Wednesday, August 31, 2005


In the midst of human misery it is often the loss of a symbol that speaks the strongest. According to reports Beauvoir the Biloxi retirement home of Jefferson Davis has been reduced to rubble and a frame, the Presidential library gutted. The home needs friends more than ever.

On my one trip to Biloxi several years ago I remember how proudly it stood looking out over the Gulf coast in stark contrast to the floating casino just down the coastal road. Let us hope at least as much attention is paid to its restoration as is to rebuilding those casinos.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


According to the good *cough* folks at the United Nations the focus on abstinence by the US hurts the fight against AIDS:
The U.S. government's emphasis on abstinence-only programs to prevent AIDS is hobbling Africa's battle against the pandemic by downplaying the role of condoms, a senior U.N. official said on Monday.

Stephen Lewis, the U.N. secretary general's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, said fundamentalist Christian ideology was driving Washington's AIDS assistance program known as PEPFAR with disastrous results, including condom shortages in Uganda....

Many health experts say condoms are the most effective bulwark against AIDS.

Really? I'd be willing to take my odds using abstinence against your odds using condoms with HIV infected partners any day.

Monday, August 29, 2005


A new study has found that coffee is one of the best sources of healthy antioxidants: Coffee not only helps clear the mind and perk up the energy, it also provides more healthful antioxidants than any other food or beverage in the American diet, according to a study released Sunday....

The findings by Joe A. Vinson, a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton, in Pennsylvania, give a healthy boost to the warming beverage.

“The point is, people are getting the most antioxidants from beverages, as opposed to what you might think,” Vinson said in a telephone interview.
On cup #2 right now. (I know, I know--call me a health nut.)

Monday, August 22, 2005


What kind of shorts should I wear to work? Why, the same ones I wear to church, of course:
Just as one of the hottest summers in years started to sizzle, a Peoria, Ill.-based insurer took a bold step for a conservative company in a staid industry: It let its employees wear shorts to the office.

Not just any shorts on any day, mind you. They must be the type worn to church or the boss' barbecue, according to RLI Corp. Vice President Mike Quine, and the temperature has to be at least 90. [emphasis added, nac]

Ah. I see.

You'll be surprised to find that a lot of people America are not only spiritual, but even religious. You can even take a poll on your spirituality.

Apparently the Times is doing a series on Intelligent Design. Take a look at In Explaining Life's Complexity, Darwinists and Doubters Clash.

The New York Times has a fairly interesting (and lengthy) background article on the Discovery Institute, the organization behind the 'teach the controversy' movement in public schools recently endorsed by President Bush: Politicized Scholars Put Evolution on the Defensive. The Times clearly is no fan of the group, but the article is, for them, pretty even-handed.

A North Carolina judge has said no to the Koran in North Carolina courts:
Chief District Court Judge Joseph Turner says taking an oath on the Koran is not allowed by North Carolina state law, which specifies that witnesses shall place their hands on the “holy scriptures,” which he interprets as the Christian Bible.

“We’ve been doing it that way for 200 years,” he said. “Until the legislature changes that law, I believe I have to do what I’ve been told to do in the statutes.”

But the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American Civil Liberties Union are challenging the Guilford County Courts.

“This was the first time that we had a judge … going on record and stating unilaterally what is a holy scripture and what is not — what we believe to be a violation of the establishment clause,” said Arsalan Iftikhar of CAIR.

Their case is solid, according to one Duke University law professor.

“I have absolutely no doubt that higher courts, if it gets there, will say that persons of Muslim faith can swear on a Koran rather than a Christian Bible,” said Erwin Chemerinsky. “The case law is so clear here that a person doesn’t even have to swear on a Bible to be a witness so long as they’re willing to promise to tell the truth.”

I'm Judge Turner's ruling won't last long.

Friday, August 19, 2005


The Smithsonian says no open discourse here:
Evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg made a fateful decision a year ago.

As editor of the hitherto obscure Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Sternberg decided to publish a paper making the case for "intelligent design," a controversial theory that holds that the machinery of life is so complex as to require the hand -- subtle or not -- of an intelligent creator.

Within hours of publication, senior scientists at the Smithsonian Institution -- which has helped fund and run the journal -- lashed out at Sternberg as a shoddy scientist and a closet Bible thumper.

"They were saying I accepted money under the table, that I was a crypto-priest, that I was a sleeper cell operative for the creationists," said Steinberg, 42 , who is a Smithsonian research associate. "I was basically run out of there."

