Saturday, June 30, 2007

"Allah, Allah", shouted the burning man as the police tried to subdue him.

It is, however, too early to pass judgment. After all, this could have been the work of fundamentalist Christians Asians raised as Arabic speakers in Yemen.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Baylor religious survey.

There are a few questions that I would have liked to see asked in here that aren't. Mainly, I would like to know which Christian denomination is perceived to be the most effective in prayer. What was interesting to me was their survey of the paranormal. It seems that evangelicals overall are the least likely to believe the paranormal of any of their groups. At 25.4%, however, this is still surprisingly high. Those who attend church weekly come in at 24.7% while those who never go to church are at 28.6% believing in the paranormal.

Another surprising statistic was that 38.7% of atheists never pray, which presumably implies that 61.3% of atheists feel some value in prayer sometimes.
Build up, build down, or build sideways?

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" - Ephesians 6:12

The howling continues as the West remains determined to be clueless. The spirit of Islam has been warring to bring everything into submission to its laws since Mohammed founded it. Denial of God's Son is also a key part of the religion. This war will continue and the peaceniks who think that they can opt out are just as deluded as those who think it can be won by human power.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Dunning Kruger effect seems to be turning up hits on my blog. This effect is one where those who are ignorant wildly overrate their abilities. While this is true, I think that it is probably a universal effect and doesn't discriminate based on religion, race, nationality, or sexual disorientation. All of us are susceptible. Since the beginning of the Enlightenment, however, it has been the duty of agnostics and liberals to point out this all too obvious defect in their opponents.

At some point, however, it becomes appropriate to put our leftist and agnostic friends under the same microscope and see what it is that turns up. Thus, one of my repetitive complaints is that the science of biology really couldn't begin before the discovery of DNA. Certainly people were learning about life, but there simply was no understanding for a century after Darwin. The only conceivable way to explain how evolution could have been elevated to a position of sacred science during that period is the Dunning Kruger effect. The Dobzhansky principal - nothing in biology can be understood except in the light of evolution - is also clearly a result of this effect.

The objection of ID against evolution is that the technology of life is too complex, therefore, we can not rule out ID. Furthermore, given what mankind knows about the creation of technology and the fact that there are zero historical instances of major technological achievement absent a technologist, we are compelled to go with ID for life. The Darwinist response is pure Dunning Kruger: "Scientists say you are wrong, therefore you are wrong!".

As I said, however, Dunning Kruger doesn't discriminate. Politicians make an art out of Dunning Kruger. Tune in to O'Reilly's The Factor and you can be treated to plenty of entertainment of this sort.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Purpose Driven Church: More on worship music.

Reading more into this book, I found an entire chapter on the subject of worship music. Rick Warren's message is that we need to choose music that corresponds to the typical preferences of the people, which means that you simply won't be effective unless it is fairly contemporary. Without this, we will reach smaller subcultures and close doors to the unchurched masses.

This these I will object to on two levels:

150 years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote regarding the progress of the Catholic church: "Our contemporaries are naturally little disposed to belief, but once they accept religion at all, there is a hidden instinct within them which unconsciously urges them toward Catholicism. Many of the doctrines and customs of the Roman Church astonish them, but they feel a secret admiration for its discipline, and its extraordinary unity attracts them."

Much of that statement rings true today as the bizarre worship practices of the Catholics never seem to have trouble attracting people. Indeed, we could say the same thing about Mormons, Pentecostals and Charismatics. And what should we say of Islam? Is Islam suffering for not allowing tank tops and sandals for worship?

The other way to look at this is to surf the radio for a few popular secular music stations, then change to a contemporary Christian station. Does the music really sound the same? Of course not! The sound isn't the same and the Christian songs are far more repetitive. Whether you pick a country music station or gangsta rap, you will typically find a more carefully considered message than a contemporary Christian song!

It seems to me that the antipathy towards earlier music does not come from the congregation. My biggest concern, however, is content. What are we singing and why? If we can't explain the meaning of a song, then we have a much bigger problem than style.
With congressmen like these, why worry about terrorists?

The easiest way to stop the flow of illegals into the US is, of course, to turn our economy into a Mexican quagmire. This is best done by bringing in millions of illegals so they can vote for the kind of governance they are fleeing.
" ... many churches seem to think that the 1950s was the golden age, and they are determined to preserve that era in their church." - Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church.

This book has much that I like, so I probably shouldn't just poke at one sentence that annoys me. The above statement seems to be a bit of a jab at the worship styles, although it might be a jab at those who want to stick with King James English in their Bible reading and prayer. One thing I have noticed from the weddings recently is that when young men want to dress up, they follow a pattern which isn't too far removed from the 1950's style of Mormon missionaries. When they show up at worship, however, it is a bit like showing up on the beach. Certainly we can worship the Lord always, whether formally or informally, but it shouldn't be that we never give God our best.

