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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Monday, May 09, 2005

God Will Not Be a Stain on a Wall

I want to handle this as gently as I possibly can because there are people out there who have such faith in God that they can be led to believe that God's image will appear under a bridge overpass in the form of a fungal growth, in an attempt to communicate with us earthbound mortals.

Virgin Mary Image Restored on Underpass

CHICAGO (AP) -- A stain on the wall of an expressway underpass that some believe resembles the Virgin Mary is again attracting visitors after two car wash employees cleaned graffiti and brown paint off the image.

Rosa Diaz and Anna Reczek used a degreaser to clean the wall Friday on their lunch break.

Onlookers said they again could see the Virgin Mary. The Illinois Department of Transportation has said the stain was likely the result of salt runoff on the emergency turnoff area under the Kennedy Expressway. (link)

I've got news for you: When God decides to return to this world in order to straighten things out, and to take us repentent sinners back with Him through those pearly gates, he won't be a stain on an underpass. You'll know He's among us.

Believe me.

Hunt Them Down. Make Them Pay.

Tomorrow I intend to be much more rational and kind-spirited. Tonight, though, I'd just like to hurt the bastard who did this.
Bodies of Missing Girls Found in Illinois
By MIKE COLIAS, Associated Press Writer

ZION, Ill. (AP) -- Two second-grade girls who disappeared while riding bikes together were found dead Monday, both stabbed multiple times and left to die off a bicycle path in a park, authorities said.

A resident walking through a wooded nature area in the park discovered the bodies of best friends Laura Hobbs, 8, and Krystal Tobias, 9, at dawn.

"This is a heinous crime. It was a crime not only against those kids but against all of us," Police Chief Doug Malcolm said.

The parents of one of the girls had reported her missing about 8:50 p.m. Sunday, about two hours after she was expected home, Malcolm said. The parents of the other girl called shortly afterward, and authorities with rescue dogs began searching. (link)
This is happening all too regularly.

Competing Theories of Our Origin

An editorial in the Roanoke Times today repeats the tired old argument that schools are being pressured to teach "creationism" and to abandon the teaching of evolution by those damn Christians who are disrupting the relentless march of science toward a greater understanding of our origin as a species.

An undercover religious assault on evolution

Critics of Darwin misrepresent themselves by cloaking their belief under trappings of science.

Creationists, of all people, should not try to hide God away.

God and the Bible are the foundation of their denial of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Yet before a Kansas Board of Education subcommittee, scene of their latest assault on Darwin, God was rarely mentioned. Instead, creationists cleverly cloaked themselves in science in a bid to undermine confidence in evolution and introduce "intelligent design" into the classrooms. The panel heard a parade of scientists, mostly venturing beyond their field of expertise or presenting a religious agenda, declare Darwin's ideas irreparably flawed.

Relying largely on those dubious "disproofs" of evolution, and contradicting the overwhelming majority of scientists, they argued that an intelligent designer, not natural selection, must have molded life. The least educators can do, they said, is let students know of Darwinism's faults and discuss "other" theories of creation.

The faults, however, are in the creationists' efforts to force rational science to conform to their religious faith and to sneak their God into the classroom disguised as a generic "designer." (
link)

"... sneak their God ..." Well, I guess we know what these editors ain't.

Unlike the "creationists" referred to in this article, I have no interest in saving the sorry souls of the miscreants who work for the Times. I'm a very tolerant person, you see. They will probably burn in hell - the inevitable result of the decisions they've made - and I'm tolerant of their decisions.

But I should come to the defense of those who are skeptical of the teachings of evolution, whether they be taught in the classroom or on PBS or in the Roanoke Times, not because God has spoken to us, but because many of us are uncomfortable with the "science" that evolutionists worship. Why? To begin with, it's only a theory, folks. Yes, there are many scientists who support this theory with facts. Those facts consist mostly of tiny bone fragments. But they are facts just the same.

But not all "creationists" are religious fanatics either. Some, Roanoke Times people, are scientists.

