Sunday, December 31, 2006

Time to give thanks to the Lord for His blessings during another year.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

In Litigation We Trust: John Edwards for President

"They make many promises,
take false oaths
and make agreements;
therefore lawsuits spring up
like poisonous weeds in a plowed field." - Hosea 10:4

So lets vote for someone who became filthy rich by propagating poison weeds.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What do I remember about Gerald Ford?

Not much. He was a decent president and there wasn't too much criticism of him while he was in office. By today's standards, the lack of criticism would indicate a political genius. He was defeated by Jimmy Carter based on the usual hollow promises. Given what happened in economics and world affairs during Carter's 4 years + the last few decades of senile antics, it was certainly a mistake for America not to have chosen Ford for another 4 years.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I was corrected: The Bible doesn't refer to "3" wise men, but rather an indeterminant number. Perhaps n.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." - Matthew 2:1,2

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Religion causes divsion?

"Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." - Luke 12:51-53

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Why Christian Fundamentalists need Modernists.

This is something that doesn' t get enough attention. Most of the modernists complaints about fundamentalists are true: They are intellectual slackers, they don't check their facts, they are legalistic and bigoted, and they won't hesistate to substitute ritual for worship. The modernist is forever pointing out those problems, wagging his finger and protesting of hypocrisy.

Thanks to the modernist, the fundamentalist can't rest. He must forever be reconsidering things and trying to determine what constitutes meaningless ritual that should be discarded and what are really the fundamentals that need to be held onto. This is an important process and one that allows us to focus on Christ and Him alone.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Battle For God, A History of Fundamentalism, by Karen Armstrong: Loose Ends.

The conclusion of the book is basically that fundamentalism isn't going away and modernist tactics have generally strengthened the hand of fundamentalists. With the exception of Europe, this seems to be a pretty good rule of thumb. There was much interesting and informative in the book, but several major questions need to be answered before any generalized model of Fundamentalism would be workable.

1) Why was Christian fundamentalism almost entirely absent from modern Europe?
2) Buddism has experienced all of the recent historical trends that afflicted Christianity, Judaism and Islam, but there has been no similar fundamentalist trend.
3) Why are modernists more comfortable with Buddism?
4) How does Hinduism fit in all of this?
5) Do modernists have any fundamentalist traits?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Paranoid and Bitter.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thesselonians 5:16-18

Another recurring theme in Karen's book about fundamentalism is that they are paranoid and bitter. As the above verse indicates, Christian Fundamentalists certainly aren't fundamental if they spend their time paranoid and bitter. There is a spiritual was going on and man's intellect does not permit any of us to opt out to a position that is above it all. If we are bitter, it is certainly best to reflect again on who Jesus is and His promise that His kingdom will continue growing forever.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Sound of Silence.

I am recalling all of the howling regarding Iraq up to the election. My how things change in a few months. The left has gained considerable power, but the silence I am hearing is the void that was always there: They have no idea what to do about Iraq. They do, however, know that they need more power.
The Battle For God, A History of Fundamentalism, by Karen Armstrong:

One of the themes that Karen used repeatably is that "the old myths no longer satisfied". Using my Christian metaphors, she is basically saying that the sheep tired of eating grass. There is one more possibility which she did not consider: The shepherds substituted poison weeds for grass and/or stuff without much nutrition. Frequently (but certainly not always), it is the more learned shepherds who tire of giving the same old grass from week to week.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Battle For God, A History of Fundamentalism, by Karen Armstrong: Fundamentals.

I was excited about this chapter, only to find that she dismisses the notion of Fundamentals. There is the obvious that Fundamentalists are looking back to something from an earlier age. She does break some ground relative to liberals by observing that Christian fundamentalism tended to be about doctrine, but Jewish and Islamic fundamentalism were about traditions and rituals. Islamic fundamentalism tended to demand state based Islam, but Jewish fundamentalism was hostile to the state. Why did this happen? She implies that it was just the historical context that the groups developed in, but ignores the possibility of Fundamentals.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Battle For God, A History of Fundamentalism, by Karen Armstrong, Chapter5: 1900-1925.

A key part of this chapter was the Scopes trial between Darrow and Jennings over evolution. An interesting tidbit Karen provides is that although Scopes technically lost the judgement and was required to pay a fine (done by the ACLU), the news media declared the winner to be Darwinism. What doesn't seem to register here is that Darwinism was declared the "scientific" winner on the basis of a lawyer arguing with a populist and the people who made this judgment were journalists. So much for the science. That the liberals considered this to be the basis for settling a dispute between intellectualism and Christianity should be clear enough of the attitudes of the era. Of course, little has changed when Michael Behe provided Darwin's Black Box as a challenge: scoffing and condescension are still considered by the liberal elites to be profound scientific discourse when all else fails.
Advesaria provides a recap of the scholar-bible divide from what is probably a non-Fundamentalist perspective. Nice recap, although I too am aware of the synoptic problem having gone through non-modernist commentaries preparing for Sunday School teaching. The difference being that the term, "synoptic problem", was not one that I was familiar with.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Battle For God, A History of Fundamentalism, by Karen Armstrong, Chapter5: 1900-1925.

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all." - Galatians 1:6

In this chapter, I was surprised to find Karen writing the reason for the founding of Christian fundamentalism along the lines that I have been saying. The mainline denominations and seminaries had become dominated by liberals and the conservatives were evicted. Her description of the process whereby this came about is weak, but the main elements are there.

Karen gives a clearer explanation of what this meant in her parallel discussion of the roots of Islamic fundamentalism: The western, secularist colonials took over and governed much of the Islamic world. The Islamic faithful viewed this as bigoted, condescending infidels invading their institutions. The Christian fundamentalists equally saw among the liberals a considerable body of deists and universalists who rejected John 3:16, the Apostle's creed and sola fide in favor of a gospel of salvation by social works. Likewise, they saw bigoted, condescending infidels invading their institutions. Even today, I have occasionally met Christians who were saved later in life and testified that the churches they had grown up in never mentioned salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. Needless to say, there were a number of Christian leaders who were somewhere between the liberal and fundamentalist camps and were caught up in the cross fire. Woe unto them!

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Battle For God, A History of Fundamentalism, by Karen Armstrong, Chapters 1-3

" The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1:14

The first 3 chapters cover much of the preliminaries. It is breathtaking as she covers so much territory to piece together a mosaic from various bits of historical information. The overall theme she is developing is one of conflict between mythos and logos where rationalism that developed from science lead to the enlightenment and the natural suppression of mythos, which includes all superstition and religion.

First I should acknowledge being compelled to reflect on something: My modern rationalist viewpoint is the one that I employ when I look at the Bible. It is quite a different viewpoint from that of Luther and certainly different from the apostles. My observation is that the Samaritan woman and the Roman Centurion also had different viewpoints as they encountered Jesus. This is not surprising, but it is something to reflect on.

I am somewhat pleased that at the end of chapter 3, she acknowledges the level of hostility of the secularists towards Christianity in the latter 19th century. The spiritual vacuity of rationalism is also discussed briefly, but there are some holes: "Scientific rationalism", which she identifies with the logos, is swimming in its own mythos. The other fact is that much of what was peddled as scientific "Higher Criticism" of the Bible was merely dreaming up something offensive, couching it in "scientific" language, and repeating it with a straight face, while invoking credentials. There is little room for error in her presentation of rationalism much less the malpractice that was rampant.

The other problem with the mythos/logos framework is that it doesn't allow for fundamentals. Yes, the fundamentalist reformers are looking back to an earlier age and hoping to restore what was precious in their religion. But what is their religion all about? I am anxious to see where she goes from here.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Regarding the need for the concept of science and scientist.

The concept of "science" lumps together a large number of categories of human intellectual activity. Why is this lumping helpful? Recognizing again that I have been a practitioner of many forms of "science" for 25 years, my main insight is that human intellectual activities come with concepts of reliability, certainty, complexity, competence, creativity, motivaion and talent. These are what drive your decisions as you manage a group of people who are trying to produce some new technological wonder. Moreover, in intellectual activities, things such as ctalent and certainty (i.e. confidence) vary by more than an order-of-magnitude. Lumping everything together in some abstraction doesn't provide us any useful concepts.