The 1950's worship included a variety of hymns covering a big chunk of a millenium from the late Middle Ages to the modern. The hymns came from different cultures and were written by people from all walks of life and all ages. Some are heavy on theology, others are more experience based. Almost all of the successful ones have a memorable tune.

In contrast to this, we have the modern praise songs other than the ones derived directly from the Bible. These tend to be tuneless and theologically shallow. A few authors are producing many songs like Fanny Crosby, but I must confess that I can easily connect with the lyrics of Fanny Crosby, while having periodic doubts about what the new songs are all about. Most of the songs we sing today will be forgotten in two or three years. None of this really bothers me too much. I can simply attribute it to naive youth. What does bug me is when our rich Christian cultural history is dismissed as a 1950's relic in the same class as the 1970's leisure suit, while today's worship monoculture is presented as revolutionary and inspiring.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cameron Diaz makes a booboo.

The problem being that a Maoist slogan on a handbag is rightly viewed about the same as a swastika in Israel. In Asia, the swastika is a regular map symbol for Buddhist temples, but most people have been educated that the cute little geometric construction is quite offensive to those who suffered under fascism. Certainly I am glad that Cameron apologized and feel that is probably enough from her. What isn't enough is that the communist holocaust deniers ensconced in the ivory towers and funded by the US government have never apologized. During my last visit to UCLA book store, I encountered plenty of posters of the communist killer, Che Guevara, but none of Hitler. I think this reflects the mindset of much of the "people of conscious" of academia: Genocide is OK, as long as it is in the name of socialism and atheism.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

United Church of Christ declares that Separation of Church and State doesn't apply to them.

Obama is to address the church synod, which is a national gathering of the church for the purpose of setting the overall goals of the organization. It seems to me that they are endorsing Obama as a presidential candidate and providing him a forum to promote his campaign. In the IRS document outlining the rules, it states that a political candidate can speak at a religious gathering, but with several conditions attached of which we have "it (the religious organization) provides an equal opportunity to the political candidates seeking the same office". Now I can't say for certain if Giuliani, Romney and Clinton had been given the same opportunity to speak, so the reader can judge this for himself. This post is some condensed thoughts motivate by this article.
Celebrating the founding of the Christian Right.

Whenever the origin of the Christian Right comes up, William Jennings Bryan seems to show up as the founder. That he was a Democrat and no one seems to know or care what he believed makes this a bit problematic.

My fundamentalist family, however, grew up with a stack of National Review magazines while the TV was playing Firing Line. Our hero was William F. Buckley Jr., a Catholic from Yale. His career was launched in 1951 by the book, God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of "Academic Freedom", which caused a firestorm among the academics who had become too cozy in their ivory towers. Yes, the Christian Right is solidly anti-intellectual, but the assualt on the intellectuals was an inevitable, obligatory consequence of reason, rather than a rejection of reason as the intellectuals falsely claim. The notion of unaccountable intellectuals making up stuff and ruling our society by whim is just as offensive today as it was in ancient Babylon when Daniel was sent by God to correct their thinking.

Mark Noll in "The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind" failed to mention this key player who is as much an influence on evangelicals today as Francis Schaefer and C.S. Lewis. In fact, to mention Buckley is to see the entire thesis of Noll's book fail, so it is hardly surprising that a defender of the intellectual left would not mention Buckley. This does, however, make for some considerable entertainment for the world as the lower intellects of the left denounce the right for being the lower intellects.

When Buckley wrote God And Man At Yale, the response of the university leadership was to drown him out with rebuttals written at length by prestigious intellectuals. Fortunately, freedom of publishing allowed him to get the message out and other took the lead. Fox News is one result which sends the left into hysteria. One thing that is almost certain is that government controls of news outlets would start appearing again if the Left were to control all three branches of government again. Being a cynic, I can just enjoy the freedom that the right has here in America today, but I expect it to be short lived.
Gould sticks his foot in his mouth ....

"Creationism is a local and parochial movement, powerful only in the United States among Western nations, and prevalent only among the few sectors of American Protestantism that choose to read the Bible as an inerrant document, literally true in every jot and tittle."

To begin with, the fundamentalist, inerrant fringe is only about 10% of the population in the US, but something like 60% of Americans don't believe evolution and about 1/3 of college graduates. This is in spite of the fact that evolution has been mandated in the public schools for all of my lifetime. I grew up in the Bible belt of Tennessee. Evolution was taught as scientific fact and only an imbicile would disagree. All Americans have heard this. In fact, we should go on an acknowledge that the US government has invested countless billions of dollars to develop the most persuasive arguments for evolution, package them in the most compelling manner, and then try to systematically indoctrinate every single child in the country. Against this, a rabble of creationists have successfully done the impossible in convincing a majority of Americans about creation. Standing in their way isn't a group of scientists, but rather a coalition of liberal theologians and lawyers who invoke "separation of church and state" to insure that a fair debate is never presented in the class room.

