Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ASC and MS

Interesting article from Science Daily showing the benefits of combining ASC and genetic reprogramming in mice.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christian Video Games

Interesting post at Ars (a decidedly non-Christian site).

From one angle, it seems natural that there are no (good) Christian (science) fiction books or video games. Christians have more eternally minded things to work on.

At the same time, we have freedom to relax and spend our free time as we wish. In these times, it would nice to relax with something from a Christian perspective.

This is something I would like to work on, but generating such things always takes longer than consuming them - and I barely have time for consumption!

Monday, December 21, 2009

ASC Supply

We have seen there are potentially large sources of adult stem cells (from fat, umbilical chord blood, and amniotic fluid).

Now we are seeing the umbilical chord itself is a possible supply.

It seems even CNN has caught on to the state of adult stem cell research.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

ESC and Justice

An odd article from Science Daily:
"there's a lack of diversity among today's most commonly used human embryonic stem cell lines, which highlights an important social justice issue."
Not sure what their definition of justice is...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

ESC Research

I carefully monitor the Science Daily RSS feed for articles on stem cell research. There are a great many applications for adult stem cells, progressing in human trials.

To date, I have found one application for embryonic cells (just starting human trials).

Now, two more articles on using ESC for simple research:
  1. Using gene "knock-out" to study the effects of a gene on cell transport (normally done in mice)
  2. Studying the underlying mechanisms of stem cells

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ASC Update

A lot of news:

- It would definitely seem that treatment for heart attacks is the leading use of adult stem cells.

From Science Daily:
"They randomized 101 heart attack survivors to receive a solution including progenitor cells from their own bone marrow. The other 103 patients received a placebo solution."
A much larger population that previous studies.

- Also, a possible new source of stem cells, from Science Daily.

- And a possible treatment for sickle cell disease (tested in humans)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Healthcare and Abortion

An infuriating article from CNN:
"'Why are women being singled out here? It's so unfair,' said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, adding there is no medical procedure for men that cannot be purchased with private funds."
She's right. Women are unfairly targeted by abortion (through sex selection).

Huh? Oh, she is saying it is unfair that more women cannot be murdered. That's women's rights?

Monday, December 14, 2009

ASC Update

Several new updates on adult stem cells:
  1. Treatment of blood vessel blockage in mice, using ASC and gene therapy.
  2. Using umbilical chord stem cells to treat cornea damage in mice
  3. Blood stem cells genetically engineered to kill HIV in human cells implanted into mice
Good day for mice!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How Do You Know

It's been a long time since the last epistemology post...

Interesting news from Science Daily:
"evidence that craving disrupts an individual's meta-awareness, the ability to periodically appraise one's own thoughts."
A rationalist's foundation lies in his own thoughts ("I think, therefore I am"). If his mind is lying to him, he is lost - and he doesn't even know it.

Yet, evidence that his mind is lying to him (in certain circumstances) does nothing to shake his faith that it is not lying to him in other matters.

Perhaps, he is better called an Irrationalist.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


A lot of news about global warming, with the current conference of world leaders going on.

I'm falling behind, so I will kill two articles with one post.

First, we have an example of some of the very scary talk that comes out of environmentalists and global warming supporters:
"the meeting of Humanity's future"
"Our current trajectory of inaction, unabated consumption of natural resources and unhealthy addiction to dirty energy won't result in a soft landing. Humanity is teetering on the edge of what I can best describe as a massive global systems failure."
I am no fan of unabated consumption. However, this is a sin issue. Things like greed, conspicuous consumption (pride). These things are very hard to legislate, without a lot of negative side effects and oppression (which ultimately hurts the weak and poor the most).
"What this flagrantly disregards is an ever-increasing population with a veracious appetite for growth and a vastly diminishing resource base. Any agenda that does not acknowledge those issues is not all comprehensive. In other words, we are fundamentally moving from an era of resource abundance to an era of resource scarcity."
The worst sort of scarcity is artificial scarcity (for example, intellectual property depends on artificial scarcity). This creates an overwhelming feeling of injustice, which leads to Robin Hoods (like DVD Jon), which leads to scoff-laws, which leads to craziness like DMCA.

I don't see any sort of real scarcity from environmental concerns today. There is talk of treating CO2 emissions as a scarce resource, which must be managed. I doubt any good will come of that. Talk of "ever-increasing population" smacks of the anti-life trends we see in culture today.

Second (I will try to be fast), we have an emotional appeal to "save the glaciers". I particularly like the comparison to the British navy and limes. How can we be certain which side of the AGW debate is comparable to the British navy? Of course, the author believes himself right (pun intended).

Why is saving glaciers a good thing? They are big blocks of cold water. Fresh water. Water we could be using. Isn't it better to free up that water? Rather than shutting down our activities, and shifting from efficient means of energy production to inefficient ones, shouldn't we be preparing to harvest all this fresh water? To store it, before it runs into the ocean (averting fears of raising sea levels). Why doesn't anyone propose that?

Friday, December 11, 2009

IVF and Gender Choice

An insulting article from CNN.
"Genetic screening techniques that allow parents to choose their children's gender are now more accurate than ever and are becoming increasingly mainstream, but experts are divided over whether the technology should be used in this way."
This makes it sound like we can switch an embryo from male to female. The procedure is selecting one, and destroying the others. Nowhere is this mentioned in the article.
"But Steinberg argues that it's wrong to limit scientific capabilities. 'I say to critics that the last thing in the world that you want to do is put the handcuffs on science.

'We've been giving women expanded reproductive choices for 50 years. This is another choice.'"
This is about the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Science allows us to destroy all life on earth with nuclear bombs - is this a valid choice? Are we "putting handcuffs on science" by not allowing people to carpet bomb the planet with nukes? We have the technology to remove all the organs from living people. Is this a valid choice?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

AGW and Soteriology


"Salvation talk" is a big red flag. There is one Savior, and one thing we must be saved from (judgment for our crimes against God). Anything that supposes a greater need for salvation, a greater threat, is anti-Christ (a replacement for Christ).

I can't help but laugh at the latest global warming propaganda from Science News:
"what has previously been reported on forests' worth of newsprint in recent years"
Doesn't chopping down a forest increase global warming? Aren't these newspapers hypocrites? They should shut down their presses if they are really serious.
"Sure, we will feel some pain in coming years, it says, but that's to save the planet from long and dire agony in the next few centuries." [emphasis added]
There's that salvation thing. Also, this statement needs some translation:
"we" means "you", particularly "you poor people". The rich and powerful are not going to feel the brunt of any global warming legislation. The poor people who can no longer afford food and shelter, they will feel it.

"some pain" means death for those who cannot get adequate food and warm shelter. Also shattered dreams for those whose hard work is taxed and regulated away.

"save the planet" means avoiding a catastrophe which we were never certain would even come about. This is win-win for the prognosticators. If it doesn't happen, "See, we saved ourselves just in time". If it does, "You should of listened to us sooner" or "You should have done more".

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

ASC Update

Science Daily has an interesting group of updates in the status of adult stem cell therapies.
  1. Using donor T-cells to suppress rejection of donor bone marrow stem cells (in humans)
  2. Using a drug to prevent side effects in children receiving donor stem cells
  3. A better method of removing T-cells from done bone marrow stem cells (in humans)
  4. A better method for growing different blood cells from adult stem cells (tested in mice)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

More Global Warming

As I mentioned, global warming is heating up in the news (hah!)

Now Science Daily is adding fuel to the fire (hehe! oh, it's too easy!)
"the Earth's temperature may be 30-50% more sensitive to atmospheric carbon dioxide than has previously been estimated"
This sort of thing would be an embarrassment in microarchitecture models (oops, yea our old performance model was off 30-50%, but the new one is good, trust us!). Somehow, in climate models, being less hugely off is a big improvement.
"We found that, given the concentrations of carbon dioxide prevailing three million years ago, the model originally predicted a significantly smaller temperature increase than that indicated by the reconstructions"
Now we come to one of the big points that causes my skepto-meter to spike. If you are correlating data in your model against events from millions of years ago, you are feeding data that is almost certainly wrong into it (since the earth is, very likely, only thousands of years old).

