‘Induction over the history of science suggests that the best theories we have today will prove more or less untrue at the latest by tomorrow afternoon.’ Fodor, J. ‘Why Pigs don’t have wings,’ London Review of Books, 18th Oct 2007

Saturday, 22 December 2012

And a Happy Christmas to you too Richard

Richard Dawkins offers his own Christmas message by way of an attack on the Roman Catholic Church. 'Being raised Catholic is worse than child abuse': Latest incendiary claim made by atheist professor Richard Dawkins A bit O.T.T. I would suggest, when the Law of Moses very clearly teaches against child abuse.

Dawkins looks like a man oppressed by his own thinking, he clearly needs setting free by the 'enlightenment' of God's grace. What he cannot see is that the mind needs to have a rational life that is not bound by the material world, but can transcend it through divine revelation. Of course we need to keep our feet on the ground so we don't get carried away with the fairies, but at the same time we need to lift our minds and souls out of the mud and mire of the life that binds our bodies down to earth. If you read this Richard, have a happy Christmas.

Monday, 10 December 2012

GM Crops - government wishes to push them through regardless of concerns

Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, wishes to push through GM crops and dismisses opponents as modern Luddites. Surely we can have a debate over this without vitriolic attacks on opponents. But this is perhaps the modus operandi of modern government.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Denying Jesus Christ in Schools and Child Abuse

There is a growing secular campaign to downgrade or remove mention of Jesus Christ in school assemblies according to government guidelines on daily acts of worship in schools. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9667435/Jesus-Christ-should-be-downplayed-in-school.html

Now, I have always felt a little uneasy about forcing non-Christian children to take part in acts of Christian worship against their will, this because true worship should be in spirit and truth. However, I absolutely believe that schools should teach children about Christian doctrines and the solid foundation that Christianity provides to a coherent and loving set of ethical standards. Instead the Government's proposals seem like a recipe for relativism and subjectivity in ethics, superficially attractive to the weak minded, but ultimately a path to chaos and tyranny where the sight of truth, and then love, is lost.

There are evidently some with guilty consciences who have personal reasons to wish to exclude Christ from the moral landscape; the evidence that there are paedophile rings actively exploiting children in some social welfare homes is deeply disturbing. It is of course wrong to falsely accuse people without evidence and due process of law, but it is clear that many libertines find the witness of Christ to be deeply troubling, although we should not forget that some atheists retain higher moral values than even some professing Christians. But equally, we should remember that God himself has promised to be a father to the orphans and widows, and those who abuse children will have their day in court; if not in this life then in the divine court. One may wonder however what hope the moral atheist can have in a sense of absolute justice? But God is not mocked, and those who have abused children will be called to account and their deeds exposed to the light.

Sadly though even many Christians want God to be so soft he wouldn't hurt a fly, but God reserves for himself the right to take vengeance and we should be rightly fearful of his anger. I hope God is angry when children are abused. Yes, Christ 'suffered' and enjoyed the children's exuberance, but he also took a whip and drove out the corrupt money changers from the temple courts demonstrating his sense of justice.

The atheists and secularists though have nothing to offer and their bankrupt and vacuous moral foundation only opens the door to the greater wickedness of the libertines. It is time for Christians to take a stand against such moral relativism so that we can retain respect for the dignity of humanity, especially the weak and powerless. The recent exposures will I believe force a moral awakening in our land.          

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Fallujah and long term responsibility to human health in times of war

Recent research, in four separate reports, has looked at the possible causes of increased birth defects in children born in and around Fallujah in Iraq. This town received very heavy bombardment due to its resistance to the US army during the second Iraq war. Concerns have though been raised about the use and effect of modern munitions which use undepleted or even slightly enriched uranium, together with the effect of lead and mercury in other ordinances. See: Guardian Comment is Free 'The victims of Fallujah's health crisis are stifled by western silence' by Ross Caputi

I would point out that we can't sweep this under the carpet as some would like and pretend that everything the West does is morally correct. I would suggest that we do have a responsibility to ensure the long term health and well being of a community and environment even if, regrettably, wars are justifiable in the short-term. 


