Sunday, October 29, 2006

My Denver Post Review of Two New Books on Darwinism and Intelligent Design

A sharp split on Darwin, design
Two authors' takes on science and life
By Douglas Groothuis Special to The Denver Post
Article Last Updated:10/29/2006 12:31:39 AM MDT

These two books - released within a few weeks of each other - address Darwinism and its critics, but in radically different ways. Not only do the authors hold entirely different positions on Darwinism and the alternative theory of intelligent design, but there also is a vast chasm between the tone and approach of these books.

Jonathan Wells, who holds doctorates in both religion and embryology, is a leading advocate of intelligent design. This view holds that "it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than unguided natural processes."

Wells criticizes Darwinism - a view that says every aspect of the natural world is explained by unguided natural processes - because of its lack of evidence. This stance requires that Wells shoulder the burden of proof, since Darwinists control the scientific establishment.

But Wells takes up the challenge by sticking closely to the scientific and philosophical issues at the heart of the debate. He not only critiques the weaknesses in Darwinism, but presents intelligent design as a constructive alternative. While titled a "politically incorrect guide," the book is never glib, although it is not lacking in wit or confidence.

On the other hand, editor and author Michael Shermer, formerly a professor of psychology, is generally condescending toward intelligent design. He even writes that his friends Stephen J. Gould and Richard Dawkins, leading evolutionists, advised him to not stoop so low as to write a book against the theory.

Nevertheless, Shermer believes that intelligent design's influence in recent public debates - especially the attempt to teach it in public schools - merits a response. Shermer's contempt for intelligent design is evident from the first chapter. While recounting his expedition to the Galapagos Islands - famous for Charles Darwin's studies there - Shermer abruptly asserts, "Creation by intelligent design is absurd." This premature editorializing sets a sharp tone for the rest of the book.

Shermer conflates creationism and intelligent design, sometimes referring to "intelligent-design creationism." Yet these two approaches, while critical of Darwinism, are distinct in both their methods and their conclusions, as Wells argues.

Creationism insists on a literal view of Genesis. This requires divine creation in six literal days and a young Earth and universe. Intelligent design makes no appeal to Genesis for its arguments and avoids questions of the age of the Earth. Instead, it concentrates on whether particular aspects of the natural world (such as DNA and microscopic molecular machines) display evidence of a designing intelligence.

Whereas the majority of Wells' book concentrates on the evidence for design in nature, Shermer takes up this issue only in his chapter defending Darwinism and his chapter criticizing intelligent design. Shermer aims at many irrelevant targets: American cultural history (the Scopes "monkey" trial); psychological reasons why people do not believe in Darwinism; makes points against creationists that do not apply to intelligent-design thinkers; and lectures Christians that they should not expect a transcendent God to be detectible in the physical world. This would be a dubious claim coming from a theologian, let alone an agnostic psychologist.

Wells' case is arguably the more thorough, respectful and thought-provoking of the two. He disputes Darwinian claims that the fossil record, embryology and molecular biology prove evolution. Wells assesses the claims of Darwinism empirically and rationally, never appealing to religious texts to support his arguments.

Wells also notes that contemporary scientists typically presuppose a materialistic philosophy, which locks them in to Darwinism. They then bring this philosophical perspective to their endeavors - as opposed to making a solid case for Darwinism based on the empirical evidence. Shermer himself claims that science is permitted to give naturalistic explanations for life only because "there is no such thing as the supernatural or paranormal."

Yet to define science in this way must philosophically exclude any possible evidence for an intelligent designer. In informal logic, this is known as the fallacy of begging the question: What should be proved is instead presumed. Shermer's definition of science does not allow him to take sophisticated arguments for intelligent design as seriously as they should be. After all, they have to be wrong.

For Shermer, Darwin matters because he has been vindicated by science, and science gives us the best account of reality possible. For Wells, Darwin built a house of cards that is supported more by ideology and materialist philosophy than science itself. Thinking people should be apprised of both sides and judge accordingly, because two very different and exceedingly important visions of reality are at stake.

Douglas Groothuis is professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary and the author of "Truth Decay."
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design
By Jonathan Wells
Regnery, 273 pages, $19.95, paperback
Why Darwin Matters
The Case Against Intelligent Design
By Michael Shermer
Times Books, 199 pages, $22

Reformation Sermon Outline

Let me know if you are interested in getting my sermon outline for my message, "What is the Gospel? Remembering the Reformation." This is for your own edification, not for sermon stealing! Email me at It is about seven pages long.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Happy Reformation Sunday. Forget Halloween.

Although most Americans are cluelessly ramping up for Halloween, October 31 is Reformation Day. Some (but not enough) churches will celebrate Reformation Day on Sunday, October 29. (You can count on the Lutherans!) Few American celebrate (or even know about) this holiday, which speaks telling about our cultural decline. I have been preparing several messages on the Reformation, including a sermon at Covenant of Grace Church (Phoenix, Arizona) for October 29 called, "What is the Gospel? Remembering the Reformation." I will highlight the five solas of the Reformation:

1. Sola Scriptura: Scripture alone is our ultimate authority
2. Sola Christus: Christ alone is our Savior and Lord.
3. Sola Gratia. Grace alone is the basis of our salvation
4. Sola Fides: Faith alone is the means of our salvation
5. Sola Deo Gloria: The glory of God alone is our ambition and passion.

