Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mark Steyn Quote of the Day

And, no, I'm not wearing my Mark Steyn tee-shirt as I write this.

"I like the Afghans, God bless ‘em, but honestly it doesn’t speak well for a culture to have lived in the same place for thousands of years and never got around to inventing the snowplow."

He's got a point.

There's "Something About The West".

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Ball Bounces

I am on my way to Zambia. I won't be posting for two or three weeks.

My Zambia blog is here.

Abraham's test may have to wait until I get back.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Yvonne Martin, Missionary Nurse to Haiti

Yvonne Martin, Canadian medical missionary to Haiti (pictured on right), is dead. In Haiti with the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada, Yvonne had arrived back in the country just 90 minutes before the quake.

"It is with a heavy heart that I share with you the death of our dear sister, Yvonne Martin. Yvonne passed away as the result of the earthquake in Haiti, where she had just arrived to do medical mission work for the fourth time," says a statement on the website of the Waterloo Mennonite Brethren Church.

She awaits the resurrection. Her good works go before her.

Meanwhile, Canadian Jason Krul describes the situation on the ground as "absolute, complete destruction". Jason is a pilot for the Mission Aviation Fellowship of Canada, a Christian aid organization that has worked in Haiti since 1986.

This world is a dangerous place. We should be kinder to each other.

And that's the way the Ball bounces.

photo and article: The Globe and Mail.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Politically Correct Headline of the Week

"Christmas Terror Suspect Pleads Not Guilty" -- Time.

Not Muslim Terror Suspect -- that would be insensitive. Not Islamic Terror Suspect -- ditto.

Let's go with Christmas Terror Suspect and redirect the reader's thoughts to a nice, safe Christian holiday.

Wait a minute. I thought Christmas was cancelled. Shouldn't that be Winterfest Terror Suspect?

Glad that Time at least correctly identifies him as an allegedly suspect suspect. Just 'cause you've got a bomb strapped to your undies doesn't mean you plan to use it. I mean, we've all done this, right? How do we know the guy next to him didn't set his pants on fire? And how do we know this wasn't some kind of radical hemorrhoid treatment?! Reasonable Doubt!

It worked for O.J.

I'd like to see the dream team reassembled to defend him. We can get a holographic Johnny Cochrane hissing, "he'sss innocccent!" And, concerning collection of the undie evidence, "How about that, Mr. Fung!!!".

Because, dear readers, if the undie-pants don't fit, you must acquit!

The Darwin-Friendly News Cycle

I am a scientific layman (as my detractors have abundantly observed), yet I remain strongly persuaded that the darwinian mechanism is inadequate to explain the results obtained. It does not follow from this observation that, e.g., intelligent design must therefore be (scientifically) true. It is simply a reflection on the inadequacy of the darwinian mechanism. I suspect in 25 years it will have been supplanted by a theory that includes principles of self-organization and self-repair -- one that gets us closer to acknowledging that there is more to evolution than meets the pondscummy eye!

I've noticed that Darwin-friendly news stories seem to run in a cycle. The cycle goes like this:

1. A breath-taking new discovery of a missing link that supports the darwinian theory is announced.

E.g., "It's a really amazing, remarkable intermediate fossil," scientist Neil H. Shubin told The New York Times. "It's like, holy cow."

2. This breath-taking event leaves the media, er, breathless. They breathlessly goo and gush over it, and duly report it as given to them by the scientists. Like the apostle Paul, a mere messenger, they deliver unto us what they first received.

Someone observes, "The fact is, factually, the theory can now be viewed as a fact, and, that's a fact!"

3. Two, three, four years go by. The discovery is discredited, or downgraded.

4. This is quietly noted in scientific journals. No meaningful retractions are made by the MSM -- especially by those who actively seek to discredit anti-darwinists. Certainly no exposé of the original, false report is made, and certainly no apology is made by the media for bearing false witness. Meanwhile, the original article has served a useful propaganda purpose by reinforcing darwinian notions in society.

In the case of discoveries made in 2009, the 3-4 year cycle collapsed to mere months. And yet the theory itself remains intact, unbruised, unchallenged, and, indeed, unassailable.

Over at EV&N, they're discussing the latest on Tiktaalik.

The money quote: "So where are the fish that turned into tetrapods? According to Nature, they must exist in the "'ghost range' — that is, a period of time during which members of the groups should have been present but for which no body fossils have yet been found."

Because the theory dictates they should exist, they must exist, and they do exist, even if only as ghosts.

Message to scientists: keep looking; keep digging. Christians have nothing to fear and are only interested in the truth.

David Warren: A Guy Worth Reading

"An open mind will examine evidence, whether the risk is health or security. It will not allow itself to be blindsided by the requirements of anybody's propaganda. It will certainly work from hunches and expectations, but it will also subject its own assumptions to skeptical review."

Read all about it.

Unexpected Headline of the Day

"Bag of teeth links man to dental burglaries"

Possibly the first time in the history of the planet that these words have been used together in a single sentence.

And, there's a shortage of teeth right now. With all the global "warming" going on, how's a fella supposed to chatter properly when his teeth are in a bag in his neighbor's closet?