Thursday, 18 October 2012

A Christian Conscience in the Public Square

Once upon a time it was illegal to be a practicing homosexual, but the law was changed to give freedom to those who did not wish to live according to a Christian moral code. But how times have changed, now it is becoming increasingly apparent that in many areas of public life it is illegal to be a practicing Christian with a keenly honed conscience. In our increasingly secular state the law protects the right of consumers in using services, but it does not protect those who wish to serve the public within the framework of a Christian ethos. There have been some important equality moves in the past, even many supported by Christians, but the law is now creating and extending equality legislation on the basis of sentiment and lifestyle choices, not on objectively established criteria of what it is to be human. In other words, the law is becoming detached from reality and is being used to persecute people on the basis of their deeply held faith.   

The latest case involves a gay couple taking another B&B to court http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-19991266 Of course many Christians would turn a blind eye to what people do in private, but these cases pick-out the vulnerable Christians who are not sophisticated enough to play the modern games society expects. This is though, I would suggest, a hollow victory for the gay community because some (perhaps it is only a minority) seek to deny other people the freedoms they have won for themselves, and the law is moving towards the isolation of Christians from large areas of public life, areas such as adoption, counselling and marriage where the church has been central to the life of the community in the past. The Christian community has a strong sense of social concern and a deontological understanding of human rights and values, but the state is cutting it off from its vocation, this on the basis of sentiment, materialism and consumerism so as to establish, rather ironically, social equality.

Of course we need to be careful to recognise the humanity of gay people, many are genuinely hurting, but at the same time we need to remember the humanity and conscience of Christians in public life as well.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

GM Crops and Human Health

A French study, led by Prof Seralini and colleagues, examined the effect of GM maize and herbicide fed to rats, and found an increase in premature deaths and tumours, particularly mammary tumours and damage to liver and kidneys. This study has though been criticsed for using the 'wrong type of rat' and small rodent numbers in the work. 200 rats were used in their research. See BBC - French GM-fed rat study triggers furore by Jonathan Amos

Some of the rats were fed GM maize sprayed with Roundup, Some were fed the GM maize without herbicide present, while the third group was given traces of Roundup in drinking water without the GM crop - at level considered safe for human consumption. There was a fourth control group without either the Roundup or GM maize. Significantly, the study lasted for two years instead of the standard 90 day trials. The results found that those rats that hed been fed on the herbicide-tolerant GM maize, or given the water with Roundup, died at an earlier age than those rats that had been fed the standard diet.

This research has though been criticsed by others. But although the research may not have been perfect, it does raise some serious questions about use of GM crops, particularly I would suggest when we consider the length of the study and the rise in cancers in the modern western world.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Conservative Christian Bashing

Following on from the last blog entry, and recent comments by Dean Jeffrey John, there is clearly a need for a calm, loving discussion surrounding gay issues. Evidence suggests that Christian conservatives are misrepresented by the gay lobby, one commentator, Rev. Mel White, goes so far as to suggest the conservative position is akin to Holy Terrorism and recently a security guard at the Family Research Council in America has been shot and wounded in an incident that may have been linked to such bitter rhetoric.

Here in the UK Dean Jeffrey John has told gays not to listen to conservative Anglicans and asserted that the official position of the Church, held for centuries, is 'morally contemptible.'

Of course on the other side Christians have not always shown the love of Christ as it should and perhaps made gays feel unwelcome in the Church, which is a shame also. But there does need to be honesty and integrity in debate here. John accuses the Church of not showing integrity, but to deliberately misrepresent the traditionalist position so that gays are led to believe they are unwelcome in conservative churches does not show integrity. Instead, whether you agree with the conservative position or not, it represents a reasoned and long held position that is based upon the presence of the transforming grace and love of Christ in the world.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Jeffrey John Attacks the Church of England for Upholding Traditional Values

Jeffrey John writing in the Guardian Comment is Free section in effect slanders the Church of which he is a Canon and displays little love and grace towards his brethren who have legitimate concerns about Church and State policy. There is perhaps an indecent haste in the way pressure for change in marriage law is being pursued with bitter accusations against traditionalists. Under Rowan Williams, the church has failed gay people

What I find unhelpful about this piece is the way in which it is assumed automatically that anyone who seeks to uphold traditional conservative values towards marriage is homophobic. John writes that the policy of the Anglican Church ‘is morally contemptible.’ However, Rowan Williams has at least struggled to maintain unity within a Church that holds a wide diversity of views, and has respected the views of Anglicans across the world where modern western secular approaches to ethics are unknown.