To believe in evolution, you begin with a refusal to believe in God or a refusal to believe in a competent, effective God. The later reason is what brings together liberal theologians with atheists and agnostics. Because it is impossible for God to have created, we are compelled to find a spontaneous generation variation which will somehow be plausible. I don't really have any problem with that mindset - if only it were acknowledged in the textbooks. Unfortunately, the evolutionists are at a highly disadvantaged posiition trying to argue from the "God ain't or can't, therefore evolution can" position, so they invent a disingenuous backwards argument: Science makes evolution so compellling that there is no need for a God. For the atheist, this kind of blind faith is understandable. For the agnostic, he must now confess that his uncertainty about God is a willful uncertainty. The liberal theologian is in the most pathetic position.

Gould's essay set out to answer the question of whether or not someone can be a Christian and believe in evolution. From a philosophical standpoint, the answer is clearly "no". The final answer is from Jesus: "And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven". Believing in evolution may be wrong, but it is not a "blasphemy against the Spirit".

Friday, June 22, 2007

And I was worried that I would be labelled "over-the-top"!

Online Dating
Liberals are now officially "Progressives".

The reason is that the term "Liberal" now has too many negative overtones which makes it an obstacle to proclaim their message. Their view is that the word Liberal was fouled by the vast right wing conspiracy, but the competing view is that the Liberal house was fouled by its owner. Progressive is meant to convey their real desire for orderly progress to a better future. If that is truly the meaning of the word Progressive, then sign me up too.

Unfortunately, Progressive is the usual word play. With Pro-Choice, the virtues of abortion are equated to the virtues of choice. Unfortunately, Pro-Choice isn't about school choice and most pro-choicers would take away medical provider choice also given a chance. Pro-Choice is the empty virtue of choice which is good or bad depending on an ideology that is above the Pro-Choice issue and is ashamed to actually present itself. Similarly, we can talk about "change" or we can talk about the mystical, awe inducing synonym, "evolution". Ah, the power of word play!

Progressives believe that students should be exposed to many ideas in school and loathe the "no child left behind" with its restrictions. Progressives, on the other hand, disallow all kinds of teaching ranging from religious instruction, teaching about honor killings and Gulags, and teaching by the large class of intelligent people in this country who reject evolution. Most conservative viewpoints won't be taught nor will much about the anti-Christian legacy of intellectuals or the inefficiency of socialism. The progressive view-point, like liberal and pro-choice is just a slogan for a sub-campaign of a higher level, unmentionable ideology.

Progressive are for "social justice" which is nice, but who isn't getting social justice? The upper crust progressives? Certainly my heart cries out for the poor young mother with three kids all of whom have different fathers and will grow up largely unable to function in society. Progressives have nothing to offer this other than granting the children the right to never be disciplined and guaranteeing a new generation of social chaos, which fortunately provides more anecdotes for Progressive politicians to use! In the case of morality, progressive are for some sort of sub-stone-age anything goes in the jungle viewpoint.

May the stench of the word Progressive rise up to the sky just as the stench of the word Liberal already is.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mixed Feelers About Sir Salman Rushdie.

Rushdie is an atheist who wrote some provocative things regarding Islam. Before going on, we should note that the great atheist leaders, Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot and the Kim's represent the greatest ideological killers of all times. Thus, I have little sympathy for them as they point out the comparatively smaller faults of the religious competitors. Islam, however, is the second greatest killing ideology of history. Rushdie certainly risked his neck to publish his novel and was probably well aware of the potential consequences. This takes vastly more courage compared to the usual "bravery" of publicly desecrating the symbols of a religion that teaches "blessed are the meek".

During the Renaissance, the Turkish forces were gathering to launch an invasion of Italy. The Italian peninsula was so divided and consumed with bickering that they would have been an easy target if the Renaissance hadn't been ended by conquest from the rest of Europe. It is something to keep in mind as the much larger Islam of today faces off against a West that is bitterly divided between Christians, anti-theists, and secularized pseudo-Christians.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Inerrancy wars continued ...

This one will continue until the Lord returns. The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy was originally established at a time when Christian churches and seminaries were being systematically infected by atheists, agnostics, polytheists, unitarians and a gaggle of others who would have been condemned as heretics by protestants and catholics alike in earlier ages. It was a crude, but effective filter. Either you believe the Bible or you don't. If you want to be a Christian leader, shouldn't you believe the Bible? Unfortunately, this is shockingly intolerant!

If I turn to some other directions and apply similar standards, what would it look like? Suppose a Muslim imam didn't believe most of the Koran and didn't believe that Mohammed was really Allah's prophet. First, I would be surprised that he even wanted to be an imam and question whether or not he was suicidal. If he were evicted from the premises of the local mosque, I would probably smirk and think to myself "what did he expect?". What is next? An atheist leader who doesn't believe in evolution? A communist leader who doesn't believe in collective ownership? A Mormon leader who thinks Joseph Smith made up the book of Mormon? Would any ideological or religious group even consider a leader who openly rejected most of the core beliefs? (Shhh! Don't mention the Republicans!)

