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Chopra on Evolution and War
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Modern guru Deepak Chopra recently went on Larry King and entered the Intelligent Design fray. He posted a more in-depth response on his blog, which basically consists of a series of questions that bewilder and befuddle him, like this one:

2. If mutations are random, why does the fossil record demonstrate so many positive mutations--those that lead to new species--and so few negative ones? Random chance should produce useless mutations thousands of times more often than positive ones.

It does. Harmful or neutral mutations are vastly more frequent than helpful ones. You've probably got something like 100-200 mutations specific to your chromosome alone. When a given mutation or collection of mutations has a large enough impact on the phenotype, normally that impact will occur very early on, in the development of the fertilized egg. The point is, the result of very harmful mutations is typically spontaneous abortion. Most organisms that are grossly maladaptive simply don't mature to the point where they leave fossilizable material like bones.

Of course, the point here isn't really to answer Chopra's question. He's not interested in answering them himself (if he were, he'd open a friggin textbook). Some of his questions are answered very well. Others are open scientific questions. Others are just silly. The entry taken as a whole display an interesting mindset, not the Bible-thumping Creationist adherence to authority over common sense, but the squishy, New-Agey, spiritual counterpart, that still basically condemns as wrong a body of scientific work it simply doesn't understand because it hasn't put an ounce of effort into doing so. Instead, it wonders at the marvel of it all and ascribes the gaps to some sort of quasi-spiritual force.


And here he is on war.

The U.S. has been on a war footing since Dec. 7, 1941, mounting one of the world's largest peacetime armies and currently spending more on the military than the next 14 countries combined. If one heeds Yeats' prophetic warning that "the worst are full of passionate intensity," what about the other half of the line: "The best lack all convictions"?

Um, okay.

Anyway, he wrote a whole book recently about war and our "addiction" to it. He often talks about how we need to just quit framing things in adversarial terms, and then presumably we'd all just have a big group hug and then sit on the porch and sip our chocolate milk.

Well, that's all nice and dandy, and I could stomach listening to the wholly reasonable argument that some of our wars since WWII (including Iraq) were optional, and were fought for the wrong reasons.

But Chopra's just spouting the simple-minded platitude that war is never the answer, that violence is always wrong.

Presumably there aren't any people who still read this blog who think that the military invasion of Afghanistan was a mistake (if there are, speak up). Bush gave the Taliban an ultimatum. They refused. So we dropped bombs and sent in soldiers. Was there a better way? Would negotiation or (gasp!) sanctions have brought about the desired ends?

A military force is a blunt instrument (though ours is getting much less blunt and more precise as time goes on). It should be a last resort. But it does have its place. I certainly hope Chopra doesn't speak for any self-respecting demographic.

Most of us should at least be able to agree that sometimes the use of force is unavoidable and necessary, as it was in Afghanistan.

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