Archives for the month of: January, 2012

Because it is worth reading, and he has good links:

Burt Rutan’s comprehensive report on Global Warming science fraud:

Version 4.3 dated January, 2011

via Burt Rutan on Climate Change.

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The only thing the world has a genuine shortage of is honest and competent people in gov’t. Almost all of our problems are due to political interference with market forces.

via The Simon-Erlich Wager at Seven Billion People | Watts Up With That?.

It is amazing how easy it is to twist the truth without actually saying anything false but still leading to absolutely dishonest and deceitful conclusions from the average person how forgets to think through every thought carefully.

Watts Up With That?

Guest post by David Middleton

19 January 2012

Obama clean energy ad airing in Va.

A new ad from President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign that touts his energy and ethics record began airing in Virginia this week even as Republican blasted him over a decision to reject a permit for a proposed oil pipeline from Canada.

The 30-second spot (see below) makes a case that Obama’s policies have promoted clean energy jobs and reduced the nation’s dependence on foreign oil while enduring unfounded attacks funded by wealthy energy industry officials.

[…]

LINK

This campaign ad is nothing but a collection of falsehoods.

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Listening to the President’s campaign speech tonight was utterly discouraging, depressing!

How can he stand up there propose increased spending proposal after increased spending proposal, topped off by increases in government, regulation, and programs, while he claims we need to reduce regulations, and expect anyone to believe him? It is snake oil.

Why did the President admit to being a cheat? Didn’t he say he was not paying his fair share? Doesn’t that mean he is not dealing fairly with me? Doesn’t that mean he is cheating me? Doesn’t that mean he is a cheat? Is someone threatening to break his fingers if he tries to write the check for the extra that he thinks would be his fair share?

http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Old-Testament-R-Harrison/dp/1565633997/
It has been a while, but I thought of it, and I thought to post a reference. The reviews should inform the interested. I found it quite worth the effort, and expect some effort. Not light reading.

Tornadoes are nothing new. They happen every year, always have, and always will.

Talking About the Weather

Seth Fletcher is a talented writer. Consider this description of the day a tornado leveled his hometown of Joplin, Missouri:

Just after 5 p.m., two storm chasers driving toward the western edge of Joplin, Missouri, spotted a translucent set of tendrils reaching down from the storm’s low black thunderhead. Almost as quickly as they formed, the tendrils disappeared. And then things took a turn. A dark blob half a mile wide congealed and dropped from the clouds.

The description proceeds from there, as the horrifying events of May 22, 2011, are painfully well captured. As the twister’s progress through Joplin is laid out, piece by piece, it becomes clear that Fletcher is an individual who loves the English language and knows how to use it. What about climatology, though? And what about logic? Does he love these just as much?

Let’s take climatology first. How rare are tornadoes in the…

View original post 427 more words

The theory of evolution is not quite correct, but it is in the right vicinity, and it is a tool. It is a good and useful tool that accomplishes many things in many fields of research and applied science.

Let us consider an adjustable wrench. To begin with, an adjustable wrench is a compromise tool. It isn’t generally the best bet, but let’s assume that precision box-end wrenches are not an option, and good pliers are not available either.

This wrench is old, rusty, loose, nicked, slightly bent, and poorly toleranced, but guess what, it will turn nuts of various sizes. It will get the job done. The worker doesn’t care about all the particulars. He just wants the nuts tightened or loosened. It is irrelevant to him that it has so many flaws. It works.

Now, in comes Mr. Fundamentalist. He says, “You cannot use that wrench! God said, “Thou shalt only use a screw driver.” The workman doesn’t care. He just grabs the wrench and tightens the assembly.

Mr. Fundamentalist cannot believe that this workman can be so cavalier and pay so little heed to the command of God. So, Mr. Fundamentalist enlists the help of others. He finds preachers who agree with him, who will preach fire and brimstone down on the workman. Mr. Fundamentalist enlists scientists who will claim that the second law of thermal dynamics insists that metals cannot solidify into strong wrenches that can turn nuts. The workman doesn’t care; he just keeps using the wrench to turn nuts.

