Showing posts from October, 2006

Embryonic Stem Cells - The False Dilemma

Of course, the big news about stem cells comes from Missouri where they are considering an amendment to the state constitution "ensuring that all federally allowed stem cell research can occur in Missouri." While the headlines are being co-opted by the claims that Rush Limbaugh attacked Michael J. Fox (if Mr. Fox expected to be immune from attacks when taking sides in a political fight, he is delusional), the real battle is about whether embryonic stem cell research should be allowed in the state to the same extent that it is allowed federally.

This discussion always needs to be kept in context: no one of which I am aware is opposed to stem cell research generally. If a disease can be obtained from research on stem cells, then that's okay by virtually everyone. But, here's the issue: researching on embryonic stem cells takes a human life. Embryonic stem cells come from one place: embryos. To get the stem cells from the embryos kills the embryo. The embryo is undoubte…

The Seed Analogy in 1 Corinthians 15

I and others have argued that Paul's use of a seed as an analogy for the resurrection is evidence that Paul believed that the body that was buried was in contiuity to some extent with the body that was resurrected. Alan Segal, guest blogging at The Busybody, has argued just the opposite. While conceding that Paul elsewhere indicates his belief in continuity between the buried and resurrected bodies, Segal argues that the seed analogy indicates a lack of continuity:

The metaphor of the grain of wheat suggests two bodies because the ancient world thought that the seed disappeared and was reborn. Other parts of the passage suggest a single body transformed.
When asked for his source for the assertion about ancient beliefs on the seed, Segal could not remember any. Although I cannot refute what is not presented, the sources of which I am aware indicate it is unlikely that everyone in the ancient world knew that the seed "disappeared," thus rendering the resurrection of a de…

The Evil Amalekites

A few days ago, I posted a reply to a challenge regarding how people who believe in inerrancy can reconcile that belief with certain events described in the Bible under the title Focusing on the Trees While Ignoring the Forest." My response has received a great deal of attention, and I have been reading many of the comments from the sidelines but declining to do much commenting due to time constraints. Now, a week later, I have fixed my attention on four different responses that I received and want to use some specific examples to clarify what I meant. Thus, this is the first of what I expect to be four posts that are responsive to some of these comments, challenges or objections to the viewpoint I expressed in my essay A Reasonable Understanding of the Destruction of the Amalekites.

One enterprising skeptic carrying the moniker Freezbee challenged my statement that the Amalekites were understood to be evil and wicked people. He posted a lengthy challenge to that statement by quo…

GodBlog Conference 2006 is Underway

The 2006 GodBlog Conference is underway at Biola University courtesy of the Torrey Honors Institute. The list of speakers at both the main sessions and the breakout sessions is impressive, including Dr. John Mark Reynolds, author of Middlebrow, Mark D. Roberts, author of, La Shawn Barber, author of La Shawn Barber's Corner and Dr. Andrew Jackson, author of SmartChristian. A speaker who I'd love to hear is Melinda Penner, the primary author of the STR Blog.

While I live too far away to attend, I encourage all Christians who have the time and ability to travel to Biola University in Southern California do so to hear from this assortment of speakers who should be very entertaining and informative.

The Flawed Metaphor of the Wall of Separation

Daniel L. Dreisbach, Professor of Justice, Law and Society at American University, has written a pretty good article for Imprimus Magazine entitled "Origins and Dangers of the 'Wall of Separation' Between Church and State." The article makes the case that the "Wall of Separation" between Church and State as penned by Jefferson and mutated by the Supreme Court as a metaphor for the Consitutional Establishment Clause language is flawed. Of course, this is nothing new since many books have been written on this subject, including Robert L. Cord's book, The Separation of Church and State, which did an excellent job of analyzing the flaw in this approach nearly 30 years ago.

In his article, Prof. Dreisbach writes:

First, Jefferson’s trope emphasizes separation between church and state?unlike the First Amendment, which speaks in terms of the non-establishment and free exercise of religion. (Although these terms are often conflated today, in the lexicon of 1802,…

Can God be a Causal Explanation of the Universe?

The CADRE is please to announce a new article being put up on the CADRE Answering Skeptics page authored by Chad McIntosh, (author of the very fine Doxazo Theos blog) entitled "Can God be a Causal Explanation of the Universe?"

