Education - Leftist educators
Indoctrination in the classroom? Andrew Bolt has an informative piece in todays Australian highlighting not only the leftist bias in our educators unions, but also gives many examples of teachers deriding and marking down conservative students and pushing leftist agenda's in the classroom. Some of the examples from the article
"He has made such claims as 'supporters of the Liberal Party are uneducated' and that 'they are simply not smart enough to see that Labor is a better choice'."There are many more.
"After I had listened to the first 20 mins of blatant propaganda about the effects of the UN sanctions and the appalling way in which the US had conducted the last war it came time for another member of the staff to stand up and preach to us about our duty as Catholics to oppose the war and to stand up for those poor Iraqis.
"As I walked out of the theatre among a nervous silence and looks of guilt I noticed posters pinned to the wall encouraging students to join in anti- war marches."
One wrote yesterday: "My eldest son was . . . attending a Victorian secondary college. In a class discussion the topic was 'The Stolen Generation' and whether we should say 'sorry'.
"My son expressed the view that he wasn't sorry for something that he had not done personally -- it was not received very well by the teacher. My son was kept after class until he agreed that his views were wrong and that he had changed his mind and would say 'sorry'.
Just remember, as tax-payers we are paying for teachers to indoctrinate children with ideas we don't agree with.
Science - 50 Percent of papers are wrong
A new scientific study has determined that at least 50% of scientific papers are wrong. (This reminds me of the old joke that 50% of all statistics are wrong, and 83.57% of all statistics are made up on the spot). From the article...
Assuming that the new paper is itself correct, problems with experimental and statistical methods mean that there is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper are true.Well. After another recent article showing fraud and falsehoods are common in science, this is just another example of why we should remain skeptical about scientific pronouncements, especially when they deal with unobservable historical events.
John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece, says that small sample sizes, poor study design, researcher bias, and selective reporting and other problems combine to make most research findings false. But even large, well-designed studies are not always right, meaning that scientists and the public have to be wary of reported findings.
"We should accept that most research findings will be refuted. Some will be replicated and validated. The replication process is more important than the first discovery," Ioannidis says.
What is interesting is the comment about how important replicating a finding is. Yet most researchers do not bother with replication. There is no glory in being the first to replicate a finding, only in being the first to scientifically show something. New discoveries, not replication is where the glory is at. Consequently, replication also does not draw the big funding either.
This is why many many scientific findings never get replicated.
Then of course, when we are dealing with the past, there is no way to even observe the past event, and so replication is impossible. With the past, we can only infer from current observations based on certain untestable assumptions (these observations can be replicated, but the assumptions are almost never tested).
Evolution - Religious Intelligent Design
Intelligent Design proponents are religous?
ROB BROOK (Senior Lecturer in evolutionary biology at the University of New South Wales): I think the fact that somebody has a PhD in science, or even works in a particular area of science, in itself isn't really acceptable evidence that something is scientific.
So from the point of view of Kenyon, I don't really know what is it that's motivating him, and I don't think that we're told publicly what it is that's motivating him, but a lot of the prime people in the intelligent design movement appear to have had religious conversions of some type or another.
They all seem to be people of deep religious faith, so one has to argue, is it their religious faith that's driving the agenda, or is it their science and the scientific process? And I'd say it's the former.
Someone should mention to Rob that if people looking at science decide that life couldn't have happened without an intelligent designer, then maybe that has led them to become religious? Perhaps it is the evidence that led to the conversions, not the other way around.
This is why so many people in the ID are religious, because the evidence demands you address the issue of who designed life. The identity may not be a question that science can address, but if we can detect design, then it has implications for our lives.
Note also the unsubtle reference to excluding PhD's who believe in ID from science/being scientists. It is good to see they still aren't addressing the arguements of the ID movement. (hmmm... is this a reflection of the same sort of burying heads in the sand that some christians did by claiming that 'God put the fossil's there to test us'?)
Creation - Intelligent Design and Pasta
A flying spagetti monster apparently created the world. At least, that is the parody that some evolutionists are attempting to use to discredit the intelligent design movement.
Someone should point out to them that the intelligent design movement is not about identifying the designer, only design, and so there is no push to teach any specific religious beliefs. The whole parody fails miserably because ID is compatible with ANY religion that has an intelligent deity, even the Flying spagetti monster (FSM) one.
And these are the people who try to call themselves 'brights'??
Quick Links - Concerning News
Life Site reports that a Brazillian Priest was Fined $3000 For Calling a pro abortion Anthropologist "Pro-Abortion". And here I thought there was supposedly nothing wrong with being 'pro-abortion'?
The Media rewrites reality to give a bad spin on the US Military. I know....what a suprise. Of course, this is a great idea...contacting media sources and double checking what was said.
The recent Kelo decision in the US puts church property at risk. Part of the justification of the Kelo decision was about earning tax revenue for the state. Churches, with all their prime real estate, do not earn any tax revenue for the state. Scary stuff.
