Saturday, December 21, 2013

two lies are culture has bought about controversial lifestyles

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

― Rick Warren

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Does Popular Science Rest Upon Unproven Assumptions?

         Many people use science as their authority in determining truth, facts, right, wrong, etc....  They see science as self correcting and infallible (at least in the long term). However, science is not perfect, often not objective (although it tries to appear that way), requires assumptions, and is not always a good foundation for decision making.

Science can draw the opposite conclusions from previous research, when new research is processed.

Can a person or a society really build its life on the foundation of science, when it is constantly changing?

Assumptions in science

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Can morality be created by laws? Is something wrong if it is illegal?

All law implicitly involves morality; the popular idea that “you can’t legislate morality” is a myth. Morality is legislated every day from the vantage point of one value system or another. The question is not whether we will legislate morality, but whose morality we will legislate.  --Chuck Colson

  Our culture accepts relativism more and more with each generation. As these generations get older and become voting age and then law makers themselves, we reach a dilemma. Laws get changed or new laws get created, but without absolute values, their is no foundation to these laws. They simply represent the current [unstable and ever changing] values of our society. This means that something can be illegal in one year, then legal the next, and illegal later still. As our laws start to reflect relativism more and more, our laws will sway back and forth with the wind with no real anchor. People may start to ignore some laws altogether.

  As the quote above from Chuck Colson asserts, all laws have a moral aspect. A law declares something wrong and something right. If we have to pay a fine for not wearing a bicycle helmet, then wearing a helmet is right and not wearing one is wrong. You may reject this value and practice your own, buy the law maker's value system is the one that gets enforced when you get a ticket for not wearing your helmet. Relativism in practice often does not work out well. I hope for the sake of our country that our culture turns away from relativism.

Here is an interesting quote and source below:
"It is absurd and ignorant to lament conservative Christian efforts when it comes to abortion, marriage, and so on as some attempt to "legislate morality."  The other side is attempting the very same thing!  In fact, the lamenter (whatever his political persuasion) has also taken a moral stand.  Thus, he is like the bank robber who calls the police because his getaway car gets stolen."

Source: The Truth about Legislating Morality

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The devil's most powerful tool: a lie

     People (including Christians) are often confused about what the devil wants to do or how he accomplishes his goals. His methods and modes of operation are not that complex and yet they have worked well for thousands of years.
      The devil's most powerful, effective, frequently used, and common tool for gaining ground in the battle for your mind/soul is to get you to accept a lie as truth. Especially if this lie is regarding a core, foundational concept that will forever impact your life.
      People see a horrible accident, or a tyrannical leader committing atrocities, or a family torn apart by bad choices and think of these things as evil and undesirable. We often want to fix things, so we approach the problem and do our best to influence future outcomes to be better and more positive. However, we generally attack the symptoms and not the root cause. More often than not, bad choices are caused by people who act on a belief that is in fact a lie. I think that most all undesirable human behavior can be tied directly to a corresponding lie which is often ingrained into the person deeply and they don't even know it.
        If we want to have a proper view of God, ourselves, others, and the world around us, then we must constantly evaluate our beliefs and our thoughts to see if we have believed a lie. Neglecting to do this can have disastrous results!

 Here is a very relevant quote:
"Telling a lie means you have aligned yourself with satan. Every time you lie you give Satan a piece of your heart. The more lies you tell, the more you give place in your heart to Satans lying spirit, until eventually you can't stop yourself from lying" -Stormie Omartian from The Power of a praying parent

Here is a list of dangerous lies that come to mind:

- God does not exist, so why waste time on  __________ .
- It will not hurt if I  _______ just once .
- I'll have time to look into whether or not God really exists later.
- I do not need _______ to have a good marriage .
- The bible isn't special it is just ______________ .
- If I lie a little bit on small things it won't hurt anyone. 
- ______ does not really love me.
- Letting selfishness get out of control (the world is not about you)

Can We Trust Science and is it Reliable?

