‘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

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Comet Ison - was it a sign of the second coming ?

There was a lot of chatter on the internet about Comet Ison in relation to it being a sign of the second coming. The hope was that it would burn brightly over the earth in the run up to Christmas Day. But Ison burned up following its track around the Sun - a bit like putting a snow ball in the fire and expecting it to survive.

But interestingly, Ison underwent its own death and resurrection, as reported at www.spaceweather.com Its demise was announced prematurely on the web by scientists as it seemed to disappear near the Sun. But then it popped out the other side and was visible on SOHO LASCO C3 imagery. It then was seen to ascend, and finally disappeared into a cloud of its own making as it burnt up.

So was it a sign of Jesus and the second coming? You must decide for yourself. Of course the modernist mindset would sneer at this. But in the pre-modern period reading signs in the heavens was part of the work of those who studied the stars. For instance, the wise men from the East followed a star to Bethlehem to worship Jesus, the newly born king of the Jews. Reading nature semiotically may not suit those who wish to read nature in a simplistic literal sense, but we should note that it has a long and noble history.

Post Script 13/1/2014: It would seem Comet Ison completely disappeared. But in its place appeared Comet Love Joy - a sign of the Holy Spirit perhaps? You decide. See also:

The Tyranny of Secular Humanism

Ted Cantle, writing in the Guardian Comment is Free blog, argues that education policy should move away from religious diversity.

Instead he believes all schools should move towards a secular ideal where humanism is given pre-eminence. He thinks that religious education leads to communal enmity and hatred in society. He writes that 'The Fair Admissions Campaign has a simple aim – that all state-funded schools in England and Wales should be open equally to all children, without regard to religion or belief.' It is of course a good ideal to seek harmony in the community, but does secular humanism, that does not regard the value of religion or belief, provide the answer? Furthermore, we ought to ask questions about the content of religious education. If we all followed Jesus' teaching to love our enemies, then wars would cease. It is offensive to suggest that such teaching necessarily leads to communal hatred.

The problem is that the secular humanist' dominance in education provision does not respect the faith of individual believers, but seeks to indoctrinate children away from their family or community beliefs. For instance consider the way evolution is forced upon the schools systems, where even the discussion of creation in the school science lessons is forbidden. This is really a form of tyranny against religious believers, and has echoes of the education policies in the former Soviet Union.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Cracking the Darwin Code - new book by Andrew Sibley

Cracking the Darwin Code is now published and available on Amazon. This book explores the non-scientific foundations of acceptance of deep-time and evolution.

Anthony Latham has written an encouraging review - as follows; '...a very well researched book that gives considerable historical and philosophical detail in a short space. The influences of various religions and philosophies upon scientists over time are explained in a scholarly way. It is heavily referenced and provides a good foundation for anyone who wants to research this area.'

Saturday, 18 May 2013

GM crops add little to yields

Geoffrey Lean writes that GM crops are not at the fore-front of increases in crop yields. Traditional methods involving cross pollination are far more successful.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Junk DNA, the sin of ENCODE and the sacredness of Darwin.

ICR have a useful article that highlights the response of some Darwinists to the ENCODE findings http://www.icr.org/article/7383/. It is interesting to see how protests against ENCODE use religious language. Apparently to do good science that challenges Darwinism is a 'sin', which shows that evolution is really a secular religion.

"ENCODE's biggest scientific sin was not being satisfied with its role as data provider; it assumed the small-science role of interpreter of the data." (Graur, D. et al. 2013. On the immortality of television sets: "function" in the human genome according to the evolution-free gospel of ENCODE. Genome Biology and Evolution).

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

More intolerance from the left - Polly Toynbee

Polly Toynbee adds her voice to those seeking to whip up hatred and a witch hunt against Christians through use of unnecessary polemical language. She speaks for instance of a 'nest of bigots' over the question of acceptance of gay marriage Toynbee - gay marriage debate uncovered nest of bigots. And typical of many humanists she also deliberately misrepresents Christian teaching as if wilful ignorance in theology is a good thing. She should seek to understand Paul's interpretation of Moses for instance before commenting on this matter, and seek to understand the Christian teaching of the dignity and status of human beings created in the image of God. But to deliberately misrepresent another person's position does not show tolerance, respect or understanding - for an educated person wilful ignorance is simply not good enough. Despite this attack Christians are in fact major givers to charitable causes in terms of both time and money in a non-judgemental manner. Toynbee's comments are deeply offensive.
While growing up and trying to understand political philosophy I came to the conclusion that the position of the liberal left is ultimately incoherent. For the liberal mind politics is driven by sentiment and subjectivity and therefore is intellectually weak. The mindset of the liberal left calls for tolerance for all, except of course for those Christians who hold to intellectual coherence and objectivity in matters of politics and ethics. The liberal mind calls for tolerance, then must speak and act with intolerance towards those who disagree with them. Critics of the liberal left must be silenced at all costs, and if that means persecuting Christians and dragging them before the courts on issues of conscience then so be it. For the liberal mind sentiment only goes so far (which is why they also care so little for the killing of aborted babies - but that is another story). 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Another voice frozen out of the public square