An independent agency has come to the same conclusion, accusing top scientists at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History of retaliating against Sternberg by investigating his religion and smearing him as a "creationist."

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which was established to protect federal employees from reprisals, examined e-mail traffic from these scientists and noted that "retaliation came in many forms . . . misinformation was disseminated through the Smithsonian Institution and to outside sources. The allegations against you were later determined to be false."

Ah, smears against dissenters. Investigating someone's religious beliefs. Reprisals from a govermental agency. No, Establishment Science isn't afraid of the free exchange of ideas at all.

[Thanks to ol' Wild Bill yet again.]

Update: COTB examines the cycle of attack and deny employed by the Scientific Establishment.

More at NRO.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


From the Sydney Morning HeraldLife's origin: Darwinism fights it out with dogma. I sure am glad that Darwinists aren't dogmatic.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Self-noted attorney and president of his very own college (Patrick Henry College Farris U.) Michael P. Farris has been challenged by the Purcellville Church of Christ to a doctrinal debate on the issue of baptism. Apparently they sent this letter (in pdf format) to Farris, whose college debate team even beat Oxford. Surely he could handle a bunch of heretics, but I guess he's too busy enforcing non-disclosure agreements.

By the way, I thought this headline captured the Hunley situation well: Christian College Fires Man For Being a Christian.

(Again, thanks to theosebes reader Wild Bill.)

Friday, August 12, 2005


But a recent study has shown more social scientists than natural scientists believe in God:
About two-thirds of scientists believe in God, according to a new survey that uncovered stark differences based on the type of research they do.

The study, along with another one released in June, would appear to debunk the oft-held notion that science is incompatible with religion.

Those in the social sciences are more likely to believe in God and attend religious services than researchers in the natural sciences, the study found.

The opposite had been expected.

Nearly 38 percent of natural scientists -- people in disciplines like physics, chemistry and biology -- said they do not believe in God. Only 31 percent of the social scientists do not believe....

Some stand-out stats: 41 percent of the biologists don't believe, while that figure is just 27 percent among political scientists.

In separate work at the University of Chicago, released in June, 76 percent of doctors said they believed in God and 59 percent believe in some sort of afterlife.

Yes, like those doing the study I would have expected the opposite, too.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


While at my desk last week I had Rush Limbaugh on in the background when I noticed he was talking to a caller about homosexuality and civil rights. While opposing the radical homosexual rights agenda it seems that Rush has made a critical concession on the issue. Rush began by saying hardly anyone he knows believes homosexuality is a choice. Of course, that recalls Pauline Kael's reaction to Richard Nixon's 1972 victory over George McGovern "How can that be? No one I know voted for Nixon." That simply says a great deal about who you know rather than what the majority of people believe (and especially what might actually be true). Rush was saying in a diplomatic way, he doesn't believe it's a choice, either. He then extrapolated to say that something that isn't a choice couldn't really be categorized as moral or immoral.

What this line of reasoning masks is a critical distinction that the homosexual rights lobby has long sought to blur. Homosexuality, they wish us to accept, is what you are, not what you do. Now, do some people have a proclivity that causes homosexual behavior to be a temptation? Possibly. I couldn't really argue it either way.

Now, do some people have a proclivity that causes drunkenness to be a temptation? I would say that's probably the case. We open the door to a nature vs. nurture argument, of course, but that's not what I'm interested in here. It is generally accepted societally--and based on Biblical strictures, morally--that drunkenness is not desirable. Is drunkenness a choice? Sure. If you don't want to be drunk, don't drink. Do some people struggle with this more than others? For whatever reason, yes, some clearly do. Now think, what do you struggle with in your life that others you know may not struggle with?

Let us return to homosexuality. Obviously it is a genuine temptation for many people. But again, each of us struggles to bring various areas of our life in line with that perfect Image of God, Christ. That one can stop practicing homosexuality is quite clear, just as one can stop practicing any other form of sexual immorality such as run of the mill fornication or adultery. What do we say to the philanderer who must move from woman to woman because one woman--his wife--simply is not satisfying to him? Well, we tell him he must stop such behavior. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Paul addresses those in Corinth who had given up various sins:

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,

10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

All of these--and I've highlighted some we have discussed here--are actions one chooses to engage in. Through Jesus Christ we can choose not to.

But, we hear, what about those who have sexual desires that can only be fulfilled through homosexual behavior? Well, what about them? I suppose they will have to have those desires left unfulfilled (Matthew 19:12). I'm not talking about trying to convert them into a happily married man or woman. Perhaps they will never have that, but we must get beyond defining our identity solely by our sexuality. But there are advantages to remaining unmarried as Paul discusses in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35.