      Often in a debate comparing two worldviews one side or the other will make a statement and back it up with some short of scientific study. Then they expect the other party in the debate to capitulate, because science is fact and you cannot argue with science. Often neither person capitulates and the debate continues anyways; sometimes, because the opposing party can produce a scientific study to support their side or they simply disregard the study. However, this raises a question: Are scientific studies absolute fact and is it illogical to disregard one?
   To answer this question we can look at how often inaccuracies and fraud have been detected in scientific studies, then we have to ask ourselves if we are detecting most of it or only a small portion? Since humans participate, analyze, and draw conclusions as part of a scientific study, and human behavior is somewhat predictable, we can safely say that a lot of invalid scientific studies (due to accidental errors or fraud) go undetected.

Consider this excerpt and read the whole article for yourself:
"As a result, fraud in science is considered by many to be endemic. Biological research is one of the chief areas of concern. Some conclude that over 10% of all researchers in this area are less than honest. Indeed, probably most researchers have quoted data that are fraudulent, or at least inaccurate. Few extensive research investigations on fraud under the present system exist (and the cases unearthed probably represent only the tip of the proverbial iceberg)."

Source: Science fraud epidemic

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The battle for Same Sex Marriage

         Tuesday and Wednesday of this week SCOTUS (the Supreme Court Of The United States) will hear arguments for and against same sex marriage. The two cases before the courts are California's Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA).  This is perhaps one of the most important cases this court has heard in a decade or more. This trial has the potential to be the Roe v. Wade of my generation. I hope and pray that the Supreme Court will have the wisdom to reject redefining marriage.
         It seems that the pro-homosexual marriage groups have done a good job at swaying some public opinion to their side by equating same sex marriage with the civil rights movement. From their perspective this is a smart move, because it gets results. However, from my perspective I see this as just another lie. The same sex marriage movement is not a civil rights issue. This is clearly seen in states where very strong civil union laws are passed that grant same sex civil unions all the same legal rights and privileges, because these laws do not satisfy the same sex marriage agenda. The phrase "civil rights" implies an issue that is about rights. This argument is mostly over wording/labels. They want the word marriage redefined to included same sex couples. This is just totally uncalled for. Homosexuals deserve to be treated like human beings and to have legal rights, but that doesn't mean that words have to be redefined to accommodate their desires.
       If I sell oranges and I perceive that oranges sales are down due to placement and treatment, I may lobby to put oranges on equal footing with apples, but to ask that the word apple be redefined to include oranges so that I can place my product in the apple section is just not warranted. This would be like the civil rights movement not just requesting equal treatment/status for blacks and minorities, but also pushing to have the color white redefined to include the color black.
       Regarding this trial (and our culture), I fear the worst, but hope for the best.

Is same sex marriage truly the next step in the "civil rights" movement? I think the answer is no. This article talks about this concept some:

Hypocrisy in the Black Church? A Same-Sex Marriage Debate

Friday, March 15, 2013

What is liberty?

         There is a lot of confusion out there about what liberty is and what a libertarian is. I hope to share with you in this article my perspective on what true liberty is. Like any good concept in our culture, that are always people who claim to be a part of something, but do not hold true to the ideals it espouses. Some people will even claim to be a participant in a good concept, but act in the exact opposite way of what true participants should act.
        Then there are people who do not like liberty or libertarian views so they mistakenly or purposefully convince the culture to associate negative terms with liberty. This is essentially name calling or poor interpretation done so to further an agenda.

    So how do I define liberty? Lets start with a definition of liberty from the Merriam-Webster dictionary (online). Here is what definition number one (the definition relevant to this topic) says:

1) the quality or state of being free:
a : the power to do as one pleases
b : freedom from physical restraint
c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control
d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges
e : the power of choice

Most of these definitions do a decent job of describing my view of liberty, however, definition "a" does a horrible job.