Another example of a voice frozen out of the public square for dissenting from the liberal agenda is that of David Bellamy who criticised global warming. His work for the BBC dried up in 2004 after calling global warming 'poppycock'. Whether he is right is not the issue here. The issue is whether there is room for dissenting voices in the modern world, or must they always be silenced? The BBC froze me out because I don't believe in global warming: Outspoken as ever, David Bellamy reveals why you don't see him on TV any more
The Daily Mail also comments on the success of David Attenborough who is very much an establishment figure. ... meanwhile, the man who's never OFF the telly says 'curb population or nature will do it for us': Wildlife legend Sir David warns that mankind is a 'plague on the Earth' Attenborugh urges the world to curb the global population growth because it is, he believes, unsustainable. Of course there is a limit to how many people the earth can hold, but as the same time we can recognise that God wishes to fill the earth with people, and that ultimately he will provide. But population growth slows as communities become wealthier. The way to decrease population growth is to respect others and share the world's resources around more fairly, together with good education for all where we recognise our collective responsibility to one another and to care for the world.

Louie Giglio forced out of Presidential inauguration

Louie Giglio has been forced out of the Presidential inauguration because of an old sermon that took a traditional position on gay rights Giglio outed. Giglio did not retract this.

The sermon had warned against gay rights because he saw it as "...a movement to seize by any means necessary the feeling and the mood of the day, to the point where the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society.” With some irony Wayne Besen, who is the founder of Truth Wins Out, responded to Giglio, saying that “It would be a shame to select a preacher with backward views on L.G.B.T. people at a moment when the nation is rapidly moving forward on our issues.”

Besen has rather proved Giglio's point, but is this really what liberal gay rights is all about, to force through one view and silence dissent through direct discrimination?           

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Steve Chalke causes offence to evangelical Christians – the gay debate

   Steve Chalke has tacitly compared traditional evangelical Christian views on homosexuality to being akin to support for slavery in an article in Christianity Magazine. This I find offensive. There is also a useful response from Greg Downes . Of course Steve wishes people to be nice to him because of his own humanity, but he needs to be aware that those believers who disagree with him are genuine Christians who believe in loving others, and they/we need to be accorded the same respect he desires for himself. The reason for Steve’s article is that he wishes to preach an inclusive gospel that celebrates monogamous homosexual relationships. However, he misses the point I fear because the gospel is about inclusion ‘in Christ’ where Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, writes the Law on our hearts. This is the ongoing work of sanctification in the believer. Does Steve really understand the gospel I wonder? There is another form of slavery that comes from lack of knowledge; as Jesus said ‘Then you will known the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). But where Steve does have a point is that Christians do need to find ways of loving gay people even as they disagree about their lifestyle choice. This is respect.

