Thursday, August 31, 2006

Olbermann on Don Rumsfeld

My new post at JAJC:

Olbermann on Don Rumsfeld

The Real Genesis

1 The following is what the majority of Western scientists believe in 2006. They may be wrong in some details, although it is likely that the broad strokes are correct. If reality contradicts this book, this book is wrong. The following are literal truths as we currently understand them and not metaphors.

2 Time and space began approximately 14-16 billion years ago.

3 Space began at a single point and expanded rapidly.

4 Stars and galaxies formed over a few billion years.

5 Earth formed between four and five billion years ago.

6 Around four billion years ago, nucleic acids were formed.

7 Shortly afterwards, at least one nucleic acid began to reproduce.

8 Within one or two million years, cells formed.

9 Around 600 million years ago, land animals evolved.

10 Around 250 million years ago, dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

11 Around 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs died out, probably due to a meteorite.

12 Around 50 million years ago, mammals rose in prominence.

13 Around 3 million years ago, hominids evolved.

14 Around 100,000 years ago, homo sapiens evolved.

15 Around 6,000 years ago, the first cities were built.

16 Around 4,000 years ago, writing was invented.

17 The rest is history. Literally.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Creation Moments

In a bizarre twist of fate -- or through a great practical joke by God, if you're so inclined -- my car radio was recently damaged in such a way that it gets one and only one station -- Christian Family Radio. The tape deck is broken, the tuner doesn't work, the display's out of whack, even the clock is consistently two hours and forty minutes behind, but Christian Family Radio comes in loud and clear.

As Dave Barry says, I am not making this up.

Because I'm frequently bored in the car, and because I like some of the music, I often listen until I have to turn it off out of frustration. Most mornings, I'm treated to what they call "a Creation Moment."

They are priceless. What I love most is how they make it sound like you'd have to be a complete imbecile not to believe in young-Earth creationism.

Here's the general form of a Creation Moment:

1) Look at this amazing creature/organ/scientific discovery!
2) Isn't that cool?
3) Therefore, God is great, the Earth is young, and evolution is false.

Here's an actual example:

Your Busy Liver

Psalm 139:13 "For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb."

An adult human liver is about the size of a small football. It weighs about three pounds, making it the body’s largest internal organ. Tucked neatly beneath the ribs, your liver performs more than 500 different tasks. It is a vital link between your heart, lungs and digestive system.

Inside the liver is a bewildering array of microscopic veins in which each drop of blood is processed. Here, blood conditions are constantly monitored to make sure that its chemistry meets strict standards. If more of some substances are needed in the blood, they are supplied. Useless chemicals are broken down into useful chemicals. Your liver makes proteins, and corrects blood clotting factors. Your liver also sees to it that hormone balances are maintained and that poisons are neutralized. If substances are needed to fight an infection, your liver makes them and adds them to the bloodstream. Your liver also stores vitamins and minerals and prepares itself to provide your body with quick energy when you need it. In addition, the liver makes bile, which is essential for digestion.

Structures like the liver have caused many evolutionists to abandon the idea that life is a result of millions of years of accidents. The liver is just too well-designed and integrated into the body to have been produced by purposelessness and mindlessness. As Scripture says, truly God has formed our inward parts!

Prayer: I thank You, dear Father, that I am so fearfully and wonderfully made. Help me to take good care of the wondrous body You have given me and grant me good health. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

References: The liver: the body’s refinery. Discover, Apr. 1984. p. 80.

Read or listen to them all at Creation Moments International.

Here's how they describe their beliefs:

* Creation Moments products reinforce our belief in:
* A literal interpretation of creation as presented in the Bible
* Divine design and purpose in nature
* A global flood (as described in Genesis)
* Special creation (uniqueness)
* Christ-centered scientific research
* A young Earth
* Christ as a man's only hope for eternal redemption. Christ is both Savior and Lord; was born of a virgin; was both God and man, died for our sins and rose again

Can you believe these folks are popular enough to have a national radio show? Sometimes America scares me.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The ACLU Defends Religious Liberties

My new post at JAJC:

The ACLU Defends Religious Liberties

Higher Education is a Threat to Christianity!

The American Family Association Journal ("Family," of course meaning "Christian," since apparently non-Christians don't have families) has a hilarious article about the "dangers" of higher education:

With memories of high school graduation still fresh on their minds, millions of parents will send their children off to college in the coming weeks. For parents, the time is a bitter-sweet milestone. For students, it marks the beginning of a quest for freedom.

