Wednesday, February 28, 2007

HEADS UP: "Traditional" annual anti-Lent media event, Sunday, March 4, on Discovery Channel (etc.)

Sunday coming, March 4, will be the second Sunday in Lent.

Unfortunately, it seems that the now "traditional" annual anti-gospel headline-grabbing skeptical media event for Easter is off to an early start, with the upcoming Discovery Channel (and also Britain's Channel 4, Canada's Vision, and Israel's Channel 8) "documentary" by James Cameron, Director of the movie, Titanic.

The upcoming film is titled, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," and as Robert Knight of Media Research Center summarises in a WND interview, its story line is that: Jesus married Mary Magdalene, had son Judah, and they all died and were buried together in Jerusalem.

The -- rather slim -- factual foundation for such a major claim, from the Time Magazine blog report, is the discovery, 27 years ago, of of a crypt in Jerusalem:

. . . Israeli construction workers were gouging out the foundations for a new building in the industrial park in the Talpiyot, a Jerusalem suburb. of Jerusalem. The earth gave way, revealing a 2,000 year old cave with 10 stone caskets. Arch[ae]ologists were summoned, and the stone caskets carted away for examination. It took 20 years for experts to decipher the names on the ten tombs. They were: Jesua, son of Joseph, Mary, Mary, Mathew, Jofa and Judah, son of Jesua.

The WND account augments: "two of the caskets in the crypt held remains that [through results of DNA tests] were unrelated maternally, then [the Documentary's authors] take the giant leap of logic that these two people were married and they were Jesus and Mary Magdalene."

In fact, as the Time account observes: " Israel's prominent arch[a]eologist Professor Amos Kloner didn't associate the crypt with the New Testament Jesus. His father, after all, was a humble carpenter who couldn't afford a luxury crypt for his family. And all were common Jewish names." (Dr. Jerry Johnson, of Criswell Christian College, Texas, remarks, tellingly: "An ossuary labeled 'Jesus' is about as specific to Christ as a chunk of wood that is claimed to be a part of the Ark.") So, we can see the force of the following ten points made in rebuttal:


  1. There is no DNA evidence that this is the historical Jesus of Nazareth.
  2. The statistical analysis [that the relevant cluster of names would be otherwise hard to account for] is untrustworthy.
  3. The name “Jesus” was a popular name in the first century, appearing in 98 other tombs and on 21 other ossuaries (or stone tombs).
  4. There is no historical evidence that Jesus was ever married or had a child.
  5. The earliest followers of Jesus never called him “Jesus, son of Joseph.”
  6. It is highly unlikely that Joseph, who died earlier in Galilee, was buried in Jerusalem , since the historical record connects him only to Nazareth or Bethlehem .
  7. The Talpiot tomb and ossuaries are such that they would have belonged to a rich family, which does not match the historical record for Jesus.
  8. Fourth-century church historian Eusebius makes quite clear that the body of James, the brother of Jesus, was buried alone near the temple mount and that his tomb was visited in the early centuries, making very unlikely that the Talpiot tomb was Jesus’ “family tomb.”
  9. The two Mary ossuaries do not mention anyone from Migdal, but simply has the name Mary, one of the most common of all ancient Jewish female names.
  10. By all ancient accounts, the tomb of Jesus was empty, making it highly unlikely that it was moved to another tomb, decayed for one year's time, and then the bones put in an ossuary.
[Excerpted, Kristen Fyfe, Culture and Media Institute, February 27, 2007]

It would be easy to brush this sort of media splash event aside as foolish headline-grabbing speculation that exploits the most tenuous links to jump to obviously unwarranted conclusions, adn conclude that we need say or do little about it. But that would be to confuse two very different things: the science and philosophy of warrant and the rhetoric of popular persuasion.

The difference is illustrated by a key point demonstrated by the Da Vinci Code phenomenon. For as Mr Knight noted, people often believe what they see or read in a source they think is credible, especially one that tells them what they want to hear:

"We saw this with the 'Da Vinci Code.' People bought into the alleged historical accuracy of claims, made even in a work of fiction, so when a documentary comes along, posing as objective critical analysis, that means more people will buy into the absurd and unproven premise that Jesus was just a man and that his earthly remains have been found."

So, it is time again to draw attention to the true facts on the origins of the Christian Faith, and the famous and still unmet challenge put out in a previous generation by Attorney Frank Morison, in his justly famous book, Who Moved the Stone?:

[N]ow the peculiar thing . . . is that not only did [belief in Jesus' resurrection as in part testified to by the empty tomb] spread to every member of the Party of Jesus of whom we have any trace, but they brought it to Jerusalem and carried it with inconceivable audacity into the most keenly intellectual centre of Judaea . . . and in the face of every impediment which a brilliant and highly organised camarilla could devise. And they won. Within twenty years the claim of these Galilean peasants had disrupted the Jewish Church and impressed itself upon every town on the Eastern littoral of the Mediterranean from Caesarea to Troas. In less than fifty years it had began to threaten the peace of the Roman Empire . . . . Why did it win? . . . . We have to account not only for the enthusiasm of its friends, but for the paralysis of its enemies and for the ever growing stream of new converts . . . When we remember what certain highly placed personages would almost certainly have given to have strangled this movement at its birth but could not - how one desperate expedient after another was adopted to silence the apostles, until that veritable bow of Ulysses, the Great Persecution, was tried and broke in pieces in their hands [the chief persecutor became the leading C1 Missionary/Apostle!] - we begin to realise that behind all these subterfuges and makeshifts there must have been a silent, unanswerable fact. [Who Moved the Stone, (Faber, 1971; nb. orig. pub. 1930), pp. 114 - 115.]

In short, historical explanations are not just free-form wild stories, or the cynical propaganda of those who win the power struggles in a given time. (And, BTW, the C1 Christians were by no reasonable estimation, the power brokers of the Judaean or Roman states! Just the opposite, they were too often to be found among the principal victims and scapegoats of those who held power. [NB: It must be pointed outthatthe very first Christians were a messianic Jewish community, and so remarks about the C1 Judaean and Roman powwer elites are not at all to be taken as targetting any one race or religion. Power elites can go horribly wrong in any culture or religion, as in Lord Acton's sobering words, "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely . . .".] )

Not at all, to be historically credible, serious accounts of “what happened, where, when, and why” must meet the challenge of comparative explanatory power relative to the facts, to coherence and to elegant simplicity [simple, but not simplistic]. On this, as William Lane Craig summarised in his recent successful debates with skeptical German theologian Gerd Ludemann:

. . . the historian's task is very much like that of the trial lawyer: to examine the witnesses in order to reconstruct the most probable course of events . . . . I propose to defend two basic contentions in this debate: (1) Any adequate historical hypothesis about the resurrection must explain four established facts: Jesus' burial, the discovery of his empty tomb, his postmortem appearances and the origin of the disciples' belief in the resurrection. (2) The best explanation of these facts is that God raised Jesus from the dead . . . .
I want to share four facts that are widely accepted by New Testament scholars today.

Fact 1: After his crucifixion, Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea . . . .

Fact 2: On the Sunday following the crucifixion, Jesus' tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers . . . .

Fact 3: On multiple occasions and under multiple circumstances, different individuals and groups of people experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead . . . .

Fact 4: The original disciples believed that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every reason [i.e. it was counter to their interests and even safety] not to . . . .

In his book Justifying Historical Descriptions, historian C. H. McCullagh lists six tests used by historians to determine the best explanation for historical facts. The hypothesis "God raised Jesus from the dead" passes all these tests.

1. It has great explanatory scope. It explains why the tomb was found empty, why the disciples saw postmortem appearances of Jesus and why the Christian Faith came into being.

2. It has great explanatory power. It explains why the body of Jesus was gone, why people repeatedly saw Jesus alive despite his earlier public execution [his death being certified by the executioner and accepted by the governor, who then released his body for honourable burial] . . .

3. It is plausible. Given . . . Jesus' own unparalleled life and claims, the resurrection serves as divine confirmation . . .

4. It is not ad hoc or contrived. It requires only one additional hypothesis -- that God exists . . .

5. It is in accord with accepted beliefs. The hypothesis . . . does not in any way conflict with the accepted belief that people don't rise naturally from the dead . . .

6. It far outstrips any of its rival theories in meeting conditions 1 through 5. . . . various rival explanations have been offered -- for example the conspiracy theory, the apparent death theory, the hallucination theory and so forth. Such hypotheses have been almost universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. No naturalistic hypothesis has attracted a great number of scholars . . . .

[W]hy, we may ask, does Dr Ludemann [as a representative among many other modernist-influenced scholars] reject the resurrection hypothesis? As you read his book, the answer becomes clear: the resurrection is a miracle, and Dr Ludemann just cannot bring himself to believe in miracles. He states, "Historical criticism . . . does not reckon with an intervention of God in history." Thus, the resurrection cannot be historical; the hypothesis goes out the window before you even sit down at the table to look at the evidence . . . He says, "Hume . . . demonstrated that a miracle is defined in such a way that 'no testimony is sufficient to establish it.' " The concept of a resurrection, he says, presupposes "a philosophical realism that is untenable since Kant." [Excerpted, Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment?, Eds. Copan & Tacelli, IVP 2000, pp. 32 - 38. Links and parentheses added; italics in original. NB: Subsequent to this debate, Dr Ludemann became an atheist.]

