Grey Thoughts
The Palestinian State
The recent election of Hamas to the Palestinian Authority should be a wakeup call to the left. Here we have a democratically elected party whose aim is to destroy Israel and has had years of proving just how important that aim is to them. The Palestinian people obviously agreed with this aim. So now we have a 'state' essentially at war with Israel, not just a small terrorist group. Israel could quite simply respond with a massive attack and I am not sure I would fault them for it.

The left however, seems to continue in their grand delusion of the plight of the Palestinian people. The UK's guardian shows this clearly in a couple of articles. The first, where Gerald Kaufman tells us that Hamas election victory is all Ariel Sharon's fault (Shades of everything being Bush's fault I guess....The left only play one tune). Note how this article ignores the current Israeli's governments attempts at moving towards a two state solution.

The second article is even more bewildering. Here Jonathan Steele tells us that
Hamas's triumph in Wednesday's Palestinian elections is the best news from the Middle East for a long time. The poll was a more impressive display of democracy than any other in the region, outstripping last year's votes in Lebanon and Iraq both in turnout and the range of views that candidates represented.
The left reveals it's true colours. As long as a violent terrorist organisation is out to destroy Israel, it's election is obviously the 'best news'. Even more insanely, the author goes on to tell us that
Wednesday's election was remarkable also in owing nothing to Washington's (selective) efforts to promote democracy in the Arab world. Instead, it was further proof that civil society in Palestine is more vibrant than anywhere else in the region
Obviously a society that wants to wipe Israel off the map is 'civil'.

Some people seem to think that a society voting in a violent terrorist organisation thats stated goal is to destroy its neighbour is 'progress'. Just remember this next time someone on the left calls themselves a 'progressive'.
Science Journals and Manipulated Photos
Reader Ko has emailed me a New York Times Article detailing how digital photo's submitted to science journals are manipulated 25% of the time. Shades of high tech Haeckel's I guess.

This isn't really much of a suprise as the objectivity and moral reputation of scientists has been greatly overblown in the last 50 years. Hopefully people will become more critical in their approach to scientific findings rather than simply accepting it on faith.
Quick Links
I'm back, but hunting for a house to buy, so my team is somewhat limited. There are some interesting posts and articles out there, so here are a selection that appealed to me.

Michael Yon has relocated and has a great article up about the guts and bravado of a US citizen he knows who infilrated and helped the FBI to neuter a militant group (No, not the DNC) who was plotting revolution in the US. Amazing stuff.

Lifesite has a barrage of prolife news, including being threatened by a conservative politician for handing out prolife how to vote sheets, George W Bush's March for Life address, a number of US states considering almost completely banning abortion (This is on the move in Oz too....more on that another time), a UK judge denies parents the right to know their daughter is having an abortion (If it is just a medical procedure, why isn't held to the same standard as every other medical procedure?), and new research indicating women who have had abortions are much more likely to take part in substance abuse.

Richard Dawkins is out peddling his faith again. This time on a TV show calling religion (especially christianity) the 'Root of all Evil'. Dawkins of course, does it in a manner guaranteed to discredit himself.

Macht has a good list of pro-life organisations designed to refute the notion that por-life means conservative christian. Atheists, Feminists, Gays, and libertarians all have groups against abortion.

People are astounded that boys are doing worse than girls in schools. Of course, when you change schooling away from the traditional methods gained through thousands of years of experience at teaching (mostly boys) with new secular humanist and post-modern rubbish, it shouldn't be a suprise that schooling suffers.
Moral Relativism and Multiculturalism
Okay. So I haven't left yet. I found this article today about a report for the federal Justice Department in Canada recommending polygamy be allowed. Of course, Christians have been saying for years that there is a logical slippery slope in allowing gay marriage, and this seems to vindicate those statements. What should be noted is many of the comments in the report appeal directly to multiculturalism and moral relativism. For instance
Criminalization does not address the harms associated with valid foreign polygamous marriages and plural unions, in particular the harms to women
Did you get that? Valid foreign polygamous marriages. Obviously the report's creators have found there is no basis for objective moral truth and so have no way to claim that foreign polygamous marriages are wrong. That moral relativism. They must feel it is intolerant to force their own views of what marriage should be on others.
The report's authors also appeal directly to slippery slope logic
In light of the fact that we have a fairly permissive society . . . why are we singling out that particular form of behaviour for criminalization?
Yep. There it is. "We allow all these other behaviours, so why should polygamy be any different?"