As we move into "science", the key characeristics that I have mentioned above are never part of the presentation in highschool or younger. Instead, "science" is presented as a binary concept: Something is science, or it isn't. The question I would like to ask is why "science" is presented this way while the real-word characteristics are dumped. Here, I will propose a hypothesis: A gnostic world view is what really is being presented that exploits some truly impressive aspects of "science" to raise the status of the more dubious ones. Similarly, whereas Newton, Einstein, and Galileo were all incredibly outstanding intellectuals in eras of many intellectuals, we find that the concept of "scientist" lumps everyone together: The mediocre with no talent are just as much scientists as Einstein. The implication, when "scientists" are challenged, is that people are persecuting "us Galileos", while the truth is that there were many intellectuals in Galileos day and their role (think neo-Classicism following the teachings of Aristotle and Ptolemy) is conveniently deleted from the story of his persecution by the church. Think of it as a concept that allows the mediocre to munch off of the famous. Thus, I will claim that the concept of "science" and "scientist" really are harmful as they are presented and unhelpful for technological progress.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The next deduction regarding the Philosophy of Science.

I asserted that scientists a) don't do much design (duh), b) don't have any general theories of design (duh), and c) are pretty much disdainful of their peers who do design (duh). Therefore, they aren't qualified to comment on the subject, including how the designs of life came into being.

The response I got was roughly the doctrines of virtual omniscience, the doctrine of virtual infallibility, and the doctrine of incompetence of those who disagree with Darwinism. For reference, the doctrine of virtual omniscience states "We know so much more than you do that for all effective purposes, you should treat us as omniscient". The doctrine of virtual infallibility is similar: "Of course we make mistakes, but compared to you, we make so few that you should consider us infallible". The last doctrine needs no explaining.

The responses, of course, were Gnosticism 101 and had nothing to do with science. This leads to the next observation: The existence of a scientist is unprovable. Yes, there are biologists, physicists, and otherists, but the ideal concept of a scientist that we learned in school simply doesn't exist.

Monday, December 11, 2006

This week I am in New Jersey. I had a fun time with the New York rush traffic getting to my hotel. The local neighborhoods have plenty of Christmas decorations that are quite elaborate. About 1 out of every 10 or 20 displays actually have a Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. I should tour around some more since the rental car company upgraded me to a Jeep Commander for free. (Always doing their part to help with the green house gases.)
The Mythical Scientist Who Said "So".

Child: How do we know this is true?
Teacher: Because the scientists said "so".

This was what I learned when I was a child. Of course, the presumption is that as a child, there is no way to understand, so you must simply accept. Now that I am an adult having spent 25 years using science to solve problems and working with the best in the world in several industries in many countries, I have learned something profound: The philosophy of science begins and ends with the mythical scientist who said "so". There is nothing more. The children became adults, Ph.Ds and Nobel Prize winners, but they continued to repeat what the teacher said. We all need our myths.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

"And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth" - Hebrews 11:13

I went to a funeral today. It was for an 88 year old Taiwanese lady. The service was a mix of Hokkien, Mandarin and English. I spend most of my time in the Chinese community, so this is home - until the pastor starts preaching in Hokkien. The lady was adapted by a poor family in a different era. Her family eventually all emigrated to the US and she followed them when she was in her 70's. Where I deviate from most fundamentalist is that I don't view we have any expectation that the US will be a permanent home for Christianity. It is just one stepping stone in God's plan. Don't get too comfortable.

Friday, December 08, 2006

"Cells face enormous problems in growing. We can develop some idea of the situaiton by conidering a totally self-sufficint toolmaking shop. If we provide the shop with coal for energy and crude ores, analogous to a cell's nutrient medium, then a very large collection of machines and tools is necessary merely to manufacture each of the parts present in the shop. Still greater complexity would be added if we required that the shop be totally self-regulating and that each machine be self-assembling. Cells face and solve these types of problems. ..." - Genetics and Molecular Biology, byRobert Schleif.

While publicly criticizing the ID analogies of Creationists, Darwinists employ ID analogies to teach how cells work!
I miss running in the mud. Doppelganger and Smokey, if you make it out to the SF Bay Area, drop me a post and I will be happy to show you some scenery. There is much more to life than arguments over evolution/creation.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Immune System / Evolution analogy.

Note to Doppelganger: This analogy was brought up by Smokey, not me.

As the evolution of the immune system response is considered relevant to understanding the evolution of life, I will consider how drug cocktails are used to stop HIV (per my very limited understanding).

HIV viruses multiply in an individual at a rate of ~1012 per year with a relatively high mutation rate. With a little checking, I think it can be shown that in one year, the amount of HIV multiplication/mutation/evolution will be comparable to that of the mammals with upperbound estimates on the time mammals have been on this planet. The HIV virus has 9 genes, compared with ~25,000 for mammals.

The way drug cocktails work is that they latch on to biochemical keys of the HIV virus. If only one key is latched onto (i.e. one drug), it is possible for the virus to evolve and circumvent the drug after perhaps millions of mutations. By using a drug cocktail, the virus must simultaneously evolve at multiple points, and the odds of this happening are astronomically small. The requirement of simultaneous multi-point effectively precludes evolution on what is otherwise a trivial change.

Going back to design, most significant design changes involve multiple changes at different points in the design simultaneously. I see this every day.

Now keep in mind that GA evolution is order(N*N) for the number of generations (use N as the number of genes) and the variation of one mammal to another is astounding.

Conclusion: The immune system research shows the limitations of genetics to overcome trivial design obstacles quite clearly.
Exhausted. The activity on this blog has suddenly skyrocketed. Yes, it is my own dumb fault. May the Lord help us all to regain our sanity!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The field trip to Stanford Medical Center.

I took the children to visit the heart research group. The children were talking about the methods used to research heart behavior. They asked if monkey hearts were used in the experiments to simulate human hearts. The answer surprised even me: Pigs hearts are preferred. Why? Because they are more like human hearts than monkey hearts.

Of course, believing in intelligent design, this shouldn't surprise me at all. Similarity of design features is due to God's choosing and doesn't necessarily follow the tree of life that Darwinist have speculated.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Why Darwinism remains hopelessly bound to Spontaneous Generation:

Answer: The Miller-Urey experiment.

This was on the recent SAT 2 exam and is thus considered vital knowledge by the Darwinian community. The Miller-Urey experiment showed that by putting a spark through certain gas mixtures, amino acids would form. Amino acids are, however, the building blocks of proteins and cells have lots of proteins. Therefore, it is implied and taught in biology classes across America, life could have occurred.

The problem here is that the gap between amino acids and a simple, standalone life form that can maintain its structure, feed off of the environment, and reproduce itself sufficiently repeatably to begin an evolutionary process is comparable to the gap between silicon crystals on the beach and a computer complete with microsoft windows. Amino acids can float around in a mixture, but like silicon crystals, they don't combine to form structures automatically. Also, proteins formed from amino acids aren't sufficient to form life by themselves either. They need something more, like DNA and RNA. Similarly computers need something more than silicon crystals.

The Miller-Urey experiment is only significant to an ideology that still believes in spontaneous generation. 100% pure spontaneous generation.
I want to thank Doppelganger for introducing me to the Salem Hypothesis. It states that Creationists are much more likely to be engineers than scientists. Yes, this is true, but why? The Darwinist will most likely attribute this to a deficiency in science. As the engineer views his discipline more as Applied Science + Design, we tend to take a dim view of this attitude. The other possibility is that engineers are more likely to have a proper respect for Design than scientists and prefer a unified world view with design near the center. The Darwinist must necessarily have a split world view where Intelligent Design is mandatory in high-tech, but impossible in biology. It is a bit schizophrenic.

Doppelganger also introduced me to the Kruger-Dunning effect. This states that people of lower intelligence have a habit of making ignorant statements about the big things. If I recall correctly, Darwin didn't do too well in school ...

Monday, December 04, 2006

"Genetics and Molecular Biology", by Robert Schleif, 1993

This is a graduate level textbook used at Johns Hopkins University to teach basic concepts of molecular biology that are extended to many other disciplines. It has a considerable Physical Chemistry and Organic Chemistry component which would make it intimidating for the large majority of biologists, but this subject is really foundational to understanding the molecular foundations of genetics. The book also goes a bit into how this relates to proteins and the various other things that drive life.