In short, it is easy to make up skeptical stories that for many will be persuasive in discrediting the core witness of the 500+ witnesses that are the historical foundation of the Christian faith. But to actually seriously address the comparative explanatory difficulties is another matter entirely.

And, just what is that core historical testimony?

It is not too hard to find – it is probably sitting on your bookshelf or maybe by your bedside. For, as Paul summarised in his 55 AD epistle to the Corinthians, drawing on his own knowledge of the consensus of the early witnesses dating to the Apostolic circle in Jerusalem in the 30's AD -- i.e. well within a decade of the event -- far too early for myths to succeed facts:

CO 15:1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born . . . 11 Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. [1 Cor 15:1 - 8, 11.]

We hardly need to add, that the subsequent textual history of these NT documents begins by 96 - 110 AD, with the copious citations and allusions in the writings of the three Church Fathers, Clement of Rome, Polycarp and Ignatius. (Only two ofd hte 27 books in our NT were not cited or alluded to by these first three writing Fathers. We can take this as strongly establishing the C1 provenance of the NT and supporting its component books as being treasured by the church as Scripture from the very beginning.) The textual tradition continues in an ever-mounting flood down to the origin of printing, and is by far and away the best documented textual tradition from classical times. Indeed, we actually have key scraps of the Gospel of John that were found in Egypt, that credibly date to about 125 AD, directly implying that the NT documents were completed in the first century and enjoyed wide circulation and familiarity by the early second century.

So, as Simon Greenleaf of Harvard [a founding father of the modern theory of evidence] long ago counselled, we should not be unduly distracted by the sort of headlined fallacious selective hyperskepticism this upcoming documentary reflects.

But equally, we urgently need to properly brief our churches and the wider public on the skeptical spin games such media splash events reflect, and expose their want of proper warrant, not to mention, too often, also of basic common courtesy.

Why not announce the upcoming documentary in church this weekend, and inform the audience of why it is so utterly wrong-headed? END

UPDATE, Mar 1: Adjusted to include additional points in rebuttal and to make it utterly clear that no targetting of any one race or religion is intended. Apologies for any unintended pain caused to readers.]

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

1 Chron 12:29 report, 30: Amazing Grace -- continuing the story of Wilberforce, Newton and Equiano, two hundred years on

Grace is amazing:

. . . it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. [Eph 2:8 - 10.]

Of course, starting this past Friday, the two hundredth anniversary of the British parliamentary vote that abolished the slave trade in the British Empire, the world is being reminded of that, through the new movie, Amazing Grace. This movie tells the inspiring story of three men: William Wilberforce, John Newton, and Olaudah Equiano. Respectively, the high society rising star in British politics captured by Grace; the former slaver captain turned pastor who worked with him [and who wrote the hymn]; and, the former African slave (who spent some time as a slave in Montserrat by the way), and who also found power to overcome through grace. (NB: There is also a major five hour radio serial by Focus on the Family that is well worth the listening to.)

Such a visually and aurally told story, on such an anniversary is of course a major reminder to Western and world culture of the redemptive, blessing, transforming impact of the gospel on individuals, cultures, civilisations and the whole world. It also opens the door to a major opportunity for us to reflect on how the Gospel can change our own lives, communities and world. Thus, within the Christian community in our region, we can sit down together to watch this movie, then begin a process of reflection, dialogue and repentance, renewal, revival and reformation that can then spill out into our region and beyond. Once we start, then we can engage our communities and nations across the region, with the next chapter of the story of how God through the gospel blesses and transforms the nations.

And since the very same triangle of forces -- the partly Christianised cultures of the West, Islamic partners in the slave trade, and the colonised Caribbean that resulted therefrom -- are still present, and still struggling to find and do the right, it presents to us a kairos-opportunity on the world stage.

So, why should we not . . .

work together to initiate a twenty year reformation and transformation initiative as we the Caribbean peoples and churches, mark the bicentennial of the death of "the Monster," as Burchell called it as he counted down the seconds to that fateful midnight in Falmouth Baptist church, Jamaica, in the 1830's?

In that context of undertaking a long-term, culture reformation ands transformation initiative, I think that Craig von Buseck's summary of Wilberforce's five main principles of reformation is aptly illuminating on what we are up against,and what we will need to focus on if we are to overcome:

[1] The Principle of Pardon
The first character trait we observe in the life of Wilberforce is the Principle of Pardon. We see Wilberforce's faith and his deep relationship with Christ . . . .
[2] The Principle of Purpose
Out of this relationship with Christ, Wilberforce earnestly sought what God's purposes were . . . . He was a man who had sought God, knew what his purpose was, and then with this incredible focus and intensity, pursued it passionately for twenty years . . . .
[3] The Principle of Partners
Wilberforce could not do any of these things by himself. When you make a movie, you're making Wilberforce a heroic figure. But really The Clapham Group were the people that surrounded him, and they are in the movie. The people in this group were so committed to Christ, to the purpose of abolition and to each other that they all moved to Clapham. Some of them were already living there, but Wilberforce moved to Clapham and they all had houses around Clapham Commons, which was a big circular park outside of London. This was a little village in those days. The church sits on one end of the commons and they built their houses around it. They literally became known as the Clapham Circle . . . .
[4] The Principle of Power
Wilberforce had an understanding of the necessity of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in his life to empower him to do what he did . . . .
[5] The Principle of Persistence
This is what I think is the biggest lesson in the Wilberforce story. In our culture, if we don't accomplish something in six months or a year we will often abandon it and move on. But Wilberforce relentlessly put this bill on the floor of Parliament -- year, after year, after year for seventeen years. He fought for this thing until finally it was passed on February 23rd, 1807 -- two hundred years to the day when the film open[ed].
Then he turned around and spent the next twenty-five years fighting for the abolition of slavery itself. Of course the British Parliament passed that bill in 1833 and then three days later Wilberforce died. Before his death, William Wilberforce heard that slavery was abolished . . .

I believe that under God we can learn from these principles, and we can over the next two decades move our region decisively towards reformation and God-blessed transformation.

We can then address the same global triangle of forces as a strategic people of God who bridge North and South, East and West and who through the gospel have triumphed over great adversity. Then, we can go back to Jerusalem, through the lands of our ancestors in the 10/40 Window, and through the lands of our former colonial masters with whom we have so much in common.

Finally, in 2034 - 38, we can have a season of celebration, refreshing, reflection and renewal as we celebrate the bicentennial of the blessing of liberation from slavery. (We can also invite the whole world to the grandest party ever in the Caribbean!)

So, again, let us reflect: Why not now? Why not here? Why not us? END

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

1 Chron 12:32 report, 29: Working together as one body

The C1 principle that we who participate in the one loaf are one body [1 Cor 10:16 – 17] now often seems a distant, ritualised memory. For, twenty centuries of issues, splits and unhealed broken relationships have now passed; never mind the strictures of John 17:20 - 23.

So, we have to ask a hard question: can we work together, today, in this region and beyond?

Or, is that just naive, rosy-tinted idealism, long since irretrievably shattered by two thousand years of painful reality?

There is a classic answer, which can be given in three balanced points:

I: UNITY in core essentials;

II: Room for DIVERSITY and mutually respectful DIALOGUE in other things;

II: Above all, and in all things, CHARITY.

Such an ideal is always a challenge,and we will always fall short of it in practice. But, without accepting the challenge to live up to it, we will make little or no progress. So, as we contemplate the development of a regional missionary vision and action network [MVAN], expressing itself locally through missionary vision and action teams [MVATs], let us reflect now on some principles of working together in love and truth:


MVAN/MVAT Statement of Principles

Recognising the Missionary Mandate given us by our Lord, to make disciples of all nations [Matt 28:18 - 20], and being aware of the many missionary opportunities and challenges facing the Caribbean in a globalised, postmodern world, we the members of the Caribbean Missionary Vision and Action Network [MVAN] and associated Missionary Vision and Action Teams [MVATs] do hereby joyfully and solemnly agree to work together under God towards fulfilling our Mandate, through the power of the Spirit given to empower us in life and witness [Jn 7:37 - 39, Ac 1:4 - 8, Eph 1:11 - 14, Rom 8:1 - 39], and in light of the God-inspired biblical principles, examples and teaching [2 Tim 3:10 - 17].

Accordingly, we commit ourselves to:

1] Christ, His Church and its Global Mission: faithful witness to the Gospel, leading to salvation of souls and biblically based discipleship; thus resulting in God-blessed transformation of lives, families, communities, institutions and nations/peoples under the Lordship of Jesus the Son of God.

2] The Historic, Apostolic, New Testament, gospel-based Christian Faith "once for all delivered unto the saints." [Jude v. 3 , cf. 1 Cor 15:1 - 11, Ac 17:16 - 31, 2 Cor 10:3 - 5, Col. 1:3 - 29, Jn 3:14 - 21 (& 17:3), 5:17 - 47, 1 Jn 1:1 - 2:11, 2:18 - 27, 4:1 - 16 & 5:1 - 15, 2 Peter 1:16 - 2:3 & 3:1 - 18, 2 Tim. 3:10 - 4:5.]