I'll leave you with the final two short paragraphs from the article and let you work out who was right and who was wrong.
But the [report] project was also intended to provide the Liberal government with ammunition to help defend its same-sex marriage bill last spring. Opponents argued that the bill, now law, was a slippery slope that would open the door to polygamy and even bestiality.

Another report for the project, also led by two Queen's University professors, dismisses the slippery-slope argument, saying that allowing same-sex marriages promotes equality while polygamous marriages are generally harmful to women's interests and would therefore promote inequality.

On Summit Conference
I will be away for the week on the Summit conference in Canberra. Blogging will be light to non-existent.
The Days of Creation
David Heddle over at He Lives has asked the question about where Hosea 6:1-2 breaks the oft mentioned Young Earth Creationist (YEC) claim that every place in the bible outside of genesis 1-2 that uses the hebrew word for day 'yom' with an ordinal number has it refering to a literal 24-hour period. As a Young Earth Creationist, I reckon I should respond.

Hosea 6:1-2 is sort of an exception, but I think it is more due to a berevity of speech. The Hosea passage is an example of a poetic parellelism (x/x+1) (see amos 1:3,6,9 and Proverbs 6:16, 30:15,18 and job 5:19 for other examples). So it has an additional poetic context that seems to differentiate it from every other mention of yom with an ordinal number in the bible.

As such, I still feel it is very strong claim to say that because everywhere that yom is used in the same context (410 times) as in genesis 1-2 (i.e. with morning/evening and ordinal numbers), it refers to a literal day, that we can conclude that genesis 1-2 references to yom in that context refer to literal days.

David also has a most worrying statement, depending on his meaning
Even if Ham and other YECs are correct, that all instances of yom with an ordinal number outside of Genesis 1 refer to 24-hour days, it does not prove that the use of yom with ordinal numbers in Genesis 1 must refer to 24-hour days. Perhaps it is just more likely to have occasion to use first day, second day, etc. than first age, second age. The use in Genesis is then a rarely needed construction rather than a violation of ancient Hebrew grammar. It is simply more likely that we should discuss a sequence of days rather than ages—indeed Genesis 1 may be the only place where, even potentially, an ordinal sequence of ages appears. I can’t think of another in the Old Testament.
This amounts to special pleading. Instead of arguing from what we know about hebrew grammar, David is arguing from the idea that we do not have exhaustive knowledge of hebrew grammar, so it 'might' be possible that they refer to sequential series of ages. This same line of reasoning could also be used to justify ANY interpretation of ANY verse in the bible, because we cannot prove it has to mean anything in particular.

Of course, all the talk of long-ages ignores the important question of how the original audience would have read the document. Without our current scientific theories or pagan notions of instantaneous creation being brought into the interpretation, the clear meaning would indeed be literal days.

In the comments, David mentions a church fathers beliefs and Augustine.

David comments that
As for the views of the experts, the writings of the early church fathers show almost none (with the possible exception of Ambrose) held to a 24-hour view. Mostly for two reasons:

1) Some believed the sun, coming on day four, brought "time" along with it--that is there was no such thing as time before there was a way to reckon it, so at least the for the first three days it is meaningless to speak of duration.