   It is important to realize that true liberty is difficult to define with a single short phrase. I see liberty as a more complex concept that combines definitions b,c,d, e, and some additional attributes. Liberty should be and, in my opinion, must be defined and interpreted within a framework. Often people with the wrong idea about what liberty is have acquired that view by trying to define liberty as definition "a"  describes and then expanding it to the extreme. The phrase "the power to do as one pleases" is significantly different than "the power to do as one pleases, as long as it is responsible, just, honorable, and reasonable". Taking the first phrase to the extreme is where labels like "anarchy" and "marxism" come from. However, these labels are incorrect and irresponsible when they are applied to liberty. If liberty was truly anarchy or marxism, then we would not need the word liberty!! The second phrase maybe not be perfect either, but liberty is a complex concept.

     Liberty is perhaps easiest to discuss when placed in an appropriate context. Liberty in the United States of America is about admitting that the government authority has a limit and that individual authority has a limit. In America individual liberties are often destroyed or discarded when government powers abuse their authority and over step their proper limits. When an individual denies that their authority has limits, and they state or act as if they should be able to do as they please no matter what, then they are enacting anarchy not liberty. Liberty ceases to be liberty when you remove it from a proper framework and disregard all limits.

     Now that you understand the difference between anarchy and liberty, who defines the proper limits of liberty? This is a questions which people have written volumes of text about. Many people see this question as requiring a lengthy answer. My worldview has a clear framework and clear limits, because I am a Christ follower and I try to conform to the standards and limits of the Bible. The US declaration of indepence says it well:

 "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"

    Since the creator has given us liberty, we must exercise proper responsibility when using our liberty, otherwise we abuse the concept and it becomes something entirely different.

What is a Christ Follower?

            Christian is an over used term often applied by a person to themselves or to others without much thought. The conditions necessary to be labeled or to label one's self a Christian are very minimal.  Therefore a new term, Christ Follower, is starting to gain some ground among authentic Christians who want to use a more accurate term to describe themselves.  The term "Christian" is a noun where as "Christ Follower" is a verb. It may not be a verb according to your english teacher, but the term Christ Follower implies action. You can be a Christian by applying certain views, values, or attributes to yourself, but to be a Christ Follower you have to be actively pursing a lifestyle that is more like Jesus Christ and less like your old, sinful self.
           It does not mean you are perfect, or that you are shouting Bible verses on the street. It does mean that you will not knowingly tolerate any part of your life being out of the bounds of a biblical view for very long. In other words, a self-labeled Christian may be satisfied to have some parts of their life conform to biblical standards and other parts not, but a Christ Follower admits that certain parts of their life do not conform to biblical standards and they begin (and continue) a journey to bring that area of their life into line with God's views.
           Many people, leaders, and politicians claim to be a Christian (or maybe even claim to be a Christ Follower), but they are not followers of Christ unless they are actively becoming more like Jesus Christ. If they hold unbiblical core values (or proudly proclaim unbiblical values) for extended periods of time with no intent to change them, then they are stating with their actions that they do not want to be like Christ. This by definition excludes them from a proper definition of a Christ Follower or of a truly authentic Christian.
         What are the values that I refer to in the previous paragraph when I say, "core values?"   I do not dictate the core values of a biblical worldview or of Jesus Christ. However, I would assert that a proper interpretation of the Bible would includes these core values, to name just a few:

- Believing that the Bible is the true word of God
- That the universe was created by God
- Trust in Jesus Christ as savior and LORD
- Accepting the trinity as true
- That God created the basic family unit (marriage) to be a union of one man and one woman
- That murder is wrong and sinful (including unborn babies)
- Acceptance of the 10 commandments (including the one just mentioned)
- any many more that I should have listed...........

             It is important to note that you do not have to immediately accept all these things as true to be a Christian or a Christ Follower. However, you should (and I would argue must) consider what the bible says on each of these areas and settle for nothing less than having the same view of these issues as Jesus Christ himself. If you accept any view in these areas that does not match the view of Jesus Christ (read the Bible), then you are not actively seeking to live a lifestyle more like Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Did the Universe Create Itself?

I am currently reading the book, "GOD and Stephen Hawking: Whose design is it anyway?"

