Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rom 1 reply, 38: On willful defiance of God, his creation order for sexuality and consequential sound principles of morality under false colours of law and "rights"

Given some recent triumphalism by those who imagine such to be progress,  it seems I need to explicitly address the recent US Supreme Court decisions which come on the heels of acts passed under false colours of law in the UK and France.

First, let us be utterly clear on the designed intent of the manipulators pushing this agenda behind the scenes.

We need to know what is at stake.

Matt Barber comments, aptly:
[The decision on] Windsor, presumes to invalidate Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), granting limited federal recognition to sin-centric and sodomy-based same-sex “marriage.” . . . .  As we’ve now seen in states that fancy mock “gay marriage,” for instance, the only way to force Christian individuals and business owners – such as bakers, photographers, innkeepers and florists – to lend their talents to sin-centered “gay weddings” is through the power of the police state. This amounts to a systemic, immoral and profoundly unconstitutional trampling of the First Amendment.

What follows will be a deviant-sexual-behavior-based “LGBT” suspect minority class with all the associated trimmings. In the eyes of government, Bible-believing Christians will be treated as modern-day racists. Any outward expression of the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic will be trumped by newfangled “gay rights” and deemed verboten. For all intents and purposes, Christianity will be criminalized. This is not mere speculation. It’s been the plan all along.

Case in point: Chai Feldblum, President Obama’s EEOC commissioner – a lesbian activist who supports “plural marriage” – has promised as much. She admits that progressives “want to revolutionize societal norms” and believes that “gay sex is a moral good.” She calls the clash between religious liberty and “sexual liberty” a “zero-sum game,” meaning someone wins and someone loses. Guess who loses? Feldblum has “a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.”
Notice, who this is speaking, a person chosen by the very president of the US hailed as a political messiah and applauded by so many of us in the Caribbean; chosen, to advance equality in the workplace. Whose agenda now proposes to instead offer Christians the choice of conscience or the means of eating bread.

The echo of end of days prophecy -- this is an obvious satanic dry run --  is blatant, so not at all surprising:

The beasts of Rev, with the Dragon
Rev 13:11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence,[c] and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed . . . 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave,[e] to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666. [All cites ESV]
The fire of Rome, AD 64. Christians, unjustly
blamed for arson, were put to death in horrific ways
In short, the spirit of Nero rides again, and would rob us of our souls under the false pretence that to object on principles of sound morality  to the perversion of sexual ethics is hate and bigotry tantamount to racism. Even as in the days of pagan Rome, Christians were deemed traitors and enemies of the state and people for refusing to bow before an idolatrous altar of Caesar and sprinkle salt in a flame, proclaiming as a test and proof of loyalty, "Caesar is Lord." Even, as Christians in Rome in AD 64 were unjustly blamed for the fire in Rome of July 18, and were hauled before unjust courts and put to death in horrific ways as enemies of humanity. 

So, it is again in prospect that if we will not bow to Caesar as he usurps that which belongs only to God, we are to be robbed of the means of daily subsistence under false colour of law backed up by slanders now revealed to be utterly deadly in intended effect

He who would rob me of my means of subsistence, would rob me of my life. He who would rob me of my conscience instructed by the word of God would rob me of my soul.

Thus lies nakedly revealed the dragonish, calculatedly ruthless spirit of our age.

But of course, many would rise up to challenge the idea that homosexual behaviour is against the law of God, and others would try to argue that the God of the Bible is a figment of our bronze age imagination who we should discard as we progress to the new era of secularist utopia. 

Some utopia if you ask me, if this is a sample of what awaits us.

Let me make clear in reply, first, the foundation of rights as understood by those who began the modern democratic experiment, by way of showing the matches that are being played with here. Let us call to the witness stand, first the US Declaration of Independence of 1776 in its pivotal second paragraph:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . .
Likewise, the same John Locke whose thoughts are ever so deeply embedded in the above, when he set out to ground the principles of liberty, cited "the judicious [anglican canon Richard] Hooker [in his Ecclesiastical Polity]" as follows in his Second Treatise on Civil Government, Ch 2 Sect. 5:

. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man's hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, "ch." 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.]