2) To reconcile that Adam did not die within 24 hours after he sinned, but God said he would surely die, they decided that this was a case of a day being 1000 years to God (2 Pet. 3:. Thus some viewed creation as spanning 6000 years.
This is just wrong. For a full account of the early church fathers beliefs, check out Answers in Genesis' review of Genesis, Creation and Early Man by Father Seraphim Rose which details the beliefs about genesis of the early church fathers. From this review we are told that
Rose helpfully explains and documents that the ‘Holy Fathers’ interpreted Genesis (and other Scriptures) both literally and symbolically. That is, they believed the text was literal history, but that it also had a mystical meaning related to the spiritual life of the individual believer or the whole church. It is for this reason that superficial readers of these ancient writings can find passages, which appear to support their non-literal, old-earth views. Among the details of Genesis 1–11 that the ‘Holy Fathers’ (even the most mystical ones) clearly took literally are these: length of days (24-hours), order of Creation events (e. g. earth and plants before the Sun), instantaneous creation of living things with maturity (e. g. Adam being created as an adult not an infant, plants with fruit on the branches, etc.),
and continues on saying
They were not dogmatic about the precise age of the earth since the Greek text of the OT (Septuagint (LXX)—preferred by Orthodox theologians) and Hebrew (Masoretic) text disagreed (which didn‘t bother the ‘Fathers’),6 but they placed it approximately at 5500 BC . However, it is important to note, the ‘Holy Fathers’ were equally explicit that in the literal history of Genesis (as elsewhere in the Bible) the anthropomorphic language describing God was not literal (pp. 87, 198, 247, 277, 404).
So David's misunderstanding of the early church fathers beliefs is understandable based on an incomplete investigation into the fathers ideas of scripture.

Regarding Augustine, he felt that the creation of the universe and life was instantaneous. But Augustine was not a hebrew scholar but was a member of the Alexandrian school which fancifully allegorized almost all Scripture, hardly a sound hermeneutic. (As a side note, Augustine was influenced by neo-platonic philosophy, just as many christian's today are influenced by scientific theory about the unobservable past)

Clearly, the most sound interpretation of genesis 1-2 would be to conclude that the creation days were literal 24 hour periods, and this interpretation was indeed supported by the early church fathers.
The Corrupt Queensland Premier
Premier Peter Beattie has been through more scandals in the last decade than I have fingers and toes. Yet for some reason, people continue to think of him as a good premier. The latest few issues were the electricity shortfalls due to negligence and Queensland Health's doctor death debacle and it's associated problems.

Now it seems that Premier Beattie wants to allow politicians to lie to parlimentary committee's without being prosecuted, unlike the rest of us who would be up on criminal charges.

The case in point was former health minister Gordon Nuttall,
who was found by a police and CMC investigation to have lied to a Budget Estimates hearing last year.

Such an action is punishable by imprisonment under the criminal code, but Mr Nuttall's government colleagues used their numbers in Parliament to impose a political sanction against him rather than a criminal one.
I guess premier Beattie is all for not letting his colleagues being held accountable to the public for their criminal conduct.

And now it seems that Acting Premier Anna Bligh has indicated that the Government will move to protect politicians from prosecution for lying to committees. Talk about removing accountability from politicians. Considering the Beattie governments pathetic track record, all queenslanders should be very concerned.
The Rhetoric of Science
Paul Newell, from The Galilaen Library has a great interview with Thomas Lessl, an Associate Professor in the Department of Speech Communication at the University of Georgia. The interview covers the use of rhetoric in science, and has many interesting and insightful comments. Of particular interest is what Thomas says about Creation Science and Intelligent Design.
My early work on the scientific response to creationism drew its inspiration from research on the sociology of deviance (especially that of Kai Erickson and Lester Kurtz), which seemed to suggest that institutions have a certain attraction to deviant insiders or heretics. This is because heretics provide institutions with counterpoints against which they can articulate their official positions. While it is often difficult for institutions to say what they believe in any definitive sense (they may not really know, or there may be disagreement among elites), they can create consensus around what they reject - heresy. This is one of the reasons groups gain solidarity in having a common enemy. But having heretical enemies is particularly advantageous. This comes from the fact that heretics (as opposed to pure infidels) are more similar to their orthodox counterparts and thus capable of providing this useful contrastive benchmark for their right-thinking foes.