Mother thinks her 15 yr old daughter sleeping in the same bed with a sex offender is okay? She should have her motherhood license revoked! Such is the moral malaise of todays society.
A UK hospital continues to fight for the right to let a child die against their parents wishes, even though the child's health is improving and beating all the doctors expectations.
Bible - Purpose and intent
Joe Carter seems to think that the first chapter of the bible, Genesis 1, should not be read as if it talks about how long God took to create the universe. Whilst I agree with Joe on almost everything else, be it Philosophy, Intelligent Design, Morality, or Pat Robertson, I have to say that the approach he seems to be advocating smacks of eigesis (The process of pushing your own ideas into the bible, as opposed to exegesis where you let the bible push its own ideas into you). Joe quotes Roy Clouser, who says
It ignores the Bible's own central theme and purpose, and instead of trying to ascertain the literal meaning of the text (where "literal" means the intent of the author), it tries to force the text to yield truths about matters which never crossed the minds of its author(s)Joe expands saying
Clouser contends that the creation account of Genesis, like all scripture, should be understood as focally concerned with the covenant by which we stand in proper relation to God. The intention of these early chapters, which he views as a prologue to the Mosaic covenant, is to reveal a teleological order to the process of creation. Because the account is of the teleological order rather than the chronological or causal orders, the explanation is not at all the same as either a scientific explanation or a description of what an observer would have seen. “[A]ttempting to read it so as to satisfy scientific curiosity,” claims Clouser, “is a blatant distortion which obscures [the texts] religious significanceand concludes his post saying
It should be noted that Clouser is not advocating a poetic or allegorical reading of Genesis. He takes the Bible seriously as the inspired word of God. In fact, he argues that “the mistake of such views as "scientific creationism" is not that they take the text too literally but (partly) that they don't take it literally enough.”
Like Closer, I too believe that Christians do not take the Genesis account “literally enough.” I am also distressed by the way some claim that believing that the Bible is inerrant – as I do – requires accepting a specific interpretation of the creation passages. Most often the charges are thrown out by “six-day” creationists who disagree with their fellow believers who accept an “old-earth” position. But I’ve also noticed some Christian advocates of intelligent design claim that theistic evolution is incompatible with an orthodox interpretation of scripture.
While I certainly agree that there are certain theories (i.e., undirected evolution) and interpretations (e.g., Genesis is completely allegorical) that should be rejected, I believe that most other readings should be weighed and judged on extra-Biblical evidence. The Bible, as Clouser points out, was not written to be a scientific text and should not be treated as such. But because all truth is God’s truth, I believe that both of God’s “texts” – Creation and the Bible – are ultimately compatible. Just as the study of nature (through such methods as science) can aid us in interpreting special revelation (the Bible), I believe that the Bible can often provide a framework for interpreting general revelation (the created universe).
Now I want to look at the ideas here as there are MAJOR problems with it. Before I go into those problems, it is important to remember that as Christians, the bible was not just authored by men, but by God.
The problems with Clouser and Carter's approach however is that
1) They are deciding what the intent of the author was.
How are they deciding this? It seems they are using today’s ‘scientific evidence’ of supposed old age and deciding that the text obviously can’t be referring to actual time periods. How do I know this? Because the text was clearly interpreted in the past (before materialism took over science and assumed the universe was old) as talking about 7 Literal days. The only other aberration from this interpretation was when the took Greek philosophical concepts and decided God created the world in an instant.
But it is important to remember that the text itself does not tell us this intent. It is being decided by Clouser and Carter.
So how do we try and determine the intent of an author, if they don’t explicitly state it? We look at the literary style and how people of the time period would have interpreted it. The literary style of genesis is historical narrative.. Other parts of the bible clearly reinforce the idea of 6 days of creation (e.g. God created Male and Female at ‘the beginning’ Mark 10:6 , and ‘for the Lord made heaven and earth in six days’ Ex 20:11)
2) Jesus also gives us the comment that if he tells us of earthly things and we do not believe, how can we believe heavenly things - John 3:12.
Why should we ignore the bible when it speaks about earthly things? If science tells us a man cannot rise from the dead, do we reinterpret scripture because obviously it wasn’t trying to tell us that he ‘actually rose from the dead’ but was only communicating a spiritual truth? So even though the bible is not a science textbook, it clearly tells us we can trust it when it refers to earthly things.
Using the same logic, you can decide the intent and purpose of any passage, based upon your own pre-existing ideas, and so support whatever idea you want. This is exactly what Christians who are practicing homosexuals do. (Eigesis!)
The attempt to spiritualize the bible (To take it out of the field of history and worldly accuracy) has resulted in many such reinterpretations.
Doesn’t it seem somewhat convenient (and self-serving) to be able to spiritualize away any observation that could possibly contradict inerrant scripture?
