All posts by Wintery Knight

Ezra Levant defends free speech on the Michael Coren show

In Canada, the right not to be offended trumps freedom of speech and freedom of religious expression. If you offend someone, nothing can save you from the Human Rights Commissions. All that is needed is for a victim to feel offended. The complainant doesn’t have to pay anything to lay charges, but the defendant is on the hook for all of his own legal fees. The conviction rate is virtually 100%. Even if you could somehow win, you would still lose time and money while you defend yourself. Penalties can include fines, public apologies, bans on future speech, and even jail time! These are left-wing inquisitions created by left-wing governments who believe in controlling citizens through the force of government.

Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn are the two most prominent defenders of free speech in Canada.

Here is Ezra Levant’s most recent appearance on the Michael Coren show. (There is no clip 3) In this show, Levant gets to debate against two left-wing activists, and there are fireworks going off. Do not miss this debate!

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On the Michael Coren show in 2008, Ezra Levant explains the Human Rights Commissions. No debate in this one.

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And, as a special bonus, here is Mark Steyn’s appearance on the Michael Coren show.

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Here is a summary of Ezra’s struggle against the Human Rights Commissions. He has spent more than $100,000 defending himself from charges that he offended people. Here is a summary of what happened to Mark Steyn. He authored the extremely popular book “America Alone”. Steyn was just hauled in front of the Human Rights Commission in Ontario to answer for offending people with his writings.

To see how this affects Christians in particular, consider the case of Stephen Boissoin. You will not believe the sentence that he gets after 5 years of being tried. These anti-free speech laws are not applied equally, they are almost always applied against groups that are hated by the left. When left-wingers get into power, they are not shy about using the full force of government to go after people who did not vote for them. Your human rights are irrelevant to them.

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from the Anchoress! Thanks so much for the link! New readers may want to take a look around since I cover a lot of different topics here, from free speech to economics to science to public policy!

The war between science and atheism, part two

In part one, you’ll remember that I argued that the progress of science in confirming the big bang disproved atheism, and I on went to speculate about why there are still atheists today, given this tremendous scientific discovery. This time, I want to discuss the fine-tuning of the initial constants and conditions of the big bang and see how atheists responded to these recent scientific discoveries.

In nature, the values of physical constants, (e.g. – the force of gravity), are set at the instant when the universe is created. Initially, atheists assumed that the constants could be any value, and life would still exist. But the progress of science has shown that if these constants were altered even slightly, then the resulting universe would not permit life. For example, physicist Brandon Carter has shown that if the force of gravity were stronger or weaker by 1 part in 10 to the 40th power, life-sustaining stars could not exist. While each possible value of the force of gravity is equally unlikely, the vast majority of these possibilities prohibit complex life of any kind. That means that any one value picked at random is as likely as any of the others, but it is overwhelmingly likely that the one picked will not permit life.

And how do atheists respond to the evidence of a universe that is finely-tuned for life? Well, there are two responses I’ve seen. The first is to speculate that there are actually an infinite number of other universes that are not fine-tuned, (i.e. – the gambler’s fallacy). All these other universes don’t support life. But, lucky us, we just happen to be in the one universe that popped into being out of nothing, and is fine-tuned to an incredible degree for life. What’s that you say? “Wintery! How can we be sure that these other universes even exist?” Why, you just have to have faith, because there is no way of directly observing these other universes. So, to be an intellectually-fulfilled atheist, you have to believe in billions and billions of demons unobservable universes.

Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multiverse. Most of those universes are barren, but some, like ours, have conditions suitable for life.

The idea is controversial. Critics say it doesn’t even qualify as a scientific theory because the existence of other universes cannot be proved or disproved. Advocates argue that, like it or not, the multiverse may well be the only viable non­religious explanation for what is often called the “fine-tuning problem”—the baffling observation that the laws of the universe seem custom-tailored to favor the emergence of life.

