Happy Halloween! Sort of!

2009 update: Not only is it a great excuse to eat candy, but we get to turn back the clocks 1 hour tonight (either that or get to church an hour early tomorrow).  Doubly sweet!  Better yet, we moved this year so I can try my stupid joke on new kids.  And it is Reformation Day and the weather is beautiful!  This is shaping up to be the 4th best day of the year (after Easter, Christmas and birthday).

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I like giving out Halloween candy (or Reformation Day candy, for those who oppose any costume/treat activities on October 31), but when our door bell rings 100 times then the dogs go nuts 100 times.  Trend analysis is not their strong suit.  One good thing is that this conversation gets repeated often:

Little kid:  Look at the doggies! 

Me:  Actually, they are cats dressed up as dogs.  Great costumes, eh?

Little kid:  Really?

The reactions are pretty consistent.  Little kids: laugh or look confused, adolescents: laughter, teens: (sometimes reluctant) grins.  Try it if you have pets, free of charge.

Fortunately the production only lasts a couple hours.  I just sit around playing my guitar in between visits.

Variety bags of candy always seem to have something objectionable in them.  It is a conspiracy to dump their bad candy by packaging it with good stuff like Butterfingers.  This year one bag had Almond Joys and another had chocolate Laffy Taffy.  I’ll have to sneak those into their bags or my house may get egged.

My wife bought the movie Alien for the girls to watch.  I heard a great comment on that last year.  Most horror films (I’m not a fan of the genre, BTW) leave you saying to the characters, “Get out of the house, you idiot!”  But with Alien that wasn’t an option, so it made it scarier.

Here’s a good perspective on Halloween and Christians by one of the most conservative blogs I read.

The dogs.  Or possibly the cats.

Some oldies.

For your parody pleasure, this is a great send up of The Shining by The Simpsons.

How many translations did your Bible go through?

bible5.gifOne. 

Really. Just one time from the original language to the language and version of your Bible.  The original writings were copied many times, but the Bible you hold was probably only translated once.

Many people – including some Christians – are quick to say that the Bible has been translated and changed so many times over the centuries that we don’t know what the original writings said.  For example, I saw a video clip where Deepak Chopra (alleged religious expert) claims that the King James was the 13th iteration of the Bible.

But contrary to that myth, the books of the Bible have only been translated once and the copying process was very robust, dependable and verifiable.   

For example, Paul wrote in Greek, and we have Greek manuscripts to make translations from.  That is one translation. 

Conventional wisdom: Tranlations from one language to another to another . . .

Greek original ==> Latin translation ==> other translations ==> King James version ==> New International Version, etc. 

What actually happened

Greek original ==> copies of Greek original ==> Latin version

Greek original ==> copies of Greek original ==> King James version

Greek original ==> copies of Greek original ==> New International Version

Etc.

So the real issue is how accurate and reliable the copying process was.  The science of textual criticism shows that the copies of the New Testament are 99.5% accurate and that the differences are minor and have no impact on Christian theology. Even atheist textual critics will concede that.

Regarding the Old Testament, here are some notes from the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry:

The OT does not have as many supporting manuscripts as the NT but it is, nevertheless, remarkably reliable.

  1. The Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew OT done around 250 B.C., attests to the reliability and consistency of the OT when it is compared to existing Hebrew manuscripts.
  2. The Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 also verify the reliability of the OT manuscripts.
  3. The Dead Sea Scrolls were ancient documents that were hidden in a cave in Israel about 2000 years ago. The scrolls contained many OT books, one of them being Isaiah.
    1. Before the Dead Sea scrolls, the earliest existing manuscript of the OT was dated around 900 A.D. called the Masoretic Text. The Scrolls contained OT documents 1000 years earlier. A comparison between the manuscripts revealed an incredible accuracy of transmission through copying, so much so that critics were silenced.

In summary, the Bible you hold has only been translated once, and the copying process was very robust, dependable and verifiable. 

Also see Is The New Testament Reliable? and Has the Bible been rewritten so many times that we can’t trust it anymore?