I bought this book mainly to test the theory that Darwinism was necessary to understanding biology and that it was an obvious deduction based on the structure of DNA. Getting away from the popular literature, I wanted to know to what extent Darwinism was either driving the theory or derived from the theory at the foundational molecular biology level as an actual graduate level molecular biologist would know. The answer was pretty much what I expected: There were a few, rare, single sentence exclamations thrown in (Holy Darwinism, Batman!), but otherwise, the connect was entirely missing. As I suspected, the modern invoking of DNA and molecular biology in support of Darwinism was merely BS. To further support my contention, professor Schleif routinely invokes factories and computer information concepts (intelligently designed all) to help in understanding the basic concepts, whereas Darwinism is entirely absent.

The next question is why would scientists have deliberately made such false statements about the Darwin-molecular biology link? My hypothesis is that the field of molecular biology is simply not understood by the majority of biologists and thus pretty secure from rational debate by laymen. By claiming that this discipline (which they probably don't understand either) proves Darwinism and that Darwinism is vital to understanding molecular biology, the Creationists can be silenced, humiliated and put in their place by simply invoking superior knowledge. More malpractice?
"The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam", by Karen Armstrong

I was wandering through Borders and saw this. Since it was cheap, I decided to pick up a copy and give it a read. It is too early to comment much, but it seems that Karen is attempting to produce a unified world view of "Fundamentalism", although admitting that this is a murky concept.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Regarding criticizing the President.

Sometimes it is mind clearing to look at disputes that are outside of our country. The anger at Chen Shui-Bian mirrors much of the anger that is against Bush at the moment. Chen Shui-Bian basically has three issues:

1) Accusations of graft involving enriching himself and those connected to him.
2) Redirecting Taiwan in destablizing directions, especially by deemphasizing Mandarin in favor of Hokkien so that Taiwan loses an important part of its common cultural framework. (It is a bit like the French-English dispute in Canada.)
3) 6 years of economic stagnation.

Comparing the criticism to that of Bush, the main thing I note is that the criticism is focussed. The first involved using bogus receipts to get reimbursements for expenses never incurred along with a number of other illegal transactions. They are specific and prosecutable and don't represent any reinterpretations of laws. The second is a legitimate argument over the direction of the country. The last is opportunistic: Outsourcing to China is more of a problem for Taiwan than for America, but this would impact anyone who took the presidency. The competing KMT doesn't have any alternatives and the KMT is certainly not a credible spokesman for cleaning up graft.

Anyway, what is refreshing is that the criticism isn't of the let's just throw the whole kitchen sink at him type that Bush has received.
A Warning to the Conservative board members of the Episcopal Church.

This being that the ruling Liberals will sue individual board members who follow their conscience to continue with the breakup of the Episcopal Church. Note that this destruction of the Episcopal Church is being led by scholars of the left although blamed on conservatives who probably don't believe anything close to inerrancy. Schori et al, however, believe that they are better qualified to reveal God's word than God himself is via the Bible. May God protect those who stand up to her.
Philosophy of Science?

The physics teacher was lecturing to his first year college physics class when he decided to stop and give some philosophical ideas. "Class, what is the difference between a physicist and an engineer?" One young student raised her hand. The teacher pointed at her. "Starting salary", she replied, which sent the whole class into giggles. The red faced professor suddenly decided that the class was behind and it would be better to continue with the lectures.

I have pondered this subject often but the first question we need to ask about a "Philosophy of Science" is what does it have to do with the price of eggs in America? Is it relevant to anything?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Visiting Dan Shui

My last day, we went to Dan Shui for a quick tour. 5 young girls (16 and 17 years old) spotted me and decided that I was the right Gai Jin to use for their English project. One was the spokesman for the group and asked most of the questions. I had to scold the others to be more bold to speak English. Since we weren't in a hurry, I gave them about 15 minutes to answer their questions in detail and let them take notes. It is always enjoyable working with children.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Does Inerrancy hurt Christianity?

"Hi Jim (Benton),
Thanks so much for your mail and your comments.
You write: "But, for you who are Christians, perhaps the worst consequence of inerrancy is atheism."

Yes, absolutely. I personally think this fact is a real pity as I see it as throwing away the baby with the bathwater. I'll rtry to respond to you via e-mail later." - Chris Tilling

This one is fun. Certainly it is always easy to locate someone who claims to have left a traditionalist Christian sect and blamed it on Fundamentalist abuses. There is, however a big problem here: Inerrancy doesn't really exist in Europe, but there isn't much of a church either. Eurabia is the future. For those who remember the Scopes Trial, the wars have been going for a long time and the anti-Fundamentalists have been on the offensive for most of the last hundred years. You also have a separate simple fact that blind acceptance of the Koran also is linked to a thriving Islam.

Eventually we need to face the facts: Inerrancy does not correlate with church decline, but modernism does.
Visiting Taipei 101 ...

This is Taiwan's entry into the world's greatest monument to materialism competition. The shopping mall inside features all of the high end exotic retailers with prices that are guaranteed to provide a lot of trickle down. We visited this today before heading back to the technical book store district because books on obscure topics like fuzzy topology theory are much more appealing (and cheaper) than Gucci paraphernalia.

Taipei 101 claims to be the tallest building in the world. It is 508 meters tall and has an amazing wind damper system in the top that we were able to check out from the observation deck. One thing that I really appreciated was the traditional Christmas music that played such as "Hark the Herald Angels Sing".

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Meeting another optimization expert ...

This one actually did his Ph.D. thesis on genetic algorithms for optimization. He said that most of his publications were on genetics algorithms, given that this is the hot topic, but he much preferred the traditional mathematical optimization. For me, this is one of the most beautiful areas of applied, multi-dimensional calculus. Some of us were lamenting that the new young engineers begin work with no appreciation for mathematical optimization. More importantly, thanks to Darwinism, they generally view this entire field with disdain. It is an irony that Darwinists insist that they are protecting science from the fundamentalist, but in fact, they are encouraging mental slothfulness by implying that key aspects of intelligent design that have been effective for decades are useless.
From my hotel window in Taipei ...

This is a view of Taipei Truth Lutheran Church which is strategically located just across the street from National Taiwan University. It is almost next door to another multi-story building that houses Grace Baptist Church.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Heading for Taipei ...

See y'all later.
The Economist begins blogging?

As my wife can testify to, I can be quite dull regarding keeping up with things. This is the first time I noticed an Economist blog. The article is about rebranding of Liberalism which I found interesting.
The Broom, the Rug, and the Doctrine of Errancy.

"Conquest of Babylonia ... Other priests were dissatisfied. Jewish prophets were predicting Babylon's fall and hailing Cyrus as the Lord's Anointed who would grant return to Zion [Isaiah chapters 35,40-55]. The whole land was in chaos." - History of the Persian Empire, A. T. Olmstead, 1948.

As this excerpt shows, there was a high regard for the Bible by this researcher from the University of Chicago Oriental Institute. Sometimes I wish I had much more time to sift through the works of this era, because a few data points are a poor basis for extrapolating trends. My main impression is that the contempt for the Bible began to dissipate in the mid-20th century and this history takes seriously the books of Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. Perhaps it was even the scholars that started the change. This book references Rawlinson, the scholar who translated Herodotus a century earlier, but who gave no credit to the Bible.

For this Fundamentalist, the memory of collective scholarly malpractice isn't going away. Most Fundamentalists aren't nearly so historically curious as I am, so retain the ideology of hostility to Scholars while not remembering what happened. Groups such as the PCA have long memories too of the Presbyterian split.

The purpose of bringing all this up is not so that the divisions can be maintained. I hope all Christians want to see more unity between those who acknowledge Jesus as Lord. This isn't going to happen if scholars insist that this era never happened.

Regarding inerrancy, I am not happy with much of the wording of the Chicago Statement. As far as the Fundamentalists are concerned, the only alternative to the Chicago Statement is that scholars will police themselves. When have they ever done that?

Friday, November 24, 2006

A old set of books:

I have a collection of 50 volumes called the "Harvard Classics" published in 1909, but probably assembled considerably earlier. The introduction to the set claims that it is a collection of the most important literature ever written, translated into English so that the laymen could discourse with the scholar. It as numerous Greek and Latin works from classical times along with the Bible, the Koran, and works of Confucious. (Yes, the scholar can read all of this in the original!) There are German, French and English philosophers and countless other minor works, such as Shakespeare. Many scientific works are included such as Newton, Pascal Farraday and others. What struck me about this set is that only one author had two volumes dedicated to him: Darwin. The volumes are "The Voyage of the Beagle" and "The Origin of Species".