Our rights are an endowment of the inherently good and wise God, our Creator, who has made us in his image, and in so doing has made us equally human, but distinctly male and female. Consequently -- this is so obvious from our basic biology and requisites of natural justice -- a man may leave the household of his mother and father and cleave to his wife, becoming one flesh so that from the act of marital union the next generation may come and be nurtured. 

Society must respect this creation order if it is to be sound and stable. 

If society instead sets out to undermine this or substitute a demonically perverted counterfeit, the consequences are bound to be utterly destructive. As, we are seeing all across our civilisation today; through a long train of abuses and usurpations consistently pursuing a common design of perversion presented under false colours of rights and equality.

So, let us be utterly clear on what the scriptures have to say regarding such perversion (cf. .the PS below on why I freely say such):
Rom 1:Paul, a servant[a] of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David[b] according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord . . . . 

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,[e] as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”[f]

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
The gospel and the scriptures that communicate it to us are authenticated by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead with over five hundred witnesses, not one of whom could ever be shaken.

It is worth pausing to read here on in context, and to  watch here, to flesh this out:

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel from Slaves4Christ on Vimeo.

In the context of that authentic good news of God's mercy, if we refuse forgiveness and transformation through regeneration, we must face his just wrath at our willful, sinful rebellion. For the decisive evidence that points to God as the foundation of reality is all around us, but too often we choose to turn from it and suppress it. Thus, we spin out of control both intellectually and morally. Under the first, we tend to substitute images made to look like creatures and myths presented under the false name of knowledge, for the evident truth of God stamped in nature and in our own hearts and minds. For the second, our corrupt minds and benumbed consciences lead us to go into all sorts of destructive sinful behaviour, including sexual ones, and including perversions of sex.

Such things are utterly incompatible with salvation by being forgiven and transformed by God through the grace that is in the prophesied, fulfilled, crucified and risen Christ.

However, there is hope as we can see from this excerpt from a letter to Christians in a city that was notorious even among pagans for its decadent immorality:
1 Cor 6:Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
So, whose report will we believe and whose authority will we obey?

The apostles, challenged and threatened by the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, answer for all serious Christians in all ages:
Acts 4:18 So [the Sanhedrin] called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

And again, shortly after, in the face of the threat of death for daring to disobey the authority of the Council that was dominated by some powerful but patently corrupt and abusive men:
 Acts 5: 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

So, let it be clearly known to one and all, if it comes to the choice being put before us, we will obey God rather than men usurping that which belongs only to God. 

Even, in the threat of impoverishment, slandering of reputation, and even starvation.

And let those whose agenda implies that, understand that by threatening slander, livelihood and conscience, they show themselves to be following not the right or rights, but instead evil, pure unadulterated evil. Let them beware, therefore, of Him with whom they trifle and before whom they shall stand in eternal judgement.  END

PS: It may be useful to observe the following references taken from the RH column of this blog, to document specific views and to answer to typical questions and objections:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Matt 24 Watch, 212: A recent profile of young, former church-goers turned atheists, tells us much about what we need to do to reach our civilisation with the gospel

Larry Alex Taunton, writing recently in the Atlantic Monthly, gives us a profile -- based on a survey -- of why young people in the USA leave the church to become atheists. (It is important to note as WK does, that "[most] participants had not chosen their worldview from ideologically neutral positions at all, but in reaction to Christianity.")

This is of course relevant to us because of the influence of the US-dominated Internet, popular media and the general trend that if America sneezes, we here in the Caribbean often get flu. That is, we are again looking at the onrushing cultural and spiritual tidal waves challenge to our region, and our need to be adequately equipped to respond.

Excerpting the list that profiles these young skeptics:
  • They had attended church
  • The mission and message of their churches was vague
  • They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life's difficult questions
  • They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously
  • Ages 14-17 were decisive
  • The decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one
  • The internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism
It is worth noting more on this last point:
When our participants were asked to cite key influences in their conversion to atheism--people, books, seminars, etc. -- we expected to hear frequent references to the names of the "New Atheists." We did not. Not once. Instead, we heard vague references to videos they had watched on YouTube or website forums.
This actually means the New Atheists are having their planned cultural buzz and momentum effect. 

