Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Guantanamo and Terrorism.

Nothing seems to set off pacifists more than the base at Guantanamo bay. This is where innocents like Mary Poppins and Bambi are held to be terrorized by sadistic Americans. One reason we can be sure of this fact is that the real terrorists have all been let out. This article is about Noor Alam who was there, but was released from Guantanamo and went back to Afghanistan to kidnap Chinese Engineers and otherwise cause mayhem. Unfortunately, he blew himself up with a grenade to evade capture again, thus, forgoing his constitutional right to consume $20 million of taxpayer resources for legal fees in the US.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Creationists in the polar regions?

This article which references another news article was of interest to me. It claims that 29% of Canadians are young-earth creationists and most of the rest are theistic evolutionists. Only 11% believe that a scientific explanation absent God exists. The high percentages of creationists are what struck me since fundamentalism is a southern backwoods phenomenon closely associated with corn liquor.

There is the usual feature that college graduates have a big drop in numbers being pure creationists. I usually associate that with smarter people being more emotionally insecure and thus more susceptible to pressure from Darwinists. Regardless, the 15% of pure creationist college grads is still significant against government funded Darwinist teachings.

A more curious feature is that the conservatives tend to be higher on both the pure evolutionists and the pure creationists, while the liberals tend to prefer theistic evolutionary blends.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Council for American Islamic Relations joins the fray:

"The new perception is that the United States has entered a war with Islam itself."

Yeah, but the war started when Mohammed picked up a sword and led a frenzied pack of followers to kill someone. Bush has done everything in his power to spin this into a war about something else: hijacked religion, terrorism or criminals. CAIR needs to explain the difference between appeasing terrorists and criminals on the one hand and not offending Islam on the other hand.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Another triumph for human rights: 7,000 jobs lost due to a Nike plant closure in Indonesia.

According to the article, Nike production in Indonesia has dropped from $2.2 billion worth to $1.5 billion. This means countless people have lost their livelihood either directly or indirectly in this desperately poor country. Howling from the west was only part of the problem. Local militant unionists are probably a bigger factor.

(Full disclosure: I am wearing a Nike shirt at the moment, but I don't buy Nike shoes.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Feed the starving children or fight global warming?

The UN is the first to have to face this problem head on. According to the article, "the price it pays for maize had risen up to 120 per cent in the past sixth months in some countries". Government mandated demand for biofuels is driving up the costs. Another factor is the rising prosperity due to globalization. This is causing an increase in the demand for grain to feed farm animals for meat.
LA diocese settlement.

As usual, America's mental dysfunction continues. The Catholic Church in the US was long ago taken over by gays and, well, there are certain things that gays gotta do. Clearly the legal system has spoken up and the $660 million settlement is the consequence. Will that convince the US Catholic Church to keep gays out of the clergy? No. Will that convince the US to restrict access of gays to young men? Of course not. We will continue the policy of promoting and subsidizing gay behavior while denying the inevitable consequences of the policy.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Woodpeckers were here?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Democrats and Religion.

This article on how the Democrats are formulating their current strategies to go after evangelicals has a bit of interest, but there is so much that isn't included. The thesis of the article is that the Democrats have recently discovered religious votes and are just now reaching out to them. Nonsense. Since William Bryan Jennings and earlier, the Democrats have always been conscious of religious motives in voting as well as their moral conscience. That is why an Iraq/Vietnam pullout is/was always portrayed as "anti-war", rather than "we don't give a damn about foreigners - may they all die". It is why we hear "pro-choice" rather than "abortion the babies so I won't pay taxes to educate them". It is why we hear "gay-rights" rather than "subsidizing immorality".

When I was young, the teacher in school informed us that Jesus was the first communist. The mainline churches were dominated by leftists. Maryknoll missionaries were promoting "liberation theology" (aka communism) in Central America. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both made a major show of religion and who can forget the Al Gore incident with the Buddhist temple? The main thing to note, however, is that Democrat outreach to religious types is usually restricted to informing the religious types of any apparent agreements and downplaying disagreements. Christianity must conform to Leftism, not the other way around. Thus, the relentless push towards godlessness as America's national religion is unhindered.

The Republicans, on the other hand, have recently been a coalition of the grouchy atheist and agnostic libertarians (e.g. Goldwater) and the Christian right who are opposed to the establishment of a theocracy of godlessness. This coalition desperately needs each other to stand, but neither side seems to want to acknowledge this fact and the MSM constantly preaches that the Republicans will fail unless one or the other half of the libertarian coalition is expelled. President Bush has made this situation much worse by ignoring the economic libertarian wing and neither Guiliani or Romney seem to "get it". The Republican leadership would do well to give the article some serious consideration.
Competent to exegete?