Bringing bad assumptions (which makes bad models), and feeding in bad data is going to drive you into circles of bad decisions.

Making wild predictions ("the world as we know it will end unless we shut down our economies!") doesn't help.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


It's funny how angry atheists are about the selection of Francis Collins (an avowed Christian) as the new head of the NIH.

It's also sad what Albert Mohler has discovered about Dr. Collins and his stand on embryonic stem cell research.

Quoting Dr. Collins:
"I am happy to say that we now have human embryonic stem cell lines eligible for use by our research community under our new stem cell policy. . . . In accordance with the guidelines, these stem cell lines were derived from embryos that were donated under ethically sound informed consent processes. "
There is no ethical process by which one person can elect another to be murdered. That is evil.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Speed of Evolution

One of the most interesting points of contention in the evolution/creation controversy is the "speed of evolution" (or more precisely, the rate of speciation - the time required for one species of animals to become two).

Creationists actually have the more stringent requirement.

For us to observe all the species we have today, starting from the limited "kinds" taken on the ark - speciation must happen pretty quickly (relative to "geological" time scales).

Of course, the evolutionist gets hit coming and going on this one. If evolution is fast, then we should be able to observe transmutation of species (cats becoming dogs) - which we don't. If evolution is slow, then we should not even observe speciation (wolves becoming chihuahua and St. Bernards - not quite different species, but close).

Observations repeatedly show that speciation can happen quickly (latest from Science Daily).

Friday, December 4, 2009

ASC and Heart Attacks

A lot of work going on using adult stem cells to treat the heart. In addition to my last summary, we have a report from a human trial from Science Daily.

This is different in two ways:
  1. The cells appear to be taken from different people
  2. The cells are administered through an IV

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

ASC and Bone Fractures

Exciting news from Science Daily. Adult stem cells (from bone marrow) have been used in humans to treat bone fractures.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Science of Global Warming

It's been a while since I last covered global warming. With the upcoming Copenhagen talks, it is back in the news...

The leading proponents of anthropic global warming (AGW) constantly plead with us to listen to the science. Of course, science is an abstract noun. And abstract nouns hate it when you anthropomorphize them.

And then, they don't even tell us the science. They just tell us to trust them. Like this article from Ars.

So, I have dug into the science for myself. The basics are pretty straightforward, and we can see where the difficulties lie:

It all starts with the Sun.

The Sun is a huge nuclear furnace (operating at almost 16 million degrees K). Inside, hydrogen becomes helium, with small amounts of matter converted to energy. This energy spills out into the outer layers of hydrogen, until it reaches the surface (at a temperature of about 6 thousand degrees).

The Sun can be modeled as a "black body", one which is in equilibrium (emitting as much energy as it receives). This gives us an idea of the sort of light coming from it, and allows us to calculate the energy received by the Earth (intensity of about 1.4 KW/m^2).

Modeling the Earth is much more complicated. If the Earth were a true black body, the surface temperature would be about 278 K (5 C, or 41 F - pretty cold).

Actually, the surface of the Earth can be modeled fairly well as a black body (or actually, gray body with some albedo/reflectiveness).

The trouble comes in that the energy emitted by the surface is not radiated directly into space.

We calculate the wavelength of light emitted based on temperature. For the Sun, with its high temperature, the light is what we call "visible" - short wavelength. The Earth, with its lower temperature, emits infrared light (long wavelength).

The atmosphere passes visible light (low absorption), but absorbs infrared light. This creates the "greenhouse effect". The atmosphere acts like a blanket or insulator, reflecting some of the infrared back to the Earth, before passing any out to space.

Modeling the effects of this blanket is the hard part...

Monday, November 30, 2009

ESC and Glow-in-the-dark

Interesting article from Science Daily:
"scientists at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute"
How's that for irony.
"Not only will the ErythRED cell line lead to more efficient creation of red blood cells from human embryonic stem cells, but these cells are a crucial tool for monitoring the behaviour of the cells when transplanted into animal models"
I know we have a problem with getting people to give blood... what is the rationalists explanation that anyway? Shouldn't rational people give blood?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

ASC and Pre-term Lungs

Encouraging new from Science Daily, on the use of adult stem cells to treat premature birth in rats.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Downs Again

Interesting article on Science Daily:
"More importantly, the improved detection rate was accompanied by a decrease in the screening tests false positive rates"
I mumbled earlier about the high rate of abortion for those diagnosed with Downs syndrome. This article reveals the dark side of this practice.

A "false positive" refers to a test which says "true" when the reality is "false". In this case, the baby is said to have Downs syndrome, when he in fact, does not.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Dawkins

"If this 'Dawkins' exists, I demand he show himself to me!" - Way of the Master Radio
Among the new atheists, one of the most amusing is Professor Richard Dawkins. He is constantly seeking media attention, and finding it.

The latest is at CNN.

Some choice selections:
"It's an undeniable fact that to own up to being an atheist is tantamount to introducing yourself as Mr. Hitler or Miss Beelzebub"
This is probably a reference to the public perception that atheists are "evil" (although, what does "evil" even mean to someone who denies there is the ultimate good).

The public perception is wrong.

An atheist is not really any more likely to be evil than anybody else.

However, an atheist has no good reason to justify his behavior. To be good or evil is the same, in his worldview.

"Since we are talking about practical ways, the obvious example is stem cell research."
Yea, don't even go there Professor. You're a biologist, you should know better (I can excuse your terrible theology).
"But there is a more pernicious and pervasive influence, which is an active shutting down of the critical faculties."
Hmm, Romans 1:28?

"Religion teaches us to be satisfied with non-explanations, and this is viciously corrosive of science and of the life of the mind generally."
That's really the best one. I enjoy science because I want to know how God is revealing Himself in nature. Also, I want to be able to explain all my positions based on careful study of God's Word.

But the evolutionist? He "explains" everything with "evolution did it".
  • Why do we have no hair on our bodies? - natural selection
  • Why do we have hair on our heads? - natural selection
  • Why are their more right handed people than left? - natural selection
  • Why are men more likely to be polygamous than women? - natural selection
  • Oops, our latest study shows they are pretty much the same? - natural selection
What traits does natural selection select for? Whatever makes an organism less likely to be selected.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ASC Supply

Recently we saw a potential huge supply of (adult) stem cells from fat.

Now, two more on the same day:
  1. Amniotic fluid
  2. Potential benefits of stem cell therapy without stem cells

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mary and Byzantine

Insightful article from Ignatius Insight.

I must apologize, because I like to always say something good on a topic, before offering criticism (for example "On Pietism"/"Against Pietism"). That post will have to wait...

Some tidbits:
"The Mariological experience and piety of the Byzantine Churches—Catholic and Orthodox—seem to be embodied almost entirely in their worship. But we find no prominent theological reflection on the subject"
"In the East, knowledge of God is not the result of logical arguments presented by theology."
This second quote really captures a lot.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

ESC and Skin

From Science Daily:
"For more than two decades, physicians have used cell culture techniques in order to obtain a sufficiently large area of skin to reconstruct the destroyed epidermis from a small sample harvested from the patients themselves."
So, we have existing solutions that work without ESC...
"Although this type of graft has been used with success, one of its limits is the time required (three weeks) to produce a sufficient amount of epidermis to cover the affected areas"
But we are impatient...
"the use of such grafts in animals with a weakened immune system to overcome potential graft rejection. Twelve weeks after transplantation, the mice presented localized areas of completely normal and functional adult human epidermis containing all the skin cell types"
Graft rejection? Oh yea, these are foreign cells, so the receiver will need to take immuno-suppressive drugs their whole life, or until they can receive a traditional graft.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


It's interesting, the world's treatment of "fans" and "fanatics". Obviously the words are related, one being the shortened form of the other.

But one is accepted, encouraged really.

The other is only spoken of in hushed tones, or with derision.

Excellent treatment at Team Pyro.

