Why Akathleptos? Because it means Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The term also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.
Why Patmos? Because the church is increasingly marginalized and exiled from the culture.
Why Pen-Names? So the focus is on the words and not who wrote them. We prefer to let what we say stand on its own merit. There is precedent in church history for this - i.e., the elusive identity of Ambrosiaster who wrote in the 4th century A.D.
“Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it." Blaise Pascal
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Friday, April 29, 2016
Glen Stanton offers here 5 reasons Target's new "Trans Bathroom policy" is lunacy. His conclusion says it all ...
What Target has created with their new policy and its expansive subjectivity is a pretty good description of madness. It will end up blowing up in their face.
It's quite clear that someone high in the hierarchy at Target has an axe to grind. This is not about "rights"; it's about pushing an agenda. While I have had some homosexual friends for years with whom I seek to share the love of Christ and who don't obnoxiously flaunt their lifestyle, I increasingly run into others that are clearly looking for a fight and daring someone to knock the chip off their shoulder. They seek every opportunity possible to shove their lifestyle down the throats of others. That's what this is all about at Target.
The ForeRunner Commentary has an appropriate article on the flaunting of sin that is starkly descriptive of American culture today ...
These passages all have a similar context: They were written just prior to the fall and scattering of either Israel to the north or Judah to the south. Each shows a wealthy people unblinkingly focused on their pleasure. Giving no thought to God, they are casually uninterested in the moral welfare of their nation that is crashing into utter depravity. Shame for sin has disappeared. The Interpreter's Commentary of the Bible states that the Bible shows that, in the period before these nations fell, their societies show significant breakdowns in two vital areas: in political and business leadership and in family life, with specific blame falling on women.
In these passages, the following characteristics are either directly named or strongly implied: rebellion, obstinacy, betrayal, distrust, shamelessness, and greed, comprising an audacious self-centeredness against God and fellow man. These are not the characteristics of a nation that would bring honor to God. At one time in the history of this nation, the overwhelming majority of people expressed a strong sense of shame when they sinned. Sin was an ugly thing, and due to this sense of shame, they did whatever they could to hide their moral flaws from others.
Some of that still exists. The period of the late 1950s and early 1960s, however, was probably the beginning of the end of that attitude. Sin has gradually carried less of a stigma, and the sense of shame has been slowly replaced by a growing boldness of attitude, a flaunting of sin. Much of that sense of shame has disappeared from the American psyche. Some remains in a small percentage of the population, yet increasingly, bold immorality has become the way of life so that sin is now blatantly committed. Civility is becoming a thing of the past. Rudeness and open, brazen misconduct is becoming the normal way of doing things.
This is the kind of conduct the "whore's forehead" pictures. It represents the blatant, audacious sin of the streetwalker who is out in public, openly displaying what she is, promoting herself, and tempting others to engage in sin with her. The whore's forehead represents obdurate practice of sin done overtly with no attempt to camouflage. This attitude is reminiscent of the story of righteous Lot dealing with the homosexuals in Sodom just before God dropped the fire and brimstone on the people of that vile city (Genesis 19).
This relaxed and careless public acceptability of sin did not happen overnight. It gradually became tolerated over decades. Its growth was significantly aided by a so-called Christian church that abandoned its responsibility to "cry aloud and spare not" and show God's people their sins (Isaiah 58:1). We must be very careful to guard ourselves from succumbing to the temptation of being drawn into the same casual approach. It is our responsibility to overcome sin.
The article correctly lays much of the blame at the feet of the American church who largely abandoned its' God-given responsibility to publicly declare truth regarding sin.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
"Spanish scientists use skin cells to create human sperm." Story is here.
As medical technology exponentially advances, it becomes more and more crucial that ethical boundaries be established. Case in point - transgender surgical operations, which the originator in the U.S. (John Hopkins) no longer offers and says was a mistake and that transgender feelings are a disorder (besides which it is biologically impossible to change gender as every cell in the body is encoded male or female dependent upon sex at birth.)
In 2004, H. Davies on Medical Humanities warned about the medical minefield we were entering in the article here entitled "Can Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein be read as an early research ethics text?"
The current, popular view of the novel Frankenstein is that it describes the horrors consequent upon scientific experimentation; the pursuit of science leading inevitably to tragedy. In reality the importance of the book is far from this. Although the evil and tragedy resulting from one medical experiment are its theme, a critical and fair reading finds a more balanced view that includes science’s potential to improve the human condition and reasons why such an experiment went awry. The author argues that Frankenstein is an early and balanced text on the ethics of research upon human subjects and that it provides insights that are as valid today as when the novel was written. As a narrative it provides a gripping story that merits careful analysis by those involved in medical research and its ethical review, and it is more enjoyable than many current textbooks! To support this thesis, the author will place the book in historical, scientific context, analyse it for lessons relevant to those involved in research ethics today, and then draw conclusions.
In 2011, the U.K. Academy of Medical Sciences warned (see here) that scientists are in danger of turning animals into monsters unless an ethical watchdog is appointed to prevent Frankenstein-like experiments.
Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero is now set to perform a two-part human head transplant procedure he dubs HEAVEN (“head anastomosis venture”) and Gemini (the subsequent spinal cord fusion). See here.
In 2009, Henk van den Belt wrestled here with the ethical questions in his article his entitled "Playing God in Frankenstein’s Footsteps: Synthetic Biology and the Meaning of Life." As he notes in his conclusion,
To accuse scientists of playing God may thus be just another way of alerting the wider public to the recklessness of their pursuits in the relentless quest for profit and glory. As Georgiana Kirkham writes, ‘[i]n secular formulations, such phrases [i.e. ‘playing God’ and ‘interfering in Nature’s plan’] can act as metaphors for mistaking a considerable amount of power, knowledge and foresight for omnipotence and omniscience, and as metaphors for humans letting their power and knowledge exceed their caution’ (: 176). You need not be a religious believer to recognize the dangers of hubris and the wisdom of the Proverb ‘Pride comes before disaster, and arrogance before a fall’ (Proverbs 16:18).
While some within the medical community are clearly uneasy and raising ethical questions, the failure of the church-at-large to clearly and forcefully speak out on the ethics of issues like these is a glaring contribution to the ethical fog rapidly enveloping the culture. Worse yet, some quarters of the church actively support and participate in some of these ethical nightmares. Read here about Dr. Kim Seok-Kwun, a "deeply Protestant" South Korean Doctor who performs gender reassignment surgeries to correct ‘God’s Mistakes’.
With unfathomable arrogance, the culture deems to recognize and correct God's "mistakes." Meanwhile, an impotent church largely stands idly by, witnessing the disintegration of a culture sowing the seeds of its own destruction. As Al Mohler now warns (see here), the church must speak out.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Christians that shut themselves off from extra-biblical sources of truth relegate themselves to irrelevance
John Stonestreet offers words of wisdom here on how to effectively communicate a Christian worldview to a post-modern culture in meltdown. His thesis (and one with which I agree) is that extra-biblical education is essential to effectively communicate the absolute truth of Scripture to our disintegrating culture.