For, because people are influenced by and are boldly carrying their talking points far and wide in Internet fora of various kinds, and doubtless on College and High School campuses as well as the street and wider culture, it is having a word of mouth multiplier effect. 

By contrast, the many technically correct but not so hip or glib correctives have not had the cultural legs to gain a similar buzz. 

And of course when one or two -- even, well informed -- people try to intervene in the skepticism dominated fora, there is a swarming down as all sorts of attacks (mostly fallacious) are made. So there is a domination of clearly influential spaces, often based on groups that organise themselves informally and play team-tag to bait and beat down anyone who tries to correct the record. A capital example of this is of course YouTube, but something like Wikipedia is another, and there are ever so many like this.

Worse, because much of the rhetoric we are dealing with is deliberately toxic, stereotyping and scapegoating, it multiplies a mind-closing hostility.

Immediately, such needs to be decisively answered, in visually attractive and well organised ways, that can then be easily memorised and carried to countering fora on the Internet, street and campus.

However, there is a deeper pattern as well, noted by
We have a problem in America
  • 70-75% of Christian youth leave the church after high school (see survey data at Barna and USA Today).
  • Intellectual skepticism is one of the major reasons they walk away.
  • Most Christian students are not equipped to resist rabidly anti-Christian college professors who are intent on converting their students to atheism.
  • College professors are five times more likely to identify themselves as atheists than the general public.[--> i.e. about 75%; yes, three out of four professors in the USA are explicitly atheistical]
  • More than half of all college professors view evangelical Christian students unfavorably (see article
    at Free Republic).
  • The “new atheists” — Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens — are writing books and are growing in popularity.
The reason for this exodus is that Christian youth in America are not being taught to cross examine the skeptical and atheistic views they encounter when they leave home.
This pattern is actually fairly obvious to an attentive person, and indeed in a comment on the Atlantic article as presented at WK blog, Lindsay Harold writes:
None of this surprises me. It’s exactly what my husband and I have gathered from talking to atheists and reading deconversions stories. It’s exactly the sort of thing that happened to my brother-in-law (and would have happened to my husband if he hadn’t waited until college to make a decision and then gotten the answers he needed there).

The typical church isn’t answering the questions young people have about life. It doesn’t teach a comprehensive Biblical worldview and barely addresses apologetics. So when young people reach the age where they wrestle with the big questions of life, the church isn’t giving answers, and thus these young people come to see the church as irrelevant.

In seeking to become more friendly and non-combative (in order to attract more people), the church has given up on the “difficult” parts of Christianity (like apologetics) and left many without the answers they are seeking. What the church fails to understand is that those who think deeply can’t believe the core teachings of Christianity (sin, faith, redemption, heaven, etc.) in a vacuum. They need a complete, comprehensive worldview that is internally and externally consistent. The “non-essential” stuff (like creation, Biblical inerrancy, God’s plan for sexuality, Biblical apologetics, and more) is essential to these people if they are to believe any of it.
 In short, you cannot bring a teddy bear to a cultural knife-fight, dominated by angry, ruthless people, whether the hot anger of youth spewing Internet Atheism talking points, or College profs putting a smooth veneer on similar, but far more calculated hostility.

 So, we have a challenge.

Bringing a Teddy bear to a cultural
knife fight is a losing proposition
On the one hand we want to be winsome, and fear that "hard to understand" academic sounding topics may be a turnoff to a lot of people who will struggle with the topics, as well as there will be a concern about falling into cultural stereotypes about being "angry, irrational, stupid and dangerous right wing fundy theocrats and would be terrorists and tyrants," or the like. On the other, we cannot expect to be successful if we bring a teddy bear to a vicious cultural knife fight, hoping to make friends.

How can we answer to the two horns of the apparent dilemma? 

First, we must recognise that we are in the business of calling people to repentance in light of the truth of the gospel, thence to renewal, revival and reformation through the power of the God of Truth and Right, who stands behind the gospel and who is our creator, redeemer and merciful but just Lord. That is a non-negotiable.

Indeed, the scriptures that lay out the fullness of Christ vision theme are plain on the breadth and depth of the mandate of the church:
Eph 4: 10 He [Jesus], the very one who descended, is also the one who ascended above all the heavens, in order to fill all things.