Remembering the humanity of individuals in the debate over gay marriage

   Sadly, the debate over homosexuality and gay marriage is continuing to generate more heat than light. Stephen Fry for instance has suggested that those opposed are ‘screeching’ extremists, although he seeks to pacify the Church of England by suggesting there is no desire to force priests to marry gay couples. Regrettably, Fry is not a lawyer and there is no authority behind his statement, nor does he seem to understand how the law works and clerics may well find themselves taken to court in test cases on this very matter.
   In response to such concerns former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey compares the secularising agenda behind this to Nazism. ‘Remember the Jews in Nazi Germany,’ he asks, and argues that the Holacaust began with dehumanising name-calling. But that was just ‘…the first stage towards that totalitarian state.’ He believes then that we ‘…have to resist them.’ because we ‘…treasure democracy. We treasure our Christian inheritance and we want to debate this in a fair way.’ Martin Robbins though calls Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, a ‘disgrace’ for the crime of affirming the traditionalist position Gay marriage 'Nazis' and the disgrace of Lord Carey. Carey is I think right to put up an argument for a traditional understanding of marriage in line with the teaching of the Established Church, although a shame that we often cannot make our case without engaging in excessive rhetoric.
   It is also a shame that many are now vilified for holding to a view that was widely accepted and considered normal and mainstream just a few years ago. How times change so quickly. And there does seem to be wider agenda here to remove the Christian voice from the public square of discourse, and the gay movement appears to be merely a useful tool to attack and silence Christians and the Church. But in our desire to protect ourselves as Christians we must nor forget our primary calling is to be ministers of grace in a hurting world.
   And caught in the middle of this fierce debate are real people, often hurting and confused about who they are, with competing voices for their attention. In response to this concern Mark Meynell makes a compelling case that we need to remember the humanity of human beings, created in the image of God, behind the hurling of labels and insults I'm a Christian who won't label sexuality. Will Young has also expressed the concern that he feels an imputed sense of shame for himself, and is present in other gay people, that arises he believes because of the words of churchmen and women. Will Young is not alone- Inflicted shame still damages many gay people. There is indeed a misplaced sense of shame, but the human condition is more complex than to argue that it always arises from other people. True shame is a spiritually defined emotion that may arise in all of us because of our intrinsic God-given humanity, and its purpose is to call us upwards in love towards wholeness and the spiritual aspect of our existence and away from the lust and idolatry of the flesh. Shame calls us towards God, and to the hope of a better life. And this I think reflects something that is lacking in this debate. That is to acknowledge two central Christian themes; that of transformation and transcendence.   
   When faced with ministries that counsel those with a gay disposition there are often expressions of outrage on the basis that gay sentiment is a given at birth and further comment is inappropriate. The claim, often made without strong supporting evidence, is that it is nature and nurture, but as Meynell argues, we need to move beyond labelling people according to their sexuality. There is the claim for instance in Chalke’s article that homophobia is the cause of a lot of the mental struggles that gay people face, however my own experience of counselling those with homosexual inclinations is that there is a disjunction between the physical and mental, and often even a continued desire for the opposite sex that causes mental anguish over who they are. These issues are complex.
   Now of course Christians can sometime have an unloving attitude that says to gay people that they need to just ‘snap out of it.’ This was effectively the approach of the Pelagians who held that mankind could reach spiritual maturity through self-effort alone. This is of course not the gospel found in the New Testament and Augustine emphasised divine grace in response to a gospel of works, although Christians often seem to overlook such grace and fall into error. Both sides in this debate often deny the need for the grace of God. Those who are vulnerable and experience gay sentiment often go through a struggle that they do not seem able to win, perhaps because they seek to do it in their own strength and do not understand how to take hold of the grace of God, even though for Christians they may even pray very hard.
   The secret I would suggest is how to fight. A weak analogy is perhaps to consider the martial arts that teach people to use their opponent’s strength against them. I would suggest we need sometimes to just turn temptation aside and in humility let the love and grace of God wash over us as we refocus our minds upon who we are; that is as men and women created firstly in the image of God and to resist labels such as gay or straight.
   The Christian gospel, the good news, is concerned with ministering the reality of grace and divine love to people; a grace and love that is present in the world and comes down to us through the life and death of Jesus Christ, and worked out through the Holy Spirit. That is; it is a costly grace, but not one of ultimate loss and sadness, but one born in the hope of forgiveness, resurrection and transformation into the image of Christ. And it is the possibility of transformation that is the hope of the Christian believer. That God can take us from where we are and work in us a new life that rises up in worship towards God.
   The concept of new birth in Jesus has become a well-used cliché for Christians, but it is true nonetheless. As human beings we are created to be bearers of the divine image, a calling away from false lusts and idolatry of whatever colour. So transformation leads to transcendence. That is, that ultimately the purpose of each one of us is not to lust after, or idolise the flesh, but to worship God, to refocus our minds not on fleshly things that fail us and cannot satisfy, but on spiritual things that endure; as the Westminster Shorter Catechism states, ‘The chief purpose of man is to worship God and to enjoy his presence for ever.’ That is not to say that the flesh plays no part of the hope of resurrection, Christians are not Gnostics who believe that flesh is evil, but instead it is a flesh that is renewed and clothed ultimately with God’s glory as our physical being and mental life are brought into harmony.