The reason this is significant is the attitude of the age: Darwin was considered to be the most significant thinker produced in the history of the world. Again, this is 1909, which means that DNA and proteins and just about everything else of modern biology wouldn't begin to be understood for another half century. There was no conceivable application of Darwinism in 1909! Darwinism had been accepted as "proven", yet the science necessary to prove it didn't exist yet! As always, if we chose a "doctrine of errancy" (or something similar) as our unifying concept, then this can explained far more plausibly than by pretending that it was compelled by new scientific understanding.
Fosdick on Fundamentalists:

"This morning we are to think of the Fundamentalist controversy which threatens to divide the American churches, as though the were not already sufficiently split and riven." - 1st Presbyterian Church, New York City, 1922

Harry Emmerson Fosdick was one of the premier preachers of the era and greatly influenced seminaries around the US. One of his famous sermons was entitled "The Perils of Worshipping Jesus", which firmly establishes Fosdick as a disciple of the anti-Christ.

There are two sets of Christians which aren't the same but with considerable overlap: Those who proclaim Christ as Lord and those who take the Fundamentalist position on the Bible. Now as I have said several times, the Fundamentalists aren't without considerable faults. Regarding this era, however, theologians who accepted Christ as Lord but rejected Fundamentalist and/or extremely conservative interpretation of the Bible were silent and passive as people like Fosdick and Van Dyke who rejected Christ's divinity tried to stamp out Christianity while proclaiming themselves to be superior Christians. Division that preserves a remnant is certainly to be preferred over unity that sends us all to Hell.
Pull out of Iraq?

Pulling out probably represents a death warrant for tens of thousands if not more, but it is probably mandatory now. Both the left and right see it as necessary to engineer a defeat of Bush, but I see something else: The original assumption was that a pluralistic government could be established over an armed, Islamic society with outside agitation.

The core problem is that the fundamentals of Islam do not allow for anything other than an Islamic government and only a tyranny can suppress this. The Sunni and Shiite brands of Islam both consider each other to be infidels, so the idea that they could serve together was wrong at the outset. There are many unpleasant lessons to be learned, from the inherent weakness of Democracy to the way Islam values dialog. I am not optimistic that we will learn anything sensible.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Doctrine of Errancy when applied to other Religions.

Henry van Dyke, who I have picked on earlier, wrote a book entitled "The Other Wise Man" in which he hinted that Zoroaster was possibly related to the prophet Daniel. Certainly they were both famous prophets teaching monotheism. The Persians claim he lived during the reign of Hystaspes, who was the father of Darius, although there are many other myths about Zoroaster and claims that he lived thousands of years earlier. Documentation on Zoroaster is scant with only a few Greek references that come after the alleged time that Daniel was written. The Zoroastrian scriptures are much later.

My interest was in comparing the treatment of Zoroaster to Daniel by the scholars. Unlike Daniel, they have no trouble accepting that there was a real historical Zoroaster who preached a new religion. The treatment of the book of Daniel is systematically hostile, while the treatment of Zoroaster is entirely sympathetic in my 1910 Encyclopedia Britannica. A key characteristic of the Doctrine of Errancy, besides dissing the Bible, was in elevating things that were considered competitors to Christianity.
The Doctrine of Errancy regarding the Book of Daniel:

"Daniel, the name given to the central figure of the biblical Book of Daniel, which is now generally regarded as a production dating from the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.)."

"In view of these facts, and also of the generally inaccurate character of all the historial statements in the work there is really no evidence to prove even the existence of the Daniel described in the book bearing his name." - Encyclopedia Britannica, 1910

Translation: The Book of Daniel is garbage, which most of the rest of this article reasserts in much more detail. A typical example of their rejection being that Daniel mentions angels, but angels don't occur in the rest of the old testament, therefore it must be of later origin! Ahhh, those lying spirits! Having gone through Herodotus in some detail and compared to Daniel and Esther, I am still waiting to see a competent defense of the "generally inaccurate character" claim.

My 1910 Encyclopedia Britannica set is a treasure trove of Doctrine of Errancy proclaimations. Again, to understand Christian Fundamentalism, one must first understand what Fundamentalism was reacting against. The intelligensia had gone stark raving mad in their superior intelligence. The simpletons recognized this and just said "no"!
Happy Thanksgiving. These turkeys are thankful for a thick fog to hide in.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Doctrine of Errancy and the Titanic Eulogy.

"Where, then, does this rule which prevailed in the sinking Titanic come from? It comes from God, through the faith of Jesus of Nazareth." - Henry van Dyke, 1912

Henry van Dyke was head of the Presbyterians and a famous professor who certainly was mainstream. The eulogy he gave for the victims of the Titanic sinking was remarkable for its similarity in theology to what Thomas Jefferson believed. Jesus is a moral guru, but nothing more. There is no afterlife and God is not sovereign in his theology. Also note the little twist in words: "faith of Jesus" has been substituted for the usual "faith in Jesus". Henry van Dyke's doctrine of errancy is much more subtle, but pervades everything.
More on the Doctrine of Errancy.

"I separate, therefore, the gold from the dross; restore to Him the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of His disciples. Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and first corruptor of the doctrines of Jesus. These palpable interpolations and falsifications of His doctrines, led me to try to sift them apart. I found the work obvious and easy, and that His past composed the most beautiful morsel of morality which has been given to us by man." - Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Short, 1820.

This is about as close to a statement of the Doctrine of Errancy that can be found: The Bible is full of errors and Jefferson, being educated, believes that he is competent to sort out the fact from the fiction and proceeds to do so with the Jefferson Bible. Chronologically, Darwinism falls at the end of the establishment of the Doctrine of Errancy and was clearly mandatory to the intellectual mind no matter what the situation in science was.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Quote of the Day:

"Moses had ruled bloodlessly by inventing interviews with God, but Joshua ruled by the second law of nature - that the superior killer survives." - Will Durant, The Story Of Civilization, 1935.

I should probably keep putting in a few quotes from the doctrine of errancy for awhile. Will Durant represents the mainstream view of Christianity from this era - that the Bible was garbage.
The Economist regarding the dilemma of Islamic terrorism in England.

Option 1: Do nothing and the terrorist cells increase unchecked.
Option 2: Clamp down and new terrorists replace the ones who are caught while blaming all of their violence on the clamp down.
- The Economist only lists two options -
Option 3: Repent (i.e. dump your immorality) and turn to Jesus.

The violence is just beginning.
Miffed about Memory.

As this Digitimes article shows, the prices of memory chips have defied the laws of physics for the last year. I was hoping to load up some of my machines with 32 Gbytes of RAM for a few hundred bucks, but prices have been going up for a long time. Grrrrrr. Much of the explanation seems to be that solar panels are competing with chip making for high quality silicon production. The global warming prophets are warning of a GDP loss if we do nothing. I like solar and don't have any problem with supporting it, but there is also a big GDP loss if we reallocate resources by doing something. At this point, no one can say whether doing something or doing nothing will result in a greater GDP loss. Inane rhetoric from the global warming lobby is not helpful.
Some thoughts regarding symbolism from the story of Gideon.

"Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country." - Judges 6:3

"And he said, "I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder." (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.)" -Judges 8:24

The Amalekites were descendents of Esau and the enmity between them and the descendants of Jacob is a theme throughout the old testament. In the story of Gideon, we see the Amalekites teaming with the Ishmaelites and putting all of Israel under great distress. As Galatians tells us, the Ishmaelites are slaves to the law and symbolize those who trust in rituals and rules for salvation. Esau's symbolism is explained in Hebrews 12:16: "See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son." In a sense, the religion of license and the religion of legalism are opposites and we would expect more conflict between them, but in this case, they have joined to attack the Israelites - the ones who are trusting in God's promise. It isn't hard to see how this pattern fits into many of today's conflicts.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A major yardwork project means that there will be no running around in the mud for a month or two. Sigh. There is a common misconception that people own houses. The fact is that houses own people.
Mock Gay Wedding at MSJ High school.

The gay-straight alliance organized a few days to promote their depravity-centric morality at MSJ including one day for mock gay weddings. Some other groups organized a protest day against gay marriage in response, but a few teachers stepped in and said that they would give bad grades to anyone who attended. The principal then said that he would not allow this (clarification: "this" is the punishment of anti-gay protestors via grades), but the damage was already done: There is always a subjective element to grading and the kids are fearful of what will happen if they exercise their rights to freedom of speech.
Slaves to the Law.