In order to guard the Gospel, we must remember, believe, teach, and defend all five.

In light of this, let us ponder the words of Martin Luther before his accusers.

Unless convinced by the testimony of Scripture or right reason, for I trust neither the pope nor councils inasmuch as they have often erred and contradicted one another, I am bound by conscience, held captive by the Word of God in the Scriptures I have quoted. I neither can nor will recant anything, for it is neither right nor safe to act against conscience. God help me! Amen.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

TV Unreality

This Breakpoint commentary about the unreality of television quotes some of my comments from Truth Decay.

Digital Douglas

While ego surfing, I found a long-lost article of mine published in an obscure journal called TrendScope. I remembered writing it, but had no idea where it was. (You might guess that my filing system is less than ideal.) Anyway, here is "Churches in a Digital Age"-still relevant after all these years, of course.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Jesus as a Philosopher On Line Now

My interview on Jesus as a Philosopher and Apologist can be heard here. Thanks to Pastor Gene Cook for a good interview. I hope you can hear the spot for his church, which parodies "seeker churches." I heard it half way through the interview during the only break. There were no callers.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Jesus as a Philosopher and Apologist

My interview on Monday, October23, 2006, on "The Narrow Mind" will cover material in my feature article from The Christian Research Journal, "Jesus: Philosopher and Apologist," which is taken largely from On Jesus (Wadsworth, 2003).

Many sources consider Jesus as a leader, as a teacher of ethics or theology, but few investigate Jesus as a thinker. This partially explains the anti-intellectualism of so much American Christianity.

NY Times Reviews Dawkins's Anti-Theist Book

Jim Holt has written a thoughtful review in The New York Times of Richard Dawkins's new book, The God Delusion. Holt does not exactly defend theism, but he lets some of the air out of Dawkins's overinflated tires, noting that Dawkins's treatment of the arguments for God's existence does not do justice to the philosophical sophistication involved. And so on. Given that Dawkins is one of the leading anti-theistic intellectuals of our time, this is heartening, especially given the source.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Curmudgeon Interviewed about Jesus as a Philosopher

On Monday, October 23, from 9:00-10:00 AM PMT, I will be interviewed on the subject of Jesus as a philosopher and apologist. The program is called, "The Narrow Mind." It is streamed live on the Internet and achived also. You may call in as well. The phone lines will be open and that number is 1-800-466-1873.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Where is God? Ministries

I am on the board for Where is God? Ministries, directed by Sherri and Wayne Connell. Where Is God Ministries is an organization that gives help and hope to those who are living with chronic illness and pain. WIGM also ministers to anyone who is suffering and grappling with their faith. WIGM has helped lead people back to God, as well as introduce the Lord to those who never knew Him. They have produced several booklets and adminster a helpful web page.

On their web page, I give this endorsement:

"Wayne and Sherri Connell are in a unique position to offer desperately needed advice to those who are faced with the challenge of ministering to Christians who struggle with chronic illness. They know first hand what helps and what does not help those afflicted. The insights offered in this booklet might save a friendship or a marriage. Not By Sight is sure to equip the loved ones of the chronically ill with the biblical wisdom and practical skills needed to minister those who yearn for understanding, encouragement, and day-to-day assistance."

Please visit their page and consider supporting their ministry.

Thank you,
Doug Groothuis

Monday, October 16, 2006

Marriage Down; Morals Down

[The decline of marriage is one of the most significant indicators of cultural bone rot. Marriage is the first institution of creation, designed and organized by God himself. See Genesis 2 and Matthew 19:4-5. No, not all are called to marriage; but sexual intimacy finds its only true home there. Marriage is the ideal place for children to be raised (not merely grow up).

The fact that so many cohabitate (shack up) without benefit of marriage, that so many come into this world as illegitimate children, and that many push for same-sex unions as "marriage" bespeaks ill of our entire civilation. America is spurning what was created for our good and God's glory. And we call it "freedom."

But the Wisdom of God declares:

35 For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the LORD.

36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
all who hate me love death." (Proverbs 8:35-36)]

October 15, 2006
To Be Married Means to Be Outnumbered


Married couples, whose numbers have been declining for decades as a proportion of American households, have finally slipped into a minority, according to an analysis of new census figures by The New York Times.

The American Community Survey, released this month by the Census Bureau, found that 49.7 percent, or 55.2 million, of the nation’s 111.1 million households in 2005 were made up of married couples — with and without children — just shy of a majority and down from more than 52 percent five years earlier. . . .

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Darwinism-ID Debate

The debate on Darwinism and Intelligent Design between Michael Shermer and Jonathan Wells can be heard or seen here (although I could not get the video to work).

Capture the Soul Through Technology and Preach It!

[In order to become "all things to all people," why not appropriate the new video computer simulation technology mentioned in the article below and bring it into the big screens of the church?

