Monthly Archives: May 2011
I see a man
With disheveled hair,
A tattoo on his neck,
And a darkened blank stare.
Next to him sits
A woman ’round eighty,
With way too much jewelry;
A rather tawdry old lady.
Next to her is a man
Swept away in his book.
We seem nothing to him,
Barely e’en worth a look.
In walks a lad
With ears full of wires.
His thumbs beat on his phone,
As its lights he admires.
Then there’s a young lady
Dressed nice–prim and proper.
And her nose is turned up,
As if no one could top her.
Then finally there’s me,
Pale and balding, yet vain.
Shuffling ’round in my seat
From my lower-back pain.
Where would we fit
Our values dropped on a line?
Would one of these five
Have value greater than mine?
How do we judge–
By clothes, scars or wit
Who’s value is greater
Exactly where do we sit?
I think it’s quite wrong
By affections so base,
To rank order each other,
And determine one’s place.
Our value’s from God.
Given life from His breath.
None’s lesser to Him
From conception to death.
His rule is to love
Your neighbor and Him
Not to judge one another
By your own fickle whim
We first love the Lord
With heart, mind and soul
And our neighbor as self
Be him saint, wretch or troll.
As you survey your own cast
As God’s called you to do
Remember their worth,
Is the value of you.
We’ve had weather events over the last year that have global warming alarmists in fits. Every extreme weather phenomena fits into the “Man-made Global Warming” model as proof of climate change. Hence governments across the globe must take action to greatly reduce freedoms and limit carbon-based emissions, of which CO2 (what you exhale) is of primary concern.
As a conservative Christian, my views with regard to science are in the minority, so it is often the minority view that I value. This is no different in climate science. But I don’t value the minority view simply because it is the minority view. When I first started taking notice of the global warming debate, I would read most articles on the topic that I happened across. As time passed, I began to notice a trend of appeal to “consensus” (which is usually accompanied by some form of ridicule). This is utterly not compelling. Anyone can jump on a bandwagon and feed off the credibility (or lack of credibility) of a few people or an institution and create a “consensus”. So to me, the brave scientists who are questioning assumptions, challenging the status-quo, and fighting to make their voice heard through the cacophonous cadence of the “consensus” chorus are worthy of attention. And what I have found in their arguments is immensely more convincing.
The three articles linked below are recent writings by credible people inside the debate (some more credible than others after reading these articles). The first is from the view that global warming is man-made and we must act now to stop the impending suicidal, fossil-fueled, atmospheric apocalypse. His desire is to create a causal link in your brain–the deadly weather events we’ve seen this summer (and over the past year) are caused by man-made global warming. I must admit, after reading it, something within me wanted to be a bit ashamed of my skepticism. After all, people are dying, and maybe there is more we can do. This emotion persisted even though I recognized that there is no actual evidence linking F-5 tornadoes with man-made global warming in the article.
But then I read this article. It provides a more science-based approach to recent weather phenomena. Instead of using your emotions to rally you to a cause (which is the definition of demagoguery) the author reasons from the history of weather phenomena to make a solid case for the weather-caused devastation we’ve seen this summer (and over the past year).
Finally, this article is the icing on the cake. It is the best presentation of the state of the global warming issue I’ve seen (don’t be deterred by its length, bookmark it and come back to it. It is worth your time). The author provides a great overview history of the debate as well as offers data on what impact CO2 actually may have on global weather patterns. Very well written, very much worth reading, and very much worth bookmarking for future reference.
These three articles are typical of what I see in my wave-top view of the climate change debate (they also resemble the tone of the debate surrounding Darwinian evolution–sorry, I couldn’t resist the connection). There is good science going on out there that can help common people like you and me decide how to plan ahead for our quality of life and, more importantly, for our children’s quality of life. And, as demonstrated above, it isn’t hard to recognize it when you see it.
For future reference, here are the titles of the articles and their links (in the same order as the article):
“A link between climate change and Joplin tornadoes? Never!” by Bill McKibben (Washington Post) Bill McKibben is founder of the global climate campaign 350.org and a distinguished scholar at Middlebury College in Vermont.
“The Truth About Greenhouse Gases” by William Happer (FirstThings.com) William Happer is the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University.
Well here in the Western-most state of Hawaii it is Sunday, May 22. Which really isn’t exciting because May 22nd always follows May 21st and Sunday always follows Saturday. But today is different because yesterday was supposed to be the end of the world. Yet, the world didn’t end, so now what? We can try to glean a couple of lessons.
First, for most Christians, you are not a member of a “Doomsday Cult.” Harold Camping has again misled believers, emboldened non-believers, and (perhaps, worst of all) drove people away from the faith. While his premise is correct — Christ will return, someday — his partial use of the Bible to pick a date is wrong. Believing that Christ will return to judge the world does not make Christianity a “doomsday cult.”  The return of Christ is our hope. “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20) should be our prayer. We look forward to it, even long for it. He is our hope and our salvation. Without His final judgment of the world there is no hope for true justice — a justice for which all of mankind longs. Otherwise, justice is only relative to a given legal system.
Second, what should be done to Mr. Camping and his followers? His followers, now disabused, should be welcomed with open arms where ever they seek the Lord. They need churches willing to catch and comfort them. As for Camping, he will likely refine his method and make a prediction for 2012, undeterred by his loses in 1994 and 2011.
But Mr. Camping should stop and appreciate his current day and nation. For his ability to deceive would not be permitted everywhere. Deuteronomy18:21-22 says,
And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. (ESV)
Which sounds appropriate for what has just transpired. But what should give Mr. Camping pause and make him reflect on his methods and goals is the verse immediately prior. Deuteronomy 18:20 says, “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die” (ESV).
