Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Papal pornography

I feel compelled to write this post because I could not stand to see its 'watch this space' linger aimlessly any longer. But brief, as I have just written one post and want to avoid indulging my opinions too much. (Comments to selves.)

Back when John Paul II died, we were treated to fetishistic, orgiastic coverage of the ensuing mêlée. "Look at the body!" "Doesn't he look peaceful?" "Doesn't he look holy?" 24/24h, 7/7j as the French unelliptically say. Frankly, a little voyeuristic. Prurient, even. People having faux-religious orgasms over the blow-by-blow news reports, from Parkinson's to death rattle to burial.

We gazed upon the news until we were sated. It's the same with much else, I cannot deny. But the prevalence of voyeurism elsewhere does not lessen the distaste I have for its manifestation here. I think some people enjoyed it all a little too much.



The triumph of intelligent design?

First post for some time - I've been lax. It's not that I haven't been inspired to write, but just that coincidence of inspiration and presence at iBook has only occurred. Plenty of opinions, still.

Frankly, I'm at a loss with intelligent design. I cannot even believe we are discussing it. I know that this can be portrayed as liberal stifling of debate, but it's not really, since there's not a debate being held. There are accusations and triumphant assertions of divinity against science, but no reasoned scientific argument, thus no actual debate. For an ever-intelligent view, consult http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/28/opinion/28dennett.html.

Meanwhile, I think I can demonstrate where intelligent design is present, why it isn't really so intelligent, and why evolution should be accepted as a better process. In one field, at any rate.

Reading the above NY Times article, I realised that intelligent design suggests the implementation of a perfect plan, so good it cannot be bettered. Against this is the haphazard process of evolution, which we believe has brought us where we are - it's not perfection, but Darwinian natural selection ensures it's getting better every generation.

It occurred to me that there is one aspect of American life which is clearly the result of intelligent design: its political system and underlying Constitution. The signatories of the Constitution thought they had developed the perfect political system, with fairness and power, checks and balances, a ready parliamentary procedure (cribbed from the British Parliament, I've read). To a large extent, the basic substructure of American politics has remained the same since, and proudly so. No Rump Parliament or secession to the Aventine here - just a complete system, imposed from above, perfect and final. An intelligent design, with intelligent designers.

Except this is not entirely the truth. As we have seen, the American political system has evolved over the two centuries since its inception, first with the Bill of Rights and its ten amendments and latterly with every amendment and Constitutional reinterpretation the members of the legislative, executive and judiciary have promulgated.

Even where the most intelligent design, the most thought-out and balanced model, was adopted, the political system being a sophisticated amalgamation of current and previous political systems from across the world, it still needed amending. It is valid to say that the contents of the Bill of Rights were deliberately omitted from the Constitution to show that it was an evolving document which could be improved by intelligent trial and error. However, this admits of evolution. Especially if the Bill of Rights' contents were not purposely left out is evolution shown as the more refined and refining process. The intelligent design needed improvement.

This obviously has no scientific bearing on the intelligent design 'controversy' ('show', better), but I think it does suggest that even when an intelligent design is selected, evolution is the only path to survival.

Until the next time.