But what students and parents don’t realize is that today’s campuses are functioning as an indoctrination into the realm of liberalism. As early as the 1790s, Yale college students were openly disavowing Christ. Despite periods of revival, the denial of Christian beliefs and the acceptance of secularism have persisted and gained strength through the years.


In his book University of Destruction, David Wheaton cites research by Dr. Gary Railsback and the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. Wheaton wrote, “Depending on the type of college attended, as many as 51% of students who claimed to be ‘born-again Christians’ as freshmen said they were no longer born-again Christians four years later.”

“The trial everyone has heard about – but most people underrate – is the sheer spiritual disorientation of the modern campus,” wrote J. Budziszewski in a Focus on the Family magazine article.

“Methods of indoctrination are likely to include not only required courses, but also freshman orientation, speech codes, mandatory diversity training, dormitory policies, guidelines for registered student organizations and mental health counseling,” Budziszewski added.

“[T]he modern university, having lost its moral convictions, has attached itself to relativistic doctrines such as tolerance and diversity, which mean, in practice, tolerance of anything but Biblical faith and traditional morality.”


“Parents should try to make sure that their children are grounded in apologetics before sending them off,” said Dr. Richard Howe, a writer in Christian apologetics and a former college professor.

“Training young people to develop a Christian mind is no longer an option; it is part of their necessary survival equipment,” Pearcey wrote.

So to sum up:

  • Today's Universities are all about liberal indoctrination. (Christian indoctrination is apparently okay.)

  • Students at Yale have been disavowing Christ since the '70s!

  • Higher Education cures leads astray "born-again" Christians.

  • This is clearly a fault of liberal indoctrination.

  • Liberal indoctrination includes such evils as "required courses, but also freshman orientation, speech codes, mandatory diversity training, dormitory policies, guidelines for registered student organizations and mental health counseling(!)"

  • We must fill our children's heads with Christian apologetics before sending them off to college.

(Tip of the hat to the great Mis-Nagid.)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

WV School Board Fights to Keep Jesus Portrait in Public School

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. -- The Harrison County Board of Education said Tuesday it will fight civil liberties groups' efforts to remove a painting of Jesus Christ at Bridgeport High School.

The board vowed earlier not to spend public money defending itself but had given outside interests a Tuesday deadline to raise at least $150,000 for a defense fund.

That goal was surpassed, board member Mike Queen said after the board met in private.

"This board is moving forward," Queen told a cheering audience of about 50 people, many of whom wore white T-shirts that read, "You can't take our Jesus down."

"I feel proud to be a West Virginian and an American today because of what these people did here," said actor Mayf Nutter, who helped with the fundraising. "They said they would not be pushed off their own porch."


Residents at the meeting said the issue has unified the community.

"It was just a matter of time that someone came along and tried to take away our freedom," said Eddy Currey, a 1985 Bridgeport High graduate.


The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the decision to fight the lawsuit could be expensive for the defense.

"I think they have no chance of convincing a court that a portrait of Jesus in a high school doesn't promote Christianity, and such promotion is prohibited by the First Amendment," Lynn said.

The Christian Freedom Fund, established to pay the school board's legal fees, raised most of the money in less than two weeks. Bridgeport High students raised an additional $6,700.

"The ACLU is saying they have the right to come in and find a few people who disagree with the majority and use them to overtake the majority," said Dennis Swindle, a local minister whose daughter attends the school. "All we're saying is, 'not without a fight."'

I wonder how they'd feel about a big portrait of Vishnu in their school.

Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Book Meme

I've been tagged by Ezzie! Now this is a meme I can get behind. :-)

1. One book that changed your life? The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design, by Richard Dawkins. This book made the world make sense to me.

2. One book you have read more than once? The World According to Garp, by John Irving. There's so much in this book it never gets old.

3. One book you would want on a desert island? The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. Are anthologies cheating? Maybe Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace. (See my review.)

4. One book that made you laugh? Gotta agree with Ezzie here: Calvin and Hobbes.

5. One book that made you cry? I don't know about outright crying, but Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami came close. It's a beautiful and sad love story, written very well.

6. One book you wish had been written? Don't Listen to Paul, Jesus.

7. One book you wish had never been written? Leviticus? Revelations?

8. One book you are currently reading? Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. Thanks to Marina Grace for the recommendation, although I think I like it for different reasons than she.

9. One book you have been meaning to read? One? Haha. Let's go with Beware of God: Stories, by Shalom Auslander. Former Orthodox guy writes good fiction about it. What's taking me so long to read it?

10. Now tag five people. Baal Habos, Laura, dbackdad, cyberkitten, and Ben Avuyah. Actually I'm fascinated to see what Ben Avuyah reads since he writes so well.

