Sunday, April 30, 2006

Junk DNA Not So Junky

It was assummed, with Darwinian assumptions, that many regions of our DNA was just vestigal and useless.

But if you presuppose purpose and design, you would have been much further along in your scientific knowledge.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Untold Story of Israel's Bomb

British Judge Embeds Secret Code in Da Vinci Code Ruling

He may be the coolest judge ever.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Omaha City Weekly Covers the Top Ten Beer Myths

Despite what Hwang may say, something good comes out of Omaha.
MYTH 1: Dark beers are bitter (or more alcoholic or more filling) than pale beers

Beer, like people, should not be judged by outward appearances alone. Beer is an astonishingly diverse drink but if old misinformed stereotypes based on color are allowed to persist many great beer styles will be shunned.

Taste and beer color have little correlation. Color is determined by the type of malted barley used in the brewing process. For example, pale malt produces a golden beer while black patent malt creates a black beer.

Upcoming Articles on My Main Website

Here are the things I have planned.

-An article on the Angel of the Lord directed to a Jewish audience, but appropriate for all.

-An article on testing theological beliefs like scientific theories.

-An article on how the Koran tells us to believe in the New Testament.

-A response to John Gager's work. This one will take a while and may slow down the aforementioned articles.

Excellent Article on the Episcopal Church

It describes how it has gone astray and how the theological liberals (i.e., those purporting to be Christians but who disbelieve the faith) play fast and loose with the faith. And this was in the New Yorker. The main aspects revolve around the gay bishop that was ordained a few years ago.

Theological liberalism is dependant on dishonesty with the laypeople. Here is a great quote from the article (emphasis mine):
In the current Anglican conflict, echoes can be heard of a larger struggle within Christianity that has been happening for more than a century. With the advance of science and the growing acceptance of Darwin’s theory of evolution, key theologians and churchmen concluded by the early twentieth century that the old faith had been essentially disproved. They began to imagine a more reasonable Christianity—one less insistent on miracles, resurrections, and a transcendent God who directed human history from a heavenly remove. Higher Criticism informed a new understanding of the historical Jesus; the Hegelian dialectic shaped a new image of an immanent and impersonal God, an unknowable force whose will was worked through human progress.

The new theology met stout resistance within the churches. The “modernist-fundamentalist controversy” of the nineteen-twenties split some of the mainline Protestant denominations, and eventually gave rise to the modern evangelical movement. The Episcopal Church, because of its liturgical unity and comprehensiveness—Elizabeth’s notion: Believe what you want, just use this book—was better able to absorb the new thinking, or, at least, to mask it. “Under the guise of Anglican comprehensiveness, and under the cover of Anglo-Catholic worship and liturgy, this alien religion took root in the Western Anglican world,” says Leslie Fairfield, a professor of church history at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, a Pennsylvania seminary with an evangelical orientation. “The idea was ‘Keep all the same words, change all the meanings, but don’t tell the laypeople.’

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tips for Saving Gas
In hot weather, it's better to let the car's air conditioning run continually at a reasonable temperature than turning it off and on all the time. And set the blower on 'recirculate' to use less gas as well.

This one might not make sense if you picture it, but there's lots of evidence indicating it's more fuel-efficient to drive a pick-up truck with the tailgate in place. It's actually more aerodynamic than driving with the tail down or gone, these studies show. Best way to reduce drag is to use a sealed cover or cap.

Her explanation why: They're designed to work that way. "When you put the gate down, you disrupt the air flow at the back of the vehicle. In many cases it creates more turbulence, which increases the drag."

Save money on a highway trip by driving slower than the speed limit. Keep it at about 55 m.p.h., tops. Cruise control saves money. So does keeping your tires inflated at mfg specs. She squeezes about 30 m.p.g out of her Mazda Three this way, she says.

One more thing: use lower octane gas "unless premium is required for your vehicle." This raises a question. My father has forever used the cheaper, lower octane fuel. Swears by it. Another dear member of my family goes with premium, much to my dismay and financial distress.

You Don't Want To Be The Guy Replacing Howard Stern

You want to be the guy replacing that guy.

Today's Wall Street Journal Article on Bitter Beer

Can't provide a link because the Wall Street Journal isn't free. Basicly, Anheuser Busch kept making beer lighter and lighter. Now, customers want beer that has a distinct taste and they are in a bind.

County Urges ExxonMobil Boycott Until Gas is $1.30

Gas stations have to pay more than that. Crude oil is at $75 a barrel. Why would they sell at a loss?