Some teachings are hard, and do require the sacrifice of unchecked sensual pleasures. But our Creator has both a perfect understanding of his Creation and of His own holy nature, which from the beginning we are expected to reflect. We are unqualified to question Him on either.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


"The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash'; so I went away and washed, and I received sight." (John 9:11)

Workers in Jerusalem have accidentally uncovered the Biblical pool of Siloam:
Workers repairing a sewage pipe in the Old City of Jerusalem have discovered the biblical Pool of Siloam, a freshwater reservoir that was a major gathering place for ancient Jews making religious pilgrimages to the city and the reputed site where Jesus cured a man blind from birth, according to the Gospel of John.

The pool was fed by the now famous Hezekiah's Tunnel and is "a much grander affair" than archeologists previously believed, with three tiers of stone stairs allowing easy access to the water, said Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, which reported the find Monday.

"Scholars have said that there wasn't a Pool of Siloam and that John was using a religious conceit" to illustrate a point, said New Testament scholar James H. Charlesworth of the Princeton Theological Seminary. "Now we have found the Pool of Siloam … exactly where John said it was."

A gospel that was thought to be "pure theology is now shown to be grounded in history," he said.

And how about that.

Jeremy Hunley thought he had a job in a great place, lots of religious people committed to Christ who were focused on teaching home schooled kids. He found out otherwise when he was fired by President Michael P. Farris of Patrick Henry College for inviting these religious people to the church he attends. You see the catch is, Hunley and other members at the Purcellville Church of Christ believe that baptism is essential for salvation. President Farris was unwilling to agree to disagree:
College administrators told Hunley, a member of the Church of Christ, that the belief put him at odds with the school's statement of faith, which he was required to sign before taking the job. According to the 10-point document, salvation is found only through faith in Jesus Christ.

Patrick Henry was founded in 2000 to be an Ivy League-type college aimed at attracting academically gifted home-schoolers. The school's president talks unabashedly of birthing a new generation of conservative leaders who will reclaim the country from years of liberal sway. It is a bold mission that has attracted national attention....

The college's president and founder, Michael P. Farris -- a lawyer, home-schooling advocate and Baptist minister -- insisted that the opposite is true. He said Hunley's forced resignation is proof that the school will not compromise on the fundamental religious beliefs that drive its mission and ultimately will determine its success.

"One of the most common questions I'm asked as I promote the college to people is, 'How are you going to prevent Patrick Henry from becoming like Harvard, which started off as a strong Christian school and look at it today?' " he said. "I think for better or for worse, the battle with Jeremy Hunley was one of our first tests of whether we're going to stick to what we believe or not."

Of course, I'm one of those crazies who attends a church of Christ as well--and while there's no exact wording in the article--but I think could agree to a statement that "salvation is found only through faith in Jesus Christ" (hey, I'll sign up for John 3:16 if Mr. Farris will go along with Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21, oh, and James 2:24). Apparently Mr. Hunley felt he could sign such a statement as well:
Hunley said the wording of the school's statement could be interpreted to encompass his views. Administrators disagreed.

So, apparently we have Patrick Henry Baptist College. That's fine, but it also seems that while Patrick Henry isn't really interested in employing Mr. Hunley, they are quite willing to take the money of those who attend churches of Christ. You see, Mr. Farris not only fired Mr. Hunley, but he took him to court as well:
At Hunley's court hearing, Farris read letters from members of the [I assume, Mr. Hunley's-nac] church, who wrote to say they were withholding support from the college based on the librarian's allegations.

You see, Mr. Hunley was forced to sign a confidentiality agreement in order to receive needed severance pay. Farris contended that Hunley broke the agreement, and used the letters from members of churches of Christ withholding support to prove it! You wouldn't think he would want their tainted money. Next thing they might be just like Harvard, you know.

So what does Farris (I hate to associate an honorable man like the actual Patrick Henry with these actions) get out of this other than stroking his ego? Possibly not what he wants, which is mainstream acceptance:
Farris's school needs acceptance from the mainstream halls of power if it is to fulfill its ambitious agenda, said Mark J. Rozell, a political science professor at George Mason University. That is what the school risks when it engages in a public doctrinal dispute with a former employee, said Rozell, who wrote a book on the religious right in Virginia, devoting a chapter to Farris's unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor in 1993.

"He's been very open about his goal to make this institution politically powerful," Rozell said of Farris. "If he wants the place to be a more powerful player, it has to be a little more open. It's hard to broaden the reach and the political impact by taking a very narrow line theologically."

