"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Knowing God: Part 4

Before you continue reading this fourth part, you should have already read parts 1, 2, and 3, and you especially need to read my answers to Paul in the comments sections of part 2.  One of my great pet peeves is people who claim to be disciples of God, Yeshua, Jesus, yet ignore the directive that we are to be prepared to give to any man an answer for the hope that lies within us.  I dealt with his responses in brief, but if you need more clarification or additional information or would like to add something to the mix, jump in.  I may want to bring it up in the next segment.

To say, "You just gotta have faith." doesn't cut it.  First of all, it's not necessary, and secondly, it's contrary to what is expected by the Bible itself.  Thirdly, it reveals a complete misunderstanding of what real faith is.

All of this is important, because as I alluded to earlier, believing in any god just to believe in something would be silly.  That's right; I'm calling BS on the idea that all paths ultimately lead to God. Which is why the question of whether or not the Bible speaks the truth about every aspect of this world and it's history is vitally important.  It's why prophecy is so important.  No other "holy" book repeatedly makes the claim to put it to the test the way the Bible does. Please notice the incredible contrast between the Bible and all other religious books when it comes to authorship.

Other ancient texts do not claim any single persons as authoring them on behalf of God. For example, the Hindu Vedas are compilations of oral tradition prior to the first century CE. They don't contain prophecy and they don't claim transcendent authority.  Islam claims authority on the idea that God handed one, lone illiterate Arab an entire written text.  Same kind of story with Joseph Smith.

In contrast, the Tanakh, or Old Testament, has only the first five books penned by one man, giving great historical detail that can and has been scrutinized for thousands of years. [We will revisit this scrutiny later.] Then the rest of the collection is written by multiple authors all claiming inspiration by the one and only Creator.  We are talking about more than 30 authors, some separated by hundreds of years, contributing to an unfolding revelation. The Hebrew prophets were big on recording history just as it was, in drastic contrast to the scribes of kings of other societies. The "histories" of other societies are most often stories according to how the king wanted it told.  Hebrew scribes described their kings warts and all.  The Bible itself puts an enormous burden on the Bible to be proven as having a divine source.  Think carefully about that.  I can't count the number of people I've encountered who say they would like to see some evidence that God exists, but when I start giving them examples of clearly fulfilled prophecy, then history doesn't exist for them anymore.  History written by secular historians about Egypt or Greece or Rome is never questioned, but then those histories don't require you to think about your own mortality.  God took the hardest route, not trusting His story to just one man to deliver it to the world.  He chose many authors, separated by time and geography to record His message so that no mere human could take credit for it, or mess it up, for that matter.

If you've ever tried to write a story, let alone a novel, you would know that one of the most difficult things about writing fiction is keeping track of all the details about which you wrote and not making a mistake that will make you look stupid.  This is hard enough if you are the only one doing the writing.  Now imagine that you are being told to write things that make absolutely no sense to you about future events, or about things that you should have no reason to know about.  Then, over hundreds of years, all the writings of yourself and a dozen other men have to never conflict with each other.  Let's say that, each of you contributes, not just a few, but many predictions concerning the identity and activities of one man, along with many other predictions about future events, but let's just concentrate on that one man.

The promise of a Messiah came as soon as the fall took place. From then on out, Torah would gradually keep revealing different aspects of who that Messiah was supposed to be. Then later, more prophets would arise and give more details, furthermore, the Psalms, mostly written by King David, add details.  Most of it alluded to the details, and some of it was direct and clear, but all of it designed to be a mosaic that would become an almost impossible I.D. card for the One to come.  The Vedas don't do that.  The Quran doesn't do that.  There's no other writing in the history of the world that sets itself up to predict that the Creator Himself is going to come and set things straight and provides this huge volume of coded text that says, "Many will come and go, but the real Anointed One has to meet all these criteria in order to be real."  The reason I don't go into a long list of the examples is because it would take pages and pages, and for the purpose of making my ultimate point with this long essay, you just need to stipulate to the possibility.  If you think you can debunk any of the above, knock yourself out, the list of intellects that have tried and failed before you is long and distinguished.

Which brings me to just one good example that makes the point.  A man named Josh McDowell.  Like myself, Josh grew up hating religion and Christianity specifically.  In college, he set out to put an end to this stupid mythology about God and the Bible once and for all.  Man plans and God laughs.  What was produced from all of the thousands of hours of research was a two volume tome called Evidence That Demands A Verdict.  It was a magnum opus of exactly the opposite of what McDowell set out to do.  It systematically goes over objection after objection, evidence after evidence, laying it all out like a trial in a court of law.  It is a far more in depth and scholarly work, involving much more evidence than Lee Stroebel's, The Case For Christ.  Stroebel was also a militant atheist who wanted to put an end to the God myth.  Let this serve as a warning to atheists, agnostics, adherents to other false religions: If you like your beliefs as they are, you best not go digging for the truth lest it rock your world.

Of course, McDowell didn't stop there, because once you've been confronted with the overwhelming truth, you can't just sit there and remain neutral about it.  He went on to produce more writing and do his best to evangelize. One of his great little books is called More Than A Carpenter, and it focuses only on the identity of Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua Netsri) as the Messiah.  He took just 200 of the prophecies that the promised Messiah would have to fulfill in order to be deemed the Messiah, but McDowell chose those that Yeshua would not have had direct control over; place of birth, parentage, the things others would do to him, etc.  Then McDowell let an independent actuarial firm do the math for him.  The result?  The odds of one man meeting the requirements of the 200 prophecies came to 1 in 10 to the 17th power.  If you're not a math or science geek, that's a 1 with 17 zeros behind it. 100,000,000,000,000,000.  One hundred thousand times one trillion.  McDowell understood that the average person can't really wrap their head around that figure, so he needed a visual.

Take the entire state of Texas. I remember how big it is because I moved from Florida to California and then back again in a Ryder truck on Interstate 10.  Driving about nine hours a day, it took about three days to cross.  They put governors on those trucks and that was back during the national 55 mph limit.  Texas is so big you could put the entire population of the planet in the state with each person having a little less than a square yard.  Crowded, I know, but it makes my point.  Now fill the state of Texas with enough silver dollars to cover it to a depth of two feet, but before you do that, you get to wrap one silver dollar with some red duct tape and mix it in, then they all get poured out over the state.  Now we put you on a C-130 and take you up to about 30,000 feet and you can direct the pilot to take you over any given area of the state, and when you are ready, you can do your HALO jump, then you have to open your parachute at the right altitude and land in the right spot so you can reach down and pick up that one red-taped silver dollar out of the sea of dollars.

Still not impressed by the math?  Scientists regard pretty much anything beyond the odds of one in 50 million as being impossible.  So that means Yeshua exceeded the realm of possibility by 20 billion times.  If that doesn't grab your attention, you are probably wasting your time here.  And you should be making the very most of what time you have in this life, because, to paraphrase the great mathematician Blaise Paschal; if you skeptics are right and I'm wrong, then eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die and that's the end.  I will have gained nothing more than to have led a better life for morality's sake. But if the Bible is right and you're wrong - boy, does it ever suck to be you!

In my case, after all of my research, my logical mind pretty much convinced me that it doesn't really matter a lot how I "feel" about the Bible or religion.  I didn't have a Damascus road experience, but I didn't need one.  No mystical vision, no audible thundering voice.  Facts are facts, and facts are stubborn things.  Facts are assembled to come to conclusions, and a group of conclusions results in other conclusions.  Let me walk you through the main points in a logical fashion

This Jesus guy stepped into history and lived like no one else before, and no one else since. The fact that millions have chosen peaceful martyrdom* rather than recant their belief for over 2,000 years is one thing.  But the testimony of those who didn't even believe in Him is even more compelling.  Flavius Josephus is a prime example.  The testimonies of those who actually walked with the Rabbi of Nazereth constantly appealed to eyewitness accounts.

What I think is ingenious about how God worked all this out (as if I'm qualified to judge - HA!) is how he had  different people with completely different experiences testifying to what He did.  Thomas was even invited to stick his hand in the spear wound of a resurrected man, even though he should have remembered about Lazarus.  Thomas makes me feel better about all the times I still have doubts because I tend to forget what has happened in the past.  Rabbi Paul needed to be struck blind for three days to think about the events that had taken place in Jerusalem and gain a new understanding of all the stuff he'd studied under Gamaliel.

