Archive for August, 2007

>Commenting on blog posts

2007 August 30 4 comments

>Have switched to HaloScan for commenting. I have commented with both HaloScan and the default at Blogger and I find the later less smooth.

I wish to allow all comments. To facilitate commenting the process should be smooth, fast and unmoderated with no character verification. In Blogger my settings were set thus but the process of commenting is stilted.

No moderation will allow unwanted comments and spam but Blogger does not seem to have the ability to remove these comments subsequently. Moderation delays the process and there is the psychological barrier that the blogmaster may not allow the comment to pass. HaloScan can be set with moderation on or off, but allows removal of comments subsequently. It gives more freedom in timestamping (code rather than a limited number of set options) but template design is better in Blogger. And I would like for a larger comment box but this does not seem to be available in the free version.

An improvement in commenting would be to show the preview as one types so mistakes in html code could be seen prior to publishing. I have seen this but can’t remember where. Even easier would be formatting buttons similar to wikipedia.

The downside to this switch is previous comments are lost (or hidden somewhere in cyberspace).

Categories: blogging

>Skeptical of skepticism

2007 August 29 3 comments

>Biological Research Institute for Theoretical Evolution Studies (Brites) interview skeptic Stan Scanton,

Dr. Stan Scanton, skeptic of all things spiritual for the last four decades, has announced that for the last three years he has been secretly skeptical of skepticism.

Should a skeptical scientist be skeptical of skepticism?

“Certainly,” said Stanton. “Otherwise you are not a true skeptic. You are, at best, a selective skeptic. Scientists skeptical of only spiritual matters are selectively skeptical. Most people who call themselves skeptic are selective skeptics. People of faith who are totally skeptical of all science are also selectively skeptical. Pure selective skeptics learn nothing.”

How is it that pure selective skeptics learn nothing?

“I’m a statistician, and it’s like Type I and Type II errors in statistics. There is a tradeoff. If you want to learn nothing, be 100% skeptical. If you want to believe everything, be 100% gullible. True learning comes from an intelligent judicious tradeoff between the two.”

The article is hilarious including the before and after photos. In fact many of the photos on the site are priceless.

Categories: humour, philosophy, science

>Comparing the days of creation

2007 August 29 7 comments

>The framework hypothesis claims Genesis 1 is a literary device not intended to teach chronology. It claims this is seen in the symmetry between the first 3 days and the second 3 days. Such symmetry would not deny a literal interpretation of Genesis 1. There are other examples of literal events that have symmetry (Numbers 7). There are also other arguments for a literal interpretation which I am not going to touch on here.

The argument is God created the environments on days 1 to 3, a different environment each day, and filled those environments on the next 3 days; day 4 corresponding to day 1, 5 to 2 and 6 to 3. So how symmetrical is Genesis 1?

Going thru Genesis 1 what is created when?

  • Day 1: Light, day(time), nighttime
  • Day 2: Expanse (sky, space, heavens)
  • Day 3: Land, seas, plants
  • Day 4: Sun, moon, stars
  • Day 5: Water animals, air animals
  • Day 6: Land animals, man

So we have day 4 creations residing in the expanse of day 2 while bearing the light that was created on day 1.

We have day 5 creatures filling the sea of day 3 and flying on the face of the expanse of day 2

And day 6 creatures live on the land of day 3.

While there is some correspondence between 1 and 4, 2 and 5, 3 and 6, it is neither exact nor compelling, and inadequate to override the several other evidences that Genesis 1 is literal narrative history.

>Can we have a too high a view of Scripture?

2007 August 24 4 comments

>The obvious answer to the above question is yes. All things are to lead us to Jesus, and loving anything, including good things, above God is idolatry. The Bible is to led us to Jesus, however it is possible to defend it, or hold many of it’s claims to be true, yet not love Jesus. In fact Jesus castigated people for supposing to care for Scripture but were unable to recognize him at his coming.

But while Scripture is subservient to Christ, it is also representative of him; therefore we really cannot have too high a view of Scripture.

I propose that we should seek to have the same view of Scripture as Jesus; that view is one of inerrancy but it is also also one that views that which Scripture says God says. If we approach Scripture this way that will lead us to change beliefs that do not correspond to the Bible to beliefs that do.

By necessity I will be viewing Jesus’ and the writers’ of the New Testament views on the Old Testament (at that time being the Jewish Scriptures), but there is indications in the New Testament that we should view the New Testament in the same way (2 Peter 3:15-16).