3] The enduring Mission of the Church in the Caribbean, especially the evangelising and discipling of Caribbean peoples, with the associated application of the gospel to address our region's core intellectual and cultural issues, concerns and challenges; through Spirit-led, Bible-based, prophetic -- thus visionary, renewing, God-empowered and transformational -- intellectual and cultural leadership. [Cf. Mt 28:18 - 20, Ac 1:8, Eph 1:3 - 14 & 4:9 - 5:21, Gal. 3:1 - 14 & 26 - 29, Col. 3:1 – 17, Titus 2:11 - 14, 2 Peter 1:2 - 11.]

4] Support, inform ourselves about, pray for and participate in the global, gospel-based missionary outreach of the Church, with a particular focus on the 10/40 Window (from which many of our ancestors came, and with which we share many ethnic and cultural affinities); and also on those lands in which the Caribbean Diaspora is concentrated.

5] Praying for, promoting, and helping to develop, field and support a strengthened Caribbean Missions Force, especially in the lands of the 10/40 Window.

6] Collaborate and cordially cooperate in these tasks, making decisions, working together, resolving differences and disagreements in light of the truth in love and purity, godly wisdom [cf. James 3:13 - 4:12] and applicable biblical instructions, principles and examples.

7] Mutual Support towards these ends, through prayer, encouragement, consistent regular communication, transparency and sharing of skills, knowledge and tangible resources as appropriate and needed.
In the Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified, risen and glorified Christ.

Amen and Amen.


Workable? Why not give it a try?

So, again: Why not now? Why not here? Why not us? END

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

1 Chron 12:32 report, 28: The Antioch Timeline challenge

While the raw potential in the Carichurch vision outlined yesterday (citing an earlier post)

. . . we the peoples of the Caribbean are at a decisive and perilous time for both our region and the world at large. For, I can see bearing down on us the dechristianising tidal wave out of the North,and the radical Islamist one from the Middle East. However, at the same time, we are the world's first cosmopolitan region, and can culturally bridge peoples of the North and South, East and West -- a potentially redemptive result of our sad history of colonialism, slavery and oppression, relieved in large part by the blessings brought to us by the gospel.

. . . is undeniable, many of us feel tempted to put such global initiatives off for another day, until the church in the region becomes "more mature" and able to handle such "advanced thinking."

I believe this is a key strategic mistake -- one that then has the tendency to divert our focus away from our individual and collective calling under God; which materially contributes to our observed imbalances and immaturity -- and not least, I think this because of the example set by the church in Antioch.

Let us therefore pause to take step 1a [with step 1b to follow, on principles of working together across our diversity and divisions]:




1. The Antioch Time-Line:

A --> B --> C --> D --> E --> F

A: Church planted -- Ac. 11:19 - 21

B; Church strengthened -- 11:22 - 26

C: Relief effort -- 11:27 - 30, 12:25

D: Missionaries sent out -- 13:1 - 3

E: Missionaries Report -- 14:26 - 28

F: Further Ministry -- 15:1-6 ff., 15:35, 40 [Includes addressing theological disputes and divisions]

(NB: 11:26 - B to D took about a year; please prayerfully cf. Heb. 5:11 - 6:3)

2. Let us reflect . . .

The churches in our community are at Stages: A B C D E F

To make further progress, we need to . . .

3. Messengers of the Good News need "Feet":

Rom. 10:14, 15 shows that gospel messengers must be trained, briefed, sent, supported, and eventually replaced.

When daughter churches have been planted, they need strengthening to become strong, vibrant, and missions minded in turn.

How can we raise up those who can be sent?

How can we support them and their work?

How will we help to strengthen daughter churches?

What are some “ripe fields” [cf. Lk. 10:1 - 16] to send out labourers to in the next 3 - 5 years?

How will we raise the required resources?


So now:

Why not now? Why not here? Why not us? END

Monday, February 19, 2007

1 Chron 12:32 Report, 27: "Carichurch" -- bridging our actuality and our potential under God

Let us begin by extending Peter Hocken's key concept on the paradoxical nature of true, heaven-sent revivals: that they have in them a strange but true-to-life mixture: the glory and the shame. (NB: I think there is a very parallel thought in C S Lewis' The Magician's Nephew, if memory serves, as Aslan discusses the founding of the Kingdom of Narnia with its future first king..)

We will add, thanks to an email exchange with ever so insightful Sister M over in California: the pain.

So, it is time for us to reflect on the glory, the pain and the shame, in the context of the Caribbean church's painful but glorious history, current -- sadly, (despite all the hype that we hear so much about) under-performing – present actuality, and our considerable potential under God. So with an eye to 2 Cor, 1:3 - 4 and 4:1 - 10, let us think on:

1: The Glory: that we, cracked clay pots, can shine with the light of God, and thus through his power do great things despite (and sometimes through) those cracks.

2: The Pain: the cracks that show us to be all too finite, fallen and fallible.

3: The Shame: how we got and get those cracks.

But of these, the glory is in many ways the critical element. For, as we noted last time:

. . . we the peoples of the Caribbean are at a decisive and perilous time for both our region and the world at large. For, I can see bearing down on us the dechristianising tidal wave out of the North,and the radical Islamist one from the Middle East. However, at the same time, we are the world's first cosmopolitan region, and can culturally bridge peoples of the North and South, East and West -- a potentially redemptive result of our sad history of colonialism, slavery and oppression, relieved in large part by the blessings brought to us by the gospel.

We could of course go off on an analytical exploration of the issues and strategies, but that is not the real point. Nor, is the undertaking of a major exploration of the issues and disciplines of discipleship where we need to go just now -- though we will look at that too (as a look down the links in the right-hand column of this blog will show). For, what is critical now, is that we need to actually begin to bridge from our reality to our potential under God, as just summarised.

That brings us to the seven-step MVAT kit/manual. That is, we need to begin to build a missionary vision and action network on the ground, starting with where we each are. It is time to get "practical."

Starting today, with . . .

Step 1: Awareness (and the mobilisation of a small but vital critical mass of those who are fired by the vision):

To bring together such a critical mass in your local community, perhaps you could:

1] Study and pray, asking God to guide you to others whom he is stirring to think and act on our Mission in and beyond the region.

2] Note down these names, and pray for opportunities to share your heart, being sensitive to the right moment.

3] Share, but do not be so zealous that you force these thoughts down the throats of all and sundry!

4] As people respond, ask them to take steps 1 - 3 with you, and keep in touch over a few weeks or months. [You might even set up an online e-Group; it is easier to do than you think.]

5] When you have a small circle, suggest that you come together several times over a few weeks, to pray, share and discuss missions-related issues, challenges and opportunities in and beyond the Caribbean.

6] In these sessions, work your way through the Antioch Timeline Bible Study [p. 9], and then the MVAN/MVAT Statement of Principles [p. 10]. Also, read and discuss some current missions news and views materials, such as the NEST, Barnabas Fund, Wycliffe, YWAM or SIM materials.

7] What is the consensus of the group? To go further now? To keep on studying, discussing and praying?

The Next Step . . .

When you are ready for the next step, you will want to develop a local Missionary Vision and Action Team [MVAT]. That begins with Step 2.

So, are we game for this sort of process, folks?

To see, let us ask three crucial questions:

Why not now? Why not here? Why not us? END

Saturday, February 17, 2007

1 Chron 12:32 Report, 26: Coming to the kingdom "for such a time as this . . ."

In Esther 4:12 - 14, Mordecai challenges his "niece" [more probably, cousin] -- who, by "virtue" of being seized and taken into the harem of the King to replace Queen Vashti (who by refusing to parade herself before the drunken lords of the realm had displeased the Persian King), and by impressing said king was the Queen of Persia -- to act at a decisive time to save her people from genocide. Her brave response: the now famous "If I perish, I perish."

Today, I am convinced that we the peoples of the Caribbean are at a decisive and perilous time for both our region and the world at large. For, I can see bearing down on us the dechristianising tidal wave out of the North,and the radical Islamist one from the Middle East. However, at the same time, we are the world's first cosmopolitan region, and can culturally bridge peoples of the North and South, East and West -- a potentially redemptive result of our sad history of colonialism, slavery and oppression, relieved in large part by the blessings brought to us by the gospel.

So, I think t is time to turn to the focus on the third global tidal wave, the church of the South, and our potential role in the Back to Jerusalem vision mentioned in earlier posts in this series.

A good place to start is with a modified excerpt from a recent email response to a wonderful sister in the Lord, who shared with a circle of us a report on a young teen's frustrations with the Caribbean church in the early C21and her ideas and hopes that better can and must be:


Hi Sis X . . .

As someone who was part of the last major spiritual earthquake to hit Jamaica, back in the 70's - 80's, I hear a very familiar lament in this report. If you check out the roots of the Charismatic renewal in Jamaica, you will see that (for all its flaws and controversies!) it came from a search for authenticity, which was perceived to be -- and in some cases, quite frankly was -- blocked by the systems, agendas and structures in place.