Islamic law is spreading further in Somalia. Islamic law has much that is positive. For example, alcoholic drinks are banned along with pornography and prostitution. Western movies and literature are usually banned.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tracking a hymn: "Jesus the Christ is born".

1. Jesus the Christ is born,
Give thanks now, every one.
Rejoice, ye great ones and ye small,
God's will, it has been done.

2. Ye mighty kings of earth,
Before the manger bed,
Cast down, cast down your golden crown
From off your royal head.

3. For in this lowly guise
The son of God do sleep,
And see the Queen of Heaven kneel,
Her faithful vigil keep.

4. Two angels at His head,
Two angels at His feet
Beside His bed the flower red,
Perfuming there so sweet.

5. Jesus the Christ is born,
Give thanks now, every one.
Rejoice, ye great ones and ye small,
God's will, hit has been done.

This was proposed as a choir piece to practice for Christmas by a lady who sung this in church when she was a young girl. She said that the church was a Baptist one in Endicott. Looking at the lyrics again, she was bothered and asked me to do some searching.

The hymn was part of a collection of Appalachian tunes collected by John Jacob Niles. With a bit of internet searching, I found that it was recorded in 1934 in Sevier County, Tennessee. This brought back some memories because much of Sevier County was my bike racing training ground when I was a kid. Unfortunately, there was nothing more beyond this that I located on the net regarding the origin or the hymn.

From the context, it appears that "Queen of Heaven" is a reference to Mary and seems to link to the Roman Catholic Mariolatry. The same phrase occurs in Jeremiah 7 and 44, probably as a reference to Ishtar, as something that provoked God to anger, but I don't think that this is the direct link to the hymn. The Shakers also use the term "Queen of Heaven" for their bizarre theology.

Anyway, I don't have a good feeling about the hymn and there are plenty of others which are less problematic, such as "The Little Drummer Boy"!
Friends of Children with Special Needs.

Last night I went to another fund raiser. This one had about 1,000 people attending a dinner and show at the Santa Clara Convention center. The group was almost entirely Chinese and was raising funds for children with mental disabilities. About 20 politicians from around Silicon Valley were present. This was one of those strange events where materialism and charity are thrown together and stirred up. In my racially prejudiced mind, Chinese and charity don't go together, but this proved to me that this was not necessarily how I should view the world.

The show was a little like the usual Chinese school shows with groups singing and performing. What was different was that the children were almost all facing severe mental challenges. The usual Chinese family that I work with has at least one Ph.D. and expects their children to get a 2200 on the SAT so that they won't be losers. What happens when the intellectually and financially perfect couple finds they have a handicapped child?

We had a soccer camp where the kids from our church could help work with the FCSN children during the summer. With materialism so strong in the Chinese community, this was quite a refreshing time to see our young people learn something about caring for others.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Who was Simplicio?

Note that all that most of what I am going to write here has been written in countless secular histories.

Simplicio was a character from Galileo's book, "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Ptolemaic & Copernican". It was this book that triggered the final battle between Galileo and his enemies. For the most part, Simplicio (meaning simpleton) was a blind follower of Aristotle. These intellectuals were common throughout Europe and the original purpose of the Royal Society in England was to oppose their teaching. As always, there is a reason that the context of the intellectuals is deleted by the historians when the final summation of what happened to Galileo is presented.

The next important thing to remember is that the fascination with Greek teaching had already gone on for many centuries (ref. Thomas Aquinas). Aristotle (and Ptolemy) was a higher authority than the Bible, but this couldn't be stated directly. Instead, the interpretation of the Bible was forced to conform to the Greek views. With this context, it is easy to see that Galileo offended the intelligentsia of his day. To the extent that Galileo did offend the church, it was that the intelligentsia operated out of the church. Galileo was given a minimal reprimand by the Inquisition, but this was done by the church to appease the intellectuals.

So let me present the proper view of the intellectual solar system, because it applies to Biblical times, the time of Galileo and our present time also:

1) For every outstanding Galileo, there are a hundred other intellectuals with fancy credentials.
2) Ambition is far more common than talent. Simplicio is the mainstream of intellectuals.
3) Ethics among intellectuals never exceeds that of the general population.
4) Intellectuals are always trying to make the Bible conform to their erroneous world views. At one time, that meant forcing it to follow the teaching of Aristotle. Today, we try to make it conform to Darwinism and Liberalism although some try to make it conform to a Nationalistic Conservatism or whatever.
5) When their personal positions are rejected, intellectuals insist that everything that they bundled their personal view to was rejected and try to exploit this.
6) A significant block of intellectuals enthusiastically pursue their vendettas.
7) "Beware of the yeast ..."

Friday, November 17, 2006

The NYT puts out an editorial that I can agree with regarding corruption ...

Nancy's support of Murtha being clearly a mistake. The bigger problem is that the MSM has traditionally operated hand-in-hand with the Democrats. Republicans are quick to be corrected for their corruption which will be done both by the MSM and the voters. During my lifetime, however, the Democrats have not similarly had to face house cleaning issues. Thus, senator Kennedy, famous for a midnight swim with a young lady in the Chappaquidick river, can not only remain in office but be treated as a serious moralizer. Pay-to-play was a major factor in the governator's win. The Clinton's left a trail of bizarre events (remember Filegate and Travelgate?), but established that the existence of crime was irrelevant, as long as there wasn't a paper trail.

If the NYT starts to demand similar standards for Democrats as they do for Republicans, they can go a long ways towards recovering their reputation.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What if ... Martin Luther had actually invented indulgences?!!!

You see, Christianity had been in a state of spiritual harmony and bliss for 14 centuries! Suddenly, Luther came along and started preaching against indulgences, but no one had ever heard of indulgences. People were whipped into a frenzy and went around doing all kinds of outrageous things. All Christendom was thus disturbed by this madman. Wouldn't we have been better off if we had never heard to Luther or his indulgences?!

By leaving out the Catholic context that Luther was reacting against, the entire picture is badly skewed. Indulgences, however, are really just the tip of the iceberg as one tries to understand the church of Machiavelli and the Borgias.

My problem with the treatment of Fundamentalism is that it is always handled in a manner identical to my fictitious handling of the Reformation. There is no context. In the case of inerrancy, one is always left with the impression that it just appeared out of thin air, rather than being a reaction to the doctrine of errancy. From my older history books, the doctrine of errancy for the Old Testament goes something like this: The Biblical myths were created roughly at the time of the Maccabees. They were a synthesis of ancient Babylonian ideas mixed with a Zoroastrian monotheism that was imported from Persia. The spiritual value that these 19th century intellectuals found in the Bible was rather less than a trashy novel. Similar attitudes were to be found towards the New Testament. This wasn't just a few odd balls, but the mainstream views that swept away Christian teaching in the now secular universities and in most of the mainline seminaries. It predates Darwinism by half a century and continued until the mid 20th century.

Today, most of these earlier positions have been abandoned, although there is still a considerable gap between the intelligentsia and the fundamentalists on the reliability of the Bible. Of course, today's Catholic church can't be compared to the decadence of the Renaissance, so to explain the Reformation, the Catholic church must be put into its proper context. Certainly there were many abuses by Reformation leaders, but their actions do seem much more reasonable when put into context. Similarly, to understand Fundamentalism is impossible without a proper context of the 19th and early 20th century intellectuals: The intellectuals really didn't know very much, but were hyper-conceited and contemptuous of Christians and everything associated with Christianity. With non-stop garbage coming out of the intellectuals' mouths, inerrancy solved the problem of trying to figure out what was true and what was false! Fundamentalism, being human, also had its share of abuses, but it was more than justified in its reaction to these intellectuals.
Sitting in the courtyard at UC San Diego ...

"The beginning of wisdom is a complete disregard for the Lord." - Philosophy 101

I was reading the student newspaper waiting for my daughter to finish her class. An author named James wrote an article entitled "Why I am an Atheist". He wanted to address the arguments put forward on behalf of religion. I was excited: How would an atheist respond to Pascal's Wager? Would he take on the observable that survival of the fittest doesn't favor atheists?