I think about all this in depth.  Here was a man who fulfilled prophecies that were hundreds or thousands of years old. He did miracles, and even though the religious leaders didn't want to accept Him as Messiah, they couldn't deny the miracles.  They couldn't explain away Lazarus.  Then the man rises from the dead and leaves the tomb, even though there was a heavy guard.  Nobody can produce a body to prove the disciples wrong, but more than that, Rabbi Paul, who used to jail the very followers of the guy, is now saying that if you don't believe him about Yeshua having risen from the dead, go ask any or all of the 500 or so people who have seen and talked to Him since then.  The silence from those who wished to see the whole matter die was deafening.  You would think that if all the events of Jesus' life was just a big hoax, the Jewish Talmud would have laid out all the evidence, explained how he was just another false prophet and been done with it.  Instead the best they could say was that he was the bastard son of a Roman soldier and that Jewish girl, Miriam.

In the "normal" world of megalomaniacs, someone who claimed essential oneness with the Creator of the universe would be expected to do all kinds of crazy stuff and demand slavish obeisance.  Instead we get the most altruistic form of a human being beyond our fallen comprehension, in the form of a humble carpenter from the Galilean hillside.  So, let me see . . .   What are my choices here?  What should I do?

Somehow it just seems like a no-brainer to take seriously the words of a man who did all of that.  When Yeshua basically said that He had come to fulfill Scripture, and that all of it was still in effect and would remain so until heaven and earth passed away and beyond, I think it wise to obey and keep studying to see if there is something I might be missing.  That doesn't just mean studying Scripture and ignoring the natural world and all of its evidence.  That's the coolest thing about real science for me.  There isn't a single established fact of science that differs with the Bible.  I love taking on the challenges because with each iteration my faith only grows stronger.  I will admit that some of the same old arguments that have been refuted can get tiresome, but I am reminded of the faces I've seen when I have shared this information and the many thanks I've gotten from people who wallowed in doubt because they didn't know and didn't know who to ask.

Don't take anything for granted.  Don't just take anybody's word; not even mine.  Search for yourself, but really search and be honest about it.  Test everything.

Next I hope to delve into problem of trying to have a Messiah apart from the Bible.  Or maybe I'll deal with Equidistant Letter Sequencing code embedded in the Torah.  We'll see.

Knowing God: Part 5 continues here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Up Next: Colosseums?

Most of the time I am glad I'm a man.  I will be the first to admit that for all of their wonderful attributes, and perhaps exactly because of them, I'm glad I'm not a woman.  There are lots of women who are stupid enough to believe the old line: "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."  But finding a man with the counterpart attitude would be like finding a needle in a haystack.  Most men know instinctively that they need a woman the way a tiger needs to hunt.  And you women who still believe that quote above?  Blessed and lucky is the man who never finds you.

But there are times when I am embarrassed for my sex. (God help me, I want so badly to horsewhip whoever started misusing the word "gender." See my glossary in sidebar.)  I posted briefly about how I feel about sports fanaticism versus political awareness once before.  I like some sports, and I'm naturally competitive like any healthy man.  It's the lack of balance and maturity in a lot of males that I find irritating.  That alone would be bad enough, but now we have a new dimension coming to make the stronger sex look even sillier in the eyes of women.

Some guys who read this post are not going to be happy with me.  I'm sure I will sound elitist and above it all. I'm sure I will sound prudish.  Let's just nip that one in the bud right now. I really like sex.  Men are hardwired to respond to visual stimulation, and I can't imagine that there's another guy out there more responsive than I am. I don't think sex should be reduced to animalistic hedonism, but neither do I have any patience for silly, anal retentive censorship of the subject when it serves a good purpose to be candid about it.

The female body is one of the most powerful drugs on the planet to the male mind.  The one-eyed idiot box is proof of that.  So what happens when you take two things that men really crave, competition and female body parts and put them together in one venue?  Silliness squared.  Mental chewing gum.

Having a male brain and a healthy libido, I can be pretty sure that very little high level cognition is going to take place watching this sort of thing.  Concentrating on the intricacies of a football play with 22 men on a field moving very fast takes months to master for a male brain that has never seen it before.  Most American males have grown up watching football so it comes as second nature.  But a man can follow the game easily because each man is basically a whole unit moving in relatively predictable patterns while the overall focus is on that one piece of pigskin.

You put 22 beautiful, shapely women on a field whose combined clothing could just about cover one linebacker, and finding the football to a pair of male eyes is going to take constant effort.  Male brains across the country will be struggling to form new neural pathways while the reticular activating system in the brain starts splitting the visual signals to try and let the strategic parts of the brain try to track the motion of the football while breasts and thighs and gluteus maximi are heaving and flexing.  Fingers will be crossed in living rooms all over the nation hoping that wardrobe failures will abound.  It won't be referees who will be cursed for bad calls as much as program directors who don't direct the camera men to get tighter close-ups on the line in the three point position. Reverse and slow motion buttons on remotes are going to get worn out, or at least smudged into un-recognition due to trying to catch site of the stray areola or other unmentionable spots.

In reality, this will not be about women's equality in sports.  I won't be surprised to see the ugly feminazis protesting this stuff because it objectifies women.  The truth is that feminazis are what they are because they've never been objectified in their lives and it drives them nuts.

It certainly won't be about promoting football.  We live in a country where in the vast majority of the States, football becomes the official state religion starting before Junior High School.  In this current season, with high schools, colleges and professional teams, along with cable and satellite TV and DVRs, you can go from Friday evening through Sunday Evening and watch non-stop football until your eyes bleed, then you can get a fix on most Monday nights as well.  So, it's not like there has existed this huge void in the sports entertainment world that has been begging for this to come along.

This is just another example of how America is following in the footsteps of the Roman Empire in the second and third centuries CE.  Forget what's really important.  Pay no attention to what's happening with the political ruling class.  Don't let your mind contemplate anything beyond the few sound bytes you get on the mainstream media.  You don't have time to become politically active or study the issues.  I mean, Holy Crap! the Lingerie League is on tonight!

It's bread and circuses.  Actually it's far, far better than that.  I mean for the ruling elite.  You don't even have to make your way to the colosseum.  It comes to you.  And if you're not into football, there are dozens of other things to grab your attention.  That's the bottom line.  Anything and everything to keep you from seeing the big picture and the important stuff. Whatever distracts you from doing the hard thinking about what is going on in the world until it is too late.  And you know, some people are like the traitor villian in the movie, "The Matrix."  They know it's all meaningless and fake deep down, but they don't care.  It feels good right now, and instant gratification is what it's all about.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Your Straw Man Is Way Too Big

I like stopping by Jaded Haven almost every day, because usually the posts are good, thought provoking stuff.  Even if I don't agree with something, it's usually no big deal.  But when I read something that makes no sense factually and actually defames others unjustly, I just have to say something.

Before I get on with it, let me be the first to say that I have lots and lots of vitriol to hurl at leftists who know what they are doing, as well as the leftist drones. I can engage in take-no-prisoners scolding of the crap that so-called progressives preach and want to impose on us.  But what I will not do is accuse my opponents of saying things they didn't say, or even worse, believing things they don't believe. So, when I encounter a writer whom I like, engaging in such behavior, it hurts.

Here I will quote Daphne directly and deal with it point by point.
Chalk it up to personal anxiety caused by ingrained societal pressure to create a day of materially prolific Christmas bliss or my increasing reluctance to walk any partisan line, but I would sincerely like to know how Evangelicals can justify the ongoing genocide and displacement of Iraqi Christians in the wake of Operation Freedom.

My question:  Is there some news source that I don't know about that has published a new survey that supports this charge?  And because she is talking about recent events, it made me curious, so I went searching the internet to see  if there was some evidence of this, since Daphne cites not a single article or even somebody else's educated or experienced opinion.  It begs the question: What has Daphne read or heard that  has her panties in a bunch over evangelicals?

I googled the question of evangelicals support war, and could only find these:
Please note that this is from 2002, and just as importantly note the stats:
"Some 69 percent of conservative Christians favor military action against Baghdad; 10 percentage points more than the U.S. adult population as a whole."  So, 59% of the general population felt that way back in 2002, and so because evangelicals were a bit more in that direction, evangelicals were are a big problem.   