Apparently, only Christians are expected to accept leaders who reject their scriptures and reject leaders who accept their scriptures. Fortunately, with this new statement of inerrancy, most of the agnostics, polytheists, unitarians and others will still be able to practice in the Christian pulpit while being able, in good conscience, to say that they too believe in "inerrancy".
Inerrancy wars continued ...

This one will continue until the Lord returns. The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy was originally established at a time when Christian churches and seminaries were being systematically infected by atheists, agnostics, polytheists, unitarians and a gaggle of others who would have been condemned as heretics by protestants and catholics alike. It was a crude, but effective filter. Either you believe the Bible or you don't. If you want to be a Christian leader, shouldn't you believe the Bible? Unfortunately, this is shockingly intolerant!

If I turn to some other directions and apply similar standards, what would it look like? Suppose a Muslim imam didn't believe most of the Koran and didn't believe that Mohammed was really Alah's prophet. First, I would be surprised that he even wanted to be an imam and question whether or not he was suicidal. If he were evicted from the premises of the local mosque, I would probably smirk and think to myself "what did he expect?". What is next? An atheist leader who doesn't believe in evolution? A communist leader who doesn't believe in collective ownership? A Mormon leader who thinks Joseph Smith made up the book of Mormon? Would any ideological or religious group even consider a leader who openly rejected most of the core beliefs? (Shhh! Don't mention the Republicans!)

Apparently, only Christians are expected to accept leaders who reject their scriptures and reject leaders who accept their scriptures.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Susan Izimba tested positive for HIV in 1997. She said she had no knowledge of condoms."

So her husband dumped her. This comes from a brain damaged article on HIV in Uganda. The implication is that Susan got HIV because she didn't use condoms and/or wasn't educated about them. How many men does a married woman need? She probably got HIV from her husband who was busy messing around. Are married couples supposed to use condoms too? If people don't want to get and spread STDs, the solution is quite simple: Stop acting like Bill Clinton and stick to your partner. Better yet, teach this to the entire society and make and enforce rules that encourage faithfulness over promiscuity. Of course, the genius intellectuals of the West still haven't figured this out. They argue that it is impossible to have such a society. The only reason that it is impossible is that the genius intellectuals would never tolerate it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Millionaire Welfare Queens?

One of the consequences of an anything goes attitude towards marriage is the creative opportunities it creates. The one that I am familiar with is the millionaire couple who are living on government assistance. The trick is that one partner earns the money while the other partner is a stay at home mom. This is quite normal, but they aren't registered as married so the government sees one filthy rich single and a poverty stricken single mom, never mind that they typically live in an upscale neighborhood.

Most of the times I have seen this situation have been associated with immigrants. It is much easier to pull this off when all the couple's assets and income are in foreign banks. The welfare office doesn't check on the Mediterranean cruise. The benefits that can be obtained are amazing. The most common ones are favorable admissions to college, scholarships and subsidized housing loans.
The Great Game: Episode 2.

One report doesn't make a fact, but this article is interesting. The thesis is that China has been supplying arms to Iraqi insurgents and the Taliban via Iran. China has also been supplying arms to the Sudan. This act of charity is reaping wonderful rewards in Darfur.

Given China's need to lift another quarter billion peasants out of poverty, this would seem most counterproductive. The problem is that China's leaders both look forward and backward. In the rearview mirror, they see themselves having been humiliated by the West in the 19th century. This memory distracts from any current political problems, so that they perceive a big interest in fueling conflicts that drain America. The other side of the mix is that the grand children of the Chinese leadership are probably studying in the US.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

With school being out, it was time to see a movie yesterday evening. The start reminded me that it has been awhile since I have returned to Singapore and I need to make some reservations. Their version of Singapore was a bit different from what I remember. Otherwise, it was just a movie.

From my Christian perspective, I usually notice some symbols. One of the pirates at the end had two crosses attached to the ears. The most powerful entity, however, was Calypso.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The complexity of life suddenly increased by an order of magnitude due to a new understanding of RNA ...

The ID folk are understandably feeling smug as scientists try to explain why something the complexity of the Starship Enterprise can only be explained by rejecting ID. Scientists, however, have not yet begun to tap into their reserves of conceit and will doubtless say that Darwin expected this all along, because it is a natural outcome of his theory. The vast sections of useless DNA that resulted from millions of years of random evolution now seem to be full of microRNA coding. Perhaps one or two Darwinists will apologize for the useless DNA argument, but the majority will gleefully keep digging the hole deeper.
Purpose Driven Surrender?