11 It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God—a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature.

14 So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes. 15 But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head.

16 From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love. [NET]
It would be hard to be plainer than that. Christ came, descending, serving, loving, dying for our sins, rising, being exalted, pouring out his Spirit to equip us for works of service, to grow up in all things into his fulness. Particularly, as we mature as disciples through learning and living the truth in love, we are to escape the wiles of a deceitful culture and so we will be saved from winds and waves of deception and crafty schemes.

This brings to bear Peter's closely related remarks:
1Peter 3: 15 But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.

16 [And see to it that] your conscience is entirely clear ([e]unimpaired), so that, when you are falsely accused as evildoers, those who threaten you abusively and revile your right behavior in Christ may come to be ashamed [of slandering your good lives]. [AMP]
So, we are to be specifically trained to be able to answer to those who ask us the reason for our hope in the gospel. In so answering, we need to be careful that we do not become actually abusive -- though we should expect to be unfairly accused of that as part of the cultural knife fight attitude and the ad hominem attack rhetorical game.

Poof! A squid ink- cloud
getaway tactic in progress
Which, we will need to expose for what it is, an atmosphere-poisoning distraction that poofs out a toxic, confusing and polarising squid ink cloud behind which our accusers hope to escape without having to account for the fallacious assertions, smears, bigoted stereotypes and polarising slanders they have resorted to. Then, focus can duly be returned to the matters on the merits.

One probably will have to be patient with this, as it is likely that abuse will have become habitual, and the self-reinforcing cycle of anti_Christian bigotry will make it seem to the toxic objector that he is justified in his polarising and abusive behaviour. 

But after a few cycles, the message will begin to get through that such behaviour is unacceptable and indicates that the objector has little to say on the merits but is willing to vent his spleen by resorting to unsubstantiated accusations, fallacious talking points and attacks to the man.

Then, I believe in first things first, as the most direct and powerful demonstration of God to us is the gospel and its underlying facts of Jesus' prophesied salvific death, burial and witnessed resurrection that unstoppably launched the church as are summarised in 1 Cor 15:
1 Cor 15: 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. [ESV]
Here we have God acting on the stage of history in the figure of Messiah, fulfilling prophecy (showing who is in charge of history), being the redemption for our sins, and rising from death in demonstration of the new day that has come to us. Thus unstoppably launching the church.

This core message needs to be burned home, into our hearts and minds, again and again, as that solid pillar of truth which stands above all failings, real or imagined of the church and Christians, who are indeed finite, fallible and at best growing in grace. 

I think Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ video is a very useful tool, and is one that is attractive and stimulative to further discussion and reading:

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel from Slaves4Christ on Vimeo.

In this context, we can then begin to address discipleship and transformation of our own lives, families, studies, work, community service and more through the power of the gospel. 

In this context, it is worth noting Peter's farewell remarks as he faced martyrdom at Nero's hands, as being a ringleader of the alleged destructive cult he held responsible for the notorious fire of Rome (64 AD), as a distraction from the suspicion that was focussing on his own person:
Slander has consequences. Fire at Rome, July 18, 64 AD.
Christians were unjustly blamed for setting it, and many
paid with their lives, including the apostle Peter. It should have
been obvious that a fire starting two days after full Moon
was unlikely to be the work of arsonists. (Source)

2 Peter 1: 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty . . .

19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. [ESV]

 Worth the pondering. END 

PS: You will see how, early in the above video, a young miss says she does not believe in God as she grew up in an age of science. This reflects how the worldview of atheistical evolutionary materialism has been allowed to dress itself up in a lab coat and pass itself off as "Science." It is intended to take this up further, but it may be worth the while to look at Strobel's The Case for a Creator as a good first thought or two:

The Case For A Creator from JD Pilgrim on Vimeo.

Further food for thought.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife factory tour . . .

How twerdun:

For SAK fans here, there and everywhere. END

Dr Stephen Meyer talks with Michael Medved about his hot-selling new book, Darwin's Doubt (which has the usual evolutionary materialists and fellow travellers in an uproar -- an excellent sign)

This is well worth listening to, here:

Of course, I am in the process of adding Darwin's Doubt to my copy of Signature in the Cell and my copy of Signature of Controversy.

