Archives for the month of: October, 2014

The Other Christians

Dear Friends,

As I write to you from Luawa Yiehun Community Church I do not know how this letter may arrive to my friends in our prayer group.  I do not know if I will arrive before the letter, or possibly be stopped at the border for fear of a contagion which we have reason to fear.  I am speaking of course of Ebola, which has become world news recently although it has existed for many years in this region.

What I do know is that prayer and His grace keep me sane through this journey. Patients are surviving, and recovering from this disease.  People with less education than you or I are listening to the rules of care and following them.  Education and compassion are effective weapons in this war. But there is a need for more of both.  So much more. More beds, more workers, more teachers, more intercessors.

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Tornadoes are NOT getting worse.

Watts Up With That?

By Paul Homewood


As we, fortunately, head towards the end of the third quiet tornado year in a row, let’s take a closer look at the intensity of tornadoes in the US.

We often hear claims that tornadoes are growing stronger as a result of global warming. But what do the facts tell us?

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center maintains a database of tornadoes back to 1950. However, it is generally accepted by tornado experts that data is unreliable from the 1950’s and 60’s, which were known as the “tornado growth period”, as observation practices began to develop.

Another problem during these early decades was that, according to the SPC’s Greg Carbin, there were too many higher-rated tornadoes because of post rating.

Therefore, any analysis can only be reliably started from 1970.

It is also well accepted that many more small EF-0 tornadoes are spotted nowadays, that would…

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Watts Up With That?

I wanted to highlight an interesting article by Dr. Daniel Botkin. It seems that it helps to be a Professor Emeritus in order to be able to speak your mind freely. Among other things, Dr. Botkin says:

Whatever is happening to Earth’s climate does not seem to be our fault.

What he said …


Climate Is Changing, And Some Parks Are Endangered, But Humans Aren’t The Cause

Editor’s note: The climate is changing, but is it humankind’s fault? Daniel B. Botkin, professor Emeritus in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at University of California Santa Barbara, doesn’t believe so. In the following column, he dissects the conclusions reached by the Union of Concerned Scientists in its report, National Landmarks at Risk, How Rising Seas, Floods, and Wildfires Are Threatening the United States’ Most Cherished Historic Sites.

Alternate Text
Jamaica Bay National…

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The greatest of these is love.

Musings on Science and Theology

What is the first word that comes to mind when I say Christian?

YanceyThis question, and the answers given by non-Christians shape the second chapter of Philip Yancey’s new book Vanishing Grace. Yancey is convinced that all people long for meaning, a sense of purpose, that our life actually matters. We also long for genuine community and a sense of being loved and of belonging. Christian faith should draw people in, provide meaning, purpose, and belonging. Yet far too often this is not reality.

When I ask, “Tell me the first word that comes to your mind when I say “Christian,” not one time has someone suggested the word love. Yet without question that is the proper biblical answer.” As I have loved you, so you must love one another,” Jesus commanded his disciples at the Last Supper. He said the world will know we are…

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There is no way to get around billions of years for the history of the earth.

Age of Rocks

Last week, the Geological Society of America met for its annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia. I’m not sure what the official count was for this year’s attendance, but annual meetings have drawn as many as ~5,500 or more geologists from across North America and beyond. The sheer size of the conference is daunting; nearly 350 technical sessions and a dozen field trips ran over the course of five days, providing students and researchers with the opportunity to engage experts from their highly specialized fields. It is the premier TV package for those enthusiastic about Earth science—everyone can find something to watch.

Besides their obvious appeal to the traveler, these professional conferences serve many valuable purposes. It is a place to hear about the latest and greatest research in your field, especially from invited speakers who recently published high-impact papers. For the student, it is a place to network with professors, who may one day advise…

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person to claim evolution is other than a valid way of explaining all life on earth. It is in fact the most valid way we have of looking at life and researching it to increase our knowledge and improve our lot.

Naturalis Historia

The Ebola virus has captured headlines around the world.  One of the big questions that I see being asked frequently is – where did it come from? Does it have a recent origin or has the virus been with us for a long time but simply not recognized? Clearly it didn’t come into existence in 1976 when it was first identified.  So how long has it been with us?

The Ebola Virus. Like most viruses, the Ebola virus is not a cell but rather just a protein capsule with a very small genome (a single strand of RNA in this case rather than DNA as found in all "living" things). The Ebola Virus. Like most viruses, the Ebola virus is not a cell but rather just a protein capsule with a very small genome (a single strand of RNA in this case rather than DNA as found in all “living” things).