Deviance studies suggest that heresy hunts are likely to occur at moments of institutional insecurity. You might not get this impression from listening to anti-creationist rhetoric, except to the extent that it focuses so largely not on the scientific case for evolution as on secondary issues of method, metaphysics and motive. It is more often concerned with showing why creationism is not science than on showing why Darwinism is. This draws attentions away from difficulties that may plague evolutionary theory.

The difficulties that make creationism an attractive enemy for science are not necessarily intellectual ones - though they could be. To use Taylor's metaphor again, I'm of the opinion that public discourses are best regarded as belonging to some larger "ecology" of meaning. Science, when it goes public, may be concerned about advancing scientific truth, but it is also going to be concerned with a larger set of issues relating to patronage, authority, its place in the academy, etc. Were science merely a technical arena of inquiry, creationism wouldn't be a threat. The fact that a majority of Americans remain sceptical about evolution and the fact that some of these folks claim that science supports the religious doctrine of creation doesn't directly interfere with scientists' ability to pursue the naturalistic program they prefer. But creationism does threaten to disrupt the more fragile linkages between science and public culture that make patronage possible. Creationism is an important threat, but it is an indirect one. Scientists understand that public attitudes about science matter, because they understand that the flow of patronage that keeps research going is likely to be affected by public dispositions toward their work. Obviously if all Americans embraced the evolutionary paradigm with the same enthusiasm that Darwinists have for it, it would enjoy the kind of finding that supports research on cancer and birth defects.
(Emphasis mine) Thomas is suggesting that the darwinian lobby's response to creation science has a lot to do with the lobby's insecurity in it's position. Yet clearly, if evolution was the foundation of all modern biology this wouldn't be a problem. Perhaps their insecurity stems from real short-comings in the theory.

Thomas goes on to talk about the Intelligent Design (ID) movement and how it is often labelled as creation science in a cheap tuxedo.
One consistent pattern in the scientific mainstream's response to ID has been to try to identify it with scientific creationism, to paint it with the same brush so to speak. Such allegations are still frequently made - that ID is merely "creationism dressed up in a cheap tuxedo". This is what movement scholars call a strategy of "evasion", an institutional effort to slow the momentum of a movement by pretending that it doesn't exist - or in this case by pretending that it is made up of merely radical fundamentalists of no account. This strategy is still being plied in the mass media, for public audiences that remain largely ignorant about the differences between these two movements. But in many of the more academic settings where ID is being debated this stopped working long ago. On the inside there has been a more direct and sustained response to intelligent design. Scientific creationism was largely ignored by scientists - except when it tried to legislate for equal time in various states. But ID is not being ignored. As movements evolve the strategies of evasion initially plied by the institutions they challenge typically give way to strategies of confrontation and coercion. We see a confrontation approach in the whole cottage industry that has grown up within the scientific culture among writers like Kenneth Miller and Robert Pennock for whom the refutation of ID has become a full time job. Incidents of coercion are more localized but pervasive nonetheless.
I think Thomas errs in his differentiation of the responses to creation science and ID. There have been many volumes written by scientists in both sides of the debate for both creation science and ID. Creation Science was never ignored. The biggest difference was that ID is not religiously based and so previous court victories were seemingly useless in preventing the loss of authority the darwinists feared. ID's quick uptake by many groups has also increased the darwinists fears and so a wider and more violent response to the heretical ID views was needed.

The more they kick and scream, the more scared they are.
Not So Global Warming
Could it be that conservative, "anti-science" people are right? Scientist John Christy, University of Alabama's Director of Earth System Science Center has reviewed temperature data and made some startling comments. Apparently, the Arctic has warmed more than seven times faster than the southern two-thirds of the earth.
It just doesn't look like global warming is very global. The carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is distributed pretty evenly around the globe and not concentrated in the Arctic, so it doesn't look like we can blame greenhouse gases for the overwhelming bulk of the Northern Hemisphere warming over the past 27 years. The most likely suspect for that is a natural climate change or cycle that we didn't expect or just don't understand.