Amazon page, here

(Notice the screen capture of the two-peak pattern of reviews: those who read and take soberly give high marks, the trolls -- resentful that anyone is challenging the evolutionary materialist ideology -- are trying to drag down its rating, too often through unfair or even guttersnipe rhetorical tactics. Cf. IOSE here on.)

 Since I know all too well what it is like to be on the receiving end of Internet troll-mobs, let me excerpt what seems to be the most powerful early favourable customer review, by Thomas Gilson:

This is the book the evolutionists won't want you to read. It's too hot to handle: it might cause you to question whether evolution happened the way they say it did. And questions are horrible, right?

This risky volume is Stephen C Meyer's latest challenge to theories of undirected/unguided evolution. I have to admit, though, that it took a few hundred pages for me to warm up to the adventure of reading forbidden material -- and that's because the first 80 percent or so of the book contains nothing but mainstream science. Sure, it raises serious doubts about unguided evolution's explanatory power, but where do those doubts come from?

They come from Charles Darwin, to start with.

The title of the book refers to the difficulty he had in explaining the Cambrian Explosion; the vast proliferation of new animal body plans (new "phyla") or major animal groupings) that appears in fossils in the Cambrian strata, deposited some 530 million years ago. These animals appear suddenly in the fossil record, without any plausible predecessor such as Darwin's theory predicted. Meyer quotes Darwin,

"The difficulty of understanding the absence of vast piles of fossiliferous strata, which on my theory were no doubt somewhere accumulated before the Silurian [i.e., Cambrian] epoch, is very great. I allude to the manner in which numbers of species of the same group suddenly appear in the lowest known fossiliferous rocks."

Darwin saw this accurately as a challenge to his theory. It remains one still. The animals appear too quickly in the record to be explained through his gradualistic theory.

And it remains a challenge from the perspective of mainstream science. Various theories have been proposed in explanation of the suddenness with which these new phyla came on the scene. Perhaps selective fossilization caused their predecessors to disappear from paleontologists' view. Mainstream science casts serious doubt on that view. Statistical paleontology renders it deeply improbable. The soft-body hypothesis appears unlikely to succeed, since the evidence shows soft-bodied organisms have been frequently fossilized.

Or maybe the Cambrian animals' precursors really are there in the record, in the form of exotic Ediacaran fossils. But these organisms are not clearly animals of any sort, and what they are is so in confusion that they could hardly be considered evidence for anything. Further, Meyer points out,

"As *Nature* recently noted, if the Ediacaran fauna 'were animals, they bore little or no resemblance to any other creatures, either fossil or extant.' ... This absence of clear affinities has led an increasing number of paleontologists to reject an ancestor/dependent relationship between the Ediacaran and Cambrian fauna."

Scientists have proposed genetic histories for these phyla, but as Meyer pointedly puts it, these scenarios all "assume a gene." And a lot more besides. That is to say, they beg the question of evolution's explanatory adequacy by assuming that it must be true. From there they suggest pathways according to which genes "must have" evolved. But there's no evidence of it in the record.

I could go on summarizing chapter by chapter, but even in summary form it would lengthen this review beyond reason, and besides, the pattern remains the same: the hypotheses for explanations of the Cambrian explosion have been rejected -- by mainstream science.

That's the account Meyer gives of it. I'm no expert in the field, but I have to admit it's convincing. The Cambrian Explosion remains unexplained on any standard terms.

So if it's all basic science, what makes this book so hot? It's Meyer's suggestion that explanations need not be limited to standard terms; that the data might point to a Designer who intelligently guided the world to be the way it was 530 million years ago -- and by extension, today as well.

That's a tough one for mainstream science to swallow . . . 

That's what the trolls don't want you to think about. So, that's where a sensible person will be heading, real fast.   END

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Accidental caps lock? (An annoyance fixed thanks to the CapsUnlock utility . . . Bonus, WordGraph word processor & Kingsoft Office for Windows and Android.)

Caps Lock . . .
One of my pet peeves with PC keyboards has been the Caps Lock key. 

