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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sunspots 342

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Humor: (sort of) National Public Radio reports on the growing parenting advice industry -- parenting advice for parents with offspring 20 or more years old, that is.

Science: National Public Radio also reports that cultures that learned to rely on agriculture for most of their food have developed differently shaped jaws than hunter-gathering societies have.

Politics:  (or Humor) I'm getting a lot from NPR this week. Here's an article on which candidate's T-shirts are selling best. (And on other political merchandise.)

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Prayers in the Bible: Paul thanks God for Philemon

Philemon 1:4 I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, hearing of your love, and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all the saints; that the fellowship of your faith may become effective, in the knowledge of every good thing which is in us in Christ Jesus. (World English Bible, public domain)

This is part of a series on prayer. The previous post is here. Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Misconceptions about Evolution

The Biologos Forum has posted two fine articles on "Misconceptions about Evolution," which are here and here.

The articles are well written, well organized, brief, to the point, and accurate. No one who plans to discuss evolution with others should do so without reading them.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sunspots 341

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Humor: (or maybe not) "Sleep texting" is when someone sends text messages while they are in bed asleep. Really.

Science: (or something) Turkey breasts are so large that their size prevents normal copulation, hence most turkeys raised for meat are the result of artificial insemination.

Christianity:  Anne offers a re-writing of 1 Corinthians 13, for our time.
Image source (public domain)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Todd Wood would like to hear an evolutionary creationist say

Todd C. Wood is an articulate young-earth creationist, who, unlike most young-earth creationists, has impeccable scientific credentials, and engages regularly with academic scientists who are not young-earth creationists, or Christians at all.

Wood has recently (no date given) had an essay published by something called The Colossian Forum. In his essay, Wood pleads for a little humility in discussions about origins among Christians. He points out some scientific challenges to young-earth creationism, and admits that he does not have the answers. He also points out that Christian scientists who agree that young-earth creationism is wrong don't agree on much else, including what to call themselves, or the nature of Adam and Eve. It's not just those who don't believe young-earth creationism, Wood writes. Young-earth creationists also have a lot of important issues that they don't agree on.

"I don't know," is the right answer to a lot of questions, and it should be used much more often. Wood uses it.

Thanks, Todd Wood.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Prayers in the Bible: Paul concludes 2 Timothy

2 Timothy 4:18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me for his heavenly Kingdom; to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the house of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus remained at Corinth, but I left Trophimus at Miletus sick. 21 Be diligent to come before winter. Eubulus salutes you, as do Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brothers. 22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen. (World English Bible, public domain)

These are last verses of Paul's second letter to his friend, co-worker, and apprentice, Timothy. They include a personal request, greetings, and news about Trophimus. But they are also flavored with three types of prayer. "to whom be the glory forever and ever," in verse 18 is Adoration, pure and simple. The first part of the same verse is Thanksgiving. In this case, it is praise in advance, for something God hasn't done yet, but is going to do. Amazing!

The last verse is the most common type of prayer in the New Testament. It is a prayer of supplication, or intercession, for a fellow believer, in this case, Timothy.

Thanks for reading. This post is one of a series on prayer. The previous post in the series is here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Creation in the Bible: Seven different stories?

A recent article in the Biologos forum, by Thomas Burnett, argues, with justification, that there are seven creation stories in the Old Testament, and that to get a complete picture of the relationship between God, humans, and creation at large, all seven must be taken into account.

That's thought-provoking, and I hope to explore it in this blog soon.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bertrand Russell's world-view

Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar . . . system, and that the whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the débris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built. (Bertrand Russell, "A Free Man's Worship," in Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays, 1918. Public domain, Project Gutenberg edition.)

In other words, there is no real purpose to the universe and no after-life. A clear declaration of atheism, by an atheist.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Keeping the U. S. schoolchild fat and unfit

Fox News, and a number of other outlets, report that a conference committee of the U. S. Congress removed several excellent suggestions from the U. S. Department of Agriculture, relating to school lunches.

Among other provisions removed were some which would have lowered the amount of french fries and pizza served, made it illegal to count the tomato sauce on a pizza as a vegetable, and lowered the salt content. All these provisions would have made school lunches, and our school kids, healthier.

As Fox News reported: "A group of retired generals advocating for healthier school lunches also criticized the spending bill. The group, called Mission: Readiness has called poor nutrition in school lunches a national security issue because obesity is the leading medical disqualifier for military service." The statement by the retired generals (and other military types) is here.

Oh, dear. And why did the conference committee do this? One reason given by legislators was to stay away from adding regulations to local school districts. One reason not given was pressure from food companies that would have been affected by the changes proposed by the USDA.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sunspots 340

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Science: National Public Radio reports on a new method, perhaps, for harnessing nuclear fusion for power, and a new way of financing such technological research.

National Public Radio also reports on the small number of women who work for important computer firms.

Politics:  The New York Times reviews a book on racial discrimination in the US, which book is not kind to either the left or the right.

The Arts: Norton Juster, author of The Phantom Tollbooth, which turned 50 a few days ago, reflects on the book for NPR.

Image source (public domain)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

E. Stephen Burnett on "safe" stories, and on story pointing us to God.

E. Stephen Burnett is always good reading. In this post at Speculative Faith, he says a couple of things that I would like to say myself, but he says better.

They are these:

Christians shouldn't confine themselves to reading, or watching, only "safe" stories. (This is not to say that we shouldn't be discriminating -- he's not advocating, for example, watching a movie which glorifies senseless violence against women.)

And the second main point is that reading, watching, or listening to good stories, or good art of all kinds, can give us an experience that brings us closer to God. See here for visual representation of Philippians 4:8, which bears on that point.

I've made Burnett's main points, but he makes them better, with discussion and illustration, and he has another point to make, too.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Prayers in the Bible: Paul for the Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians 2:16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good work and word. (World English Bible, public domain)

Another prayer for Christians, which is the most common type of prayer in the New Testament.

This is part of a year-long series on prayers in the Bible. Thanks for reading. The previous post is here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Sunspots 339

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Science: The Hubble space telescope has gotten a picture of material around a black hole, according to Wired. The article also notes that there are objects further away from us, in light-years, than the age of the universe, in years.

Wired also reports that bacteria are far more able to exchange genes with other species than we had thought. These genes may include genes for antibiotic resistance.

Christianity: (Well, not exactly) Two Pakistani Muslims are keeping a formerly Jewish business going, and using kosher methods, says CNN.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Prayers in the Bible: Paul prays for the Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians 3:11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you; 12 and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you, 13 to the end he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

This is one of several prayers by Paul, for the Christians in various parts of the world he knew. We should be praying for other Christians, too.

Thanks for reading. This is one of a series. The previous post in the series is here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Sunspots 338

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:
Science: Karl Zimmer has posted the winners of a science movie festival.

Politics: (or Philosophy) PETA plans to take Sea World to court, on the grounds that dolphins under their care, and displaying as an attraction for customers, are being held in slavery.

Christianity:  Russell Purvis challenges our thinking on how to explain and understand salvation.

Image source (public domain)