3) The scriptures never tell us to elevate man’s understanding of nature to an equal or higher level of authority than the bible
Notice how Joe confesses that ‘the study of nature (through such methods as science) can aid us in interpreting special revelation’
Does this seem to indicate that he is reinterpreting what the bible says (or the authors intent) based upon current scientific knowledge, even though the original audience for the text DID NOT have that knowledge . In doing this his is placing man’s fallible interpretation of nature (and this interpretation is based on assumptions that are incompatible with Christianity), against man’s (admittedly fallible) interpretation of scripture.
The question is, do you think we should trust changing science based upon uniformitarian and materialistic assumptions that try to extrapolate back 7 or 8 orders of magnitude more than one of the most clear cut pieces of scripture in the bible.
If the author did not intend for genesis 1 to mean a literal 6 days, then why did he go to so much trouble reinforcing the point time and time again. Not only did he mention that it was the 1st, 2nd, 3rd days etc, he also mentions that there was evening and morning AND then reiterates in exodus that God created the universe in 6 days. If the author didn’t intend to convey 6 literal days, he certainly went to a lot of trouble for nothing.
Joe concludes his post with
In fulfilling God's mandates, we should ardently search for the truth and hone our interpretations to make them conform to what God has revealed. But neither "text" should be treated like an encyclopedia. Some mysteries, whether about God or his creation, may never be truly known. We must accept with humility that just because we have a question does not mean that God has revealed the answer.
Yet we should accept with humility and trust when God clearly tells us he made the universe in 6 days as opposed to pridefully leaning upon our own understanding (Pro 3:5)
War - Why do we fight?
I came accross two articles today which together remind us of the purpose, honour and valor of our troops in iraq. The first, by Michael Yon, is an eye witness report of an operation in Mosul where a well loved military leader is wounded in the line of duty. Ltc Kurilla is a hero. A hero with courage, honour and grace. He leads his men with everything he has to offer, and it is inspiring and comforting to know there are people like him left in the world. From the article
Kurilla was running when he was shot, but he didn't seem to miss a stride; he did a crazy judo roll and came up shooting.Read the whole thing, then read this satirical article by Scott Ott, where he envisages a leaked response to Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war protestor who is using her sons death in Iraq to forward her own cause.
BamBamBamBam! Bullets were hitting all around Kurilla. The young 2nd lieutenant and specialist were the only two soldiers near. Neither had real combat experience. AH had no weapon. I had a camera.
Kurilla, though dowm and unable to move, was fighting and firing, yelling at the two young soldiers to get in there; but they hesitated. BamBamBamBam!
Casey Sheehan died that freedom might triumph over bondage, hope over despair, prosperity over misery. He died restoring justice and mercy. He lived and died to help to destroy the last stubborn vestiges of the Dark Ages.Amen
To paraphrase President Lincoln, the world will little note nor long remember what you and I say here. But it can never forget what Casey Sheehan did during his brief turn on earth. If we are wise, we will take increased devotion to that cause for which he gave the last full measure of devotion.
Our brave warriors have blazed a trail. They have entrusted the completion of the task to those of us they left behind. Let's, you and I, resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.
Light to no blogging
I am away speaking at a school for the next couple of days, so there will be little to no blogging till thursday.
In the meantime, be sure to check out this great article called 'The Women of Roe vs Wade' by Mary Ann Glendon. It contains a lot of interesting insight and information into the Roe and Doe supreme court cases and is well worth reading to gain greater understanding of the abortion issue. From the article
When I have explained the extreme permissiveness of American abortion law to people, one of the most common reactions is: “That can’t be right.” I’ve found that most people—including many law professors—have a great deal of difficulty wrapping their minds around the idea that the Court would permit the intentional destruction of a healthy infant who was capable of living outside his or her mother’s body, when the mother’s health (in the ordinary meaning of that word) is not in serious danger.
Read the whole thing and remember that the more we discuss this in our culture the more likely that convenience abortion can be confined to the dust bin of history.
(HT: Stand To Reason)
Morality - All Cultures are not equal
A child rapist who beat a 14 year old girl and imprisoned her gets 1 month in prison. Why only 1 month? Well the judged decided the crime was not so bad because
The teenager had been promised to him as a wife, according to Aboriginal law, when she was four. After rumours in the community that the teenager might have had sex with her boyfriend, the man hit her with a boomerang and had sex with her.We need to start teaching our lawyes and judges logic. This is absurd and offensive. By reasoning that somehow his aboriginal culture and law absolves him of some culpability you must also say that Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot weren't so bad because it was just their 'culture'. Tell that to the 170 million dead people.
But notice also, the article doesn't condemn the arranged marriage. What is even more suprising is that until 2003, the NT allowed arranged marriages for aboriginals. From the article
The controversy comes after the Territory Government in 2003 changed the law to remove promised marriage in traditional Aboriginal law as a defence against unlawful sex offences, including sex with underage children.How dare we interfer with child rape and forced marriage? What a load of multiculturalist, relativistic clap trap. Children deserve to be protected. Rubbish such as this needs to be strongly condemned, but watch the secular humanist left squeal if people do condemn it. Their damaging ideal of multiculturalism and moral relativism is more cherished to them than human rights. Remember that next time they try and push their agenda by talking about human rights.
