Life - Adult Stem Cells Continue to perform
Scientists have gotten brain cells out of adult stem cells, improving chance of treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer's.
The success stories for adult stem cells continues to arrive. I may not be keeping score, but this list seems to see the score as adult stem cells 65, embryonic stem cells 0.
Is it any wonder scientists are crying out for embryonic stem cell funding from the government? Clearly there seems to be no economic benefits for the research in regards to finding cures. So, non-government corporations have no interest in funding a project that has almost no hope of discovering anything productive.
Apologetics - Morality and God
Joe Carter has a good post on the arguement for God from morality. He favors Trueblood's presentation of this argument. The arguement, in very simple terms is:
1. There must be an objective moral law; otherwise: (a) There would not be such great agreement on its meaning. (b) No real moral disagreements would ever have occurred, each person being right from his own moral perspective. (c) No moral judgment would ever have been wrong, each being subjectively right. (d) No ethical question could ever be discussed, there being no objective meaning to any ethical terms. (e) Contradictory views would both be right, since opposites could be equally correct.
2. This moral law is beyond individual persons and beyond humanity as a whole: (a) It is beyond individual persons, since they often sense a conflict with it. (b) It is beyond humanity as a whole, for they collectively fall short of it and even measure the progress of the whole race by it.
3. This moral law must come from a moral Legislator because: (a) A law has no meaning unless it comes from a mind; only minds emit meaning. (b) Disloyalty makes no sense unless it is to a person, yet people die in loyalty to what is morally right. (c) Truth is meaningless unless it is a meeting of mind with mind, yet people die for the truth. (d) Hence, discovery of and duty to the moral law make sense only if there is a Mind or Person behind it.
4. Therefore, there must be a moral, personal Mind behind this moral law.
One small issue I have with Joe's post is that he fails to mention William Lane Craig, who is probably one of the most common Christian philosophers using this argument today.
Read the whole thing.
Evolution - Everything you thought you knew was wrong
Creation Safari reviews a recent article by Sean Carroll on the state of the Theory of Evolution and where current research should focus. Essentially, Carroll covers the current ideas for how evolution could have created people from pond scum and shows just how and why they are insufficient. He covers mutation, duplication and regulatory sequences and discusses the problems and issues with each. From the closing comments
If you thought Charlie had figured this all out 146 years ago, wake up and smell the bitter coffee. Here we have The Theory of Evolution, that rock-solid foundation for all of law, ethics, philosophy, art, science, education and even religion, so secure that no student in public school should ever be allowed to hear anything else, and now they tell us that everything you thought you knew about it was wrong, and the biologists have to start over.
It is worth reading the whole thing, but just a warning, there is a fair amount of scientific jargon involved and it is long.
Morality - Twisting words to win the battle
Yesterday, I commented on an article by Bashir Goth where he tried to recast an issue as being between religion and rationality, and tried to call his own moral views 'common sense'. Today, I have been bombarded by news stories where similar attempts at twisting and misusing words are being used to try and win the argument.
In Illinois, the battle is heating up over forcing pharmacists to distribute the abortion drug RU-486. Yet instead of calling the drug what it is, a long campaign has been waged and won to identify this drug as a contraceptive. So now pro-abortion 'progressives' get to cast the pharmicists as preventing women from accessing contraceptives.
In Australia, a recent study on the views on Homosexuality has been released. Those who think that homosexuality is immoral are labelled as intolerant. Last time I checked, it wasn't intolerant to label an action such as murder as immoral. In fact, tolerance, in its proper meaning, requires you to think the action or idea is wrong. Otherwise there is nothing to tolerate. Yet we have allowed the word intolerance to be twisted by gay rights activists in order to cast their opponents in a bad light. But it doesn't just stop there. On ABC news radio this morning, instead of just labelling those who think homosexuality is immoral as intolerant, they decided to call them homophobic. Other papers have also jumped on board with this. Yet homophobia is a fear of homosexuals, which is not equivalant to thinking homosexuality is immoral. Once again, words are twisted to score points.
Everyone remembers Terri Schiavo. Well, in Australia, we have our own case now. That of Maria Korp. Here we have a court ruled that artificial feeding was a medical treatment that could be withheld. Giving someone food is not a medical treatment. Just because they are unable to feed themselves is not reason to starve them. Do we allow starvation of premature babies now because they have to be fed artificially?
We need to stop and correct the misuse of words. If you allow your opponent to chose the language, then you have already lost the debate.
Worldview - Attempting to be rational
Bashir Goth, in his polemic on Muslims and fundamentalists, has chosen his words carefully. Carefully crafting his article in order to try and claim the high ground of 'rationality'. Ultimately though, his own perceptions are no less grounded in the assumptions of his worldview than anyone elses. From his article
No wonder humble people of my ilk remain clueless to understand their logic. There is a huge vault between us. It is a divide between people consumed by religious thinking and who see everything through a religious prism and people of humble common sense who see things as they are. A gulf between what I may call people of common sense and people of text sense.
Notice how he views the problem as one versus religious thinking and rationality. You might be tempted to ask why his 'common' sense is any more valid than anyone elses.
