Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wikipedia climate activist rewrites 5,428 articles?

And so it goes as a lone left-wing activist is suddenly empowered to do whatever it takes to get the message across and silence any dissent. The article says that the person who did this, William Connolley, is a "UK Scientist", a Green Party activist, and a Wikipedia website administrator. Of course this is exactly how the "science of evolution" was established. Beware of Wikipedia! On the other hand, activists will rewrite anything for ideological reasons, so just beware!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2012: The world is going to end!!!

What a mindlessly dumb movie! It is in the class of The Day After Tomorrow, Armageddon and countless other such flicks involving the destruction of the world. The most implausible part of the movie was the notion that there was an international group of nations that correctly agreed on the end of the world and decided to do something jointly and constructively to save mankind, with China taking the lead. Sheesh! We have just been treated to the Copenhagen Climate Conference where the intellectual elites representing the world tried to jointly put an end to the world economy with China playing a hopelessly self-centered role, all under the pretext that this is necessary to save the Earth's biosystem. In the end, mankind was saved because petty corruption stopped the kind of grand agreement that they were looking for. Will things end in 2012? Hard to say, but I am fully confidant that if it is in the power of America's current congress to bring the world - or at least America - to an end by 2012, they are making their best effort to see it happen!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Kids at Play.

In this case they decided to make Chinese Beef Noodle soup for lunch today. They seem to have perfected the recipe for getting the soup flavor and the beef cooked just right. I came back from work and there was an assembly line in motion in the kitchen as dough was being made, rolled, and then cut with a knife to make the special kind of Chinese knife cut noodles. Yum.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Usâmah ibn-Munqidh (1095-1188AD): The Book of Contemplation: Islam and the Crusades.

"Injustice is a feature of every living soul. Should you find
Someone of integrity, then he only refrains because of some defect." - Part IV (Hunting), The Strong Prey upon the Weak.

The translator's introduction to this book made out the author to be some sort of Machiavellian ideal politician, always in the middle of intrigues, but somehow ending up on the losing side and barely escaping. Munqidh should have died young, but God has His plans so Munqidh lived into his 90's and was able to assemble all his memories into this book. There is a concluding thought in this book which I very much like:

"For to waste your time telling tales to amuse you is one of the worst calamities that could ever abuse you. As for me, I seek forgiveness from God the Exalted for wasting the dregs of my life that remain in activities other than obedience to Him and the pursuit of divine recompense and heavenly gain. For He - may He be blessed and exalted - all sins He forgives, and from His mercy rich bounties He gives. He is the Generous One - never disappointing those who in hope do persist, for those who entreat Him, He can never resist." - Part IV (Hunting), Concluding Reflections.

And so there is a desire for forgiveness of sins, which shows up in a few other places in Munqidh's writings. But how will God respond to those who desire forgiveness of sins, but deny Jesus Christ, the mechanism that God chose for providing forgiveness?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Remembering Aceh.

Today is the 5th anniversary of a horrific catastrophe. Many of those who survived found that they were the only ones remaining in their family. May God provide healing and hope to them.
George Villehardouin (1160-1212AD): The Conquest of Constantinople.

This story is about the fourth crusade, which went badly awry. Here is the beginning:

"And this Fulk of whom I speak began to preach God's word in France and in other neighboring lands, and Our Lord performed many miracles for him. Know that this holy man's renown spread so far that it reach Pope Innocent, who sent word to France and instructed the preudomme to preach the cross with papal authority. Later he sent one of his cardinals who had taken the cross, Master Peter Capuano, and through him offered the indulgence I describe here: all those who would take the cross and serve God for a year in the army would be free from all the sins they had committed and confessed. People's hearts were greatly moved because the indulgence was so generous, and many of them took the cross because of this." - The Conquest of Constantinople, chapter 1.

It is all well and good to have the pope forgive me of my sins, but I would much prefer God to forgive them. Thankfully this is done through Jesus Christ! A curious feature of this indulgence is that it only requires a year of service, which can largely be completed by a simple trip to the Holy Land and back.