The laws prompted angry criticism at the time by former Northern Land Council chairman Galarrwuy Yunupingu, who accused the Territory Government of interfering in indigenous culture.
Quick Links - Media, morality and Truth
Is the media really biased? A couple of good reminders are around today to help you answer.
The national review has a quickie about a soldier in iraq commenting on their high morale "CAPTAIN SHERMAN POWELL: Well sir, I'd tell you, if I got my news from the newspapers I'd be pretty depressed as well.". Priceless.
Tim Blair has a good roundup of lack of disclosure in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age. It seems the journalists are using comments by a left-wing communist to try and bash the government. Check it out and notice how glaring the ommission really is.
Multiculturalism continues to take hits. This opinion piece in US News continues the trend of questioning its value. Hopefully more and more people will realise that all cultures are not equal and morality is not just a matter of opinion.
Speaking of morality, anyone following the Terri Schiavo or Maria Korp cases will no doubt have been exposed to the idea that death by starvation was a pleasant, peaceful experience. Life Site news has an article that clearly shows how pathetic that notion is. Apparently, a woman trying to kill herself by starvation has given up as it just got too darned unpleasant. Next time you see such a claim about how pleasant death by dehydration and starvation is, be sure to write in and correct this pathetic, self-serving lie.
Cindy Sheehan is using the death of her son to push her own political views. How hard is it to see that she has questionable morals and motives? This coverage at Newhouse News Service by James Lileks provides good background into just how self-serving her theatrics are.
Intelligent Design roundup
USA Today has 2 pieces about the Intelligent Design (ID) vs Evolution Debate. Giving equal time to each side. Guess which one talks about actual science more.
Johnathan Witt has a great response to all the hysteria that has been going on since President Bush endorsed 'teaching the controversy'. Johnathan argues the response is consistent with a scientific paradigm in crisis because it is trying to use rhetoric and force instead of science to protect itself.
Australia's education minister, Brendan Nelson, apparently has no problem with teaching ID in class, as long as the majority of parents are keen. Wow...someone talking about democratic rights. The elitist darwinist minority must be a little nervous.
Answers in Genesis has an article today about a PhD Scientist who believes in a young earth (I thought no scientists believed that? /sarcasm)speaking to science teachers.
Creation Safaris has a good article about the Anthropic Principle and how some atheists are squirming to avoid any obvious implications of ID. It is always interesting to see what lengths people will go to avoid a conclusion they don't like.
Philosophy - Is Religion the problem
Right Reason has a useful article on the ideas of Sam Harris, who believes that belief in religion is the main problem in the world. Sam, like others such as Dennis Altman in Australia, seeks to enforce his own beliefs about the nature of the world upon the rest of us. You can read an excerpt from Sam's book, The End of Faith, here. From right reason
One often hears it said that militant Muslims do not represent Islam, but have 'hijacked' it for their evil purposes. On this way of thinking, the problem is not Islam as such, but its misuse by small bands of fanatics, a misuse that is in no way dictated by the nature of Islam. Others think the problem lies deeper, in the nature of Islam itself. A truly radical thesis, however, is maintained by Sam Harris in The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (Norton, 2004). Harris argues that the problems we face are rooted in religion as such, specifically, in its core doctrines. As he puts it,
. . . while religious people are not generally mad, their core beliefs absolutely are. This is not surprising, since most religions have merely canonized a few products of ancient ignorance and derangement and passed them down to us as though they were primordial truths."
Right Reason does a good job of unpacking Sam's confused thinking. But I also wanted to comment that Sam's belief that
Like Clifford, Harris stresses the belief-action link and the fact that beliefs, though seemingly private, often have all-too-public consequences. And like Clifford, his view seems to be that ". . . it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything on insufficient evidence." This is known as evidentialism. Note that it is a normative claim belonging to what is sometimes called the ‘ethics of belief’: it is wrong to believe on insufficient evidence. As Harris puts it,
Our "freedom of belief," if it exists at all, is minimal. Is a person really free to believe a proposition for which he has no evidence? No. Evidence (whether sensory or logical) is the only thing that suggests that a given belief is really about the world in the first place.
Essentially, the belief that it is 'wrong to belief in anything on insufficient evidence' is not supported by evidence, and thus refers to itself and essentially refutes itself.
On a side note, it is only due to 'religious' beliefs that people like Sam have the opportunity to belief as he chooses. If every Christian or even remotely Christian person in the US or OZ immediately changed their religious belief to Sam's line of thinking about forcing/punishing bad beliefs, then it is quite clear than the minority of Atheists in the western world would be in for a nasty time. I.e. If Sam thinks it is okay to force his beliefs on us, even by pain of death, then if we play be his rules, he loses. Thankfully for Sam though, us 'religious' people value freedom more than those secular humanists who seek to oppress.