The second response by atheists is that the human observers that exist today, 14 billion years after the universe was created out of nothing, actually caused the fine-tuning. Now you say to me, “Wintery! How can fairies humans fine-tune constants that were set before humans even existed!” Well, it’s true that causality in science has never been known to go backwards in time. But hey, atheists already believe that the entire physical universe popped into being out of nothing. What’s one more anti-science delusion to someone already against the law of conservation of mass and matter? I mean, if you’re already against the progress of science, why not double down?

…maybe we should approach cosmic fine-tuning not as a problem but as a clue. Perhaps it is evidence that we somehow endow the universe with certain features by the mere act of observation… observers are creating the universe and its entire history right now. If we in some sense create the universe, it is not surprising that the universe is well suited to us.

So what makes people become atheists? It isn’t arguments or evidence, because the progress of science repudiates atheism-of-the-gaps. Atheism is really just a long-running tempter tantrum. Atheism is caused when a child’s selfish autonomy runs into moral obligations, or when a child feels alienated because they are raised in a minority religion. The extreme reactions to these typical childhood experiences is triggered by the atheism-module of the brain. Scientists now believe that the atheism-module causes atheists to want to start wars, such as the wars of atheistic communism, which killed over 100 million people, and still enslaves millions in North Korea, Cuba, Zimbabwe, etc.

A podcast with scientist Scott Chambers, an active researcher on the fine-tuning is here. Here are two posts (first, second) discussing Newsweek’s evasions of the fine-tuning, (related podcast here). Five podcasts with atheist scholar Bradley Monton on cosmic fine-tuning are here. Physicist Robin Collins argues here that even if you take the blind leap-of-faith into multiverse-land, you still need a fine-tuning intelligence. Further discussions of the unobservable multiverse delusion are here and here. Further discussions of the non-existent observer delusion are here and here. For a serious, non-snarky, non-satirical look at the psychology of atheism, by a former atheist Professor of Psychology at New York University, look here, (related podcast).

UPDATE 1: Welcome, visitors from The Anchoress. Please take a look around while you are here. And thanks for the link, Anchoress!

UPDATE 2: Welcome, visitors from Colliding Universes. Thanks for the link, Denyse! Denyse’s other excellent blogs are Post-Darwinist and Mindful Hack.

How the left censors free speech in Canada

Denyse O’Leary, a Canadian journalist, gives a helpful round-up of the latest news in the war against free speech in Canada. Did you know that it’s dangerous to disagree with certain special interest groups in Canada? If you say something that they find offensive, it can land you in front of a kangaroo court. It’s sort of like the secular equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition, because you are almost certain to be found guilty. You can be forced to apologize or pay fines, or pay off your accuser. If you don’t know what’s happening with the Canadian Human Rights Commissions, Denyse’s post is a good place to start.

UPDATE: WOW, Denyse has the full transcript of Mark Steyn’s speech during his Human Rights Commission trial. She even transcribes Steyn’s answers to the questions afterwards. You do not want to miss this post!

UPDATE 2: Things are even worse that I thought. It turns out that you can’t even disagree with pro-abortion activists at taxpayer-funded campuses in Canada any more. If a campus organization books a speaker, the other side can just show up and shut it down by screaming and shouting like banshees every time the speaker tries to get a word in. Here is a video of what happened on the campus. Here is an article from the The Chronicle Herald describing the incident. A radio interview with the pro-life speaker on Calgary’s CHQR 770 radio station is here.

UPDATE 3:  The Calgary Herald takes a stand against the Human Rights Commissions here. The Chronicle Herald defends the free speech of pro-lifers here. And this article from the Calgary Herald is the best one of all, it includes a link to the video of the pro-life speaker, Jose Ruba, being shouted down while he tries in vain to politely reason with the enraged protesters.

UPDATE 4: A Toronto Sun article on Mark Steyn’s vicious denunciation of the Human Rights Commissions and their war against freedom of speech.

UPDATE 5: National Post is reporting that the University of Calgary is going to ban the pro-life club.