Jesus commonly rebuked the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law for their unbelief. One may think they claimed a high view of Scripture. Are Jesus’ rebukes a commentary about holding Scripture in too high a regard? No. Jesus rebuked their actions that deny their supposed belief in Scripture. He also rebuked them for holding their traditions above Scripture. If anything, Jesus’ opinion was they had too low a view of Scripture, not too high.

Jesus’ views on the Bible are well illustrated with his teaching on the resurrection.

The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh. After them all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”

But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching. (Matthew 22:23-33)

This passage shows us in several ways how high Jesus’ view of Scripture was. The Sadducees tell a story to invoke a conundrum using this to defend their concept that there is no resurrection. Jesus teaches them, graciously explaining the nature of the resurrection and thus solving a perceived problem.

He rebukes them for not knowing Scripture or the power of God. He expected them to have had an even greater knowledge of the Scriptures.

Comparing the story in Mark and Luke we see Jesus response:

And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? (Mark 12:26)

But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. (Luke 20:37)

Mark states: “… have you not read in the book of Moses,…” (Scripture states) and “God spoke to him”. Luke’s version says: “… Moses showed,…” (effectively, the Scripture says). In Matthew the rebuke is: “have you not read what was spoken to you by God.”

While the passage is about God speaking, these New Testament parallels equate what Scripture says with God speaking.

The third lesson from the passage about Jesus’ high regard for Scripture is his exegesis of Exodus 3:6 which states:

And he [God] said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Fuller context of this passage reads:

And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:2-6)

In calling Moses to his service God identifies himself as the God of Moses ancestors. God says he is the God of Abraham not he was. The time tense of this verse may seem a minor point, yet it was enough in Jesus’ view to defend bodily resurrection. If Jesus thinks that every word of Scripture is trustworthy can we hold a lesser view?

Scripture in general is to be understood; Paul admonishes Timothy that:

Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NET)

Of course not all Scripture is easy to understand. Peter says that some things are hard to understand. But that we can learn from the minor aspects of Scripture is not licence for obscure interpretation.

We should be conforming our ideas to Scripture. We should not seek to use Scripture to prove our pet theories, but holding it in such high regard that should its teachings ever contradict our own beliefs, it is for us to change. This is all the more important the closer we get to the return of our Lord, for as Paul warns:

But evil people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived themselves. (2 Timothy 3:13 NET)


For there will be a time when people will not tolerate sound teaching. Instead, following their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves, because they have an insatiable curiosity to hear new things. And they will turn away from hearing the truth, but on the other hand they will turn aside to myths.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NIV)

>Cool inventions

2007 August 22 4 comments


New Zealand company AgResearch invents mithral.

…demonstration of heat- and stab-resistant fabric that has been developed by AgResearch’s Textiles Group. The fabric is made from a lightweight wool fibre backed with a high-strength gel-spun liquid crystal polymer.

“This fabric can be used as protection in terrorism situations, yet it’s lightweight and gives comfort not provided from the heavy flack jackets normally used in such situations,” says AgResearch Senior Scientist Ian McFarlane.

This wool/ polymer (the polymer is similar to kevlar I believe) blend is heat/ fire resistant. It is a fabric, not a rigid material, yet it is unable to be stabbed thru by a knife. The only negative thing that can be said about it is its name, Natural Easy Care (NEC) fabric.

Aerogel has a multitude of uses. It is light, strong, insulating, made from abundant materials and now is even lighter and more flexible.

Aerogel, one of the world’s lightest solids, can withstand a direct blast of
1kg of dynamite and protect against heat from a blowtorch at more than
1,300C….[It] is made by extracting water from a silica gel, then replacing it with gas such as carbon dioxide.

Potential uses include insulation, sports equipment, limiting explosion damage, and removing pollution.

While the most common form is made of silica it can be made from other materials such as carbon or include other materials such as platinum. Platinum aerogel has potential as platinum is a catalyst for many reactions including hydrogen and oxygen forming water. It can therefore be used in hydrogen fuel cells but apparently it is hoped it can be used in the production of hydrogen from water.