Other recent news also highlights this push by Secular Humanists to force their opinions on 'religious' people. Life Site news highlights the case of Planned Parenthood starting to label those Pharmacists who don't provide the abortion causing drug Ru-486 as 'Criminal'. People being fired for failing to celebrate gay pride month at the red cross, And Canadian academics calling for the government 'control' of religions, especially catholocism.
Joseph Sobran called this push by Secular Humanists to outlaw religion, 'Cultural Socialism' and makes some very worthwile comments.
Movies - The Great Raid
The Great Raid is out in the U.S. although it is not scheduled for release in Australia yet. One of my good friends is a stunt extra in this film (The film was shot in queensland, Australia) and I am looking forward to trying to spot him in the many scenes as a prominent member of the Army Rangers.
The movie seems to be getting good reviews and is a good lesson of courage and grit from world war 2. Longer comment on the film can be found here. All in all, it seems like a good film to watch. A good reminder of some of the evil practices that enemies of the free world continue to practice. Thankfully though, the Japanese have moved past these practices and are a much better country/people for it.
Update: Powerline has much more.
Life - Who gets to live
Recently, Dr James Dobson compared embryonic stem cell research as essentially equivalant with the Nazi medical researchers who experimented on live patients. He has come under a lot criticism for this comment (not to mention he is invoking godwin's law), but Steve Wagner at Stand To Reason shows quite clearly that Dobson's comments are right on the mark.
Ultimately, the abortion/embryonic stem cell debate comes down to who your define in the class of human's meriting the right to life. If you have use any definition other than being a living member of homo sapiens, then you are drawing a subjective line. There is no way to differentiate between your opinion and someone else's subjective line. It is a curiosity of the Abortion/ESC debate that it is the non-religious that are trying to use metaphysical notions of 'personhood' to decide who is valuable and the christians and conservatives who are using a simple scientific point.
So if this is case, then why do we continue to let people complain that pro-life people are simply expressing a religious point of view?
Science - Intelligent Design In The Public Eye
There has been a huge amount of talk about Intelligent Design in the news and blogs over the last week. And of course, the false labelling and twisting of words by ID opponents is rife
In Australia, the Melbourne Age reports that Campus Crusade for Christ Australia, is planning on distributing a Pro-ID DVD,Unlocking the Mystery of Life, to Australian Schools. The Age equates ID with Creation (It isn't) and a scientist they quote errornously equates ID with a god of the gaps argument from ignorance.
ID The Future, responding to complaints about not allow comments on their blog, has a guest post by an Anti-IDer. Either this is a satirical post or it seems the bloggers at ID the Future are displaying Rovian genius in allow a fanatical, somewhat unhinged opponent a forum. The post does a fantastic job of putting together so many of the raving darwinist talking points that it highlights just how lame these points are. It has to be satire.
My favorite line from this 'mad' scientist is "As for all of those doctors who doubt Darwinism, well they don't understand biology. That may seem counterintuitive, but that only proves it's true. I am only going to say this 1 million more times little children: Darwinism is the cornerstone of modern biology." Sure ...evolution is the 'cornerstone' of modern biology, but it doesn't seem necessary for doctors to think so. More, the fact that they disagree proves the point???
Read the whole thing.
Mike Gene at Telic Thoughts has a few good posts. Mike highlights the bias against hiring a pro-ID researcher in academia. Curiously, many of his questionaire respondants deny any such hiring rationale could exist and instead such thoughts are just conspiracy paranoia. Yet the other half of respondents quite clearly state that would discriminate against hiring a pro-ID person.
Mike also talks about the labelling of ID as creationists that is prevalent, as well as Michael Ruse's attempts to do the same.
William Dembski responds to a Steven Pinker article in Time, highlighting many of the articles shortcomings. Steven's article contains a very common but curious meme. That is, the necessity of scientists trying to explain , even though something for all intents and purposes looks designed, why it isn't designed. It almost implies they can detect design.
ARN is discussing the recently approved Kansas Science Standards, which advocate being able to question darwinism. Including replacing a philosophically naturalistic definition of science to a less presumptive one.
For more reading, Wittingshire also has a good roundup of ID related posts.
An Australian Abortionist has been charged with manslaughter for a negligent induced late term abortion and a Portland victim of coerced abortion has received an out of court settlement from the abortion clinic in question.
Dr R Spencer has a good article summing up problems with evolution over at tech central station.
The Biblical Pool of Siloam has been uncovered. Just another example of the secular community dismissing biblical history and then being shown to be wrong when the Bible turns out right. Creation Safaris has more on this and other recent finds of biblical note.
There is a long article/interview with Michael Ruse, evolutionist philosopher of science, which is well worth reading. Much is said of evolutionists who argue that science must be agnostic or atheistic and how that is a religious position. In commenting on this article, a commenter at Pharyngula notices with horror how the current loose interpretation of the seperation of church and state (i.e. the establishment clause that has been mangled into this wall of seperation idea) would imply that nothing could be taught in class as there are no religiously neutral facts. Of course, rather than being consistent or reworking the current interpretation of seperation of church and state, the poster seems to think that science should be exempt.