So, Mr. Fundamentalist gets more insistent, and the workman stops and asks to see chapter and verse. When Mr. Fundamentalist gets out his bible and starts showing the workman, the workman realizes that the bible doesn’t say that at all. When he says so, Mr. Fundamentalist starts explaining how this means this, and that means that, and all in all, the bottom line is that if he keeps using the wrench, he will go to hell.

“Well,” says the workman, “I don’t know much, but I trust God as best as I can, and I’ll get to heaven or hell a lot faster if I quit using the wrench, since my boss will fire me, and I will starve to death with no job to buy food.”

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forget their use.

Galileo Galilei

I learned a lot on the listserv CHRISTIA.
http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/christia/

http://www.talkorigins.org/
I’ve forgotten how to search these things and find my old posts, but the archives still exist.

I have been asked about my beliefs. I have been asked how as a Christian I can accept evolution as a basis premise. First, I can accept no assertion that makes God a lair. God is truth, and the scriptures state clearly that God cannot lie. It is simply a logical impossibility that nature could tell us something different than God tells us. (Reference Hugh Ross and Reasons.org for more information close to my own views regarding this premise.)

To make the story personal, my church is concerned about me. Okay. No problem. I am plenty open about this. I have nothing to hide, and I’ll be 100% honest to the best of my ability.

The members and leaders with the responsibility in such matters gave me some materials to review. We will meet and discuss soon. Interestingly, I was given a statement of my denomination’s official position on creation, and a full book explaining our 16 foundational doctrines. Okay, but I was raised in this denomination. I know our doctrines. I have no problem with them. I have no problem with our recently adopted position on creation. I agree with them. The doctrines are mostly orthodox, but modified by Pentecostalism of the 20th century. I don’t think any Christian who takes his faith seriously will have problems with these, though I expect members of most other denominations will not accept them all at the personal level. Anyway, the fact that I was given these particular documents is baffling, given that I knew of no concerns about my doctrinal beliefs. After all, I am a voting member of our local congregation, and that requires I sign a statement affirming my convictions and beliefs consistent with the doctrines of the denomination. I take my signature seriously. I always accept putting my name on something means I stand behind it. (As with what I write here.)

My own bewilderment was compounded by the consternation of my wife. She tends to take such things rather personally. Not that I don’t take this situation personally; I do. However, I do keep some distance to it and try to keep things in perspective. I take seriously our scriptural mandate to think the best of every person and to live at peace with all with as much as is in us. I also believe that the Holy Spirit lives in me, so I figure there should be few exceptions were I cannot live peaceably.

Leaving that point of confusion, I’ll move to the third bit of information given me for review. It is a DVD video of Lee Strobel’s The Case for a Creator. Well, I wasn’t excited about that. The title alone is a bit off-putting for a person who has spent a full lifetime openly expressing belief and confidence in The Creator. Further, I have nearly forty years of experience regularly fighting young-earth-creationists (yes, I consider it a fight—if my opponent will lie, it can be characterized no other way), and Lee Strobel is a name that rings familiar. Of course, it turns out he is a big ID proponent.

To deal directly with the video presentation, I will say that the arguments in the video were lacking. While much of what he says I agree with, I find very little of it compelling for anyone but the already-convinced. It is a presentation that preaches to the choir. Further, there are significant statements in the presentation that are just wrong. Some are simply indefensible, other are provably wrong.

My biggest point of contention with any statement in the presentation, and I assume it is the reason I was asked to watch the video, is that he says that Darwinian style evolution, or evolution that assumes no deliberate and regular divine intervention, is TOTALLY INCOMPATIBLE WITH CHRISTIAN BELIEFS. Hmm. I ain’t buying it. I wonder if he realizes that his statement amounts to damning me to hell?