The book tells the events as one complication leads to another. The end result was that a small force of French and Venetians took over the Byzantine Empire and foolishly tried to maintain control both over the local Greek population and the borders. The populist histories focus on the sack of Constantinople, which sadly completely misses the story.

Most of the damage to Constantinople was due to fires that couldn't be put out with the animosity between the different factions causing fear. The real disaster, however was when the Greeks on the European side of the straights promised the King of Bulgaria that they would serve him in exchange for freedom from their new rulers. This brought in an invading army that ruined their lands, while another Greek on the Asian side pursued a strategy of hit and run that only served to make it impossible for the French to gather forces to stop the Bulgarian armies' mindless destruction of Greek property. Certainly it is a fun story with a lot of imagery that brings to mind Disney classic movies.
Castle Rock State Park.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Dry Creek Regional Park.

Today we had a little family walk. This is the first time I used this entrance which leads to Garin Park. I should come here more often.
Have a good Christmas!

"Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: 'This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.' " - Luke 2:34-35

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A visit to Stanford University.

Heading to the bookstore as usual.
Usâmah ibn-Munqidh (1095-1188AD): The Book of Contemplation: Islam and the Crusades.

I have read about 100 pages of this book so far. It is the writings of an Arab aristocrat during the early part of the era of the Crusades. The main thing I learned so far is that, contrary to the modern revisionist histories, the area around Palestine was anything but peaceful when the Franks arrived. There were various groups of Turks, Bedouin, Egyptians, Kurds, Africans and others separated into Sunni and Shiite groups, along with others that didn't embrace Islam, hence there was a state of continual minor wars between factions. Munqidh was exiled from his home, so he was a mercenary going from one group to another. Regardless of the petty squabble, Munqidh was a passionate Muslim, praying faithfully and invoking God for everything, along with curses for his enemies.

In terms of the circumstances of the beginning of the crusades, this meant that there were established warrior classes throughout the area that the Franks were invading. It is generally a bad idea to attack a foreign country where the locals out number you badly and have extensive military training. On the other hand, the Muslims were too busy fighting among themselves so that the Franks were really viewed as just one more faction to fight.

If it weren't for the warfare, I do have a feeling that Munqidh is the kind of person I would have liked. He enjoys getting about in nature and observes and writes about many things. Most of his writings seemed to be collections of anecdotes, which suits my nature of not being organized over the long term. Certainly this book is one I can recommend highly.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Who gives. Obviously I stole this from elsewhere.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bartolomé de las Casas (1484-1566): Just War Theory and A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies.

This book is a shocker. One of the milder passages is this:

"This wicked wretch of a governor was accordingly under instructions to ensure that the terms of this government legislation were made known to the native population, as though by doing this one could justify the absurdity, unreasonableness and injustice of the terms themselves; what he did in practice, whenever he or the bandits in his employ learned that there was gold in a particular town or village, was to get his gang of robbers to make their way there at dead of night, when the inhabitants were all in bed and sound asleep and, once they got within, say, half a league of the town itself, to read out the terms of this edict, proclaiming (and only to themselves): 'Leaders and citizens of such-and-such town of this Mainland. Be it known to you that there is one true God, one Pope, and one King of Castile who is the rightful owner of all these lands. You are hereby summoned to pay allegiance, etc. Should you fail to do so, take notice that we shall make just war upon you, and your lives and liberty will be forfeit, etc.' Then, in the early hours of the morning, when the poor people were still innocently abed with their wives and their children, they would irrupt into the town, setting fire to the houses, which were commonly of straw, and burning the women and children alive and often the men, too, before the poor wretches realized what was happening." - A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies - The Mainland.

I remember once being mocked by some leftist theological sorts who claimed that Just War Theory was something morally profound that was invented by Augustine and embraced by the early church, and that I was some sort of vicious brute for not accepting it. (Not that I didn't accept certain notions of morality and war, but rather that I didn't accept their interpretations of things.) Having read City of God by Augustine, I learned that Just War Theory was something the Romans had invented centuries earlier. They tried to categorize which actions were reasonable and unreasonable as they attempted to maintain and expand an empire with a finite number of Roman soldiers against a seemingly infinite number of barbarians. On the other hand, the development of justifications and pretexts for wars is probably as old as war.
Copenhagen and a bit of Danegeld.