Monday, November 16, 2009

ASC and Leukemia

Interesting article from Science Daily:
"Blood and marrow stem cell transplantation has been a mainstay treatment for patients with high risk leukemia and other hematological malignancies for the past 30 years. ... Now, UCB [umbilical cord blood] is routinely used throughout the world as an alternative to bone marrow transplantation."
As I've mentioned previously, embryonic stem cells are technically difficult to produce (in addition to the moral evil involved in production).

On the other hand, adult stem cells source are plentiful (liposuction mentioned in that link, and umbilical cord blood here).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

ASC and Blood Disease

Pretty cool development from Science Daily.

A treatment tested on rats combining gene reprogramming with ASC.
"They successfully used what is called a viral vector (in this case a lentivirus) to insert a healthy version of the IDUA gene into early stage red blood cell cultures"
"Encouraged by the initial cell experiments, the research team next cultured hematopoietic stem cells"
"Dr. Pan said reprogramming a patient's own developing red blood cells by gene therapy would provide a viable option for patients who cannot find a donor and avoid potential complications caused by an immune response to donor cells."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Early Oceans

Interesting article at Science Daily.
"The scalding-hot sea that supposedly covered the early Earth may in fact never have existed"
Always a good start...

It is important to remember that a model is only a model. It is only as real as it is accurate and complete. A simple model will always break down, under certain circumstances. If you know the circumstances, the model can be useful. If you don't know, then you get bitten.
"Previous studies of similarly aged rocks had looked only at oxygen isotope ratios ... But isotope ratios recorded in rocks on the ocean floor are also dependent on the chemical composition of the seawater in which those rocks formed, and the past studies assumed the composition of the ancient ocean was essentially what it is today, which the [current] Stanford study did not."
This is postmodern science. We only know what science tells us, and science changes its story regularly. Their is no guarantee that today's "truth" will be tomorrow's "fantasy".

Thursday, November 12, 2009

ESC and Nerve Damage

It was bound to happen eventually, from Science Daily:
"therapy utilizes human embryonic stem cells"
"A week after test rats with 100 percent walking ability suffered neck spinal cord injuries, some received the stem cell treatment. The walking ability of those that didn't degraded to 38 percent. Treated rats' ability, however, was restored to 97 percent."
This treatment has already been authorized to start human trials.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

ESC and Brain Radiation

Interesting story from Science Daily.

Embryonic cells from rats are being used to treat rats undergoing radiation treatment for brain tumors (ironically, ESC treatments often cause tumors...).

It is unclear why they are using ESC rather than ASC...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Degrees of Doctrine

The Pyromaniacs are on a roll!

When it comes to disagreements between Christians, we must categorize our differences. Baby baptizers cannot meet with adult baptizers (would babies only be baptized every other week? Alternating with teaching about how the Bible describes credo-baptism as the right way?) One church cannot say we should dedicate both Sunday and Saturday as the one day for God.

But, these groups should be agreeable. Certainly not denying that one is not a Christian, simply for disagreeing.

There is an excellent list of Scriptures at the Team Pyro link. I would add Matthew 22:36-38. Jesus did not say all commandments are equally important, although there, it was more about two commandments summarizing the rest.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Controversy Again

As I mentioned before, everything at the Pyromaniacs site is really good.

I am trying to get caught up on my TeamPyro feed, and came across another good post on controversy (something they excel at :).

For those who don't know the history, today's Evangelical has evolved from earlier "Fundamentalists" (back when having a foundation was considered a good thing, rather than an abomination).

The Fundamentalists are to be respected for their stand on Biblical truth, especially in a time when the mainline Protestants were collapsing due to infection by modernism.

At the same time, it is important to hold fast to what is true. Not just to react against what is false. And to let minor things be minor.

Friday, November 6, 2009

ESC and Lung Cells

It is interesting to observe how hopeful journalists are for developments with embryonic stem cells, while adult stem cells are being used now to help people...

From Science Daily:
"The technique... could provide an alternative to lung transplants"
What is this fabulous technique that will be helping people tomorrow?
"This study demonstrates that hESC can differentiate into lung epithelial-like tissue without specific growth factors or embryoid body formation"
Oh, it just shows that stem cells can develop into adult cells. No treatment, no time line, no clinical trial.

Also, no mention that these cells will be incompatible with patients, having come from different people.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Catholic and catholic

Internet Monk has a special perspective on Evangelical and Catholic relations - his wife has converted to Catholicism (not to mention his blog is overrun by Catholics trying to convert him! :).

In this light, he has published a five part interview with Catholic apologist Bryan Cross. I would love to dig in line by line, but I am a little (a lot) overwhelmed.

Michael also has some closing words.

For part 1, I was surprised to see the weight he gives to philosophy. I was reminded of Colossians 2:8:
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

He also has a very odd view of the Gospel:
"For this reason, unity is at the very center of the gospel of Jesus Christ, because the unity of God and man in Jesus Christ is at the center of His gospel, in the greatest union of all time, God united to man in the incarnation of Christ."
and an odd absorption with "unity":
"So the unity and catholicity of the Church are together a sign to the world that the One whose Name we bear as Christians was from God"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I've been listening to John Macarthur on "The Christian and Government". He makes some excellent points, as always.

The Biblical notion of crime and punishment is that every crime has a price which must be paid. Thieves must return what is stolen (and then some). You have "eye for eye and tooth for tooth". This provides some disincentive (although sinners always sin, so total prevention is not possible).

The key is that justice must be well defined and swift. The greater the separation between the crime and the execution of judgment, the greater the injustice.

Our modern system has evolved from Biblical principles, but has lost these key Biblical truths. It has also been under attack by atheistic principles.

For the materialist, a human being is a stew of chemicals, bound to react according to the environment. Notions of "responsibility" or "culpability" are lost. Justice is not about paying a price, but seeking to inject some correcting factor into this stew. This is perfectly represented by this Slashdot comment.

In response to:
"Is personal responsibility compatible with atheism?...If we are nothing more than a chemical being, then where does personal responsibility come into play?"
"Yes. I hold both these beliefs. The justice system is not about blame, it's about keeping criminals safe from society and (in my mind) rehabilitating them."
Note the inversion of the standard. The justice system is not about keeping society safe from criminals, but the exact opposite.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Halloween

This is late for Halloween, but on topic.

Halloween is "All Hallow's Eve", the night before "All Souls Day", the day Catholics pray for the dead.

Some Evangelical Christians have problems with Halloween, but I don't really see it. The idea that it is in any way connected to paganism (despite the claims of neo-pagans) is really silly. The modern practice was created by suburban (nominally Christian) moms who wanted fun and candy for their kids, and supported by candy companies. I can't prove that, but it makes a lot more sense than imagining neo-pagans in the 50's and 60's (during the height of tension with atheistic Communism).

I do have a problem with prayer for the dead:
"If any man see his brother sin a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it." 1 John 5:16
Some might say this is a description of mortal and venial sin. But the concept of different categories of sin is not well supported in Scripture (there are different punishments for sin, and the sin against the Holy Spirit).

The simpler explanation is that "death" simply means "death". If you see a brother sin, and live - pray for him. If your brother dies, don't pray for him.


Because there's no point: "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Your brother has gone to judgment, his case cannot be considered any longer.

Perhaps there is tradition in such prayers. Or they comfort us. I think such a thing can be done in a theologically sound way (assuming their life did not show fruit of repentance):
"Father, we pray for our dearly departed that, in their last moments, they might have come to a knowledge of sin, and trusted in You."

Or for a known Christian:
"Father, we thank you for the life of our dearly departed brother. We thank you for the testimony of their life, and for the reward they have now received."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Observatory Data

I keep saying I am going to learn more about astronomy, but the biggest barrier is data (I don't have a telescope, and the light pollution is really bad).

Apparently, there is now a lot of data available online. Very cool.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

ASC and Lung Injury

From Science Daily, adult stem cells used to treat lung injury in mice.

Friday, October 30, 2009

ESC and Gametes

An interesting article from Science Daily.
"And yet deleting or increasing the expression of genes in the womb to understand why is both impossible and unethical."
Good thing it's impossible (for now), because we know ethics is no barrier for ESC researchers.
"Humans have a unique reproductive system"
That's an interesting point in passing. I thought we were like all the other animals...

