Whenever memory blanks out, one should sit back, relax for a while, put one’s head down and concentrate. It may take few minutes to recollect the information but it is possible to get hold of it.” The trick is to be calm and concentrate. Study hours should be punctuated with short breaks to retain and remember! To build memory for your kid, keep quizzing her with brain games and puzzles through the year.There is an awful lot to cover,where it comes from: Disorganised, last-ditch study, lack of concentration.How to handle it: Studying can be like eating a meal. Suggest that your child breaks it into different courses and goes systematically with bite-sized portions. Encourage studying in short bursts of 40 to 60 minutes. Improve her concentration by de-cluttering the room she studies in. “It doesn’t matter if you haven’t covered all the topics. Select a few but be thorough. Think positive,” suggests Dutta.My parents will be embarrassed. Where it comes from: Unduly high expectations from parents or lack of communication, or both.How to handle it: Keep the talk lines open. “Tone down your expectations from your child and praise her for her achievements in other areas,” says Dr Arvind Taneja, advisor and senior consultant, Paediatrics, Max Healthcare, New Delhi.advertisementadvertisementRather, help her explore other career options if academics is not her strongest point. Ensure that she doesn’t take poor academic performance as personal failure and loss of face socially. Also, don’t compare your child with other children-this exacerbates fear.last_img read more