Capture the most popular preachers of the day on video, then superimpose the face of the local pastor on the body of Super Preacher. (No cross-gender morphing allowed, however.) Then program a sermon! You can capture the soul of a sermon and make it your own! Of course, one could add a few individual elements (customizing stories to fit the particular congregation; unless it is a multi-site church), but the product would be successful, marketable, and completely contemporary. How cool is that?

The local pastor need not bother to attend the meeting or expend precious energy on actually preaching in the flesh. You cannot turn back the clock. Technology is the future and we need to hit a homerun every Sunday. Let the computer and the superstars make it happen. It's our postmodern, posthuman future.]

New York Times, October 15, 2006

Cyberface: New Technology That Captures the Soul


THERE’S nothing particularly remarkable about the near-empty offices of Image Metrics in downtown Santa Monica, loft-style cubicles with a dartboard at the end of the hallway. A few polite British executives tiptoe about, quietly demonstrating the company’s new technology.

What’s up on-screen in the conference room, however, immediately focuses the mind. In one corner of the monitor, an actress is projecting a series of emotions — ecstasy, confusion, relief, boredom, sadness — while in the center of the screen, a computer-drawn woman is mirroring those same emotions.

It’s not just that the virtual woman looks happy when the actress looks happy or relieved when the actress looks relieved. It’s that the virtual woman actually seems to have adopted the actress’s personality, resembling her in ways that go beyond pursed lips or knitted brow. The avatar seems to possess something more subtle, more ineffable, something that seems to go beneath the skin. And it’s more than a little bit creepy.

“I like to call it soul transference,” said Andy Wood, the chairman of Image Metrics, who is not shy about proclaiming his company’s potential. “The model has the actress’s soul. It shows through.”

You look and you wonder: Is it the eyes? Is it the wrinkles around the eyes? Or is it the tiny movements around the mouth? Something. Whatever it is, it could usher in radical change in the making of entertainment. A tool to reinvigorate the movies. Or the path to a Franken-movie monster.

The Image Metrics software lets a computer map an actor’s performance onto any character virtual or human, living or dead....

Jonathan Wells Vs. Michael Shermer on Darwinism

Jonathan Wells tells me that his recent debate with Michael Shermer (author of the Why Darwin Matters) will be aired on the C-Span Book TV channel this coming weekend (October 21-22). I have read Dr. Wells written remarks and can attest that they are excellent. The web page doesn't seem to list the program as yet.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

John Piper: Truth About Television

[I found this on a blog, and do not have the book from which it is taken. However, what is said is true and consequential. Please heed it, for the good of your soul, God, and others. If anyone can verify the quote, I would appreciate it.]

“If all other variables are equal, your capacity to know God deeply will probably diminish in direct proportion to how much television you watch. There are several reasons for this. One is that television reflects American culture at its most trivial. And a steady diet of triviality shrinks the soul. You get used to it. It starts to seem normal. Silly becomes funny. And funny becomes pleasing. And pleasing becomes soul-satisfaction. And in the end, the soul that is made for God has shrunk to fit snugly around triteness. This may be unnoticed, because if all you’ve known is American culture, you can’t tell there is anything wrong. If you have only read comic books, it won’t be strange that there are no novels in your house. If you live where there are no seasons, you won’t miss the colors of fall. If you watch fifty TV ads each night, you may forget there is such a thing as wisdom. TV is mostly trivial. It seldom inspires great thoughts or great feelings with glimpses of great Truth. God is the great absolute, all-shaping Reality. If He gets any airtime, He is treated as an opinion. There is no reverence. No trembling. God and all that He thinks about the world is missing. Cut loose from God and everything goes down."

John Piper, Pierced by the Word, 77

On Amazon Reviews

What is the literary culture of Yes, it sounds like a swarmy, precious, taking-oneself-too-seriously-in-cultural-studies kind of question. But hang that, and think about it. God only knows how many reviews of books, music, video, etc., are posted there. Recently they added a feature where one can comment on reviews also.

Amazon does sport some serious and thoughtful reviews of books and movies (and I have tried to contribute my own), some good enough to be published in hard copy. (I was once briefly "a top 1000 reviewer." This is tabulated by positive votes for one's reviews calculated a starkly binary scale: "Was this review helpful to you? Yes or No?"--not too much nuance there.)

Other comments are little more than emotive utterances displaying an abysmally attenuated vocabulary, faintly conscious attempts at spelling, and an utter disregard for grammar or even capitalization. "i really think its totaly kool and awsome it kiks butt" You get the (non)idea. Why would anyone want to display their ignorance and lack of education in this kind of forum? I sometimes punish such offenders (in hopes of their linguistic reform) with my comments, but will they ever read them?

What do you think? Is this medium worth contributing to? Have you learned anything worth knowing or made significant human contact through Amazon? Have you read any articles about from a literary of philosophical perspective? Or do I just have too much time on my hands?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Another Reason Not to Pull the Plug!

Boy in So-Called "Persistent Vegetative State" for Two Years Awakens

by Steven EditorOctober 11, 2006
Yamhill, OR (

A 11 year-old Oregon boy who entered into a coma after he was diagnosed with a mysterious illness has awoken from the incapacitated state. Devon Rivers isn't unique but his case is typical of the battle hopeful families fight with doctors who are quick to declare patients in a persistent vegetative state and say there is no hope of recovery.