I'd really like to know what they believe is ethical or unethical. Because the details of their experiment are exactly what they just said would be unethical "in the womb". As if, being translated 3 feet to the left suddenly makes what they're doing ethical.
  • "In the current study, the researchers treated human embryonic stem cells with proteins known to stimulate germ cell formation" (emphasis added)
  • "They then used a technique called RNA silencing to examine how blocking the expression of each of three DAZ family members in the embryonic stem cells affected germ cell development" (emphasis added)
This is not a treatment for human disease (which is the most common defense of ESC). This is a blind experiment - let's see what happens. It's not the first time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More on Mary

I need to go back and say more on the topic of Mary... this is not that post...

Good article from Insight Scoop about Evangelicals and Catholics Together on Mary.

I didn't go over it with a fine tooth comb, but it looks right overall.

Friday, October 23, 2009

ASC and Magnets

Interesting article at Science Daily.
"Following magnetic targeting, there was a five-fold increase in cell localisation"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Faster ASC

Interesting news from Science Daily.
"200 times more efficient and twice as fast as conventional methods for transforming adult human cells into stem cells"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

ASC and Heart Repair

Several new developments since my last summary.
  1. Treatment for heart attacks in human trials
  2. Another form in animal trials
  3. Now, a technique for growing heart tissue, using mouse cells
From the article:
"The researchers plan to test their model using non-embryonic stem cells... If they could use a patient's own cells, the patch would also evade an immune system reaction."

Thursday, October 1, 2009


An insightful post by Doug Wilson.
"There are two kinds of contempt that the world has -- one is for the spiritual man they respect, and the other is for the spiritual man they don't respect."
Compare and contrast John Macarthur and Joel Osteen.

Both are considered irrelevant by the world, both are held in contempt.

Macarthur, because he preaches the truth, and men hate the truth and would rather believe lies. His preaching is ultimately relevant. You can play his sermons from forty years ago, and one from yesterday. You can't tell the difference - because truth is always relevant.

Osteen is hated in a much more subtle way. It is like when you pat a dog on the head and say, "Good doggie, you're so smart." His sermons are also much the same - all forgettable.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Billion Year Hammer

Our minds are simply incapable of understanding ideas like million or billion. My son said, "I'm gonna count to a million. One, two, a million". Counting at one per second, eight hours per day, it would take over a month to count that much. Counting to a billion would take a lifetime.

It's almost like our minds shut down. You see "millions and millions", or "billions and billions" and you say, "well, I guess anything could happen". It is completely outside of our experience, our framework for living.

When you allow for billions of years in history, huge gaps seem like minor cracks.

There is no recorded history more than 6,000 years old. There are some claims the Babylonians started slightly earlier, but then there are big gaps where, seemingly, nothing happened.

One billion years is 166,000 times longer than that. That's like 30 times all of recorded history every year for all of recorded history.

Science News tells us that there was a gap of one billion years in history where nothing happened.

That's twice as long as the time it is supposed to have taken simple one celled organisms to turn into people who can travel in space.

Everett Dirksen is attributed with the quote, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money". I see some parallelism...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Analyzing DNA

An informative article at Ars Technica on DNA sequencing.

It is important to remember that DNA cannot be read like the files on your hard drive. There is a lot of work and messy chemistry that goes into it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Blasphemy Day

The "New Atheists" have a real image problem. They are seen as immature whiners.

Blasphemy Day only strengthens that image.

Albert Mohler has some excellent commentary.

The irony is that Blasphemy Day is largely aimed at Christians, who (again, largely) make no claims that blasphemy should be illegal or punished (it was in the past, but few argue the laws should remain).

Of course, in a Muslim nation, no one would dare do such a thing...

Yet Blasphemy Day claims to be against all religions.

At the same time, it is a Christian notion of rights and equality which makes it even possible.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Biological Parents

Weird news from Insight Scoop.

The reporting is really quite terrible.

The journalist writes: "The couple decided not to have an abortion because of their religious beliefs, and have met the other couple and arranged a handover."

While a caption reads: "Carolyn Savage will have to give birth to the boy and then hand him over to his biological parents"

Another says: "The couple are now hoping to give their remaining embryos to another carrier"

A quick google search turns up some other news: AOL: "They were told they could either terminate the pregnancy, which wasn't something they wanted to do because of their religious beliefs, or carry the fetus to term and then give him to his biological parents."

So, it appears to be a legal issue. Is biological parenthood that major? More important than nurturing and feeding a child?

This doesn't seem right.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

PVS and Learning

(Persistent Vegetative State)

We previously examined the "persistent" in PVS (Albert Mohler's review of news of people waking up).

Now, growing evidence questioning the "vegetative" (which I previously filed under "persistent").

From Science Daily:
"Individuals In Vegetative States Can Learn"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Disappearing Downs

I tagged an article on Science Daily for review. While it was in the queue, Albert Mohler beat me to the punch!

Mohler strikes right to the heart:
"Knowing this, health care providers have historically operated under the assumption that if a woman consents to prenatal screening or diagnosing, she must believe that having a child with DS would be an undesired outcome and wish to terminate her pregnancy if such a diagnosis were made prenatally"
Their reasoning is logical. There is nothing that can be done for Downs syndrome, currently. The only reason to test would be to decide for abortion. Assuming patients have thought this through is probably presumptive...

"Skotko's research indicating that 92 percent of women who learn they are carrying a baby with Down syndrome choose to abort the pregnancy."
I would argue this shows society has already made its decision. Life is about enjoyment and feeling fulfilled. Anyone who can not live up to this standard will have a very short life indeed.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Evolutionary Evidence

An informative article at Science Daily. I don't want to focus too much on the specifics, because science reporting tends to favor the new and the controversial, and often leaves out important things.

Main points:
  1. "the remains of two molars" - That's the evidence behind the old theory.
  2. "some nearly complete mandibles" - That's the new theory.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Idolatry - Two Views

Albert Mohler has an excellent critique of a "debate" presented in the Wall Street Journal.
"not, as advertised, a debate between an atheist and a believer. Instead, it was a debate between two different species of atheists."
It is interesting to see what the rejection of the God of the Bible does to people (theology matters, as I like to say).

What we really see is the many faces of idolatry.

Dawkins' idol is the mind - science, rationalism, physical processes.

The other writer, Armstrong, has created a god from her own imagination. It is really just a sort of mushy, "I'm ok, you're ok" kind of thing. Believing in a god makes her feel better, maybe you should try it?

In the post-modern age, we will see this more and more. The notion of absolute truth has been rejected. You can either side with the majority opinion (which calls itself "science"), or you can wrap yourself in warm feelings and mushy ideas (which, sadly, describes much of current Christian trends, along with Spiritualism and other religious groups).

Monday, September 14, 2009

I was an Arrogant Jerk

I am still.

Before I became a Christian, I was a know it all. I knew everything about everything, and I enjoyed letting people know. I didn't like people, so I didn't talk much. But when I did, I made sure to let everyone in the room know how smart I was.

In many ways I am still like that. Hard to tell what is habit, what is nature (and is it nature that is ok, or nature that needs to be changed?)

Now, I am seeing the working of the Holy Spirit in my life. My former major temptation to sin are nearly dead. Of course, this only makes my former lesser temptations all the more obvious...

We are all saints (Col 1:2). As the Holy Spirit works on us, our outward expression of sin is often the first thing to go. This can make one appear to be "more Godly" than his brother. We must resist the temptation to create "super-Christians". And Protestants are just a susceptible as Catholics (ask most "truly reformed" about John Macarthur, or Charles Spurgeon).

Please read the excellent post at Pyromaniacs, "Much of my former obduracy remains".

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

ASC and Liposuction

Lot's of Fight Club references lately (for those who don't know, the "first rule" routine is from the movie - also, the evil guy uses fat from liposuction clinics for his nefarious plans).

Please note that I saw Fight Club before I was a Christian, and haven't seen it since. From what I remember, it is pretty far down the line from Philippians 4:8.