What are the odds of that?

cards

This is by no means a definitive argument against evolution, but I offer it to put the “time, chance and random mutation” theory in perspective. 

Everyone knows that micro-evolution occurs, such as dog breeding and bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics.  But macro-evolutionists believe that with enough time an amazingly complex single cell of unknown origin could make lots and lots of small changes, develop reproductive capacities and eventually become humans, elephants, caterpillar/butterflies, chameleons and so much more.

Let’s consider something very simple.  Imagine that you shuffle a deck of cards.  If you shuffled it one time per second, how often would all the cards go back into their original order? (Ace of spades, King of spades, etc.)  The math is simply 1/52 (the odds of the Ace of spades being on top) times 1/51 times 1/50, etc. I left out the Jokers to make it easier.

Guess how many years it takes?  I’m not kidding: 2,557,653,956,460,680,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

If everyone on the planet shuffles the cards instead of just one person, it only takes 393,485,224,070,873,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.  That is still 87,441,160,904,638,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times the age of the earth, and even more times the period that life has existed here. You are much more likely to win the Lottery seven times in a row.  We even have a term to describe the practical probability of that happening: Zero.

I make it so easy — you didn’t even have to create the cards or the people to shuffle them.  But when you’re done, all you have is a particular card sequence.  You haven’t brought anything to life.  You haven’t created new cards.  You haven’t developed different sexes of cards that can make new cards that evolve to a computerized version of Monopoly.  Most importantly, you just created a pattern, not information.  DNA is full of information, not just patterns.

The odds of all that would be enormously higher.  This is a very simple view of the requirements for structural changes:

  • Many genes must change at once.
  • A change to any one gene affects many functions.
  • The probability of a genetic mutation being beneficial is very low.   Harmful or insignificant mutations are far more likely.
  • Significant changes require many simultaneous beneficial mutations.

When you extend the odds of each of these things it becomes quite fantastical that, as some evolutionists claim, a mammal would go from exclusively consuming fresh water to salt water and more.

And remember, even if macro-evolution proved to be true it still wouldn’t disprove God.  Evolutionary theory doesn’t explain where the universe came from or even where life begins.  Its proponents just assume that there is no God and work overtime trying to prop up their massive non sequitur and stifling the speech of those who dare to disagree.  Their theory is so transparently false and ridiculous that even with their crushing of academic freedoms, their monopolies in public schools and the complicity of the media, most people still don’t believe it.  It reminds me of a quote by J. Budziszewski:

Though it always comes as a surprise to intellectuals, there are some forms of stupidity that you must be highly intelligent and educated to commit. 

Meditate on the figures above the next time someone tells you that the universe came into being with no creator and that chemicals came to life and organized themselves to all we see today.

Macro-evolutionists must think the Lottery is a sure thing.

Also see the Wintery Knight’s post on this, which addresses how the formation of a single protein is vastly more complicated than this example.

A typical protein isn’t made of 52 parts, it’s made of around 200, and there are 80 possible amino acids, not just 26! And in the case of proteins,the vast majority of the possible sequences that you can make won’t have any biological function at all! (And there are many more problems besides, such as chirality, cross reactions, and bonding type). Even if you filled the whole universe with reactants and reacted it all at Planck time, you still wouldn’t be likely to get even one protein!

And this link is a keeper — Could life have emerged spontaneously on earth?

Confronting false teachings with truth and love

Oh no. He’s refuting my sermon points before I even speak.  Jesus, there’s either going to be radical transformation today, or I’m going to be chased to my carI shouldn’t have worn flip-flops.

Read this for a great example of how and why to preach the truth in love.   Someone from the congregation in Pretoria, South Africa, gave a prosperity gospel message that contradicted what James was going to preach about.  Ignoring it would have been easy.

Blessings to him for confronting the false prosperity Gospel in such a productive way.  What he did was right even if the first speaker hadn’t been convicted of his errors. 

Vigilance of sound doctrine is vital. Look how many false teachings in the church Paul had to correct just 20 years after the resurrection.  It is even more important today, as false teachers have had 2,000 years of work to build on for their latest un-biblical ideas. 