You see, the real issue is that there is a vast difference in morality between competing worldviews. Trying to call your own view 'rational' and taking nice sounding phrases such as 'common sense' may make it seem like you are objective, but in reality, all that it really does is try to sucker people who may sympathise with your position into accepting that you are the 'rational' one.
Bashir seems to be relying on the vast number of people who dislike terrorism (as I also don't like it) to recast the issue as between 'rationality' and religion, thus attempting to exempt his own worldview from the spotlight. Yet history quite clearly shows, that 'common sense' is relative to the worldview of the society/culture. So several centuries ago, it was common sense that a person could own slaves and beat them if they chose. It was common sense that women shouldn't vote. That Bashir is unwilling to see this is just another case of irrationality.
The issue is not rationality versus religion, but culture/worldview versus culture/worldview.
Worldivews - Multiculturalism is taking a hit
Cox and Forkum has a good roundup of the growing unhappiness with the multiculturalism concept. They link to this Mark Steyn article in The Australian which is well worth reading. From the article
At The Age, Terry Lane, last heard blaming John Howard for the "end of democracy as we know it" and calling for "the army of my country ... to be defeated" in Iraq, now says multiculturalism is a "repulsive word" whereas "assimilation is a beaut" and should be commended.
The idea that many different cultures and religions being able to survive together in a small locality is only tenable if you force each culture and religion to abandon certain violent ideas. Multiculturalism, foisted upon us by the elitist secular humanists (who feel they know what is best), fails miserably when push comes to shove because not everyone is willing to give up their religious ideas in favor of the secular humanist ideals. This blindspot is highlighted by Alister McGrath in 'The Twighlight of Atheism' where he talks about the atheist's notion of religious people giving up their religion.
Atheists often speak about the eradication of religion as if this would be a painless, even pleasant process. Perhaps they are not unlike naïve carnivores, who believe that animals conveniently lie down at an appropriate moment and die painlessly so that they may be eaten by appreciative humans. The naive atheist seems to believe that a sophisticated seminar in godlessness is all that is required to eliminate religion, showing a grateful people that they can be liberated from an oppressive and debilitating illusion. The reality of the situation is bloody, messy and brutal: the eradication of faith tends to involve firing squads and gas chambers
Perhaps now more people will see through the superficially nice sounding concept of 'multiculturalism' and realize that other cultures and religions will not necessarily give up all their cherished ideas in our own 'multicultural' society. Instead we should be encouraging immigrants to assimilate more into the local culture.
Quick Links - Articles of interest
William Dembski has a quick piece on how Particles to people evolution is actually an argument from ignorance.
China continues to worry many as news of its military expansion becomes more public and some Chinese generals warn that China will use nuclear weapons if the US comes to Tiawan's aid.
Canada's descent into religious repression continues with the National Public Radio broadcasting a commentary by a retired professor calling for state control over religion. Outlawing such things as 'claims of exclusivity. It should be unethical for any RRP to claim that theirs was the one true religion and believers in anything else or nothing were doomed to fire and brimstone'
Alex Johnson at MSNBC news has a good reminder of the true nature of the Scopes 'monkey'' trial in 1925. Too much spin doctoring by evolutionists has led to significant historical revisionism.
Pro-abortionists are trying to restrict crisis pregnancy centers from advertising in the white pages if they don't refer clients to abortion clinics. So much for free speech. The senator who is pushing this bill? Democrat Natasha Stott Despoja.
Is criminilization of abortion a recent event? Many abortion supports like to think so, but this handy piece is a good reminder of the falseness of this revisionist claim. Also remember that the Hippocratic Oath (circa 400 bc) spoke against doctors performing abortions as well. Eugenics watch also highlights how the Roe versus Wade decision relied on the revisionist history put forward by a pro-abortion eugenicist, Glanville Williams. Abortion Facts also has a good article on the history of abortion in the US.
Government - The US and Freedom from religion
The National Review has an excerpt from Senator Rick Sanatorium's book 'It Takes a family' on government and neutrality to religion which is well worth reading. From the excerpt
And what is more, I believe a convincing argument may be made that “liberal neutrality” is never really neutral. The practical effects of such a rule always have a disparate impact. We can see this in the Court’s school prayer decisions. The Court’s majority rulings have delved into the psychological effects of public prayer in schools for those youngsters who are not themselves religious: Would they not be subject to a kind of peer pressure that would violate their conscience? But the Court does not examine the flip side of their psychological investigation: What about religious youngsters who find themselves in a public school hermetically sealed off from all religious influences? Would not the school, and therefore the government, tacitly be communicating to religious youngsters that prayer, religion, and faith are not really welcome in America’s public square? That is where we have ended up: Court-sanctioned hostility to religious influence in American society, all in the name of neutrality.
Indeed. But also, consider the ramifications of the current US doctrine of seperation when coupled with the goals of many Secular Humanists towards Socialism. In a socialistic country, the people do not 'own' anything and so every use of property and land is state sponsored. In such a society, with the state unwilling to use public property for religious purposes (such as removing prayer from the schools, the ten commandments from court houses etc), then all religious events could be taken to be against the constitution.