The most important thing, Chuck Colson believed, was to be equipped in Christian worldview, with the ability to communicate it in what he sometimes called “prudential language.” Here’s Chuck describing what that means.
"While we have to be immersed in scripture and understand it fully, we also have to know when and how to use it in public discourse.
Let me give you an example. G. K. Chesterton, the famous British writer, was once invited to a meeting of the leading intellectuals in England. They were asked if they were shipwrecked on an island, what would be the one book they would want to have with them. Everybody expected Chesterton, a prominent Christian, to say “the Bible.”
When it came his turn to speak, however, Chesterton said that if he were shipwrecked on a desert island, he’d like to have “Thomas’s Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.”
... A man once told Oswald Chambers that he read only the Bible. Listen to what Chambers said:
“My strong advice to you is to soak, soak, soak in philosophy and psychology, until you know more of these subjects than ever you need consciously to think. It is ignorance of these subjects on the part of ministers and workers that has brought our evangelical theology to such a sorry plight...The man who reads only the Bible does not, as a rule, know it or human life.”
... This is what Paul did when he gave his famous sermon at Mars Hill, his first foray into the Greek culture. He quoted Greek poets; he referred to Greek artifacts. He thoroughly engaged their culture. And then he used their beliefs to lead directly into the gospel.
This is why we’ve got to study biblical worldview, to compare how the Bible works out in life versus how other systems of thought do. I assure you: You will see that the biblical way is the only way to make sense of the world, to live rationally in the world, and eventually, your friends will see this as well.”
I run into Christians all the time that expend no effort or time on educating themselves on practical topics (like philosophy, physics, apologetics, logic, music, math, archeology, ethics, history, etc.) They regard any extra-biblical source as heretical and have progressed little, if any, in their understanding since formal schooling. While they may be able to quote Scripture from memory, they are ill-equipped to communicate the truth of Scripture to a lost and dying world. The reluctance of many Christians to seriously engage in critical areas as ethics and philosophy has contributed to the moral meltdown now afflicting us.
(The Reformation creed of "sola scriptura" does NOT mean that Scripture is the only source of truth, but that it is the golden standard by which all other truth must be measured. The understanding that truth can certainly found outside Scripture is what drove Sir Isaac Newton to the foundational discoveries of modern science. Christians that shut themselves off from extra-biblical sources of truth relegate themselves to irrelevance.)
Chris Rees offers here a defense of the value of extra-Biblical knowledge ...
... there are vast areas of knowledge that Scripture doesn’t address and that other human beings–believer and non-believer alike–have expertise in, and from whom we can learn.
In their preface to the Christian Worldview Integration Series, J. P. Moreland and Francis Beckwith address this common but misguided attitude, and show its shortcomings from Christian history and Scripture. They begin by alluding to an address John Wesley gave to a group of clergy in 1756.
“Time and again throughout the address Wesley unpacked this remark [that clergy should possess the ability to think logically] by admonishing ministers to know what would sound truly odd and almost pagan to the average congregant of today: logic, metaphysics, natural theology, geometry and the ideas of important figures in the history of philosophy. For Wesley, study in these areas (especially philosophy and geometry) helped train the mind to think precisely, a habit of incredible value, he asserted, when it comes to thinking as a Christian about theological themes or scriptural texts. . . . As he put it elsewhere, ‘To imagine none can teach you but those who are themselves saved from sin is a very great and dangerous mistake. Give not place to it for a moment.'
“Wesley’s remarks were not unusual in his time. A century earlier the great Reformed pastor Richard Baxter was faced with lukewarmness in the church and unbelief outside the church. In 1667 he wrote a book to meet this need, and in it he used philosophy, logic and general items of knowledge outside Scripture to argue for the existence of the soul and the life to come. . . ”
“In valuing extrabiblical knowledge, our brothers and sisters in church history were merely following common sense and Scripture itself. Repeatedly, Scripture acknowledges the wisdom of cultures outside Israel; for example, Egypt (Acts 7:22; cf. Ex 7:11), the Edomites (Jer 49:7), the Phoenicians (Zech 9:2), and many others. The remarkable achievements produced by human wisdom are acknowledged in Job 28:1-11. The wisdom of Solomon is compared to the wisdom of the “people of the east” and Egypt in order to show that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed that of people with a longstanding, well-deserved reputation for wisdom (1 Kings 4:29-34). Paul approvingly quotes pagan philosophers (Acts 17:28), and Jude does the same thing with the noncanonical book The Assumption of Moses (Jude 9). The book of Proverbs is filled with examples in which knowledge, even moral and spiritual knowledge, can be gained from studying things in the natural world (ants, for example). Jesus taught that we should know we are to love our enemies, not on the basis of an Old Testament text but from careful reflection on how the sun and rain behave (Mt 5:44-45).
“In valuing extrabiblical knowledge, our brothers and sisters in church history were also living out scriptural teaching about the value of general revelation. We must never forget that God is the God of creation and general revelation just as he is the God of Scripture and special revelation.” (Quoted from Series Preface of Doing Philosophy as a Christian by Garrett J. DeWeese [IVP Academic, 2011]).
Rather than fear extrabiblical knowledge and wisdom, we should gain all that we can, and use it for God’s glory.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
(Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego. An amateur astronomer in high school, physics major at Georgia Tech, and PhD student in physics at Caltech, Murphy has spent decades reveling in the study of astrophysics. He currently leads a project to test General Relativity by bouncing laser pulses off of the reflectors left on the Moon by the Apollo astronauts, achieving one-millimeter range precision.)
Tom Murphy's blog on the incomprehensible distances involved in space is here.
Ask a random sampling of people if they think we will have colonized space in 500 years, and I expect it will be a while before you run into someone who says it’s unlikely. Our migration from this planet is a seductive vision of the future that has been given almost tangible reality by our entertainment industry.
... by some clairvoyant means that eludes me—we know we are destined to colonize the infinite void beyond. Space is therefore seen as an escape hatch for the human endeavor and from our arguably botched track record on Earth. Escapism may be more accurate.
... I can only guess that some students imagined the International Space Station as a remote outpost, certainly beyond the Moon, and likely strategically located next to a wormhole. How disappointing it must be to learn that it merely hugs the globe.
I could easily get sidetracked on this astounding result. But I’ll just point out that the idea that we are no longer able to accomplish feats we once could do (like travel to the Moon) clashes with the prevailing narrative that we march forever forward. Not only can’t we get to the Moon at present, but the U.S. no longer has a space shuttle program—originally envisioned to make space travel as routine as air travel. And for that matter, I no longer have the option to purchase a ticket to fly trans-Atlantic at supersonic speeds on the Concorde. Narratives can break. I’ll leave it at that.