Blogger Formatting Fixed
The horrible formatting is now fixed. Blogger added in a formatting setting to disable their addition that broke my formatting. Of course, they didn't tell me this, so I have no idea how long the option has been there.....
Truth - Poverty and inequality
In the past I have talked about the definition of poverty being used and how letting those with competing ideas choose the terminology almost guarantees their success. Today on Online Opinion Peter Saunders makes the same connection with the definition of poverty that I have. As per usual, he says it a lot better than I could have...
Most commentators will tell you that “poverty” should be defined and measured relative to the living standards of specific societies. This means that “poverty” in Africa is very different from “poverty” in Australia. To be poor in Africa means you are starving: to be poor in Australia means you cannot afford to eat out at a restaurant. There is an obvious problem, however, in defining “poverty” in this way, for it swiftly becomes indistinguishable from “inequality”....This is why socialist academics and left-wing activists have universally adopted a relativistic definition of poverty, for it leads directly to the income redistribution policies they favour. Once locked into such a definition, anyone who wants to reduce poverty is obliged to sign up to a socialist political agenda.
As I said in the comments, the main difference between the 50/60's and now is that people back then knew how to do a lot of things themselves , whereas now people pay for plumbers, mechanics, meals out, clothing. We may have more money, but we have less skills due to a focus on the supposed unimportance of family life compared to a 'career'.
Love - Is it a choice
Wink, over at Parableman decided last week that love is not a choice. But, as this has been stewing in my mind, I find I cannot agree with wink. From the post
First off, love is indeed not a feeling. It is far more than feeling. However, Love must include feeling. There is no such thing as emotionless love. A love that has no affection or warmth or feeling is no love at all. Try to imagine such a love--cold, unfeeling, a love that does not like its object. That "love" is not worthy of the name. No matter how much that "love" seeks the best for its object it is not love without some level of affection.
However, that is not my main point. And Adrian's daughter may well have meant "Love is more than a feeling" as opposed to "Love is not a feeling". Perhaps she was just being a tad careless in speaking. My larger concern is with the idea that "Love is a decision", or as I have more commonly heard it "Love is a choice".
I think the real issue is not whether Love is a choice, but how we define love. And that is why I think Wink is wrong. Because he has defined love as requiring a certain feeling, then obviously this has implications for how much choice is involved in love. If at some point, you don't have those feelings, (for instance, if you you are angry at your spouse, then you don't have those feelings) do you stop loving? If you act on feelings that are not considered loving, does that make the act not loving? If you feelings change with moods and circumstance, how can you love unconditionally?
These days, we use the term love is many careless ways (as with many words). We talk of falling in love, loving football, loving thai food. But the real question to ask first is how the bible defines love.
The New Testament has 3 words for love. Agape for unconditional love, philos for brotherly love and eros for erotic love. Now if we are talking Philos or Eros, I may be more inclined to agree with Wink. Both of these concepts of love do seem to contain some sort of feelings. But when we come to Agape love, it seems to me that the bible refers to actions with a purpose, not feelings. (E.g. Greater love has no one than this, that he lays down his life for his friends, love they enemy, Love works no ill towards his neighbour). And if love is an action with a particular purpose, then I think it is simple enough to see that this sort of love IS primarily a choice.
But I also want to revisit the other types of love, because I don't think we have a complete picture of them either. Wink seems to be reducing choosing love down to a quick choice, and if it doesn't produce feelings straight away, then obviously love is not really a choice. However let me give a counter example.
Before I became a Christian, I had a wide group of friends at uni. In this group of friends there was one guy, whom I will call Fred, that I absolutely hated. It was instant aggravation whenever we were in the room together. We just didn't get on, at all. Yet when I became a Christian, I made the choice that I would 'love' Fred. That I would care about him and not be hostile or argue with him. The change wasn't immediate, but over time we actually grew to like each other (He of course was distrustful for a long time). My choice to treat him with unconditional love resulted in brotherly love appearing. So, my love was not emotionless and cold because my choice to love unconditionally grew emotion and warmth.
This, I think, is what people are referring to when they say that Love is not a feeling, it is a choice. Our choices (will) strongly influence our feelings. Just as our feelings can influence our choices and actions. The real question for each person I think is, which do you allow to have more influence? Personally, I know that my feelings are quite prone to mislead me, change frequently and come and go, yet my will can be constant. I think our choices and will are a much more reliable thing to base love on.
Now look at wink's challenge in light of these ideas
That statement is simply not true most of the time, and indeed might never be true. In my experience, I have almost never (and quite possibly never) chosen what I loved and hated, liked and disliked. Try it. Choose something that you hate--say "torture of babies"--and choose to love it. Or choose something that you love--say "Compassion"--and choose to hate it. You can't, can you?
I believe you can. It may not be instantaneous, but over time your choices can result in such a huge change. As an example, I hate the taste of coffee. To me, it tastes like disgusting pig swill. Yet I am very confident that if I chose to drink it regularly (I would have to force myself at first), that over time I would learn to appreciate and enjoy the taste. My choices would influence my feelings and tastes.