Life - New Supreme court justice announced
George Bush has nominated Judge John G. Roberts Jr for the US Supreme court, replacing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Roberts is a conservative with views that are apparently prolife or at least anti-Roe which is good news for the pro-life community. The court however needs at least one more liberal judge to retire and be replaced by a pro-life conservative in order to make a real difference to the status of abortion.
Not suprisingly, the pro-abortion organisations such as NARAL are gearing up to oppose the nomination and the usual double-speak is being used by liberals such as
"We're saddened that President Bush has chosen the politics of conflict and division over bipartisan consensus," said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.who seems to define the politics of conflict as anyone who doesn't roll over and capitulate if they disagree with his views.
One step closer to saving millions of lives....now we just need another liberal Supreme court justice to retire whilst the republicans hold the presidency.
Theology - Asking the right questions
Melinda Penner from Stand To Reason makes an excellent point about the salvation of people who have never heard of Jesus.
People don’t go to Hell for not believing in Jesus. People are judged for their sins. You see, the question puts the cart before the horse. Sin is the reason people go to Hell; Jesus is the way for pardon.
Is it just to punish guilty people? Yes. But often a doubt still nags. Yes, it’s fair to punish the guilty but it isn’t fair to punish people who never had a chance for the pardon. While there is an emotional resonance to this, it is just another way of posing the same wrong question. If it’s fair to judge guilty people, no pardon is owed to anyone. The Judge can offer pardon for His own reasons, which He hasn’t divulged to us. In human courts, when a judge pardons a criminal no one cries injustice because he doesn’t pardon the rest of the criminals. It’s not capricious and it’s not unfair. It’s grace. And grace, by definition, isn’t owed, it’s given.
This is certainly a line of thinking I have never thought about before. I think another such question is the often heard problem of suffering. People complain that a good God wouldn't allow suffering, yet most people do not think it wrong to lock up convicted murderers for their crimes. This obviously causes them to suffer, but it is justified because of their crimes. Yet how often, we we are suffering, do we remember that what we really deserve is death and hell. Suffering is not unjust, as it is actually far less than we deserve. The problem of suffering, much like the problem with people who haven't heard the gospel, seems to hinge on the assumption of injustice that is contrary to christian theology.
History – The ‘Progress’ of Secular Humanisation
Ever heard someone call themselves a ‘progressive’ and stop to think what they are trying to progress towards?
In the US in 1933, a group of intellectual ‘elites’ put together the first humanist manifesto, followed by the 2nd manifesto in 1973 and a third in 2000. These elites had decided that the time of traditional religion was over and that society needed to be remade into their image of a better society. They want to save us all from our outdated beliefs. This is their vision of progress.
70 Years later, let us review just where this ‘progress’ has taken us.
In the US in the 1950’s, after 20 years of Secular Humanist domination in education, a large shift took place that birthed the Sexual Revolution of the 60’s. Much of that shift was in casting Christianity as old, outdated and a mythology long past its used by date. If Christianity was false, then outdated Christian morals and virtues such as chastity, faithfulness and selflessness were also outdated. Since this great secular humanist enlightenment the US has seen the following effects…
- Since 1960 the crime rate is up over 300%
- Since 1970 the rate of child abuse is up around 600%
- Since 1970 single parent households have doubled
- Since the 1950’s the divorce rate is up over 400% and half of all those divorces involve children.
- Since the 1930’s, after adjusting for inflation, the expenditure per student in school education has increased over 500% yet average SAT scores has decreased by roughly 60 points.
This is the legacy that the secular humanist vision has progressed us towards. I am sure there a lot of other indicators that would also show such marked increases such as the rate of sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancies, the number of people in prison, prevalence of drug use, suicide and many others (Feel free to add any in comments that you know of). Clearly by their effects, the secular humanist ideas are horribly wrong, so next time someone tells you they are a progressive or secular humanist, make sure you ask them what we are progressing towards.
Science - Mountain building, quickly
Creation Safaris has a link to a few related articles on a recent large reduction in the required time estimated for mountain building.
The gist is basically that the time frame for mountain building has been reduced from 40 million years to 13 million years (over 2/3rd!). Additionally, the studies in nature also concluded that the rocks were metamorphosised over many 10 year periods of heating. This conclusion was based on the Argon 40/39 ratios in the rock.
Isn't it amazing that almost everywhere we look, scientists are reducing the age of things. Yet every time they do, think about how confidently they pronounced the previous age before you swallow the new age without thinking.
These papers essentially are trying to come up with a scenario that fits with all the evidence whilst still trying to get an ancient earth. Like most of the old earth findings, it is just another Ad hoc explanation attempting to explain unusual argon dating. I have to wonder what other dating methods were used to date the mountain in question and the continental collision that supposedly caused it.
As Simon Kelley in one of the nature articles in question says
However, the very short timescales involved will make this idea controversial, as existing work on garnet seems to indicate processes operating on a million-year timescale; but also, perhaps, simply because we geologists are attuned to thinking in millions of years, whereas the features we observe may be just the aggregations of many shorter events.
Indeed. Geologists are indocrinated over and over about millions of years, just as I was taught at school that fossil's take many thousands of years to form. However none of us was there to actually observe these rocks forms, and so any dating requires more assumption than observation.