While the notion of a purpose driven church - as opposed to a purposeless one - is music to my ears, Rick Warrens chapter on surrender sets me off. A quick search through the Bible will show that surrender isn't a concept that is encouraged, with the exception of the instuctions of Israel to surrender to the Babylonians. There is the notion of being surrendered over to the authorities so that we can be publicly hung, barbequed, or fed to the lions. Rick Warren, however, is talking about surrendering to God.

WWGPD? (What Would General Patton Do?) Imagine a sincere young soldier approaches Patton and declares "General Patton, I surrender to you". Wouldn't he curse the moron and tell him to get back to the battle? He would also order him not to surrender to anyone again. We are here to get the job done that God has assigned us, not to surrender.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Right-Left Statistics for the US.

I love seeing statistics. Based on this study, I am mostly a right wing category called "Enterprisers". We are only slightly less educated than "Liberals", but we are the most internationally informed of the various categories. The Liberals are the most educated and outnumber Enterprisers almost 2 to 1, but the left is a coalition of Liberals and the least educated groups. The average education of the right is thus more than the left. Both Enterprisers and Liberals are overwhelmingly white and wealthy. To caricature their overall views, the Liberals would be atheist socialists, while the Enterprisers are Christian capitalists.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My depravity rating ....

You scored as Gluttony,

Gluttony

75%

Pride

63%

Sloth

44%

Wrath

31%

Envy

19%

Lust

13%

Greed

6%

Seven deadly sins
created with QuizFarm.com


Thanks to Dr. Jim for pointing me to this gem.
Gomes School Meeting.

This went very well and congratulations are in order to Nina Moore (School Board President), Larry Sweeny (Superintendent) and the others who pulled off the impossible.

This meeting was held at 8:30AM at Gomes during a regular working day to discuss overloading issues and in particular, the rumor of zoning changes. The 350 seats filled quickly and we had enough people standing that 600 parents attending (relative to 850 students) would be a good estimate. The parents were >90% Asian with Mandarin being the most popular language. The attendees looked to be mostly typical Silicon Valley professionals - about half men and half women. A group of community activist had worked hard to make sure that everyone was sufficiently agitated over potential boundary changes.

A great mystery was cleared for me. Fremont receives much less funding per student than the surrounding districts. Thus, the graduation for the local MSJHS kids will be done at a different school. MSJHS doesn't have the facilities and everything is run down, in spite of its near top ranking.

We were told that the funding allocations were made in the 1970's based on the tax base and Fremont had been designated a "rural district". In other areas where this has happened, the schools have been able to apply for fund equalization based on either poor test scores or the poor community. With 30% of MSJHS graduating class heading to the top three University of California campuses (Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD), and many living in the filthy rich Mission Hills area, it is hard to get much sympathy.

This does, however, bring up a different issue. US voters are forever hearing cries for more funds on a nationwide basis and we are told that America's poor education is the result of stingy taxpayers. Of the 5 cash starved Fremont highschools, even our lowest ranked Kennedy High is above the state average in performance. Obviously other factors are much more important than money.

UPDATE: This event can be read about at The World Journal. Regarding the number in attendance, they report "據組織者統計,當天簽到的民眾有1249人,實際到場可能有1500多人。". The American Public school system is wonderful.
Paris will no longer act dumb ...

Since I am also a blond, this brings up some complex philosophical questions that beg to be heard. How can a dumb blond stop acting dumb? Perhaps "acting dumb" and "being dumb" are distinct modes. For example, "acting" dumb might involve an act of the will that causes a dumb blond to be dumber than would be the normal state of "being dumb". If the will is involved, then perhaps there is the possibility that a dumb blond might be able to act less dumb than is the normal state of being dumb. On the other hand, the state of being dumb might be a limiting case so that, via the will, we can only asymptotically approach the condition of merely being dumb.

Monday, June 11, 2007

"...no biologist has been led to doubt the fact that evolution occurred; we are debating how it happened. We are all trying to explain the same thing: the tree of evolutionary descent linking all organisms by ties of genealogy. Creationists pervert and caricature this debate by conveniently neglecting the common conviction that underlies it, and by falsely suggesting that evolutionists now doubt the very phenomenon we are struggling to understand." - Gould?

Now supposing I were to say "all engineers believe in Newton's law of gravity". Who would I be referring to? First, I am referring to practicing engineers, especially those in aerospace. Civil engineers would be next. The fact that academic engineers agreed would be important, but not as much as the previous two categories. Ditto for electrical engineers.

So we must begin looking at Gould's statement by asking who is a biologist? In a generalized sense, biology includes medicine (both research and practice), agriculture, forestry, and many other applications. One can probably locate a creationist medical doctor on the net in 5 minutes, as there are a number who work for the Creation Research Society. Medical doctors are the most competitive academic discipline, much more so than biology in general. I should also note that I know creationist biology teachers working in the California public school system. This was discussed at their hiring interview and they promised not to teach anything but the California version of evolution in class.