Some people mock the importance of sound doctrine, but it couldn’t be more Biblical.  Even the Sermon on the Mount was an extended-play correction of false teachings, even though most theological liberals don’t realize it.

Roundup

People with ‘no religion’ gain on major denominations — But as with most polls, you have to dig to determine what is really going on.  This does not mean that the % claiming to be atheists has increased:

The percentage of atheist Nones — who say there’s no such thing as God — hasn’t budged in years. “It’s not as though dozens of people at the Methodist Church read (atheist Richard) Dawkins and suddenly decided God doesn’t exist,” says Kosmin.

“There are so many misconceptions about who the Nones are. They’re not New Age searchers or spiritual or even hardened atheists,” says Kosmin.

“They’re a stew of agnostics, deists and rationalists. They sound more like Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine. Their very interesting enlightenment approach is like the Founding Fathers’ kind: Skeptical about organized religion and clerics while still holding to an idea of God.”

Hat tip: Stand to Reason

Coming soon to a country near you: Woman gets police visit after writing letter protesting gay pride parade

After witnessing a gay pride march, committed Christian Pauline Howe wrote to the council to complain that the event had been allowed to go ahead.

But instead of a simple acknowledgement, she received a letter warning her she might be guilty of a hate crime and that the matter had been passed to police.

Playing the What if Bush had done it? game that highlights media inconsistencies is easy.  But it isn’t just the normal media bias, it is the pressure to prop up their creation.

. . . the press has a story line that they have to defend.  If Obama gets exposed as a flop, and worse as a typical Chicago pol, then it makes their failure to properly vet Obama during the primaries that much more clear.  In a sense, they created Obama, and his collapse would be their collapse as well.

Victory: Abortion/Obama graphics displayed at liberal bastion Berkeley — very effective displays shown at a wildly Liberal campus.  Hopefully it wakes some people up to what abortion really does.  Caution: Very graphic.

As if we needed more proof, President Obama lied about abortion not being in the health care “plan.”  Turns out he was playing a Clintonian game where he was referring to a plan that didn’t exist, rather than the real plan.  And why is is that I should trust him?  Hat tip: Verum Serum

You have got to be kidding me: Democrats Vote To Give ACORN Regulatory Authority Over Financial Institutions ?!?!?!

These are the same organizations that pressured banks to make subprime mortgage loans and thus bear a major responsibility for the collapse of the housing market.

In light of recent evidence linking ACORN to possible criminal activity, Democrats took an unprecedented step today to give ACORN a potential role alongside bank regulators in overseeing financial institutions.  This is contrary to recent actions taken by the Senate and House to block federal funds to ACORN.

A recent inquiry into bank funding of ACORN activities by three House Committees found that institutions that would be regulated by the CFPA have provided millions of dollars to the organization in the form of direct donations, lines of credit, cash, and other assets over the last 15 years.

Roundup


Germany leads us in stem cell solutions — not because of embryonic stem cell research and cloning, but because they banned those completely and focused on adult stem cells — the research methodology that is ethical and successful.  I realize that not destroying unborn human beings for medical research gets in the way of pro-abortion rhetoric, but can’t we just spend our money on techniques that, you know, work?

60 Minutes may be in the doghouse with Fox soon if they keep pointing out unpleasent facts about how much fraud there is in the current government run health programs.  Hey, they can’t manage what they’ve got, so let’s give them five times as much!  

Stan has a well written piece on the oft-debated question of whether Christians can lose their salvation.

Scott Klusendorf, formerly of Stand To Reason, is a first class pro-life apologist.  Go check out his site, even if just for the main page where he demonstrates how there is just one issue on which the whole abortion debate turns: What is the unborn?

Librarians banning ex-gay books — I’m married to a librarian who does not appreciate the inconsistency of library organizations who pretend to be all about access to information while banning books that don’t prop up their worldview.  The American Library Assocation had an issue dedicated to pro-gay cause a year or so ago. 