In October 2004, Rivers' mother Carla rushed him to the emergency room where doctors determined he had rheumatic fever.

They gave him antibiotics but his condition worsened five days later and Devon began to have problems breathing on his own. On October 17 he entered into a coma.
According to an AP report, doctors contacted research labs across the country trying to determine what happened to the young boy but were never able to determine what was causing Devon's problems.

Devon was eventually moved to a pediatric nursing center where he received daily physical therapy. But doctors kept telling his family the same thing: He is in a persistent vegetative state and there is little or no hope of recovery.
In August, Carla remembers telling Devon that his family would be gone for a few days and, as she spoke to him, she told the Associated Press that she recalled he appeared to be looking at her and that his breathing was different.
Days later, doctors confirmed the good news that Devon was indeed breathing on his own.

Within days he was off his breathing tube and seizure medicine and he has regained movement in his arms and body.

Devon has also been trying to talk and Carla says he has been saying "ma ma" as if trying to say mother and "ho" as if trying to say home.
Devon does other things to show he's on the way back -- whether it's shooting a small basketball through a hoop, listening to a book being read to him and wanting to see the pictures, or playing with a remote control car.

In the weeks that have followed, Devon has made considerable progress and they hope he will be able to relearn skills such as brushing his teeth and eating on his own with a spoon.

"We want to know what's going on with him, when he can come home, what more we can expect," Rivers told AP.

"Devon may make a full recovery or what we see today may be what we get," Rivers added in an interview with the Oregonian newspaper. "God's plan is greater than ours. There's nothing we can do to force it any sooner or hold it back."

"He's still a little boy," Carla said. "I know at some point he's going to realize he's not at home. He needs to be home with his mom."

Printed from:

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Endorsement: Len Munsil for Governor of Arizona

Given that I hold no political office, work for no political party, and have not been asked to do so by any one--that is, that I speak as one entirely without political portfolio--I hereby endorse Len Munsil for Governor of Arizona (where I am now living until mid-January).

Not being an Arizona resident, I cannot vote here, but given Munsil's stand on most issues (I disagree with his views on gun control), I support him for Governor. His views on the border and abortion are dead-on and courageous. If you are in Arizona and are undecided, please consider his views, which are stated on his web page. If you are a legal resident of Arizona, please vote.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Outline of an Argument from Nietzsche (corrected)

[A reader posting in another part of this blog noted a very basic mistake in the last section of this essay as it was originally posted about a week ago. I denied the antecedent (which is a deductive fallacy) and called it modus tolens (which is denying the consquent)! Ouch! I have now corrected this. I have also deleted the previous, erroneous version of the essay, including the comments (because it was an all-or-nothing deletion). Sorry about that folks, but I didn't want my mistake to be circulating in the blogosphere any longer.]

I have puzzled over the following statement for years. Now I have finally put it in an argument form. This is only an outline, but it captures the basic idea. Call it The Argument From Grammar, a species of the argument from design.

Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher (1844-1900):

1. “I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.” (Walter Kaufmann, ed., The Portable Nietzsche, “Twilight of the Idols”, Penguin, 1982, p. 483. )

a. Grammar presupposes a universal rational order known through language. The structure of language approximates the structure of reality outside of language.

b. The best explanation for (a) is that a rational and personal God created grammar to reflect reality and give humans knowledge.

Or (put in deductive form):

c. If grammar exists, then God exists.

d. Grammar does exist.

e. Therefore, God exists. (By modus ponens.)

2. Nietzsche apparently denies (a) , given that he was an atheist.

3. What are the philosophical implications of denying (a)?

4. Nietzsche’s argument :

a. Grammar presupposes a universal rational order known through language. The structure of language approximates the structure of reality outside of language.

b. The best explanation for (a) is that a rational and personal God created grammar to reflect reality and give humans knowledge.

Or (put in deductive form):

a. If grammar exists, then God exists.

b. God does not exist

c. Therefore, grammar does not exist. (By modus tolens.)

6. What is more likely:

a. That grammar does not exist or

b. That God does not exist?

7. The claim that grammar does not exist seems to be absurd. If so, Nietzsche is refuted by a reductio ad absurdum argument

American Loneliness: African Perspectives

The awful truth is that most Americans are desperately lonely. While the African proverb says, "I am because we are," Americans say, "I am because I am entertained--by myself." Or, we occupy adjacent spaces with other humans while sonically or visually isolated from them. Consider two people walking down a quiet trail in Denver, Colorado. Both have earphones on. The dog may or may not. Consider the back seat of some automobiles, which are adorned with two screens to entertain people (usually children, one supposes) while driving. Heave forbid that anyone should sit in silence or converse with others in the car.

We wall ourselves in with iPods; we blast our subwoofers (making our cars radiating and isolated and isolating noise machines); we cocoon around big screen TVs and home theaters. In looking for a new stereo receiver, I found that they are now rare; nearly all receivers are made for home theaters. By the way, a "home theater" is a contradiction in terms, just as much as "home stadium" is a contradiction. A theater is a public place oriented toward a group of people gathered to witness an event of some sort. The very concept of home theater speaks volumes about American priorities and perspectives.