John is however critical of African Christians commenting that “About half the world's Anglicans are African, and the majority of them are in violently homophobic countries whose churches back harsh punishments against homosexuals, right up to the death penalty.” John here omits to say that the call for the death penalty for homosexual acts in Uganda for instance is limited to repeated acts of sexual abuse towards children and those under care. Abuse of children, admittedly mainly sexual abuse by men against girls (and also child sacrifice), in African countries is a major problem that needs to be dealt with firmly, and Christians are right to try and address the problems. However, harsh penalties for consenting sexual acts are regrettable. Even for those who consider it to be morally wrong justice does need to be proportionate, and there may be many things that are immoral that are not illegal. But John’s diatribe against African Christians, that is Christian people with black skin, is deeply unhelpful and could be seen as western liberal elitism, if not liberal racism. It certainly doesn’t help African Christians extend loving Christian values across Africa. There is an assumption in this piece by John that the views of African Christians who hold to a more conservative ethical foundation are to be ignored. It would seem that for liberals democracy only goes so far. This might seem like western cultural imperialism by a liberal elite.

In terms of equality John taps into what I would call Humean rights as opposed to human rights. That is rights are given to people and groups on the basis of subjective sentiment and not according to a person’s intrinsic value, nor according to rational debate, nor with consideration of corresponding duties. The problem for liberalism is that ultimately ethics become relative. For Christian liberals the practice of reinterpreting scripture to suit one’s own views effectively destroys the basis for objectivity in ethical standards; in effect they cut off the branch on which they sit. We are left in a potentially dangerous place where human sentiment may turn against upholding the value of all human beings; an example being Nazi Germany where Jews, gays and others were persecuted and some put to death. Let us also have a rational and calm debate about the cause of gay sentiment; is it really a given at birth or is it something that arises through upbringing, or environment or something else? Is it nature or nurture; is it intrinsic or extrinsic to who we are as human beings? Admittedly for some it is strongly felt, although for others the recent growth in the gay community suggests it is partly a passing fashion. Also through history, as the Old Testament relates, the community of faith has ebbed and flowed between periods of liberalism and periods of conservatism. However these questions matter when we are dealing with questions of rights and equality so let us at least have a fair and honest debate. Instead of attacking African Christians and fellow Anglicans John needs to work with his fellow believers to help bring an end to sexual and other abuse of children, and to develop and campaign for a proportionate system of justice because these are Christian values that we can all accept and desire to see extended.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Why Synthetic Biology Needs to Hear Religious Voices

Adam Rutherford argues that we need to meddle more, not less, with the genes of biological organisms. Writing in the Guardian Comment is Free Synthetic biology: 'playing God' is vital if we are to create a better future for all - The present gains and future benefits of synthetic biology are too great for it to be written off with fear-mongering maxims  he is critical of environmentalists and religious groups for apparently seeking to restrict scientific discovery.

However, he muddies the waters by confusing scientific discovery with technology. He writes for instance
"That accusation has been made in attacks against many of the major scientific advances of the modern era, including Watson and Crick's description of the structure of DNA in 1953; the birth of the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, in 1978; the creation of Dolly the sheep in 1997; and the sequencing of the human genome in 2001. In all these scenarios, it's not clear exactly what "playing God" actually means."
I am not sure what evidence he has for the claim that religious people have been critical of scientific discoveries such as unravelling the mystery of DNA, or the human genome sequencing, but there are legitimate concerns about the technological use of knowledge that arises out of science. Dolly the Sheep being an example of where the technology failed; the poor animal inherited an already aged gene pool from its 'mother.' Scientists though always seem keen to rush ahead before sufficient knowledge is gathered, promoting their work to keep research grants flowing.