I’ll digress a few lines into something near to my heart, one of my most fundamental and core beliefs. To me, it is useful, informative, and emotionally satisfying to speak of God in the possessive and from personal perspective. That is, I like to say, and I appreciate it when others say, “My God is thus and so.” Or, “That is not the God I know!” However, I have noticed that the terminology can be off-putting and offensive to some. I’m not sure why. I assume it is because it is an emotional argument, and as such is hard to argue with. Well, yes, but we are emotional beings, and logic is not the only factor with which we must deal when we are stating our case.

Indulge me to add that persuasion is an illusion. Everyman will believe whatever he wants for whatever reasons he deems significant and appropriate. (And keep in mind, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair)

That sets a high standard for anyone honestly intending to persuade. It also implies that beliefs are illusory. These are my intentions in making the assertion. I have found that only pain persuades. (Not torture. That isn’t persuasion. Yielding to torture is a survival response.) Breaking your nose does tend to convince you that you cannot really walk through walls. Most individuals eventually learn the hard way no matter what the subject.

Now, back to this core belief of mine: God is omnipotent and omniscient. J.B. Phillips wrote Your God is Too Small, and I agree with him. My God is too small, and my God is unimaginably bigger than yours if you don’t understand how He can grant me true freewill while He still upholds all in all and works all things together for His will and good. To be specific, I am referring to Calvinism. I am Arminian, and if God is actually as the Calvinists have explained to me, then I am not elect, and I will burn in hell for all eternity. So be it. I believe hell will be preferable to living with the Calvinists’ god. I hope I don’t sound sacrilegious. I’m simply being honest. My God is not like that. My God truly grants me choice and free will. I can accept or reject Him, and it is not because he, in his infinite wisdom, determined the best outcome for me. If I choose to live like the devil, I will go to hell. If I choose to live for God, He will welcome me into His kingdom. The scriptures on predestination are universal. Accordingly, they cannot be interpreted to be be absolute. The point of the author (St. Paul) in referring to God’s predetermined will, is that it is universal, it is for all to be saved, it is for none to parish. Yet simple universalism has always been considered full heresy, and rightly so. My point is that I do not discount the scriptures regarding divine will and predestination, I simply see them in context as leaving the final say up to me (and everyman).

Now, regarding evolution, I run into the same thing. The scriptures that some people, Strobel for example, like to tell me mean that I cannot accept evolution, seem to me to mean nothing of the sort given any context from the scriptures and church history. Frankly, a large majority of Christians accept most everything they learn from science, with little or no consternation due to their faith and understanding of scripture. Those who adamantly reject evolution are a small minority. As a climate science skeptic, I reject the notion that majority rules, but one must look at motives for a first approximation of why the majority or minority might exist as it is. In climate science, the majority seems to actually be a minority that is well funded and backed by the highest political ranks. It seems the claims of climate alarmism fit the agenda of leftist, progressives, and environmentalists (who worship mother-earth rather than the Creator), and these type of people dominate the mainstream media, thus giving the appearance of majority and consensus where neither is actually obtained. Further, as Upton Sinclair points out, their salary depends on it. They need to keep the alarm bell sounding to keep the grant coffers open and the news stories catchy. It is a complex, self-feeding system that will collapse eventually, but in the meantime, they manage to maintain the facade of majority and consensus while the rest of us foot the bill.

Looking to the reject-evolution crowd, the only reasonable explanation for why they reject evolution is fear. They fear God is not big enough to defend Himself from “godless science”. To that I simply answer that He better be. He isn’t omnipotent if he cannot defend himself.

To me it simply boils down to the details of how, rather than the real and important question of if.

In beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

I think that is clear. There are, in fact, no people who believe otherwise, the evangelical atheists like Richard Dawkins not withstanding. (And any argument related will have to await another time.)

God created. He has a purpose, and he applied complete reason. The reason is why we can reason and know about it at all.

Is how God created important?

Perhaps, and I expect the answer is yes, but it is not of life-and-death importance.

Strobel and others of the ID persuasion, and those who fall into the category that Hugh Ross heads, like to point out all the things that to us seem remarkable and seem to indicate that there must have been a creator, an intentional designer, who proceeded with forethought and reason. Yes, it is amazing, but it is not compelling. Just as St. Paul and others before and after have admonished us, the heavens declare His glory and we are without excuse. However, the key is that he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him.