Again, I am all for cutting back on wanton use of fossil fuels, but the things which can and need to be done - carbon tax, making inner cities livable, no unionized mass transport workers - have never been on the agenda of the priests of the Climate Change religion. Instead, the solutions have all been modeled after the clearly successful efforts in North Korea to keep carbon emissions low: Put worldwide heavy industry under direct management by the UN.

With that in mind, there was nothing good that could possibly have come of the Copenhagen effort, whether AGW is real or not. The end agreement probably represents the least of the evils as the proposal is to provide initially $30 billion per year and up to $100 billion per year to mitigate the effects of climate change in poor countries. We have too keep in mind a few things on reading this, such as the fact that climate change is always much more severe in countries experiencing horrific government. Thus the northern half of the Korean peninsula has been experiencing climate change for many decades, while the southern half has seen minimal climate change! Then there are the perverse incentives created so that third world political opposition's home provinces will almost certainly be laid waste so that corrupt governments can qualify for a bigger chunk of the climate change mitigation funds. We shouldn't be too negative, however, because most of that $100 billion per year will make it back to Europe in the form of purchases of luxury goods, vacations to Paris or being stashed into Swiss bank accounts.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Congratulations to my dear daughter on her graduation!

She just completed her master's degree in Chemical Engineering at San Jose State University. These are always exciting, although a bit tedious. The best part is listening to an American announcer stumble through the pronunciation of several hundred Indian names.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109AD): The thing of which nothing greater can be thought.

Finally! Four months have passed and I finally completed Anselm's works. Now back to the beginning and the conclusion of his attempt to philosophically define/derive God:

"Therefore there is absolutely no doubt that something-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought exists both in the mind and in reality." - Proslogion.2


"Why then did 'the Fool say in his heart, there is no God' (Psalm 13:1; 52:1) when it is so evident to any rational mind that You of all things exist to the highest degree? Why indeed, unless because he was stupid and a fool?" - Proslogion.3

To this Anselm was given a rebuttal entitled "On Behalf Of The Fool" by Gaunilo. One of the examples used in this rebuttal is an island in the ocean which was imagined to exist and was better than all the other islands. The fact that it was imagined to exist, however, could not be taken to prove its existence.

What strikes me in this is a certain similarity to the writings of Cicero from 1,200 years earlier as he puts words into a fictitious Academic named Cotta:

" ... but you had no doubt that the universe is good, since there is nothing in creation better than the universe, and there is nothing more outstanding than God ... 'There is nothing better in creation than the universe.' True, and there is nothing better on earth than this city of ours; but surely you do not thereby assume that our city possesses reason, reflective thought, and intelligence?" - Cicero (106-43BC), The Nature Of The Gods, book 3.20-22

The specifics of the arguments seem to be somewhat different, but there is a certain repeat also. The philosophers had reasoned that God is the most outstanding thing in existence. Anselm seems to have taken this as a starting point, but refined the view with a negative assertion - "which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought-to-exist". The rebuttals involve something from this world of which nothing greater can be thought to exist, while showing that certain properties expected of God do not occur with these geographically superior locales. Apparently both skeptics and theists think alike, no matter their background!

The preface to this work claims that Anselm (and Gaunilo) had almost no classical resources to draw from, so that it would be required that they independently develop the same style of arguments as the ones Cicero had summarized. On the other hand, it is clear that much that Anselm works with does derive from other sources, but he extremely rarely provides a reference. This does leave me wondering if this era might not have involved a lot more classical studies than we imagine today, but that the classical studies simply weren't documented while the libraries they worked with didn't survive, nor details of the training. I will leave this as an item to ponder more in the future.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Spying on my kids' reading list.

I am reminded that I should be a very encouraging daddy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A quick test drive ...

The main purpose of this trip was to entertain relatives, but I did get five minutes to check out my snow shoes. It seems to me that I have had these three or four years but never used them.