Visit most public school libraries and you’ll find an array of books that address the subject of homosexuality. Many include sexually explicit content, and some even include graphic images. But if you’re looking for a book that refers to the possibility that homosexuality can be “reversed,” a Chicago-based group says your best bet is the banned books list.

Welcome to the world of fake tolerance.  Ironically, librarians are usually quite proud about offering formerly banned books.  Free speech is now all about saying whatever you like, as long as you agree with Liberal dogma.

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Materialistic philosophy: A heaping mound of FAIL

. . . nobody will ever die from thinking God created the universe or having some doubts about the proposition that hydrogen is a substance which, if you leave it alone for 13.5 billion years, will turn into Angelina Jolie.

Mark Shea (Hat tip: regular commenter LCB)

By materialistic philosophy I don’t mean the “acquire all the things you can” way of life.  I mean the worldview that everything is material and that nothing is spiritual.  It is also called evolutionary, Darwinian, macro-evolutionary, naturalistic and other terms.  Think of it as the nothingness-to-molecules-to-man / elephant / fish / caterpillar-butterfly / etc. worldview (or just meditate on the opening quote).

This worldview has six fatal flaws:

1. It isn’t true.  The facts do not support it — the Cambrian explosion, the rarity of beneficial mutations, irreducible complexity, time required, and so much more.  Twisted facts and unethical suppression of tough questions and the truth prop up the worldview for now, but it is crumbling.

2. Even if evolution could happen the way materialists describe it, it doesn’t prove that it did happen that way.  Just because something is possible doesn’t mean it happened.  Darwinists commit this error daily.

3. Even if it did happen that way, it doesn’t prove that there isn’t a God.  Remember, macro-evolutionary theory  just tries to explain how life evolved.  Despite major efforts it can’t explain how chemicals came to life, let alone how the chemicals came into being in the first place.

This is the top error that people like Richard Dawkins make.  They are quick to assume that support for evolution disproves God’s existence.  Their transparent lack of logic just makes them poster boys for Romans 1.  They aren’t dispassionate scientists.  They are on a mission to ignore God and science is just their tool of choice.

Romans 1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

4. Even if it did happen that way and there is no God, then it is the cause of all religious beliefs, including my belief that the resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation for the facts agreed to by nearly all historians.  Therefore, pride about not being religious is illogical for materialists .

If all we are is a series of chemical reactions, then life is truly deterministic and I have no choice in any of my decisions.  My chemical makeup and circumstances fated me to go from atheism to Christianity.

5. Even if it did happen that way and there is no God, then there is zero grounding for morality.  Those are just chemical reactions making you think there is such a thing.  Of course, macro-evolutionists rarely go three sentences without making a moral claim, but that inconsistency doesn’t seem to trouble them.

6. Courtesy of commenter Bubba, I offer another fatal flaw:

[Materialistic naturalism] also cannot account for human rationality, which the supposedly rational atheists affirm even if they deny the reality of the moral law.

If human thoughts are merely the result of physical and chemical processes, then they can be no more rational than the by-products of other biological organs — the bile of the liver, or the carbon dioxide from the lungs.

And if human rationality is illusory, then we cannot draw any trustworthy conclusions about the world around us.

Materialism is ultimately an argument that all arguments are invalid, and the philosophy is therefore self-defeating.

Other than that, materialistic philosophy is a great idea.

To recap, materialist / macro-evolutionary / Darwinist philosophy fails because:

  1. It is not supported by the evidence.
  2. Even if it was possible it doesn’t mean it happened.
  3. Even if it did happen it doesn’t disprove God’s existence.
  4. Even if it did happen and there is no God then it “created” religious beliefs.
  5. Even if it did happen and there is no God it doesn’t ground morality.
  6. It can’t account for human rationality.  It selects for survival, not truth.

P.S. Here are some definitions from the good folks at Dictionary.com:

Materialism:  The philosophical theory that regards matter and its motions as constituting the universe, and all phenomena, including those of mind, as due to material agencies.

Naturalism:  The view of the world that takes account only of natural elements and forces, excluding the supernatural or spiritual.  The belief that all phenomena are covered by laws of science and that all teleological explanations are therefore without value.