Then there is:  http://www.religionnewsblog.com/7331/iraq-war-weakens-bond-between-bush-evangelicals
Dated May 18, 2004.  Please note what the article says about evangelicals: 
"Some academics estimate evangelical Christians represent 25 to 30 percent of the 105 million people who voted in the last presidential election."    The article, from Reuters - no big cheerleading squad for Christians - makes the point that evangelical support for Bush had eroded and by a significant margin.  Evangelicals by this time had started waking up to the fact that Bush was not really a conservative, but was still the lesser of two evils when compared to John Kerry.  The important point found in the survey is that even back then, no case could be made that evangelicals supported bush specifically on the war more than non-evangelicals.

When you can't get the kind of answers you want from a large base of survey participants, the best thing you can do is narrow the field and hope for the best.  Which leads to this survey:
Where what we find is that the press only interviewed 100 members of a group that the vast majority of evangelical churches don't belong to.  The reason I can say that is because the tens of thousands of churches that consider themselves evangelical are independent and don't belong to such an organization.  Just as telling is the fact that the survey revealed that only a bare majority of the members were on the support side.  Hardly some kind of mandate.

A most glaring absence of data would be a list of the top ten issues that caused evangelicals to vote for Bush. Just a wild guess here, but I think it's safe to say that abortion and a few other things were big factors as well.

Daphne again:

Don’t get me wrong, I was a fierce supporter of the invasion. Just another citizen completely convinced that Sadaam was about to unleash a maelstrom of fiery hell on America in the wake of 9/11′s devastation. I sincerely believed our government was telling us the truth. My justifiable fear trumped my mind’s skeptical rationale. It’s been a few years since I blindly subscribed to the Bush Doctrine,  in light of hindsight’s neglected facts, it was a tenuous position to maintain with any long-term seriousness over the passing years.

Here Daphne admits that she "blindly" supported the "Bush Doctrine" even though I can't seem to find any such doctrine as defined by the former president, but only some vague references attributed to pundits.  That's kind of like citing Roman Catholic doctrine and then assigning it to the Bible. But for me to make sense of what Daphne is saying, she needs to define what exactly is the Bush Doctrine. Secondly, what are the "neglected facts?"  If it is a question of WMD, the facts are that Hussein had WMD because he used it on people in his own territory and Iran.  British Intelligence still stands behind the information on yellowcake uranium and the fact that John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and various other democrat senators stood in the well of the Senate and cajoled their colleagues into voting for Bush's actions of war. (Even back then, I said there was something strange about that.)  Add to this the defecting Iraqi general who publicly spoke to anyone who would listen that the Russians came and moved the nuclear weapons north into Syria. No big surprise there.  What would you expect to find if the DEA spent three months weeks days warning a drug dealing gang that if they didn't provide proof that they had stopped dealing drugs you were coming in for a full sweep?    Then all of the ACLU types in the burbs start screaming that the raid is totally unjustified because -- "Wow, we searched in all of the obvious places, but we didn't find any drugs, Lieutenant."  I could say more on that, but . . .

But some people are still buying the mongrel spiel, most notably Evangelicals. No derision intended, I’d honestly like to know how they square the overthrow of a secular, American owned [then why the hell didn't we just sell them to the Chinese?] dictatorship in favor of an expensive war that established a Muslim hotbed of “democracy” who are directly responsible for the wholesale eradication and diaspora of minority Christians. How is eliminating Iraq’s people of the book in our nation’s best interests? I’d sincerely like to hear the Evangelical response to the continuing collateral damage resulting from a flawed foreign policy they still passionately embrace.

Again, I'd sure like to know what constitutes "most notably," but I think I already covered that up above.  While I can't speak for all evangelicals, this subject has come up in conversation with both people I consider evangelicals, which are few and far between, since my standards for that label are considerably higher than the secular world, and among those who carry some other mainstream Christian label.  Except among those I would call left-leaning, the general consensus was that we were making a colossal mistake and could lose the war because Bush and other RINOs insisted on the delusion that you could impose "democracy" [hochhhh - spit] on a culture whose religion absolutely loathes such a concept.  I knew we were in some deep cow paddies the moment I heard Bush referring to Islam as a religion of peace.  [Islam means "submission," look it up.]

Explain this horrific mess.

Christmas was almost cancelled in Baghdad this year. The October 31st slaughter of 58 people in a Baghdad church by Al Queda had already terrified the Christian communities, more bombings and murders followed, and last Tuesday Al Queda threatened to kill anyone celebrating Christmas.  

Thank you, I think I will explain this mess.

True conservatives overall, and evangelicals as the smaller subset were warning before the election of Obama, because of his own rhetoric, that this would create a disaster in Iraq for the innocent civilian population.  That telegraphing to the radical jihadists that it was just a matter of time before we would be pulling out, would simply allow them to breathe easy, re-group, re-arm, re-strategize while they wait for us to pull out.  The flip side of that coin is that those who were on the side of creating a peaceful, moderate society, were now faced with a choice: try to stand on our own against terrible odds when the Americans leave, or start trying to get back in the good graces of the Taliban before that fateful time comes.

The evangelical position, the conservative position, as has been publicized all over the internet, is that we don't like war.  But war gets foisted upon us by evil people.  So once the war starts, the goal should be to bring it to a complete and unambiguous end as quickly as possible.  Try to protect innocent life wherever possible, but don't let that keep you from the primary goal; win it, and win it fast and decisively. Only those who play by the rules of the Geneva Convention get to benefit from its rules.  All else are summarily executed.  No exceptions. People who have anything to do with flying plane loads of civilians into non-military targets, beheading journalists for show, turning mentally retarded women of their own families into burka-clad remote control bombs can be water-boarded ad infinitum and worse if it means helping to stop any more terrorist acts.  Again, I can't speak for most evangelicals, and there are probably many conservatives who wouldn't agree with me, but I don't find the Jesus in the New Testament to be a touchy-feely liberal.  His instructions about loving one's neighbor were strictly about one-on-one relations not political or national.  The guy who claimed to be "one with the Father" was obviously in on all the campaigns of the Old Testament. You know, like wiping out the entire Egyptian army?  I wouldn't have brought religious doctrine into this, but Daphne left me no choice.

More from the story Daphne quoted:

The following day, a council representing the various Christian denominations advised followers to call off Christmas celebrations. Services were cancelled, decorations taken down. Mass was held in various cities on Christmas Eve, but under tight security, then the faithful were told to go home and pray in private for those who had been killed in 2010.

There’s no reason to think the ongoing pogrom against Christians will slacken in 2011. This means the ongoing exodus will continue. After the Oct 31st mass killing over 10,000 people fled the capital for the relative safety of the Kurdish areas in the north. They added to the almost 300,000 Christians who have left the Arab areas of Iraq since 2003. Most left the country entirely. About 500,000 remain.

Daphne: I can’t imagine anyone of sound mind or honest integrity supporting this collateral damage in the name of nebulous homeland security or Muslim sovereignty.

You don't really have to, Daphne.  But let's be clear about something.  Bush's policy was that he could not, and would not guarantee a timetable for a withdrawal from Iraq because he knew that any such talk would be a signal to the radical Muslims that they were winning the propaganda war and that it would only be a matter of time before they could regain control and carry out pogroms against any infidels.  What is happening in Iraq now is the result of Al Queda simply responding to the policies of THIS administration, and the last time I checked, I couldn't find a single evangelical that supported a single policy, domestic or foreign, of the Obama Administration.

I'd like to see one of two things happen. a) Either the United States puts enough volunteer forces back in Iraq to flush out and eliminate ALL remaining Taliban/Al Queda/etc. members or drive them into obscurity and stay until it is reasonably certain that the Iraqis can defend against their resurgence, or b) we give notice and reasonable amount of time for all Christians or freedom loving Iraqis to be relocated to other parts of the globe where they are welcome and then we pull completely out of Iraq.  But then we put them and the world on notice that if we determine that they are involved in even the slightest way with any terrorist activity, a few GBU-43/Bs will be delivered to Baghdad in short order.  And while we will pray for your innocent lives lost, we will not be deluded into believing it was our fault and not yours that they died.

In a nutshell, to make sure that I'm not misunderstood; don't present the problems created by the Obama administration and expect someone to defend those problems as if they were created by Bush.

What's even sadder is to blame a minority segment of the electorate for crap they didn't believe in to begin with.

Medical Right

I've written about this before, but who knows who comes by here or when and how many people think like Dr. Ronald Pies, MD?  How does one have enough intellect to graduate medical school and yet be so ignorant about basic facts and reality?  It doth boggle the mind.  I like seeing good responses to stupid ideas wherever and whenever possible.