Y'know, that one next to Shift that gETS ACCIDENTALLY CLICKED WHEN YOU DON'T WANT>

Well, I had been looking for a replacement freebie utilitarian word processor for odd job tasks, since AbiWord has been unstable in my system. (Don't know why, just is.)

Word Graph
I discovered Van Loo Software's SS Office WordGraph [cf here], but there is no typical change case feature.

So, I went looking for a utility to lock out Caps Lock without playing around in the Registry.


Download, install, it goes to the tray next to the system clock, automatically engages on startup -- tiny, 33 kBytes, and you can turn it off if you really need Caps Lock. (Like, about every so often as a blue Moon.)

Bonus, it locks out the second annoyance, Insert, too.

Get it, install it, headache over. END

PS: Kingsoft Office from China looks great too, and it has an Android version, with iOS version coming. While we wait on Libre Office.

PPS: If it is necessary (as in the Caps Lock annoyance still crops up), right click Caps Unlock  in the tray, then uncheck the "Shift Key" over-ride.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Remembering D-Day, June 6th, 1944

Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion that was pivotal in WW II and its aftermath. For, by this invasion, not only was the defeat of Germany in the West effected but the torch of democratic self-government was re-lit in Europe.

The invasion in overview (credit: BBC)

Life has a photo display that is well worth looking at in reflection, e.g.:

A wounded American soldier, in France in 1944, receives Holy Eucharist and Last Rites from a Chaplain


HT WK, US President Reagan's 40th anniversary speech on the Boys of Point du Hoc (transcript here):

Let me draw out a lesson from Pres Reagan's speech, one that speaks beyond the Cold War era to our own day, nearly thirty years later, as we face yet another globally ambitious totalitarian ideology. IslamISM*:

In spite of our great efforts and successes, not all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They're still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost 40 years after the war. Because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as 40 years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose—to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.

We in America have learned bitter lessons from two World Wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.

But we try always to be prepared for peace; prepared to deter aggression; prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms; and, yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever.

It's fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II: 20 million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the Earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we are ready to seize that beachhead. We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.

We will pray forever that some day that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.
Within a decade -- and in the teeth of those who so stridently projected an immoral equivalency (or worse) between totalitarianism and those who, flawed though they were . . . as all people are,  stood foursquare as a bulwark against it -- the Cold War, the real World War III, was won. Won, without a major land war in Europe, the Middle East or Asia.

So also, as we see World War IV unfolding in our day, let us draw on these lessons. Even, as we see Iran (the principal IslamIST power) clearly sprinting towards the finish line of deliverable nuclear weapons.

  Let us also therefore remember the sacrifice and the significance. END


In fact we face a dual challenge (I have often spoken of the two tidal waves challenge), as our civilisation is fast threatening to collapse from within, due to the rise of a cluster of agendas that feed off the sort of willful, blinding, benumbing rebellion against God warned against in Rom 1 and Eph 4:17 - 24. Three dominant forces are radical, evolutionary materialist secular humanism, a rising ultra-/ post- modern neo paganism, and a widely apostate Christian church. (Cf notes in response here.)

Monday, June 03, 2013

A debate between Dan Barker and Casey Luskin on the Medved Show, regarding the academic legitimacy of an elective seminar by Eric Hedin, a PhD Astronomer of Ball State University, on "The Boundaries of Science" which engages science, worldviews, design thought, issues regarding God and religion, evidently taught from a generally ID-sympathetic perspective (rather than the usual aggressively hostile one)

Recently, Eric Hedin of Ball State University in Indiana has recently taught what seems to be a generally well-received elective seminar on the boundaries of science that uses people and resources from diverse perspectives and engages what the heading lists:   science, worldviews, design thought, issues regarding God and religion. The professor's perspective has been generally sympathetic to Intelligent Design.

However, once word got out that such a course existed with the professor's balance coming from such a perspective (instead of the party-line aggressive hostility to ID) there have been calls coming from Jerry Coyne, Dan Barker and co, to intervene harshly on grounds of alleged violation of separation of church and state, because the professor is alleged to be presenting the "discredited" ideas of "Creationism" and "Intelligent Design" as though they may have some scientific merits.