Given this blatant statement of scripture, and remembering that not only will the just live by faith, but without faith it is impossible to please God, one cannot assert that simply studying creation (science) can lead one to understanding of the creator that will lead to acceptance of Him as fact, as obvious, as proven. It is impossible. God cannot be proven; God must be believed in by faith! The Bible says so! Besides, without faith, we loose free will. I have already pointed out how important that is to me. I’ll debate that if challenged, but without free will, there is no point. We humans are not even comparable to angels if we have no mastery over our own destiny. Without freewill, we are diminished to less than dust. We are sad creatures simply following the path of least resistance, no more than a river flowing through its channel, no more than a stone falling to earth. I refuse to accept the notion that the creator wanted no more of me than that. As well as I can tell, there is no practical difference between a freewill-less Calvinism and a simplistic atheism. Both leave human existence as meaningless. Both obviate the need for reason at all.

So, again, the facts that we live on a water planet particularly suited to life as we know it, with a moon of the right mass and orbital characteristics to ensure ions of stability, where we orbit a felicitous star in a particularly quiescent region of our galaxy, cannot be used to conclude that God had to have done it. Such a conclusion assumes facts not in evidence, and the fact is that some of those facts are at least somewhat far fetched given all we know of the properties of our universe so far.

To illustrate my point, let us consider the converse. Specifically, the universe is remarkably hostile to life. Is it not reasonable to suppose that God is malicious, especially considering the extreme violence we see all around us from the microscopic level, to the eat-or-be-eaten animal level, and all the way up to the smashing galaxies astronomical level? Is it really “only natural” to assume from the majesty of the creation that the creator must be magnanimous? If you wish to make such an argument, I would like to see it.

The anticreationist type person need only point out that earth is a planet covered mostly in water, and this planet is supposed to have been created for man—who has no gills! Given that the water on the planet is so important to life on this planet, why did God withhold gills from us, his crown of creation?

See, that is why I cannot hold to these naturalistic arguments as evidence of God. For every positive argument one can make that points to God, there is a converse negative argument that points to no-god.

Howard J. Van Till expresses views that match my own well. A god-of-the-gaps proved unsatisfactory in my preteens. Even a God who took a week out of his busy schedule to reset everything and make our first parents especially, specifically, and without precedent just would not do for me either.

All of these hybrids of faith and science explaining the details of how such and such may have happened keep coming up wanting. As soon as someone says a bombardier beetle is impossible to explain through intermediate steps, some bright and determined bug-scientist shows how it can happen, and shows the reasonably close species with the approximately correct intermediate systems and configuration. Likewise the bacterial flagella. As remarkable as these examples are, they are not hard to suppose as simply natural. They are easy to explain without asserting that God intervened and did a miracle to make them so unique and remarkable. Neither can be well tested, and we must know that we cannot test God, not now, not ever! I am aware of no examples of Stonehenge analogized in nature where one simply cannot make reasonable explanations. The stones of Stonehenge are natural, but they cannot be formed as they are by nature. The flagella can have been formed by unguided nature.

To me, the bottom line is faith. I believe in God, or I do not. There is a creator God, or there is not. There is a purpose and plan, or there is not. There is a reason, or there is not! And by definition, if there is no reason, then there is no reason! Is that clear? If there is no reason, there is no reason to worry about it. If there is no reason, there is no reason for anything!

Finally, isn’t the purpose and plan of the Creator more important than how? Isn’t how a moot point when we know the who? Why? That is the important question. Why are we here? Why did God make us? I cannot say that I have ever heard a fully satisfactory answer. I suspect that is because it is bigger than we can comprehend. Still, I am sure that, “for this purpose was the Son of God manifest, to destroy the works of the devil!” (I John 3:8b)

I am far from putting in text all that is within me regarding this matter. Still, it is finished for now. I will perhaps write more soon.