... However, there are practical realities to consider. If we extend our solar system model using the standard-size Earth globe as our reference, the Moon is 30 ft (9 m) away, and is about the size of an apple. The sun is 2.2 miles (3.6 km) away. Mars is sometimes as close as 0.8 mi (1.3 km) and sometimes as far as 6 mi (10 km). Light travels at a sprinting speed of 16 m.p.h. (26 kph) in this scale, but an energetically feasible transfer orbit to Mars would take 8.5 months, effectively traveling slower than a snail.
First, reflect on the vastly different scale in travel to the Moon vs. Mars. In our model, you could toss a rock to the Moon. But getting something to Mars is a whole different ballgame. Not even a slingshot would be up to the task. In practical terms, a three-day lunar journey becomes 260 days to Mars: almost 100 times as long. The closest star to the Sun, in this model, is about a million kilometers distant: 2.5 times farther than the actual Earth-Moon distance. On a separate model scale—compressed 17,000 times compared to our previous model scale—the density of stars in the local Milky Way (one star per 100 cubic light years) is analogous to grains of sand 50 km apart! Can you imagine this? Mostly empty, empty space, folks.
... No bounty of food or sense of safety tugs us into space. It’s quite the opposite on both fronts, in fact. We live on the bounty right now.
... But I want to caution against harboring illusions of space as the answer to our collision course of growth on a finite planet. We live at a special time.
To expound upon what Tom said ...
To get a tiny glimpse of the incomprehensible distances involved in the known, observable universe - watch these videos here on Sal Khan's free education web site (he has 3 degrees from MIT.) Be sure to watch the following videos:
- Scale of the solar system
- Scale of distance to closest stars
- Scale of the galaxy
- Intergalactic scale
- Hubble image of galaxies
The only real hope for mankind is an individual who lived 2 millennia ago, not some far-fetched scheme to use imaginary pie-in-the-sky technology that does not exist, to travel unimaginably vast distances through a dangerously hostile cosmos to some barren inhospitable world devoid of life. The culture has seen too many Hollywood movies.
A 20-year-old Yazidi woman was bought and sold as a sex-slave eight times by various ISIS fighters and endured repeated rapes at the hands of her captors. After her capture by ISIS, Khalida and 800 other enslaved women were put on display in Raqqa as if they were in a ‘car showroom.’ The captives were sold for as little as $20 or exchanged for mobile phones ...
Khalida endured 16 months of daily abuse and was eventually bought and sold by eight different men. She was raped up to three times a day and was left unconscious after she was gang raped.
She was force-fed contraceptive pills and once taken to hospital for a contraceptive injection after she became unconscious after one particularly brutal gang rape.
“They [ISIS] did not want me get pregnant, especially if there was more than one man because they would not know who the father of the baby was,” she told The Daily Mail.
She attempted suicide several times to end her terrible torment and even tattooed her father’s name on her arm so her body could be identified after her death.
“I tried to kill myself many times. I covered myself in water and put my hand on electric cables but I always survived. I asked God to kill me. I thought it was better to die than to live as a sex slave with what they were doing to me every day.”
She tried to escape three times, running desperately to the homes of three Arab families and appealing to them to contact her family. “I told them, help me, get me out of here and my family will give you anything you want, name your price,” she told The Daily Mail.
“But they said: ‘You are Yazidi, an infidel, we refuse to help you.”’
Report is here.
I've started reading Al Mohler's newest book entitled "We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, and the Very Meaning of Right and Wrong". He makes a strong argument that this didn't happen overnight and that the seeds for this moral chaos were sown decades ago. It's must-reading for any Christian looking for a compass in this barren wilderness. The book is available on Amazon here. It's also available as an electronic download.
Twenty years ago, not one nation on earth had legal same-sex marriage. Now, access to same-sex marriage is increasingly seen as a basic human right. In a matter of less than a generation, western cultures have experienced a moral revolution.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler examines how this transformation occurred, revealing the underlying cultural shifts behind this revolution: the acceptance of divorce culture, liberation of sex from reproduction, the prevalence of heterosexual cohabitation, the normalization of homosexuality, and the rise of the transgender movement. He then offers a deep look at how the Bible and Christian moral tradition provide a comprehensive understanding upon which Christians can build their personal lives, their marriages, church ministry, and cultural engagement.
Dr. Mohler helps Christians in their understanding of the underlying issues of this significant cultural shift and how to face the challenge of believing faithfully, living faithfully, and engaging the culture faithfully in light of this massive change.
Monday, April 25, 2016
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Titanic reveals three different options a Christian can pursue relative to the moral collapse of our nation
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. (2 Tim 3:1)
There are three different options a Christian can pursue relative to the moral collapse of our nation.
They can cocoon themselves and pretend all is well and that the accelerating cultural disintegration will not affect them. But they would be like those on board the ill-fated Titanic after it struck the iceberg, believing that the largest and most magnificent ship in the world was unsinkable. They refused to accept the inevitable and went down with ship. Similarly, Christians who believe themselves safely ensconced from the coming destruction will abruptly find the rug pulled out from underneath them.
They recognize the severity of the situation and attempt by all means possible to stop cultural collapse by electing political leaders that they believe can rectify everything and enacting laws to try and reverse course. But they would be like those on board Titanic who futilely go down into the boiler room and plug the cascading ocean into the ship. At best, even with pumps operating at full capacity, they merely delayed the inevitable.
While such actions may indeed be warranted, they must not be the focus on our efforts. At best, they suspend the inevitable, much like the reign of godly Josiah delayed judgment on the nation of Judah, but could not prevent final catastrophic destruction in 586 B.C.
It is foolish to believe political efforts can ultimately save us. At best, they postpone the inevitable.
They recognize the inevitable and focus their efforts on propagating the gospel into as many individual lives as possible. They would be like John Harper onboard Titanic warning everyone who would listen what was coming and getting as many people into the figurative and spiritual lifeboats as possible.
That must be our priority and focus.
One of the supreme stories of the Titanic involves a heroic pastor and his passion to save lives and souls.
When pastor and preacher John Harper (pictured below) and six year old daughter boarded the Titanic it was for the privilege of preaching at one of the greatest churches in America, Moody Church in Chicago, named for its famous founder Dwight L. Moody. The church was anxiously awaiting his arrival not only because of the pending services, but to meet their next pastor, as Harper planned to accept their invitation. Harper was known as an engaging preacher and had pastored two churches in Glasgow and London. His preaching style was suited for an evangelist as testified by the words of another local pastor. "He was a great open-air preacher and could always command large and appreciative audiences. ... He could deal with all kinds of interrupters, his great and intelligent grasp of Bible truths enabling him to successfully combat all assailants."
When Titanic hit the iceberg, Harper led his daughter to a lifeboat. Being a widower he may have been allowed to join her but instead forsook his own rescue, choosing to provide the masses with one more chance to know Christ. Harper ran person to person, passionately telling others about Christ. As the water began to submerge the "unsinkable" ship, Harper was heard shouting, "women, children, and the unsaved into the lifeboats." Rebuffed by a certain man at the offer of salvation Harper gave him his own life vest, saying, "you need this more than I do." Up until the last moment on the ship Harper pleaded with people to give their lives to Jesus.