Mmm. mm. mm. mm. mm. m.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Underwear Bomber? It Depends.

I managed to get down to New Orleans last Saturday from Toronto. My secret Canadian airport tip? Drive to Buffalo.

Canadian travellers were being told to arrive at Pearson (Toronto) three hours before their flights. This was so they could be personally patted down (there are only two types of travelers -- those who look forward to the pat-down, and those who don't) and have their carry-on luggage physically inspected.

Fortunately for me, I had booked a cost-saving ticket out of Buffalo. In fact, the ticket was free, but that's another story -- all about me sensing an over-booked flight in Denver last March, positioning myself so that the instant the "ladies and gentlemen..." announcement began I could dash to the counter to volunteer to go out on a later flight, and getting a free ticket for my troubles. Thank you, United Airlines! But, it was only good in the 48 contiguous, hence, Buffalo. (I'm still feeling a bit badly about knocking over the old lady to get to the counter, but, hey, a free ticket is a free ticket.)

So, I crossed the border at Buffalo (no personal pat-down and no physical inspection of my carry-across) and headed for Uno's for a deep-dish. Uno's -- ahhh! The next morning I arrived at the Buffalo airport at 5:45 am. for a 7:45 am flight, shaving a full hour off the Canadian three-hour requirement. I had my boarding pass in hand and was through security by 6:00 am -- a mere 15 minutes later. I kid you not. Then, to my delirious joy, I discovered a breakfast area that had booths that had electrical outlets! Buffalo -- I'm a fan. (It seems that modern airport designers go out of their way not to provide electrical outlets, when they know we need them -- hello?!

I had been wearing disposable, velcro-snapped underwear so if a thorough underwear-bomber inspection was required, I could just whip them off and hand them over. Turns out this was not required. And yes, for the more literally minded among you, I am just kidding. I did, however, wear my velcro-laced shoes, so I could whip them off and on, and yes, thanks to the shoe bomber, we still have to change into fresh socks even if we have only been wearing our current pair for less than a month.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The First Nomination Is In!

The first 2010 Ball Bounces Excellence in Journalism Awards (BBEiJA) is in. It's in the "Best Lead-Off Paragraph" category. Here it is:

"Wow! That Copenhagen package really worked. Global warming has been dramatically reversed. In fact, if Al Gore could see his way to turning the heat back up just a little, most of us would be deeply appreciative…"

If you're shivering when you read it, it's doubly-good.

End-of-year winners will receive a complimentary subscription to the Ball Bounces.

So, keep reading the Ball Bounces!

Read the full thang,

The Greatest Show on Earth vs. "The Whole Show": Dawkin's Channels His Inner Wendy

For a review of Richard Dawkin's latest, and an example of great writing, go here.

Money quote: “Possibly the single most incompetent logical argument ever made for or against anything in the whole history of the human race.”

Now that's a quote worth waiting for!

I was going to tell you the context, but I think I'll just let you read the review. Hint: it is not describing Dawkin's current book.

And that's the way the Ball bounces.

Trivia question. We all know The Greatest Show on Earth refers to Dawkin's latest book. But, can any astute reader of the Ball Bounces catch what the reference to "The Whole Show" is referring to? 50 bonus points and free 1-year subscription to this blog if you can get it.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Quote of the Day: Extra Doses of Rage

"The materialist ‘new’ atheism espoused today is nothing more than the ‘old’ atheism with extra doses of rage and hatred towards anything remotely godlike or religious in nature". -- Barb, over at Post-Darwinism.

Monday, January 04, 2010

ARN: The Key Darwin and Design Science News Stories of the Year

ARN (Action Research Network) - Reflecting on 2009:

"In a year in which Darwin’s disciples were celebrating the 200th anniversary of his birth that the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, mainstream scientific journals published articles declaring:

1) the modern synthesis was dead,
2) Darwin’s tree of life should be abandoned,
3) new “missing links” were a bust,
4) limits to Darwinism were demonstrated in the lab,
5) evolutionary icons like the peppered moths reverted back to their old colors,
6) the Cambrian Explosion lacks any plausible materialist explanation, and
7) an interdisciplinary revolution is occurring in biology that rejects the reductionist paradigm of Darwinian evolution.

Meanwhile the evidence for design continues to mount with

1) peer-reviewed articles and books by ID theorists,
2) the information content in DNA demanding a non-materialistic source,
3) scientists continuing to “reverse engineer” amazing designs from biological systems, and
4) the irreducible complexity in living systems continuing to be discovered and documented.

Read all about it, here.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Quote of the Day: Hitler's Bad Molecules

"If materials are solely responsible for morality, as E. O. Wilson asserts, then Hitler simply had bad molecules." -- Barb, over at Post-Darwinist.

Joe Agnost's Best Friend

Stomp your feet, clap your hands, and repeat: "if it's cold, it's just weather, if it's cold, it's just weather..."

Save the planet now -- five years and counting down!

Brand deniers mentally ill!

Throw them in jail!

Engage in acts of civil disobedience!

... Reporting from this over-heated, cooked, on-fire, planet...