Doom and gloom from the greenies has been stock and trade for decades. Global Warming is just one of the many fear mongering lines. Another one, also quite popular is the idea that the planet is over populated.

Ultimately, they should all be taken with a grain of salt. The first question to ask is whether it an underlying ideology and possibly untested assumptions that is driving the issue? It certainly seems so with the global warming doomsayers.
Demographics - Article of the Day
Mark Steyn is at his regular best with this article on the changing demographics in the world and what it truly means. A couple of highlights
One obstacle to doing that is that, in the typical election campaign in your advanced industrial democracy, the political platforms of at least one party in the United States and pretty much all parties in the rest of the West are largely about what one would call the secondary impulses of society--government health care, government day care (which Canada's thinking of introducing), government paternity leave (which Britain's just introduced). We've prioritized the secondary impulse over the primary ones: national defense, family, faith and, most basic of all, reproductive activity--"Go forth and multiply," because if you don't you won't be able to afford all those secondary-impulse issues, like cradle-to-grave welfare.

What's the better bet? A globalization that exports cheeseburgers and pop songs or a globalization that exports the fiercest aspects of its culture? When it comes to forecasting the future, the birthrate is the nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in 2006, it's hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2026 (or 2033, or 2037, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger Management and Queer Studies degrees). And the hard data on babies around the Western world is that they're running out a lot faster than the oil is. "Replacement" fertility rate--i.e., the number you need for merely a stable population, not getting any bigger, not getting any smaller--is 2.1 babies per woman. Some countries are well above that: the global fertility leader, Somalia, is 6.91, Niger 6.83, Afghanistan 6.78, Yemen 6.75. Notice what those nations have in common?

Scroll way down to the bottom of the Hot One Hundred top breeders and you'll eventually find the United States, hovering just at replacement rate with 2.07 births per woman. Ireland is 1.87, New Zealand 1.79, Australia 1.76. But Canada's fertility rate is down to 1.5, well below replacement rate; Germany and Austria are at 1.3, the brink of the death spiral; Russia and Italy are at 1.2; Spain 1.1, about half replacement rate. That's to say, Spain's population is halving every generation. By 2050, Italy's population will have fallen by 22%, Bulgaria's by 36%, Estonia's by 52%. In America, demographic trends suggest that the blue states ought to apply for honorary membership of the EU: In the 2004 election, John Kerry won the 16 with the lowest birthrates; George W. Bush took 25 of the 26 states with the highest. By 2050, there will be 100 million fewer Europeans, 100 million more Americans--and mostly red-state Americans.

The declining population is the thing that will end western civilization. I don't know if it is too late for Australia, but Europe is in serious problems. Time to go out, and beging a traditional, and large family. Otherwise, the future we are protecting will not be ours.
Intelligent Design and String Theory
Sick for a day and already 2 bloggers beat me to the punch. Creation Safaris and David Heddle at He Lives both discuss a recent nature paper called 'Our Universe: Outrageous fortune' by Geoff Brumfiel.

David makes the very point I was thinking of when I read a quote of Nobel Prize winning theorist David Gross "People in string theory are very frustrated, as am I, by our inability to be more predictive after all these years". String theory is commonly accepted by science, not lampooned in the media,generally given at least a modicum of respect, as well as being allowed to publish in journals and receive research funding. Yet even after all these years, it can't be predictive and relies on random chance and untestable theories of multiple universes.

Yet intelligent design is derided at every turn. Could it be that it isn't the characteristics of the theories that are the problem, but the inescapable conclusions that are of real concern. It seems that people would prefer to avoid the notion that there is an omniscient God. So much for objective investigation.