What do you think?
Truth - Twisting and revising
Too many people let their agenda set their conclusions. They twist the truth in order to try and match what they want reality to be and so do a disservice to everyone. Whether it is revising history, only looking far enough to support your case or using self-serving or inconsistent reasoning we need to take a long hard look at ourselves and others arguments and get back to seeking to find the truth, not rework the truth to match our own ideas.
Over the past few days there have been many examples of people who care more about their own agenda than the truth. Here are just a few.
The Life Training Institute points out that pro-abortionists arguing that Roe versus Wade is settled law and so shouldn't be changed is inconsistent. This is because Roe versus Wade itself changed settled law. Using the same criteria that the pro-abortionists have put forward, Roe versus Wade was wrong.
So often, the homosexual lobby and it's supporters argue that homosexuality is genetic (or these days, at least significantly genetic), yet others argue that sexuality is socially constructed. It seems it doesn't matter whether it is genetic or not, everyone just seems to want to make it okay.
George Bush has recently stated he thinks people should be exposed to the different ideas in science, when questioned as to whether Intelligent Design should be taught in schools. At the same time he made it quite clear that school curriculum is a local issue. Of course, this has sent evolutionist clergy into a frenzy where we get people woefully ignorant of history saying stupid things like this
If it were up to you Mr. President and the right wing idiotarians who are pushing this “theory” humans would still believe that the earth was the center of the universe and that stars were fixed in the sky in a series of crystal spheres. That’s what the overwhelming majority of people believed as recently as 500 years ago.Someone should tell our flustered friend that if it wasn't for committed Christians, science would never have even got started and the 'dumb' ideas that he whines about here would never have been shown to be wrong. What is even more startling is that evolutionists only want their scientific community to decide what gets taught. Even though there are many scientists, but still a small minority that disagree with evolution, or major portions of evolution, it doesn't seem to dawn on them that scientists disagree with them, quite a few of them are non-religious. If 'scientists' are the ones who decide what is taught in science, then why should only those scientists who believe in evolution get to decide? It is just a pitifully transparent attempt to keep the evolutionary indoctrination program flowing by pretending that only their scientists are really 'scientists'.
Also of note is Panda's Thumb which links to many people on the topic, referring to them as 'mostly on the informed side'. Of course, the only Pro-ID person they link, Krauze at Telic Thoughts to is hostile to President Bush's statement. Suprisingly, Krauze gets it horribly wrong when he makes a bad assumption
The brief quotations doesn’t allow us to determine Bush’s position with certainty, but since he compares the situation with the creationist legislation of the 80’s, it’s a fair interpretation that what he has in mind is to make it mandatory for teachers to teach about ID in a way that makes it appear to be of “equal standing with the theory of evolution”.Actually, if you look at the transcript, President Bush says earlier in the discussion says "Then, I said that, first of all, that decision should be made to local school districts, but I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught." So President Bush is not about making anything mandatory.
Update: Link to Bush transcript fixed. Krauze has also commented further on the issue of Bush's statements on the teaching ID in schools here. Bipod, also over at Telic Thoughts also has a couple of posts commenting on the respectabilty of the ID idea, and the rhetorical rubbish people use when trying to dismiss ID. Both of these are well worth your time
Quick Links - To think about
Chuck Colson over at Breakpoint has an thought provoking article about Truth and ideologies up. Chuck also reminds us of the best way to fix our culture
Well, how do you change a culture? You change it one person at a time. We start explaining to our neighbors why things are happening the way they are, why they are disillusioned with politics.
Life Site news has an item on debunking the oft heard complaint that the Catholic Church is responsible for the spread of AIDS in Africa due to its stance on condoms. The article details how Catholics in Africa have the lowest incidence of AIDS.
Joe Carter looks at ideological fantasies and how they keep coming around again and again. Joe reminds us even though we may win the global War on Terror that "As we destroy these powers, though, new ideologies will spring forth like the tentacles of the hydra to take their place in the hearts of men."
Clive Hamilton discusses how materialistic greed is coloring peoples perceptions of what they 'need' to survive. He comments focus, on all of the possible things, the humble barbeque. Clive also puts in a mention for the Big 4WD owners saying "They are frequently nervous about their marriages and uncomfortable about parenthood. They often lack confidence in their driving skills. Above all, they are apt to be self-centred and self-absorbed, with little interest in their neighbours and communities." which I think describes many 4WD owners quite well.