Rarely mentioned in the ESC debate is the source of these cells. Women must be given regular injections of various chemicals in order to produce more egg cells. These eggs are then surgically removed. Then the eggs can be united with sperm in the lab, to make the embryos - who are then destroyed. Some ESC researchers believe it may be possible to form a sort of "self-regenerating" mass, which could supply all needs, but this has not been accomplished.

The Science Daily article is quite interesting:
"skin cells must be grown in the lab for three weeks or more before they can be reprogrammed. But these stem cells from fat are ready to go right away."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ken MacLeod's Conversion

I previously mentioned the science fiction author, Ken Macleod. He has posted a (long) story which includes his "testimony".

Examining testimonies can be telling, especially in the case of those who "fall away". While not always indicative, there are usually signs of a lack of real conversion.
"Once again you might expect that - given that my father was one of these Presbyterian ministers - I grew up with strong religious feelings and convictions and once again I have to say, not a bit of it."
"I heard every word of the Bible and I believed every word of it but it had no spiritual effect whatsoever."
"I learned all the theology from the Westminster Confession and the Shorter Catechism and I believed it to be true but I couldn't see any reason why anyone would want it to be true."
"I now well recognise the intellectual and emotional appeal of the Christian religion but I have to say the version of it that I was taught may be a little different from the one you believe in. I should also say that this rather uncompromising version of the religion produces some truly admirable people and I am not one of them."
It's clear some attempt was made to bring Ken up "in the way he should go". But it's also apparent he had no fear of God. No understanding of sin and God's Law, of grace and the beauty and goodness of God.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Know Your Heretics - Nestorius

I have been accused of the heresy of Nestorianism, so this will be a quite appropriate entry in our series.

Nestorius (c. 386 - c. 451) struggled with the doctrine that Jesus is one man with two natures - divine and human. This is a hard problem - in what way could we say that "God is hungry" (Matt 4:2), or "God is tired" (John 4:6)? I'm not sure. God is spirit, a spirit does not feel these things. And God is omnipotent, these things seem contrary to that.

At the same time, Jesus is God, and:
"Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted." Hebrews 2:17-18
Jesus, being God, was made like us and felt all the things we feel. You would be right to say "God suffered".

Nestorianism is the teaching that Jesus was (is?) two people - one God, one man. According to Wikipedia, Nestorius himself denied this ("Nestorius responded that he believed that Christ was indeed one person").

The main problem is that Jesus has two natures. This is the finding of Chalcedon, there is agreement there.

If we apply all of His human nature to God, then we make no distinction between God and Man. That is, if there are two natures - the two natures must be different in some way. If one is a subset of the other, then He really only had one nature. (struggling here...) If God is in every way like Man (through Jesus), then Jesus only had one nature - that of God (Man being a subset, lacking things like eternal preexistence and omnipotence).

To restate, if God is in every way like Man (through Jesus), and Man is therefore like God - only lacking in certain things (omnipotence, omniscience, etc.) - then Jesus did not have Man's nature. He had God's nature (which includes all the ways that Jesus is like Man) - because Jesus is not lacking in omnipotence, omniscience, etc.

I will have to read more on Chalcedon and exactly what Nestorius taught, and what was attributed to him. Of course, the attack I am making has come up before, being monophysitism. I will have to look into that as well.. (the beauty of Church history being that every argument has occurred before, it is just a matter of looking it up :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Necessity of Controversy

I don't really link often enough to posts at Pyromaniacs. This is because you should have an RSS feed from them, and read everything in it before you read anything here...

Going through the archives, I found this gem.

It really powerfully says everything that needs to be said (like everything at Team Pyro).
"I never saw anything like you clergymen," said Eleanor; "You are always thinking of fighting each other."
"A pagan, too, with his multiplicity of gods, would think it equally odd that the Christian and the Mohammedan should disagree."
Two issues here:
  1. If we believe what we believe is true, let us fight with vigor for the truth.
  2. Those who complain about "theological squabbles" have no responsibility. They are bystanders with no stake. It matters not to them that our responsibilities are left undone.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wilson Fisks McLaren

(Doug Wilson recently reformatted his blog, which breaks any links I had. You can repair them by finding a new link [click any "Read more"] and replacing the "id=number" number with the number from the old "blogid=number")

Doug Wilson is always solid (for a covenanter), and usually humorous.

This post is no exception.

Brian McLaren observing Ramadan! Heheeh!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

ASC, ESC and Retina Cells

An interesting article from Science Daily. A study where both ASC and ESC were changed into retina cells. Again, makes you wonder why they even bother with ESCR.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hermeneutics Club

The first rule of Hermeneutics Club - don't talk about Hermeneutics Club!

No, wait.

First rule of hermeneutics is context, context, context. Who is the author? Who is the target audience? What do the verses before and after say? What is this paragraph (inferred from the text, our modern divisions are non-inspired) say? What does the chapter say? What is the book about?

An example in bad hermeneutics ("cherry picking"):
  • "And he [Judas] went and hanged himself." Matthew 27:5
  • "Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in your native-place. " Luke 4:23
  • "Then Jesus said to him [Judas], What you do, do quickly." John 13:27
Now, it shouldn't take much to convince people this is a bad way to read the Bible (although you occasionally hear horror stories).

Hermeneutics is serious business. If we do not interpret the Bible rightly, we are going to act wrongly, or worse, believe wrongly. We will hurt ourselves and others, suffer needlessly, and bring disgrace to the name of our Lord Jesus.

Returning to the verse from yesterday (John 19:27):
"Then He said to the disciple [John], Behold your mother! And from that hour that disciple took her into his own home. "
The context is the crucifixion. These are some of the last words of Jesus, spoken to His mother and beloved friend. They are immediately for their benefit. They are also recorded in John's gospel, so they are for our benefit as well.

Does that mean this command is directed to us as well?

What about the second part of the command, "take her into our house"? Does this mean we should have a statue of Mary? Kneel before it, and light candles, say prayers? These are things pagans do. When a pagan asks us about this, in light of Exodus 20:4-5, what do we say?

"It's not worship, it's veneration."

Uh-huh. And when modern man goes into Washington D.C. to "honor" all the statues and paintings, that's not worship either.

Monday, August 24, 2009


(theology as it relates to Mary, the mother of Jesus)
I would like to categorize this as tension, or even simple theology. Mariology should be a minor issue which Christians can disagree on peaceably.

For me, one of the criteria for distinguishing "heterodox" (strange teaching) and "heresy" (dangerous teaching) is the net effect on our faith and behavior.

It is with this in mind that I must say that the most common forms of Mariology are dangerous, based on the outcomes it has had in people's lives.

This is all driven by an article linked on Insight Scoop (which is apparently from 2006, I have to be careful, they sometimes rerun articles - I got all in a huff about an article, until I realized I had already done that one!).

Also relevant is that I am trying to finish the Orthodox Study Bible (yes, from last year, the thing is enormous).
  1. "our spiritual mother" - I don't think there is any Biblical basis for this (no, John 19:27 does not count, I think I'll have to do another post on hermeneutics). Our spirits are born through the Holy Spirit - it's hard to imagine how Mary is involved at all
  2. "a type of the Ark of the Covenant" - The Ark held the Law, and was fatal to the touch. Not sure if you want that image, and I have no idea how to justify it.
  3. Confusion between Mary and the Church. Perhaps the most dangerous, it confuses an individual with a group. Placing Mary as Bride of Christ, Queen, and ruler - elevating her to be an equal with Christ.
  4. "Theotokos" (especially popular with the Orthodox) can mean "Christ bearer", which is certainly fit. It can also mean "Mother of God", which is certainly wrong. Mary is the mother of Jesus, and Jesus is God. That does not mean Mary is the mother of God. God is eternal, and has no mother.
Maybe we need to review some code. We had:
class Jesus : public God, public Man {};

Let's add
class Man : public Person
Woman *mother_;

Jesus only has a mother through Man::mother_, on the God:: side there is nothing there...

Ok, so where is the danger? Don't women need someone to look up to and identify with?