The Ebola virus is just one member of a family of viruses that are able to  cause hemorrhagic fevers.  The other infamous member of this family is the Marburg virus.  Both of these viruses exist in the form of several…

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This article is truly worthy of a thorough reading.
I’ve added Dr. Provan’s book, Seriously Dangerous Religion, to my wish list. I hope to read it before long. RJS has said quite enough to make me eager to read it.

I admit I was surprised to find only a couple of years ago that many people hold it as a difficulty that death existed in God’s good creation before the fall in the Garden.

I’ve withstood young-earth-creationism my whole life, and I had not before come across people who held death-before-the-fall as some sort of litmus test regarding creation assumptions.

I don’t know if I simply missed such people by chance, or if this emphasis on such a contrived element of the creation story is relatively new, in which case I might have missed it because it was unknown to the people I’ve argued with over the years. I suspect the latter. I suppose some fundamentalist was looking for an emotionally driving narrative and revulsion at the notion that God made the good earth with death built in was hit upon and circulated through the followers of Morris et al. Regardless, as indicated in RJS’ article, the biblical narrative clearly indicates death was understood. Further, God clearly states His own responsibility for death and destruction elsewhere in the scripture. (For instance, ) I really don’t understand how the problem arose.

Fundamentally for myself, I just don’t see the whole “Problem of evil” issue. Life is hard. God made it that way. Pain and suffering aren’t inherently evil. Like fire, it is powerful and consuming, but unless someone caused the pain and suffering, it isn’t actually evil in the sense we generally ascribe to that word.

At a funeral, Pastor Gary Bohanon stated matter-of-factly that we all die young. That brought into focus something I’d always understood. Time is a gift, and we just don’t get much of it. There is no intrinsic evil nor slight on God for a short, hard, painful, brutish life.

For me, there is no problem of evil. There is no argument against theism in pain and suffering. Dying is simply a part of living. Pain is simply a fact of life. Suffering is as natural as childbirth itself. Of course, there is still the problem of evil committed by one man against another, but some against others. Yes, that is evil. That really is what we usually mean when we decry evil. We are calling for the love-walk in all. We all agree with the prophet Micah (, we know what is right. We innately understand that our whole duty is to live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before God. Every honest man does, at least we try. Some are more successful than others.

Musings on Science and Theology

France_Paris_Notre-Dame-Adam_and_Eve-dsHaving explored the Old Testament view of God and of the nature of humanity in chapters 3 and 4, Iain Provan (Seriously Dangerous Religion) turns to the age old problem of evil and suffering in chapter 5. If there is a personal, benevolent God why do evil and suffering mark the world?

Genesis 3 plays an important role in Provan’s approach to this question … “it is the embrace of evil, our biblical authors claim, that explains much of the suffering that arises in the world.” (p. 106) The word “much” is quite intentional, and quite significant. Provan puts forward a view that many will find surprising. He does not think the biblical authors had any intention of attributing all pain and suffering, particularly so-called natural evil including earthquakes, windstorms, accidents or disease, to the fall of the man and woman.  The proposed absence of these…

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Don’t expect the alarmist hype to end any time soon. Think of the “last day” prophets, like Harold Camping. Despite the fact that most of those prophets admitted they were simply wrong, many still have followings. Alarmism sells. Those who jump on the bandwagon rarely find cause to get off. “Why jump off the gravy train?” Or for most researchers, why walk away from the feeding trough? It is hard enough to get grants even if you toe the political line.
I guess it will be 15 to 20 years before the climate alarmism fades from memory. I suspect the horrific and dishonorable “denier” meme will die out sooner, but probably not for a few years. It is disgusting to see people came it is a valid descriptor. No, it is derisive and childish. Never appropriate. It is also demeaning to those millions who lost their lives and loved ones in WWII. We need to stop that label.

Watts Up With That?

NPR_officesFrom InsideClimate News: (hat tip to Michael E. Mann)

NPR has cut back on the number of staffers focused solely on the environment and climate change.

Earlier this year, the news outlet had three full-time reporters and one editor dedicated to covering the issue within NPR’s science desk. One remains—and he is covering it only part-time. A few reporters on other desks occasionally cover the topic as well.

The move to shift reporters off the environment beat was driven by an interest to cover other fields more in depth, said Anne Gudenkauf, senior supervising editor of NPR’s science desk.

“We’ll think of a project we want to do and the kind of staff that we need to do it, and then organize ourselves that way,” she said. “One of the things we always do is change in response to the changing world.”