The Challenge of Irreducible Complexity
Every living cell contains many ultrasophisticated molecular machines.
By Michael J. Behe

Scientists use the term "black box" for a system whose inner workings are unknown. To Charles Darwin and his contemporaries, the living cell was a black box because its fundamental mechanisms were completely obscure. We now know that, far from being formed from a kind of simple, uniform protoplasm (as many nineteenth-century scientists believed), every living cell contains many ultrasophisticated molecular machines.

How can we decide whether Darwinian natural selection can account for the amazing complexity that exists at the molecular level? Darwin himself set the standard when he acknowledged, "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."

Some systems seem very difficult to form by such successive modifications -- I call them irreducibly complex. An everyday example of an irreducibly complex system is the humble mousetrap. It consists of (1) a flat wooden platform or base; (2) a metal hammer, which crushes the mouse; (3) a spring with extended ends to power the hammer; (4) a catch that releases the spring; and (5) a metal bar that connects to the catch and holds the hammer back. You can't catch a mouse with just a platform, then add a spring and catch a few more mice, then add a holding bar and catch a few more. All the pieces have to be in place before you catch any mice.

Irreducibly complex systems appear very unlikely to be produced by numerous, successive, slight modifications of prior systems, because any precursor that was missing a crucial part could not function [my emphasis]. Natural selection can only choose among systems that are already working, so the existence in nature of irreducibly complex biological systems poses a powerful challenge to Darwinian theory. We frequently observe such systems in cell organelles, in which the removal of one element would cause the whole system to cease functioning. The flagella of bacteria are a good example. They are outboard motors that bacterial cells can use for self-propulsion. They have a long, whiplike propeller that is rotated by a molecular motor. The propeller is attached to the motor by a universal joint. The motor is held in place by proteins that act as a stator. Other proteins act as bushing material to allow the driveshaft to penetrate the bacterial membrane. Dozens of different kinds of proteins are necessary for a working flagellum. In the absence of almost any of them, the flagellum does not work or cannot even be built by the cell.

Biochemistry textbooks and journal articles describe the workings of some of the many living molecular machines within our cells, but they offer very little information about how these systems supposedly evolved by natural selection. Many scientists frankly admit their bewilderment about how they may have originated, but refuse to entertain the obvious hypothesis: that perhaps molecular machines appear to look designed because they really are designed [my emphasis].

I am hopeful that the scientific community will eventually admit the possibility of intelligent design, even if that acceptance is discreet and muted. My reason for optimism is the advance of science itself, which almost every day uncovers new intricacies in nature, fresh reasons for recognizing the design inherent in life and the universe. (
link)

Eventually. Yes.

In their relentless effort to attack Christianity, the editorialists at the Roanoke Times distort the facts surrounding a fundamental debate; one that, because of its importance, deserved better from them. It would seem that the Times' criticism of Christians for being blinded by their faith in God rings hollow when one reads editorials like this. The editors themselves are blinded by their faith - in trendy science, ignoring an entire school of scientific endeavor.

Maybe next time ...

Western Civilization Bad, Savagery Good

I have become too political an animal, I guess.

A number of years ago, when Kevin Costner's "Dances With Wolves" movie came out, I told Paula that I had no interest in seeing it because I had no doubt that the underlying plot to the movie would be,"white European immigrants to the new land (America) were the real savages and that the natives who occupied (a portion of) the country back then were a noble race of humanitarians who were at one with nature and, unlike the savage white guys who came and slaughtered them all, the Indians nurtured the land and respected the environment, to which they paid homage. We went to see the movie and all that turned out to be true. Kevin Costner's character became an Indian. He and his Indian pals went out and slaughtered buffalo, but in a mystical, harmonious way, and ate them. And wore their furry skins to keep warm in the winter. This was in contrast to the savage white despoilers of the environment, who only killed the buffalo for their furry skins - in order to keep warm in the winter.

Yup.

I left the theater wanting to renounce my heritage. Almost.