Here is why it wouldn't work.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


What if America Did Nothing?
The French option works only because the French know that the United States is there to act like a responsible adult in the world. Kids can act like kids because Mom will kiss their scraped knees and make them feel better. But the world doesn’t have a lot of adults. If the United States acted just like France, even Paris would face disaster.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

U.S. News and World Report Covers Alternative Ways to Get Oil

High oil prices spur people to create more supply.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Russia Decides Not To Exist
Today the Washington Times reports on a Russian Parliamentary hearing on "family policy," at which it was reported that nearly half of Russia's families have no children at all, and another 34% have only one. Russia's current birthrate is 1.34 per woman, far below the rate needed for population equilibrium. At the current rate, Russia's population will be cut in half by the year 2050.

This implies a rate of depopulation greater, on a percentage basis, than when the Black Death killed around one-third of Europe's residents. Villages, towns, and even cities will be deserted and cease to exist. Or else they will be occupied by someone other than the Russians.

When people leave one territory and more to another, they are said to be voting with their feet. When a society makes a collective decision not to reproduce itself, its people could be said to be voting with their--well, let's not go there.

CIA Leaker, Recently Fired, Linked Iraq and al Queda During the Clinton Administration

Via PowerLine.

USA Today Headline: Drivers Curb Gas Use Because of High Gas Prices

Market forces work. This shouldn't have been a headline.
Americans have cut back gasoline use in apparent response to increasing prices, separate surveys by the government and a petroleum trade organization showed Wednesday.

Gas use last month was 0.6% less than a year ago, the American Petroleum Institute reported, because "high fuel prices have led to decreased demand for gasoline and other refined oil products."

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said gasoline use the past four weeks was up a slight 0.8% vs. a year ago. Typical is an increase of 1.5%, and that's the growth rate assumed in many industry, analyst and government forecasts.

Cutting back just a little more could cause gasoline prices — which average $2.801 nationwide, up 57.7 cents from last year, according to motorist organization AAA — to drop dramatically, one veteran analyst says.

"If everyone decided to drive 3% less the next 30 days, prices would crash," says Tom Kloza, senior analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.

He doubts that Americans could manage that — "We know how well appeals to personal sacrifice work" — but still foresees less-than-normal growth in gasoline consumption this year.

That's one of the reasons we should want a free market. Prices will help allocate the distribution of resources without shortages.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Lie Down With Strippers, Get Up With Pleas

Ann Coulter defends moral hypocricy, and she makes good points.
This is an age in which the expression "girls gone wild" is becoming a redundancy. So even as the bodies pile up, I don't think the message about integrity is getting through.

The liberal charge of "hypocrisy" has so permeated the public consciousness that no one is willing to condemn any behavior anymore, no matter how seedy. The unstated rule is: If you've done it, you can't ever criticize it -- a standard that would seem to repudiate the good works of the Rev. Franklin Graham, Malcolm X, Whittaker Chambers and St. Paul, among others.

Every woman who has had an abortion feels compelled to defend abortion for all women; every man who's ever been at a party with strippers thinks he has to defend all men who watch strippers; and every Democrat who voted for Bill Clinton feels the need to defend duplicity, adultery, lying about adultery, sexual harassment, rape, perjury, obstruction of justice, kicking the can of global Islamo-fascism down the road for eight years and so on.

This is crazy. (I can say that because I've never been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. Although I did test positive for "Olympic fever" once.)

In no area except morality would a sane person believe he can't criticize something stupid because he's done it. How about: If you've ever forgotten to fill up your car and run out of gas, you must forevermore defend a person's right to ignore the gas gauge. Or if you've ever forgotten to wear a coat in cold weather and caught a cold, henceforth you are obliged to encourage others not to dress appropriately in the winter.

This deep-seated societal fear of being accused of "hypocrisy" applies only to behavior touching on morals.

But we're all rotten sinners, incapable of redemption on our own. The liberal answer to sin is to say: I can never pay this back, so my argument will be I didn't do anything wrong.

The religion of peace's answer is: I've just beheaded an innocent man -- I'm off to meet Allah!

I don't know what the Jewish answer is, but I'm sure it's something other than, "therefore, what I did is no longer bad behavior" -- or the Talmud could be a lot shorter.

The Christian answer is: I can never pay this back, but luckily that Christ fellow has already paid my debt.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Saddam and Osama: the New Revelations
Via Powerline.
FP: Recently the government has decided to release millions of documents captured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why are these documents being released now and why are they important?

Joscelyn: For the past several years, American forces have been collecting documents and other pieces of media from the fallen regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the Iraqi documents were authored by Saddam’s intelligence apparatus, the Mukhabarat (Iraqi Intelligence Service), while many of the documents captured in Afghanistan were authored by al Qaeda operatives or the Taliban. Despite the potentially significant intelligence value of these documents, the U.S. government has been rather lackadaisical in getting the documents translated and analyzed. To date, less than 5% of the documents have been reviewed. So, out of a total of 2 million documents, only about 100,000 documents (give or take) have been reviewed.