Genetic engineering needs to be carefully scrutinised to avoid the mistakes of the past that an unfettered belief in secular progress delivers. Those who hold that there is something sacred about living organism are right to raise concerns. Often genetic engineering is driven by profit, sometimes in ways that seek to control free market access to crops for instance. There is something wrong about seeking to place an intellectual property right on something given for free by God. Even where farmers resist the use of such crops they are taken to court for breach of IPRs because of contamination. The polluter doesn't pay when genetic engineering is linked to profit, and scientists are intrinsically linked to the flow of money in research institutions from such businesses. 

Of course there are some advances that are good and it would be wrong to stop scientific research altogether, but ethically we need to allow religious voices to be heard in science if scientific progress is to be harnessed so as to provide useful service for humanity, and not profit for a few with the environment damaged along the way.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Are The Rephaim Already Defeated? Giant's Causeway Brings Out True Colours

Andrew Brown writes in the Guardian and asks What made the creationist footprints in the Giant's Causeway visitor centre? He comes up with the usual ‘bash-the-creationists’ stuff we expect from the Guardian, but fails to engage in understanding foundational commitments that are necessary in science. Instead he accuses creationists of lying and preaching conspiracy theories. But creationists have grown to expect critics to misunderstand the issues. So I won't bother to enlighten him here.

And Richard Dawkins and Brian Cox get in on the act, throwing out tired insults for effect; Cox even descends to swearing instead of offering a scientific argument. Dawkins thinks that creationists are 'intellectual baboons' engaged in 'ignorant bigotry.' Cox comments that ‘to suggest there is any debate that Earth is 4.54 billion years old is pure s***.' (It rhymes with manure). It is hardly worth responding to.

Comments by Brown though are worth commenting on. As well as being liars and stupid, Brown now comes up with the notion that creationists are somehow malevolent. He writes that ‘Creationism isn't a kind of benevolent nonsense, like most forms of New Age belief systems. It's malevolent…’ So for believing ‘nonsense’ and being verbally abused rather viciously in the media creationists are now to be thought of as ‘evil’ as well? Is that really what you mean Mr Brown? Although we live an age when every ‘phobia’ is becoming a criminal offence, some beliefs are still to be subject to the Orwellian ‘two minutes of hate.’

Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/richard-dawkins-creationism-at-giants-causeway-is-intellectual-baboonism-16181959.html#ixzz20DvtLDJY

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Will Boris Johnson Get Over It ?

It has been widely reported, and blogged, that Boris Johnson has stepped in to ban an advertisement from London buses because it suggests that gay sentiment is not established at birth, but instead is a lifestyle choice. For this audacity the Mayor of London has decided that it needs to be banned - see for instance the Guardian report here.  Of course this ban has increased the reach of the advert across the internet way beyond the impact of a few London buses, and it will likely run and run as it seems to have forced a breach of contract with the involvement now of lawyers.

Johnson is reported to have said that: "London is one of the most tolerant cities in the world and intolerant of intolerance." Of course the ironic incoherence of such a statement is lost in our modern world, where one can be both tolerant and intolerant at the same time. Such fluidity in the meaning and use of words has historically been a route to tyranny where even the concept of human value becomes relative as it loses its objective meaning, and for Christians the loss of freedom of thought and conscience is becoming a reality, as George Carey has also recently pointed out. The backers of this campaign are reported to be orthodox Anglicans, not your average religious fanatic, but they receive a kicking from Johnson nonetheless. Perhaps Johnson with his classical training is happy with platonic 'double truths', but real love can only come out of coherence and honest dialogue.