I still must plan my real workout. The ideal is to find a hotel to hang out at with a lot of snowed in trail heads within a few hundred yards.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109AD): Injustice and null sets.

"We also make use of the word 'something' in respect of that which merely has a name, but without the name's in any way corresponding to a mental concept, and without any implication of its being a being, e.g. injustice and nothing. For we say that injustice is something when we assert that he who is punished because of an injustice is punished on account of something. ... Thus 'injustice' puts aside any appropriate justice, without positing any other thing, and similarly 'nothing' puts aside something, without positing anything in the understanding." - Philosophical Fragments, C.3.

Justice is a theme that Anselm brings in periodically in his writings and defines roughly as willing to do what God intends for us. Injustice is the result of a failure of will. The peculiarity here is the Anselm asserts that injustice is nothing which builds on his earlier writings. For example, blindness is a failure to see, but it isn't a competing active state to seeing. Instead blindness is a 'thing' only in the sense that the 'thing' (sight) is missing. If injustice has any kind of existence, it is really in the will where it shows up, and the failure of the will that caused injustice afflicts all mankind, except one.

On reading this I mainly noted that Anselm didn't discuss the notion of injustice as being a state of existence, such as we seem to have in our modern framework. If the neighbor is well off and we are struggling to get by, we are easily tempted to claim there is a state of injustice, whereas Anselm only sees injustice in an act of the will. Has the modern world conflated 'injustice' with 'envy' so that a vice is deemed a virtue? One could argue that the state of injustice really only reflects a former action of injustice, but is this really reflected in our modern views? If a property owner fails to pay property taxes and then sells the property to a new owner, the government will seek out the new owner, not the original who willfully failed to make payment of taxes. There are certainly many other situations where the person who is compelled to make restitution was not a party to the original injustice.

Another point regarding Anselm as I compare him to modernists is that Anselm is addressing his remarks on injustice to "me" with respect to God, whereas the modernist is focused on "them" with respect to material things. The modernist dwells on compelling someone to correct an injustice by force, while Anselm believes that injustice can never be corrected. The perpetrator of the injustice can be flogged, and through a change of the will by God's grace the tendency to injustice can be corrected, but there is no possibility that coercion can ever correct an injustice in Anselm's model that I can see. Are there other ways in which Biblical notions of justice and injustice deviate from modern populist definitions of these terms?
It has been several years since I visited South Lake Tahoe. The Heavenly Valley Ski Resort gondola has been rerouted out to the main highway where the hotels and shopping are.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Settled at Lake Tahoe.

The heavy rain turned to snow near the pass, but thankfully we made it through with no problems. I don't own an SUV, but didn't want to drive my minivan loaded with relatives here. This morning we dropped by San Jose Airport and rented a Chevy Suburban. This held everyone and we didn't get any trouble from the chain control. The trees by the side of the road were loaded with snow, so hopefully we will get some scenic pictures tomorrow.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lovely weather. Rain mixed with ice, strong winds and numb hands on the way to Rose Peak.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Anselm of Canterbury: Free Will vs. Predestination - De Concordia.

My favorite quote on this subject comes from Augustine where he asserts that both free will and predestination exist, but claims that this is in spite of reason.

Anselm gives this rather bold claim:

"Once these points are carefully pondered, I think that no incongruity rules out the coexistence of God's foreknowledge and freedom of the will." - De Concordia chapter 2.

Having not so carefully pondered Anselm's points, I still don't find this compelling. Then we must also note that the real subject is predestination, rather than merely foreknowledge. At the same time, however, there are some interesting statements in this work.

"For in eternity a thing has no past or future but only an (eternal) present, though in the realm of time things move from past to future without any contradiction arising. Similarly, that which cannot be changed in eternity sometimes, before it occurs, proves to be, without involving any incongruity, changeable because of free will." - De Concordia chapter 5.

In this instance, Anselm is arguing for the compatibility of the two competing notions by way of two different perspectives. The notion of God being outside of time is one that I like and is both abstract and difficult to grasp. On the other hand, it seems to me that his previous work on the Procession of the Holy Spirit has a bit too much of the time element. Whether or not this fully reconciles things is another matter, but perhaps is outside of human comprehension.