Whilst blogger attempts to fix the layout issue I have moved the atom feed url, Other blog links and the sitemeter to the bottom of the page. This should help in the short term with readability.
Religion - Rick Warren and Purpose
Tim Challies has reviewed a book written to defend Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven Life. For those who are interested it is worth reading the comments as well as the post, as the author of the book, Richard Abanes, is also involved in the comments responding to various points.
Suffice to say, Tim, nor myself have found anything to allay our fears over the poor use of scripture in the Purpose Driven Life. As Tim says
The single most common concern raised about Warren (at least in my experience) is his use (or misuse) of Scripture. This comes in two forms. First, Warren often quotes verses out of context or in ways that are advantageous to the point he is trying to make. He will often quote only a half of a verse if the second half does not support what he wants to say. Second, he uses poor translations and translations that say what he wants the Bible to say, rather than what God intended for it to say. There are times when this may be an honest mistake, but there are other times when it is clear that Warren has deliberately twisted a verse or taken it from its context to make it work for his purposes. Despite these two areas being of prime importance to those who are concerned with Warren's ministry, Abanes gives this no attention whatsoever. None. Not a sentence.
Whilst I cannot find myself disagreeing with Rick Warren's conclusions about our 'purposes', I am troubled by the poor logic and scripture use he uses to get there.
A Tribute and a challenge
Froggy Ruminations has a moving account of the Navy Seal memorial for those recently killed in Afghanistan.
Words cannot properly express my sorrow and gratitude for these men and all the others like them in the US, Aus and UK forces that are sacrificing their lives to defend our freedom and preserve our security.
I pray that we can be worthy of their sacrifice by defending our country from the harmful ideas that seem so popular with our cultural 'elite'.
Jhn 15:13 - Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Media - SBS shelves BBC 'documentary'
Tim Blair has an interesting tidbit of information today. Apparently SBS had scheduled the BBC 'documentary' called “The Power of Nightmares” for airing this week. The show argues that the Terror threat to Britian is a myth. I wonder why they pulled it?
Morality - Life Love and All That
Light posting this week as I am quite sick, but here are a series of articles that indicate just how far down society is headed...
- The UN's World Health Organisation (WHO) has added the day after abortion pill RU-486 to its list of essential medicines for developing countries. Controlled by its Secular Humanist philosophy the UN continues is push for abortion.
- A homosexual couple in Vancouver is seeking mandatory homosexual education in British Columbia. They want to ensure that homosexuality is taught as a valid, normative and safe lifestyle choice. Apparently legalising homosexual marriage wasn't enough for them to feel validated by society. Those darn slippery slopes just get slipperier.
- In more Vancouver madness, a mother is suing a school so her daughter can be in the boys change room. Apparently is is excluding her daughter from valuable pre match hype and camaraderie for their intergrated sports team. Just wait until homosexual men and women ask for seperate changing rooms as well. All sorts of madness are possible when you live in such a 'progressive' society.
- A Federal court of appeals has upheld a case finding that the law banning partial birth abortions in nebraska on the grounds that there is no exception for the health of the mother. You have to wonder whether the judges even bother to try and understand what they are talking about. If you have any idea at all about partial birth abortions, the abortionist essentially delivers all but the head of the baby and then violently murders it. In case you miss the point...There is no decrease in the risk to the health of the mother of this method over prematurely delivering the baby.
- Africa has problems. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that their society has generated a culture where 1 out of 3 children have sex before the age of 10 or that 17% of children would deliberately spread the AIDs virus if they had it. Clearly this safe sex message is working just as expected.
- The financial cost of an abortion? I have previously spoken of many of the costs and victims of abortions, but this article at the Population Institute does some quick math and finds that the opportunity cost of an abortion is over half a million dollars to a society. And the US wonders why social security is in freefall?
- The US Abortion issue is hotting up again with the pending retirement of several Supreme court judges. This LA Times story looks at the issue and notices some trends in recent years. Apparently, there is 2 to 3 times the interest on campuses in setting up or joining anti-abortion groups. An even more interesting point is that the LA Times pins a date on when the abortion issue (and a trend towards socialism) started a turn around. 1992. I will leave it to you to figure what happened just prior to that.
- The Britsh Medical Association recently dropped its long standing opposition to euthenasia. This article looks at the dirty tricks played in that decision by those wanting to enforce their minority views on the majority. Clearly those pushing these agenda are not about supporting democracy, but instead are willing to use whatever means they can to manipulate the system into achieving their goals.
Always remember that people are actively trying to make christian morality a thing of the past. As they don't follow Christian morals, they have little to no compunction about doing whatever they can to achieve these goals and enforce their minority views on the majority.
Terror - London
I have received an email from a trusted friend who forwarded on an email they got on tuesday. From the email
Went into the city the other day to catch up with Chris and when I got off the train at Charing Cross (we were meeting at the London Eye) everyone was screaming and running towards the exit. I turned around to see what was going on and couldn't see anything so I watched it that general direction until the back carridge of the train I just got off EXPLODED.