We are lonely, but stupefied by culture not to notice the howling wasteland within. We typically have no sense of neighborhood, or, in African parlance, village. An African woman asked an American couple (pastors of a multi-ethnic church with many Africans) what "village" they were from. When they replied, "Phoenix," the woman was perplexed. That was far too large to be a village.

We are lonely and unhappy, but desperate to be happy at all costs--even if happiness means further removing ourselves from others through new vistas of sensory stimulation or medication. Many Americans treat their loneliness by travel--or, I should say, tourism. We visit other places far away in order to avoid the emptiness within our souls. We capture the images with our digital cameras, put them on our personal computers, and project them to connected strangers on the Internet. What a vacation (meaning to be vacant) it was! Look at these photographs! (Jacques Ellul speaks to this in his magisterial and deeply disturbing work, The Humiliation of the Word.)

Even this blog is, in some not incidental ways, a testimony to loneliness. Who will read? Who will respond? No one in my "neighborhood" will (unless I try very hard). A few at my school may listen and respond, but (in America) students usually show up right before class (or late) then leave immediately. Going over the allotted time is a sin. There is little lingering to discuss matters with other students and the teacher. This struck some of my African students, coming from Liberia to America. While in Bible School, they talked for hours after class about what was discussed in class. But in America, we have to rush off to "do things." After all, we put in our "class time," didn't we?

Let the Preacher of Ecclesiastes teach us:

9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:

10 If they fall down, they can help each other up.
But pity those who fall and have no one to help them up!

11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?

12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Thomas Sowell on Political Realities

October 10, 2006
Frivolous Politics
By Thomas Sowell

With a war going on in Iraq and with Iran next door moving steadily toward a nuclear bomb that could change the course of world history in the hands of international terrorists, the question for this year's elections is not whether you or your candidate is a Democrat or a Republican but whether you are serious or frivolous.

That question also needs to be asked about the media. In these grim and foreboding times, our media have this year spent incredible amounts of time on a hunting accident involving Vice President Cheney, a bogus claim that the administration revealed Valerie Plame's identity as a C.I.A. "agent" -- actually a desk job in Virginia -- and is now going ballistic over a Congressman who sent raunchy e-mails to Congressional pages.

This is the frivolous media -- and the biased media. Republican Congressman Foley was wrong and is out on his ear. But Democrats in both Congress and the White House have gone far beyond words with a page and an intern. Yet the Democrats did not resign and Bill Clinton's perjury, obstruction of justice, and suborning of perjury by others were treated as if these were irrelevant private matters.

Even when serious issues are addressed, they can be addressed either seriously or frivolously. If you are content to see life and death issues of war and peace addressed with catch phrases like "chicken hawk" or to see a coalition of nations around the world fighting terrorism referred to as "unilateral" U.S. action because France does not go along, then you are content with frivolity.

You may deserve whatever you get if you vote frivolously in this year's election. But surely the next generation, which has no vote, deserves better.

Weak-kneed members of both parties have been calling for a timetable to be announced for withdrawal from Iraq. No other war in thousands of years of history has ever had such a timetable announced to their enemies. Even if we intended to get out by a given date, there is not the slightest reason to tell the terrorists that. It is frivolous politics at its worst.

There has never been any reason to doubt that American troops will be removed from Iraq. They were removed after the first Gulf War. Before that, they were removed from Grenada and from other Western Hemisphere countries throughout the 20th century. Millions of American troops were removed from Europe after World War II.

Why should there be the slightest doubt that they will be removed from Iraq? The only question is whether you can run a war on a timetable like a railroad and whether you need to announce your plans to your enemies.

All this rhetoric about a withdrawal timetable is based on trying to make political hay out of the fact that the Iraq war is unpopular. But all wars have been unpopular with Americans, as they should be.

Even World War II, won by "the greatest generation," was never popular, though the home front was united behind the troops a lot better than today. The last shot of that war had barely been sounded before the cry arose to bring our boys back home.

The exuberant celebrations across this country when World War II ended showed that we weren't looking for more war or more conquests. We weren't even trying to hold on to all the territory we had conquered. There has probably never been a time in history when a military force in the millions was disbanded so quickly.

Even after the first Gulf War, with its quick success and low casualties, the biggest ovation that the first President Bush got when he addressed Congress afterwards was when he announced that our troops would start coming back home.

Those who discuss the current war in terms of frivolous talking points make a big deal out of the fact we have been in this war longer than in World War II. But, if we are serious, we would know that it is not the duration of a war that is crucial. It is how many lives it costs.

More than twice as many Marines were killed taking one island in the Pacific during World War II than all the Americans killed in the four years of the Iraq war. More Americans were killed in one day during the Civil War.

If we are going to discuss war, the least we can do is be serious.

Copyright 2006 Creators Syndicate

Page Printed from: at October 11, 2006 - 12:14:36 AM CDT

Europe Wonders About Muslim Immigation

[When The New York Times catches on, something is afoot...]