There are other possibilities. One that I have been fond of in the past is the analogy of a chess game. If I were to play a chess master, certainly I would have some degree of free-will in moving the pieces, however, the outcome of the match would be determined by the chess master. This view of things has seems to have a counterpart in the Qur'an 3:54 -

"And they planned and Allah (also) planned, and Allah is the best of planners."

Older English translations of the Qur'an used schemed/schemer for planned/planner giving a sense of cunning and deceit which Christians do not include in their view of God.
The Unraveling Safety Net.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109AD): On The Procession Of The Holy Spirit.

This little work is the most annoying of the writings of Anselm that I have come across. Thankfully there isn't too much more to this book. The topic here relates to one of the major points of division between the Latin and Greek churches. If I understand the sequence of words correctly, the Latins assert that the Holy Spirit "proceeds" from both the Father and the Son, while the Greeks assert that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son. Did you get that distinction? Do you think anyone can really "get" that since the word "proceeds" isn't defined and Christianity asserts that all of this happened "before time began"?

This fuss had been going on for 500 years until the Council of Bari was convened to set things straight in the year 1098. The council didn't succeed. In the end, the Greeks condemned the Latin opinion as heresy, while the Latins insisted on maintaining a modified Nicene Creed with wording affirming a belief in this humanly incomprehensible position.

For myself, I generally have a preference for orthodox Christian theology, but only up to a point. If distinctions related to the theological point are unlikely to be understood by someone who is neither bright nor educated, then it seems to me that something is a bit screwed up. Jesus cares about the poor, who usually aren't the best educated or the brightest. Is there a point of theology that is difficult to understand, but holding onto the correct notion is critical to Christianity?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Climategate? What climategate?

"The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness." - 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

The "counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders" would be a great way to describe most of what is going on in academia with the clowns who periodically don lab coats to talk to the media, and then go back to forging results and sabotaging their rivals. Being a professional in scientific and engineering computing, I generally rank climate modeling Ph.d's as people with 1% of my experience trying to solve problems that are 100 times more complex than problems like airbag deployment that I have worked on. It is all pure insanity, but then they have the gall to insist that no one disagrees with them. Collecting test data to support analysis is also horribly difficult to do well, but we won't talk about that.

The linked article above is regarding the current dispute over who gets to be the "lawless one". If the worldwide cap and trade authority remains under the UN, the commission is certain to be taken over eventually by places which truly are "lawless" like Iran, Sudan and Libya. They would then be in a position to dictate the size of the economies of Sweden, Germany and France. The secret proposal is to make the rich countries arbiters of carbon emission compliance, and the European ones have already shown themselves to be "lawless" masters of cap and trade avoidance. Of course the Bible prophecies that the real lawless one will eventually be revealed, putting aside these amateur wannabe lawless sorts.

Meanwhile, the US EPA is set to put another bullet into Uncle Sam's head with their efforts to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Apparently White House bureaucrats have determined that they are already empowered to be the lawless one, since the Supreme Court ruled that they can do whatever they please without the need for a law. It is a beautiful frosty morning, so I should go get some exercise in sometime today.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Fremont doesn't usually look like this.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I went to a gardening party ...

A large group and a lot of work. There will probably be a lot of sore muscles tomorrow, but I hope the Lord is pleased with our work. Certainly my conclusion isn't the same as Ricky Nelson's.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Getting Flashy.

Obviously I am showing off my new Speedlite 430EX II flash.

Tired of Tiger Woods news.

Looks like the television news is better left off for the next few days.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Mushroom Lover.

The good news for the photographer is that they don't fly away. The bad news is that they grow in dark places, and they look best in natural lighting without a flash.

Next California Ballot Initiative: Banning Divorce?

This is an initiative that I really like. Yes, I know that half of marriages end in divorce and many get stuck into the most miserable situations, but, well, divorce ain't the answer. It usually leaves the kids messed up for life, enriches lawyers, and leads to a whole host of social ills to be picked up by the taxpayer. What we really need is more social pressure on abusive, deadbeat husbands and nagging, high maintenance wives to behave whether they are in the bedroom or not.