This woeful state of affairs came to the attention of Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard last year. Since then he has published numerous articles on what is known about the documents and called for their release. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, bloggers and others have joined in calling for the release of the documents as well. Congressman Peter Hoekstra, who is the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Rick Santorum have carried the ball from there. Each has been pushing for the release of the documents. Finally, in February, President Bush told his staff to release the documents.

Since then, a small collection of documents has been released via the web. Why release these documents to the public now? Well, if the government isn’t going to take the time to look through them, then why not give researchers, the media, bloggers and the public a chance to review them?
FP: Do we have any idea what is in the Iraqi Intelligence documents regarding Saddam's ties to al Qaeda and global terrorism?

Joscelyn: Yes, we do. But first, a caveat. Since so few of the documents have been reviewed, it is difficult to say what the complete picture of Saddam’s activities will look like. We also know that a large number of documents and other pieces of media were destroyed as U.S. forces entered the country. Furthermore, the majority of the documents have not been authenticated. Great care should be exercised in analyzing these documents and we should always be wary of forgeries.

However, the Iraqi intelligence documents that have been authenticated by the U.S. intelligence community offer a startling view of Saddam’s ties to global terrorism, including al Qaeda.

Founders of Establish Beer Magazine

If you sign up soon, you can get a low, forever "founders" price.

More Iranian Stuff

First from Mark Steyn:

You know what's great fun to do if you're on, say, a flight from Chicago to New York and you're getting a little bored? Why not play being President Ahmadinejad? Stand up and yell in a loud voice, "I've got a bomb!" Next thing you know the air marshal will be telling people, "It's OK, folks. Nothing to worry about. He hasn't got a bomb." And then the second marshal would say, "And even if he did have a bomb it's highly unlikely he'd ever use it." And then you threaten to kill the two Jews in row 12 and the stewardess says, "Relax, everyone. That's just a harmless rhetorical flourish." And then a group of passengers in rows 4 to 7 point out, "Yes, but it's entirely reasonable of him to have a bomb given the threatening behavior of the marshals and the cabin crew."

That's how it goes with the Iranians. The more they claim they've gone nuclear, the more U.S. intelligence experts -- oops, where are my quote marks? -- the more U.S. intelligence "experts" insist no, no, it won't be for another 10 years yet. The more they conclusively demonstrate their non-compliance with the IAEA, the more the international community warns sternly that, if it were proved that Iran were in non-compliance, that could have very grave consequences. But, fortunately, no matter how thoroughly the Iranians non-comply it's never quite non-compliant enough to rise to the level of grave consequences. You can't blame Ahmadinejad for thinking "our enemies cannot do a damned thing."

Amir Tahiri, writing in the Telegraph, has his finger on the pulse of Iranian thinking:
In Ahmadinejad's analysis, the rising Islamic "superpower" has decisive advantages over the infidel. Islam has four times as many young men of fighting age as the West, with its ageing populations. Hundreds of millions of Muslim "ghazis" (holy raiders) are keen to become martyrs while the infidel youths, loving life and fearing death, hate to fight. Islam also has four-fifths of the world's oil reserves, and so controls the lifeblood of the infidel. More importantly, the US, the only infidel power still capable of fighting, is hated by most other nations.

According to this analysis, spelled out in commentaries by Ahmadinejad's strategic guru, Hassan Abassi, known as the "Dr Kissinger of Islam", President George W Bush is an aberration, an exception to a rule under which all American presidents since Truman, when faced with serious setbacks abroad, have "run away". Iran's current strategy, therefore, is to wait Bush out. And that, by "divine coincidence", corresponds to the time Iran needs to develop its nuclear arsenal, thus matching the only advantage that the infidel enjoys.
The Iranian plan is simple: playing the diplomatic game for another two years until Bush becomes a "lame-duck", unable to take military action against the mullahs, while continuing to develop nuclear weapons.

The terrorists learned, or thought they learned, from Carter onwards was that the American people and leadership are weak and lack will. We will back down in the face of trouble. We don't have the stomach for it.

The West is filled with Neville Chamberlins. Wait for the next one.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mr. Softee

One of the greatest things about childhood was Mr. Softee. Beg your mom or dad for money. Go out and and get some ice cream.

There are advantages to being an adult. Heard the music. Dropped my conversation with my wife mid-sentence. Ran out into the street and bought some custard.

Life is good.

Tax Day

Steven Levitt of Freakonomics was on Michael Smerconish's show today. He mentioned that pretty much all economists favor something similar to a flat tax. Apparently, the economic cost of complying with a complicated tax code is high and that is one of their main concerns.