George Mason U. economist Don Boudreaux has an incisive letter to the Boston Globe yesterday that helps one to understand what real rights and “rights ” that consist of forcing others to do one’s bidding are:
Here’s a letter to the Boston Globe:
Ronald Pies, MD, asserts that every individual has a “right” to “basic health care” – meaning, a right to receive such care without paying for it (Letters, Dec. 26).
The rights that Americans wisely cherish as being essential for a free society require only the refraining from action.  Your right to speak freely requires me simply not to stop you from speaking; it does not require me to supply your megaphone.
Not so with a “right” to “basic health care.”  Elevating free access to a scarce good into a “right” imposes on strangers all manner of ill-defined positive obligations – obligations that necessarily violate other, proper rights.  For example, perhaps my “right” to basic health care means that I can force Dr. Pies away from his worship service in order that he attend (free of charge!) to my ruptured spleen.  Or perhaps it means that I have the “right” to pay for my health care by confiscating part of his income.  If so, how much of his income does my “right” entitle me to confiscate?  Who knows?
And if Dr. Pies is planning to retire, do I have the “right” to force him to continue to work so that the supply of basic health care doesn’t shrink?  If Dr. Pies should die, am I entitled – again, to keep the supply of basic health care from shrinking – to force his children to study and practice medicine?
Does my right to basic health care imply that I can force my neighbor to pay for my cross-country skiing vacation on grounds that keeping fit is part of basic health care?
Talking about “rights” to scarce goods and services sounds right only to persons who are economically illiterate, politically naive, and suffering the juvenile delusion that reality is optional.
Donald J. Boudreaux

Monday, December 27, 2010

Just Getting Started

That's right, almost nine inches
If we are only six days into the official start of winter, what do we have to look forward to in the middle of winter?  I mean, seriously, I've lived in the southeastern United States, Georgia and Florida almost all my life, and the worst months are typically February (I like the name Febu-ugly), and March.  The real cold and nasty kind of precipitation usually didn't occur until then.

So what do we have to look forward to come the end of January?  I have been looking at the weather reports in England and our own Eastern Seaboard.  Florida citrus growers look to be in for a really hard time if this trend continues.  The combination of cold and drastic increases in fuel prices will make trying to save their trees nearly impossible without going into bankruptcy.

I would imagine right now that the vast majority of people living in the flyover country of these United States would like to see some very sudden evidence of global warming. Even people who have been conned into believing the idiotic notion that carbon dioxide has anything to do with increasing atmospheric temperature would be happy to build enough fires to pump as much CO2 into the air as possible if it would give us some relief from this cold.  Alas, that's not the problem.  What we need is for our sun to increase solar flare activity, which it hasn't done for over a year now.

I had kinda figured, based on all my previous years, that I had at least through the month of January to cut and stack wood, albeit in some cold and with some occasional rain.  But I did not count on the idea that I would be spending so much time clearing nine to twelve inches of snow just to get at the wood to cut it.

It never got above 24° F yesterday, and there were occasional flurries all day long.  The low this morning was 17° and the forecast calls for 12° overnight.  This snow isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

"Beau" the new stray we sorta adopted. He's very shy.

I know that if you are visiting this blog and you live somewhere like Minnesota or latitudes farther north or south of the equator than mine, you probably think I'm a wimp.  I don't care.  I'm sure that I could adapt to living in the gloriously beautiful State of Alaska if I thought it was necessary or that's where God wanted me, but since He hasn't made that clear, I think the idea of living in any climate other than the South Pacific Islands or the Caribbean is crazy if you don't have to.

Beau is starting to come a little closer to us each time we come outside.  I watched from the corner of the house well up above the yard as he and Moxie played in the snow. They are just the best of friends.  But the closest he is to being ours is that we put a bowl of food out for him and he sleeps in a nest of hay up under the front porch where it's dry and relatively well sheltered. He seems less afraid of Twyla, so because I hung back behind her and waited for him to get a little closer, I was able to get this shot.

I look like an extra from Lord of the Rings

I'm trying not to exert myself too much or do anything stupid to hurt myself further.  I do seem to be healing as well as can be expected.  I move slowly and carefully outside in the snow.  I couldn't help myself when it came to plucking a long icicle off the eave of the house and bringing it onto the porch to show Twyla.  I'm not dressed to impress anybody as if I'm heading to town.  I've got on the abdominal brace that limits my movement and gives me enough support to not end up so sore, but dang it, the thing makes me look like I'm pregnant with a baby elephant.  I look like a candidate for that "People of Wal-Mart" photo site.  Must remember to stay on the back side of the camera.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Knowing God: Part 3

I knew when I started this essay, that one of the biggest problems would be avoiding all of the inherent rabbit trails that you can go down by taking on the question of whether or not it is possible to know God.

One commenter who passed by here did exactly what I expected, in light of the fact that the vast majority of people who occupy the churches on Sunday morning across this country don't really believe most of what the Bible says, and don't really have any interest in doing so.  Let me quote my visitor:

I have spent about 15 years now happily looking at evidence that was sent to me by creationists. I'm a Christian, a teacher in my church, and even a part-time missionary! I rarely find evidence sent to me that even takes looking at. [sic] On rare occasions I do, but even that has not stood up to scrutiny.
Gentry's polonium halos is a good argument, though there are refutations [he means criticisms, nobody has refuted any of Dr. Gentry's work. - Moshe] of it written. The question has to do with whether there was any travel of gas through the granite. Gentry says there's no evidence; his opponents say there's clear evidence. I can't resolve a question like that, but I haven't found anything else that withstood scrutiny.

It is interesting that this man cites the polonium halos, because that is the one case that proved to me that people will choose to believe what they WANT to believe in spite of the evidence.  This visitor backs that up, in spades.  Back in the late 80's, when I had just a couple of years of apologetics research under my belt, I was writing a paper for the class I was teaching on apologetics.  I was distilling the very technical writing of Robert Gentry and his critics down to what could be understood by the average person with an eighth grade education.  Most people don't understand chemistry and quantum mechanics, and I wanted people in my class to get the gist of it all.  More importantly, I wanted them to see the silly ways that Gentry's critics tried to deal with explaining away his conclusions.  God had a lesson for me in this exercise. So I will have to explain further.

There was a woman who for months had been coming to a Bible study at an Episcopal church that I was a member of  at that time.  She just showed up after about the second week it had begun.  It was an evening, weekday class and we spent about an hour and a half on it.  The class was memorable for two reasons.  First, the woman seemed to be there for the express reason of playing the devil's advocate.  She wanted to contest everything.  She wanted to introduce every criticism she could come up with.  There were just two of us who would take on her challenges, and often times that meant pointing out how ridiculous some of her challenges were, as they really didn't have anything to do with the particular text we were using.  She was like a member of the Brady Campaign attending a Gun Owners of America meeting.  We tried to be conciliatory and accommodating, but it was a struggle.

The other reason it was memorable was that a couple of months later, I was working on my apologetics class presentation, and I had gone to my college library to pull the source papers on Dr. Gentry's work on polonium halos.  Guess who was the librarian on duty.  She wanted to know what I was looking up and why. I went over it with her as succinctly as I could.  She was not impressed.  I highlighted the important points again and asked her if she understood the implications.  She claimed she didn't.  When I carefully explained that it meant that granite had to have been created nearly instantaneously, she said there must be some explanation.  I showed her how I had already covered that.

"Then there must be some other explanation."
"Do you know of some other physical laws of the universe that the best minds in geophysics are not aware of?" I asked her.
"Well, no, but there must be some other explanation."
"Look, I've made the point that Dr. Gentry has come at this problem from every angle, and that the physicists who don't like his conclusions have postulated theories but with no experimental or empirical evidence.  I've shown you the quote where the head of the geophysical association simply tells his colleagues it would be best to drop the subject because they have no good answers."
"They just haven't found it yet, they just need more time."

And so it hit me.  It didn't matter how much more time.  It didn't matter how much more evidence.  That dialog would prove to be very valuable to me just a couple of weeks later in my sociology class.  The visiting instructor there was an assistant from University of South Florida, where I would attend later.  He was a former Catholic who had a real hate on for the church of his ancestry, and he enjoyed taking shots at Christianity and the Bible at every turn.  But he hadn't bargained for having somebody like me in his class.  I challenged him all the time.