A nice potential side effect of this initiative is that it would give pause to some gays who would otherwise demand gay marriage, knowing full well that their loving, committed relationship expires with the rental contract.

Update: After further reflection, it seems to me that this sort of populist changing of the rules isn't good either, but the initiative certainly is a good conversation starter regarding some important issues.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Mushroom Collection.

There were lots of different mushrooms by the trail on the way to Berry Falls.
Obama's Afghan war speech.

"War is a continuation of politics by other means." - Clausewitz

In Afghanistan, ideology is the root cause of the politics, but Obama seems to not get this. Similarities with Vietnam are always being considered, and the similarity is that we did well on the battlefield, but forfeited the ideology war. While our troops were fighting, the western academic elites continued their relentless criticisms which led to the inevitable conclusion. With that in mind, the highlight of the speech is this:

"As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda – a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world’s great religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents."

Now before commenting further, I would note that leftists have been fanatically attacking and distorting Christianity for centuries and are relentlessly continuing the assault. Waging ideological war against religion is something quite natural to them. When it comes to recognizing that the Taliban, al Qaeda, and many other random terrorist operations are influenced by Islam, however, suddenly religion becomes sacred and a source of comfort and hope to countless millions.

Of course I am not really interested in criticizing Islam either. My belief is that the strength of Islam has historically been in proportion to the decadence of their opponents. Given that America is increasingly ruled by the most decadent subgroups of our society, Afghanistan is probably just the beginning of our worries.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109AD): Reason, Truth and Good.

"It is a certainty, therefore, that rational nature was created to the end that it should love and choose, above all, the highest good, and that it should do this, not because of something else, but because of the highest good itself." - Why God Became Man, Part 2, chapter 1.

Reading this seems to be consistent with the classical Stoic notion that reason is purely good. I wish I could give a quote to support this from a classical Stoic, but don't have a good one at the moment. I do have a quote from the Stoic/Jewish hybrid, Philo of Alexandria, which is here. Picking only this quote from Anselm, however, would leave us a bit skewed in our view of his opinions, so I will add this:

"If this has given a full account of original sin, or even if it has come short of one, I do not think that it is to any extent possible to assert that original sin exists in an infant before he has a rational soul, any more than there was justice in Adam before he became a rational man." - Virgin Conception and Original Sin, chapter 3.

My view is that our rational nature, like most other bodily functions, is something that is good as it was intentionally created, but mankind through an act of the will corrupts things and uses them for evil so that reason itself becomes a tool for furthering evil. Anselm's second quote implies some sort of connection between reason and evil, but I may have taken things much farther than Anselm would have.

To this I will add a quote from Cicero as he puts an argument into the mouth of a fictitious member of the classical Academic School, Cotta, who is arguing against Balbus of the Stoic school regarding the belief that reason is a virtue:

"This villainy which he employed was clearly buttressed by the utmost use of reason. It is not merely the stage that abounds in such crimes; even more, our daily life is studded with examples almost as outrageous. The households of each of us, the law-courts, the senate, the voting-booths, allied communities, the provinces - all have experience of how reason lies behind right conduct, but also behind evil-doing. Right conduct is practiced rarely and by the few, whereas the second is constantly performed by a host of people. It would therefore have been better if the immortal gods had granted us no use of reason whatever, rather than to have it bestowed with such a baleful outcome." - On The Nature Of The Gods, Book 3.69

No doubt many of us today could agree with such an assessment, although Christians believe that there is a greater good to be accomplished than the "baleful outcome" which Cotta describes. The Academic School was quite a shock to the neat earlier philosophies with its skeptical outlook. It seems to me that my Christian world view derives first from the Bible, but there are elements which match the Stoics and other elements, like the view of reason as something that is often used for evil, where I am more like the Academic School.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Berry Falls continued ...

This is the start yesterday morning. It was a bit cool as I had to get a thick layer of frost off of my car before starting.