Gudenkauf also said…

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Even the alarmists are starting to acknowledge the problems in the alarmist predictions.
For reference.

Watts Up With That?

Guest Post by Bob Tisdale

The post Ocean heat storage: a particularly lousy policy target + Update at RealClimate finally presented a few realities of the global-warming metric known as ocean heat content—realities we have discussed numerous times.  But they weren’t completely open about it and the other ocean temperature-related dataset, sea surface temperature.

That post by RealClimate founder Stefan Rahmstorf countered the 2014 comment Climate policy: Ditch the 2 °C warming goal by Victor and Fennel published in the journal Nature.  Faced with the realities of the slowdown in surface temperature warming, Victor and Fennel proposed using a number of other metrics as indicators of global warming, including ocean heat content.

I’m not sure if Rahmstorf realizes what he has done. His post at RealClimate will be used enthusiastically by skeptics for years to come. Rahmstorf’s post will raise it’s lovely head every time alarmists, like those at SkepticalScience…

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Good points, and some very good comments below the main article.

Watts Up With That?

Eric Worrall writes;

Mike Whitehorn, chair of analytics at Dundee University, has written a fascinating article on The Register, about why data analysis is always contaminated by the value judgements of whoever is doing the analysis.

According to Whitehorn; “Evidence-based decision making is so clearly sensible because the alternative — making random decisions based on no evidence — is so clearly ludicrous. The “evidence” that we often use is in the form of information that we extract from raw data, often by data mining. Sadly, there has been an upsurge in the number people who move from the perfectly sensible premise of “basing decisions on data” to the erroneous conclusion that “the answer is therefore always in the data”.

All you have to do is to look hard enough for it. This strange leap of non-logic seems to apply particularly to big data; clearly the bigger the data set the…

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Not much we can do about it, but be warned.

Watts Up With That?

The potential for a massive solar flare directed at Earth is looming large.

Sunspot-AR12192-Jupiter-EarthAn SDO/HMI view of the visible sun showing the largest sunspot of solar cycle 24, AR12192. Image via

Since rotating into view, the sunspot group AR12192 has continued to grow in size and complexity, becoming the largest sunspot of the current solar cycle, cycle 24 (SC24.) The region has produced numerous C and M-class flares including an X1 flare.

Xray[1]More at the WUWT Solar Reference Page

Animation of sunspot AR2192:

AR12192-animGIF-fullsunImage via

NASA’s reports:

Solar activity is high. During the past 48 hours, monster sunspot AR2192 has produced a series of seven M-class solar flares of increasing intensity. The eruptions crossed the threshold into X-territory with an X1-class flare on Oct. 22nd. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded a powerful flash of extreme UV radiation in the sunspot’s magnetic canopy at 14:30 UT:


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For the information.

Watts Up With That?

While not our usual fare, I provide this guest essay for discussion without comment, as it is concerned with an issue of great interest and impact to millions of people – Anthony


Guest essay by Alec Rawls

Negative atmospheric pressure sounds climate related, but it is just an analogy to the inward draw of air that contagious disease laboratories and isolation rooms use to keep pathogens from escaping. The only way to make it safer for Ebola hot-zone residents to stay put and keep the current epidemic from spreading is to use immune survivors to separate and treat the sick, a strategy developed by the Greeks 2400 years ago, but our national policies are working ever more powerfully in the opposite direction, creating strong incentives for infected and possibly infected people to flee to the United States from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.  Given this rapidly changing climate of contagion…

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Yes, religious liberty is still a big deal in our country.

Reflection and Choice

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 10.26.39 PM

Over at First Things, Mark Movsesian has provided an adequate summary of “what’s happening in Houston.” The mayor’s office tried to subpoena documents from local pastors. The pastors cried foul, even though the mayor’s staff might have had legitimate grounds for the subpoenas. Movsesian thinks that the subpoenas won’t be allowed in this case.

Then he provides this analysis:

Still, even if these pastors succeed in resisting the subpoenas, significant damage has been done. It’s hard to see how this episode will not chill religious and political expression. Most people, quite rationally, want nothing to do with lawsuits and subpoenas. They don’t want to make legal history. The lesson they will draw from the episode is this: If you want to avoid trouble, don’t make politically-charged statements about religious convictions that the government doesn’t approve, even if you’re at a private meeting in your own church. In…

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Writing for the New York Times,  gives us a dozen interviews with philosophers.

Warning, these are about religion, not necessarily supportive. Still, good fodder for deep thinking.

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