"You make fun of things you claim are "Christian" beliefs and then I show clearly why you are wrong - that those aren't Judeo-Christian beliefs at all -  why do you do that?"
"Because it's all just a bunch of mythology.  Mankind has gotten past that, or needs to."
"But you don't give any good evidence. You cite stuff that I've shown has been debunked.  You make statements, but you don't back them up with anything solid."
"I don't need to."
"Then let me ask you this: If I could show you a mountain of incontrovertible evidence that proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the Bible is a supernatural book that had to be written by an omnipotent, omniscient creator, would you be willing to change your mind?"
"Hell no."

There it was.  The same thing I saw in the librarian.  However, here, I had gotten him to admit it in a classroom full of 28 students.  A guy who was supposed to be teaching truth to young minds about a field that was supposed to be about scientific endeavor.  It was like the scene in "A Few Good Men" where Lt. Caffey gets Col. Jessup to forget about the implications of what he might say, and instead, just blurt out the truth. [BTW - I love the Col. Jessup soliloquy and agree with it.]

It cemented a lesson in my mind that I would never forget.  It brought a more complete understanding to me of what Yeshua meant when He said that we shouldn't throw pearls before swine.  It proved to me that people will not only seek out the answers they want and ignore the ones they don't, but even in the face of seemingly overwhelming evidence, they will choose what they want over what is real.

Now, let me back up to what commenter Paul said above:

"I rarely find evidence sent to me that even takes looking at.[sic] On rare occasions I do, but even that has not stood up to scrutiny."

Admittedly, I don't know what all gets sent to Paul, but his statement smacks of what I've encountered over the many years.  It is the a priori method of dismissing anything one doesn't agree with from the moment something seems to present evidence of the supernatural or contradicts long held assumptions.  Paul is invited to share with me examples of what he deemed unworthy to even consider, but I doubt he'll take me up on it.
When I was teaching apologetics regularly and came across such bad information, I always used it as a teaching opportunity to show my students what not to do.  Also notice that Paul is as much admitting that he doesn't go looking for information that challenges his beliefs, he is waiting for someone to send it to him. There's another lesson there.

I'm a great fan of marine biology. Of material things I miss a lot, my 75 gallon saltwater aquarium is in the top ten.  I used to do a lot of snorkeling, and when I lived in Tampa, I was ten minutes from one of the world's largest marine estuaries.  What does that have to do with the previous paragraph?   There would be no small amount of times when I would see Yankees who had come to Florida, thinking that every piece of shore that was licked by salt water would be a bounty of marine wonders. I can't count the number of times I'd hear "kids" of all ages say, "What's the big deal, there's nothing here."
I'd be out in the turtle grass and mangroves, enjoying the wonders of all the different species of crabs, anemones, a few coral, sea horses, etc. It was different every day.  It could suddenly change with the tide.  The dolphins aren't on the payroll of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, so they don't show up on cue, but they eventually show up. There are many wonders to behold, but if you are expecting someone to lead you by the hand, you will miss out on a lot.  Of course, you can go to the Florida Aquarium, or Sea World, and it's all designed to be spoon fed to you as easy as pie, but the people who go to the trouble and expense of making it so easy and entertaining are making big bucks to do it.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard a believer in evolution make a statement about what creationists believe or teach, only to find out when challenged that they not only cannot cite the source, but that it's what they heard some other evolutionist say they thought creationists believed. Most of the time, it would turn out to be false.  For this reason, creationists are forced to be extremely careful about quoting and citing source material.  Fortunately for us creationists, there are evolutionists who, from time to time, let down their guard and admit things out of some devotion to the scientific method, or truth, as it were.

Here is a good example:
Professor Richard Lewontin, a geneticist (and self-proclaimed Marxist), is a renowned champion of neo-Darwinism, and certainly one of the world’s leaders in evolutionary biology. He wrote this very revealing comment (the italics were in the original). It illustrates the implicit philosophical bias against Genesis creation—regardless of whether or not the facts support it.

‘We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.’

Richard Lewontin, Billions and billions of demons, The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997.

You see, it's an open conspiracy, or a cattle conspiracy.  The vast majority of the population outside of academe, don't read the literature and are unfamiliar with all of the internal debate that goes on among scientists.  Guys like Paul aren't going to dig and discover gems like the one above.  It's just generally accepted that "all" scientists believe evolution is fact, based on the evidence, not in spite of it. The assumption is that if someone has an advanced degree in science, then there was some magic fairy dust that was sprinkled on them that makes them follow the truth regardless of the implications or the consequences.

And let's not forget that the reason Ben Stein made the movie EXPELLED: is because the vast majority of the populace is unaware of the systematic and purposeful efforts that go on in academe to stifle any discussion, let alone evidence that is heretical to the religion of evolution.

I want to thank Paul for stopping by and making me realize that I needed to go down this little side track in order to emphasize that if my readers are going to benefit from what I have to share, they are going to actually have to do some thinking for themselves.  And if I need to stop and answer questions and objections, that's fine, even if it means it will take a bit longer to get to the conclusion.  My main point for this entire essay is whether or not it is logical and reasonable to believe that we can know God.  If we have to broaden the knowledge base to get there, so be it.

You can move on to Knowing God: Part 4 by clicking here.

Pretty Snowed In

If you are like me, it's interesting to see the surroundings of folks who live other places.

We live at the end of a road, tucked away in the mountains where you aren't likely to end up unless you are completely lost, or you have to find us.  We really like it here.
The big white lump of snow to the left is a cord of firewood.

Because of my broken rib, we had a truckload of firewood delivered.  I could tell enough from the data on the weather sites that their predictions of a good amount of snow was going to be pretty accurate.  We spent time preparing to have enough wood and kindling prepared and stocked so that we wouldn't have to be trekking outside to get any and would be snug and warm no matter what happened.

Chicken Ark I is snowed in.  The chickens don't want to leave their roosts. Moxie LOVES the snow.
Starting at about 09:00 the snow started coming down. The temperature on both outside sensors stayed right at 32° F. and even now at 15:00, one is at 34° and the other is at 33°.  There is at least six inches of snow on all the horizontal surfaces and it's still falling.
Ark II is no different.  They aren't even clucking. Brewster hasn't crowed once today.

I have to admit, this is the most snow I've seen since I was a little kid in West Virginia.  It is pretty.  And since I know we don't have to go out and drive in it, I can really enjoy it.

The only thing I'm a little sorry about is the fact that I have a broken rib, all of my muscles are sore, because, even though I can't swing an axe, I still got out there and helped offload and stack that wood.  I'm not that bad today, because my wonderful wife and nurse took good care of me through the night and helped me get into a position that let me sleep for more hours than I have in days.  The reason that makes me sorry is because now the conditions are right for sliding down the hill on some cardboard, but if I were to even remotely look like I was going to attempt that, I think I would wake up a few days from now with a Lodge Cast Iron logo imprinted on my skull somewhere.
Naw. I wouldn't really need that kind of demotivator.  I may be in the habit of getting the inevitable aches and pains of the regular hard work around the farm, but I'm not stupid enough to go looking for unnecessary pain.
How many people have a Swiss Chalet doll house to hold extra firewood?

Maybe we'll get another snow like this in a month or so, when I'm healed up enough to play like a little kid.  If it keeps snowing like this and the temperature continues to drop, we may get to hear a sound that is very unusual for this area. The incredibly loud "POW" of branches breaking off from the weight of snow.

If it ends up looking more spectacular than this tonight, I'll put up another post with pictures.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Rights? Only If We Feel Like It

If you wish to fly commercially, you will surrender any notions of having your rights protected by the Constitution.

The Feds have decided that you who are willing to fly are too damned stupid to care that you will allow yourself to subjected to things that used to only happen to prisoners in maximum security prisons.  But now, not only are you denied your second and fourth amendment rights, but the first amendment is out of the question as well.

That's right.  You'll do exactly as we tell you, and you'll shut up about it. Capice?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

BP and Blame

The central point to this whole issue, which Daphne and others are missing, is that BP, while culpable for their part, should not be the focus in determining what went wrong.  Before I go further, let me make it clear that I don't champion big corporations who indulge in "crony capitalism."  BP is on record for having given millions to Obama's campaign, and they bought into the global warming hoax when it came to advertising to consumers.  BP might be much better off going through bankruptcy and getting all new management.  The point here is to not be conned into letting BP be the sole scapegoat.

That is the heart of it.  If we had to distribute blame according to who contributed the most to not only the accident itself, but the incredibly unnecessary aftermath, it goes something like 20% BP, 50% Federal Government, 30% American people.