   I have found the book most interesting so far. Here are a few quotes I want to share:

        The author, referring to Stephen Hawking's book, The Grand Design: "Thus, the main conclusion of the book turns out not simply to be a self-contradiction, which would be disaster enough, but to be a triple self-contradiction. Philosophers  just might be tempted to comment: so that is what comes of saying philosophy is dead!"

       Referring to this statement made in Hawking's book: "because there is a law of gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing."

        Another quote from the author, "What this all goes to show is that nonsense remains nonsense, even when talked by world-famous scientists. What serves to obscure the illogicality of such statements is the fact that they are made by scientists; and the general public, not surprisingly, assumes that they are statements of science and takes them on authority. That is why it is important to pint out that they are not statements of science, and any statement, whether made by a scientist or not, should be open to logical analysis. Immense prestige and authority does not compensate for faulty logic."

        Anyways, I recommend the book. To see how the author can make these statements you should read through the thought process he uses.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Obamacare: Can a Business Have Religious Views?

When I read news articles like this one:

Judge rejects Mennonite firm's healthcare law challenge

It makes me wonder why people often claim a for profit company cannot have religious views. There is plenty of precedent for businesses have other personal attributes and constitutional protections.

My Business, Myself: Piercing the Corporate Veil | Culture | Religion Dispatches

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Corporate personhood - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The above articles show that businesses sometimes get personal rights and sometimes they do not. Obviously, from a legal perspective, this is still a gray area that will change as the future progresses. In my opinion religious liberty is worthy of being protected even when attributed to a business.
        However, I do see a slippery slope of non-religious businesses taking advantage of religious exemptions or protections. Therefore, I think a reasonable compromise would be that exempt businesses: must sign an affidavit, display a mission statement with clear religious goals (on their website and place of business), post a sign stating, "this is a religious organization.", and lose their exemption if fraud/dishonesty of their mission statement/affidavit is detected. This would make abuse a lot less likely. Potential abusers of exemptions would have to be willing to publicize their choice to their patrons and possibly deal with negative public reactions.
     Obviously, my proposal with have weaknesses of its own, but I think there is a way to reasonably accommodate religious liberty for a business. If you disagree, just take your money to the non-religious businesses. We still have the right (at least for now) to choose what businesses we shop at.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Radiometric Dating: Clear or Foggy?

         Radiometric dating of rocks may not be as black and white as you may think. Often, mainstream science mentions the results of radiometric dating in publications without mentioning that it may be off significantly of just plain wrong. They present this persona that radiometric dating is absolute, authoritative,  not to be challenged, and always accurate. If you read closely you can find publications that mention how they had to date something numerous times to get the date they expected or that they had to try a different radiometric dating method. If you look you can also find information about the assumptions that radiometric dating uses.

For example Wikipedia says the K-Ar dating requires five assumptions to be true in order for this dating method to be accurate.
K–Ar dating - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

You may think all of these assumptions are very well established, but they will still always be assumptions.  Just the thought of science using assumptions does not sound flawless does it? What if an assumption is wrong? How will that affect the results? Maybe radiometric is not so clear after all.

Then there is this statement:
"Due to the long half-life, the technique is most applicable for dating minerals and rocks more than 100,000 years old. For shorter timescales, it is unlikely that enough argon-40 will have had time to accumulate in order to be accurately measurable."

This statement is not listed in the assumptions section, but is presenting one nonetheless.  If this dating method is only for rocks older than 100,000 years, then it assumes that rocks older than 100,000 years exist.

Further reading:
Radiometric Dating Questions and Answers

Is It Crazy To Question Evolution?