The ship disappeared beneath the deep frigid waters leaving hundreds floundering in its wake with no realistic chance for rescue. Harper struggled through hyperthermia to swim to as many people as he could, still sharing the Gospel. Harper evidentially would lose his battle with hypothermia but not before giving many people one last glorious Gospel witness.
Four years after the tragedy at a Titanic survivor's meeting in Ontario, Canada, one survivor recounted his interaction with Harper in the middle of the icy waters of the Atlantic. He testified he was clinging to ship debris when Harper swam up to him, twice challenging him with a biblical invitation to "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." He rejected the offer once. Yet given the second chance and with miles of water beneath his feet, the man gave his life to Christ. Then as Harper succumbed to his watery grave, this new believer was rescued by a returning lifeboat. As he concluded his remarks at the Ontario meeting of survivors he simply stated, "I am the last convert of John Harper."
Earlier, I referenced William Wilson's scholarly article in the theological journal "First Things" entitled "Scientific Regress". You can freely read it online in entirety here. It's must reading.
There’s an unspoken rule in the pharmaceutical industry that half of all academic biomedical research will ultimately prove false, and in 2011 a group of researchers at Bayer decided to test it. Looking at sixty-seven recent drug discovery projects based on preclinical cancer biology research, they found that in more than 75 percent of cases the published data did not match up with their in-house attempts to replicate. These were not studies published in fly-by-night oncology journals, but blockbuster research featured in Science, Nature, Cell, and the like. The Bayer researchers were drowning in bad studies, and it was to this, in part, that they attributed the mysteriously declining yields of drug pipelines.
... Indeed, Ioannidis finds that in many cases, approaching even 50 percent true positives requires unimaginable accuracy. Hence the eye-catching title of his paper: “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.”
... Scientists have long been aware of something euphemistically called the “experimenter effect”: the curious fact that when a phenomenon is investigated by a researcher who happens to believe in the phenomenon, it is far more likely to be detected.
... One creative attempt to estimate how widespread such dishonesty really is involves comparisons between fields of varying “hardness.” The author, Daniele Fanelli, theorized that the farther from physics one gets, the more freedom creeps into one’s experimental methodology, and the fewer constraints there are on a scientist’s conscious and unconscious biases. If all scientists were constantly attempting to influence the results of their analyses, but had more opportunities to do so the “softer” the science, then we might expect that the social sciences have more papers that confirm a sought-after hypothesis than do the physical sciences, with medicine and biology somewhere in the middle. This is exactly what the study discovered: A paper in psychology or psychiatry is about five times as likely to report a positive result as one in astrophysics.
... If peer review is good at anything, it appears to be keeping unpopular ideas from being published. Consider the finding of another (yes, another) of these replicability studies, this time from a group of cancer researchers. In addition to reaching the now unsurprising conclusion that only a dismal 11 percent of the preclinical cancer research they examined could be validated after the fact, the authors identified another horrifying pattern: The “bad” papers that failed to replicate were, on average, cited far more often than the papers that did!
... What they do not mention is that once an entire field has been created—with careers, funding, appointments, and prestige all premised upon an experimental result which was utterly false due either to fraud or to plain bad luck—pointing this fact out is not likely to be very popular. Peer review switches from merely useless to actively harmful. It may be ineffective at keeping papers with analytic or methodological flaws from being published, but it can be deadly effective at suppressing criticism of a dominant research paradigm. Even if a critic is able to get his work published, pointing out that the house you’ve built together is situated over a chasm will not endear him to his colleagues or, more importantly, to his mentors and patrons.
... All of which makes it rather more bothersome that older scientists are the most likely to be invested in the regnant research paradigm, whatever it is, even if it’s based on an old experiment that has never successfully been replicated. The quantum physicist Max Planck famously quipped: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Planck may have been too optimistic.
... past theories, now “refuted” by evidence and replaced with new approaches, may be closer to the truth than what we think now. Such regress has happened before: In the nineteenth century, the (correct) vitamin C deficiency theory of scurvy was replaced by the false belief that scurvy was caused by proximity to spoiled foods. Many ancient astronomers believed the heliocentric model of the solar system before it was supplanted by the geocentric theory of Ptolemy. The Whiggish view of scientific history is so dominant today that this possibility is spoken of only in hushed whispers, but ours is a world in which things once known can be lost and buried.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order. (NIV) ..... When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability. (NLT) ...... When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue. (ESV)
When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan. (NIV) ..... When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan. (NLT) ...... When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan. (ESV)
Bob Deffinbaugh (pastor at Community Bible Chapel in Richardson, TX) published online in 2009 a study here entitled "When Government is God's Judgment".
Recent events and decisions made in Washington, D.C. parallel what took place in ancient Israel, as described in Judges. But lest you might be tempted to think that I am pointing at just one leader, or at just one political party, let me assure you that I see this text as an indictment that goes beyond one man or one party. This is an indictment of much that goes on in Washington, D.C. (and in our state capitals as well) in our times.
Journalist Charley Reese (now retired) was part of the Orlando Sentinel's staff for three decades between 1971-2001, during which time he (among other duties) penned a thrice-weekly column which was distributed to other newspapers nationwide by King Features Syndicate. During the 1980s Reese wrote the first version of an editorial opining that 545 people (i.e., the President of the United States, plus all the members of Congress and the Supreme Court) "are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country," and he has amended, updated, and republished that piece several times since then. His indictment is both deserving and damning.
545 vs. 300,000,000 People- by Charlie Reese
Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them. Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits? Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes? You and I don't propose a federal budget. The President does. You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does. You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does. You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does. You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does. One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country. I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress.
In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.
I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash.
The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.
Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.
What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.
The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes.
Who is the speaker of the House now? He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.
It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.
If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair. If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red. If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it's because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan ... If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way. There are no insoluble government problems.
Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power.
Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.
Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power. They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses, provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees...
Accounts Receivable Tax, Building Permit Tax, CDL license Tax, Cigarette Tax, Corporate Income Tax, Dog License, Tax Excise Taxes, Federal Income Tax, Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA), Fishing License Tax, Food License Tax, Fuel Permit Tax, Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon), Gross Receipts Tax, Hunting License Tax, Inheritance Tax, Inventory Tax, IRS Interest Charges, IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax), Liquor Tax, Luxury Taxes, Marriage License Tax, Medicare Tax, Personal Property Tax, Property Tax, Real Estate Tax, Service Charge Tax, Social Security Tax, Road Usage Tax, Recreational Vehicle Tax, Sales Tax, School Tax, State Income Tax, State Unemployment Tax (SUTA), Telephone Federal Excise Tax, Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax, Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes, Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax, Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax, Telephone State and Local Tax Telephone Usage Charge Tax Utility Taxes Vehicle License Registration Tax Vehicle Sales Tax Watercraft Registration Tax Well Permit Tax Workers Compensation Tax, etc., etc.
Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago and our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom, if she wanted, stayed home to raise the kids.