James brought out the most compelling argument he had encountered on behalf of religion: "religion makes you feel good"! I was certainly astounded. Is this what we get from a university ranked 7th best public university in the nation by US News and World Report and 13 internationally by another study? The same issue of the student newspaper also had two articles on "negative learning" due to the recent study of university student knowledge of basic facts about the US at 50 campuses. UC Berkeley freshmen scored 60.4% while the seniors scored 54.8% - the more you study the less you know. The UCSD paper was discussing what the university could/should do to try to improve things. Perhaps they could start by admitting total failure in their ability to teach anything about Western Civilization.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I am having trouble getting to the internet, but it is good to be in La Jolla with my daughter.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Truth About The Trade Deficit.

I guess I can't fault this NY Times for getting the "truth" wrong in this article because they didn't make an attempt to explain what the "truth" is! The "truth", however, is a large number of factors that all point to one fact: US consumers prefer to purchase foreign made products. These are the factors that I hear and/or see with US companies that preclude US competitiveness:

1) Incompetent management.
2) Militant unions.
3) Runaway health costs.
4) Permanent disability fraud.
5) Tax law that penalizes investment and hiring.
6) Runaway property costs and/or other environmental costs.

I suspect that American politicians will do exactly nothing about the problems over the next decade, but they will look at ways to attack the symptoms. Health costs, for example, are due to artificial supply restrictions mixed with massive government investment in the elderly that is only due to get worse, especially if we move to a universal system. The only practical move to cut the US deficit would be to shift the tax burden from corporations (especially payroll) to consumption taxes. The down side here is that consumption taxes are regressive and the populists would (rightly) howl that it is a giveaway to the corporations. Of course, simultaneously demonizing US corporations and whining about trade deficits is a bit silly.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The conservative argument for pulling out of Iraq:

Are Army is for fighting wars, and frankly, there isn't really a war. Yes, there is a bunch of lawlessness and a desire by Shiites and Sunnis to kill each other that is fueled by outsiders. This is a police action and the US Army isn't the world's policeman.

(Not that I think that this argument is the only or most compelling one, but I think it is important to note that people can want to pull US soldiers out of Iraq while being anywhere in the political spectrum.)
Elton John says that there is a fundamental conflict between God and gays.

He didn't quite put it that way, but said that religion should be banned so that gays can have their rights. Actually, I find this refreshingly honest compared to those who insist that God didn't say what he clearly did say regarding homosexuality. In the end, God will pass judgment on all sin. For me as a teacher, I strongly believe (and fear) that spinning God's words will be condemned more harshly than homosexuality.
Koranic Reading Competition

Across Islam, this is a favorite competition. The article provides a brief description. The Koran is memorized and recited by the young as well as middle aged scholars. An emphasis is on the competitors voice and how well he can pronounce the Arabic.
Two things that are detestable: Clean trail running shoes and an unworn Bible.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My church friend cancelled on me due to the rain. :(

Friday, November 10, 2006

I have the flu again. Tomorrow's run will need to be shortened. Another runner from the church wants to join me, so we plan to compromise with a 15 miler.
It was the corruption, stupid!

Two ladies were talking next to me a few days ago. There was a multi-hundred million dollar project at Lockheed. Many had been enthusiastically working on the project and prepared a report that acknowledged them all. The one who had done the least was the last step in the delivery process, and he erased all the other names and left his as the sole author before submitting the report to the air force. The upper management was impressed, so the know-nothing was promoted to run the entire program. Things went very badly with the next customer briefing and Lockheed was threatened with a program cancellation. The upper management responded by pressuring the other workers to support the know-nothing who they promoted. Some resigned. Others found ways to hide. The contract was lost a year later, but not to worry: Lockheed bought up the competitor who took the contract!

It is a story line that I have heard too many times with different names regarding both industry and government. Get rid of one corrupt bureaucrat or politician and there are ten more waiting to take his place who are even more corrupt!

Additional Note: At least half of the corruption picture is false accusations by the corrupt against others, who probably aren't innocent, just not guilty of the particular charges.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I remember reading about how George Washington struggled with officers whose ambition far exceeded their talent. As I look at Rumsfield, I see a similar man trying to deal with officers and journalists who have those same properties that Washington lived with. Washington lost almost all his battles, but won the war. Rumsfield, on the other hand, won all his battles, but was facing an unwinnable war. The left likes to demonize Rumsfield, but I would ask them to look at him again. Could any other defense secretary have done a better job? Was the problem really with the execution, or perhaps with the original plan?

The hard questions that weren't asked while Rumsfield was being attacked are still with us: Is democracy possible in a country of jihadis who are being armed by outsiders? Is the West's metanarrative regarding Islam correct? What motivates terrorists? Rumsfield's task was to execute a plan based on the erroneous answers of others to the hard questions. He did his job well.
Night of the Alternate Minimum Tax.

The AMT is something that Americans are about to discover. I was hit by it one year. My wife and I had routinely over withheld state taxes and applied for a refund at the end of the year. Under the AMT, we found that we were suddenly hit with a very large penalty at refund time! The AMT sets caps on deductions (home mortgage + charity + state taxes) while introducing taxes on various forms of virtual income (i.e. income that you probably will never see). The Republicans introduced a temporary reduction to the AMT which is set to expire next year. This means that Nancy can raise taxes simply by doing nothing. The Economist reports that the number of people hit with the AMT should jump from 3.4 million to 22 million.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, since the AMT targets middle-aged, two earner families (aka the top 1%). Families that extended to the limit to get a mortgage in the soaring housing market will be in for a big surprise.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Time to rejoice that an election is over. Now I have plenty of reason to put more thought into my church and less into politics! Thank you Jesus.
A picture from last winter on the Ohlone Wilderness Trail.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

More on the US lagging behind the 3rd world on math education ...

The US education theoreticians are discussing how to remedy this by changing what is taught. The issues of who is teaching and how things are being taught are off limits, as usual.
"They make many promises, take false oaths and make agreements; therefore lawsuits spring up like poisonous weeds in a plowed field." - Hosea 10:4

This note on lawsuits would very nicely characterize America today. The verse was brought to mind by this article on new attackdog watchdog groups that are setting up to collect evidence for litigation during the current election.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What was Paul's Thorn?

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." - 1 Corinthians 12:7-12

When I was younger, I was told that this was probably some physical ailment. As I looked at Paul again, I couldn't see that he would be react as described to a physical ailment. What I have also pondered is that it might be a sin or temptation that he struggles with, because this would be something much more difficult to deal with emotionally and something that would possibly keep him humble with all of the great revelations that he was given. Any other thoughts?
Transparency.org has some interesting notes on worldwide public sector corruption estimates. I got this from The Economist.
Price controls for drugs in California ...

This bill was rejected by the California voters a year earlier when presented to them directly as Prop. 79. In fact, the final tally on Prop. 79 was 60.7% opposed and 39.3% in favor. It mandates discount pricing for "low" and "middle" income people. The gays were pushing hard for drug price controls (hopefully, no explanation needed on why this is so important to them), which is probably the reason that it was flown in under the radar.
More on bogus polls:

In all areas of life, errors due to things ranging from inaccuracies to outright fraud is expected. The regular last minute jumps in the polls before an election are usually explained by people making up their mind at the last minute. Much is probably due to this. Another chunk, however, is deliberately orchestrated: The MSM releases a scandal - such as the Foley matter - and within hours they are polling to see the effect. Manipulating opionion and discouraging their opponents (the MSM remains far-out Left) has always been a primary objective of political polling. What will really be sad is if the Left buys into the notion that voting fraud by the Right is the primary reason for the polling errors.
Election Predictions: God is sovereign and this will be true regardless of what happens on Tuesday. Relax and sleep well the next two nights.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Yesterday's trail run started at 5:20am. The fog was thick so it was difficult to see the trail in the dark even with the headlamp. It is always nice to see the sunrise. God's creation is awesome.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

What is a Reactionary?

This question came up due to my son's American government class. As the teacher sees it, a Neanderthal is an under-evolved, sub-species of conservative. Like many other words, the popular meaning has somehow detached itself from the underlying meaning of the word.

A more helpful way of understanding a Reactionary is that he is characterized by the reaction. In other words, he does not have a coherent ideology of his own, but rather develops things as a series of negative reactions to ideologies that he disagrees with. We should begin this with some attempt to be honest: I have behaved in a negatively reactive way (yes, I am a contrarian!), and you don't need to work in an American company long before you see reactionary behavior to sabotage a rival. Having worked several years in Japan, the thing I appreciated the most was being spared the reactionary garbage that is unavoidable in the US.