My prediction: once the data is gathered, massaged, up-adjusted, and, er, cooked, 2009 will go on record as the hottest year, ever!!!!!!!!!!

Al Gore, Joe Agnost -- I'm with you -- we're the last, true-blue (icy blue) climate believers! We'll go on believing in global warming until the last one of us is encased in ice.

photo h/t Climate Depot.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Sign of the Times

New Orleans Sign: Condos from the $40's!

Bad Credit Rating Re-set!

No money down!

$8,000 cash back!

small print: Part of the America Recovery And Reinvestment Act.

Looks like the powers-that-be in the US are determined to repeat the misguided mistakes of the recent-past.

A good part of the reason why the US is in the trouble it's in is the reckless lending habits on the part of the banks. The banks, in turn, were spurred on by Congress, which felt that home-ownership was a "right".

As a result, the banks bypassed the usual safeguard checks and balances, e.g., buyers showing they had the discipline and financial wherewithal to come up with a decent deposit, and having a personal equity stake in the property.

For what it's worth, in Canada the real estate mess has been pretty much avoided by sticking with traditional conservative banking practices.

Abraham's Test

I hope to publish something on this in the next day or two. Bear with me. Meanwhile, on the other posts, I can feeeeeeel the love!

Duke on!

Friday, January 01, 2010

If God Commanded You To Kill, Would You Do It?

A blog comment: "To the religious folk here, I wonder: Assuming that you were sure you heard the voice of God, would you kill if He commanded it?"

A trick question to open the new year. "You were sure" could be interpreted as entirely psychological. A person could be "sure" in their mind, but mistaken. For those who deny the existence of God, the question is really, "If you mistakenly believe you heard the voice of God, would you kill if He commanded it?"

The proper way to state the question would be, "If God commanded you to kill someone, would you do it?", where the existence of God and the voice of God are assumed to be veridical. That is a much tougher question (and one that you are not asking), but worth considering.

To answer this fully, we would have to discuss the goodness and righteousness and justice of God, and the conditions under which a good God would command the death of a human being by human agency -- death by natural agency being universal and ubiquitous.

Let me re-state the problem by analogy. If you are part of a counter-terrorist unit, and your commander tells you to take someone out, would you do it?

________ Yes. ______ No.

You balked. While you were considering your answer, a bomb went off killing every one reading this blog, along with their loved ones and yours. Your wife, daughter, son, mother, dad, etc. are now all dead because you disobeyed the order. Would you have been right or wrong to obey the command to kill? If the captain of the plane the other day shouted out an order to kill the underwear bomber, would it have been right to obey the legal authority on board the airplane?

Would you do it? ________ Yes. ______ No.

The same principle applies to killing in, e.g., a hostage situation, a just war, and capital punishment.

Would you do it? ________ Yes. ______ No.

Now, God is the legal and moral authority of the world. If the captain of an airplane, or the leader of a CTU or the general in an army has the right to order someone to kill, does not also God as the supreme moral agent? (Argument from lesser to the greater.)

________ Yes. ______ No.

So, the issue boils down to the justice of God in commanding killing.

There is no instance in the Bible where God condones killing for personal vengeance or hate. In fact, it is strongly condemned, and is a foundational value that has seeped into the moral consciousness of the western world. It's probably why you understand killing to be wrong and are asking the question in the first place. "Thou shalt not kill (murder)". God does command killing in a military context. The Bible is a realist document. God did not airlift the Jews down from heaven into the promised land. Blood was shed. Lives were lost. And more blood was shed and more lives lost to keep them there. The world at that time was a particularly nasty, brutal place. God at times uses one nation to execute judgment against another. He used the Jews to execute judgment against the Canaanites and their pagan neighbors, and he used ruthless nations to execute judgment against the Jews -- it's a sword that cuts both ways. One people, the Jews, were commanded by God to kill, the other people, just went in and did their thing. The outcome was the same -- slaughter.

Surely the God who judged the world by catastrophic flood would have human agency at his disposal as well. We may balk at this. What do we think we are, special? Worth something? Of some value? Not if atheism is true.

Atheism is a conundrum.

The only way human beings can have objective worth and value is if theism is true. But they want to deny theism by arguing that the God Christians serve is a tyrant or unjust. But your argument is undercut by the fact you have no basis for objective morals or values. In other words, you need for there to be a God in order for you to deny his existence using moral argument.

Now, to answer the re-phrased question, which assumes the existence of God, the holiness and justice of God, and the spoken voice of God. "If God commanded you to kill someone, would you do it".

I would assess the context in the light of the teachings of Christ.

1. Am I part of a theocracy in which God is establishing his holy presence in a nation? E.g., am I part of Israel, under the Old Covenant? Am I part of this nation's duly established and ratified leadership Ans: I am not. The question has no weight. I don't need to worry about it.

2. Am I part of a legally constituted military or para-military organization in which lethal force is authorized? (The powers that be are ordained of God) Ans: I am not.

3. Am I in some kind of emergency situation like an airplane hi-jacking, or hostage situation, or a case where my home is being invaded? If I were, and God spoke and commanded me to kill, I can only say, "I hope I would".

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Here's a question for you. If God loved you, would you respond to his love?

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"