Friday, August 11, 2006

My Background Pops up in the Strangest Places

So I've been listening to The Essence, a collection of New-Age-ified Sanskrit mantras I highly recommend. Deva Premal has a beautiful and soothing voice.

Anyway, the melody (such as it is) of "Tumare Darsham" has been stuck in my head and as I was driving to work this morning, I realized that I was not only singing it, but that, not knowing Sanskrit, I'd filled in the syllables with words more familiar to me:

Dizaben abba bisroo-ze...

Yes, that's right, I was chanting an ancient Vedic mantra with slurred lyrics from the Passover seder classic Chad Gadya. (To be fair to my mangled recitation, Chad Gadya is usually sung while intoxicated.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

So, are You an Idiot or a Maniac?

Have you ever noticed... Anybody going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac? --George Carlin

Much of my extended family are Conservative Jews. When I "came out" to them as being no longer Orthodox, the uh, less subtle ones were pleased. One said, "That's good -- you have to live in the modern world!" Then he asked me if I still planned to go to some kind of services or if I'd left the religion altogether. When I told him I didn't really believe in any of it, he was disappointed again.

Carlin's talking about driving, but it's true about religion, too. People think those to the right of them are crazy and those to the left are ignorant or immoral. And of course the level of religion they practice (which they were most likely born into) is the right way.

I guess you can't please many of the people any of the time.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Gay Marriage, or Won't Somebody Think of the Children?

Good op-ed in Sunday's NYT. Excerpt:

Washington’s high court rejected same-sex marriage for much the same reason the New York Court of Appeals did earlier this month...

Basically, both courts found that marriage is like a box of Trix: It’s for kids.

In New York, the court ruled in effect that irresponsible heterosexuals often have children by accident — we gay couples, in contrast, cannot get drunk and adopt in one night — so the state can reserve marriage rights for heterosexuals in order to coerce them into taking care of their offspring. Without the promise of gift registries and rehearsal dinners, it seems, many more newborns in New York would be found in trash cans.

At least the New York court acknowledged that many same-sex couples have children. Washington’s judges went out of their way to make ours disappear, finding that "limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation, essential to the survival of the human race, and furthers the well-being of children by encouraging families where children are reared in homes headed by the children’s biological parents." Children, the decision continues, "tend to thrive in families consisting of a father, mother and their biological children."

A concurring opinion gave the knife a few leisurely twists: due to the "binary biological nature of marriage," it read, only opposite-sex couples are capable of "responsible child rearing."

These stunning statements fly in the face of the evidence about gay and lesbian parents presented to the court. Similar evidence persuaded the high court in Arkansas to overturn that state’s ban on gay and lesbian foster parents.

What the New York and Washington opinions share — besides a willful disregard for equal protection clauses in both state Constitutions — is a heartless lack of concern for the rights of the hundreds of thousands of children being raised by same-sex couples.

Even if gay couples who adopt are more stable, as New York found, don’t their children need the security and protections that the court believes marriage affords children? And even if heterosexual sex is essential to the survival of the human race (a point I’m willing to concede), it’s hard to see how preventing gay couples from marrying increases heterosexual activity. (“Keep breeding, heterosexuals,” the Washington State Supreme Court in effect shouted, “To bed! To bed! To bed!”) Both courts have found that my son’s parents have no right to marry, but what of my son’s right to have married parents?

A perverse cruelty characterizes both decisions. The courts ruled, essentially, that making my child’s life less secure somehow makes the life of a child with straight parents more secure. Both courts found that making heterosexual couples stable requires keeping homosexual couples vulnerable. And the courts seemed to agree that heterosexuals can hardly be bothered to have children at all -- or once they've had them, can hardly be bothered to care for them -- unless marriage rights are reserved exclusively for heterosexuals. And the religious right accuses gays and lesbians of seeking “special rights.”

Even if you believe that marriage plays a special role in the lives of heterosexuals with children (another point I’m happy to concede), can it not play a similar role in the lives of homosexual couples, whether they’re parents or not? Marriage, after all, is not reserved for couples with children. (Perhaps it will be soon, if courts keep heading in this direction.)

(Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars.)

These arguments against gay marriage are asinine. Even if we grant that heterosexual marriages are better for children -- which the evidence is against -- how does outlawing gay marriage help? Will banning gay marriage increase heterosexual marriage? Will children of gay parents be better off with parents who are forbidden to marry?

I get the impression that those opposed to gay marriage believe that if they just hold out long enough, gay people will simply disappear. I've never seen any gay marriage opponent address the question of kids whose parents are forbidden to marry, even as they use kids as their justification for banning gay marriage.