The classic example of a spoiled brat is when he tells his parents, "if you don't give me what you want, then you don't love me". It is always so precious to see the brat lecture the parent on the fine art of love. Of course the parents do love their children, but the experience and perspective make them vastly better equipped to make these judgments of what is and isn't love compared to children. They may fail at times or may fail systematically, but it is still assumed that the child is less equipped to dictate the terms of love than the parents.

This example came to mind as I was reading Christendom and the discussion of the phrase, "God is love" from the Bible. The exegetical procedure begins with the assumption that man is the master of the concept of love, adds in the fact the God is love, and then proceeds to dictate to God what His characteristics are. The methodology is almost atheistic in that God is reduced to something trivial like a rock that can be analyzed from the superior reference frame of man.

Isaiah 45:9 says, "Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands'?". A correct exegesis must begin with a recognition that God is God and man is man. If God is love and we don't see God clearly, then it would be best to assume that we don't see love clearly either. It is God who has the power to reveal His nature to man as He chooses, not the other way around.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Some injuries and my busy work schedule have been keeping me off of Mission Peak, but it was good to be back on the mountain again. I always rejoice when the Lord helps me to get some nasty engineering problems solved.
Genius of the day?

"The Muslim world right now is suffering beyond belief, ..."

"Unless the president of the United States is held responsible for what he's doing and what he has done, there's no one in the Muslim world who will forgive him."

This from Nobel Peace Prize winner Betty Williams at the International Women's Peace Conference. Apparently she doesn't understand that it is Sunnis (Muslims) and Shiites (Muslims) trying to kill each other in Iraq. Also, the Islamic world is desperately impoverished from Darfur to Sulawesi, but all of this can be conveniently blamed on President Bush. Given that it is a women's forum, I guess she is going to go on and explain how wives of Muslim men should blame Bush when their husbands pick up three more younger wives.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The one true church?

Apparently the Catholics have taken to criticizing the Protestants for not being true "churches". There is much truth to that. What are we to make of the American Episcopals or the United Church of Christ who have overruled God on morality, for example? The big problem, however, is the conflation of the terms "church" and "bureaucracy". The true church is the collection of all believers in Christ and is a spiritual entity. The Roman Catholic bureaucracy, on the other hand, is an administrative edifice which, like the Protestant bureaucracies, is only loosely affiliated with the true church. Sadly, many will be diverted from salvation by Christ to salvation by bureaucrats.
Some more Islamic terror in the Philippines.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The heatwave and drought have been raging across the Western US. Saturday, however, we drove out of the heat and onto a ridge behind Woodside where the fog was condensing in the redwoods making for a very wet hike as the rain was dripping from the branches overhead. The temperature was 12 centigrade which was quite comfortable.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hector Avalos: Taking contextualizing to its absurd limit?

Prooftexting is where we take a passage from the Bible totally out of its Biblical and historical context and apply it today. The correct way, apparently, is to interpret the Bible passage within the cultural context of the time and try to see it exactly as it would have been seen then. This is called contextualizing. In The End of Biblical Studies, Hector Avalos is apparently suggesting that because the cultural context of the Bible is different from today, therefore the Bible is irrelevant. How can we possibly know the meaning of "love", "healing", "salvation" and "forgiveness" when we didn't live in a first century context? I would call this the agnostic absurd limit of contextualizing. We also have the gnostic absurd limit which creates a fictitious context (perhaps loosely drawing on other ancient texts that are geographically and culturally removed) and then interprets the Bible within the fictitious context. In both cases, what seems like the apparent meaning of a passage is modified significantly.

Having lived and worked most of my life in multi-cultural contexts, this all strikes me as nonsensical. Yes, there is much that changes, but the key things of life remain the same, especially when we are talking about marriage.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?" - Jesus

When the subject of universalism comes up, I am always astounded. Jesus publicly threatened eternal condemnation on a number of occasions. In spite of this, theologians remain unconvinced that Christianity requires anyone to go to hell for rejecting God. Not only this, but they have deduced that telling people about hell isn't effective and turns people off. When I was a child, the "turn or burn" sermon format was quite popular and seemed to me to be effective. What changed?