Thus, how is it that Gould can make the claim that "no biologist has been led to doubt ...". In fact, he must have a highly restricted definition of biologist for this to begin to hold. It would probably be safe to say that "biologist" in Gould's context means a PhD. specifically in biology and a tenured faculty position at a major university. Then the statement seems much more plausible. No creationist biologist could get tenure for the past century, so this fact does not allow us to distinguish between the persuasiveness of the scientific arguments and the persuasiveness of the, um, more practical considerations.

Of course, there is something more to this statement: "no biologist has been led to doubt ...". At this point, Gould is taking a wild leap from the publicly expressed opinions of his narrow biologist category to looking at the inner beliefs, fears and doubts of your average eccentric professor. If someone told me that engineers never have doubts about the theory of gravity, I would probably protest immediately that it is impossible to know the hidden thoughts of engineers, especially if they are professors.

So as I look at Gould's statement, I can only ask who is he trying to convince? Is it others, or himself?
With all of the multi-cultural hooey in the schools now, it would be nice if the children were given some case studies on honor killing.
School Busing and Fremont.

In most of the US, school busing is a relic of the past where whites and blacks were bused away from their local schools, mixed together, and an equitable, lowest common denominator education was achieved that left everyone upset. Tomorrow, we will have a meeting at Gomes Elementary School to discuss the updated version of this.

Our local high school, Mission San Jose High School, is one of the top ranked ones in California and sent 51 kids to UC Berkeley this year. The top ranking begins at the elementary level due to like minded Asian parents moving into the district. Gomes is the top ranked elementary school of the four that feed into MSJHS and the children mostly walk to the local Jr. High and MSJHS.

A few miles away is Kennedy High School which is the lowest ranked school in the district. The proposal is to take the children of Gomes when they graduate and bus them over to the Kennedy area, apparently to try balancing test scores. From what I know of Asian parents, most of them would choose a slow painful death to keep their kids in MSJHS over Kennedy, if only this were an option. None of this is relevant to certain elites and teachers unions. If it goes through, some parents will move and others will send their kids to private schools. Many parents have mortgaged their future so that their children could get the best education possible. They will get to see their house prices drop suddenly by $200k while their dreams of a top ranked education vanish.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

With all my snide comments about evolution, I probably shouldn't be surprised to see the vultures gathering around me for the inevitable conclusion.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

While we are on the evolution/creation topic, we have creationism in Turkey.

The Muslims link Darwinism to atheism, which is the worst ideology according to Islam. Christians don't name it as the worst ideology on Biblical grounds, but I have noted in the past that atheist regimes have done more killing in a few decades than all the religious killing of history combined. Kim Jong Il is still going strong. This should be besides the point when it comes to classroom teaching on biology, but sadly, it is going to dominate.

Like atheists, I share a concern for what happens when religious fanatics take over the science classroom. Unfortunately, atheists demand that the biology classroom conflate micro- and macro- evolution, although micro- really is plausible science and macro- is pure superstition. If atheism loses its position as America's only legal, established religion recognized by the government, then I am afraid what is valuable will be thrown out with the garbage. If this does happen, atheism wil be just as responsible as the religous zealots for the damage done, because they are the ones who insist on bundling religion with science.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Tenure and Creationists.

This summary of the Iowa State University rejection of tenure for Guillermo Gonzalez is enlightening. His statements that implied the existence of God outside of the classroom were unbearable, in spite of 68 peer reviewed publications, a popular text book that he had coauthored, and a stellar teaching record. Thus, science can keep its spotless record of universal approval of the theory of evolution by scientists. Bigotry, ruthlessness and fear are, however, the foundation of evolution.
Atheists more superstitious than Fundamentalists?

How could anyone make such a bizarre statement! But let us dig a little deeper.

The Fundamentalist believes that God set up the laws of physics, set the world up, and put it in motion. Certainly we believe in miracles, like Christ's resurrection from the dead, but for the most part, things run boringly according to the laws of physics. Most miracles are simply coincidences that God arranged before time began and thus do not violate the laws of physics at all. The fundamentalist tends to be in a "I'll believe it when I see it mode" almost all the time.

The Atheist viewpoint seems to be the same, except for the belief that miracles as historical events didn't occur. They do have one peculiar problem though: They believe that life created itself and those creative powers are somehow harnassable through genetics. The result is an attitude towards genetics that one can only call Charismatic. My explanation for this is that the poor Atheist has been compelled to project the supernatural creative powers of God onto genetics. In the name of science, he has unwittingly embraced a pre-scientific mysticism.

The Chu-Carroll discussion on GA illustrates this quite well. Any attempt to analyze genetics that would conflict with the notion of incredible powers is immediately dissed for not accounting for all the intricacies of genetics. Examples of GA are presented as if their wasn't a Ph.D. candidate or two in the background guiding things. The well-established science of Operations Research and all its calculus based derivations are tossed into the bin without a thought. Entirely new methods that violate Operations Research are invented and applied to GA in an ad hoc manner. Huck Finn, meet Richard Dawkins. You two will have a lot to share about your superstitious beliefs.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Securing the Border Part 2.