Austin Cline of Atheism.about has briefly suggests God can’t be used as a causal explanation of the universe based on causes and physical laws. Cline quotes two atheists, Robin Le Poidevin and B.C. Johnson, who have offered similar arguments to that effect. In this article, Chad McIntosh contends that Cline is mistaken (as is often the case) and criticizes the arguments to which he alludes. I conclude that far from making their case, they actually provide good reasons to believe God exists. Consider the following quote from the article:

If the universe can't be explained by the necessity of it's own nature (e.g. by the natural laws thereof) then it must have an external explanation. What would such an external explanation look like? Remembering …

Focusing on the Trees while Ignoring the Forest

The uncredible Hallq has issued a challenge to the CADRE to respond to one of his arguments. Ordinarily, I don’t respond to challenges for a couple of reasons. First, the people who throw out such challenges are ordinarily not particularly interested in considering the validity of the response. They throw out the challenge expecting that it cannot be answered, and then proceed to find any response inadequate if it is anything other than indisputable (which usually isn’t the case) -- in most cases the reply to the response consists of a derisive attack on the responder.

Second, my own feeling is that this is not a debate blog. We are largely an opinion and information blog. We allow comments to what we write and will respond if we think it necessary to clarify or defend a particular point of view, but generally we don’t carry on with endless discussion about what’s said. We do this in part because we think that the answers that we provide are either good or bad on their own merits, and…

The Smallest Genome and Irreducible Complexity

The latest issue of World Science has an interesting article related to the search for the origins of life. It's entitled "Tiny genome may be melting away, study suggests" and discusses the discovery of the very small -- miniscule by expected comparisons, really -- bacterium known as car­sonella rud­dii. Now, car­sonella rud­dii is a bacterium that lives inside an Ar­i­zo­na in­sect, Pa­chyp­syl­la ve­nus­ta, a.k.a. the Hackberry Petiole Gall Psyllid (pictured at right), which lives on tree sap.

Okay, what surprises the scientist is that little car­sonella rud­dii is much, much smaller than the expected 400,000 letters of genetic code necessary for life. In fact, it is less than half of that size. According to the article, it has "182 func­tion­al genes. These cor­re­spond to 160,000 'let­ters' of ge­net­ic code; pre­vi­ous es­ti­mates had placed the min­i­mal ge­nome at about 400,000." Wow! Even the scientists are amazed:

"It’s un­be­liev­a­ble, re…

A Mann of His Word--The Revised Paperback Edition of 1491

A while back I wrote about a book that I enjoyed entitled 1491, by Charles C. Mann. The subtitle provides an apt description: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. As I wrote in my first post on the subject, my only issue with 1491 was a remark Mann made about mathematical development in Europe as compared to the Mayans:

It didn't appear in Europe until the twelfth century. Even then
European governments and the Vatican resisted zero--a something that stood for nothing--as foreign and un-Christian.
After doing some initial research, I voiced skepticism that the Catholic Church opposed the use of zero in any systemic way. Bede joined in and did some more advanced research and also voiced his skepticism. I then heard from Mr. Mann, himself, who appreciated our efforts and looked into the issue himself. He then informed Bede and me that he would correct the passage in the revised paperback edition. True to his word, the revised edition states:

It didn't appear in Eu…

Hitler and Nietzsche

BK recently wrote a good article rebutting the commonly asserted (at least on the Internet) belief that Hitler was a Christian. Some time ago I wrote an essay on where Hitler actually drew most of his philosophical beliefs, and I offer it here today. I hope that others find it useful in this discussion.“They may all be called heroes, inasmuch as they derived their purposes and their vocation, not from the calm regular course of things, sanctioned by the existing order; but from a concealed found, from that inner spirit, still hidden beneath the surface, which impinges on the outer worlds as a shell and bursts it into pieces.(Such were Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon.)They were practical, political men.But at the same time they were thinking men, who had an insight into the requirements of the time-what was ripe for development.This was the very truth for their age, for their world… It was theirs to know this nascent principle, the necessary, directly sequent step in progress, which their …

Hitler Wasn't A Christian

Not long ago, I was enjoying some music and conversation on AuralMoon, when one of the listeners posted a complaint about the Pope's comments about Islam from a few weeks ago. After a few moments of conversation, this listener (joined by another) made a common claim that I hear almost exclusively on the Internet: Hitler was a Christian.

Of course, the reason that this claim is heard rarely outside the Internet is because it simply isn't true. The people who have been led to believe this nonsense are people who read the articles written by people like John Patrick Michael Murphy who publish such nonsense on the SecularWeb. Fortunately, Marvin Olasky has recently written a column which once again puts such arguments in their proper place -- the trash bin. In "Were Nazis Christians? Are Christians fascists?", he points out that another new book destroys these arguments.

That's why it's good, in this year of popular culture paranoia, to have a scholarly book that …