So, in the end, we -- yes, I was blessed through this movement and openly acknowledge it -- went back to the sources in part [I recall that contrary to perception, Bible study and issues tied to it were a big part of the ferment], and to new streams that then were bringing a fresh, in large part renewed, vision and a fresh way -- despite of course the inevitable mix of Peter Hocken's "the glory and the shame" that marks any such renewal-revival movement.

I will sum up several major conclusions I reached over time and have used in my work with university students and then the wider church and community across the 1980's and onward since; once I had become a leader/influential person [most often, informally]:

1] We lost sight of the foundations of Heb 6:1 - 2. That is, we need to get back to repentance and faith, a radical covenantal identification with Christ and his people, in the power of the Spirit, recognising the fact that while it is our hands, it is his initiative and power, all in light of the further facts that we serve the objectivity RISEN One, in resurrection power, and that we all shall account before him so must live from the viewpoint of eternity. [I found that even basic vocabulary like what repentance, faith, prayer, praise, etc mean was very fuzzy at best. The crucial significance of the resurrection as the anchor-point of the Christian faith was also often not well understood, much less having the capacity to s=answer for our hope based on it when intellectually and personally challenged.]

2] In that context, we lost sight of the body of Christ, a doctrine as taught in Rom 12 [ff], 1 Cor 10, 12 - 14, Eph 1, 3, 4 -6 etc etc. The core issues there are:

* Through the broken body and spilt blood of Christ, we who are many are one, whilst not losing our diversity -- indeed God uses that diversity in the ministry of the corporate whole, even as the many diverse parts of the human body function as a united whole through what each separate part provides, and as one hurts all hurt, as one is helped all are helped. [This is itself a powerful element of the Christian worldview: its ability to handle the one and the many! In turn this ties in the hidden power of the doctrine of the Triune God.]

* Taking in Jn 17, to disrespect that fundamental unity, personally, doctrinally, institutionally, in praxis, is to betray the gospel, as the world only will understand that God loves them and sent Jesus through the demonstrated love of those who belong to him in Christ. We must therefore mourn our divisions and divisiveness and repent of them as TREASON agains the one who shed his blood to redeem us.

* Next, From Eph 1 [and Col 1!] God has purposed to unite all things in heaven and earth under one head, Christ. That is what it means that Jesus is LORD. This immediately implies that all things, all nations, all peoples, all families, all institutions need to rethink, renew and reform under the message of the Gospel and in conformity to the Spirit and work of Christ. Or else, as [bro Y] -- himself a case in point of one driven out -- once pointed out to me on a Bridgetown street, go out of existence, in the end. [BTW, Matt 28, the Great Commission and discipling mandate speaks to discipling the nations, and leading them to obey the mandates of Jesus; i.e. to profound reformation under t he core principle of love int he Golden Rule. Further to this, the buzzword sustainable development,and the associated Bruntland principle, are in fact when properly analysed, derived from the Kantian Categorical Imperative, a secularised format of the principle in the GR. From Ps 127, truly sustainable development and security are in light of God and his word. ]

* Each and every believer is called to ministry, and indeed it is through the proper functioning of the Church the Body of Christ, "the fulness of him who fills everything in every way" as we execute the discipling mandate in all spheres, that we see more and more a fulfillment of Jesus mission: he came, descending and ascending in order to fill PANTA, thence, he sent apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors-teachers, to equip God's people for works of service who in turn ultimately work to fulfill the work of the Body reflecting the image of its head.

* In this light we need to put behind us the dogfights over gifts and the like [there is no properly defensible biblical or historical ground for claiming they have passed, at any point prior to the culmination in the parousia], and come back to a proper discernment of the body of Christ, or we will continue to be sick and worse.

3] Consequently, we are missing sight of the huge strategic potential we have in God as the world's first cosmopolitan people, largely descended from the peoples of the 10/40 window and culturally tied to those of the North. So, we are bridging people who are descended from the first victims of imperialist globalisation, so we are not tainted with the geopolitics of power agendas. That means that we can help reconcile nations and civilisations through the Gospel of peace; whilst recognising that there are issues of justice and protection of the weak from those who would prey upon them that are a principal duty of the civil official as a servant of God [even when he does not acknowledge God] -- often in the name of righting wrongs and liberation.

4] Thus, there is a call to repentance, renewal, revival and reformation in the Caribbean as the church re-awakens to the continuing mission of the Church of God to and in the Caribbean region.

5] At the same time, we have never been as blessed, educated, accessible to travel, or resourceful as we are now, in an era of global threat and challenge. Thus, we face a call at such a time as this to be a part of the mission of the church from the region to the world, especially in the lands of the 10/40 window [including the Islamic world] and in the North that are so rapidly falling victim to a tidal wave of secularist, post-Christian/apostate pseudochristian and neopagan dechristianisation.

I am sure that a church fired by such a vision will most certainly not be a "boring" place!

I invite your response . . .


Indeed, I would love to hear from you all on this one. END

PS: I have continued to visit over at the ID in the UK blog, and the back-forth there has slowed down my pace here. Hopefully, that will now be settling down. (I felt it important to at least give some balancing perspectives and highlight the resort to abusive rhetoric on the part of evolutionary materialism advocates through insistent misrepresentations and slanders; whilst dodging tor dismissing the issues on the merits. That is telling. Also, a careful look at Mr Shapiro's recent Sci Am article on Origin of Life will be fruitful for the discerning reader, as I note in my comments today in the blog thread.)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Blog Visits, 6: On the issue of "broughtupcy" in online and public commentary; also related misconceptions and misrepresentations on design theory

Over the past few weeks, I have visited ID in the UK blog, and have commented on two threads, on thermodynamics and origin of life and on issues and accusations relating to ID research.

In so doing, I have seen a characteristic pattern of slanders as I commented on in previous visit reports. Partly in response to what came out, the blog owner has now posted on reasonable standards for civil, responsible commentary -- only to be met with a wave of more of the same distortions, distractions and questionable accusations. On being informed by him of this thread, I have made some remarks there, and the below shows my responses to the "answers" received overnight.

The following remarks address several issues, and allow us to understand the rhetorical strategies we are likely to encounter as we stand up on issues related to the Christian Faith in the market place of ideas, under that aspect of our Great Commission [Mt 28:18 - 20] that requires us to address repentance and reformation of the nations under the teachings of Jesus.


Andrew et al:

I have no intention to engage in a long dragged out back-forth on points and rabbit trails in this thread. However, some remarks are in order as follows:

1] TJ: Distractor on Gish etc

I am not going to get into a long dragged out discussion of a claimed rogues gallery. [Gish et al, who I do not claim to speak for, can speak up for themselves. I would not at all be surprised, on long observation of the rhetoric at work, that there is a very different side to the story that we are not hearing about, which would put matters in a different context. But, I have no intention to try to go dig up remarks and engag in a back-forth on this one. That would be a secondary level rabbit trail off this rabbit trail from the principal point of this thread: abusive commentary, and on that I speak as a victim. So, I refuse to lose focus. Not least, observe carefully: Gish is a leading debater for Biblical Creationism, so why is his name being dragged into a discussion over a different movement, Design thought and now theory?]

My comments regarding H and his ilk were highly specific, with links to cases in point. Look them up, and see if H has treated Professor Bradley fairly. Or, a long list of others.

Finally, has he treated me fairly [starting with giving out my name without my permission, in a context in which I am using a moderate degree of concealment to minimise exposure to abusive spam and to possible identity theft etc. while allowing responsible people to contact me through appropriate mechanisms]?

Or, is it that he and his ilk – as Aristotle warns of -- immediately switch topic from the matters on the merits, to asserting accusations that are too often ill-founded and uncharitable at best, slanderous or willfully deceptive at worst? [In the case of a distinguished professor such as Walter Bradley, it turned out that H has not got even a first level in Thermodynamics but set out to assert based on a selective and misleading citation from his online resume, that the professor was a layman speaking out of his depth on thermodynamics. I spoke up in the first instance as one who has studied physics and knows about of the likely background of such a man with such a resume, as well I have read his major work on the subject, TMLO. All too soon, I was labelled a liar and others were dragged in too. The back-forth is there for all to see. Nary an apology in sight.]

We see there at minimum a habitual resort to slander and the epithet "liar" as soon as issues of disagreement come up, plainly tied into the slanderous Dawkinsian agenda that any one who disagrees with the secularist evolutionary materialist view is/must be "ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked." And if the first three do not apply, the the last must and liar is an easy epithet.

Such behaviour is uncivil, and is a distraction from discussion on the merits.

2] U: Aren't you conflating the notion of design with theory, which has a clear definition as something that has successfully made many, many predictions?

First, this is of course a side-point and an intended distraction from the point. (It is also intended to imply that I am just as bad as those whom Andrew is trying to regulate.)