This is the first of the series of falls on Berry Creek about 4 miles from the start.

The tree tops are far above leaving things cold and dark as the morning progresses.

A friendly banana slug.
Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109AD): Inventing Science Fiction?

"A: What if there were several universes, full of created beings, just like this one?
B: If there were an infinite multiplicity of universes, and they were similarly laid out before me, this is the answer which I would give." - Why God Became Man, part 1, chapter 21.

Science fiction certainly wouldn't be complete without a multiple universe concept, and here we find Anselm inventing(?) this right in the middle of the "Dark Ages". I have been skeptical of the notion of a Dark Ages, but perhaps the modern world misunderstood what was happening. Were the Dark Ages simply the result of Earth being in the shadow of an alien space ship, while later commentators confused this with a darkness of learning or dismissed them as dumb? Hopefully some others can shed some, err, Light, onto this subject.

Here is another little peculiarity from Anselm:

"For there are more evil angels than there would have been humans alive on that day, and it is from the human race that the full number of replacements for them has to be found." - Why God Became Man, Part 2, chapter 16.

This theme is mentioned a few times and seems to be one that was widely affirmed at this time. The clear Biblical teaching is that a certain number of angels rebelled against God and became demons. The idea that is new to me is that the number of fallen angels was to be balanced by a a separate number of mankind who receive forgiveness and salvation. Anselm admits that this number of saved men could eventually exceed the number of fallen angels. He did not spend much time defending this notion.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

34 Questions. This is in response to a special request from Rummuser.

1. What Do You Do For A Living?
2. Who Do You Love?
God, Jesus, wife, family, relatives, church, friends, blogging acquaintances, business associates ...
3. Do You Have Enough Money?
Too much.
4. Are You Healthy?
Yes, if somewhat overweight.
5. Do You Think You Are a Good Person?
6. How Old Are You?
7. Who is Your Best Friend?
8. What’s Was Your Childhood Dream?
To become a mad scientist.
9. How Often Do You Laugh?
Several times a day.
10. What Makes You Smile?
11. Who’s Your Most Dangerous Enemy?
12. Where Do You Live?
13. Do You Think You’re Strong?
Only after a long workout on a hot day, and before I get a shower.
14. What Was The Most Important Thing You’ve Done So Far?
Teaching youth in church.
15. What Was The Most Stupid Thing You’ve Done So Far?
Blogger doesn't have sufficient room for me to answer this.
16. Do You Love Yourself?
This one doesn't compute.
17. What Do You Fear The Most?
Not accomplishing what others are counting on me to do.
18. What Is Your Favorite Word?
19. When Was The Last Time You Cried?
A few days ago when a cold wind was blowing hard in my face.
20. What Is The Best Thing That Could Happen To You Right Now?
Some sort of job change that would let me spend more time helping others.
21. What Is The Worst Thing That Could Happen To You Right Now?
There are no bad things that can happen to me. Only to the people I love.
22. Picture Yourself In 5 Years From Now
Can't run anymore and weigh 200kg.
23. Do You Regret Anything?
Things that I have said.
24. What’s The First Thing You Do In The Morning?
25. What Are You Thinking Just Before Going To Bed?
Depends on which day it is.
26. What Was The Highest Point You’ve Ever Been To?
26.1 I put the needle into my arm, but didn't push the plunger, thus, I didn't get high. 26.2 The Pacific Ocean. (36,000 feet about the water in an airplane.) 26.3 Last mountain pass before the summit of Mount Whitney (see picture).
27. If There’s One Thing In Your Life You Want To Change Right Now, What Is It?
The one thing is to reduce my appetite, and improve my mental focus, and eliminate the need to sleep, and fully heal my knee.
28. What Are You Proud Of?
My former students.
29. Sum Up Your Life In One Sentence
30. Name The Thing That Annoys You The Most
Certain Ivory Tower intellectuals.
31. What Is Your No 1 Question To God?
I just want to be in awe. I will leave the questioning to someone else.
32. Do You Have Secrets?
Of course not!
33. What Makes You Laugh?
Questions like this.
34. Are You Happy?
Berry Falls and the Indians.