One thing that doesn't seem to be noted in the current debate is the linkage between drug traffic across the US borders and the immigrant traffic. As the above article notes, there is a lot of chaos in Mexico at the moment driven by drug cartels fighting over rights for US dollars. The Mexican government is corrupted and/or terrorized by the drugs and this feeds into economic dysfunction. The end result is more people anxious to pursue a better life north of the border.

A serious effort to secure the border would stop Mexicans from pursuing a new life in the US, but it would also stop the funds going to the Mexican drug lords who are destroying their hope for a future.

Another article noted the legal problems that we have and the fact that some tort reform would be necessary to make the border enforcement work. If we arrest one million people per year going across the border, and they all effectively have all the rights of US citizens to sue the government indefinitely at American taxpayer expense, then the future for the US won't be much better than what the Mexicans are leaving. Thus, securing the border without tort reform is probably meaningless.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

California's Assembly approves a same sex marriage bill.

It still has a little further to go before it gets to Governor Conan. The California voters in 2007 strongly voted for proposition 22, which mandates that marriage be only between one male and one female. If for some reason it goes through, it will likely have the effect of forcing employers to choose between coverage of AIDS infected partners of gays, reducing benefits for real families, or simply moving operations to China.
Mohammed Sparrow?

Apparently Mohammed will soon replace Jack as the most popular name in England for newborn boys.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

How to teach Islam at a Secular University ...

This would probably seem surreal if it weren't so deadly. We can try to coopt Islam for awhile, but eventually the young believers are going to start asking what Islam is all about. Who is this prophet Mohammed? What did he suggest we do with our lives? How can we be assured of paradise? The answers to those questions are filled with horror. The liberal, however, believes that he can trump reality with spin. May God have mercy on us.
Bravery, Obama and Health Care according to the San Jose Mercury.

The San Jose Mercury is applauding Obama for his bravery in making health care proposal. What did he do that was so risky? He proposed mandating more federal spending on health care and adding more requirements for businesses to provide health benefits. I can hear the giggling coming over the ocean from 上海. It does have me wondering what would be an equivalent act of bravery that could be performed by a Republican candidate? Perhaps our hypothetical Republican could "bravely" propose that we retain the US flag?

Of course, the major problems of over regulation, malpracticing by lawyers and caps on medical school slots are unaddressed.
Islam and Guyana.

I usually don't assocate Islam with South America, but the recent terror plot in New York resulted in arrests made of Islamic terrorists from Guyana. Thus, I was a bit curious about the status of Islam down there and started reading some articles.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Good Math, Bad Math and Behe.

I probably shouldn't review a rant, especially when I haven't read the book that the rant is about, but Bunc requested it so ...

Good Math, Bad Math is the work of Dr. Chu-Carroll, a computer scientist working at Google, which is across the San Francisco Bay from here and we have a few church members working there.

The review begins by objecting to Behe's definition of evolution. Of course, evolution is a synonym for change and the theory of evolution is quite fluid, so there are few definitions that I would find objectionable. This seems like a smoke screen.

Another complaint is that Behe is using continuous variable reasoning and the correct should be discrete variables. Of course, Behe, being a biochemist is well aware of the discrete nature of proteins. My tests on genetic algorithms working with both discrete and continuous representations of the same problem indicate similar convergence rates. Discrete mathematics, however, is vastly more difficult for analysis purposes, but this doesn't help Dr. Carroll at all. One major discrete design optimization candidate would be the software that Dr. Carroll develops. What would it look like if we did a genetic algorithm on the binary executables? (With an older windows OS, I can visualize the lovely blue screens already!) Thus, I think Behe is correct to use a classical optimization viewpoint and the Darwinist shouldn't complain. Otherwise, the analysis becomes intractable and the winner of a debate is the one that has the most rhetorical firepower. Another smoke screen.

The next area of bickering is over how many maximums are in the fitness space. I have complained that Dawkins assumed exactly one, which isn't quite fair. Dr. Chu-Carroll seems to think that there are more than one, but that they are few in number. He also argues that increasing the number of design dimensions somehow increases the likelihood of macro evolution. Dr. Carroll probably doesn't want to contemplate n-dimensional fractal design spaces. The nature of proteins is that they form essentially 4-dimensional components (3-spacial + 1 electric charge). These must fit together like puzzle pieces, but also not fit together randomly with the wrong piece. Behe's assumption is that this is probably much more like the n-dimensional fractal problem with astronomical numbers of maxima, rather than the extremely limited scenario preferred by evolutionists. Common sense compels me to agree with Behe.

The final complaint is that the fitness space is dynamic, unlike the static design space that I am always analyzing. Dawkins also made this point, but again, this is very familiar territory to the engineer and a place they really don't want to go.