Second, it reflects a fundamental misunderstadning of the nature of science and of explanation and prediction in that context in science. Here are a couple of relevant classic dictionary definitions, which if you track back to the threads in which I did engage in a back-forth, were already addressed:

>>science: a branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles involving the systematized observation of and experiment with phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the physical universe. [Concise Oxford, 1990 -- and yes, they used the "z" Virginia!]

scientific method: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. [Webster's 7th Collegiate, 1965]>>
In that context, I have echoed and amplified the common summary, namely:
that science seeks to describe, explain, predict and influence or control the world using empirically anchored observation, abductive inference to [provisionally] "best" explanation, deduction and testing of consequences, inductive generalisation and applications of the findings, including critical dialogue in the community of informed peers. [I discuss in slightly more details here, with onward issues. U should do some serious reading in phil of sci to see that all is not as cut and dry as s/he may think. Try out names such as not just Popper but Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyerabend, Laudan, Rorty and many, many more.]
In short, prediction is not the defining be-all and end-all of scientific theories or the scientific enterprise generally; nor are those trained only in science but not in the history and phil of sci the best to speak with expertise on the thorny issues connected thereto. Indeed, since philosophical sophistication is not now common among scientists [it once was – e.g. Bohr!], such men are often laymen out of depth on matters here, including Mr Dawkins in particular. Similarly, there are several secularist philosophers of science or related fields who give highly misleading one-sided, caricatured and agenda-serving views on design theory that exploit the general ignorance on the subject to poison the mind and distort the discussion, starting with Ms Barbara Forrest, who is of course also an atheist activist.

Back on this point: it is IMHCO – and that of a lot of those who are far more learned on the subject than I -- better to view prediction as a species of explanation, i.e. Using models/dynamics to work out the forces and constraints acting thus project likely outcomes of future situations to be explored empirically; with predictive success/failure having the capacity to eliminate those theories that fail, as a true explanation can only properly imply true predictions. But there is an asymmetry: predictive success does not entail truth or even understanding.

Further to this, accuracy of prediction is not at all a criterion of ultimate truth, even when it is found. For instance my home discipline has in it the most famous single theory in science, Newtonian Dynamics. For 200 years from the 1680s on this was the best confirmed theory in all science, the very benchmark of scientific success. Then, from about 1880 to 1930, the limitations were sharply exposed and now this is viewed as an approximation for large, slow moving bodies; Quantum and Relativity and their derivatives coming into play when the Newtonian model breaks down. In that context, Newtonian Dynamics still makes quite accurate predictions, but there is no claim for ultimate truth in it! (In the ancient world too, quite accurate predictions of eclipses etc were made without any proper understanding of the underlying dynamics; indeed, the link to occultic astrological thought was of course quite heavy.]

And, like it or lump it, design theory is a partly re-emerging paradigm in science which is legitimate in the context that we seek causes/explanations rooted in: [1] chance, [2] natural regularities and/or [3] agency depending on the circumstances at work.

U seems to be concerned on its predictive track record.

The competitive explanatory track record must first be constrained by accuracy to what we know about the sources of functionally specific, complex information. Namely, in all cases where we do know the causal story directly, such a phenomenon traces to an intelligent agent. Thus, the inference thereto, is based on what we do know based on a massive empirical database.

Such empircally anchored accuracy in explanation is far more relevant to understanding why it is proper to make reference to design theory as a re-emerging paradigm, especially as we are in large part engaging in retrodictive explanation on the aspects where design theory and the broad evolutionary materialist programme – cosmological, chemical, macro- and miceo biological, socio-cultural – both address origins. [Note that origins science is rather special, as it addresses the unique, not directly observable and obviously unrepeatable past; through plausibility of descriptive and explanatory scenarios and presently observed data. Such a history-linked explanatory enterprise is always even more provisional than scientific efforts that address situations we can directly observe and experiment with today; so humility and open-mindedness are even more important – but, due to the linked worldview issues and agendas, too often are missing in action.. (I need not elaborate on a pet peeve of mine: computer models and simulations are not experiments or observations -- save of algorithms and their underlying data and assumptions at work.)]

U may therefore find the discussion of "the positive case for design" here of interest as a first brief step, and the wiki here on design theory and research, also of interest.

But, again, this is in rhetorical effect, again a distraction from the issue at stake for the thread: the need of basic broughtupcy in commentary. That should not be ducked, if any serious progress is to be made.

Worse, the distraction is in fact a case in point of the abusive attitude that Andrew has tried to address. This is revealed in stark details by:

3] empirically anchored" falls far short of real science. One has to test predictions from the inference to be doing science, and to date, every ID proponent on the planet lacks the courage/faith/integrity to do so.

Again, this is a further diversion, and embeds not only a misunderstanding of the nature of the scientific enterprise, but also an irresponsible misrepresentation that Design theorists are not doing empirically based research, joined to a slander against men who ARE doing such research, starting with say Mr Scott Minnich and others. I excerpt from the onward linked on this researcher:
>> [DI]Biochemist Michael Behe used the flagella to illustrate the concept of irreducible complexity and Minnich takes the argument to the next level crediting the design paradigm to leading to new insights in his lab research at the University of Idaho . . . . [ISCID] Dr. Minnich's research interests are temperature regulation of Y. enterocolitca gene expression and coordinate reciprocal expression of flagellar and virulence genes.

Scott Minnich is widely published in technical journals including Journal of Bacteriology, Molecular Microbiology, Journal of Molecular Biology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Microbiological Method, Food Technology, and the Journal of Food Protection . . . .

[Uidaho] Selected Publications . . . . Monday S.R., Minnich S.A., Feng PC. 2004. A 12-base-pair deletion in
the flagellar master control gene flhC causes nonmotility of the
pathogenic German sorbitol-fermenting Escherichia coli O157:H-
strains. J Bacteriol. 186:2319-27 . . . . Ely B., Ely T.W, Crymes W.B. Jr, Minnich S.A. 2000. A family of six
flagellin genes contributes to the Caulobacter crescentus flagellar
filament. J. Bacteriol. 182:5001-4.>>

In context, Minnich has addressed the iconic bacterial flagellum and the related Y pestis etc TTSS injection pump, which uses in effect a subset of the genes for the flagellum to create a toxin injector. As Peterson discusses at popular level, this lab based research is highly relevant to the debates over design theory:

>> Behe's most famous example [of irreducible complexity in empirically observable action] is the bacterial flagellum . . . If you take away the driveshaft from the flagellar motor, you do not end up with a motor that functions less well. You have a motor that does not function at all. All of the essential parts must be there, all at once, for the motor to perform its function of propelling the bacterium through liquid . . . . that is precisely what Darwinian evolution cannot accomplish. Darwinian evolution is by definition "blind." It cannot plan ahead and create parts that might be useful to assemble a biological machine in the future. For the machine to be assembled, all or nearly all the parts must already be there and be performing a function. Why must they already be performing a function? Because if a part does not confer a real, present advantage for the organism's survival or reproduction, Darwinian natural selection will not preserve the gene responsible for that part. In fact, according to Darwinian theory, that gene will actually be selected against. An organism that expends resources on building a part that is useless handicaps itself compared to other organisms that are not wasting resources, and will tend to get outcompeted . . . .

Behe the biochemist . . . search[ed] the relevant scientific journals, books, and proceedings of meetings to find out what the Darwinists had really proven about the origin of complex biochemical systems . . . . "There has never been a meeting, or a book, or a paper on details [key operative word -- just so stories and/or hand waving will not do] of the evolution of complex biochemical systems" . . . Behe, recalling the "fierce resistance" he encountered after the publication of Darwin's Black Box, remarks that much of it came from "internet fans of Darwinism who claimed that, why, there were hundreds or thousands of research papers describing Darwinian evolution of irreducibly complex biochemical systems." Except that there aren't.

Well, this sent the Darwinians scrambling. Kenneth Miller, a biologist at Brown University who argues in favor of Darwinian evolution, made a splash when he announced (and he bolded the language in his article) that "the bacterial flagellum is not irreducibly complex." Miller cited a cellular structure known as the type III secretory system (TTSS) that allows certain bacteria to inject toxins through the cell walls of their hosts . . . .

But . . . the bubonic plague bacterium already has the full set of genes necessary to make a flagellum. Rather than making a flagellum, Y. pestis uses only part of the genes that are present to manufacture that . . . injector instead. As pointed out in a recent article by design theorist Stephen Meyer and microbiologist Scott Minnich (an expert on the flagellar system), the gene sequences suggest that "flagellar proteins arose first and those of the pump came later." If evolution was involved, the pump came from the motor, not the motor from the pump. Also, "the other thirty proteins in the flagellar motor (that are not present in the [pump]), are unique to the motor and are not found in any other living system." . . . In short, the proteins in the TTSS do not provide a "gradualist" Darwinian pathway to explain the step-by-step evolution of the irreducibly complex flagellar motor.>> [This is of course already discussed in my linked introductory survey.]
Go to the relevant Wiki, onlookers, and look around. Ten see if there has been a responsible engagement of the facts on the ground before making global, accusatory assertions like:
>>U: . . . every [so also each and every one!] ID proponent on the planet lacks the courage/faith/integrity [such are alleged to be dishonest cowards by direct implication] . . . >>
On facts such as excerpted, this should be apologised for and such inflammatory statements should be avoided in future.

I gave more details on this as it shows the pattern we are discussing, though at a more subtle level: implications instead of direct accusations. This too, is unacceptable and irresponsible.