This morning's trail run was to Berry Falls. This is a popular destination, but few were on the trail early this morning. The first group I met up with were three Indians who were hiking towards the falls. Note that these were not American Indians, but those Indians who come from the area south of Asia known as India. On the way back, I met up with a second group of hikers who were also three Indians. Eventually some other scattered groups showed up on the trail, but as I neared the end, there was another group of six Indians making Indians the most represented ethnic group on the trail today. Perhaps Ramana has an explanation for this?

I will post more of these pictures later.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Action Ducks.

These two shots are from a long way off and cropped down, making the resolution a bit poor. It does look like there is some hope to get a clear, high resolution photograph of these birds in motion.

Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109AD): Christ as the sacrifice for our sins.

This post repeats info that was in a discussion with James. The topic is that Jesus Christ's death on the cross was so that he could be a substitute/sacrifice for mankind so that we would not need to be punished in Hell for our sins. The formal name for this view is Penal Substitution, which for orthodox Christians is symbolized by the notion of sacrifice throughout the Bible and explained in various ways throughout the New Testament, not to mention Isaiah 53. Anselm dedicates the book, Why God Became Man, to an explanation of this aspect of Christian theology:

"B. ... What man would not be judged worthy of condemnation, if he were to condemn someone innocent and release the guilty party? For the argument seems to be moving towards the same unsatisfactory position which was referred to earlier. If God could not save sinners except by condemning a just man, where is his omnipotence? If, on the other hand, he was capable of doing so, but did not will it, how shall we defend his wisdom and justice?

A: God the Father did not treat that man as you apparently understand him to have done; nor did he hand over an innocent man to be killed in place of the guilty party. For the Father did not coerce Christ to face death against his will, or give permission for him to be killed, but Christ himself of his own volition underwent death in order to save mankind." - Why God Became Man, part 1, chapter 8

"A. What if someone were to follow this up by saying, 'Either you will kill him or all the sins of the world will come upon you'?
B. I would answer that I would rather take upon myself all other sins, not just all the sins of this universe - both those committed in the past and those to be committed in the future - but whatever sins can be conceived of as existing in addition to these. And I think I ought to make this answer not only with regard to the act of killing him, but with respect to any small injury whatsoever which would harm him." - Why God Became Man, part 2, chapter 14

Sadly Penal Substitution is a point of theological dispute among those who profess themselves to be Christian theologians. James said that one of his teachers claimed that Anselm taught Penal Substitution - as is clearly seen above - yet he claimed that Anselm was speaking alone of his own opinion. To this, I will add a sentence from Anselm's preface to this work:

"For this reason, my father and lord, Pope Urban, ... I present for the inspection of your Holiness, since there is no one to whom I can more rightly present it, the enclosed little work, with the aim that those items in it which are acceptable may receive approval on the authority of your Holiness, and those which are in need of correction may be put right."

The popery should be considered with respect to the era which is before the great apostasy of the catholic bureaucracy of the Renaissance. Anselm's works are entirely dedicated to a defense of orthodoxy, and it is to the judgment of orthodoxy by his peers that he willingly submits. What is novel about Anselm is the sequence of argument and the methods, not the result, so that it is entirely implausible to believe that Anselm was not using a universally approved result already. To address the challenges of the non-Penal Substitution believing theologians, I suppose this is still inadequate unless all the early church fathers' texts are scoured, so I will keep this in mind as I read further.


I will add one more quote to support the above:

"No member of the human race except Christ ever gave to God, by dying, anything which that person was not at some time going to lose as a matter of necessity. Nor did anyone ever pay a debt to God which he did not owe. But Christ of his own accord gave to his Father what he was never going to lose as a matter of necessity, and he paid, on behalf of sinners, a debt which he did not owe." - Why God Became Man, Part 2, chapter 18.

Anselm does not make any comments in this book regarding the words, atonement, redeemed, or ransomed.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Coyote Hills Regional Park on Thanksgiving.

Yes, it is a Thanksgiving Turkey Vulture.