Archives for the month of: January, 2015

Martin Luther King, Jr., was born 15 January 1929. We here in the USA remember what he stood for, and what he accomplished, on the third Monday of January each year. Of course, when the year begins on Monday, as 2018 will, then the third Monday will be the 15th, but not most years.

This is a day we remember the best and the worst we, humans, can be.

C.S. Lewis

“You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,” said Aslan. “And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.”

C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Good people must always do good. Repay evil with kindness.

It is really as simple as the admonition of the prophet Micah so many generations ago:

He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

One cannot live justly while injustice surrounds. One must work for the good.

One cannot love kindness without showing it.

One cannot walk humbly while standing aloof.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love!
What more? In the name of love!

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love!
What more? In the name of love!

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?

In the name of love!
What more in the name of love ?
In the name of Love!
What more in the name of love ?

Read more: U2 – Pride (in The Name Of Love) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Things matter, or nothing matters.

I choose to suppose that things matter. That supposition leads me to believe God is. (Either God is, or God is not. That is about the same statement. Further, there is a reason, or there is no reason. Again, pretty much the same statement, and I just don’t think it is reasonable to assert there is no reason.)

Now, if any of these words mean anything, then I find that it follows that I freely choose. I can change my mind, but I am determined to find truth as I may and adhere to facts and reality as well as I can perceive.

I chose to write just now. It is not a mechanistic, chance confluence of quantum effects at the subatomic level with electromagnetic and chemical effects at the atomic level. I happen to be more than a machine.

There are issues we may need to address if we manage to create machines that can rationally choose as well, but that is not yet and a subject-heading for another day.

Dr. David Bentley Hart penned a retelling of a conversation he had with his dog. He wrote at First Things, (First Things is an excellent source of insights on many subjects.)

Dr. Hart supposes the event was a dream, but Roland is obviously one smart pooch.

Roland says, “…and the rational freedom of the spirit, which is always striving to subdue the brute. Oh, what’s that lovely line from Yeats about the soul? ‘Fastened to a dying animal?’ Anyway, there’s something truly free there, something that isn’t the creature of an unhappy childhood or a frustrated hunger—it’s spirit, nous, Geist—something that can convert the countervailing tempests of physiological urges into the elations of reason set free. Well . . . this is something dogs understand very well.””

Excellent observation. Likewise, “Every aspiring young materialist dreams of growing up to be a robot.” Which is so simple minded, even silly. Yet, it seems so true of so many.

The saddest part of reductionist materialism is the ultimate hopelessness. It really does suppose there is nothing real, that there will be absolutely nothing in the long run.

The bottom line for me is that it is all real, and I really do have freedom, and I really am responsible for myself.

C.S. Lewis pointed out so long ago that our drive and efforts for immortality in all manifestations are ultimately futile because all, everything natural, including the entire universe, even beyond observable, will cease. Ultimately nature dies.

Assuming something more, we find this:

“Theology claims that what is ultimate is not physical process but the will and purpose of God the Creator. God’s final intentions will no more be frustrated by cosmic death on a timescale of billions of years than they are by human death on a timescale of tens of years. The ultimate future does not belong to scientific extrapolation but to divine faithfulness.”

Musings on Science and Theology

The God of HopeThere are a number of topics worth some thought and discussion – topics where our current understanding of science plays a role at some level. The questions of origins and of miracles top the list, but the nature or possibility of an “Age to Come” with new heavens and a new earth also raises questions. There seems no way under the current scientific laws for any future hope to remain. The robust conversation on Jesus Creed around Richard Middleton’s new book A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology highlights the kinds of questions that are raised. One exchange in the comments highlights the kinds of questions that can be raised (I’ve only picked out relevant bits):

P:The question of animals becomes merely the tip of an ice-berg. Does heaven or the new creation have spatial dimensions? Is there are up or down? Is there matter? Gravity?…

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I say it all the time. Cold kills; warmer is better.

Watts Up With That?

Australians are more likely to die during unseasonably cold winters than hotter than average summers, QUT research has found.


From the Queensland University of Technology

Across the country severe winters that are colder and drier than normal are a far bigger risk to health than sweltering summers that are hotter than average.

QUT Associate Professor Adrian Barnett, a statistician with the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and the lead researcher of the study, said death rates in Australian cities were up to 30 per cent higher in winter than summer.

The researchers analysed temperature, humidity and mortality data from 1988 to 2009 for Adelaide Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Professor Barnett said the finding that hotter or more humid summers had no effect on mortality was “surprising”.

“We know that heatwaves kill people in the short-term, but our study did not find any link between hotter summers and higher…

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Maybe this kiwi (New Zealander) has some worthwhile stuff, but I don’t find usefulness in John Hattie’s article here:

It seems he is saying the average teacher is insecure and needs certain mindsets and needs certain reinforcement activities for self-assurance, which allow the teacher to stay positive and effective.