First, there is no good reason for BP to have to be drilling that far off shore, that deep, where the problems and risks of drilling aren't just more, they are exponentially more.  This is in light of the fact that we have tremendous amounts of oil we could be getting from under ANWR with minimal risk.  This goes double for the oil sitting under the plains States in the central U.S.  And NIMBY problems don't apply, because we are talking about areas that you'd have to fly to or take all terrain vehicles to.

Second: The emergency response legislation was already on the books giving the Feds the power to respond quickly and decisively to contain and clean up the spill.  It didn't happen.  As if the Obama Administration purposely wanted the spill to become an outrageous disaster, all kinds of equipment and help were turned away under the guise of union protection law, EPA mandates of "perfect or not at all" standards for cleanup.  This is all a matter of public record now.

Third: The sheeple of the United States letting the Enviro-Whacko crowd and the socialist greenie bureaucrats and politicians enact or create by fiat, laws to make it ridiculously costly and difficult to build or modernize refineries or their capacity, and more importantly, build the kinds of state-of-the-art nuclear reactors like what France is using to drastically cut down on the amount of fossil fuel we need to generate electricity.

I agree with Mark for the most part.  But what I actually see is another example of the leftists not letting another good crisis go to waste.  Anything that bolsters in the mind of John Q. Public that corporations are bad, and government needs to protect us from corporations, even if that means full-blown fascism, bring it on.  The people just keep falling for the same old "management-by-crisis" methods that keep consolidating and concentrating power in the hands of the self-anointed political class.

Blaming BP exclusively for the far reaching effects of the spill is like blaming a ten-year-old for causing a pile up on the freeway after his parents bought him a big, powerful Escalade and handed him the keys.

Puppy Paradise

That's right!  Time to take a break from the serious stuff and post about feel good moments.  Much irony here, seeing as how I'm suffering from a broken rib and the moment in question resulted in some of the worst pain since the fall.

It's been many days since we took the time to lay on the floor in the office and stream a show from Netflix. But I stumbled across the whole series "Firefly," and figured Twyla would like it, given her very discriminating taste in entertainment.  It's a shame the series only lasted for one season, but I can understand why it did.  Die hard Trekkie types wouldn't be able to handle the fact that it's more about plot and character development than about Sci-Fi technogeekiness (did I just make up a word?).  The plots and dialogue are witty and not meant for the American Idol crowd. There's no socialist utopia idiocy. Without you actually going to watch it for yourself, the only quick way I know to describe it is: The Old Western frontier set 500 years in our future. My favorite aspect of the show is the struggle to remain free and being willing to go without a lot of material comfort rather than be a slave to a totalitarian government and society.  Funny, that wasn't the original purpose of this post.

Moxie is quite the energetic dog.  She is as healthy and happy as she can be.  She has the run of quite a few acres up here on our mountain.  Depending on where we need to go and what we are doing, she gets to ride to town about half of the time, and she is a pleasure when it comes to riding.  She sit's quietly; doesn't get anxious about anything.

New "Chicken Little" on the right.
Most of the surprises we get around here are pleasant ones.  This spectacular fall on the back steps was not one of them, but most everything else is.  Like discovering a new chick out of nowhere in the front yard.  About three weeks or so ago, we discovered a new dog hanging around the area.  He's a mutt, but a really nice looking one.  Mostly boxer, and maybe some hound or short hair terrier.  I wish I'd have had a good photo of him by now, but he's still very skittish.  Moxie has really taken to him.  I didn't want another dog, but Twyla convinced me that he belongs here.  He started nesting under the front porch in what was left of one of the straw bales I used for chicken bedding.  Twyla has started feeding him.  He gradually came closer and closer each time Twyla was outside over the past few days, and he finally licked her hand.   I can only suppose that he was treated roughly before somebody either dropped him in this neighborhood or he wandered here from somewhere.  At first, he would run away at the mere sight of me, but he keeps getting closer to the door when I call to him.  Twyla named him "Beau."

Last night, we spread out the blanket and I ever so carefully got down on the floor.  Moxie was nearly beside herself with happiness.  She would get to be laying between master and mistress.  For Moxie, this is Nirvana. Seeing Moxie in that state just reduces Twyla to a fit of giggles, and I thought it would make for a good photo, although I wish I had a remote for the camera, so I could mount it on the tripod, and instead of depending on the timer feature, be able to hit the shutter at the right moment.

Once moxie gets into that position, she goes limp as a wet dish rag.  Everything is perfect in her world. But if I get up, or even act like I'm getting up, she goes straight to a state of alert. I've had several dogs, but never one that was so keen on wanting to be so attentive of my every move when possible.  So getting up to get the camera off of the desk was a major chore for two reasons. Even the tiniest movement that involves bending or twisting my torso can feel like someone is twisting a knife in my back. Secondly, Moxie has a hard time understanding that I'm not really going anywhere, I'm just trying to move a few feet.
Three Amigos in Moxie heaven

After attempting to take seven or eight photos, I got the second one you see here.  Sometime later, Twyla got up for some reason and Moxie followed her.  When they came back, Twyla laid back down and then Moxie, wanting that exclusive spot between us, started over me, but then stepped on my abdomen.  This sent me into breathless gasps, teeth and fist clenching, and tears forming.  Now the poor dog hasn't got any clue as to what she just did, but at this point I just can't stand having the dog leaning in on my left side with a broken rib.

I get enough breath in my lungs to muster up a very forceful command to "MOVE!" and this would be my undoing.  She was laying on her side facing me, and to reposition herself to get up, she pressed her back against Twyla and proceeded to shove her paws straight out against me to make room to stand.  Her lower paw thrusting directly into my rib cage.  I screamed.  Er, actually I SCREAMED!!  Every muscle I had originally strained on the fall felt like they were now tearing anew.  After the reflex of expelling all the air out of my lungs and every muscle in my torso seeming to have locked up as if I had been tasered, I wondered if I would pass out from the pain and actually hoped I would.  I had to concentrate on trying to make enough muscles relax in order to inhale.

Poor Moxie now lay in the doorway looking confused and frightened.

Later on, and it took a good while for the pain to subside, I thought about how much that dog loves me unconditionally, and could never conceive of trying to hurt me.  She was actually trying to be obedient to me at the very moment she hurt me.  I thought about how sometimes, in our relationships with other humans, we do things that end up hurting each other without even realizing it, because of things we aren't even aware of.

Every one of us walks around with a black box inside, and a special button outside somewhere that nobody sees.  Every once in a while, somebody pushes that button by sheer accident and a reaction takes place where the bystanders and the poor button presser are left in a state of bewilderment,  wondering, "What in the hell was all THAT about!?!?!"
Me love you.  I can has scurd now?

Sometimes it's major and sometimes it's minor.  Most of the time it's because we perceive an offense where none was intended.  What if, when such a painful thing happens to us, instead of lashing out at the "button presser," we instead asked ourselves why we felt like reacting the way we did? What if we could muster up the incredible grace to assume that the "button pusher" was innocent of any malice of forethought?  What if God allowed me that moment of incredible pain in order to prepare me for something similar down the road?

 Just a thought.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We Celebrate Because . . .

I don't do this blog because I want to purposefully offend people.  Any thinking person with any experience in the world knows that there is no way you can breathe without offending somebody.  In spite of popular opinion, nobody has any right not to be offended.  The world is in a very deep pile of guano because we've allowed idiots to use our own sense of decency to make us ignore tried and true wisdom.  We've become tolerant of stupidity for fear of hurting people's feelings.

Now that we're over the edge and falling into the abyss, I don't hold back on the things I believe are important because it might make someone angry.  And no, I'm not perfect and don't have all the answers, but some things are just glaringly obvious, or should be, and when I feel called to write about it, I will.  All the best teachers I ever had challenged me and made me think and didn't give a damn about my feelings when my feelings were getting in the way of the truth.

I have avoided writing about Christmas, because I just didn't feel like running the risk of offending for no good reason or being perceived to be. But lately I've been running across more and more stuff in the blogosphere that indicates there are a lot more people who have been researching and looking for answers regarding the "tradition" of Christmas and it's origins, which makes sense, considering its real history and roots in paganism and its lack of having anything to do with the birth of Messiah.  I guess I should be thankful that the internet has made it so much easier to find and disseminate tremendous amounts of information for those who are willing to sift through all the garbage and find the truth.