I wonder what all the accountants would do if they ever simplified the tax code. Hopefully, something productive.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Article Figures Out Reason for Islamic Terrorism

The writer missed the lack of belief in original sin, but other than that, this guy seems to understand the dynamic pretty well.
But therein also lies the conundrum. If Islam is superior, then how to explain the horrific conditions in and the palpable weakness of most Islamic societies ? How can a belief system that is superior produce so much political tyranny, economic backwardness and social decay?

Within this context, much of the Islamist rage against the external world can be encapsulated in the fact that tiny Israel every year produces more scientific patents and publishes more books than all of its Muslim neighbors combined.

The cognitive dissonance produced by the gap between belief in the superiority of Islam and the reality of the backwardness of Islamic societies is so profound as to require a reinterpretation of the failures of Islamic societies in such a manner as to absolve Islam.

We come, then, to the fundamental source of Islamist terrorism—the need to find scapegoats outside of Islam in order to retain a belief in Islam’s superiority.

Tsumani Aid Subject to Massive Fraud

Saturday, April 15, 2006

O Death, Where Is Thy Victory?

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
"O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?"

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Philadelphia Inquirer:
Tapping Into Good Beers

Very good article trying to introduce good beer to people.
Imagine that when it came to wine most Americans drank only lambrusco, the sweet, soda-pop red made famous by Riunite.

You'd go into a wine store and it would be stacked with aisle after aisle of lambruscos - with maybe a few burgundies and chardonnays in a corner.

You'd go out to eat and the wine list would have 20 different lambruscos - and only one or two cabernet sauvignons or pinot grigios.

What a sad place this nation would be. Nothing but lambrusco, lambrusco and more lambrusco.

Now you understand the situation in America when it comes to beer.

More than 80 percent of the market is dominated by a handful of mega-breweries that make versions of lager, mostly of the pilsner variety. Light in color, light in taste, light in alcohol content.

In America, beer is almost always a blonde.

The problem is not looks - not with chemical enhancements to give it a rich color and a foamy head. The problem is taste.

The difference between drinking fine beers and these mass-produced lagers is the difference between eating a steak and eating a picture of a steak.

Until about a decade ago, even if you wanted to experiment with different beers, you were mostly out of luck - not just in Philadelphia, but pretty much everywhere. Mercifully, the Dark Ages are over, and we have been happily in the midst of a beer renaissance.

Must-Read Article on Iran

The situation with Iran is getting bad, fast.

South Park Tackling Muhammad Cartoons
When a pundit suggests they all bury their heads in the sand so the extremists will know they were not watching the episode, one citizen dares speak out:

Freedom of speech is at stake here, don't you all see? If anything, we should all make cartoons of Muhammad and show the terrorists and the extremists that we are all united in the belief that every person has a right to say what they want.

Look, people, it's been really easy for us to stand up for free speech lately. For the past few decades, we haven't had to risk anything to defend it. One of those times is right now. And if we aren't willing to risk what we have now, then we just believe in free speech, but won't defend it.

Jeffrey Maier May Go to the Big Leagues

Yes, that Jeffrey Maier.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Mysteries of Guinness Revealed

I recommend reading the entire article, esp. if you like Guinness. But there were two things that caught my attention.

Guinness Essence:
And then there’s Guinness Essence, a key ingredient in the beer brewed outside of James’s Gate. Basically Guinness without the alcohol, Guinness Essence is shipped from Dublin to Guinness breweries and contractors around the world, where it’s added to a base beer brewed locally. The entire process is conducted according to strict guidelines; according to Murray, it lends a “touch of Dublin” to every batch, regardless of place of origin.

Foreign Extra Stout:
Beer lovers are constantly asking: "Why can't I get Foreign Extra Stout in the US?" FES being the much loved 7.5 percent version of Guinness found in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Murray noted that it doesn't make any business sense, and that Guinness runs through some big distributors nationwide. Most are old-school and not in the biz of dealing with specialty brands. They'd most likely not put any effort into selling it, not know what to do with it, and not want to focus on anything that might cut into their Guinness Draught cash cow. As much as we'd love to see it in the US, we'd have to agree. It'd be a damn shame to introduce this beer to the US and have it rot on the shelves.

Belgian IPA Beer Coming Out

Ok, I know non-beer people won't understand how interesting this is to beer people.

Belgian beers tend to be all sorts of things, but generally not hoppy. Their yeast strains usually impart very unique flavors. It's hard to describe, but it is wonderful.

My guess is that the burst of creativity of American breweries is reaching back to Europe. This is a good thing.