Some years ago I spoke with my friend and home schooling guru Martin Cothran about the need for higher education for home schooled kids, something that understood their goals and priorities. One would hope that Patrick Henry College might have been such a place, but I know of at least three homeschooled kids whose father will see to it that they don't go to Farris U.

[Some Wilder Thoughts on the issue.]

Monday, August 08, 2005


Perhaps. An Israeli archaelogist is making claims:
An Israeli archaeologist says she has uncovered in East Jerusalem what may be the fabled palace of the biblical King David. Her work has been sponsored by a conservative Israeli research institute and financed by an American Jewish investment banker who would like to prove that Jerusalem was indeed the capital of the Jewish kingdom described in the Bible.

We shall see what becomes of it. The usual crowd of Biblical skeptics are, well, skeptical.

[Thanks to Ferrell Jenkins for the link.]

The Ron Howard led filming of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has gone top secret:
"Da Vinci," set for release in May, is shaping up as one of the movie world's more complicated exercises - so much so that Sony has dropped a scrim of secrecy over the affair, refusing to discuss anything but the barest details. The script has been closely controlled. Outsiders have been banned from the set. And those associated with the film have had to sign confidentiality agreements.

"There isn't a hidden agenda, there isn't any secrecy, it's just because it's so well known," said Geoffrey Ammer, Sony's president of worldwide marketing, explaining the low profile. "They've got a job to do to make the movie. It was easier for everybody to just go make the movie."

But executives and others connected with the project acknowledge that their silence is also a measure of concern about the potentially incendiary nature of the subject matter. The book, which is fiction, takes aim at central Christian dogma, claiming that Jesus had a child with Mary Magdalene, who was meant to be his true heir. It alleges an enormous coverup by the Roman Catholic Church, which, according to the book, usurped Mary's place in favor of a male-oriented hierarchy that has suppressed what Mr. Brown calls the "sacred feminine."

Now what on earth would these good folks have to hide?

Daughter number two turned three years old on Sunday. That's her hamming it up with the birthday cake her mom made her, complete with edible baby Moses in the bulrushes. (She has a baby doll she dubbed 'Baby Moses'.) She was thrilled to be able to eat baby Moses's head.

Monday night will be the first night with no pacifier. We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


President Bush commented yesterday that 'Intelligent Design' should be taught in schools as a competing theory to Darwinian evolution.

Predictably, the faux sophisticates expressed shock:
These comments drew sharp criticism yesterday from opponents of the theory, who said there is no scientific evidence to support it and no educational basis for teaching it.

Much of the scientific establishment says that intelligent design is not a tested scientific theory but a cleverly marketed effort to introduce religious -- especially Christian -- thinking to students. Opponents say that church groups and other interest groups are pursuing political channels instead of first building support through traditional scientific review.

Those on the 'blogosphere' were outraged as well.

There has been these much fuss and bluster in some time. I'm glad to see it.

Monday, August 01, 2005


In a brilliant stroke, the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Publis Schools has persuaded the school board of Odessa, TX to begin a new course on the Bible:
The council calls its course a nonsectarian historical and literary survey class within constitutional guidelines requiring the separation of church and state.

But a growing chorus of critics says the course, taught by local teachers trained by the council, conceals a religious agenda. The critics say it ignores evolution in favor of creationism and gives credence to dubious assertions that the Constitution is based on the Scriptures, and that "documented research through NASA" backs the biblical account of the sun standing still.

In the latest salvo, the Texas Freedom Network, an advocacy group for religious freedom, has called a news conference for Monday to release a study that finds the national council's course to be "an error-riddled Bible curriculum that attempts to persuade students and teachers to adopt views that are held primarily within conservative Protestant circles."

Very upset about it all is the oh so outraged and sophisticated looking Prof. David Newman (he's a genuine English teacher at Odessa College--smile for the camera!):
But in Odessa, where the school board has not decided on a curriculum, a parent said he found the course's syllabus unacceptably sectarian. He has been waging his own campaign for additional information on where it is being taught.

"Someone is being disingenuous; I'd like to know who," said the parent, David Newman, an associate professor of English at Odessa College who has made a page-by-page analysis of the 270-page syllabus and sent e-mail messages to nearly all 1,034 school districts in Texas.

Ah, disingenous. Not something the left that has sought to banish any mention of religion from public life in the name of "religious freedom" would know anything about.

Maybe if some of these kids actually had a class on the Bible they might have a vague clue what the majority of Western literature and art is about.