Philosophy - The advantages of religion
- Alcohol Abuse
- Highest amongst those with no or little religion 
- Approx 89% of Alcoholics had lost interest in religion during their youth 
- Highest amongst those with no or little religion 
- Drug Abuse
- Joseph Califano, then head of Columbia Uni's Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, released results of a 3 year study showing that in 80% of crimes, alcohol and drugs were implicated and then went on to say that religion was key to rehabilitating from drug or alcohol abuse [3,4]
- Harvard Professor Richard Freeman released a study showing that regular church attendance is the primary factor in preventing African-American urban youth from turning to drugs or crime 
- Faith based prison programs have also reduced recidivism (repeat offenses) from 20% to 8% 
- Depression and Stress
- Studies have found that high levels of religious commitment correlate with lower levels of depression and stress 
- A Gallup survey has respondents with strong religious commitment twice as likely to describe themselves as "very happy" 
- People who do not attend church are four times more likely to commit suicide than frequent church attenders. Lack of church attendence is the strongest correlation with suicide rates 
- Family Stability
- Studies have found a strong inverse correlation between church attendance and divorce. One such study found that church attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability [2,8]
- Marital and Sexual Satisfaction
- Church attenders are more likely to say they would marry the same spouse again and church attendance predicts marital satisfaction better than any other single variable 
- The 1994 Sex in America survey found that very religious women enjoy a higher level of sexual satisfaction in their marriage than non-religious women 
- Physical health
- Church goers have lower blood pressure, less complications in birth, better chances for survival after heart attacks and heart surgey and longer life 
Looking at principles of living and family, the Christian religion also seems to have better results
- Teen remaining virgins don't get STD's, are more likely to be in educated, two parent homes and are less likely to use drugs (Those using drugs were responsible for the very small proportion who got any sort of STD) 
- It seems we are also made for marriage. A recent study also shows that singleness is a major factor in early death. Marriage failure and divorce also significantly increase the risk of early death
- Unmarried/cohabitating families are also five times more likely to fall apart, and a responsible for a disproportionately large section of children in affected by their parents seperation
- Even those cohabitating couples who do get married are more likely to divorve than those who don't cohabitate before marriage, as well as having less marital satisfaction and greater incidence of infidelity and domsestic abuse 
This is just a small sampling of a huge number of possible statistics. I could spend weeks compiling a huge list, but the result is the same. Christianity seems to work better.
We need to remember however, that ultimately, being a committed Christian does not guarantee any or all of these good outcomes, but statistically, committed Christians appear to be living more in tune with the reality of human nature and the world than the non-religious. I would suggest this is strong evidence that Christianity is a more accurate representation of reality than the secular humanist worldview.
(1) D.B. Larson and W.P Wilson, "Religious Life of Alcoholics," Southern Medical Journal 73, No. 6 (June 1980): 723-27
(2) David B. and Susan S. Larson, The forgotten factor in physical and mental health: what does the research Show? (Rockville, Md.: National Institute for Healthcare Research, 1992),64-78,110
(3) Joseph A. Califano Jr., Behin ars: Substance Abuse and America's Prison Population (New York: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 1998),27)
(4) Joseph A. Califano Jr., (Speech given at the National Press Club, Washinton D.C., januart 8,1998)
(5) Richard R. Freeman and Harry J. Holzer, eds., The Black Youth Employment Crisis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986),353-76
(6) B.R. Johnson, D.B. Larson and T.C. Pitts, "Religious Programs, Institutional Adjustment, and Recidivism among Former Inmates in prison Fellowship Programs," Justice Quarterly 14, no. 1 (March 1997): 145-66
(7) George Gallup r., "Religion in America," Public Perspective (October/November 1995).
(8) Howard M. Bahr and Bruce A. Chadwick, "Religion and Family in Middletown, USA," Journal of Marriage and the Family 47 (May 1985): 407-14
(9) Robert T. Michael, et al., Sex in America: A Definitive Survey (New York: Little, Brown & Co., 1994), 127
(10) Carolyn Tucker Halpern et al., "Implications of Racial and Gender Differences in Patterns of Adolescent Risk Behavior for HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases," Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 36 [November-December 2004]
(11) Carlos Iribarren et al., "Causes and demographic, medical, lifestyle and psychosocial predictors of premature mortality: the CARDIA study," Social Science & Medicine 60 :
(12) DeMaris, A., & Rao, V. (1992). Premarital cohabitation and subsequent marital stability in the United States: A reassessment. Journal of Marriage & the Family, 54(1), 178–190.
Philosophy - Correspondence and Truth
I generally adhere to the correspondence theory of truth. That is essentially:- a statement is true if it corresponds to reality.
When it comes to differing worldviews, I think much can be said for the truth status of a worldview if people living consistently with that worldviews beliefs have a more fulfilling and contented life. That is, the closer a worldview comes to the truth (i.e. getting correct the questions about why we live and how we should live), the more likely it is that those who live consistently with that worldview will lead a 'better' life.
Also, if a worldview does not correspond well reality, then not only will its adherents have worse lives, but they will also find themselves unable to live consistently with that worldview, much in the same way as a person who sincerely believes he will not fall if he steps off a cliff will have trouble acting consistently with that belief. Reality gets in the way of such beliefs.
Sometime over the next couple of days, I want to look at some of the statistics and studies that have been done in order to evaluate which worldviews seem to help people live a better, more fulfilling life.