9:48 AM

The persistent pattern of careless, ill-informed or willfull misinformation, and associated attitude of contempt and want of civility on the part of advocates of secularism, are highly revealing. Indeed, sadly, in my earlier comments I had occasion to observe that the mythical "moral and decent atheist" is too often missing in action, especially as the moral restraints of Christendom wane in an ever more militantly apostate Western Civilisation. That accords far better with Rom 1 - 3 than it does with the typical opinions broadcast in our media, education syste,ms amnnd increasingly on our streets and verandahs!

We must be prepared to handle it, and especialy, to nip it in the bud before it becomes so deeply entrenched that many thingk that uncivil, often false accusation is their "right."

Similarly, it is all too easy for slanderous and willfully deceptive misinformation to become entrenched in the public mind as the truth on a matter. Then, it is very hard indeed to break down the walls of misunderstadning and mistrust -- and that is often exactly what was intended. But by God's grace, Him who is the Truth himself shall prevail.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mat 24 Watch, 13: Islamist supremacism takes advantage of the upcoming World Cricket Cup in Barbados

The pace of events and issues seems to be forcing me to keep putting off the next article in the 1 Cron 12:32 report series, as we turn to the question of the Caribbean church moving on to a global spiritual initiative. As one step to keep up with that onward rush of events, I return to the "Matt 24 Watch" news watch series in light of the pattern of events. Thus, it joins the "Blog Visits" series as a means of monitoring and responding to events and issues as we seek to understand our times.

[BTW, if you want to see a recent activity, cf. here on my remarks on events in Iraq, based on a blog visit. I also shortly intend to pay a return call to the ID in the UK Blog, and in preparation, on discovering a key cite on the link from entropy to information from the famous physicist Brillouin -- who is as well arguably a founding figure in modern information theory -- I have updated my major briefing note on information, design, science and creation here. (Technically minded folks may wish to look here for the expanded and deepened Appendix on Thermodynamics and the origin of life debate.)]

Now, back to the issue of the day: a concern that what can properly be called Islamist supremacism is taking advantage of the upcoming World Cricket Cup events in Barbados to push a questionable agenda:

For, an alert reader has kindly provided links and excerpts to three recent articles in the Bajan media ([1], [2], [3]) that tell us a lot about the agenda of, and advances being made by, Islamist supremacism and separatism in that ever so vital country in our region. Let us take in several key excerpts:

1] From Article 1, lead: THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY in Barbados wants the assurance that its women, who withhold their identities by wearing veils, will not be made to show their faces to male police officers during the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007.

Now, first, this is highly revealing on attitudes to women in C21 in an important subculture in the Caribbean.

For, obviously, it is specifically women's faces that are here viewed as objects of shame, as if they were private parts. But, if women's faces are such objects of shame, why are not men's faces [or, children's faces] similarly regarded? That is, we are here plainly looking at oppressive discrimination against women that robs them of their faces -- that is, of a key part of what gives us individuality and dignity.

Second, there is a telling undue paternalism in the phrasing: "its women . . . withhold their identities . . . their faces." We do not here see women speaking up for themselves on a woman's issue, but the powerful male voices speaking for those they hold as wards or perhaps even chattels. Sorry, too much blood was spilt to liberate slaves in this region for us to now tolerate a rising tide of oppression of women. So, on issues that affect Muslim women, they must be free to speak their minds without fear of retaliation.

Third, let us see the context: security concerns in the situation of the upcoming WCC, joined to a fear that not only is there a terrorism concern but also the possibility of an embarrassing "scene" being made over an issue in front of the watching world, implicitly holding Barbados' vital tourism industry hostage. So, some sharpish points are more than in order, following the robust example being set by our longtime friends and Cricket rivals, the Australians, in the face of similar pressures:

a] There is a REASON why terrorism explicitly associated with Islam is a security concern all around the world. For, while not all terrorists are Muslims, a sufficiently high proportion of those who seek to advance their agendas by targetting innocents for violence are, that this is an obvious concern.

b] So, properly, peaceful Muslims and their leaders have an obvious duty to be specially concerned to eliminate such terrorism from their midst, and should go the extra mile in collaboration with authorities in that pursuit.

c] In that context, the exploitation of the implicit threat of a "scene" joined to the paternalistic, oppressive agenda just noted that lurks under the veils [and Hijab] issue, makes this a logical point for just such collaboration.

d] For, women's faces are not properly objects of shame (no more than are men's faces!), and they are key to identifying people for security issues. That is a non-negotiable, on the grounds of basic dignity and respect for ALL. Therefore, there should be no reason that such a demand should be made at this time -- one that would unduly stress the security forces, as women officers are relatively rare and may simply (and for excellent biologically based reasons) lack the raw physical prowess to act decisively with terrorists. [Let us note too that on occasion, Islamist terrorists have been noted to hide under the guise of Muslim women; sometimes even while carrying out acts of violence. Recall on this, Honest Reporting's telling observation, cited in this blog's comment on The Independent's “Mary the Palestinian” atrocity propaganda at Christmas story: “Nor does the Independent mention the 2002 arrest of a Palestinian terrorist recruited to carry out a suicide bombing disguised as a pregnant woman -- a graphic reminder of the depths that terror groups will sink in their efforts to bypass Israeli security . . .” ]

Fourthly, this imposition of a retrogressive step for Women citizens of our Caribbean, is also telling on the implications of the long-term Islamist-Mahdist vision of imposition of Islamic rule and law on the world, as has been discussed previously in this blog. (also cf here.) The foundation stone of true justice and liberty is mutual respect, so the lack of basic respect for half of humanity herein revealed should warn us as to the implications of such an agenda. Again, peaceful Muslims who wish to live a members of our free communities – societies based on the principle of mutual respect grounded in the Golden Rule of Moshe and Jesus -- should therefore take the lead on this matter.

2] From the third article: THE FOUNDATION FOR ISLAMIC DEVELOPMENT INC. has previously gone on record as opposing the practice of multi-faith religious services in any form. The Islamic position on such matters is that no Muslim should worship in any manner not prescribed for us by our own religious teachings. The presence of Muslims at a Catholic religious ceremony is therefore an affront to the entire Muslim community in this country. Senegal is a country having 95 per cent of its population following Islam as their way of life; why then should the so-called leaders of the Muslim community consent to this disregard for Islamic practice? . . . . the funeral services which were held on January 31 for the Senegalese nationals was an insult to them as Muslims as they were not given the benefit of proper Islamic burials.

First, of course, when Muslims led in the initiative in recent years in Barbados to substitute "Interfaith services" for national church services, it was Evangelicals who took the brunt of public opprobrium for objecting to some implications. Now, we see a very interesting side-light from a significant sector of the Bajan Muslim community, namely that they are at minimum concerned about the implications of such an inter-faith conclave.

Second, since while reportedly "95%" of Senegalese are Muslims, that immediately means that one in 20 is not, so why then was there no evident concern on the part of the Foundation that Mr Abu Akil Mapp represents, to respect the faiths of those who may well not have been Muslims?

In short, again, in this guest editorial in Barbados' leading newspaper, we see -- in more strident form -- that telling lack of mutuality of respect and willingness to recognise that others have their own rights, too.

3] From the Second: Speaking during a specially invited meeting at the community's headquarters of the mosque at the Kensington New Road in the City last Friday, Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin said:"I think the Indian community can help us in our approach with dealing with Cricket World Cup (CWC) . . . . We don't have any person in the Police Force or the Barbados Defence Force who speaks the language. We don't have those skills; so we reach out to the Indian and Muslim community to assist us with that particular issue . . . . A lot of people dwell on the negatives and what makes us different, but there's a lot that draws us together - Christians and Muslims. For one, we face the same challenges . . . . how to deal with poverty, how to deal with desecration, how do we address crime, how do we address the problems in our families . . ."

First, observe the location of the relevant community "headquarters," i.e. "the mosque at the Kensington New Road," which immediately tells us something vital about Islam as a religion: there is a textually mandated integration of religion, religiously motivated ideology, community and politics that can make for serious problems when a significant Muslim minority emerges in any community.

This contrasts ever so sharply with the Christian faith which in the foundational teachings of Jesus, has him saying in answer to just such an issue of the relation between Synagogue and State, that we should render to God what is God's and to Caesar what is Caesar's; of course in the general ambit that the true and proper role of the state under God is justice for all. But observe, in the NT's major "sword verse," Rom 13:4, it is the pagan emperor Nero -- admittedly in the days when he was under the equally pagan Seneca's tutelage and had not yet gone utterly mad -- who is in view as God's sword-bearing agent of justice. [Similarly, we can see the example set by how OT heroes of the faith responded to the pagan kings of Egypt and Babylonia, even sometimes serving in their Governments with distinction.]

So, we must be alert to this key difference, and we must call for a clear reformation within Islam that publicly and unequivocally repudiates by both words and deeds the violent and oppressive imposition of discriminatory laws against non-Muslims in societies dominated or strongly influenced by Islam. In short, it is high time for a liberalising reformation in Islam.

Second, given the force of history and current events (including the just remarked on above), to highlight this is not to divide, but to recognise and identify a major source of the problem: the ideology of Islamism and its textual and historical as well as current links to the religion of Islam. That includes of course Islamist desecration and taking over of religious sites for other faiths [starting with the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, going on to Hagia Sophia in the former Constantinople (now known as Istanbul), and including key sites of many other peoples across the world -- especially Hindus . . .]. Even moreso, it includes respect for the people of other faiths, and obviously, respect for women, including Muslim women.