(NB: Translating, probably this means little more than that Hedin is openly somewhat sympathetic to Design Thought, which in line with common accusations -- of patently little merit -- in which ID is routinely (and inaccurately) equated to Bible-based Creationism. [As came out in the podcast debate below, in any number of cases across a wide range of subjects, a great many professors are openly or even aggressively on one side or the other of many contentious issues, and Mr Hedin is regarded as being scrupulously fair in grading in the elective seminar. In many cases this notoriously  includes aggressive proselytising of a priori materialist, scientistic, evolutionary materialist secular humanism, often presented as being "Science." Those who are unfamiliar with the design theory claims may want to read here for a shortish and fairly simple summary backgrounder and here on for more details, with here on giving the cosmological design theory points that would be especially relevant to an astronomer. It is worth noting on fair comment, that evolutionary materialism is too often imposed on science today as a controlling ideology, that despite scientific pretentions it is self-referentially incoherent and thus necessarily false, and that it undermines the basis for rights, morality and justice,  easily ending up in the nihilist's "might and manipulation make 'right' ." As Plato warned against long ago in The Laws Bk X.] 
In turn, Creationism has been held by US courts to be a violation of "separation of church and state" and is commonly -- in the main, plainly falsely -- accused of being part of a right-wing conspiracy to establish a theocratic "Christo-Fascist" dictatorship that would effectively bring back the inquisition, the torture chambers and the crusades. In further turn, it is imagined that "separation of church and state" in this sense is the principal meaning of the clause in the first amendment to the US Constitution.
However, the text of the actual amendment actually only declares:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." 
 This plainly means in its late C18 context of a Church of England, etc, that there will be no Church of the United States, and the Federal Congress has no jurisdiction to legislate on the subject; making the issue of an established church a local state and community matter, while protecting the rights of dissenters. It then associates with this first freedom the classic cluster of freedoms of expression, association and petition for redress of grievance.
Such is clearly an extension, correction of and adaptation to republican circumstances of the Westphalia settlement of 1648 concept of locality and non-interference. This settlement brought the bloody wars over confessions to a close in Europe, by inter alia establishing that there would be no overall dominant established church in the German states, and that in localities the religion of the sovereign would be the locally established one, but there would be toleration of the main "acceptable" non-established confessions.
An historically informed understanding of the intended meaning of the amendment, then, is that
I: freedom of conscience, association and expression (including by publication) -- first and foremost in religious matters, including freedom of worship -- is preserved, and
II: otherwise there is no covering constitutional law for federal courts or for executive action to formally or informally/ de facto set up such a church of the USA, or -- more relevant today -- the secularist substantial equivalent, radical scientistic, evolutionary materialist secular humanism. Also,
III: in the locality, the rights of dissenters were to be protected -- as opposed to censored and trammelled -- by the full weight of the federal government if necessary.
However, from the late 1940's on, that has not prevented the gradual emergence of the current de facto Courts-based establishment of such secular humanism as the default state anti-religion, in the main through judicial activism.)
It is also worth pausing to excerpt the syllabus for the course, as further background to listening to the podcast to follow:
I. Course Description

In this course, we will examine the nature of the physical and the living world with the goal of increasing our appreciation of the scope, wonder, and complexity of physical reality. We will also investigate physical reality and the boundaries of science for any hidden wisdom within this reality which may illuminate the central questions of the purpose of our existence and the meaning of life.

II. Course objectives

The objectives are to give a scientifically accurate introduction to the origin and development of the physical universe (cosmology) which has led up to the formation of Earth as a uniquely suitable environment to support life. The complexity of physical life (on the molecular level) and the mystery of human consciousness will also be briefly examined. These and other topics will provide examples of features of our existence which may lie outside the naturalistic boundaries of science. These will then be considered for their implications relating to the significance and value of human life, and as possible indications of the nature and existence of God.
A useful focus for an elective, one I would have loved to take as an undergraduate.

Against that backdrop [HT, WK], it would be a good idea to take 38 minutes and listen to the debate and onward call-in segment. Link:

(Please use the link if the podcast does not come up. Blogger is giving me "a warm time" this morning.)

So, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions about trends in the academy and wider culture as aggressive secular humanists seek to dominate key institutions and the public square, too often also seeking to denigrate, caricature, margnialise and dismiss any other views. END