As with the ancient nation of Israel, we "did what was right in our own eyes" and in turn, got the government we deserved. Yes, while we obviously need to thoroughly houseclean the leadership in Washington, national repentance must precede it. But unfortunately, just as with the ancient nation of Israel, it may require the destruction of a stubborn nation busily shaking it's collective fist in the face of God, to induce repentance.
Friday, April 22, 2016
Sometimes Christians assume if the church lives a righteous life that powerfully testifies to the gospel and seeks to be the hands and feet of Christ, that the culture will inevitably move from darkness into light. And sometimes it does.
But not always.
Sometimes the church is called to live - and die - in great darkness. The church in North Korea and Saudi Arabia are contemporary examples of believers who have suffered terrible persecution for decades with no discernible impact on the culture. While individuals may be reached with the gospel who then pay a ghastly price, and seeds may be planted (that don't germinate for decades if ever), impenetrable darkness surrounds the church.
Sometimes Christ calls His church to live in darkness. Such a first-century church was in Smyrna and we find a recorded message to it in Rev 2:8-11. Smyrna was a port city with a good harbor about thirty-five miles northwest of Ephesus in what is modern-day Turkey. Many Jews in Smyrna were deeply hostile to Christianity, at least by the mid-second century, and eagerly joined with the Romans in consigning Polycarp to the flames (Martyrdom of Polycarp 11.2).
David Grabbe wrote in his Forerunner to "Prophecy Watch" in the Sep-Oct edition 2008,
This letter to Smyrna is unique in that it contains no criticism or rebuke. The one to Philadelphia runs a close second in this regard: It contains more praise, but also a slightly negative aspect when Jesus says that they have but a little strength (Revelation 3:7-13). Smyrna's letter contains neither as much praise on the one hand, nor the slightly negative observation on the other.
The letter is also unique in its length, containing just four verses. (In contrast, the letter to Thyatira spans twelve verses.) It is so brief that it almost appears abrupt. Jesus gives neither a lengthy admonition to repent, nor much praise. To use a military metaphor, it resembles a commander's final instructions to his company of Special Forces. They are already focused and disciplined, aware of what is expected of them, wholeheartedly committed to their duty, and willing to go to their deaths for their cause, if need be. Unlike new recruits or infantry misfits who continually have to be reminded of the basics, these are seasoned veterans. This letter is from the Captain of their salvation to a unit that knows its marching orders and has been following them faithfully. Little needs to be added.
The letter to Smyrna also has death as a recurring theme. Death is directly mentioned three times in these four verses, and the name Smyrna contains a probable fourth reference as well. Jesus Christ refers to His own death, points to their death as a finish line, and also mentions the second death. While He is not warning that their deaths are imminent, these references combine to produce a sober message.
... The letter to Smyrna is a short and concise line in the sand for all of us. It should move us to evaluate where our convictions truly lie and to question whether we are prone to compromise. It should remind us that God does not guarantee us an easy life, no matter how righteous we are—look at what happened to God Himself when He became a Man. This letter should stir us to reexamine our priorities and to set our wills to remain faithful to the very end, no matter what form it may take and what it might cost.
I think David is spot-on with his metaphor of a military commander issuing his final orders to a unit deep behind enemy lines. I picture a detachment hopelessly surrounded by an enemy determined to wipe them out. Inevitable death is both their duty and destiny. And yet, physical death is not the final seal on their lives; something unimaginably glorious awaits (Rev 2:10b-11).
Marcus Lutrell was a Navy Seal. On June 28, 2005, Luttrell and SEAL Team 10 were assigned a dangerous mission to kill or capture Ahmad Shah (nom de guerre Mohammad Ismail), a high-ranking Taliban leader responsible for killings in eastern Afghanistan and the Hindu-Kush mountains. JKay recounts for us here what happened in National Post:
In 2005, U.S. military commanders dispatched a four-man Navy SEAL team to assassinate "Sharmack," a Taliban commander operating from a base in the Hindu Kush mountains. As the commandos lay in wait for their target, Sharmack himself ambushed the Americans with a force of about 150 Taliban. In the battle that followed -- described in detail by surviving SEAL sniper Marcus Luttrell in his 2007 best-seller Lone Survivor -- three of the four Americans were killed. When backup troops came to rescue Luttrell's team, their helicopter was blown up with a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all 16 SEALs on board.
Luttrell himself narrowly escaped death during the gunfight, and then almost died from dehydration as he fled through the Afghan outback. But his greatest agony was emotional: Every American who'd died that day might still be alive if Luttrell had put bullets through the heads of three Afghan goatherds when he had the chance.
The goatherds had randomly stumbled on the SEAL team earlier that day. One of them "was just a kid" -- around 14 years old, remembers Luttrell. At gunpoint, the Americans conducted a crude interrogation. "No Taliban, no Taliban," was all they'd say.
Luttrell believed them. But it didn't matter: When the trio returned to their village, they'd tell Sharmack what they'd seen -- thereby writing the SEALs' death warrants. With their firepower and training, the four U.S. commandos could hold off a force many times larger -- but the 30:1 or 40:1 odds they'd face if Sharmack brought his garrison were too high.
On the other hand, what kind of soldier kills three innocent people -- one of them a child--at point-blank range?
In Lone Survivor, Luttrell recounts how the four SEALs staged a surreal conference to decide the goatherds' fate. Matthew "Axe" Axelson, the second sniper on the SEAL team, wanted to liquidate the goatherds on the spot. The other two Americans wavered. And the decision effectively came down to Luttrell.
"In my soul, I knew [Axe] was right," Luttrell recounts. "But my trouble is, I have another soul. My Christian soul. And it was crowding in on me. Something kept whispering in the back of my mind, it would be wrong."
Luttrell motioned with his rifle for the goatherds to be on their way. They didn't smile, express gratitude or even look back. They simply trotted back to their village -- and immediately proceeded to do exactly what Luttrell knew they would.
As a reader, it's impossible not to be awed at the heroism and sheer military prowess of Luttrell's team. But I was also flabbergasted that men in this extraordinary situation could debate the morality of their actions with such levelheadedness -- and in the end, do something that jeopardized their own lives for no other reason than that they collectively concluded it was the right thing to do.
In his book, a guilt-racked Luttrell second-guesses himself. "It was the stupidest, most southern-fried, lame-brained decision I ever made in my life," he writes. "I'd turned into a f--king liberal ? No night passes when I don't wake in a cold sweat thinking of those moments on that mountain ? The deciding vote was mine, and it will haunt me till they rest me in an East Texas grave."
But would it have haunted Luttrell less if he'd shot those three goatherds? I doubt it.
In purely operational terms, the sort of men who become Navy SEAL or Canadian JTF commandos are a species of supermen. Their training is designed to transform them into unfeeling combat machines. But all that target shooting, scaling cliffs and carrying around telephone polls can't erase a soldier's underlying values. Men such as Luttrell, raised in a Western, Judeo-Christian society that respects the sanctity of life, simply don't have it in them to knowingly slaughter the innocent. It's not in our cultural DNA. Ironically, the Muslim fanatics who cite Koranic verse to justify indiscriminate murder don't have a moral stitch on even this obscenity-spouting jarhead from Texas -- a man whom jihadis regard as the very personification of infidel evil.