Thus, while we indeed have to find points of commonality to make progress, we cannot achieve real progress unless we face key issues that are root-causes of major problems. Let us therefore trust that the Muslim community of Barbados will take up this opportunity to show global leadership in Islam in that long overdue peaceful liberalising reformation. END

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Blog Visits, 5: Colin B of EO has a good blog!

I went back for a visit to Evangelical Outpost today, and saw that Colin B has a blog. Went for a visit and commented on his interesting post on the Iraq situation and on the theocracy canard.

The former is relevant to my intention to return tothe Matt 24 watch series - on wars and deceptions etc, so I cross-post:

Remark of interest:

CB: One can never win, in any sense, a proxy war. We learned that in VietNam


Hi Colin

Great to see you blogging. Keep it up!

I note on the proxy war, that here may be one or more deeper strategic levels at work:
a] Iran (like the USSR or for that matter Napoleon's France were) is a stretched, limited power. So a great power willing to stick it out on an existential threat [as Islamism IMHCO poses globally] -- that is the real biggie issue -- can materially drain the resources through strategic level attrition.

b] Most serious wars are really won at this level - the spectacular sweeps happen AFTER the to-be-defeated power is overstretched and exhausted. (As Giap testifies, the agitprop strategy is really intended to relieve this pressure before it tells; so the idea is that if you target the known American PR vulnerability, then you can get away with an asymmetric victory. Then, once you have nukes, missiles and suicide bombers,the game changes in what is really WW 4. Unfortunately thanks to Chavez, the Caribbean is a likely theatre of operations now. I expect to wake up any morning and see we are in Missile Crisis 2.]

c] E.g. on attrition's strategic role: In WW II Germany bled out on the plains of Russia; often extracting ~ 10 Russian dead for every German -- a convincing example of the power of persistence in existential struggle. This was aided by the air war's attrition of Germany's technological resources and key personnel. These cumulatively set the basis for the spectacular advances of 1944 - 45, once German domination of ground and air were broken. [The sea war was won by the west in 1943, basically by sinking enough U boats to turn the tide in the convoys battle. Attrition again, this time to support the logistical base for the more direct campaigns.]

d] The Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns put Iran in a geostrategic squeeze, and they know it. Thus they are trying to push out the front, in-theatre, to these two border states; and through the global front, to the homeland of the USA. But the key risk is that it exposes the intervention through battlefield capture of key people and documents etc. That is of course a causus belli for carrying the war to the heartland of the main enemy, one way or another. [And the UN is obviously not a decisive front for that!]

e] However, thanks to a blend of naivety and Quislingism in major institutions, esp the media, the US public largely does not realise what is at stake.

f] That means a likely short term defeat in Iraq and the Gulf, followed by a surge in Islamist expansionism and a horribly expensive and bloody fight-back. I think the former Mossad head is right in estimating that this may last 25 or more years, and I think too that it will likely go nuclear.
Sadly, if the West had been willing to face the issues in good time, that could be averted. But, then, that is the same story with WW 2 and Hitler in the 1930s.

Okay, great work


More another day . . . END

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Blog Visits, 4: Sadly, yet another stanza on the evolutionary materialism advocates' slander song

I have more or less wrapped up this blog visit, with the below:


Andrew, and Onlookers:

First, I notice indeed a surge in spam. While I cannot prove a link to his behaviour, I further observe that Hrafn shows not the slightest compunction about exposing me to potential damage on the Internet. He should be banned as he has nothing positive to contribute, and has now shown a plain track record of slander and worse.

More broadly, ID in the UK is intended to be a forum for engaging issues in a positive way linked to a rising but controversial paradigm in science. However, as too often occurs with such blogs, it has attracted a circle of ruthless, evolutionary materialism [and associated] agenda propagandists and enthusiasts. As I have taken time to show -- observe the silence on the thermodynamics/ information production from noise or natural regularities issues of the alleged chance + necessity-driven origins of life -- once someone seriously addressed it, and the similar silence now on the substantial issues in this thread-- many of these are simply spouting the mantras from the notorious sources of Darwinist propaganda, often in a slanderous, vicious fashion.

So, you have a choice: either let everything you have to say soon become just an occasion for extending the propaganda and agenda of the most ruthless evolutionary materialists and their fellow travellers, or exert serious discipline over commentary, once a commenter shows himself to be irresponsible.

Now, I will address a few points of substance, each as briefly as I reasonably and responsibly can [note: brief remarks are brushed aside, adduced facts are ignored, and responsible comments are derided as long etc -- what does that tell us, other than -- if you are of religious bent -- that the sort of attitudes of reprobate minds described in say Rom 1 - 3 are very much at work?]

1] Mr Sternberg's "Crime":

I will cite the basic point affirmed by relevant authorities in the Journal, which will show that the targetting of Mr Sternberg was agenda-driven, not at all any proper disciplinary action; for here we may see that the paper indeed -- despite many false accusations to the contrary --was properly peer reviewed. From p. 24 of the just linked:
>>In numerous emails reviewed by the Subcommittee, NMNH staff and others in the scientific community, such as the NCSE’s Dr. Scott, alleged that Dr. Sternberg must not have had the article peerreviewed, and, if he did, the reviewers must have been either incompetent or a supporter of intelligent design.65 All of these allegations were very damaging to Dr. Sternberg’s reputation within the scientific community as it is considered the ultimate demonstration of scientific irresponsibility to publish an article without proper peer review.

As the controversy heated up in the ensuing months and the allegations about Dr. Sternberg’s mishandling of the Meyer article remained unresolved, the BSW never issued a definitive statement about whether or not the peer-review allegations were true. Only in late January 2005, when Dr. Sues asked Dr. McDiarmid via email about whether the BSW was “satisfied that a proper review by specialists was undertaken,”66 was there any recognition that the article was properly peer-reviewed. Dr. McDiarmid replied to Dr. Sues: “I have seen the review file and comments from 3 reviewers on the Meyer paper. All three with some differences among the comments recommended or suggested publication. I was surprised but concluded that there was not inappropriate behavior vs a vis [sic] the review process.”67

65 Eugenie Scott, “Re: Meyer Article,” August 26, 2004, 1:51 PM, email to Hans Sues; Frank Ferrari, “Re: Reply [2],” September 9, 2004, 10:12 AM, email to Hans Sues.
66 Hans Sues, “Re: Request for information,” January 28, 2005, 1:40 PM, email to Roy McDiarmid.
67 Roy McDiarmid, “Re: Request for information,” January 28, 2005, 2:25 PM, email to Hans Sues.>>
Of course, the key Smithsonian and Journal officials did NOTHING to correct these vicious rumours, even knowing that they were damaging and ill-founded. The agenda of censorship, slander and harassment simply continued.

That should sound very familiar . . .

2] H: You claimed that Richard Sternberg is "non-ID" when he has presented at RAPID, an ID-Creationist-only conference.

Observe, onlookers: nothing on the substantial issues, Second, note that I have already pointed out by citing and emphasising relevant remarks, Dr Sternberg's own statement above, that he dialogues with people of many persuasions on matters of origins without necessarily agreeing with them, indeed, he holds a specific, declared position. What is the response -- no responsible acknowledgment, just the insistent repetition of vicious slander.

I will excerpt the leading cite from the Keynote address by Mr Dembski at the relevant conference:
>>Recently I asked a well-known ID sympathizer what shape he thought the ID movement was in. I raised the question because, after some initial enthusiasm on his part three years ago, his interest seemed to have flagged. Here is what he wrote:
An enormous amount of energy has been expended on "proving" that ID is bogus, "stealth creationism," "not science," and so on. Much of this, ironically, violates the spirit of science. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. But on the other side, too much stuff from the ID camp is repetitive, imprecise and immodest in its claims, and otherwise very unsatisfactory. The "debate" is mostly going around in circles. The real work needs to go forward. There is a tremendous ferment right now in the "evo/devo" field, for instance. Some bright postdocs sympathetic to ID (and yes, I know how hard a time they would have institutionally at many places) should plunge right into the thick of that. Maybe they are at this very moment: I hope so!
Every now and again we need to take a good, hard look in the mirror. The aim of this talk is to help us do just that . . . >>
In short, here is perhaps the leading Design theorist, taking a hard, critical look in the mirror, and inviting the movement to do the same in light of key issues and prospects. If Mr Sternberg was invited to present under such a rubric it is plainly NOT an indicator that he is to be tarred as a liar in saying of himself what was already excerpted and highlighted. [For an eyewitness testimony on what the conference was like, cf here. The remarks also address many of the misrepresentations of ID commonly met with, and give links to key papers and reviews.

But notice how this is spun: Sternberg presents at a conference of ID supporters, so he is therefore tarred with the "contagion." So, let us slander and shun him. Classic thought-police tactics. Sick.

3] I call ID "ID Creationism" perfectly correctly. ID is Creationism.

I have already pointed out that Design thought specifically differs from biblical Creationism and have given the reasons and roots. Are these addressed?

No, just yet another series of slanders and insistent ill-founded assertions surfaces.