I've touched some on the danger of elevating Mary to being equal with God. This is also at work when Mary is called "co-redemptrix" (an idea which can range from a little odd to a lot disturbing - "Mary, though conceived and born without the taint of sin, participated in a marvelous way in the suffering of her divine Son, in order to be Co-Redemptrix of humanity" JPII - a lot disturbing).

There can develop a feeling that God and Jesus are unreachable, distant - or even, disinterested. That we must appeal to Mary as an authority in motherhood, to convince her son to help us.

Also, we have Marian apparitions. This is actually a large thrust of my argument, and I am running long. It will have to wait until tomorrow...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

ASC and Brains

Fascinating news from Science Daily. Results from an animal model showing bone marrow stem cells, reprogrammed into nerve cells, migrating into damaged portions of the brain.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Previously, I said government is "dedicated to being against Christian values". Is that really a fair statement?

I am looking at the history of government run schools, and extrapolating into the area of healthcare (an area the government does not have a good record on already, what with abortion and ESC).

Now there is a case from Florida, which shows my point exactly.
"School brass facing prison time for luncheon prayer"
"Two Florida school administrators face contempt charges and possible prison time for saying a prayer at a school luncheon... accused of violating a consent decree... carries a maximum penalty of up to six months in prison"
Is it really hard to imagine doctors and pharmacists (who will become government employees under government healthcare) being charged with violating people's rights and "establishing religion" when attempting to invoke conscience clauses to avoid having to perform abortions or dispense morning-after or abortion pills?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


The driving force behind the feminist movement is sin.

The sin of men who have domineered and abused women, and the sin of women who seek to rule over men (Gen 3:16).

The irony of the movement, is that is largely about the destruction of women's roles - and the promotion of men's roles.

Albert Mohler has struck the nail on the head.
"[legalized abortion] was supposed to grant enormous freedom to women, but it has had the perverse result of freeing men and trapping women"
"The availability of abortion means, in the thinking of many men, that the entire responsibility for pregnancy and parenthood now falls to women. If a woman refuses to have an abortion, having the baby is simply her 'choice.'"
"Prior to the legalization of abortion in the United States, it was commonly understood that a man should offer a woman marriage in case of pregnancy, and many did so."
Of course feminists are interested in the roles of leader and provider (freeing women from needing men). But, I never see arguments that nearly all garbage collectors are men, or that men need to raise children and keep the home...

The roles for men and women were created by God, before the Fall. The Fall has twisted and perverted those roles, our attitudes towards them, and our execution of these roles. But to reject the roles is to reject God.

Which brings me to women as pastors. A great analogy I have come up with since writing that: "Pastor is comparable to garbage collector". It is not the apex of achievement, but rather a dirty and thankless (although vital) job.

Similarly, the man's role as leader and provider. This is not an excuse for laziness and domineering. It is rather a duty to serve, just as Jesus did.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The impact of the Bible on the English language cannot be denied. The word "antediluvian" means "really old". Literally, it means "before the Flood".

Most studies indicate that Christians are well represented among scientists and doctors (notable exceptions being psychologists, biologists, and geologists - probably self-selection).

But, in the field of science fiction, it seems there are no Christians whatsoever.

In fact, the loudest voices are definitely atheist and anti-Christian.

One of such authors I read is Ken Macleod. He often rants about Creationists, and has provided an article by a Christian orthodox geologist - that's Christian (orthodox geologist), not (Christian orthodox) geologist.

Reading the article does little to educate or convince me. The whole piece rests on a single pivot:
"Much has been written by Christians against 'uniformitarianism' while actually we must believe in it."
No, no we mustn't.
"We believe God created the universe according to a blueprint and that it operates according to predetermined laws. While it is true that God may supersede any of these laws at any time, it is certainly not the normal course of events, nor is it perpetuated for any great length of time. Therefore in geology the present operation of erosion, transportation sedimentation and compaction is the key to those actions in the past." (Emphasis in original)
And there we have it. I'm not sure anyone would consider the forty days of rain preceding the Flood "normal" or a "great length of time" - the upheavals during this time (the breaking up of the fountains of the deep) and after (which led to the ice age [singular]) and the division of the earth under Peleg. These followed naturally, but are certainly not typical of today's processes.

We must accept, there is no key to the past.

The past is unknowable, except by eye witness testimony. And the faith we place in that testimony.
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished" - 2 Peter 3:3-6
This is a very specific prediction that there would be people disbelieving the Bible based on uniformitarianism and the Flood. This is an overwhelming charge against any attempt to "reconcile" orthodox science with a Christian view of science.

Do "aging mechanisms" all agree? That is because creation is orderly. It does not mean they give the right answer. There are assumptions that go into the interpretation of data (how do these crystals form, what processes have they been subjected to, what environment have they been kept in). You cannot say, "Well, this is how we find them today, this is how things operate today." You have no idea where they came from, and what they have been through.

The argument that "God would not deceive us by creating the illusion of age" is a straw man. God never told us to use crystal formation to date the earth. We came up with that system. God never promised that the original creation was anything like what we find today. In fact, we have the exact opposite. The world today is totally unlike the original creation is most every way. Methuselah lived almost a thousand years! Unless you reject that statement as part of your presuppositions, you must realize things were different.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Stellar Distance Revisted

An interesting take on Type 1a supernova, which I have previously mentioned (not cepheid).

It reads like something off the Onion:
"A lack of knowledge about the explosion process didn’t stop Kirshner and his colleagues, along with another team, from using type 1a supernovas to discover in 1998 that a mysterious entity, later dubbed dark energy, is accelerating the expansion of the universe"
We have no idea what's going on, but let's use variances in the measurements to make up more unbelievable stuff!
"Since all 1a’s appear to have the same starting point — blowing up the same amount of mass —they all should have roughly the same luminosity. After adjusting for variations by applying the Phillips relation, which holds that intrinsically brighter supernovas take more time to fade than dimmer ones"
They should have the same luminosity, except when they don't - so we apply some more fudge factors... I found a nifty formula:
Luminosity = 4 pi * distance^2 * apparent_brightness
So, you've got two unknowns, and one equation. I'm really curious how they solve that one.
"When astronomers applied this prescription, they found that light from distant supernovas appeared dimmer than it ought to be based on what had been the accepted model of the universe’s evolution"
In other words, they didn't get the answer they were expecting. Normal people would say, "Hmm, I probably did something wrong at some step in here." But no...
"That unexpected result led in 1998 to an astonishing conclusion: Rather than slowing down, the cosmos has recently sped up its rate of expansion"
Of course! That would be my answer too!

I'm trying to take this stuff seriously, but I guess I am too old and cynical. This response almost writes itself.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Interesting take on the Gardasil controversy over at CNN.

First, some choice quotes:
"I would hate to think that normal sexual experimentation -- the kind that my sister and I and many of our friends and peers 'tried on' in college -- could result in a life-threatening illness 30 years later."

I've looked into the safety of Gardasil, it does seem to actually be safe. The seven deaths reported are likely not related (when you have 24 million people involved, a handful are going to just die from bizarre circumstances - although it may be one-in-a-million/DNA specific reactions to the drug).

But, let's look at it from a rationalist's point of view.

You could not have sex.

(At least until marriage, and only marry someone who hasn't had sex before)
Then you don't have to worry about sexually transmitted diseases. You wouldn't need millions of doses of this drug. And all the time and effort to test its safety, and the effects on people.

Are we rational? Or driven by emotions and physical desires?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

ASC, ESC, and Blood

You really have to wonder what is the point of ESC...
"The technique works equally well with stem cells grown from an embryo and with adult pluripotent stem cells"
"Compatibility problems should disappear if the blood-forming stem cells are based on the patient's own cells"
Of course, embryonic cells are never compatible with any patient's cells (since the original "patient" was the embryo who was killed). Adult stem cells are always compatible.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Government and Healthcare

An intriguing survey on Science Daily.
(The plans are described as "public", "Medicare", and "single payer")
"Support for the public option was strongest among Democrats with 63/64/69"
"far less support among Republicans with only 29/30/12"
This is a remarkable split. I am really at a loss to describe it.