Across Europe, Worries on Islam Spread to Center

Published: October 11, 2006

BRUSSELS, Oct. 10 — Europe appears to be crossing an invisible line regarding its Muslim minorities: more people in the political mainstream are arguing that Islam cannot be reconciled with European values. . . .

Exodus Happens

Today on NPR's "Fresh Air" today, host Terry Gross was interviewing Alan Chambers, the President of Exodus International, an association promoting an exodus from the homosexual way of life through faith in Christ. A more politically incorrect group one cannot imagine.

Gross was stunningly one-sided and hostile, despite her calm tones. She tried to twist everything the man said. She even asked him if his relationship with his wife was sexual! She must have assumed that he abstained from homosexual activity out of sheer will power and married just to please his concept of God on some external level. His answer was straightforward: it was intimate personally and sexual physically. I marveled at the man's restraint with the imperious and incredulous Gross.

Gross finished with a question that she must have meant as hope for him. She asked if he could imagine himself giving up the fight and going back to "being gay." He said he never would, since his life was so much better now. Gross must have assumed that he was fighting impulses constantly and must want to give up this battle (even though he is now married). She could not conceive that a homosexual might change at a deep level and not want to go back. In fact, her next guest was a man who tried to change, joined Exodus (or a similar group), then reverted to homosexuality again. He, of course, was given the last word.

While many do struggle with this orientation even as Christians (and we should not judge them harshly), radical change is possible. I once met a man who had been a homosexual his entire life. But shortly after his conversion at mid-life, all homosexual desires ceased.

That is "fresh air" indeed, the wind of the Holy Spirit. Please think about it, Terry Gross.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Data Decrease, Relative Silence, and Thou

Much of the information we receive is to no effect. We take in far more than we can reflect on profitably upon or ever act upon. Yet we drink it in and gorge ourselves with it. People even call themselves “news junkies” without embarrassment.

I am not arguing for ignorance as virtue. We should be well-informed about what pertains to us. But there’s the rub. What does, in fact, pertain to us? The character of God and God’s ways with humans are perennially pertinent. Our communication (prayer) with God is ever relevant. And we must master the disciplines pertaining to our callings. Some of those callings—such as my own as a teacher and writer—demand knowledge of many things. But how many things need to be known?

But in light of this information glut, this data deluge, I have a suggestion. We are people in transit--moving, changing locations in our cars, buses, planes, and (sometimes I suppose still) trains. The next time you must go from point A to point B by a motorized conveyance, leave the radio, CD, iPod, or any other information dispenser off. Instead of filling that time and space with music (since I haven’t banned that yet) fill it rather with silence—or as silent as it can get on the highway or airway or train tack. During that relative silence reflect on a passage of Scripture and/or pray through something on your mind. Do you need more facts (or worse yet, factoids) all the time? Perhaps you do not. Think about it. You may need to turn down the volume, decrease the data flow, and settle into lifting your concerns to your Heavenly Father.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Douglas Groothuis Lecture on Christianity and Science

This is the audio for a lecture I gave at Colorado State University in 2005 called, "Christianity and Science, Strangers, Enemies, or Friends." My presentation included about ten minutes of the stellar intelligent design video, "Unlocking the Mystery of Life." I am not sure of the audio includes the sound from this DVD. Thanks to Brent Cunningham for putting this up. Let me know if you would like the detailed lecture outline that handed out at this event.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Next Book

Earth as Hospice: A Can't Do Guide to Life Under the Sun. It is sure to sell as much as The Soul in Cyberspace.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Real Difference Between the Parties

Claims and Counterclaims


October 5, 2006; Page A20

Tocqueville's trenchant observation, that sooner or later all political issues in America are "resolved" into legal questions, has certainly withstood the test of time. Our policy disputes are regularly fought out on "legal" or "constitutional" grounds, both in and out of the courts, and nowhere is this more evident than in the debates over the war against al Qaeda.

The national "dialogue" over how the U.S. should respond to the threat of radical Islam is replete with claims and counterclaims about whether the Bush administration has violated the law by holding captured jihadist prisoners without trial, by intercepting al Qaeda communications without judicial warrants, by subjecting detainees to stressful interrogations, and so forth. In fact, almost all of this clamor arises from a basic dispute over whether the U.S. is -- or should be considered -- at war with al Qaeda and its allies, or whether it should address the threat of transnational terrorism as a law-enforcement matter -- as most of its
European allies have done.

There is little doubt that the Democratic Party leadership, and no small portion of the rank-and-file, find the president's rhetoric of war distasteful -- and more than a little embarrassing -- and reject the underlying notion that the U.S. is, or could be, engaged in a legally cognizable armed conflict with al Qaeda and other jihadists. Nowhere was this better displayed than in Bill Clinton's recent meltdown during his interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News. Mr. Clinton protested (rather too much) that he really had been committed to killing Osama bin Laden, and insisted that he did his best to accomplish this goal.

That may well be true. But then as now, Mr. Clinton views the relevant policy choices through a law-enforcement prism. Granting the former president's ardent desire to see off bin Laden, his administration was mired for years in arguments over whether, consistent with a Cold War executive order forbidding "assassinations," the CIA could kill bin Laden, or whether U.S. agents would instead have to attempt a practically impossible capture -- i.e., an arrest.