Make sure you check out David's comments.
Materialist Bigotry at its Finest
Sam Harris displays the true colors of most atheists in this unbalanced article entitled 'Science Must Destroy Religion'. Throughout the article you get the standard, false secular humanist propaganda and horrible fallacies. Just a few to highlight Sam's apparent lack of rationality (And yet he applauds rationality in his post?)
Most people believe that the Creator of the universe wrote (or dictated) one of their books. Unfortunately, there are many books that pretend to divine authorship, and each makes incompatible claims about how we all must live.
Actually, the list of books that claim divine authorship is quite small. Perhaps 2 or 3 if you want to seperate the old and new testaments.
Despite the ecumenical efforts of many well-intentioned people, these irreconcilable religious commitments still inspire an appalling amount of human conflict.
If the religious committments inspire an appalling amount of human conflict, and this is the basis for getting rid of it, then what should we say about atheism, which has been responsible for killing more people in the twentieth century than religion has in the preceding 2000 years. Sam doesn't seem to address this point. No prizes for guessing why.

The difference between science and religion is the difference between a genuine openness to fruits of human inquiry in the 21st century, and a premature closure to such inquiry as a matter of principle.
The irony of this statement is amazing. Considering Sam is discounting any possible historical evidence for non-materialistic phenomena, he has already closed his mind to the possibility of his materialism being wrong 'as a matter of principle'.

Ultimately, Sam's article is a study in how to beg the question. He assumes that materialism is true, and so anything that denies the truth of his beliefs is derided as 'irrational'.

His final paragraph however, reveals his own irrationality
I am hopeful that the necessary transformation in our thinking will come about as our scientific understanding of ourselves matures. When we find reliable ways to make human beings more loving, less fearful, and genuinely enraptured by the fact of our appearance in the cosmos, we will have no need for divisive religious myths. Only then will the practice of raising our children to believe that they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu be broadly recognized as the ludicrous obscenity that it is. And only then will we stand a chance of healing the deepest and most dangerous fractures in our world.
If the universe is all there is, then there is no reason to value love over fear, and no reason to think that religious ideas are obscene. Sam has taken religious theistic morality as a basis for his entire critique of religion. If Sam was consistent with his own beliefs, then he would never have bothered to write this article. Too bad he is so irrational...
New Years Links
Sorry for the lack of posts, but I have had a very busy Christmas Holidays. Here are a few interesting links that are well worth the time to follow.

Parableman discusses and defends the cosmological argument in his normal, logical manner. Although I think he errs heavily on the side of caution in his conclusion that we can merely decide that something MUST be self-existant.

Boundless has some great insights into Joy Davidman Lewis, CS Lewis' wife. I have to admit to knowing next to nothing about her, and so I was surprised to find that she was an atheist and communist for a large chunk of her life. Read the whole thing, it is a moving tale of God's love and of the Lewis' love.

If you have been reading that the Judge in the Dover Trial was a conservative and republican staunchly religious, then you have been misinformed (or lied to).

Prosthesis has a good post on blind faith (in science or religion) being a bad thing. Also check out his childhood experience of dowsing. (Dowsing is water divination using sticks). It may not be a good thing to do, but it is certainly something that materialists can't account for.

The Pope speaks out against "terrorism, nihilism and fanatic fundamentalism" and of course the paper can't help but remove the 'fanatic' part in the headline to implicate any 'fundamentalist'.

Granville Sewell has a great article on evolution and the second law of thermodynamics that you should read. Also check out the appendix. Sewell is a professor of Mathematics and highlights how the second law makes evolution a next to impossible no show, even with billions of years in the equation.

Tasmania has a second case of it's judges allowing murderers to walk the street. In this case, a woman attempted to kill her mother who had dementia, and helped kill her father who had terminal cancer. She was given 2 1/2 years as a wholly suspended sentence. Clearly, the courts have decided that it really is okay to try and murder someone if they are already dying (aren't we all?) or they have mental problems. The move towards quality of life continues, driven by activist judges.

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