But, I am actually interested in a completely different aspect of the health care debate, one driven by what has happened to public education.

When the first public schools were established, they taught what the parents desired (often using the Bible as a school book). At some point that changed. Then, the curricula became outright hostile to the Bible and to Christianity (where teaching creationism is now widely believed to be against the law). Although Christians (albeit largely "cultural Christians") remain the majority.

With abortion, destruction of embryos, and euthanasia becoming such hot topics - do we really want to turn over our health care system to agents dedicated to being against Christian values?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ASC and Vision

I previously covered a trial on humans to repair the cornea using eye stem cells.

Now there is a case of repairing retinas in mice, using bone marrow stem cells.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Against Pietism

I previously wrote on the tension between Legalism and Antimonialism.

There is a similar tension between extreme Pietism and Antimonialism.

The legalist forms a codified set of rules which must be obeyed to demonstrate one's salvation.

The pietist has no such set of rules. Rather, they look for trends of outward behavior (usually framed as "separation from the world" or "sanctification").

Of course, this is much worse.

At least you know where you stand with a legalist (you have violated Section 21.36.14b through g, and Sections 131 through 135).

The pietist can simply say, "You haven't improved enough" or "You're of the world".

Everything you enjoy, is "of the world", and must be done away with, "for your spiritual well-being". Any enjoyment of things from before conversion, is "reversion" or, worse, "sin".

The disproof of this stand is easy enough. It focuses on judging our brothers, rather than helping them. Also, it allows for the identification of tares - which is explicitly forbidden by Matthew 13:25-30.

The real irony is that the pietist is no better than his brother. It's a classic case of Matthew 7. Of course, if you try to point this out - or worse, to point out your brother's sin, the pietist has a long list of your "sins" to hold against you - while ignoring his own.

Friday, July 31, 2009

On Pietism

(this is different, but related to the religious movement Pietism, related to Methodism)
I previously wrote on the tension between Legalism and Antimonialism.

There is a similar tension between Pietism and Antimonialism.

The pietist looks for outward signs of conversion (2 Cor 5:17; Eph 4:24; Col 3:10; Rom 6).

Piety is a good thing. As Christians (new men) we should show the effects of this new-ness. We should strive to be good examples (ambassadors) of our Lord (Col 3:17).

There should be something in our daily living which leads people to ask "the reason for the hope in us" (1 Peter 3:15).

Similarly, a nation of Christians should show it. The "Protestant Work Ethic" should be more than tradition or a drive to get more for ourselves. It should be driven by theology.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sabbath Keeping

I have been intentionally avoiding this topic, but this bizarre news from France deserves comment.

First a little history: France has been historically dominated by the Catholic Church. There was a brief time during the Reformation, when French Calvinists (called Huguenots) attempted to become dominant. Protestantism was basically illegal, until just before the French Revolution (which was basically atheistic). After the end of the Revolution, modernism was in full swing, and it is hard to imagine religion of any kind having much hold.

Which brings us to a bizarre law from 1906 which "forbids Sunday trading in all but the largest cities".

Even more bizarre is the opposition to lifting the ban, although it is stemming from labor unions and socialists for economic and political reasons, rather than religious.

Two questions then:
  1. Are Christians required to keep the Sabbath?
  2. Is Sunday the Sabbath day?
I'll take the second question first, because it is easier - no. "Sabbath" means rest, and Saturday (the seventh day) is the day of rest, instituted by God at Creation (before the Fall, before Moses gave the Ten Commandments). It hasn't changed, and cannot be changed.

Okay, so why do I go to church on Sunday - and why am I not in an Adventist church? - essentially, the first question.

The Sabbath is a shadow, a sign pointing forward.

Jesus Christ is our rest.

I "keep the Sabbath" by keeping in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


GURPS Space says something to effect of, "The good Lord must love space, He sure made an awful lot of it."

Similarly with irony. I'm not sure of God's exact stand on irony (it may be a result of the Fall). But He sure makes an awful lot of it.

I have been listening to a sermon by John Macarthur (aka Johnny Mac, which I sadly don't have a link for).

It is called "The Comedy at Calvary".

Of course, you might think that odd. The crucifixion was a terribly tragic thing.

But not for the people orchestrating it.

They saw this as the final repudiation of Jesus' ministry, and the validation of their own behavior.

Similarly, God uses the foolishness of preaching the Gospel, to overturn the "wisdom" of the world.

The ironing is delicious.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sex Again

Last time I looked at the time percentages behind sex.

Now Science Daily has given me the opportunity to rant about late night TV commercials! (Yea!)

If you watch TV after about 9pm (and for some reason, mostly Sci-Fi related stuff), you've seen the ones I'm talking about:
Guy: I have herpes.
Girl: And I don't.
Guy: And we'd like to keep it that way.
Announcer: Tetra-metha-super-hydro-medicine will reduce your chance of getting herpes.

I always have to say, "Hey! Lady! You could, like, you know, get a guy who doesn't have herpes!"

They have hard numbers. Hard numbers are always fun:
  • 5,384 people in the study (~1794 women, leaving 3590 men)
  • 415 people got herpes by the end of the study (same ratio, so ~138 women)
  • Condoms gave a 30% advantage
Sadly, we don't know the ratio of condom use, so we can't calculate the base rates. We do know that 415/5384 = 7.7% of the people got herpes - that's 1 in 13. Maybe 1 in 10 base?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

NIH and Dred Scott

The Dred Scott Decision is perhaps one of the most famously bad decisions of the Supreme Court. It was just four years later that the Civil War began, and later the decision was overturned by the 13th and 14th ammendments.

The decision is chilling in its terms:
"Does not this show that property in a human being does not arise from nature or from the common law, but, in the language of this court, 'it is a mere municipal regulation, founded upon and limited to the range of the territorial laws?'" (Page 60, US 549)
"A slave is not a mere chattel. He bears the impress of his Maker, and is amenable to the laws of God and man, and he is destined to an endless existence." (US 550)
This was clearly a different time, when the Court would acknowledge God as Creator. Yet, in the same breath, they would deny a human being such a basic right as freedom.

That is certainly their right to do. But such a perversion of nature cannot long stand.

Today we have a similar situation. I do not think it will be long before Roe and Dred Scott are connected in the common telling of history (I pray it would not take such another event as the Civil War to come about). Of course, an extension of the abortion issue is ESC...

From the National Institute of Health:
"hESCs should have been derived from human embryos: that were created using in vitro fertilization for reproductive purposes and were no longer needed for this purpose"
If you are "no longer needed", you can be killed.

Friday, July 3, 2009

ASC and Alzheimer's

Science Daily is reporting an experiment with mice. A compound usually used to stimulate the growth of additional bone marrow stem cells may be able to stimulate neural stem cells to offset Alzheimer's.

This is being driven into human tests.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

ASC and Heart Attack

There has been a lot of developments in the use of adult stem cells in the treatment of the heart. The latest involves mice, and uses an extract derived from ASC, rather than the whole cells.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sin Is Irrational

Hmm, hot on the heals of yesterday's post, we have some more data to ruin a rationalist's day.

Quote of the day:
"The more elaborate ethical debates that we engage in are largely attempts at post-hoc rationalizations of our earlier decisions. "
Now, if this can happen in a clear cut economic sense, how can the rationalist be sure it's not happening every day, in every way?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sin Is Illogical

Sin causes several problems for the rationalist.

The first being, "What is sin?" Without an objective standard, it causes a lot of confusion and division.

The second being, "Why do we sin?" Not the easy sins - like lying to protect our image, or things we can never get caught for that benefit us.

Big sins, stupid sins.

Like, say, Eliott Spitzer.

The story is only tenuously connected to Spitzer, especially with a comment like:
"when people operate above or below a certain level of moral self-worth, they instinctively push back in the opposite direction to reach an internally regulated set point of goodness"
Yea, I've spent my whole life prosecuting bad people, so I'll balance it out by engaging in some prostitution.

This story flows a lot better when you think about it in terms of sin.