There is nothing unloving about discussing the origin of gay sentiment, in fact just to say to a confused young person that they are gay and must give into it is a recipe for increased confusion, not for clarity of thought. From the words of Jesus - it is the truth that sets us free (John 8:32). Let us at least have an honest debate about it. Sadly, this is just one area in our modern society where reason and debate are suppressed and anyone who dares to question is personally vilified. Other areas include xxxxxxx xxxxxx and xxxxxxxx.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Killing Unwanted Babies in the BMJ ?

An article has appeared in the British Medical Journal suggesting it should be acceptable to kill unwanted babies. The article is (misguidedly) justified on the grounds of free speech. In response the Daily Mail has published an article on its website available here

It reads that "Francesca Minerva [a philosopher and medical ethicist with links to Oxford University], argues a young baby is not a real person and so killing it in the first days after birth is little different to aborting it in the womb." She is reported to have suggested that "Doctors should have the right to kill newborn babies because they are disabled, too expensive or simply unwanted by their mothers.'

Lord Alton, who is chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pro-Life, has responded in the Catholic Herald that: ‘It is profoundly disturbing, indeed shocking, to see the way in which opinion-formers within the medical profession have ditched the professional belief of the healer to uphold the sanctity of human life for this impoverished and inhumane defence of child destruction.’

This is indeed profoundly disturbing. But then what basis do humanist or secular ethicists have other than subjective criteria based upon human sentiment? It is indeed the Christian world view that values all people and upholds the sanctity of life, where transcendent moral laws are accepted as being given by the divine creator. For all their protestations, humanist and secularists invite us to live in a moral and lawless vacuum. The so-called Brave New World they invite us to live in is not a nice place at all.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Farewell to Prof. Terry Hamblin

With sadness we note the death of creation supporter Prof. Terry Hamblin. A leader in his scientific field of cancer research Professor Hamblin will be missed by those who knew him. A comment has been placed on the CSM website and in the Telegraph

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Are the BHA and BCSE Campaigns in Breach of The Equality Act 2010?

The British Humanist Association is boasting that they have stopped Intelligent Design and Creationism from being discussed in free schools. http://www.humanism.org.uk/news/view/961 They claim that the'Government has changed 'Free School model funding agreement to ban creationist schools.' If so, is the Government even in breach of its obligations under the Equality Act 2010? Of course the truth is probably more subtle than the BHA claims. But you can read about their campaign here; http://www.humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/countering-creationism

The Equality Act 2010 makes some interesting demands. "The act covers nine protected characteristics, which cannot be used as a reason to treat people unfairly. Every person has one or more of the protected characteristics, so the act protects everyone against unfair treatment." The protected characteristics include religion or belief.
"The Equality Act sets out the different ways in which it is unlawful to treat someone, such as direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, victimisation and failing to make a reasonable adjustment for a disabled person.
The act prohibits unfair treatment in the workplace, when providing goods, facilities and services, when exercising public functions, in the disposal and management of premises, in education and by associations (such as private clubs)."
So here is my question. Are the BHA and BCSE, who campaign against creationism being discussed even as a religious position in schools, working against the law? Do they respect religious diversity or do they wish to establish the dominance of humanism in society and silence those of religious faith ?

Monday, 2 January 2012

Word and Spirit - Smith Wigglesworth Prophecy

I have been thinking recently about the Word and Spirit prophecy of Smith Wigglesworth. Adrian Warnock has for instance posted it on his blog. http://adrianwarnock.com/2007/07/toam-prophecy-from-smith-wigglesworth/

I think some may know a little bit about what it is to be filled with God's Spirit, but the question I want to ask here is what does it mean for the Church to be committed to God's Word? One aspect I would raise that is relevant to this blog is what a commitment to God's Word implies for our belief in God's work in creation, and the debate between creationists and evolutionists. Of course this is tied up with the interpretation of Scripture as well, but how should we understand such a commitment? I would suggest that for Wigglesworth it is related to belief in God's power in the world because of his wide experience in seeing God bring healing to many people, even raising some from the dead. So what about God's Word and divine power in the act of Creation?

On the wider question of what it might mean for Church identity, David Stroud has offered some very interesting thoughts for the New Frontiers group, but it does have wider relevance for others as well.