There are lessons in this extraordinary book -- not just for those liberals who falsely demonize U.S. troops as reckless murderers, but also for conservatives, who think we should cast all moral strictures aside in the prosecution of the war on terror.
Although Luttrell doesn't frame it in these terms, the debate he and his comrades had on that mountaintop essentially broke down as a conflict between two giant traditions in philosophy: John Stuart Mill's utilitarianism and Immanuel Kant's concept of the categorical imperative. Mill says that decision-making is about costs and benefits. Kant says the opposite: Forget consequences, and "act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."
Following Mill, the goatherds die. Following Kant, they live. Luttrell picked Kant, under this unstated "universal law":Decent human beings do not follow the terrorist path of intentionally killing innocents to further a larger political or military goal.
It's a great pity that 19 Navy Seals died for this principle on June 28, 2005. But it is an extraordinary tribute to the society that produced Luttrell that he held it to be true.
Luttrell chronicled his experience in the book "Lone Survivor" and the movie by the same name (both are highly recommended.) Luttrell's team, deep behind enemy lines was hampered by a lack of communications with higher headquarters when most needed. But they already knew their orders. They did what was right at great personal cost.
Sometimes in hopeless gloom, it seems our prayers return empty. Silence. But we already know our orders in the midst of great darkness. For sometimes the church is called to live - and die - in darkness.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Kathryn Schulz gave us a Pultizer-prize winning preview in the New Yorker here last summer of the inevitable destruction of the Pacific Northwest from a devastating earthquake and tsunami. The horrifying scenario she paints for a local geographic region, echoes the global catastrophic annihilation preceding the return of Christ.
By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable. Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”
In the Pacific Northwest, the area of impact will cover* some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people. When the next full-margin rupture happens, that region will suffer the worst natural disaster in the history of North America. Roughly three thousand people died in San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake. Almost two thousand died in Hurricane Katrina. Almost three hundred died in Hurricane Sandy. FEMA projects that nearly thirteen thousand people will die in the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Another twenty-seven thousand will be injured, and the agency expects that it will need to provide shelter for a million displaced people, and food and water for another two and a half million. “This is one time that I’m hoping all the science is wrong, and it won’t happen for another thousand years,” Murphy says.
In fact, the science is robust ...
... At approximately nine o’ clock at night on January 26, 1700, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck the Pacific Northwest, causing sudden land subsidence, drowning coastal forests, and, out in the ocean, lifting up a wave half the length of a continent. It took roughly fifteen minutes for the Eastern half of that wave to strike the Northwest coast. It took ten hours for the other half to cross the ocean. It reached Japan on January 27, 1700: by the local calendar, the eighth day of the twelfth month of the twelfth year of Genroku.
... Counting from the earthquake of 1700, we are now three hundred and fifteen years into a two-hundred-and-forty-three-year cycle ...
... we’re going to be hammered. I’ve been through one of these massive earthquakes in the most seismically prepared nation on earth. If that was Portland”—Goldfinger finished the sentence with a shake of his head before he finished it with words. “Let’s just say I would rather not be here.”
... Four to six minutes after the dogs start barking, the shaking will subside. For another few minutes, the region, upended, will continue to fall apart on its own. Then the wave will arrive, and the real destruction will begin.
Among natural disasters, tsunamis may be the closest to being completely unsurvivable. The only likely way to outlive one is not to be there when it happens: to steer clear of the vulnerable area in the first place, or get yourself to high ground as fast as possible.
... “When that tsunami is coming, you run,” Jay Wilson, the chair of the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission (OSSPAC), says. “You protect yourself, you don’t turn around, you don’t go back to save anybody. You run for your life.”
... A grown man is knocked over by ankle-deep water moving at 6.7 miles an hour. The tsunami will be moving more than twice that fast when it arrives. Its height will vary with the contours of the coast, from twenty feet to more than a hundred feet. It will not look like a Hokusai-style wave, rising up from the surface of the sea and breaking from above. It will look like the whole ocean, elevated, overtaking land. Nor will it be made only of water—not once it reaches the shore. It will be a five-story deluge of pickup trucks and doorframes and cinder blocks and fishing boats and utility poles and everything else that once constituted the coastal towns of the Pacific Northwest.
To see the full scale of the devastation when that tsunami recedes, you would need to be in the international space station.
While the fawning publicity, promotion and funding of his insanity by the Hollywood crowd was both a catalyst and enabler for his destructive behavior, anyone with common sense (which is apparently seriously lacking in TinselTown) could see this was not going to end well. In October 2003, a 1,000-pound male bear viciously tore him and his girlfriend (Amie Huguenard) to pieces and ate them. And yet, Hollywood continues - even after his tragic and senseless death - to idolize Treadwell. (A summary and analysis of what happened is here.)
He occasionally adopted an English accent, explaining he had been brought up in an English orphanage. At other times he spoke like an Australian, saying he had lived down under. After his death a family spokesman said he had no Australian connections and had never been there. The hunters that Treadwell claimed to be protecting the bears from, did not exist - no poaching had occurred in Katmai National Park for decades. His support organization was not registered as a nonprofit, as was claimed. Despite Grizzly People's claim in a 2003 newsletter that it was established "as a nonprofit organization," the organization was not registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit, said Victor Omelczenko, an IRS spokesman.
This delusional "bear expert" threw away his bear spray against the repeated advice of Alaskan rangers and State Troopers. He ditched the electric fence that legitimate bear researchers studying in the wild use to protect their camps. He approached bears instead of maintaining a safe distance. He camped next to bear trails in heavy cover. Treadwell told bear scientists he welcomed death by bear. He said it would be an honor to be killed, eaten and rendered bear scat. Had National Park Service rangers not killed the bear that ate him, he would have gotten his wish. Treadwell ultimately (and falsely) believed he had a special bond with the animals. In a letter to one of his sponsors shortly before his death in 2003 he fancifully wrote: "My transformation complete—a fully accepted wild animal—brother to these bears."
He drew a naïve girl to a terrible death that didn't have to happen. In an e-mail from an old boyfriend sent months after Huguenard's death, he described her thus,
"Amie had a kind of naivete about her that added a real sweetness to her entire persona,'' Stephen Bunch wrote. "At times it was easy to convince her of things that were not entirely true. We would let her in on these jokes and get a good laugh, especially from her. Sometimes I found this quality frustrating because I would watch her 'swallow the hook, line and sinker' in situations where it was obvious what was going on. But I always felt I could trust her because she bestowed the same trust in you unconditionally.''
The last person that Amie Huguenard trusted was unfortunately a madman, and it led to her death in the jaws of a bear. As Craig Medred in Alaska wrote after the tragedy,
"Treadwell wasn't bonding with anything. He was playing with live explosives, and Huguenard was a victim when one of the bombs went off .... I love bears, but I also had occasion to shoot one off my foot years ago. I know what it is to be in the teeth of a bear, and it is not the way I'd wish for anyone to go. There is nothing glorious about it .... all I know for sure is that Treadwell was half a bubble off."