             We should never blindly believe or follow anything. This has often been said towards the religious community, because of a perceived practice of brain washing children to blindly follow the religion of their parents. However, one can not apply a double standard here without being detrimental to Truth. Evolution is often taught dogmatically to the masses, regardless of whether they understand how science reached these conclusions. We are apparently just suppose to trust their conclusions, because they have Ph.D.'s.
        The obvious response to this is to say that dogmatic religious belief is not based in reality and dogmatic evolutionary belief is based in scientific fact (fossils, DNA, statistics, geology, dating methods, etc....). However, this is over simplifying the issue. Faith is required when accepting any worldview that makes significant claims about the unrepeatable past. Evolutionary evidence is not flawless and comprehensive. Therefore, anyone who can think for themselves should apply the same critical thinking process when accepting new knowledge. Whether this new information is or a religious nature or a scientific one. Whether it is verbally transmitted from a preacher or transmitted in writing through a academic text book. Main stream science appears to say that information should be accepted blindly if it comes from a text book written by highly educated people, but do not accept blindly things you hear at your church. Truth is absolute. Regardless of who says something or what form it comes in or what location it is spoken at, truth does not change. We must constantly seek to see if something we are told matches reality. We can and should consider the source of information, but it should not be the final authority. We must also critically analyze the claims to see if they matches reality and if the claims are reasonable given the knowledge that we already posses (hoping of course that we have not previously accepted false information that would distort our view of reality).

Related Resources:
1. What are some flaws in the theory of evolution?

Responding to violence: inaction or action which costs more?

Regarding this speech:

FULL TRANSCRIPT, VIDEO: President Obama Speaks at Prayer Vigil in Newtown, Connecticut | Fox News Insider

Here is a portion of this speech:

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try.

In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

         The president is correct that this is a tragedy. He is also accurate when he says, "no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society."   However, he will probably act the opposite of what his statement says. Everything in life has pros and cons. Almost nothing comes without a price. Preserving liberty and freedom are very expensive. We pay for them with our lives on the battle grounds, with our time and money in political realms, and in many other countless ways. One way that liberty has a cost is that sometimes when we let someone make their own choice, they choose very poorly. Their choice can even do great harm and destruction to others. Laws exist for a reason to give consequences to people who choose poorly, but we must be careful when making laws. We do not want to strip freedom and liberty from people who make good choices just because a small percentage of people make bad choices. I am not saying we should always respond to these types of tragedies by doing nothing. I am however saying that sometimes inaction can be less costly than action. Obama implies that only inaction will have negative consequences and that action will always result in improvement. This is false.
       There is a cost regardless of that path our country and our leaders take. We can accept the risks of the liberties the 2nd amendment protects or we can remove some liberties in the hopes of creating safety and security. Both paths have expensive costs, but I prefer liberty (and I accept any risks that go along with it) over regulation any day. I believe we must protect our liberties and create a culture that encourages people to choose good over evil. I also believe the best way to do this to spread the truth of Jesus Christ. No other world view explains the existence of evil and provides a solution in a way that matches reality.

Evolution Requires Faith

       Many people consider creation/biblical Christianity to be a "faith position", however I see all philosophical (i.e. dealing with origins, existence, etc..) viewpoints as "faith positions" to some degree. You may disagree with my perspective on that. Obviously some religions are much more faith based than others (i.e. Solipsism). In my opinion: a biblical worldview and any worldview that incorporates evolution and long ages, both require faith to some degree. Both views use the same evidence (or lack there of), with different interpretations, to draw their conclusions. Neither worldview can reproduce the origins of life on-demand in a laboratory to support their views. Every time there is a gap in evidence and extrapolation, projections, reasoning, guessing, or anything along those lines is used to explain what happened, then faith is necessary for the listening party to accept the view of the person making the statement.

      For example: One might read a book about two fossils that are similar, but different. The supposed changes that took place between those fossils is not recorded in the fossil record, but the book will probably still assert that there were transitional forms between those two fossils that we do not have records of. Depending on your worldview, one may consider this logical or reasonable to make this connection, however if the reader accepts this as true they are showing faith that the book is true even when it lacks the evidence to back up the claim. Science in general treats the word faith as a dirty word, however we all use faith every day.

 The real question is not which worldview requires faith. The real question should be which worldview uses faith in a reasonable, rational, logical, coherent, consistent, and realistic way.  I posit that the biblical worldview does this better than any other worldview.