There is still a big gap, however, between reactionary tendencies and a reactionary ideology. The primary characteristic that I see of a reactionary ideology is the lack of a coherent ideology that can be defined without reference to other ideologies. A series of reactions are thus accumulated to form the ideology, but the relationship between the reactions isn't there and the result is hopelessly inconsistent. Thus, I propose that inconsistency will be the primary feature.

As mentioned at the beginning, Reactionary was somehow attached to a sub-species of conservatives. One of the primary being those who are opposed to taxpayer subsidies (aka rights) being provided to gays and especially those who claim that levels of gay promiscuity precludes a notion of monogamy for them. These people are called "homophobes" and lumped into the reactionary category. Many of them, however, are Christians who are reasonably literate and base their reaction on the Bible. Others aren't Christians, but recognize that gays are a public health nightmare and not helpful in promoting sensible families, which are the foundation of society. Those who oppose the gay agenda have standards, so calling them "homophobes" and "reactionaries" merely earns the dunce award.

My claim is that inconsistency is the primary symptom of the reactionary. For example, when it comes to abortion, we loudly hear how "choice" is sacred and cannot be revoked. Switching the topic to schools, many of the same people will immediately switch to a choice-be-damned mode. Clearly, "choice" is not a value to them. Another issue being war, and suddenly a group of "pro-choice" types wll condemn killing, torture and the lack of proper judicial proceedings. Then there is my personal favorite: Intellectuals who intelligently design arguments to prove that intelligent design is impossible!

With both parties being totally without a plan going into the upcoming election, but hurling insult after insult at the other, it is tempting to reject them both as reactionaries.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Mission Peak from the Stanford Avenue parking lot. It is only 3.5 miles to the top, which is 2,100 feet higher. It rained the last 2 days. I am looking forward to running in the mud and seeing things turn green again.
Remembering a failed 50k trail run.

Last year about this time, I joined the Stinson Beach Trail Run. Earlier the training runs had reached 30 miles on the Ohlone Wilderness Trail, so it seemed there was some hope to do this. Unfortunately I took a flu shot, came down with the flu, and then stayed sick for 3 months. Thus the run was started all drugged up to try calming the coughing. Early on, I was embedded in a group along the single track who were discussing the charms of 100 mile trail runs in the manner that others might discuss a nice resort. Their dream was the world's most beautiful 24 hours of torture, called the Hardrock 100. Thus, I have my mind set to accomplish a 100 mile trail run, if the Lord allows me to. Shortly afterwards, the asthma medicine caused my heart to start beating much too fast and I had to drop.

This year things seem to be going better. Last weeks 40 mile training run on the Ohlone Wilderness Trail went well. The coughing is still with me, but manageable. So there is some hope, although the Lord may have something more important for me to do.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Olbermann: "There is no line this President has not crossed — nor will not cross — to keep one political party, in power."

Advanced theoretical physics tells us that there are two ways that the president can cross the line. One is to step over the line, as Nixon did. The other is that all of the lines can be moved underneath the president by someone else. In this case, the crossing of the lines by President Bush tells us exactly nothing about the character of President Bush, but plenty about the creativity of his critics.
A death sentence is overturned ...

For a murder that happened in 1978. Lawyers have been litigating this for 28 years with both the prosecution and defense lawyers paid by US taxpayers. The judge said that the jury did not receive adequate evidence of the defendant's mental illness. The overall episode, however, points to mental illness being what is driving our entire judicial system.
China's African policy from The Economist.

This article outlines China's methods in Africa, which involve buying influence with a complete disregard for human rights throughout the continent. This is to gain votes in the UN, to isolate Taiwan, and to gain access to raw materials to drive economic growth. The Chinese government stirs up support at home by reminding its citizens frequently of the wrongs inflicted by the West in the 19th century along with Japan's more recent incursions. The relationship between China and the US is quite complex, as the Chinese leadership probably has many grandchildren living in the US.

While many Americans believe a foreign policy should be altruistic first, it is important to remember that there are powerful entities outside of the US who don't see things that way.
Willie Nelson commenting on horses ...

And my personal observation: When I encounter wild horses on my trail runs, they usually stop talking and pay attention - which is very unlike the children in my Jr. High Sunday School class.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

According to the BBC, John Kerry issued an apology so that he would not "allow the Republican hate machine to use Democratic candidates as their proxies in their distorted spin war". As usual, this throws even more confusion into the works: 1) I don't get where the apology is in this rhetoric. 2) The Republicans don't know who they are supposed to hate. 3) Who needs a distorted spin war when Kerry's words are most effective when quoted directly? 4) Given that John Kerry has a political science degree from Yale and a very long political career, you would think he would have the sense not to let himself be used as a "proxy" for the opposite party. Keep up the good work! No pain, no gain!
I will be glad when this election is over ...

Regardless of what happens, I am confident that God is in control and He will do things according to His good and perfect plan. The other thing is that I look forward to politics moving to the back burner and there being a bit less tension between Christians of different party affiliations.
Dan Quayle is probably feeling real smug at the moment.
Talk isn't always the answer.

"When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer." - Luke 23:8-9
We are vegetarians, but we would much rather be eating meat!

Last night, I went to dinner with a strict vegetarian friend. To accomodate him, and because my cholesterol is high, we went to a Chinese vegetarian restaurant. These are invariably Buddhist motivated and there is always plenty of religious literature to be seen as soon as you walk in the door. We had some usual delicacies like seaweed soup, but what always strikes me is the number of "meat" dishes on the menu: Goose, eel, beef, shrimp, squid, ... These aren't really from animals, but rather made using tofu with variations in texture and maybe some artificial flavoring to try approximating the texture and flavor of the meat. The attempt to immitate what they are not allowed to eat always strikes me as peculiar.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Duck Lake

Regarding vocabulary: Liberal vs. Conservative, Progressive vs. Regressive

One of the biggest problems in politics and religion is that words over time acquire an psychological aura that is conflated with meanings to produce a lot of rhetoric that sounds profound but is in fact garbage. Liberal originally meant pro-freedom and change, while conservative meant the opposite. The Economist uses the term "economic liberal" to mean free-market capitalist. Liberal here is per the original definition. Today, liberal is more often associated with socialism, which is the exact opposite. When it comes to schools, however, it is "conservatives" that are crying out for more choices, but "liberals" who are horrified at the thought. Clearly there are two somewhat distinct camps, but each has a set of things they want to change and those that they are determined to preserve. The labels "liberal" and "conservative" thus are as descriptive as gamma-team and epsilon-team.

There is an attempt to rework the vocabulary in terms of "progressives" who want change that is focused on progress and oppose change that is against progress. This conveniently implies that the other side consists of "regressives" who want to preserve what is bad in society and throw out what is good. As "progressive" only asserts the moral superiority of those who claim the term, but is otherwise completely uninformative regarding their philosophies, it certainly should be tossed into the bin.

I am fond of "left" and "right", as they are merely labels and don’t assert any morality. The problem with this split is the calibration is skewed: The official left/right certifying agency is run entirely by those who are left of 90% of America. Thus, almost half of America is in the ultra-right wing extremist category. Ted Kaczynski was the only ultra-left wing extremist in America until being re-categorized as a right wing extremist by The Economist, leaving no ultra-left wingers among America's 300,000,000 population. Clearly this labeling system has its problems too.

The other term I am fond of is "intellectual", which is short for "those who engage in intellectual malpractice for a living". As Jesus had conflicts with the Pharisees (traditionalists), the Herodians (politicians) and the Sadducees (modernists), I think it is fair to say that no group has a monopoly on intellectuals.

Monday, October 30, 2006

With the Duke Lacrosse team rape allegation competing for attention with the Australian Imam's comments on immodestly dressed women, I think it is good to remember back to what Alexis de Tocqueville said regarding the diffences in attitude between the Americans and the Europeans regarding women (~1840):

"The legislators of the United States, who have mitigated almost all the penalties of criminal law, still make rape a capital offence, and no crime is visited with more inexorable severity by public opinion. This may be accounted for; as the Americans can conceive nothing more precious than a woman's honor, and nothing which ought so much to be respected as her independence, they hold that no punishment is too severe for the man who deprives her of them against her will. In France, where the same offence is visited with far milder penalties, it is frequently difficult to get a verdict from a jury against the prisoner. Is this a consequence of contempt of decency or contempt of women? I cannot but believe that it is a contempt of one and of the other."