Rangers who investigated the deaths reported that Treadwell had set up his tent in thick brush right on top of a bear trail. "A person could not have designed a more dangerous place to set up a camp," according to their report.
Alaska State Troopers revealed that the last entries in Treadwell's journal signaled her fear and expressed her desire to be away from Katmai National Park. Treadwell had a satellite phone. He could have recognized her legitimate fear and called for a plane to come get them. He didn't.
Treadwell's disfigured head, partial backbone, and right forearm/hand still wearing his wrist watch were recovered at the scene. Huguenard's partial remains were found near the encampment, partially buried in a mound of twigs and dirt. A large male grizzly protecting the campsite was killed by park rangers during their attempt to retrieve the bodies. A second adolescent bear was also killed a short time later after it charged the park rangers. A necropsy revealed human body parts such as fingers and limbs. In the 85-year history of Katmai National Park, this was the first incident of a person being killed by a bear.[
"I don't know what to say now,'' said John Schoen, a bear authority with the Audubon Society in Alaska. "Were they in their tent asleep, taking a nap or something? Did they try to lure the bear in? Who knows?"
"I guess it makes it in my mind probably less likely that it was some sort of misunderstanding and more likely he provoked the bear,'' said Bruce Bartley of Fish and Game.
Shortly after the deaths of Treadwell and Huguenard, an attorney for "Grizzly People" - a Malibu, Calif.-based organization founded with funding from Hollywood loons to finance Treadwell's ill-advised forays among the bears in Alaska - threatened to sue the state if it released any information about the attack. Alaskan State Troopers promptly shipped all documents and tapes south to Grizzly People. (Of course they did not want any information on the attack released as it would pull back the curtain on the brutal consequences of the shockingly insane activity they were enabling.)
Very few have heard the actual recording and those that have say it is the most disturbing thing they have ever heard. Film-maker Werner Herzog listened to the real audio recording of the attack of Treadwell and his girlfriend (the videos posted on youtube are fake). Here was his reaction ... "You must never listen to this"
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Monday, April 18, 2016
Neil deGrasse Tyson, the popular physicist, is quite outspoken in his belief that faith and science are irreconcilable. In fact, like him, almost all secularists ultimately bow before the altar of modern science. They will probably want to skip the article here published today asserting that "Big Science is broken."
Science is broken.
That's the thesis of a must-read article in First Things magazine, in which William A. Wilson accumulates evidence that a lot of published research is false. But that's not even the worst part.
Advocates of the existing scientific research paradigm usually smugly declare that while some published conclusions are surely false, the scientific method has "self-correcting mechanisms" that ensure that, eventually, the truth will prevail. Unfortunately for all of us, Wilson makes a convincing argument that those self-correcting mechanisms are broken.
... Then there is outright fraud. In a 2011 survey of 2,000 research psychologists, over half admitted to selectively reporting those experiments that gave the result they were after. The survey also concluded that around 10 percent of research psychologists have engaged in outright falsification of data, and more than half have engaged in "less brazen but still fraudulent behavior such as reporting that a result was statistically significant when it was not, or deciding between two different data analysis techniques after looking at the results of each and choosing the more favorable.
Then there's everything in between human error and outright fraud: rounding out numbers the way that looks better, checking a result less thoroughly when it comes out the way you like, and so forth.
... The peer review process doesn't work. Most observers of science guffaw at the so-called "Sokal affair," where a physicist named Alan Sokal submitted a gibberish paper to an obscure social studies journal, which accepted it. Less famous is a similar hoodwinking of the very prestigious British Medical Journal, to which a paper with eight major errors was submitted. Not a single one of the 221 scientists who reviewed the paper caught all the errors in it, and only 30 percent of reviewers recommended that the paper be rejected. Amazingly, the reviewers who were warned that they were in a study and that the paper might have problems with it found no more flaws than the ones who were in the dark.
... It's a familiar bromide that "science advances one funeral at a time." The greatest scientific pioneers were mavericks and weirdos. Most valuable scientific work is done by youngsters. Older scientists are more likely to be invested, both emotionally and from a career and prestige perspective, in the regnant paradigm, even though the spirit of science is the challenge of regnant paradigms.
... All of this suggests that the current system isn't just showing cracks, but is actually broken, and in need of major reform. There is very good reason to believe that much scientific research published today is false, there is no good way to sort the wheat from the chaff, and, most importantly, that the way the system is designed ensures that this will continue being the case.
... Science, at heart an enterprise for mavericks, has become an enterprise for careerists. It's time to flip the career track for science on its head. Instead of waiting until someone's best years are behind her to award her academic freedom and prestige, abolish the PhD and grant fellowships to the best 22-year-olds, giving them the biggest budgets and the most freedoms for the first five or 10 years of their careers. Then, with only few exceptions, shift them away from research to teaching or some other harmless activity. Only then can we begin to fix Big Science.
(Note: the "First Things" magazine referred to (web site is here) is an outstanding, scholarly journal. It's probably the premier theological journal currently available.)
As a degreed engineer and ardent student of physics, I assert that much of what is currently and matter-of-factly presented to the public as "modern science" is about as scientific as medieval alchemy, and has been more destructive to the Way than just about anything else in our modern culture. Secularists that bow before its' altar will one day discover that much of what they hold sacred is nothing more than smoke, mirrors and fanciful thinking.
The greatest scientist of all time, Sir Issac Newton was also a strong believer. Ironically, as noted here, it was the Christian worldview that gave rise to modern science. The incredible arrogance of many modern scientists stands in stark contrast to Newton ...
“I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
― Isaac Newton
Reality has a rude way of trashing wishful thinking.
"For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."
― Robert Jastrow, PhD (1925 – 2008), founder of NASA's Goddard Institute and Director of the Mt. Wilson Institute and Observatories was a renowned American astronomer, physicist and cosmologist.
Petrified Wood (from wikipedia) ...
Petrified wood (from the Greek root petro meaning "rock" or "stone"; literally "wood turned into stone") is the name given to a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation. It is the result of a tree or tree-like plants having completely transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization. All the organic materials have been replaced with minerals (mostly a silicate, such as quartz), while retaining the original structure of the stem tissue. Unlike other types of fossils which are typically impressions or compressions, petrified wood is a three-dimensional representation of the original organic material. The petrifaction process occurs underground, when wood becomes buried under sediment or volcanic ash and is initially preserved due to a lack of oxygen which inhibits aerobic decomposition. Mineral-laden water flowing through the covering material deposits minerals in the plant's cells; as the plant's lignin and cellulose decay, a stone mold forms in its place. The organic matter needs to become petrified before it decomposes completely. A forest where such material has petrified becomes known as a petrified forest.