The other day, Paula told me what the new movie coming out, "Kingdom of Heaven" was about. I had seen the trailers on television but hadn't paid a lot of attention to the plot. For all I knew, it was another telling of the Camelot story.

But when she told me it was a tale of the Crusades, my immediate reaction was, "Oh great. Here we go again. White Europeans bad. Muslims good."

I was close to the mark.

Kingdom of Heaven
By
James Bowman

Sir Ridley Scott's Crusades movie, Kingdom of Heaven, though visually impressive as we might expect, is shockingly unhistorical. I know that this is not supposed to matter and probably will not to the historically illiterate 13-year-olds who will make up its main audience, but the rest of us might at least want to be aware of the crudeness of the historical mise-en-scene, which could scarcely be greater if Sir Ridley and his screenwriter, William Monahan, had had their 12th century knights riding into battle in Humvees. But because most of the anachronisms he deals in are moral rather than material they will probably pass unnoticed. And what, you may ask, is the moral of the story? Well, it's not as if you couldn't guess. Turns out that the Crusades were not the struggle between Christians and Muslims that you might have thought they were, but between both Muslim and Christian religious fanatics on the one hand and modern tolerant liberals like the film-makers -- oh and, by the way, everyone else in Hollywood -- on the other. Who knew?


The most hilariously idiotic of the film's many historically stupid moments comes at the climax of the battle for Jerusalem in 1187 when Balian of Ibelin (Orlando Bloom), the commander of the city's Christian defenders, has a parley with the leader of its Muslim besiegers, Saladin, here invariably given his more authentic moniker, Salah al-Din (Ghassan Massoud). Nice that they insist on accuracy in something. Balian tells his adversary that he will surrender the city if the Muslim army will give its Christian inhabitants a safe-conduct to the sea, where they may take ship to return to Europe. The terrible alternative, Balian tells him, is that he will give the order for all the religious sites in the city to be destroyed: "Your holy places, ours -- everything that drives men mad." It's hard to imagine a more perfect example of Hollywood's view of religion -- or of a thought that would have been more unthinkable to the person supposedly uttering it. (link)
This flick I'm not even going to rent. I'm taking a stand.

Global Warming Will Bring Flood ... of Immigrants

Here's the latest nonsense regarding the nebulous global warming problem. It comes from the New York Times. Naturally.
Before the Flood
By SUJATHA BYRAVAN and SUDHIR CHELLA RAJAN

Cambridge, Mass. - One of the paradoxes of global warming is that developing countries, which were not responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions that are changing the climate and did not reap the benefits of industrialization, will bear the brunt of the consequences. One of these consequences will be rising seas, which in turn will generate a surge of "climate exiles" who have been flooded out of their homes in poor countries. How should those of us in rich countries deal with this wave of immigrants? The fairest solution: allowing the phased immigration of people living in vulnerable regions according to a formula that is tied to the host country's cumulative contributions to global warming. (
link)
Take note of the fact that these two authors, neither of which is a scientist, offer up the faddish doomsday global warming scenario as if it is fact. "One of the consequences will be rising seas." Really? How do they know?

Here's how.
Conservative climate and hydrological models suggest that the average sea level will rise by about a foot by 2050, regardless of what new actions we take to reduce greenhouse gases. In some cases, entire nations will disappear ...
Ah, those pesky climate models again. They would be the same computer models that have proven to be wildly inaccurate up to this point.

If you've been paying attention to the global warming debate, you know for certain that the only aspect that the two sides agree on is that they agree on nothing.

Here's where we stand today, I think:
  • The globe is probably warming. But maybe not.
  • The cause may be greenhouse gasses produced by humans. But probably not.
  • If the globe is warming, it is probably cyclical, meaning this sort of thing has happened before and will happen again.
  • Many of the scientists (and geneticists, as the case may be) who are asking us to believe that we are heading toward global catastrophe because the earth is warming were, not too many years ago, spewing dire warnings about global cooling.

So. Take this kind of hand-wringing with a grain of salt. Until the real scientists come in with factual data and not a model that they built on their Playstation II.