I am inclined to believe that women cannot have both European style equality and American style honor from a society. Having gained the former, they are losing the latter.
A multi-family get together.

We were at a picnic. The one young lady was an assistant to the local congressman Pete Stark and viewed him as something of a hero. When she found out that we were Christians, she made some claims about all of the terrible killing that had been done by Christians. I reminded her that in a few short decade of the 20th century, Communism had killed more people in the name of godlessness than all of the religious wars, executions, purges and inquisitions of history combined. Then there is communism's cousin, National Socialism to consider. She took terrible offense at that and continued to throw out accusations based on her accumulated mountain of disinformation that she had received from her books.

This was brought to mind by the quote from Richard Dawkins on Abnormal Interests: "Religious extremism is implicated in the world's most bitter and unending conflicts." This statement is only partially true, as racial animosity in Asia and Africa sit side-by-side with other hostility like the Hindu-Muslim split. Unfortunately, his atheistic alternative has proven by far the worst killer.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A View of Mount Whitney from Lone Pine.

This was from a few weeks earlier when I had to stop near the summit of Mount Whitney due to the coughing. Arriving back in Lone Pine, I headed straight for a drug store to get something to try stopping my cough. On the way out of the store, this sight of Whitney with a church caught my eye.

It is popular for those who explore the mountains to talk about "something spiritual". There are certainly always plenty of emotions and hormones stirred up. For me, it is a time when I can run together with my Father through Jesus Christ and ponder things.
A potential verse to preach on?

"Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms that do not call on your name ..." - Psalms 79:6

I am glad I am not a preacher, but once a quarter or so I am conscripted for this purpose. Next week being the week before the election, it would be tempting to put in something political. Never fear, there isn't the slightest chance that I will break the constitutional requirement that churches not endorse a ballot item!

Based on the political rhetoric that I have been hearing from both parties, this verse should be of concern for all Americans.
"He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." - Proverbs 13:24

The act of physical discipline had been universally acclaimed as something of value a few decades ago. I remember the teachers having paddles in school when I was young and saw unruly kids whacked into their places on many occasions. This was banned in the early 70's as "child abuse" with the net result that the teachers ended up being more afraid of the kids. The impact of this mentality cannot be underestimated as it greatly increases the costs of education and lowers the quality. Separately the mentality affected capital punishment with arguments that only methods which inflict no pain can be used and the recent rebuttal that fetuses feel pain during abortions.

With "water torture" in the news, I usually think back to 100 yard intervals in the swimming pool. Water torture is probably not as bad, but it horrifies the pain averse of our society. Western society is currently not sane enough to discuss what is and isn't torture and what should or shouldn't be permissible, given that the above verse stands condemned by our intellectual elite.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Quote of the Day:

“In fact, if Christ himself stood in my way, I, like Nietzsche, would not hesitate to squish him like a worm” - Che Guevara

I am happy the far left has recently discovered that torture is bad. Hopefully, they will remember this when they get swept back into power and not revert to the practices of their earlier heroes.
Sandi and the Hawaii Ironman event.

Finally, the explanation came in. Sandi started the swim and was stung by a jelly fish. With the usual Iroman attitude, she kept going and shortly had a very bad allergic reaction. Fortunately, there were a lot of support crew in the water to take care of her. She actually finished the 2.4 mile swim, but after the cutoff time. The reactions continued the next day and the doctors said that she may experience reactions for the next 2 to 3 months. 4 others ended up in the hospital because there was actually a swarm of jellyfish that everyone had gone through.
"It is inevitable that they will get what they want. Because of this, there isn't much point in fighting. When they do get what they want, the fighting will end and we can live in peace."

This is the "conservative" viewpoint at Mission High that my son recited to me. The subject was gays, but there are many similar ones. Islam, organized crime and extreme liberalism all fall into this pattern.

The fallacy is easiest to see with feminists. American women have always been the best treated women in the world, but they are never content. The feminist movement really picked up steam in the 1960's and early 70's as women were angry and made all kinds of demands for their rights. We gave them everything, including the right to set up their own churches where they can be the senior pastor - in direct contempt for the Biblical instructions. We even changed the usage of our language so that "he" must be changed to "he or she" so that their pretty ears wouldn't be offended. So, do we live in peace? Of course not! Today's women are even more discontent and they are still making their demands. Everything is framed in the language of rights, but the issue is the torment of the soul. Again, the issue is torment of the soul.

In the same way, gay marriage won't be the end, but merely the beginning. The Foley matter should show that clearly. The lusts of man are insatiable, so society must establish and remain firm on limits. Giving in is more like removing foundational support pieces under a building. If it is OK to remove one, we eventually find that we can't argue against removing more.

God allows everything for a reason. He gives us a choice to embrace Him or to pursue our lusts. When we choose the latter, he has something else awaiting us: Islam. As with liberalism, Islam is insatiable in its demands for complete submission. Even when you give in to Sharia law, there is no peace, because Islam always produces dysfunctional government and extreme poverty. The solution? Send the young out to inflict Islam on some other dysfunctionally licentious society. God is certainly just.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I feel spiritually connected to this California Poppy.

No, not in any Zen sort of way, but in a fundamentalist way: We both have the same creator who gave us some similar features. For example, California Poppys generally bloom in the spring, reaching a peak in April or May when the fields are covered with wild flowers. This is the best time of the year for 50k trail runs as the beauty of the flowers helps to overcome the pain and suffering associated with ultra-marathon mountain running on rocky trails.

This flower, however, was photographed today near Mission Peak. By stubbornly blooming at the wrong time, it is a contrarian, just like me. It does the right thing at the wrong time and the wrong thing at the right time. Oh, how I can relate! More importantly, it has stubburnly taken a position where it is likely to be trampled upon by the herds of people that wander up Mission Peak every week. Most will walk just inches away to one side or the other. And finally, it is persistent in holding to its unreasonable position as I first noticed this flower on my trail run last Saturday, but it was only today that I could get back here with a camera.

Someday I will need to establish a formal international organization for contrarians. Of course, we will never agree on the by-laws, but there should be some way to celebrate a common bond.
Two elderly ladies were just talking next to me.

One told the story of a friend whose husband lost his job as a nuclear physicist during the McCarthy era. Gee, I wonder what kind of work a nuclear physicist would have been doing during the McCarthy era that would be considered sensitive? Nuclear weapons perhaps? But it does bring up another interesting feature: How can it be that nuclear weapons should be banned, but working on nuclear weapons is a constitutional right?

Another curious feature to ponder is that the DOD budget rises and falls depending on the party in power, but the DOE budget doesn't change much.
Quote of the Day:

"If the American government is serious about avoiding explosions inside the U.S., then let it stop provoking the feelings of 1,250 million Muslims." attributed to Osama Bin Laden during a CNN Interview, 1997.

Apparently someone forgot to tell him that President Bush II was the primary reason for Islamic terrorism.
Regarding Embryonic Stem Cells.

Having worked in engineering and science for 25 years, it would take me a long time to enumerate all of the scams that I have seen. A typical example was the magnetic fusion energy program at LLNL which cost the taxpayer $1 billion. It was based on some simulations done in the 1970's. Upon completion, the lab management announced that they had new simulations which proved that the system would never work, so it was mothballed and never turned on, after all of the money was spent. The old-timers at LLNL sneered that the lab management had the simulations all along, but used bogus ones to get the money.

As we consider stem cell research, this should be kept in mind: Scientists don't have any ethics, especially when money or ideology is involved. Stems cells involve both. California passed a $3 billion bond for doing this work.

Economics also teaches the concept of "opportunity costs". When you put money into one thing, you don't put it into something else. The question is: What else could we put our health dollars into that would improve health?

The answer to this is easy: America is rationing doctor and nurse training just as the baby boom generation is heading for retirement and is going to demand endless medical pampering. A 75 year old retiree with 20 ailments simply isn't going to take a back seat to a pregnant mother. $3 billion represents $100,000 of tuition for 30,000 medical students. Meanwhile, a medical doctor who is seeing his insurance rates skyrocket due to fraudulent malpractice suits might be glad to jump ship for a research position.

Then there are all of the other medical problems out there: AIDS is probably over funded, but drug resistant TB is on the horizon and cancer comes in too many varieties. There is always a thousand choices, so why do we need to dump money into something controversial? Actually, we need to dump money into embryonic stem cell research precisely because it is controversial! In your face, dude!