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.