N.T. Wright Deciphers the Gibberish of the Da Vinci Code
This is pertinent to the Gospel of Judas as well.
he Christian writers of the early second century know and revere the four canonical Gospels, but show no knowledge of traditions like the Gnostic writings. When the canon of the New Testament was finally decided upon, it was not a matter of selecting four books arbitrarily from a list of several dozen. It was a matter of noting that these four Gospels had been known from very early onto have been the core testimony to Jesus.
In fact, the contemporary myth gets things exactly the wrong way round. It isn't the case that the canonical New Testament is politically and socially quiescent, colluding with empire, while the Jesus whom we meet in the Nag Hammadi texts and similar documents is politically and socially subversive, so dangerous that he had to be suppressed. It's the other way round, and this may be among the most telling points we have to recognize for today. You may salve your own conscience by embracing Gnosticism, by telling yourself how very wicked the world is and how you are going to escape it once and for all by following the path of spiritual self-discovery and enlightenment. But if Caesar takes any notice at all, all he will do is sneer at you and go on his way to yet more triumphs of sheer power. And if that happened in the second century, we can be sure it's precisely what's happening today. Heidegger and Bultmann couldn't prevent Hitler; Derrida and Foucault and their numerous disciples can't do anything to stop the new empires of today. Certainly those who are advocating a new kind of do-it-yourself spirituality, and claiming that Jesus is somehow in or behind it all, cut no ice on the political front.

Let me translate what I think Wright is saying. Gnosticism was like the other mystery religions in the Roman Empire. Politically, Rome wouldn't think it was a political threat.

Al Mohler has another article on why the claims of the Da Vinci Code can be easily dismissed.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Chris Satullo Got Back to Me

Mr. Satullo is the writer from the Philadelphia Inquirer. I won't put the email up, but I'll give you the jist.

He affirmed that he was a church-going Christian and that Jesus was his Lord and Savior. He was against "literalists". His faith isn't weak that it needs a literally true Bible. Literalists try to contain God, etc., etc.

He found literalist assertions about the Bible to be based on dubious assertions and that our views about the book are almost idolatrous.

I reiterated how the New Testament can be shown to be reliable. I mentioned how Jesus viewed the Old Testament Scriptures. Basicly, like a literalist. And if Jesus is Mr. Satullo's Lord and Savior, His views should take precedence.

If God has spoken to us, it is not putting God in a box to recognize that fact. Nor is it honorable to deny it.

I mentioned to Mr. Satullo that I believed he had a presuppostion against Scripture. I'm not sure if there is anything that could be demonstrated to him that Scripture was Scripture.

Update: Something popped into my head and I dropped him a quick note.

Hey, something just popped into my head. If you say that saying God communicates to people through a litterally true Bible limits God, tames God, or puts Him in a box, aren't you placing God in a box by saying He can't communicate [to] us via the means of Scripture with the intention that we recognize it? Since the Internet cannot convey tone of voice, I don't want you to interpret this as "gotcha" momment. But I do want us to think in terms of looking for internal inconsistencies of our arguments.

Update: We've interacted again. Mr. Satullo is to be commended. The tone of our exchange is respectful and he is asking me questions about what I believe. Most interesting question? I mentioned to him that Paul quotes one of the gospels (Luke) and he wanted to know how that was possible since Paul wrote his epistles earlier than most dates given for the gospels. Answer? Luke sometimes travelled with Paul. If you look at Acts, you see Paul is still alive at the end. So Paul would have had contact with Luke and any writing he had at the time. In other words, the dating for Luke is way too late.

Global Warming Should Produce Less Intense Storms
If the models are correct, global warming reduces the temperature differences between the poles and the equator. When you have less difference in temperature, you have less excitation of extratropical storms, not more. And, in fact, model runs support this conclusion. Alarmists have drawn some support for increased claims of tropical storminess from a casual claim by Sir John Houghton of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that a warmer world would have more evaporation, with latent heat providing more energy for disturbances. The problem with this is that the ability of evaporation to drive tropical storms relies not only on temperature but humidity as well, and calls for drier, less humid air. Claims for starkly higher temperatures are based upon there being more humidity, not less--hardly a case for more storminess with global warming.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Mexico's Hypocritical Immigration Laws

Among other things:
Pursuant to Article 33, "Foreigners may not in any way participate in the political affairs of the country." This ban applies, among other things, to participation in demonstrations and the expression of opinions in public about domestic politics like those much in evidence in Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere in recent days.

Global Warming Stopped in 1998
For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco. Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).