Thats right exploded with a huge bang and massive red flames spewing out. I shat my pants then decided to run with everyone else. Cops and fire men came out of everywhere and the whole station was evacuated for a couple of hours. The strangest part is, that there has been NO mention of it at all in the news, tv or newspaper.
I think they are trying to hide it because the Oylmpic bid is on at the moment and the decision happens on Wednesday so this could hurt their campaigne.
My first thought is of course that this is a hoax, but my reliable friend has assured me they read this email on tuesday. If anyone knows someone in the general area of Charing Cross station, I would love to get in contact with them about this... No idea if it is real or not, but it is certainly worth investigating.
Update: More info in the email would place this explosion on the 2nd of july
Evolution - The Catholic Church Sets the Record Straight
Cardinal Christoph Schonborn has the set the record straight about the Catholic Churches position on evolution. He comments on the common out of context quoting and misinterpretation of John Paul 1996 letter. (And here I thought it was Creationists who take things out of context, thereby proving their bias) Essentially, the position seems to be that there is no such thing as 'unguided' evolution.
Read the whole thing (Free subscription required)
Terror - UK Bombings
I have nothing really to say, other than my thoughts and prayers are will those in London. For those who want more details, I would suggest you visit Tim Blair and read his roundups.
IT - Hacktivists and reality
Protest Warrior has detailed how a group of hackers has illegally accessed their server and downloaded thousands of people's credit card details. Protest Warrior noticed the intrusion and gathered lots of useful info for the FBI who have now charged the offending hacker. Of course, now the offending hacker has a web-site soliciting funds for his defense and proclaiming he is innocent because
Jeremy has done no damage to any system and has not charged anything to any credit card numbers.Unless I miss my guess, stealing credit card numbers is considered a crime, as is illegally accessing a computer network. I have a hard time agreeing with the FAQ on the Free Jeremy site which says
While his activities have been ethical and non-destructive, he has found himself a target of law enforcement because he has been brave enough to stand up to the injustices of the political system.
The FAQ has even more misleading tripe on it, talking about what Jeremy has been accused of doing
What is Jeremy being accused of doing?Notice how the FAQ does not address the actual charges of hacking and accessing a website and taking credit card details. His honesty is overwhelming.
The FBI alleges that he is involved with an underground hacking group that has hacked and gained acess to the right-wing website ProtestWarrior and took credit card numbers belonging to people who ordered products off of their online store. The FBI says that he was involved in a plot to make donations from these credit card numbers to various humanitarian charities, civil rights activists, and leftist protest groups.
These charges are outrageous and reactionary because none of this has actually happened. The website has not been defaced and no credit card numbers has been billed.
Poor Jeremy...I hope he gets justice for his actions.
Charity - The Failure of Aid
Helen Hughes provides a reality check for those who thinks writing cheques will solve the worlds poverty problems. From her article at Online Opinion
Nevertheless, the number of displaced Africans has grown to 40 million, deserts have spread and African agricultural production is down so that even where people have not been driven from their homes, millions are starving.
Western generosity - government-to-government aid, concessional loans by multilaterals and relief contributions by non-government organisations - has played a role in these outcomes. Cynical, inept and corrupt African leaders have not only been able to borrow to fund their extravaganzas but have continued to victimise their people knowing that the West will come to rescue those who escape alive.
Giving people money is not sufficient to changing their conditions in the long term (generally). This is because money does not help them to grow or learn, but merely allows them to continue on without these experiences. It may even be the case that AID given has allowed corrupt and repressive regimes to stay in power a lot longer than before thus increasing the amount of suffering.
An article in The Independent on 'Mozambique: The nation that proves aid works' also makes this case, although you wouldn't know it by the headline. As Scott over at the Daily Ablution says
Perhaps the headline should read: "The nation that proves aid works - if accompanied by privatisation, market reforms, and a multiparty electoral system."
So let me reiterate. Giving money is not enough. It never has been and never will be. Training, security, a free market and democracy are essential to any recovery. This means people need to get involved in more than just signing a cheque. People need to get their hands dirty.
Update: Tino, swedish blogger provides a good reminder that the US is leading the world in most spheres, including AID.
In Official Development Aid, the US gave 19 billion dollars in 2004, 25% of world total. This is a doubling since Bush came into office. The US gives 60% of all world food aid, saving million from hunger every day.I wonder how they would do if foreign aid workers were counted? I would be interested to know how foreign workers getting their hands dirty in those in countries accepting aid are Christian?
Unlike most nations, the ODA is only a small part of American Aid. In total, Americans (mostly the private sector) give some 60 billion $ each year, again dwarfing any other nation. Scholarships given by American Universities to poor students from the thirds world amount to 1.3 billion dollars, the same as the entire foreign aid given each year by Switzerland!
Update 2: Spiegel has a related article which raises some very good points.
portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unsrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN's World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It's a simple but fatal cycle.I hadn't thought about this, but the huge amount of cheap food coming in would cripple any local agriculture. The same goes for clothing and the like sent as aid. Economically, AID seems to cripple the local economy, as much as constantly spoiling a child cripples them emotionally.
Read the whole thing.
Update 3: The Daily Demarche has a copy of related posts here and here.