Here are his 8 points:

Hattie’s 8 Mind Frames

  1. My fundamental task is to evaluate the effect of my teaching on students’ learning and achievement.
  2. The success and failure of my students’ learning is about what I do or don’t do. I am a change agent.
  3. I want to talk more about learning than teaching.
  4. Assessment is about my impact.
  5. I teach through dialogue not monologue.
  6. I enjoy the challenge and never retreat to “doing my best”.
  7. It’s my role to develop positive relationships in class and staffrooms.
  8. I inform all about the language of learning.

Feelgood language at best.

I truly believe we adults, especially parents, but also teachers, are partners with the children. We are not their masters nor their change-agents. We are their coworkers, traveling companions on life’s journey. We have maturity and knowledge to impart. Perhaps that is what Hattie is aiming at, but all I see is mumbojumbo.

It seems counterproductive to emphasize to teachers that they should be paranoid about their effectiveness.

To me, Micah 6:8 sums it up. More specifically in context, you are the adult, you know what to teach, do so. Love the children and walk in mercy with them. Most of all, walk humbly with them.

It seems to me the fundamental task of the teacher is to love the children.  Read the rest of this entry »

Faithful sayings and worthy of all acceptation.

Musings on Science and Theology

Lake and SkyA longer title to this post could be “What the Old Testament really says about our relationship to the rest of creation … and why it matters.” That is a bit of a mouthful though. The short title could be simply “Earth Keeping.” This isn’t some conservationist piece, trying to fit the Old Testament into a modern “Green” narrative. Rather Iain Provan in Seriously Dangerous Religion tries to dig past many recent misinterpretations to look at the view of creation presented in the Old Testament narrative. There are many ways to get this wrong. Green narratives, consumption narratives, and curse narratives all get important things wrong.

So what does Provan see as a better approach, more faithful to the text and the original context? What does the Old Testament have to say about earth keeping?

First – the world was not created for humankind. It doesn’t…

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Good news for parents of young children everywhere.

Watts Up With That?

This is a note of personal interest, since my acute hearing loss was caused by antibiotics that damaged the nerve cells of my cochlea. This is truly a breakthrough that took decades to solve.


From Stanford University Medical Center:

On Christmas Eve, 2002, Bryce Faber was diagnosed with a deadly cancer called neuroblastoma. The 2-year-old’s treatment, which, in addition to surgery, included massive amounts of radiation followed by even more massive amounts of antibiotics, no doubt saved his life. But those same mega-doses of antibiotics, while staving off infections in his immunosuppressed body, caused a permanent side effect: deafness.

“All I remember is coming out of treatment not being able to hear anything,” said Bryce, now a healthy 14-year-old living in Arizona. “I asked my mom, ‘Why have all the people stopped talking?'” He was 90 percent deaf.

“The loss has been devastating,” said his father, Bart Faber. “But not…

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Reblogging this from WUWT because Anthony has stood up as a Catholic on this. I’m standing with Anthony.

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by H. Sterling Burnett

pope-francisPope Francis evidently has decided to make fighting global warming an important papal cause in 2015. He praised the United Nations’ climate treaty efforts in Lima, Peru; the Vatican has indicated he will issue an encyclical letter to the world’s bishops; he is encouraging the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to take up the battle against climate change; and he’s planning to address the next UN climate conference in Paris to pressure world leaders to adopt a strong climate agreement.

The Vatican Pontifical Academy of Sciences may be behind the pope’s rising interest in global warming as a moral and political cause. Its chancellor, Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, said, “Our academics supported the pope’s initiative to influence next year’s crucial decisions. The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and…

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[Lengthened]Here is a hard thing:

Darby Bible Translation
and to every animal of the earth, and to every fowl of the heavens, and to everything that creepeth on the earth, in which is a living soul, every green herb for food. And it was so.

For more:

Where you can read several translations, and commentary.

My point is the use of the word soul.

I hold, and I understand it as orthodox in Christianity, that we humans have souls, something within that is transcendent, a supernatural aspect to us breathed into us by God.

This scripture plainly states that all living creatures have souls, and plants are provided as food. Hmm…

It is more evidence that strict literalism just doesn’t work.

Pulpit Commentary

Quite interesting. I kinda think it is ridiculous that commentators could wonder if carnivores, with no anatomical capacity to eat vegetation, from their teeth and claws to their digestive tract, and their enzymes, could have eaten only vegetation, especially from such a generic statement about why plants were made (rather than what living critters were allowed to eat).


The interlinear shows us two words in the Hebrew for life.

Obviously soul.

Also can be translated soul, including of humans, but rare.

So, figure it out for yourself.

It is literalist support for vegetarianism.

In my view, it is a simple, poetic statement as to the reason God created vegetation, that reason being for food, for supporting the base of the food chain. Of course, had the original author known about oxygen, I’m sure he would have included a comment along the lines of:

English Standard Version
And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food, even for the very breath of life within them.” And it was so.

Note my addition.

I find it significant that the scriptures address subsets of only two of the biological kingdoms of life. It makes clear to me that Genesis and the scriptures in their whole CANNOT be taken overly literally and CANNOT be taken as statements of science.