Sunday, April 09, 2006

My Response to Today's Philadelphia Inquirer Article "Good News form the other Christians"

Here is Chris Satullo's article. And this is what I was responding to:
Ehrman, a biblical scholar, used to believe the Bible was perfect and literally true. But his scholarship taught him how flawed were the translations on which churches have built superstructures of doctrine and practice.

What's more, even in the ancient Greek, the originals had been lost beneath generations of fiddles by scribes, who acted either out of sloppiness or theological agenda.

Ehrman obsessed over this: "If one wants to insist that God inspired the very words of Scripture, what would be the point if we don't have the very words of Scripture?"

Believers with an emotional stake in inerrancy may be troubled by Ehrman's book. Those more troubled by reductive readings that enlist Scripture in right-wing politics may find it exhilarating.

This is my response, let's hope they publish it (but that's what blogs are for):
Chris Satullo's article and its reliance on Bart
Ehrman's reasoning is a good example of the maxim "a
little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

There are thousands of New Testament manuscripts
copied under no one controlling authority from various
locations across the ancient world. Unless God strikes
scribes who make errors dead, there will be variations
derived from this process.

If there was one controlling authoriy responsible for
copying texts, the text itself would not be the
ultimate authority for a Christian. Instead, it would
be the controlling authority. Plus, Da Vinci
Code-types would be able to reasonably claim the
authority manipulated the texts. The textual tradition
we have prevent this charge from having any validity,
so we can have more confidence in the validity of the
New Testament texts.

The numerous texts from different regions and from
different ages allow us to get back to the original
manuscrips via the process of textual criticism. Since
scribes made errors, they didn't all make the same
errors. Spelling errors and word order problems are
easy for scholars to spot and disregard. In some
cases, marginal notes became incorporated to the text
itself. But we realized this because not all
manuscripts, especially the earliest ones, contain the
marginal notes. In the small amount of variations
where we are unsure which variation is the original
reading (note I did not say we don't have the original
reading), no basis of any Christian doctrine is

For the sake of argument, let's assume that the New
Testament is not inspired by God. We still are left
with a highly reliable document which accurately
represent the intentions of their authors.
Furthermore, the early church fathers who knew the
apostles further authenticate the content of the New
Testament by quoting it in their writings.

The apostles gave their lives for the message
contained in the New Testament. Those who knew the
apostles gave their lives for that same message as
well. The problem isn't that taking the New Testament
seriously and literally does not accord with the
textual and historic evidence. The problem is that the
New Testament calls us to have faith in God through
Jesus and to abandon our sin, and that is something we
are loathe to do. We will latch onto any reason to
abandon the text which threatens to change our lives.

Geoff Robinson

I would fully encourage those who are truly interested in the topic of textual variations to visit Dr. James R. White's ministry. He does a web broadcast Tuesday 11am MST and Thursday 4pm MST (Arizona doesn't do the timezone thing). Feel free to call him and pose your question.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Article on French Perceptions on Economics

Friday, April 07, 2006

God and the Sopranos II: Quantum Mechanics and Eastern Philosophy

So besides running into a Young Earth Creationist, Tony Soprano runs into a former Bell Labs worker who combines aspects of quantum mechanics (specifically quantum entanglement) and Eastern philosophy.

Here are my notes, thanks to Comcast OnDemand:
While watching boxers the Bell Labs guy says that viewing the boxers as separate entities is an illusion. Separate entitites is how we choose to perceive them. Tony Soprano points out that he didn't choose anything.

He bases this understanding on physics. We are all part of the same quantum field. Ocean waves, for example, appear to be two things. Everything is connected, nothing is separate.

The universe is a big soup of molecules. The shapes we see exist only in our own consciousness.

I haven't thought about this too long, but the first thing I want to look for is internal consistency.

First, things can be connected in some manner while still being distinct, separate entities. You can talk about each distinct wave while still noting that both belong to the ocean. I would grant that we are all part of the physical universe. But beyond that, is this Bell Labs guy making any sense?

If being separate, in any sense, is an illusion how would the Bell Labs guy ever figure this out? If all the shapes we see are illusions, how did the guy figure out it was an illusion? And as Tony Soprano pointed out, we didn't choose how we perceive things.

If we aren't separate entitities, why is this guy talking to Tony? According to his beliefs, he is talking to an illusion. If you believe everything is one with no distinctions, why would you do anything?

What is your consciousness then? Our perceptions are not only illusory, but the existence of your perceived consciousness must be an illusion as well since it can't be differentiated from anything else. At least if I understand where the Sopranos is going with this. And if our consciousness is illusory why are we perceiving anything let alone different things from one another? A belief that everything is connected and cannot be separated/differentiated would have to be an illusion as well. And if that's an illusion, this belief has been crushed by the law of non-contradiction.

That is unless you argue that we are connected while still being separate and distinct. But I don't think that's what the character is arguing.