Man inherently understands sin (although he may consciously reject it). This understanding drives justice.

Man is also self-righteous (believing himself more good than he really is), and works-righteous (doing good to cancel out bad he has down).

This is achieved largely through justification (man is self-justified, that is, made right in his own eyes; according to his own standards).

A man like Spitzer would say, "I have worked hard, I deserve this". Or "It is only a small thing, I can stop any time". Of course, he is enslaved to sin (Romans 6:17).

That is the overwhelming sinfulness of sin.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Nothing Becomes Everything

Ars Technica has coverage of a topic I covered earlier in "People will believe anything - except the Bible".

One hundred years ago, the idea that "nothing exploded to become everything" would have been laughed at. Now, it is rapidly becoming the standard atheist cosmology.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

ASC and Leukemia

Interesting article at Science Daily.

Here, they are comparing the use of stem cells from the patient (nonallogeneic, or autologous) or from a donor (allogeneic). ESC are effectively always allogeneic.

The findings indicate that allogeneic treatments only benefit medium and high risk patients.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Homosexual Animals

An article I wanted to touch on briefly at Science Daily.

The first point is the interesting tendency towards the argument, "Animals do it, so it's ok!"

The second is an evolutionist / creationist point.

The creationist would say, "Homosexual behavior in animals is a product of the Fall (even leading to genetic changes). It is representative of our rebellion, and refusal to honor the image of God. The animals are simply reflecting that behavior in us."

The atheist would say "Homosexual behavior has evolved over millions of years."

But what about Christian evolutionists? If homosexual behavior is genetic, and is encoded in base pairs from millions of years ago, is it reflective of Creation before the Fall?

Is it part of God's "good" order?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cosmological Measurements

A very revealing article at Science Daily.

Interesting details:
  • A star shrinking by 15% in 15 years, no one knows why

  • Changes in methodology in just the past year have moved the star from 430 ly away to 640 ly (an error of 48.9%).

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cosmological Time

Time and distance are used almost interchangeably in cosmology. Measurements pertaining to either can be critical in evaluating truth claims.

The referenced article at Science News is a good case for why we should be skeptical of "computer models" (I know, I used to write models of computer hardware).
"By including in their model previously ignored features such as the maximum possible rate of rotation and subtle shifts in the observed radio frequency due to a pulsar’s motion across the sky, the team finds that some millisecond pulsars are up to 10 times younger or 10 times older than earlier estimates suggest."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Obama, Islam, and Tolerance

I can't help but laugh at modern (or post-modern) man.

Christians are intolerant because they:
  1. Proclaim what they believe to be true (the Gospel), and ask other people to consider the repercussions of it (repent and be saved)
  2. Proclaim that Jesus is the only way to be saved
But Muslims can invade a territory, set up sharia law, have a special tax just for infidels, deny common freedoms (like proclaiming the truth as you see it, in #1 above) - and they are considered tolerant, because they didn't put the people to the sword (which would be the normal behavior).

Excellent summary at Insight Scoop.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stellar Distance 2

I previously mentioned a method for measuring distance in space using novae.

There is another method, called cepheid. The Wikipedia article is a good place to start.

It is important to note that this methodology is dependent on the assumption that these stars are behaving the way that we believe they are, and that our estimates of measuring the distance to some of them is correct.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

ASC and blindness

"World-first breakthrough" at Science Daily.
"The research team ... harvested stem cells from patients’ own eyes to rehabilitate the damaged cornea."

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Danger of Continualism

iMonk is always beset by Catholics trying to convert him. I have my occasional running battle with atheists.

Over at Pyromaniacs, they fight with anyone who isn't strictly orthodox - although there seems to be a trend towards emergents and continualists (the opposite of cessationist).

Of course, this leads to more polemical posts against them, and additional reading of books (to explore the state of the church).

Digging through my archives, I found this interesting post (from April).

This really captures the dangerous aspects of this theology. I can attest that the dangers Dan speaks of here are real - there are people who are being negatively impacted by this dangerous theology.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Multiple Universes

I think my new favorite saying should be, "People will believe anything - except the Bible". An article on Science News discusses the new theory of multiple universes.

I must investigate this notion of inflation, I thought it was much older than the article is saying:
"the anthropic implications of a multiplicity of universes, which owe their newfound importance to a popular astrophysical theory called inflation... Alan Guth of MIT, who invented the inflation idea in 1980...For a tiny fraction of a second, Guth proposed, the universe expanded exponentially, explaining why the visible cosmos is now so uniform in temperature and structure."
It was my understanding that inflation is used to explain why far objects are farther away than speed * time (that is, objects have been observed further away than the accepted age of the universe would allow). This notion of inflation explaining the uniformity of the universe puzzles me.

The other thing puzzling me is the use of averages to tell a story. I'm not sure if this is a new science thing, or a literary thing. It is most telling in Stephen Baxter's book "Manifold Time". There, he basically argues that this is the last generation, because if our population was going to expand immensely, on average, you would expect to be a part of that immense population.

This idea is actually used twice in the article:
"calculate the average temperature of space in those that remain, humans should measure a cosmic temperature that is not very far off from that average."
"If Boltzmann brains dominated the cosmos, humans would be rare, so your very existence implies that the average habitable universe must be young enough to restrain the odds of Boltzmann brain formation."
I don't understand this at all. The median name is Smith or Mohammad. Not everyone has that name. There are twelve people with my surname. Does that mean I shouldn't exist?

Thursday, June 4, 2009


It's always fascinating to get the perspective of a faithful and consistent post-mil, like Doug Wilson.

Now Wilson has a response to the murder of the famous abortionist Tiller.

The first part is rock solid (and is continuing a theme he has covered many times). Vigilantism is always wrong, because government is established by God. We cannot break the laws of the government in order to "do good" (because the act is automatically evil - being a rebellion against God-given authority).

The second part is where I always get confused...
"You will get something like 995 responses to the effect that the devil is the god of this world...But this is all wrong. Jesus is the God of this world." [emphasis his]
I think it is related to the principle of "now and not yet". Yes, Jesus is Lord of all. But the world is in rebellion - sin remains. It is only when Jesus comes again that all rebellion will be put down, and Jesus will reign completely. That is what Revelation 5-7 is all about (the sealed scroll is the title deed to the Earth). It is a future event.

Wilson alludes to Matthew 28:19 ("Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"):
"commanded us to disciple the nations, teaching them all that Jesus commanded" [emphasis his]
The word translated "nations" is "ethnos". It means a group of people related in some way (tribe, ethnic group, nation). A collection of people, not a system of laws. We cannot baptize a Constitution. A country cannot be Christian.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

ASC and heart disease

Additional research into using adult stem cells to cure heart disease.

I have commented previously on two other treatments.

This one is still in the animal test phase, while the other two are in human trials.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

ASC and disease

Pretty cool development reported by Science Daily.
"After taking hair or skin cells from patients with Fanconi anemia, the investigators corrected the defective gene in the patients' cells using gene therapy techniques pioneered in Verma's laboratory. They then successfully reprogrammed the repaired cells into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells ... The resulting FA-iPS cells were indistinguishable from human embryonic stem cells and iPS cells generated from healthy donors."
Reprogramming cells like computers - like I said, cool.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Denying Communion

In my last post, there was a statement that "the denial of communion is intimidation".

The speakers were Catholic. When they say Communion, they meaning the ceremony involving "taking of the Eucharist" - the bread transmuted into the literal body of Christ.

As a Protestant, I would speak of "communion" - fellowship and meeting with other Christians.

The Catholic version is more serious. Denying the Eucharist is denying a means of grace, potentially damaging to one's eternal state. Total eviction from the Church could be interpreted as causing one to lose one's salvation (if you believe there is no salvation outside the Church).

But, there is agreement that some form of discipline is needed, as commanded by Matthew 18:15-19.

That gets back to the meaning of love. Is it loving to deny the truth? To carry on meeting and associating with someone who disagrees with fundamental teaching? Is not the most loving thing to be truthful? Even if it is hard.

Perhaps feeling the hard consequences will bring someone to right thinking.