November 18, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

SETI: Search for Educational Targets Inc.

SETI may be the laughingstock of Congress, refused funding since William Proxmire gave it his Golden Fleece Award in the 1980s, but privately it is moving apace.  The Science Channel gave it prominence in its weekly report Friday, visiting with pioneering signaler and listener Frank Drake.  It surveyed everything from the first humble attempts to listen and broadcast, to the upcoming hardware and software that will increase the search capability exponentially.
    For SETI Thursday on Space.com, Pamela Harman, SETI Education and Outreach Manager for the SETI Institute, detailed the many ways her organization is teaching the young about SETI and all its ancillary subjects.  In particular, the SETI Institute and its like-minded organizations are teaching teachers how to provide the foundation for SETI thinking, with courses like Understanding and Teaching Evolution, Extreme Life Forms on Earth and Elsewhere, Becoming Human: Hominid Evolution from Voyages Through Time, and Origins: The Questions in Life Science.  “Our astrobiology expertise is of great interest,” she said, “as the perpetual student lament ‘Why does this matter?’ can be answered.”  Her answer recalls Carl Sagan’s famous phrase.  “The response in all disciplines from astronomy and physics, to chemistry and biology is ‘We are star stuff!’”

Speak for yourself, babe.  This oft-repeated line suggests a modification of the old distinction between stuff and junk.  Junk is the stuff natural selection throws away, and stuff is the junk natural selection keeps.
    Aside from the fact that it is hard to envision any teenager getting excited over being told he or she is star stuff – unless they think their talent has finally been recognized – the reductionist, naturalistic philosophy inherent in this epigram betrays profound ignorance of western philosophy going back millennia.  Only recently have materialists gained ascendency in intellectual circles, and atheistic materialism permeates SETI through and through.  Their forefathers are Democritus, Lucretius and Epicurus, with few takers till John Locke and David Hume built their systems on sense experience alone.  Others dabbling with atheistic materialism were shunned or outmaneuvered with trenchant rational arguments by philosophers as varied as Thomas Aquinas, Rene Descartes, Thomas Reid, and Immanuel Kant.  Even most Enlightenment deists did not deny a rational design principle in the universe.  The early Newtonians and proponents of the mechanical philosophy were nearly all Christians to various degrees.  They never would have suggested that “star stuff” gave rise to the rational human soul.
    Without even considering the long history of theological arguments for natural theology, great philosophers have long debunked atheism with finesse.  Thomas Reid and Kant, for example, undermined the empiricist viewpoints of the materialists from first principles.  They argued forcefully that such views are reductionist and self-refuting.  To even speak about observation and empiricism presupposes a rational power that is not reducible to sense experience.  In addition, nothing inherent in the physical mechanisms of the body can account for the operation the mind or grant its rational arguments legitimacy.  The same arguments can be wielded just as effectively today against the modern materialists.  Unfortunately, they rarely get a hearing.  Atheists routinely run amok in the science journals with tall tales about game theory producing human morals, DNA developing into souls, and collections of neurons generating the mind.  The peer review process fails to call them on the carpet for illogic or carelessness, and so they get away with it; why?  Because Darwin’s bulldogs succeeded long ago in gaining control of the scientific institutions and codifying their world view into the very definition of science.
    SETI is part and parcel of a conspiracy to create a culture of materialists.  If it were not so, they would engage their critics and opponents in serious debate.  Instead, just like the astrobiologists and evolutionary psychologists, they shun scrutiny and usurp authority by co-opting the banner of “science” and conflating their materialism with the otherwise worthy goals of scientific research.  To a person, they idolize Father Charlie, because he liberated them from the need for both scientific and philosophical rigor.  Without apologies to Dawkins, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually-foolfilled atheist.
    Now that the Intelligent Design Movement has mounted the first volleys against the Darwinist naturalistic empire, the materialists are resorting to subterfuge instead of honorably engaging their opponents on the intellectual battlefield.  Pamela Harman has revealed that a huge educational program for the recruitment of young minds into philosophical materialism is underway: the Search for Educational Targets to Indoctrinate.  All that is necessary for foolishness to triumph is for good philosophers to think nothing.

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Categories: Education, Origin of Life, SETI

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