Paralyzing concerns were also expressed by Clinton administration officials that any attempt to kill bin Laden might cause civilian casualties, even though wartime collateral damage is permissible, provided it is not disproportionate to the military advantage being gained. This rejection of the laws-of-war model continued even after bin Laden proved his belligerent intentions in a series of attacks on American citizens and U.S. military assets overseas.

In the aftermath of 9/11 -- and despite the fact that congressional Democrats joined Republicans in passing an "authorization for the use of military force" against those responsible for the attacks -- most continued to operate in a "law enforcement" mode. Democratic critics of the Bush administration have opposed virtually every measure the president has taken to guard against new attacks on American soil, including the USA Patriot Act, the National Security Agency's warrantless electronic surveillance program, data mining, access to international banking data, and the use of traditional military commissions to try and punish captured terrorists. During the 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry made clear his belief that al Qaeda was a law-enforcement problem.

The Democratic message was, and remains, that the peacetime balance of individual rights and community interests is sufficient to meet the threat -- along with additional passive, and uncontroversial, defenses such as hardening cockpit doors and giving more monies to first responders. There have, of course, been notable exceptions to this rule -- such as Sen. Joe Lieberman -- but his steadfast support for both the war on terror in Afghanistan and in Iraq cost him the Democratic nomination for re-election to his seat.

By contrast, President Bush immediately recognized that al Qaeda, and the larger jihadist movement it represents, is not simply a new and especially violent street gang or drug cartel that could be handled by more and better policing. Only the government's full complement of war powers would be sufficient to meet the immediate threat to American lives and interests, and to take the fight to the enemy. He sought and obtained Congress's express authorization for military action, and has not looked back. For his pains, the president has been ruthlessly vilified by his political opponents and maligned as everything from the idiot tool of big-oil interests (and his own vice president), to a devious crypto-autocrat determined to transform the presidency into some kind of late Roman emperorship.

The president's critics, and especially those in Congress now running for re-election, should honestly admit that their differences are, by and large, matters of policy which can and should be debated as such. The question is not whether the president has broken the law, whether domestic or international, but which legal paradigm -- war or law enforcement -- makes the most sense in meeting the threat.

Those who believe that captured al Qaeda operatives should be treated as ordinary criminal defendants (rather than unlawful enemy combatants), entitled to all of rights enjoyed by civilians in the federal and state courts, should stop pretending that this result is compelled by the Geneva Conventions or the U.S. Constitution. Instead, they should acknowledge making a policy choice that advantages jihadists beyond the legally required level, explain why they believe this to be right and just, and how they think it will checkmate al Qaeda.

In particular, they must answer key questions, such as how a law enforcement system designed to punish and deter, rather than prevent, criminal conduct can hope to discover and pre-empt future suicide attacks before they take place -- especially after 50 years during which progressives have demanded, and achieved, increasingly greater protections for criminal defendants.

Since the Democrats are certainly not suggesting our criminal justice system return to the pre-Warren Court's days, the pros and cons of the law-enforcement model need to be laid out explicitly, and with particulars, before the American people.

Similarly, supporters of the law-enforcement model must explain on what legal basis
American forces could attack al Qaeda bases overseas, and any "criminal suspects" who may be present at those sites, if the U.S. is not engaged in a war. It was, of course, that very dilemma that prevented President Clinton from killing Osama bin Laden when he may well have had the opportunity.

Sadly, the Democratic voices in Congress, like Talleyrand's Bourbons, have learned nothing. They continue to attack President Bush's policies at every turn and have never answered these questions. They rightly fear that the American people will not agree that jihadists, who recognize no law but their own religious convictions, should be granted the due-process rights of ordinary citizens accused of criminal conduct, or that our own civilian population must accept greater risk of attack to vindicate a vision of personal privacy and individual autonomy that may be laudable in peacetime, but which no state could preserve during war -- and hope to win.

Messrs. Rivkin and Casey, lawyers in Washington, served in the Department of Justice under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Curmudgeon on the New Age Wordview

The web site has just published my article, "The New Age Worldview: Is it Believable?"

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Nobel Prize Goes to Scientists Who Helped Confirm the Big Bang

[Here is further evidence for Big Bang cosmology, the reigning theory of the origin of the universe. Since the theory requires the absolute origination of the universe out of nothing, it provides strong scientific support for creation ex nihilo (Genesis 1:1). See also the NPR write up. This is where I first heard it.]

Mather, Smoot Win Nobel Prize for Big Bang Research (Update2)
By Daniel Frykholm

Oct. 3, 2006 (Bloomberg)

U.S. scientists John Mather and George Smoot won the Nobel Prize in physics for research into cosmic microwave background radiation that helped explain the origins of galaxies and stars.

Mather, 60, and Smoot, 61, used measurements from a satellite launched by NASA in 1989 for results that support the Big Bang scenario, the Stockholm-based Nobel Foundation said in a statement on its Web site today. ``This year the physics prize is awarded for work that looks back into the infancy of the universe,'' said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the prize.