It appears he doesn't believe what he is saying. Actually, he can't believe in what he is saying and get through a day. You wouldn't be able to eat food. Hey, that sandwhich is not actually separate from me. That's just an illusion. I'm not separate from the other cars on the road. That's just just an illusion.

The boxer who doesn't think he is a distinct entity from the other boxer will get land his butt on the canvas pretty quickly.

So while we may be connected in some sense, no one truly believes that there is no distinction or separateness between yourself and the rest of the world. And if you try to tell me otherwise, you are knowingly trying to communicate with someone else.

If anyone else would like to clarify the Bell Labs worker's comments, please feel free to drop a comment.

Al Mohler Has a Good Article on the Gospel of Judas

New Jersey Challenging Massachusetts as Most Liberal State
But Rebovich, acknowledging that "New Jersey's budget is a very complicated issue," asserts that "when it comes to liberal spending, New Jersey ranks right up there." The state also has one of the largest unionized work forces in the nation; one in every five workers belongs to a union.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, residents of New Jersey pay the highest local property taxes in the nation, more than twice the national average.

According to the Tax Foundation, New Jersey ranks 14th in the nation and higher than Massachusetts for the combined state/local tax burden on its residents. New Jersey residents have to work eight days longer than average to pass "Tax Freedom Day," the point on the calendar that conservatives point to as the day when Americans have earned enough money to pay their tax bills for the year.

Among states levying personal income taxes, New Jersey has the sixth highest in the nation, higher than Massachusetts.
"New Jersey's budget is a sea of red ink from years of political neglect," Rebovich said. "Many residents are irate that when companies like Ford and GM said they were dealing with tough financial times, they laid off 20,000 workers each. Governor Corzine says the same about New Jersey, and only 1,000 state workers will face the axe.

"The feeling is New Jersey probably could have trimmed the government more. People just feel that the mistakes of Trenton are being directly passed on to them," said Rebovich.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Reactions to My Unam Sanctum vs Catechism Article

My best friend, who is Roman Catholic, posted to his parish's Internet bulleting board a question about my recent article. Good question. Shows honesty. He wants to believe what is true and to test his beliefs. He also wants to see what the Catholic response would be.

I found the responses to be interesting. Some were from an old friend from high school (more on that later).
Anyway, I think this idea of “one true church” is something many of us have struggled with, who gets to heaven? Who achieves salvation? These are questions which we will never really know for sure, at least IMO. ... This is where faith comes into play most of all, faith that God knows what he’s doing and that in the end all will be revealed.

Why can't we know that for sure?

While I would argue I can't know whether that is the case or not for specific individuals, Scripture has made the conditions for salvation known to us. Otherwise, you should live in fear your entire life.

This comment is telling and it is common among those who belong to churches and those outside. There is a deep skeptism. How can I know something like that?

My question in return would be: Has God made any of that known to us? Has he revealed knowledge of who receives salvation? If the answer is yes, skeptism on the question is no moral virtue. Instead, it would be disbelief.

If God tells you X and you say we can't be sure about X, that isn't an admirable or good position to take.

It is Scripture that testifies that we need to believe in Jesus. Peter (who should hold some sway for Roman Catholics) said "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

Another person wrote the following:
Can't help but think of my mother speaking to a priest about someone who'd died. Don't remember if that someone had no faith or what, but, when asked if he/she was Catholic, Mom said "he/she is now."

My aforementioned friend from high school also wrote the following:
I find it very difficult to believe that I will never see any of my friends (I’m the only Catholic) or my husband (has become a non-practicing Catholic) in heaven should I get there myself.

Do you see a thread in these reactions? Concern for loved-ones. Either friends or family. In other words, concern and emotion trumps traditional teachings or biblical teachings. This is where the creeping Roman Catholic universalism comes from. People don't want their loved ones to be in eternal, spiritual trouble. And, frankly, I don't want them to be in trouble either. That's why I want people to have faith in Jesus.

I also would like to notice the sadness of the last statement. "...should I get there myself." I'm used to running into people's skepticism about knowing spiritual matters. But look what the results in. Is that in my high school friend's best interests?

How does Scripture speak? "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." (1 John 5:13)

But that wasn't really what my friend was originally asking. He wasn't asking what people are or are not going to heaven. He was asking how can we say we have an infallible Church, whose teachings we are told to rely on, when they aren't consistent in what they teach. Biblical and Roman Catholic teachings on the topic of inclusivism are important. But I was dealing with infallibility and church authority.

My high school friend responds to that point: "I understand what Geoff is saying, but I don't think it's not unprecidented that the Church change its position. But what the heck do I know. Take care."