One example that I found this morning comes via Bayou Renaissance Man in the form of a cartoon that is spookily reminiscent of Calvin & Hobbes:

One of the most difficult aspects of being a disciple of Yeshua the Messiah and defending His Word, the Bible, is convincing fellow believers that the main thing that separates our religion from all the others is the proof of historical fact.  It's very wearisome and irritating to have to explain to non-believers why so many in Christendom go along with traditions that simply shouldn't be tolerated in the Church.  It's uncomfortable to maintain friendships with our "Sunday brethren" when such topics come up and they just don't want to explore the problems. It can seem pretty lonely out here being Messianic.

But I'm hopeful.  I see more and more people asking questions and somehow wanting to know the truth and how to keep in line with it.  I hope the trend continues.

Good Answer

I wish I could have written this answer.  It may not perfectly fit everything I believe, but it comes very close.  Maybe someday I will take the body of the text and embellish on it.

I think my favorite aspect of his explanation on the answer is the fact that we conservatives, and I mean true conservatives, and not the George Bush, John McCain, Karl Rove types, have to explain our conservatism in contrast to leftists/progressives.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Knowing God: Part 2

This is part 2.  Click here to read Part One.

It was the following day that I took time after class to go to the biggest Christian book store in Tampa.  This place had been in business a long time.  A free standing building about a third of the size of your average Barnes and Nobles, maybe a little smaller.  It wasn't just some little shop in a strip mall.  I figured if any place has some books with the answers to help me with all of the doubts and questions, surely this was the place.

My assumption was totally wrong.  There was a big section that had lots of different translations of the Bible.  At that time, I didn't understand why that was necessary.  Of the most popular translations, you even had different variations: red-letter, chain reference, topical, etc.Nobody to explain why all that was necessary, but it was all there.  Then there's all the different binding, and, oh-my-goodness!,  the selection of very fancy covers or carriers to tote them around in. A whole corner of the book area was devoted to such paraphernalia. Then there was a huge section that had to do with "Spirituality." Then an area about "self-improvement." Biographies took up another section.  There was a section with Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias and other large reference works. Of course there were books about end time prophecy.  Everybody wants to know what's going to happen and when. Smaller sections covered evangelism and church organization, and of course there were lots of books about current events and culture and what was wrong with the world. There were books on single topics or areas that I don't even remember.There was a large section of the store devoted to popular or contemporary gospel music, both recorded and sheet music.  Then there's the clothing.  Tee shirts, jewelry, choir robes.  Sunday school supplies, lesson books, felt boards, posters.  Artwork, paintings, candlesticks, knick-knacks, whatever.

I think I'd spent over two hours browsing the titles and reading the jackets to find something that dealt with just the basic questions I had.  In the reference section there was some fat volume about Bible criticism.  Perhaps it was Gleason Archer's When Critics Ask or some such, but that's the kind of stuff for second and third year seminary students and dealt with internal textual minutia that didn't have anything to do with answering any of my deeply held belief in evolution.  It seemed like I was wasting my time and I was coming to the conclusion that I wasn't going to find anything because there was nothing to find.

Let me back up a bit here.  As I was being made fun of for my new faith, I was asking questions of the priest and the other people I went to church with.  A lot of those people had gone to church all their lives and seemed to have great faith, and for heaven's sake, what's the point of getting a seminary degree and becoming ordained if you aren't going to learn how to answer people's questions about why we should believe in this stuff.  But when I would ask my questions, pointing out the glaring contradictions in what we accepted as fact from science versus what the Bible said, the only responses I got were pretty much one of three kinds:  "What's important is just having faith." "The accounts in the Bible are just parables or allegories, they're not to be taken as literal history."  "Evolution is just God's way of doing things."

The problem is, all of those answers mean that you couldn't trust what the Bible said about anything.  My logical mind wouldn't let me come to any other conclusion.  Especially since the Bible itself claims over and over again that it is the truth. I was not about to buy into any solipsistic nonsense about it.  And if you are one of those idiots who believes in solipsism, you might as well stop reading and go someplace else, because I got no use for you, unless you want to be disabused of that garbage.

Some people can somehow find a way to shut down that part of their mind that demands to know; "How did we get here, and why are we here?"  I really don't understand how someone of even average intelligence can do that, but that's a whole new post.  Those fundamental questions are why we spend trillions of dollars all over the planet,  building superconducting super colliders  and engaging in quantum physics research.  It's why we keep peering farther and farther out into space and launched Voyager and have radio telescopes listening for aliens.  I have a strong suspicion that even the people who claim not to care about the basic issue of human origins really do care when faced with their own mortality or deep personal crisis.

It would also be another thing if the Bible didn't deal with the issue of our origins, but it does.  It doesn't simply tell us, "God just created everything you see, and He really doesn't want to be bothered with telling you how He did it."  Quite the contrary.  It not only tells us the order that certain things were made, but defines what a day is and how long it lasts, and the order in which things were created made no sense according to everything I'd been taught in school.  And that was just scratching the surface of all the problems I had with the stories in the Bible.  I walked out of that store feeling pretty let down.

As I went to pull out of the parking lot the radio was playing something I found very irritating at that moment and so I hit another preset, to land on a station that carried Dr. D. James Kennedy's Truths That Transform just in time to hear that the program was about a book that was full of evidence that countered evolution.  It  seemed to have basic rebuttals to some things that I'd always just accepted as fact: Carbon dating, how primitive early man was, billions of years of geological evidence, etc.

Wow, why hadn't I ever heard anything like that before?  Even so, it sounded like stuff that should be pretty easy to falsify if it was just typical Christian propaganda.  I ordered it.  The book itself was pretty simple and seemed to be written for a general audience, but with lots of references.  I no longer have it in my library, having loaned it out many years ago and never gotten it back, but its footnotes and bibliography got me started on research, and within a couple of months I was spending a lot of money buying books from other sources, and finding out some really amazing things.

Like the fact that some of the best and brightest scientists with advanced degrees, all over the world, not only believed that the Bible was true, but that the earth was very young.  I'm not talking about crackpot, or fringe scientists, but guys with Ph.D.s from major universities and who were well respected and even taught at such places or were doing cutting edge research.  Like Dr. Richard Damadian who invented the MRI., Dr. A.E. Wilder-Smith a holder of three separate doctorates in the medical field; Dr. Russell Humphreys who was once the lead scientist in high energy plasma physics.

Those are just modern scientists.  I'm sure nobody cares that Isaac Newton, or Michael Faraday, or Louis Pasteur or most of the scientists of the 18th and 19th centuries were devout believers in the Bible and believed that the pursuit of science was, as Faraday put it, "thinking God's thoughts after Him."

All of this information really shook me up.  I read volumes and volumes of material.  I read the criticisms of these men and their research and conclusions and found myself having to agree with them.  I discovered Dr. Robert Gentry's work on polonium radio halos in granite and how none of the evolutionary scientists could find a flaw in his logic of what the implications were.  It actually made me angry for weeks.  I'd been misled for a long time.  I'd been lied to.  I thought "all" scientists were in agreement that evolution was a fact and that there was no mitigating evidence to the contrary. You see, it's one thing to present both sides of an argument fairly and let the audience decide, but that's not what goes on out there.  I would get to experience it first hand for myself, long before Ben Stein would come out with his documentary, EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed.  I have been in college classrooms and in churches and parties where, once I began laying out evidence that made evolution easily falsifiable, my opponents would say I was nuts, but couldn't produce or cite a single piece of evidence to refute me.

This post, and even this entire blog is not for the purpose of laying out over 24 years of my experience and research into the debate and the evidence.  I've been a subscriber to Creation and now Answers magazine, as well as the scientific, peer reviewed journals of the Creation Research Society, and Answers In Genesis' Technical Journal.  I've listened and read, over, and over, and over to the evolutionists talk about how creationism isn't science, but then they never deal with the science.  Their argument always gets reduced to being about religious people trying to impose their beliefs on everybody else.  This has become so routine, that I have never been afraid to engage in debate with any doctor of any discipline anywhere at anytime regarding creation versus evolution. I'll try to keep to the topic of how the decay theorem proves that radiometric dating is always just a guess, or really a SWAG, and they'll just tell me it's "settled" science, without dealing with the mathematical equation.  They have nothing, and they prove it every single time.  Maybe I should share some of those encounters in other posts, but that's not the purpose of this particular post.  Here, I am just wanting to deal with the idea of knowing God. The background is important, however, because we are not talking about God as just anybody wants to understand Him.  The God that you understand on your terms is no god at all.