Categories: science, technology

>Inconsistent Christians

2007 August 21 6 comments

>In his book The Battle for Truth, David Noebel comments in his conclusion,

Why do Christians so easily accept inconsistencies into their worldview? In this sense, non-Christians are much more consistent. There are no Marxist/Leninist creationists. There are no New Agers who believe in ethical absolutes. The Christian, who trusts the Scriptures and therefore has access to the one worldview based on eternal truth, should be the first person to recognise the bankruptcy of secular religious views. Yet all too often he is the first to embrace them!

This seems way too common. It is most unfortunate. Christians need to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind. I think there are several reasons why the above comment is the case—at least within the West.

Christianity is the truth, so where other worldviews contradict Christianity they are incorrect. Many Christians subscribe to a false worldview. To a subset of this group the inconsistencies between what they believe and Christianity may not be a compelling reason to reject their false beliefs, or conversely, Christianity. While some atheists may be somewhat more consistent, there is, fortunately, no shortage of inconsistent atheists. While atheists have no reason for universal, objective morality they do not all become nihilists, or mass-murderers like Stalin who was more consistent.

Part of Christians’ inconsistency is their desire to hold onto Christ in a world that denies him. They have met him and believe but have yet to allow their false worldview to be completely transformed. It is admirable they remain in Christ but they need to be made aware that Christianity demands our worldview is conformed to Scripture. What is also difficult is that they live in a culture where they are now going against the flow. Christian beliefs are currently very antithetical to secular beliefs, therefore the Christian viewpoint is actively opposed. While that may not be a lot different to what the non-Western Christians face, the Western Christians are in the position of having emerged from a Christian heritage which had a more favourable view of Christianity.

A further reason is that there are weeds within the church. Some people are “within” the church but are not of God and they promote ideologies that oppose God. Christians need discernment, though with the basic lack of a Christian worldview this is more difficult; looking at the fruit of person’s lives can be helpful in this area. Weeds appear like wheat early on, but they do produce fruit in the long term? fruit consistent with being in Christ. Rank heresy should not be too difficult to spot. Unfortunately it detracts some, and there is much that is more subtle than grossly heretical beliefs.

We have a tendency to agree with data that confirms our beliefs and explain away that which challenges it. This is understandable. It is a reasonable position if you are in the truth but an unreasonable one if you are in error; the problem is how do you know which camp you belong to?

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

The answer is not to assess if data conforms to your ideas but do you conform to Scripture.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

Categories: apologetics, philosophy, truth

>What is marriage?

2007 August 16 2 comments

>In response to a recent illustration TL comments:

What constitutes marriage?

Does the Bible state what constitutes marriage?

Does it say to stand before a priest and say some words?

If they are living together in a committed, monogamous situation is it not marriage?

Boaz just claimed Ruth publicly and it was done. At least the story says nothing more about ceremony or priests.

While these questions are essentially rhetorical, it raises the issue of whether one needs to get married in a civil ceremony. Does God recognise a marriage that the state does not? In addressing this I wish to ask a related question, is being sexually active equivalent to marriage in God’s eyes?

The Old Testament talks about couples who have sex getting married if the father of the girl consents. Given the intimacy involved and the spiritual connection that Paul alludes to I previously seriously considered whether being sexually active puts one into a covenantial relationship with the person. If that is the case one could argue that they should marry formally as they are married effectively. After reading what Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4 I no longer think that sex equals marriage in God’s eyes. At the well in Samaria Jesus said to the woman,

“Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

This comment shows that one can be living with a person and be sexually intimate yet not be married. There must be a difference between the first 5 men and the current one. She lived with and had sex with all 6 so that cannot be it. I guess one could argue that the man had not committed himself to her, which he likely hadn’t, but that raises the question of how you commit.

I tend to think that one should marry in the method of the culture. This is because the institution of marriage (not necessarily the ceremony) is public. It is not gossip to share that people are married. It is societal not private knowledge. So Boaz married Ruth in the method of the day, as did Isaac who took Rebekah into his mother’s tent and married her.

If the society you live in has a way of getting married and it does not involve sinning against God there is no reason not to marry using that method. That is how your spouse and society recognise that marriage has occurred. This does not mean that government has to be involved, but there are at least cultural norms.

If you find yourself on a desert island then feel free to choose how you make a marriage covenant. And if marriage ceases to exist within the society in which you live then take your vows how you wish, or let the church marry those who wish to in ways they find useful.

The important thing for Christians is that they have a biblical view of what marriage entails, and attempt to behave rightly towards their spouse; but if society views being married differently to Christians, this is not an excuse to not get married in the usual way.

Categories: marriage