So the answer seems to be "yes, this is a contradiction."

This post now needs to go on a major tangent.

My old friend shared some personal information.
Anyway, I knew Geoff very well in high school. I know exactly what you mean when you say he believe what he does very strongly, I attribute my fall from the Church when I was in HS & start of college to him and our many long conversations after Bible Study, I was very impressionable then. Thankfully I met a wonderful person in college who brought me back & to him I have always been grateful.
BTW, I still e-mail [another mutual friend] from time to time; he seems to be doing very well. While he and I had different beliefs he never tried to make mine feel like they were totally wrong like some other people (see above) did.

Now, I will confess that I am forceful about what I believe, even non-spiritual matters. When this person knew me I was 16 and 17 and a very new Christian. I didn't then and don't always now handle myself with grace and tact.

She may feel I am/was a jerk for making her feel that her beliefs (or some of them) were wrong. (I'm not sure how much she is viewing my lack of grace versus my proclaiming what I feel is true.)

I cared about the old friend. I was concerned about how she was doing and about her well-being. Frankly, I can't remember specific topics of conversation regarding Roman Catholicism. It's been a while. If I care about someone, I am going to contend for the truth, since it is for everyone's own good to believe true things...esp. in spiritual matters.

If I've spoken my peace or if someone says "please stop talking to me about this", I won't bring it up anymore. But I want to get the information into the person's head so they can think about it. From there, it is up to them. That doesn't mean if we disagree we can't be friends, buddies, etc.

Now, if it is poor form to tell people they are wrong, what are we to make of Jesus and the apostles?

"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

I quoted Peter earlier to say that there is no other way except for Jesus.

Stephen, the first martyr, said to the religious authorities "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ear! You always resits the Holy Spirit." (Acts 7:51)

Paul preached to the Greeks and said "these time of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent..." (Acts 17:30)

After debating Jewish people, Paul began to be opposed. What did he say? "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean." (Acts 18:6)

Ok, you are saying "enough." The pattern is clear. Jesus and the apostles and the early Christians told people they were wrong when they were wrong. Not to crush them or to get people to agree with them just for the sake of it. (And granted they possessed much more grace and boldness than I do.) But for their well-being. So that they may have life and have it abundantly.

A few final thoughts. If someone says you have a problem or doing something wrong if you tell someone they believe something which is wrong, what are they saying? They are saying that your belief in proclaiming what you believe is wrong. So, according to their own belief, they themselves are wrong to say you are wrong.

If someone believes in something detrimental to their own person, is it loving to leave them be? No. (At this point, I want to say I am not judging our mutual friend. Nor am I concerned that our friend says he didn't make her feel she was wrong. Obviously, I was having enough conversations that he didn't need to talk to her. Or maybe he didn't feel it was appropriate in his situation. Or maybe he did disagree, but with more tact.)

Love is more radical. It is not rude. However, it does not rejoice in inquity, but rejoices in the truth. (I Cor. 13:5-6)

I am opinionated. It doesn't matter much if you disagree with me about beer, Moneyball, economics, political matters, and a vast of other things. But Jesus is different. I may be opinionated. But that doesn't mean I'm wrong. That doesn't mean you don't need to believe in Jesus. I may be opinionated, but that doesn't mean I don't care about you. I will try to dialogue with you. We may agree to disagree and then do something else. Have a beer. Play a video game. Something like that.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sopranos and God I: Young Earth Creationism and Evangelism

This week's episode of the Soprano's tackles Young Earth Creationism. That the belief that the Earth is roughly 6000 years old, or somewhere near that.

As an Old Earth Creationist, I found the episode quite interesting. Darwin is in his death throws (here is the latest Darwinian problem). But the evidence for a much older Earth/universe is very strong.

While it is possible that I could reach Judgment Day with my mind changed, I don't think it is likely.

In the Soprano's episode, Tony is very much interested in what the evangelical has to say. But when he starts talking about Young Earth views and other such "evolution is from Satan" points, Tony doesn't loses trust in what the guy is saying.

I understand where the Young Earthers are coming from. I don't agree with their reading of scientific evidence nor their views that Old Earth views can't be compatible with the Bible, but I understand where they are coming from.

I also understand why Tony Soprano would tune out what a Young Earther would say about the gospel. And that's unfortunate, given the evidence for Jesus, the Resurrection, the Bible, etc.

Monday, April 03, 2006

the Roman Catholic Catechism vs. Unam Sanctum

I wrote a quick little article on how Roman Catholic teachings have changed over the years regarding people outside of their Church. It has pertinance to those who believe the Roman Church is infallible.

While studying the Anonymous Christian theory, the Roman Catholic moves towards inclusivism keep cropping up.

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