However, Mr. Camping will live to prophecy another day (falsely, again?). But if he understood what would have happened to him in ancient Isreal, he probably wouldn’t buy so many billboards.
Christ will return when all who are His have come to him (2 Peter 3:8-9). Anyone who claims to know exactly when that is, is misled or misleading (Mark 13:32).
 I’m certain there are people who would argue the point. So for arguments sake the difference lies in the term “cult” as distinguished from a major religion. If you think that all religions are cults, fine. But from within the faith, “cult” is commonly used to distinguish between adherence to true doctrine and adherence to false doctrine.
In this interview, Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned theoretical physicist, has offered his judgment on religious belief. “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,” he says.
Fair enough, he is a brilliant man and many people rightly respect his views–mainly in physics, but no one can begrudge him his views about the divine. But how should we judge his views about such matters? He’s a brilliant physicist, but what about philosophy.
In response to the question, “What is the value in knowing ‘Why are we here?’”
The universe is governed by science. But science tells us that we can’t solve the equations, directly in the abstract. We need to use the effective theory of Darwinian natural selection of those societies most likely to survive. We assign them higher value.
(Sidebar–science doesn’t govern anything. It is a method of observation. The universe would be governed whether we do science or not.)
Do we use natural selection to assign societal value or does natural selection happen to preserve those societies most “fit”? (If we use it, it sounds more like intelligent design). He’s treading on dangerous ground (already covered last century) by discussing the “use” of natural selection to determine value and “survival” fitness. To whom do we grant such authority? Or do scientists just take it upon themselves?
And to the question, “So here we are. What should we do?” he responds, “We should seek the greatest value of our action.” By what measure of value? Presumably the values of the fittest societies or those that are the most responsive to science.
How about this–we hold up the value system of a people who have an ancient history of distinction with and without their own sovereign territory. A nation that has survived repeated attempts at eradication. A nation that is the greatest beacon of freedom and democracy in a global neighborhood that desires its demise. Let’s try the values that were passed to them by Yahweh, creator of Heaven and Earth. If you are looking for “the greatest value of your action,” they have a mere ten rules with which all can measure their conduct. And if you are looking for a society that has met Darwin’s criteria for natural selection of the fittest–they have survived, time and time again.
Hawking’s philosophy is not new, though it is new to his public rhetoric. In his most recent book The Grand Design, Hawking declares philosophy to be dead. My guess is, he says this because he doesn’t understand it, and he’s no good at it.
“The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:10–11).
Despite the Biblical reference, this post is less about theology, and more about nobility. Specifically, the lack of Berean-style nobility in the current science battle in our country. What battle you ask? The battle for academic freedom in the science classroom. This year Oklahoma, Tennessee, New Mexico, Kentucky, Florida, and Missouri have considered “Academic Freedom” bills in their state legislatures similar to the one passed in Louisiana in 2008. Here is an excerpt from the Louisiana law:
“The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, upon request of a city, parish, or other local public school board, shall allow and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”
This type of legislation is generally opposed by advocates of evolutionary theory and supported by advocates of Intelligent Design (ID). The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is one of the “anti-Academic Freedom” organizations. Its purpose is “to keep evolution in public school science education.” While this sounds noble, they are currently actively supporting a legal challenge to Louisiana’s Academic Freedom law as well as resisting similar legislation currently under consideration in other states. Additionally, their website is touting the failure of Academic Freedom bills in Florida and Missouri in the last two weeks.
Why do they do this? They believe that teaching the scientific flaws of Darwinian evolution in public schools will open the door to the teaching of creationism (the teaching of which in public schools is already unconstitutional). It is apparent by the NCSE website that they believe any challenge to evolution is a subversive effort by Creationists to reintroduce religion into the classroom. But this is not so. ID advocates, who support such legislation, say ID is a non-religious (even non-supernatural) alternative.
ID proponents offer that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.” However, their science is frequently misrepresented and labeled “Intelligent Design Creationism” (IDC). This representation is inaccurate and disingenuous . The Discovery Institute responds by asking the question, “Is ID the same as Creationism?”
No. The theory of intelligent design is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the “apparent design” in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations. Creationism typically starts with a religious text and tries to see how the findings of science can be reconciled to it. Intelligent design starts with the empirical evidence of nature and seeks to ascertain what inferences can be drawn from that evidence. Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design does not claim that modern biology can identify whether the intelligent cause detected through science is supernatural.
As the movement to question scope and efficacy of Darwinian evolution continues to gain credibility , it must continually battle those who desire to limit its influence, particularly those at the NCSE.
If the theory of evolution is capable of providing an explanation for all biological observations, then there should be no problem opening the doors to dissent, because the science would speak for itself. But since the dissent has solid scientific merit, other means must be used to quell the dissent (e.g. misrepresentation and non-scientific legal challenges).
The “Academic Freedom” legislation is not intended to remove the teaching of evolution nor is it anti-evolution (as claimed by NCSE). The legislation is intended to promote critical thinking in the science classroom–even of (or, perhaps, especially of) scientific dogma.
But the modern protectors of evolutionary theory are not “noble Bereans” neither do they desire young students to be. To the NCSE, young-aspiring scientists must see science only through the Darwinian evolutionary lense. They are not permitted to “receive the data with all eagerness, and examine the science to see if these things are so.”
 The National Center for Science Education says of ID, “IDC [Intelligent Design-Creationism] promoters focus less on ‘proving’ creationism and more on rejecting evolution and redefining science to make it more compatible with their version of Christianity.” (http://www.ncseprojects.org/creationism/general/what-is-intelligent-design-creationism). This is a disingenuous characterization, as many ID scientists are not Christian.
 This link contains the list of names of scientists and science educators that have gone on record in support of the phrase, “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”