Note, that Dr Kenyon was a distinguished OOL researcher, a co-author of the key 1969 work, Biochemical Predestination - which argued an evolutionary materialist thesis, that chemical affinities across amino acids were responsible for the origin of the information in life systems. Bradley et al in TMLO and in a later peer-reviewed paper, showed why that failed, as hte patterns of dipeptide bonding were close to what a classic random distribution would predict. He had the grace to write the foreword to TMLO and publicly recant his former thesis. Subsequently, he was censored for presenting the matrix of possible views and issues on OOL -- his specialty! -- in a foundation Biology course in his university. The Darwinist tactics were all too reminiscent of those in the case of Mr Sternberg, save that because of Mr Kenyon's stature, they had to back off at least partially.

4] I have yet to see an 'ID' argument that: 1) is not an argument against evolution, rather than for anything else; or 2) isn't a variation of pre-ID Creationist anti-evolutionary arguments . . . [and on to Judge Jones]

Of course, first, H is by his own admission on being pressed to address the issues that he so confidently pronounced on, technically incompetent to asses the credibility or otherwise of e.g. Thermodynamics and information theory arguments. I note too that I have heard and seen the above claim in almost those same words in other places before. In short, H is simply repeating someone's spin that he is in no proper position to assess on the merits.

Judge Jones, as is documented here and detailed here, slavishly aped and reproduced the ACLU post-trial submission, blatant factual errors and misrepresentations and all as his ruling on the wider issue of “is ID science” -- a ruling which has been seriously and justly criticised as unnecessary to the matter at stake in the trial in the main, and as ill-founded.

Second, here comes that old mantra about ID is creationism again. The basic trick in it is that we see a calculated conflation of three things: Biblical Creationism, Design thought and critique of Darwinism, then the choice of a label that is calculated to stir emotions and blind many to what is really going on. Spin, not substance. (Cf my framework for grading the media on a straight or spin scale, here.)

In fact, and as in part already pointed out, the three are quite independent in principle, and significantly often in fact:
a] Biblical Creationism is essentially a movement that makes the specific claim that ancient records in the Bible as they understand it, a materially accurate representation of the earth's true past -- especially on the part of the so-called Young Earth Creationists. [There are also Old Earth Creationists, whose views on the credibility of the scientific reconstructions of the past are much higher, and they interpret the Bible differently, e.g Mr Hugh Ross and many others. A great many serious Christians who address science and faith issues are in fact of such schools of thought; often they are termed “theistic evolutionists.” This is not the place for debates over Bible interpretation, so I simply note in passing that there is an intra-Christian debate here, with serious people on both sides. Similar discussions seem to be happening in Islamic circles, near as I can gather. Judaism, the third monotheistic religion, I do not know of a debate in.]

b] Design thought -- ever since the likes of Plato, Socrates and Cicero [ a plain hint that this is far broader than any Bible-based or theism-oriented worldview linked tradition!] -- infers that the obvious evidence of apparent design in the cosmos and in life is real. This is a long-standing debate in philosophy, which of course overlaps both science and theology, as well as a-theology.

c] What marks the re-emergence of Design as a Scientific movement in our time, is that there is a pattern of empirically anchored inference to best explanation that provides quantitative and qualitative filters for distinguishing real and apparent design, based on what is the credible probabilistic resource available for chance and necessity. Following Fisher, if something is far enough out int he skirts,t he null hypothesis that chance and necessity are the source, are rejected. [Observe,this is never properly addressed, just dismissed. Note the inconsistency involved in inferring routinely to design not lucky noise in viewing apparent messages over the Internet, then refusing to see that a similar probabilistic filter holds in cases of say the finetuned nanotechnology of life and the finetuning of the cosmos to support life. A similar want of probabilistic resources fatally undermined Darwinism in the large -- the claim that macro-level biodiversity is largely the result of chance mutations and natural selection. All of this has been commented on above. My discussion in the main is as linked in my sign-off, and here is the page, from the top.]

d] There is a longstanding and well-informed scientific tradition that critiques the claims of the original and neo forms of Darwinism. For, these theories have a track record of being seriously problematic,as has been noted in outline and linked already.
So, when we see that the thermodynamics and information theory issues being raised are in fact new to science, and are based on well-known principles of science that are routinely used in other contexts, we see the truth: institutionally powerful atheists and their fellow travellers are using every remaining weapon to stave off defeat as long as possible.

5] Sternberg claims:

H simply repeats his mantra of attacks to the man instead of engaging the substance. I will simply note and link, highlighting that the issue of jurisdiction was not cut and dry and was in fact in the end determined by a then current court decision. As Mr Witt notes in the linked:
>>the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) investigation cannot be dismissed so lightly (i.e., Republican ties=wrong). The investigation was well documented, with many of the conclusions based on e-mails from Smithsonian staff. Also, Morgan writes it off as an obvious publicity ploy since, supposedly, it was obvious from the start that the OSC had no jurisdiction. However, if you study Sternberg's site, you'll find that the issue of jurisdiction was a complicated one, and the OSC investigator noted that only a recent court ruling that related to the situation clarified that the OSC apparently had no jurisdiction to continue the case. That the OSC was able to investigate as much as they did was, nevertheless, invaluable, for the facts they turned up show quite clearly how some Darwinists treat scientific dissenters when they believe no one is watching.>>
Note that the Congressional Committee report points out that her is evidence of a far wider pattern of darwinist discrimination and harassment than the headlined case shows.

Onlookers: are these the sort of people we should be trusting with power?

6] Dembski and Behe etc:

First, once we are addressing the pre-biological world, we are not addressing biology proper. Physics, chemistry and other physical and mathematical sciences relevant to the thermodynamics and the generation of information become highly relevant. H's continued attempt to attack the man show themselves up for what they are, regurgitated, second-hand ill-founded slanders designed to distract attention from the merits of the case.

Observe, for instance: at first Mr Dembski was dismissed as a theologian. Then, when it turned out that theology is his lowest level of qualifications [and he studied in a notoriously non-fundy school!] the specific lyrics on the slanderous song shifted on to the next verse.

Similarly, Mr Behe's PhD was of course in BIOCHEMISTY and he seems to be currently a professor in BIOCHEMISTRY in his Dept at LeHigh.(Look him up online!)

I think it is plain that H uses terms like "lie" and lying" and "liar" etc. whenever it suits him. This is simply part of why he should be banned as an abusive commenter.

7] Insistence on exposing me to Internet hazards

Notice the resort to profanity and insistence on doing what he knows is potentially seriously harmful. As he should know, once a name is produced, it is not so hard to get emails and other details. So his behaviour is intentionally damaging and destructive.

Andrew, H should be banned. Period.

8] A: the ancient idea of the design inference is actually a shiny modern up to date "scientific" " theory"...!!

Already addressed on the merits, above and previously. Nothing new here – same old same old complaints and misrepresentations. ADDRESS THE ISSUE ON THE MERITS, please.

9] Correct would be nice, but if you can't manage correct, concise would help. Life is short (in short) too short to read the emanations of someone's digestive tract.

Observe, A's ever so insistent repetitions above on the claim that Andrew was dodging his six questions above. Well, they have been addressed in summary form.

What do we see? A resort to nasty rhetoric, and refusal to face the issues raised in the responses. So, the questions were never seriously asked – they were only there for rhetorical effect. Address the science as science and the philosophy as phil, and what do we see – the complaint that this is the same old issues. Well if you know that these are in part longstanding wordlview issues, why did you not address them in that light long since, on a comparative difficulties basis? And, on the issues of where something new is on the table in recent years, that too is addressed: thermodynamics, information theory, empirical data on cosmology, empirical data on DNA's information-rich, complex, functional structure, based on one or more codes, information on the increments in DNA information required to code the Cambrian life revolution, and more. Any response on the merits? No – that was never the real issue. [And, I bet Andrew is in large part ignoring repetitions of already addressed rhetoric.]

That – sadly -- tells us all we need to know about the mentality and agenda of A and those of like ilk. This is not a case for banning, but it is plain that A has been exposed as bluster not substance: "all froth, no mauby" as the Eastern Caribbean saying goes.


OVERALL CONCLUSION: Sufficient has been shown to see that there is good reason to accept that the NDT and the wider evolutionary materialist paradigm are in unacknowledged crisis, and that the evo mat advocates at various levels are resorting to ruthless tactics to cling to power and domination in the teeth of mounting anomalies and a rising credible challenger. The resort to personal attacks and to persecutions and inquisitions is diagnostic of a thought-police mentality, and are reflective of -- in too many cases -- the underlying point: evolutionary materialism underwrites a lifestyle of amorality in which might makes right so I do whatever I think I can get away with and show myself utterly;y disrespectful to the rights of others, their reputation and persons, as well as old fashioned truth and logic. (So much for that mythical species,the wonderful, highly principled atheist -- now on the deeply endangered list as the waning influence of Judaeo-Christian morality lets loose the forces of amorality.)

Andrew, as the owner of this blog, should take strong disciplinary action if he is to preserve the purpose of his blog.



It is sad to see the underlying attitudes and spiritual dynamics at work. As we seek to carry froward the reformation of our region, we must be prepared to deal wiht such attitudes and animating spirits. END