Quick Links - Food for thought
Science Mag has released a list of 100 scientific questions that we want answers to. You can also view short essays on the top 25 questions here. Many of the questions would address Creation Scientists common talking points (eg. planet formation) but amazingly for a science mag, it continues the myth of 1.2% genetic difference between chimps and humans. (It is more like 5%) and about 'junk dna'
Coyotes and wolves are breeding into a new hybrid. If they can interbreed, why are they still considered seperate species?
Are we headed for a scientific dark age? A scientist studying innovation has researched its decline and seems to think so. (And no...it has nothing to do with teaching creation or ID in the class room)
Scientists have created great new lenses to plaster to your eyes to help you see better. Bet you didn't see that one coming?
Creation - ID and age and naturalism
David Heddle and I have been having a discussion of sorts. David's first post on Intelligent Design, Evolution and Creation is well worth reading, but as I discuss in this post, misses some very important points about young earth creationists.
David has posted another interesting discussion of Fine Tuning as it relates to Young earth/Old earth ideas that definitely merits a good look. In it David outlines how he is responding
In thinking about how to respond, I could do one of two things:Detailed physics responses are always of interest to me and I am always looking to read more, so I would have been happy for either of these options, unfortunately David thinks his readers would not be interested (As is his right on his own blog. Don't get me wrong, I am just saying I would have been happy for either of these approaches as I think both are useful in learning and discovering truth)
1. Post detailed physics responses, or
2. Post rebuttal links
The first would drive most readers away (plus I have this pesky day job). The second produces a really boring battle of links.
David continues with a couple of paragraphs that seem to highlight the real issue
I have decided to do neither. I am assuming that the interested reader can do his or her own Google searches. For example, one of the topics raised was the alternative young-universe cosmology of Russell Humphreys. Googling will lead to the expected results: secular physicists and old-earth creationists claiming that Humphreys's cosmology is unsalvageable, and YECs largely (though not unanimously) supportive.
This raises an interesting question: Which group is more prone to letting their presuppositions cloud their judgment? Do secular physicists actually conspire, as some have claimed, to discard any radiometric data that points to a young earth? Or are YECs, filled with good intentions, likely to be less than critical of the science behind theories that support a young earth?
I think David has missed the point in his second paragraph. ALL science is done on a foundation of presuppositions. It is not which is less likely to be critical, because both are operating and building on their assumptions. This is why it is no suprise to find secular scientists and old-earth creationists at odds with Humphrey's theories. This is because they are operating on a completely different set of presuppositions.
David further highlights how the nature (pun intended) of his own presuppositions is unable to be removed from his own scientific analysis. Later on is his post he says
Matter, of course, is not naturally ionized; it is naturally neutral. The experimenters had to create an artificial situation by ionizing atoms. Then they watched for beta decay and (to nobody's surprise) saw enhanced rates....Paraphrasing AIG: To have sufficient ions, God first created a plasma which persists for several hours.Notice how David talks about how matter is not naturally ionized and then makes a big deal about AIG's possible explanations (And make no mistake, it is possible and consistent with scripture. Note that possible does not imply any degree of probability). David makes a big deal that there is no scientific evidence to support these ideas. Yet the very evidence of apparent age in the rocks is the support. You merely have to come from the presupposition of Genesis being the straight forward word of God to see this.
...There is no scientific evidence that the universe ever existed of this heavy ion plasma. Furthermore, there is no biblical basis for allocating a few of the hours of day-one to this plasma state.
The article then acknowledges that even the enhanced decay rate would have to be augmented by another controversial theory.
But now, many people may be thinking how biased this way of thinking is. That it isn't science? The problem with this is, that most science these days operates under the presupposition of naturalism, that God does not exist. An example of conclusions that David may be aware of are replete in the Big Bang itself. For instance, Edwin Hubble, when looking at red-shifts noticed how they seem to place earth at the center of the universe claimed "Such a condition would imply that we occupy a unique position in the universe...This hypothesis cannot be disproved, but it is unwelcome....the unwelcome position of a favored location must be avoided at all costs....such a favored position is intolerable" (The Observational Approach to Cosmology, pp. 50-55, 1937). Hubble's presupposition forced his conclusion. And on that conclusion was born assumptions about our universe that are inherent in the big bang cosmology. Because if we are not at the center of the universe (As hubble's evidence suggests), then all places must appear as if they were at the center (homogenous).
It seems however, that these basic presuppositions and the many assumptions that are built on them are not able to be tested in the scientific community these days as it is considered heresy to question the big bang. This open letter to the scientific community outlines why this is the case.
So we have a situation where all this research has been done based on naturalistic assumptions, and even old earth creationists continue to rely on this research in their claims that the universe is old. The problem is, if we can't question Big Bang or its presuppositions then all conclusions about cosmology that is based upon those presuppositions is logically suspect.
This is what Russell Humphrey's work on white hole cosmology started to investigate. What if the universe is not homogenous? What if it has boundaries? Unfortunately, due to the current scientific climate, making progress in this line of thinking is next to impossible. Which brings us back to David's original statement...most secular and old-age researchers disagree with Humphrey's cosmology. But the basis of this disagreement is theory that is built upon presuppositions. So, no, creationists are not unbiased, but neither are the big bangers. Both have made big assumptions and these assumptions guide their conclusions, and that I think is what David doesn't get.