What changed is that liberals mocked and scoffed at the notion of hell and judgment. The result is that high brow types generally find talking about hell quite ineffective. Duh.
Yesterday, we went for a picnic and hike at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Having worked on earthquake engineering a few years, it is always fun to ponder the earthquake characteristics of these huge trees compared to buildings. It is claimed that San Francisco will experience The Big One every hundred years or so. Thus, these trees have experienced 20 big ones over the course of their 2,000 year existence.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

More health care news from the San Jose Mercury.

One editorial notes that the UC system has 17,000 qualified nursing school applicants on waiting lists. The state doesn't meet supply needs for nurses and, given a world-wide shortage of nurses, expecting the third world to make up the difference is more than a little bit callous. So what does UC Irvine do? They invest in a new law school in spite of lawyers being quite plentiful in the state. Go figure.

The San Jose Mercury today also had an article about the health system in the UK. (Can't find it online.) They noted 239,000 registered doctors of whom 90,000 received their training outside of the UK. It does make one wonder how they would cope if the UK were as restricted as the US regarding foreign trained doctors.
Health care, socialism and terrorist doctors?

Apparently these terror doctors who were practicing in the UK medical system were 26 or 27ish years old and came to Britain "two or three years ago". In the US, it is difficult to get a medical license before you are 28, not to mention what happens if you are bouncing in and out of the middle east chaos. It is also extraordinarily difficult to get a medical license in the US if you haven't graduated from a US accredited school. This has me wondering what the differences are between the UK and the US on medical school standards. In the US, average salaries for doctors run about $200,000 per year which is probably a bit more than the UK. It certainly does help if you allow qualified doctors to come in from abroad.
Brown no longer refers to Muslim Terrorists as "Muslim" or "Islamic".

This reminds me of a story from New York which was out of control on crime a few decades back. A judge was mugged by a criminal but then declared that he would not let this personal experience effect his decision making. One senior citizen heard this and yelled "mug him again!".

Perhaps the IRA could have been put out of business a decade earlier if we had stopped calling them Irish?

In the case of religion, however, I am getting the impression that few Westerners have ever read what Jesus or Mohammed actually said and bought into the Liberal view that what they said is actually meaningless and the only thing that counts is the spin. Muslims, however, memorize the Koran word for word in their Madrassas and Christians love the Sermon on the Mount. Does anyone actually know what is in these texts who serves in government?

I will resist the temptation to say "bomb them again", because the Bible commands me to bless, not curse. May God grant some reasoning ability to our politicians.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

"Syncretism, not skepticism, is our greatest enemy" - Rick Warren

That quote is from "The Purpose Driven Church" and sums up a lot of my view of the current state of philosophy in the world. Everything is a muddle of mutually exclusive notions and no one is the least bothered. Certainly it does allow us to get along with life easier in a multi-whatever environment, but this isn't what Christianity is all about. Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me" - John 14.6. Not much room for syncretism in that.
High Tech Outsourcing Stabilizes?

As long as there was an excess of cheap software developers, things weren't stable. Now that Indian wages are catching up with the US, this is changing rapidly. Another big potential source of software developers is China, but China has a culture of pilfering intellectual property, so they are one of the worst choice in spite of the talent.

Monday, July 02, 2007

An alternate explanation regarding the gender gap in church attendance.
Libby Pardoned. Huh?

A $250,000 fine and 2 years of probation aren't exactly what I would call a pardon, but in the world of perpetual spin, this is the way it is. He was convicted of lying in an investigation of a leak, which was apparently trying to correct a whole pile of lies coming from all over the place. The result was a sham investigation into a non-coverup. Libby turned out to be the sacrificial lamb to appease the anger generated by a media frenzy. The main effect will be to make reasonable people think very carefully before joining our government. Everyone who is called to testify should invoke their right to remain silent, because you might potentially become the criminal in the absence of any sensible alternative.

While we are at it, we shouldn't forget the pardon of Mark Rich.
Vietnam all over again ...

"When I was still a member of what is probably best termed the British Jihadi Network - a series of British Muslim terrorist groups linked by a single ideology - I remember how we used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy.

By blaming the Government for our actions, those who pushed this "Blair's bombs" line did our propaganda work for us.

More important, they also helped to draw away any critical examination from the real engine of our violence: Islamic theology."

Of course, during the Vietnam war, left-wing intellectuals blamed 100% of the violence on the US. The communists were perfect in their world view, or at least so much holier than the West that we weren't qualified to point out any defects. Exactly nothing has been learned since then as we deal with Islamic terrorism.