Scripture is given for spiritual reasons, lessons for life, not lessons for science class.

English Standard Version
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,


Update (added):

Isn’t it interesting that Carl Linnaeus came up with two kingdoms of life? I suspect it was influenced by his faith and understanding that the bible describes two kingdoms of life, animals and plants, though rather selectively. Still, the division is about as ancient as we can look at with documentation, so, not surprising at all.

I got to wondering if the bible does mention anything that isn’t plant or animal. (Not counting references to mythological entities. I don’t really count the unicorn, though. It seems to be a mistranslation. Rhinoceros or wild ox seems more consistent for a translation. It seems uncertain regardless.)

I find it does reference fungus, particularly mildew and yeast. I should have remembered that. I don’t think I can find scripture that would justify claiming the bible anticipated the difference between fungi and plants. A quick search gives me no idea what ancients thought of yeast. Fermentation was figured out at least 5,000 years ago, and leavening shortly thereafter. I wonder if they thought yeast part of some plants, or as something distinct?

I’d be happy to have comments, questions, or objections on this topic.

In this implementation of a WordPress blog, you need to click the title of the post to have the reply (or comment) window at the bottom. This link should get you there too:


Much more global warming, and the entire Mediterranean might freeze over.

Watts Up With That?

[on Jan 1, 2015] “In Rome, arctic-inspired winds brought temperatures as low as minus eight degrees Celsius,”

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Aside from Willis’ straightforward treatment here, there is the fact that CO2 levels have been MUCH higher in ages past, ages when coral reefs and shelled creatures of all types flourished just fine.
There is nothing happening now that hasn’t happened before many times. Life finds a way, and most of the time it doesn’t even hurt unless there is a politician or government regulator involved.

Watts Up With That?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Following up on my previous investigations into the oceanic pH dataset, I’ve taken a deeper look at what the 2.5 million pH data points from the oceanographic data can tell us. Let me start with an overview of oceanic pH (the measure of alkalinity/acidity, with neutral being a pH of 7.0). Many people think that the ocean has only one pH  everywhere. Other people think that the oceanic pH is different in different places, but is constant over time. Neither view is correct.

First, here is a view of a transect of the north Pacific ocean from Alaska to Hawaii, with Hawaii on the top left, Alaska on the top right, and depths shown vertically. ocean ph along transect

ocean ph along transectFigure 1. Variation in pH by latitude and depth. The graphic is taken from a previous post of mine regarding oceanic pH.

Note that in Hawaii…

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I always find Willis’ posts encouraging and enlightening.
This one not only pays tribute to WUWT and Anthony Watts, it points out clearly some of the things I find obvious with regard to climate and the study of it. Mostly, we just don’t know much.
My appreciation to Willis, and as he comments about nature, I too often stand in awe and simply feel grateful.

Watts Up With That?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

It’s a cold clear night here along the north Pacific coast where I live, with a waxing moon surveying the scene. As befits New Years Day, I’ve been thinking about the past and the future … and I always do my best thinking down by the ocean. I live near the coast, and on a clear day, beyond the nearby forest and the far hills you can see a tiny bit of the Pacific from our house.

coastwalk 1

So this morning the gorgeous ex-fiancee and I took a walk along the coast. We’ve finally gotten some rain, and the land between our place and the coast has performed its annual green miracle …

coastwalk 2We drove up the coast to Goat Rock. Whenever I get to the coast, I am always surprised by the stunning immensity of the land and sea scape. The cliffs and the rocks…

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Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

The alleged climate crisis is just one more idiotic prediction about the future.


140 years ago, when George Eliot was writing Middlemarch, that great work described by Virginia Woolf as “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people,” it was obvious that most predictions are a pointless waste of time.

Humans have little idea of what the future holds. Conventional wisdom, prevailing orthodoxies, reigning intellectual fads – all of these prevent us from seeing the world clearly.

In 2008, Canada’s weekly news magazine, Maclean’s, ran an article titled Soaring energy costs are about to change everything. “Should oil hit US$200 [a barrel] in the next few years, the world will be scarcely recognizable,” it warned.

We were told that our lives were about to change “in profound and dramatic ways.” That the “apocalyptic fallout” would turn suburbs into ghost towns, slums, and salvage yards since…

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UNIVERSITY OF UTAH HEALTH SCIENCES releases this: Defying textbook science, study finds new role for proteins

The short version is that evidence is accumulating that organic molecules, especially amino acids, just form intricately by nature. The information in DNA may not really be that remarkable after all.

Read here:

“This surprising discovery reflects how incomplete our understanding of biology is,” says first author Peter Shen, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in biochemistry at the University of Utah. “Nature is capable of more than we realize.”

The article is interesting and a bit humorous. I encourage you to read it.

It notes that we have a lot more to learn. Some of what we learn may lead to cures for things such as Alzheimer’s and ALS.

It is another bit of evidence that shows us that nature is quite capable of increasing its own complexity. Sure, ultimately it is running down, but it is building up in many ways in many places. It seems quite natural when you think of it.

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