For one final comment, David asks Young earthers think about fine tuning. Let me say that this is the first time I have ever heard the argument that the fine tuning of the universe is against a Young Earth position. From this limited exposure to this idea I fail to see why these arguments do not support any theistic position. David claims that
One important class of fine-tuning arguments is found in the fact that the nuclear chemistry behind the life cycle of stars is exceedingly balanced and fortuitous. A minor tweak here or there to an energy level, or a small change in the values of physical constants, and stars (if they existed at all) would behave very differently—the result being that they would not seed the universe with life-essential heavy elements.
...Surely it would be better for the YEC view if science, puzzled, told us that there is no way exploding stars could (a) ever happen and/or (b) produce the observed quantity of heavy elements.
This seems to be a slightly short term view of the universe. Whilst the young earth creationist would argue the earth is young (But not necessarily the universe as time is relative), there is no requirement to assume that we may not be around for long enough to explore and use these created heavier elements. It also seem to miss the point that if these minor tweaks happened, we would not only be in a universe that couldn't produce life, but we wouldn't be an a universe that sustains life. As such, it is very consistent with a Young Earth position.
Quick Links - Fun and frivolity
A journalist gives up soft drinks for 30 days and keeps a web diary. I feel his pain as I have been cutting back heaps on soft drinks and it aint that easy. From memory however, it's better to abstain for 40 days to give up a long term habit.
A Labrador has jumped 7 feet into the air and into a new world record. Thats huge! Must be hard to keep that guy in the yard when you go out.
Scientists discover that Ice Melts...err I mean How ice melts.
Creation - The Age of things
A new post by David Heddle over at He lives outlines his views on the age of the universe and the earth and comments on the perceived battle between christianity and science. Normally I quite enjoy David's article, however, other than his investigation of common evolutionist claims, this one contains a vast amount of poor reasoning.
From the start, David misses the point
My adversaries, if that is the correct term, are both the scientist/atheists and Christian fundamentalists. Both make the same, erroneous assumption: Christianity and science are incompatible. While this is an understandable error for an atheist, it is completely illogical for a believer, because the scientific laws come from God—Christianity and science must be compatible.As this previous post of mine highlights, the real issue is between naturalistic starting assumptions and Christian starting assumptions. It is these assumptions that are incompatible, not science itself. What is completely illogical for a believer is to accept the findings of historical science that has been done within a completely naturalistic frame work. In doing so you essentially say that God could not have operated outside of the natural laws in any significant way within that period.
Now this is not simply a God of the gaps supernatural appeal. If we know God is real and he has told us about certain events, then it is logically consistent to accept a supernatural intervention in those certain events.
Sadly, the most insidious approach, in my opinion, comes from fundamentalists who actually believe science is at war with the bible, but pretend otherwise. How do they accomplish this misdirection? By using "bad" science instead of real science. I am referring to the so-called creation scientists who try to use "science" to disprove science. They accomplish this with bizarre Rube Goldberg theories including (but by no means limited to) postulating that independent radiometric dating methods are not just wrong, but they somehow conspire to give the same wrong answer.As previously stated. Creationists do not think science is at war with the bible, just that naturalistic presuppositions driving the historical sciences of evolution, geology and radiometric dating. What is 'insidious' is Christian's who continually reinterpret the bible in order to try and make it fit with man's fallible and changing opinions, thereby removing any authority the bible has. I'll come back to the radiometric dating methods a bit later...
The bottom line is that they postulate a God who is tricking us. He has created a universe that not only has apparent age but also false memories of its birth. Remnant heat (at just the right temperature) from a big bang that never occurred; arriving light which details exploding supernovae that never actually existed..
David has made a badly flawed statement here. Just because one possible explanation of an observation is consistent with a theory, it does not mean there are other possible explanations. Just because we have a background radiation (David's remnant heat) it does not necessitate that it came from a Big Bang. As the big bang is a historical theory based on naturalistic assumptions, concluding that any evidence that is consistent with the big bang theory implies God is tricking us is absurd. God isn't tricking us, we are tricking ourselves by basing our theories on anti-theistic assumptions.
David continues with his mistaken notions, but in a somewhat revealing way
I have posted this (in a slightly different form) before, but I think it bears repeating:This is a contentless statement as any evidence for this view is strictly circular. There have been many times when science and christian's seem to be at loggerheads, and it is easy to claim that in each case that science was wrong, the bible was obviously being interpreted correctly, and that in each case that science was right, it was obvious that it was Christian's misinterpreting the bible. So, if in the future, the Big Bang gets overturned, then someone like David can just argue that Christian's obviously interepreted the bible correctly.
1. When the bible and science disagree, the bible is always right.
2. When Christians and science disagree, science is usually right.
Now I am going to skip a few of David's comments on the science, so I can deal with his logic and hermeneutics together...
If you think the bible teaches that the earth is six thousand years old I have news for you. Science is not wrong. The bible is not wrong. You are wrong. You have (correctly) assumed biblical inerrancy, but have overlaid an incorrect literalist hermeneutic on Genesis 1.