Once again, my logical, science loving mind was very concerned with the question of: Which God?  Is there just God and all roads lead to him?  Is the god of the Hindus and Buddhists and the Muslims and even the Mormons all the same entity?  Is religion just this big, complex salad bar that we all slide our tray along and get to pick and choose what we like, but we all end up eating in the same dining room?  All of these religions contradict each other on so many points and so many levels.  They can't all be right.  The universal language of the Universe is mathematics.  All the laws that govern this Universe are very exact and precise.  It stood to reason in my mind that a God who created all of this must have some very well defined rules.  It also made sense to me that any entity or religion that claimed to know God would not reflect any characteristics of a God that were inconsistent with nature.

Being logical, I asked myself: "What if I were God?"  Would I create a universe with very precise and logical mathematical laws, incredible beauty, mind-boggling diversity, then create sentient beings capable of tremendous abstract thought and deep emotional capability, and then leave them to their own devices and not provide a way for them to find out about me?  Maybe it's just me, but I find that line of thinking stupid beyond words.  So, now a big part of my journey was going to be about discovering whether or not I could know if I had the right God.  This would prove to be my journey on the road called epistemology.

I had already had enough experience from as far back as I can remember of experiencing the most asinine and moronic behavior in churches.  It still goes on to this day.  One need only turn on the TV and experience the clownish antics of the prosperity hucksters and simple-minded "evangelists."  Way too much of what the world encounters under the label of "Christianity" on television looks like a combination of Ringling Brothers and Saturday Night Live.  I would have to find out, apart from the "church" that God is not afraid of the toughest questions I can put to Him.  I would also have to learn that the vast majority of stuff done in His name had nothing to do with Him.

The next post on this theme is going to deal with,  "How do we find  the real God?"

You can move to the next post by clicking on Knowing God: Part 3

Monday, December 20, 2010

Broken Rib

Yep.  I've had a broken rib before, and so I know that it's true.  What I didn't know is that a back rib bone hurts a lot worse than one broken in the front.  At least it seems that way to me.  I'm moving like a 90 year old with arthritis all over.  The fall on the back porch was a doozey.

I'm working on Part 2 of yesterday's post.  Hope to have it up by tomorrow.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Knowing God: Part 1

Talk about a tough subject to tackle.  Why even try?

I will try, to a very, very limited degree, because of something that I've heard or read from people over and over, both on one extreme or on the other.  On the one hand, I've heard from people who have said the most outlandish, crackpot stuff while invoking the name or authority of God, at the other extreme are those who, while being correct about human inability to comprehend God fully, seem to believe that we can't know anything about God, so, why even try?  Which leaves them open to create a god in their own image, according to their own likes and dislikes.

This is a subject that actually requires a tremendous amount of background.   Like having a discussion on the fine points of flying an F-18 Superhornet and carrying out a mission involving multiple combat scenarios, you wouldn't attempt to include people who have never flown in a plane, let alone don't know anything about aerodynamics or avionics.  Therefore, I understand that I'm about to talk about stuff that will leave a lot of people in a fog if they happen to stumble on to this blog.  In the religious realm, this is like lecturing on eschatology when some of your audience has never even heard the terms; amillennial, pre-trib, or harpazo.

But this is what I feel led to do, so here goes.

I came to my knowledge of God, not based on some experience.  Thank you, Father.  I don't mean for that to disparage those who have, after all, look at Rabbi (apostle) Paul.  I came to my faith kicking and screaming, battling with my intellect the whole way.  By the time I was 25, I hated all forms of organized religion. But I couldn't shake the gut feeling that there was some kind of "higher power."  That brings up the issue of  being "spiritual, but not religious," but that will be another post.

Here is where you have to pay attention carefully.  I came to God out of desperation and in spite of my mind, while having a crisis of purpose.  He answered me and gave me some personal miraculous confirmation.  But I was a long way from any real knowledge of God and I had lot's and lot's and lot's of misconceptions and doubts.  I spent the first few years of my new life with God getting spanked and corrected in my thinking.  Actually that still goes on, but not quite as dramatically as it did in the first year.

I had a friend who led his family life as though God existed, but admitted to me in private his serious doubts about God's existence. His main problem was that he felt God should make His existence obvious to the point that no one could have any doubts about it.  I finally discovered his "bottom line" after giving him lots of evidence from several years of studying apologetics.  What I also discovered about my friend is that he really just wanted a consensus of  worldly "experts" to simply render a judgment and tell him it was true so he wouldn't have to wrestle with the hard thinking.  He couldn't understand why so many people he knew believed in God, while so much of the world of academe that he put his faith in, didn't.  I've lost touch with him, and don't know if he ever did come to an understanding of what faith really is.

Over time, I've discovered a consistent thread among those who wish to avoid any mental heavy lifting when it comes to theology.  The name for such people is agnostic.  They don't think of themselves as mentally lazy.  Instead they will declare that questions about God or knowing anything about Him or His existence is just too difficult for even the most brilliant intellects, therefore, it is unknowable.  They have decided to take their chance in the hereafter by pleading ignorance.  What's funny to me is the amount of mental gymnastics they employ to avoid the difficult choice. And while such people in the realm of religion are called agnostic, in the realm of politics, I call them moderates. Same thinking process, or lack thereof.  Atheists are a completely different animal and are so illogical as to be silly.  The rules of logic make that clear, and when you confront them with it, it nearly makes their heads explode or they shut down or switch position to agnostic, at least in front of me.

Which reminds me: this is where someone is going to think I'm horribly arrogant.  Showing any confidence at all in an argument is enough to reduce most moderates or agnostics into simply using the "arrogant" epithet and concluding that they don't need to engage the debate any longer.

How is it possible that little-old me has the chutzpah to think that I can really know something or anything about God?  Believe it or not, it is precisely because of my love of science that I came to believe in God.  It is because I like and appreciate logic and reason that  I embrace the existence of God and the pursuit of knowing Him more and more.

I didn't start out that way, as I said.  I had accepted, without reservation, everything that the average secular person believes about evolution, that the Bible was merely written by men who used religion as a way to control others, that miracles were myths, and that science had explained almost everything, and whatever it hadn't yet explained, it was just a matter of time until it would. In the Spring of my 25th year, had you told me that I would one day reject all of that and eventually be teaching creation apologetics and that the Bible was true, I would have said, "Screw you and the horse you rode in on."  But I would have done it in less polite language and with much gusto.

At first, I just wanted this warm fuzzy idea that I could be forgiven for all my shortcomings and that I didn't have to worry about some cosmic justice or judgment at the end of life.  I liked the "idea" of Jesus, but I didn't want anything to do with that Bible stuff.  And I could have gone along like that indefinitely had I only hung around the "Christians," because the vast majority of them were just like me in that regard. (A very sad statement about Christendom) The problem came because I was challenged by the secular world about being simple minded for believing in such a fairy tale as Jesus and the Bible.  That just didn't work for me.  I can't pretend that it's possible to compartmentalize what should be, what is,  the most ultimate question of the Universe from everything else I believe.  My logical mind was not going to let me get away with that.

I was forced into engaging in linear logic, Aristotelian thought, if you will.  Either Jesus is real, or he's not.  And it isn't just enough that he was a real historical figure.  If he simply lived and died, and all the information about him in the Bible is just a bunch of made up stories or embellishments, then it's foolish and self-delusional to think that he can somehow save me or make my life better.  If there is no certainty that there's a life after this earthly one, then I might as well get whatever pleasure I can while I'm here.  What's the sense of playing by a set of rules if the outcome is a guaranteed loss?  The flip side of that scenario is what happens if this Jesus guy is for real and all that stuff in the Bible about him is true?  That would mean that what I stand to lose goes up exponentially.

So, I made up my mind, with a tenacity like I'd never known before.  If I could come up with enough evidence to put to rest this idea that Jesus was anything more than a really charismatic teacher, then I could go on living my life the way I wanted and not have to worry about stories no more valuable than those of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.  All I had to do was prove that the Bible couldn't be trusted.

I said out loud, "Hey God, or Jesus, or whoever you are; if you are real and if this book is really your word, you're gonna have to prove it to me."  No feigned reverence.  No pleading as if I was worried about losing anything.  I was my typical bull-headed, in-your-face punk.

The following day is when things got interesting.

To move on to the next part click on Knowing God: Part 2