Some references:

http://network.asa3.org/

http://network.asa3.org/?page=ASAAbout#Who%20we%20are

Some statements from Howard J. Van Till:

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/methods-hvt.htm

Authored by Van Till:

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1995/PSCF6-95VanTill.html

ID v Evolutionary Creation:

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/id-mdhvt.htm

A view I like, but he disagrees (somewhat) with Van Till:

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2001/PSCF9-01Ruest.html

Old-earth views:

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/oecte.htm

Views of Creation:

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/creation.htm#i

Origins Evidence:

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/evidence.htm#i

Origins Education:

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/education.htm#i

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/christian2.htm#i

A book I intend to read:

http://www.amazon.com/Perspectives-Evolving-Creation-Keith-Miller/dp/0802805124/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326848488&sr=8-1

http://www-personal.ksu.edu/~kbmill/

From Lubos: http://motls.blogspot.com/2012/01/will-co2-save-us-from-next-ice-age.html

[…]

Now, in the last 24 hours, BBC, The Telegraph, and many others wrote about a new paper by Luke Skinner et al. in Nature Geosciences. The paper says that CO2 will save us from the coming new ice age which is great.

It’s refreshing to see that CO2 is sometimes getting good press. You really don’t want the temperatures to drop by 10 °C. On the other hand, all the other “details” that are being written about these questions are preposterous beyond imagination.

It’s being said that the warm era between two ice ages is usually around 11,000 years #whatever is the exact definition of the boundaries# but we have already enjoyed over 11,500 years since the last ice age so a new ice age is overdue. Well, those things are not periodic so it is nonsensical to expect that it’s always the same 11,000 years. And I still don’t have the full Milankovič-Roe projection of the future ice ages so I can’t say whether the expectation is right. If they only use some analogy with the moment 780,000 years ago but ignore Roe’s model, then I will consider the claim untrustworthy.

Dynamics of CO2 concentration after fossil fuels

However, what’s even more absurd is the role that is being attributed to CO2. CO2 will only be modified due to the human activity for a few centuries which is much shorter than the time needed for the ice age cycles to collect several Celsius degrees – that requires thousands or tens of thousands of years.

In particular, we will probably run out of fossil fuels in less than 300 years. I am being generous here; my expectation would be lower. At the peak, there will be some concentration which may be anywhere between 600 and 2000 ppm. I don’t know how far the mankind will get. I am just sure that once the concentration will reach 1000 ppm, people will already be realizing very well that there’s nothing wrong about such elevated concentrations and they will be able to understand that 2000 ppm isn’t a problem, either.

[…]
via The Reference Frame: Will CO2 save us from next ice age?.

Lubos makes a point I try to make regularly. Humans have always burned everything they could, and we always will. We will run out of most things to burn within a few centuries. I think 300 years is a reasonable expectation. I think we have that much coal and oil, and maybe that much gas, but we are very likely to see usage go down within a few decades, and we might not ever actually run out of oil, we just won’t use much eventually. It will not be worth extracting. I don’t think we know what the alternatives will be, but I you can rest assured it will NOT be our food. We won’t stay that dumb for long. It hurts too much. I suspect alternatives to liquid fuels will not be bio-based. I expect we will always you some liquid fuels; they are just too useful. I’m certain most of our future energy will come from regular nuclear fission. We might figure out some method of fusion, but don’t expect your grandchildren to live to see it commercialized.

Anyway, the important point is that there is too little fossil fuel for it to matter in the long run. 500 years from now, only academic types will even remember what fossil fuels were. By then, no one will even remember that carbon dioxide and the burning were controversial.

There’s a reason the modern age moved on from windmills

via There’s a reason the modern age moved on from windmills | Watts Up With That?.

Windmills have their applications. They are good for some purposes. However, power for the grid is not one of them. Windmills kill more people and causes more pain and suffering than does coal.

“What troubles me even more than the inexactness attending chronological estimates is how much absolute nonsense — really nothing but imaginative speculation — about the environment of the past is being deduced from tree rings and published in dendrochronology journals.”

via Paging Mike Mann – your dendrochronologist will see you now | Watts Up With That?.

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