How do I know this? Why am I so confident that I am right and you are wrong? Because our intellect, our curiosity, and our planet's superior observability are gifts from God, not snares to test our faith. The simplest explanation for the supposed incompatibility places the blame squarely on you: you are interpreting God's inerrant bible incorrectly.
The major flaw of David's reasoning is that the bible was not just written to us. It was written to the ancient Hebrews. To reinterpret the plain meaning of its text based on current scientific theories (Made with naturalistic assumptions) is to do not just bad exegesis, but to pull a post-modernist textual deconstruction gag. As the text was written to them and the reasons that people like David are reinterpreting the texts were not around at that time, the ancient hebrew people would have naturally concluded the earth was indeed around 7000 years old (Based on the use of the word 'day' with a numeral and its historical narrative structure). So, according to David's point of view, God would have been tricking THEM.
David also seems to have a very high opinion about the nature of the evidence for the age of the earth and the universe. He comments
They accomplish this with bizarre Rube Goldberg theories including (but by no means limited to) postulating that independent radiometric dating methods are not just wrong, but they somehow conspire to give the same wrong answer
Radiometric dating is an interesting concept, where you measure the decay rates of one isotope/isochron into another and measure the current ratio of those two isotopes in a rock in order to extrapolate the time required to reach the current ration. However there are major assumptions involved in any radiometic dating.
1) You must assume the initial ratio of the two isotopes
2) You must assume that the decay rate is constant
3) You must assume that there has been no external process adding to or taking away from the amount of isotopes in the rock being examined.
It should also be noted that much of the age of rocks was already decided before we got the radiometric dating methods.
So we have a bunch of assumptions and a pre-existing old earth mentality, but what does that really mean? Obviously people like David feel that the consistency in results accross different methods is strong evidence, but perhaps that consistency is merely an artifact of result selection. Lets take a look at some of the issues and see what really is going on.
Well, for a start, any radiometric dating method that consistently gives a young age is automatically rejected as useless. So from the start, there is a selection bias in the very methods that are used.
Secondly, as scientists already start with the notion of age, if they come accross ages that do not match pre-conceived notions they are free to ignore or explain away the data. The most common way this is done is by appealing to a violation of assumption 3. They will say the rock has been reheated, had some of the isotopes leached or was not part of surrounding rocks (being placed there by a geological event etc). Make no mistake, this is not how science should be done! It is an Ad Hoc appeal for troublesome results that places it squarely outside of the real of the scientific method. It has to be Ad Hoc, as they would not have bothered to test the rock fragments in question if they knew before hand that it had these problems. John Woodmorrape has compiled a very long list of many of thi sorts of rationalizing in 'The Mythology of Modern Dating Methods' where he cites over 500 secular papers showing it is not just an isolated practice. A recent report in Nature, and summarized on MSNBC shows that many scientists often ignore flawed data.
This brings us to assumption (2), the constant decay rate assumption. At least for beta decay methods, it has been shown that it is possible to accelerate the rate of decay by 9 orders of magnitude.
The first assumption is the most informative however (known initial ratios), as a recent study has investigating this very assumption. A very interesting paper came out in Geology by Davidson, Charlier, Hora, and Perlroth, “Mineral isochrons and isotopic fingerprinting: Pitfalls and promises,” Geology, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 29-32. In this paper, the authors state
The determination of accurate and precise isochron ages for igneous rocks requires that the initial isotope ratios of the analyzed minerals are identical at the time of eruption or emplacement. Studies of young volcanic rocks at the mineral scale have shown this assumption to be invalid in many instances. Variations in initial isotope ratios can result in erroneous or imprecise ages.All I can say is...whoops. The paper essentially invalidates the ability of the rubidium-strontium radiometric dating to determine ages.
My question is this. Scientists have been using these methods for decades. Why has no one tested this before? In light of this paper, which I encourage everybody to get a copy of to read, how confident can we be in any radiometric dating.
It is obvious that the 3 assumptions have many problems and that the pre-conceived notions of age help to shape results. But time and time again, we see the cracks appearing in the old age dating as time and time again we see the old ages eroding away to younger ages. We also see that at every opportunity to actually validate a known age with these methods, the methods always fail miserably.
We also see many problems with old age notions when we get the absurd conclusions that soft tissue can last 70 million years, or finding C-14 in a diamond that is meant to be millions of years old.
In addition, many of the original ideas about how long certain things take to form also have been thrown out. I remember being told how long diamonds, fossils and Rocks take to form. But now we know these things can form in almost a geological instant.
Clearly, the age of the earth is not as open and shut as David would like to believe. Perhaps it would be wiser to place more faith in God's infallible word than in man's fallible theories (Based on naturalistic assumptions).
Finally, I wanted to comment on one last statement by David where he says
The earth is about 4.5 billion years old, not six thousand. If all the science that gives us that answer is wrong, then nothing that we have built that uses that science should function. It always amazes me that someone would use a computer, with semiconductor components designed using quantum mechanics, to write an essay claiming that the same quantum mechanics fails in radiometric dating.As my responses quite clearly show, none of the criticisms of Radiometric dating have to do with calling quantum mechanics into question. David is making the classic blunder of confusing experimental science with historical science.