I am not now, nor have I ever been, a creationist. I may have been a good Judeo-Christian once; the fossil record is unclear. I am, however, affiliated with Seattle's Discovery Institute. We are the bastion of the Intelligent Design movement, as Judith Shulevitz noted—and more grievously misunderstood than Al Gore trying to explain what he really meant when he said he invented the Internet while under fire in 'Nam.
Point First. Discovery is a conservative place with a strong religious perspective. Many of its members are ardent Christians. Some aren't. This has no impact on the scientific validity (or lack thereof) of Intelligent Design. After all, something can be true even if Al Gore says it.
Point Second. The essence of Intelligent Design is the attempt to investigate and study evidence of intelligent design in the physical and biological worlds, without positing or inquiring into the nature and intent of the designer.
Point Third. Darwinian materialism is a mid-19th-century construct that, virtually alone among scientific theories, remains immune to criticism. Indeed, the Neo-Darwinians notwithstanding, the paradigm has been almost stagnant for a century and a half. An awful lot of evidence that should have been found hasn't popped up. A lot of quibbles with the theory have. To dismiss these as "minor" is to ignore the fact that, historically, paradigms crack when enough minor quibbles add up to a big major quibble.
Point Fourth. Intelligent Design is usually presented as half of the God versus Darwin debate. More is involved. Of the three great 19th-century thinkers who gave us so much of our modern world—well, Karl Marx's risky scheme has been composted, while Sigmund Freud's been sliced, diced, chopped, and pureed. These three men had one thing in common: mono-causal reductionism, explaining the world in terms of a single Super-Cause, whether class conflict, sexuality, or blind chance. Both postmodernism and common sense have shown us how much more is involved. No limits, dude.
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Subject: The Case Against the Book Club
Re: " The Book Club: Books on Divorce"
From: Maggie Gallagher
Institute for American Values
Date: Mon Oct 9 10:47 a.m. PT
Katha Pollitt dismisses The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier and Better-Off Financially as a "clip job." Your readers should know that Katha Pollitt, a committed anti-anti-divorce warrior, has already repeatedly publicly condemned me, the Institute for American Values, and more importantly anyone else who thinks we should try to do something about high rates of family fragmentation.
The Case for Marriage synthesizes the latest and best scientific research on marriage, much of it the original work of my co-author, Linda J. Waite, a leading family sociologist. Here's the new case in a nutshell: Marriage changes men and women's lives in very important, life-enhancing ways that other sorts of relationships, such as cohabitation, cannot. Marriage is not just another lifestyle or an emotional relationship, but a powerful, productive, wealth-creating institution that (like education) builds human and social capital and (like education) therefore deserves public support. If we continue to privatize marriage, only the already highly advantaged will receive the benefits of lasting marriage.
If your readers would like to know "what's new" about The Case for Marriage, I offer these as just three examples: new scientific evidence that 1) explodes the idea that marriage benefits men at women's expense, 2) shows how marriage actually likely reduces the risk of domestic violence, at least compared to cohabitation, and 3) demonstrates for the very first time what happens to bad marriages that don't divorce, using a large nationally representative sample.
To pretend that everybody already knows these things and that there is no marriage debate in America is just silly. (Especially silly, come to think of it, a few weeks after Time magazine put "Who Needs a Husband?" on its cover.)
To charge Linda Waite and I with animus against women is also silly. Of course people are free to disagree with us and with what we recommend, as good or bad for women or other Americans. But to lapse into ad hominem attacks on our good faith is a sign that you've run out of arguments. Linda Waite is a liberal feminist, as well as one of the nation's top family scholars. I am a political conservative who has made the well-being of women (yes, and children) the centerpiece of my own heterodox writing career. As someone who was an unwed mother for ten years, I know whereof I speak from personal, as well as professional, experience, and the charge that my real goal is to hurt such women is, to me, absurd.
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Subject: Stop Whining, America
Re: " Net Election: Online Voter Registration A Click Away"
Date: Fri Oct 6 1:43 p.m. PT
Who started the myth that it is so difficult to register to vote? All you have to do is go to your city, township, or village hall, or to the nearest Secretary of State's office. It's amazing how people will stand in line for tickets to concerts, drive an hour to a college campus to watch a football game, plan elaborate vacations around the world, stop at the bar on the way home from work, etc., but then complain that it's somehow "difficult" to stop at a public office and fill out a form with name, address, and signature. What nonsense. In our lifetimes, in our country and in other nations, people have been murdered for demanding the right to vote. "Red tape"? Nonsense. Register and vote, or stop complaining.
[To reply, click here.]
As a decided voter, I, of course, decided early on that Michael Kinsley's article on undecided voters had nothing to do with me. But I read it with great interest anyway, as the subject has long been an area of some indifference to me. I can't say I'm sorry I carried on to the end of the piece, either. The undecided voter is probably the biggest problem facing any democracy. What can be done about them? What should be done? Should those of us with more highly developed decision-making facilities care about their plight? In these pluralistic times, it is fashionable to grant the undecided their space in society, but can we afford the luxury of such inclusiveness when their vacillation has an adverse [effect] on the decisions of those of us who got it right the first time? I think not. But, short of slapping them alongside the head with a folding chair, what can be done to force them into a corner and save the reportorial effort currently wasted on them? As a member of the decided class I know something should be done, but I can't decide just what.
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