A Christian and a postmodernist discuss religious pluralism

I listened to this week’s episode of the the radio show “Unbelievable”, which is broadcast in the UK by Premier Christian radio. Justin Brierly, the host, moderated a dialog between author Joan Konner and Christian philosopher Peter S. Williams. Konner is the dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, and is the author of “The Atheist’s Bible”. I enjoyed listening to Konner speak, and I admire her for coming on the show. I learned from this podcast that I need to work harder at being more tactful, and gentle with postmodernists. Brierly and Williams do a great job, and I hope that when you listen to the podcast, that you will learn something about how to handle similar challengers.

I thought that I would make a list of some of the points that postmodernists make, because I guarantee that you will have heard some these things before. Many people in our society are guided primarily by emotions, and intuition. For them, there is a tremendous insecurity about what they believe, and the differing beliefs of others makes them uncomfortable. They are upset by absolute claims of fact or morality, because they consider these claims to be exclusive, and judgmental. What upsets them the most is that other people seem to be certain about what they believe, and that these people vote for public policies on the basis of these beliefs. What we’ll see is that postmodernists do exactly what they condemn, namely, they exclude, they judge, and they support public policies that they agree with. These are general points, not specific to Konner.

First, postmodernists have view of faith that is a caricature of authentic Christian faith. Postmodernists think that faith is opposed to reason, and evidence. They believe this because they require that all religions are “equally valid”. It is not that postmodernists have evaluated the truth claims of different religions. It is they have decided in advance that thinking you’re right is mean, and makes people feel bad, and causes wars. Therefore, no faith can be right – all faith is irrational and unsupported. The fact that their own view is absolutist, and exclusive, goes unnoticed.

Second, postmodernists reject reason, science, and any other reality-based support for claims, because supported claims constrain their own subjective will. Postmodernists think that believer’s appeals to reason, and evidence, are coercive. This is because they desire complete autonomy to imagine the world based on their own emotions, and intuition. This is especially true for morality. Postmodernists believe that no one has a right to judge the moral practices of others. But, if you disagree with them on their non-judgmentalism, then you are morally wrong. Again, this is self-contradictory, but it goes unnoticed.

Third, postmodernists reinterpret the truth claims made by all religions as myths, (a la Joseph Campbell). That means that every factual claim made by every religion, past, present, future is factually false. No rational analysis or investigation is necessary. For example, if a religion claimed that universe began to exist, that would be a myth, according to postmodernists. Scientific confirmation from the big bang is irrelevant. No religion can enjoy support from reason or evidence, a priori. Emotional concerns about how exclusive truth claims make people in other religions feel bad is the deciding factor. Again, the claim that no one can make truth claims is self-refuting, because they believe that their claim is true.  They don’t notice the contradiction.

Fourth, for postmodernists, the purpose of religion cannot be to hold true beliefs about the external world. The purpose of religions must be to make people behave well, because then they are all equivalent, and no religion is excluded. It is irrelevant to a postmodern that Christians claim that their religion hinges on a historical event, (the resurrection), which either happened or didn’t. Postmodernists simply presume to tell religious people what their religion really says, and what it really means. Also, postmodernists believe that since all people can invent moral rules and goals for their lives out of thin air, that there is no need for God to ground them. What this means is that according to postmodernists, Stalin’s morality is as valid as William Wilberforce’s morality. Both have the exact same validity, namely, that they are “true” for the subject.

The postmodernism and moral relativism I discussed above also informs progressive thought, which is why progressives seem to always take the side of evil against the side of good. An amazing lecture given by Jewish comedian Evan Sayet at the Heritage Foundation is probably the best treatment of that point that you will ever see.

For further reading, check out this paper on Christian exclusivism, and this paper on the fate of the unevangelized. Both of them are by William Lane Craig. And remember, it is OK to think you are right, and to disagree with others. But God does not coerce, and neither should you. Share your beliefs, and your reasons, if someone asks you to share with them. The important thing is to appeal to reason and evidence, and to be civil and charitable. Disagree with the person’s ideas, but treat the person with respect.