Sometimes I encounter an elderly Christian who is so set in their ways and understanding that it's apparent they believe precisely what they did when they first repented in faith. They believe exactly what they did when born again; nothing new has been added to their understanding, nor has any belief been expanded or modified. In a very real sense, they are akin to petrified wood - with the appearance of life, but unable to ingest life-giving water.
They are like the church at Sardis that Christ warns has a "reputation of being alive", but is "dead" (Rev 3:1).
Like a vinyl record stuck in a track and endlessly repeating the same phrase over and over, they are the Christians depicted in Heb 5:11-14, never having moved beyond an elementary grasp of the truth revealed in Scripture. Ironically, while they may often be regarded by others as mature believers because of their life-long affiliation and faithfulness to the church, they are in reality still infants in their spiritual understanding, never having graduated from a diet of pablum and milk (Heb 5:13). Rather than seeking to enlarge their understanding, such Christians approach Scripture with blinders on and a mindset that seeks only to confirm what they already believe and are so sure about. From their perspective, anything that is new-to-them or unknown is rejected.
In fact, it is both normal and healthy for a Christian to change their mind and modify their views as they grow in their understanding of God and the Holy Spirit illuminates the truth of Scripture in their heart. (Personally, over the course of several years while re-reading through the entirety of Scripture, I moved from a position of believing that a Christian can potentially lose their salvation to a position of eternal security. Another change in my personal theology was that I embraced the sovereignty of God while retaining man's freedom of choice.)
In what is believed to be his final words before his martyrdom, Peter exhorts us to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Pet 3:18). Paul encourages us to grow our love with knowledge and discernment (Phil 1:9). Romans 12:2 speaks of a transformative process of the renewal of our minds throughout our lifetimes. James 1:5 reveals that we can (and should!) grow in wisdom.
John Ankerberg wisely counsels here on this subject,
The knowledge of God is also essential to Christian growth. In Colossians 1:10 Paul expresses his desire for Christians to grow spiritually with this phrase: “growing in the knowledge of God.” We are not at liberty to compose our own ground rules for living the Christian life. If we want to grow as a Christian, we must grow in the knowledge of God. Further, the knowledge of God is not only our greatest need but it is also our greatest privilege.
... Are we nothing more than spiritual pigmies? Have we sold our spiritual birthright for a mess of pottage? If knowing God is not our primary focus, our Christian experience will be superficial, inadequate and out of focus. Many of our lives are suffering from spiritual astigmatism, which shows in our personal lives, our relationships, in our lack of impact of our world and most obviously in the character of our worship.How clear are you about the importance of this issue? Perhaps you have heard me say that the understanding of the nature of God is the single most important ingredient in your worldview and your worldview affects how you perceive and interpret reality.Knowing God is your single highest privilege as a Christian as well as the one that helps you to see clearly every other issue of importance. But, is this the issue that lies at the center of your thinking? In all Christians Christ is present; in some Christians Christ is prominent; but in few Christians is Christ preeminent, and yet that is God’s desire for every Christian.
Sunday, April 17, 2016
The most sinister terrorists won't be sneaking through our borders from the Middle East.
They're already here.
This is the untold story about the silent, yet extremely dangerous threat from the Muslim establishment in America?
An alarming exposé of how Muslims have for years been secretly infiltrating American society, government, and culture, pretending to be peace-loving and patriotic, while supporting violent jihad and working to turn America into an Islamic state.
Book is available here.
An article here published today by the author of the book above (Paul Sperry) asserts the U.S. government covered up the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks at the highest levels.
In its report on the still-censored “28 pages” implicating the Saudi government in 9/11, “60 Minutes” last weekend said the Saudi role in the attacks has been “soft-pedaled” to protect America’s delicate alliance with the oil-rich kingdom.
That’s quite an understatement.
Actually, the kingdom’s involvement was deliberately covered up at the highest levels of our government. And the coverup goes beyond locking up 28 pages of the Saudi report in a vault in the US Capitol basement. Investigations were throttled. Co-conspirators were let off the hook.
Case agents I’ve interviewed at the Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Washington and San Diego, the forward operating base for some of the Saudi hijackers, as well as detectives at the Fairfax County (Va.) Police Department who also investigated several 9/11 leads, say virtually every road led back to the Saudi Embassy in Washington, as well as the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles ...
Friday, April 15, 2016
Planned Parenthood "fires" employees if abortion quotas are not met by clinics, a former Planned Parenthood clinic manager-turned pro-life activist Abby Johnson said Wednesday.
Johnson, who spent eight years at a clinic in Texas and left Planned Parenthood in 2009 after witnessing an unborn baby fighting for its life during a live ultrasound-guided abortion procedure, spoke to The Christian Post about her invitation to speak at Georgetown University on April 20, the same day Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards is scheduled to speak at the Catholic school.
Johnson, who now runs an organization that encourages abortion clinic employees to leave the abortion industry called Then There Were None, was asked during the interview to refute the claim made by Planned Parenthood supporters that the abortion giant offers vital health services.
Johnson argued that even though Planned Parenthood offers services and products like contraception and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, every service that Planned Parenthood offers is designed to lead customers to come back to Planned Parenthood as abortion customers when faced with unplanned pregnancies.
Story is here.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
There is a story here about Temitope Joshua is arguably the most influential preacher in Africa. The founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nation (SCOAN) attracts huge numbers of people from across Africa and beyond, many of them seeking faith healing from ailments and exorcism from demonic possession.
Mr. Joshua (the African version of Benny Hinn - i.e., see here) also owns a shell company in the British Virgin Islands and lives in opulence having purchased a Gulfstream G550 aircraft in April 2015. According to Sahara Reporters, the jet, registered as “Synagogue Of Nations,” was purchased using the Bank Of Utah trustee as front. A Gulfstream G550 is sold for as much a $45 million and could take up to $3 million dollars in yearly maintenance cost.
Earlier I wrote here about the necessity to maintain a healthy balance between gullibility and skepticism in the pursuit of truth. Mr. Joshua is sadly another tragic example of the gullibility of many Christians.
"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.…" (Matt 7:15-17, ESV)
Thrashing out the details of their new marriage contract with online relationship coach Suzie Johnson, the wealthy couple who have been wed for 12 years leave their hourlong Skype session feeling satisfied.
The husband agrees they can have a fifth child — while the wife consents to an infidelity clause allowing him to cheat with other women on a strictly annual basis.
“They agreed to a weekend amnesty, where the guy can do what he wants for just one weekend a year,” recalls Johnson, who runs the Dallas, Texas-based goasksuzie.com. “In return, she gets the bigger family she craved.”
According to Johnson, such arrangements are increasingly common in her practice as a growing number of women agree to “widen their monogamy boundaries” and embrace a marriage of convenience, where it’s just the husband who strays rather than an open marriage where both sides cheat.
Story is here.
This article graphically illustrates the breakdown of marriage in the culture, with the defining statement by philandering "Joe" at the end of the article - " nobody can tell us how to live our lives.” Rejecting any divine claim on his life by the Creator and sole source of absolute truth, it's reminiscent of Judges 21:25: Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.