Mather, who is senior astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and Smoot, a professor of physics at the University of California, will share the award of 10 million kronor ($1.37 million). Mather coordinated the process of measuring the results from the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite, while Smoot was responsible for measuring small differences in the temperature of the radiation.

Under the Big Bang theory, the universe developed from a state of intense heat and the cosmic microwave background radiation is a relic of this earliest phase of the universe's existence. If the theory is correct, the radiation today would have a form called ``blackbody,'' which Mather and Smoot proved from the measurements by the satellite, the academy said.

Only Scenario

Their work increased support for the Big Bang theory as it is the only scenario that predicts the kind of cosmic microwave background radiation measured by the satellite, the academy said. ``The results received a standing ovation'' at an astronomy conference, the academy said.

Smoot's measurements also showed there are extremely small differences in the temperature of the radiation, which show how matter in the universe began to form after the Big Bang. ``This was necessary if the galaxies, stars and ultimately life like us were to be able to develop,'' the academy said. . .

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

From Voice of the Martyrs: For Prayer and Reflection

INDONESIA: Muslim Mob Reduces Church to Ashes

VOM sources

Infuriated by reports that Christians were scheduling revival meetings at the Indonesia Evangelical Mission Church in Aceh province, a militant Islamic mob set the worship center ablaze on September 1st. Local Muslims from the town of Siompi, which was the first in Indonesia to implement Shariah law, reduced the building to ashes in an attempt to wipe out those in their province not bowing down to Allah.. Church members have moved their worship services to a local house, as they refuse to buckle under Muslim attacks. Give thanks to God for these Christians who are remaining faithful to Jesus. Psalm 33:20-22

Monday, October 02, 2006

Charles Colson Nails it Again

BreakPoint Commentaries
Foreign Policy
It's a Mad, Mad World
By Chuck Colson9/29/2006

Deafening Silence

Imagine an American president addressing the United Nations and concluding his remarks by praying that God would hasten Christ’s return and unleash the apocalypse. What do you suppose public opinion would be?
Well, something even scarier actually happened at the UN last week, and the world said . . . nothing.

That’s because the president in question was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. At the end of his September 21 address to the General Assembly, he prayed that Allah would send “the perfect human being promised to all by you.”

That “perfect human being” Ahmadinejad prayed for was the Mahdi, a Shiite messianic figure. What made the prayer so scary was that, in Shiite eschatology, the Mahdi’s return will be preceded by an apocalypse that leaves much of the world dead.

Since Ahmadinejad isn’t some nutcase in a backwoods cabin but, rather, the president of an oil-rich nation actively pursuing nuclear weapons, his prayer should have sent shivers down spines. What we got instead is polite applause and business-as-usual.

The response to a speech by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was even worse: After Chavez called President Bush “the devil” and joked about smelling sulfur left over from Bush’s appearance two days before, delegates broke into applause and laughter.
Now, President Bush doesn’t need me or anyone else to defend him, but the response to Chavez and Ahmadinejad, both inside and outside the UN, was appalling. It’s more evidence that historian Niall Ferguson is right when he says that “it’s a mad world.”

Ferguson, who teaches at Harvard, compared what happened at the UN to a “university faculty meeting.” “Extravagant, long-winded denunciations of the president is what we’ve come to expect from professors,” not politicians.

The madness is a lot more than rhetorical, however: Ferguson cited the coup in Thailand, rioting in Hungary, and the recent assassination of the deputy chairman of the Russian central bank.

Add to this Islam’s violent response to the Pope’s remarks in Regensburg, and the last thing the world needs to do is encourage an apocalyptic Holocaust-denier and a Fidel Castro-wannabe. Yet that’s exactly what happened.

To his credit, President Bush has shown remarkable restraint. That’s good because somebody needs to be the adult. While we all wish that there had never been a September 11 and that history, as some intellectuals in 1990s proclaimed, was over, we didn’t get what we wanted. As the events of the past few weeks show us, we live in an incredibly dangerous world.

This makes what happened at the UN last week and the silence in its aftermath so shocking. We’re in a clash of civilizations being waged by people, Islamo-fascists, who really do want to destroy us, no matter how much we prefer to think otherwise.
What’s more, as the New Republic recently noted, an “alliance of authoritarian regimes” is using oil as a weapon in its efforts to stop the spread of democracy around the world.

Christians, who should understand the religious and cultural dimensions of this threat, need to help our neighbors understand the volatile world we live in—and the dangers facing Western civilization itself.

For Further Reading and Information
Today’s BreakPoint offer: “Clash of Worldviews: Defending the Truth”—Chuck Colson’s speech on Christianity and Islam.
Niall Ferguson, “Insanity on a Global Scale,” Los Angeles Times, 25 September 2006.
John Hughes, “Don’t Reward Ahmadinejad or Chavez for Their UN Tirades,” Christian Science Monitor, 27 September 2006.
Joshua Kurlantzick, “Crude Awakening: The Coming Resource War,” New Republic, 25 September 2006.
BreakPoint Commentary No. 060814, “Preparing for the Mahdi: What’s Really Scary about Iran’s Nuclear Program.”
BreakPoint Commentary No. 060919, “Proving His Point: The Pope’s Speech.”