Government-run health care is bad for patients and liberty

Proponents of government-run health care, (i.e. – socialists), want to redistribute wealth from producers to victims. Producers create wealth and victims engage in risky and/or immoral activities that are likely to require medical treatment. (I am concentrating on medical treatment for culpable activities here). Wealth redistribution reduces economic growth because producers stop producing while victims incur more costs, since they do not pay much for their treatment. Eventually, reduced economic growth leads to poor health care, as seen in socialist countries like North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, etc.

Socialists do not trust people to make their own health care decisions, and to deal with the consequences, (i.e. – liberty). In a socialized system, a producer might have his wealth redistributed to victims for services he would never need himself, because of his lifestyle decisions. He might even have his wealth redistributed to victims for services that he objects to on moral grounds, like abortions or sex-changes. He may pay into a mandatory government program for his entire life, without ever making a claim. If at the end of his life, he finally makes a claim, he may be told that he must get in line behind the government’s favored victims – victims who may not have even paid into the system. To see how this actually happens in Canada, watch these excellent 5-minute films from On the Fence Films: Two Women, A Short Course in Brain Surgery, The Lemon, and Dead Meat. Also see this Fraser Institute article.

Imagine how socialism would work if applied to a different business, like auto insurance. Everyone would have to carry mandatory auto insurance, whether they owned a vehicle or not. People would pay into the system based on earned income, not based on personal choices, desired coverages or risks. Different vehicles, driving infractions, vehicle usage, and other risk factors like age would be irrelevant to the price charged. Socialized auto insurance would just be a huge transfer of wealth from non-drivers and safe drivers to risky drivers. The socialist system of redistributing wealth to equalize health care outcomes, destroys productivity and personal responsibility. For further details, see this Heritage Foundation lecture transcript.

Socialized medicine involves price-fixing. The government is the single-payer, and set the prices that doctors can charge for services. Since doctors cannot make a fair profit practicing medicine, compared to other fields, we get fewer doctors. But since health care is “free” to victims, we get more risky and/or immoral behavior, and increased demand for medical care. Fewer doctors, and more victims results in a shortage of medical care, and waiting lists. Medical costs also increase because doctors often practice “defensive medicine” to avoid exposure to lawsuits from lawyers, worsening the shortage, (Investors Business Daily editorial, podcast). Another factor that increases medical costs is mandatory licensing, which forces hospitals to pay more for labor and supplies, (Cato Institute podcast). For further details, see this Cato Institute research paper.

Even if the socialist claims that he wants to set up a parallel system to compete alongside the private medical insurers, the government can easily engage in predatory pricing in order to drive out private businesses from the market. The government is far more able to price medical services lower than private alternatives, and run deficits, until their private rivals go out of business. The government does not have stock that private companies could short in order to prevent this predatory pricing. Monopolies are never good for the consumer, because consumers can’t shop around for the best deal. In a government system, you are forced to pay for services you don’t need. The government is already woefully mismanaging Medicare, and Medicaid, (Investors Business Daily editorial, podcast), do we really really want to give them the whole system to manage?

People need to be responsible for their lifestyle choices, and their medical bills. The free market approach preserves liberty, and economic growth. Medical providers have an incentive to lower costs and improve quality. Consumers keep their liberty by taking responsibility for managing their own risks and costs, (see Investors Business Daily editorial, podcast).

It is important to note that upholding traditional morality and traditional relationships, like marriage, helps to reduce medical costs. Government should therefore avoid assaulting religious beliefs, and moral values. An additional problem with socialized medicine is that Christian medical practitioners often have their religious liberty infringed by the government, (see examples here, and here).

These Cato Institute podcasts describe Obama’s medical policy proposal, (first, second). For more on Obama’s plan, see this Heritage Foundation research paper. For more about socialized health care in other countries, see this Cato Institute research paper. A recent debate on this topic, hosted by the left-wing National Public Radio is here. If you prefer books, there is David Gratzer’s book, Sally C. Pipes’ book, Arnold Kling’s book, and Michael F. Cannon and Michael D. Tanner’s book.