The issue of competing organism is a bit like the issue of a car engine and a car air conditioner competing for space in an engine compartment. There are also many other components competing for space. If we look at the air conditioner species alone assuming a changing compartment shape that it must fit into, then the problem becomes hopeless. The automotive engineer will iterate between the various shapes to find a good compromise. This is usually done by optimizing one component at a time while holding the others fixed.

The engineer has a very good reason not to attempt to optimize the entire engine compartment at once. This can easily be defined by a simple transform of the design problem. The number of design variables becomes the sum of all the component design variables with a bunch of constraint equations thrown in. The fitness space is also a sum of the performance of the various components, and this too becomes vastly more complex. What was difficult, but tractable on a component-by-component basis suddenly becomes astronomically more complex.

Likewise, the issue of organisms in a dynamic competition environment is easily transformed to a relatively static fitness space for analysis purposes simply by adding up all the design variables of the individual species. The environmentalists have helpfully informed us that the actual fitness objective that is optimized is "ecological balance", rather than survival as Darwin thought. In other words, the entire biosphere of the planet is more or less linked into one glorious symbiotic relationship. Now how many variables are there, Dr. Chu-Carroll? What is the order of convergence? Isn't the time scale for evaluating fitness some multiple of the species with the longest life span?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Gay Marriage remains at the center of the Democrat's agenda.

The reason for this should be obvious. Once gay marriage goes through, the "ownership" of the concept of marriage will officially belong to society's lowest common denominator: Those who are the most mentally disturbed regarding their sexual orientation. The lowest common denominator will then have a license to mandate teaching in the schools and use taxpayer funding to screw up as many young minds as possible. I would love to be able to vote for a Democrat. I really wish there were genuine options so that I could opt out of the Republican party when they screw up (i.e. all the time). Unfortunately, the only option is a party whose primary objective is the desecration of everything that Christianity represents.
Palestinian Despair.

Yes, as a Christian, we should demand something be done on the behalf of the Palestinians. Population reshuffling and resettlement is noting new to the world. The communists did the most and fallout after world war 2 was enormous. One thing that is never noted in the case of the Palestinians, however, is the ones who treat them worst aren't the Israelis.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Some people are probably wondering if I realize that I am conceited and think I am "above it all". The answer is yes, this is a rather negative part of my character.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Evangelical Bargain: "I will call you a Christian if you will call me a scholar."

This is the unspoken agreement that conservatives make with the liberals to bring together the unity of Christianity under the banner of "Evangelical". It is a fragile agreement. The liberals have largely retreated from their denial of Jesus as Lord and Savior, whereas the conservatives have started studying much more. The war, however, continues as we argue over who owns Christian morality and knowledge. Conservatives are too violent and not caring. Liberals love depravity and have never renounced communist economics, only the effect of communist economics. The conservatives reject science. The liberals, due to their stranglehold on academia, take every hare brained idea and elevate it to science. May the Lord help us to find His true path and stop the bickering.

Update: The quote at the top seems to be attributed to Bob Jones Sr. per the infallible internet.
The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, by Mark Noll.

I read this book a few months back, but didn't post a review. Thanks to this article, I thought I should post my thoughts. First, I should say that in a sense, I agree with the overall thesis of the book. Evangelicals are mental slackers and this is not in accordance with how God wants us to use our minds. Mental discipline is as important as external moral discipline.

My criticism will begin with this sentence from his book:

"The third decade of the century also marked the emergence of a more self-conscious evangelicalism (at least in the North) when Baptist and Presbyterian defenders of traditional evangelical beliefs were marginalized by denominational inclusivists or were driven out altogether."

What Noll is referring to is the end of the long process in the 1920's when conservative Christians were evicted from seminaries and pulpits as the tide of modernism swept away everything. Preachers were treating the Bible as extended versions of Aesop's fables. Biology wasn't yet a science, but woe to the theologian who doubted Darwin! Theology was dominated by universalism and Christ as guru, but not Christ as the son of God. The flat earth theory was invented by Irving and professors proceeded to turn this into mandatory history readings for all school children. At best, sticking to your faith meant being marginalized. At worst, it meant being treated to a steady diet of condescension and scoffing. Of course, Christians are to give thanks for persecution, even if it is the verbal variety.

Is it any wonder that many Christians opted out of the intellectual life altogether? This historical context, however, is reduced to one sentence by Noll. Instead, his vitriol is hurled at the Christians who did not bow to the corrupt intellectuals. Certainly some sloppy fundamentalist teachers have taught things that are wrong and/or aren't helpful. Scholars latch onto this with glee. Realistically, where is the danger? Is it with those who are mental slackers, but trust the Bible simply? Or is with those who aren't mental slackers, but despise the Bible and will use any trick to shake someone's faith? Who should we warn Christians about?

Noll has done far more harm than good by publishing this book.