The Years of Living Stupidly

Number 14 in a series

Back like 30 years ago Frank Harrold and Ray Eve at the University of Texas at Arlington published research into matters such as religious belief and political affiliation. One point they noted was a strong correlation between religious belief and political conservatism. Conservatives tended to hold belief in biblical inerrancy. That biblical inerrancy defies known science stands out, because there are sincerely religious people who accept scientific findings regarding evolution and the origin of the Earth.

The young Earth creationists, who believe this planet is barely 6000 years old, lost heavily in court cases beginning 40 years ago, and the argument for the scientific validity of creationism shifted to a new breed. These new creationists often concede the age of the Earth and even the common origin of existent species. However, their political affiliation remains strongly linked to conservatism. What is worse, the new creationists appear to be picking up the rhetoric of the worst of today’s conservative block. They are beginning to adopt the language of Donald Trump. Specifically, they now find it useful to employ the term “fake news” when confronted with evidence adverse to their views. A recent item from the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News site illustrates:

Drive Darwinists Nuts with This One Solution to Fake News

John G. West November 19, 2019, 4:15 AM

If you listen to the media, you’d think that science has refuted God, the debate over Darwin is closed, the solution to the origin of life is right around the corner, and humans are no more significant than cockroaches.

If you are as sick of this kind of fake news as I am, I have good news. There is a solution, and you can be a part of it.

The solution is this site — Evolution News & Science Today.

You need to read through this posting by John West. John G. West “is a Senior Fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute (DI), and Associate Director and Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs of its Center for Science and Culture (CSC), which serves as the main hub of the Intelligent design movement.”

It’s hard to miss that the modern creationists have latched onto the alt-right play book. From scant months ago the language has shifted noticeably. In this post West employs the combative style of the current President. He writes:

For example, when the journal Science went after Michael Behe’s blockbuster book Darwin Devolves this year with a sham review, Mike and our other scientists were able to use Evolution News to utterly demolish the journal’s bogus claims.

The gloves are clearly off. All pretense of sincere debate has evaporated. Science and those who espouse it are now the enemy, deplorable to the core.

The reference to the Science review is page 590 of the 7 February 2019 issue:

The end of evolution?

A biochemist’s crusade to overturn evolution misrepresents theory and ignores evidence

By Nathan H. Lents, S. Joshua Swamidass, Richard E. Lenski

West takes a strict adversarial approach, relying upon others for the language of science. He holds a Ph.D. in government and a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and in his most recent post he alludes to the demolition of the Science critique. A search of items posted to Evolution News showes something posted by West four days after the Science critique appeared:

Darwinists Devolve: Review by Swamidass, Lenski, and Lents Borders on Fraud

John G. West February 11, 2019, 11:04 AMJoshua Swamidass, Richard Lenski, and Nathan Lents have published a review in the journal Science critiquing biochemist Michael Behe’s forthcoming book Darwin Devolves. I found their review utterly convincing — although probably not in the way they might hope.

Some background: When I became involved in the intelligent design (ID) movement more than two decades ago, a key reason was because I was intrigued by the scientists who thought they were finding discernible evidence throughout nature of intelligent design. I didn’t know whether these scientists were correct. But I definitely wanted them to have the freedom to articulate their views in the public square without retribution. And I wanted to see how the debate played out.

Attaching the label “fraud” to the Science review requires some heavy lifting. Read West’s entire posting. A pertinent section appears to be this:

The authors first claim that Behe “fails to mention Kenneth Miller’s simple, elegant scheme” for the “stepwise evolution” of the blood-clotting cascade, clearly leaving the impression that Behe hasn’t responded to Miller anywhere, not just in his new book.

The authors not only claim that Behe fails to mention Miller’s scheme, they flat out assert that Behe fails to mention it. Here is the pertinent text from Science:

Behe also ignores the fact that some of his prior arguments have been dismantled (2). He includes a lengthy appendix that argues that the blood-clotting cascade is irreducibly complex, for example, but fails to mention

Kenneth Miller’s simple, elegant scheme for its stepwise evolution (3) or the fact that a progenitor fibrinogen gene has been discovered in echinoderms (4).

Apparently it is up to the reader to jump to the conclusion the authors intended to leave the impression Behe has never responded. For the record, a search of Darwin Devolves finds “Miller” mentioned three times. One time is this:

The paper made a splash. The news blog of the very prestigious journal Science reported the results and asked a few big names for comment. The eminent Michael Lynch (discussed in Chapter 4) remarked that “complexity builds out of simplicity, and [the work of Liu and Ochman] is a well-documented argument for how that can happen.” Brown University cell biologist Kenneth Miller chimed in, “The researchers clearly show these genes were derived from one another through gene duplication.”9

Behe, Michael J.. Darwin Devolves (p. 291). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.

The other two times are in end notes and references. As with ambition, fraud should be made of sterner stuff. The man doth protest too much, methinks.

From first appearances, John West is making arguments against Behe’s critics which amount to so much propaganda. It is the wave of the new conservatism. It is the promise of the coming years of living stupidly.

Thoughts and Prayers

A Continuing Discussion of Gun violence in this Country

I post a regular series about the value of handguns for personal safety, and I get some push back. The above was posted to my Facebook feed.

If the intent is to demonstrate no increase in deaths due to mass shootings, then it accomplishes its purpose. Another purpose it accomplishes is that it shows statistics only since the ban on assault rifles expired in 2004. Before proceeding it will be worth the time for some analysis.

Note the character of the statistics. The graph depicts number of fatalities and provides no information about the number of mass shootings. There are various definitions for the term “mass shooting,” but a popular one is an incident occurring at one location over a short period of time with four or more people killed, not including the shooter. Other restrictions apply, but this will do.

Another thing not shown is the type of weapon used. These are shootings since the assault weapon ban expired, but some mass shootings do not involve handguns. So the graph is missing some interesting stuff, but I will let it go at that.

Now we turn to whether changes in gun ownership and permissiveness regarding use, e.g., open carry. The gun environment has changed dramatically in this country over the decades, and what is interesting to study is the long history of mass shootings. Somebody has compiled a record. See the following.

What does it show? I think it shows an increase of the rate of mass shootings since the 19th century. Of course, the population has increased during this time. The census from 1890 showed about 63 million. The population last year is estimated at 327 million. That’s over five times the 1890 population, so we should expect a proportional increase in mass shootings, all other factors being equal. It’s worth citing details for each of those listed in the chart.

1891—Parson Hall Shooting

Nobody killed. Fourteen wounded with a shotgun.

1891—St. Mary’s School Shooting

Shotgun again. Several injured.

1903—Camon Band Massacre

Shotgun again. Six killed.

1913—Thomas Jones-Houston Massacre

 

1936—Lehigh University Shooting

1940—Pasadena Public School Shooting

1948—Chester, PA, Shooting

1956—Parsnippany-Troy Hills Shooting

1960—William Reed Elementary School Shooting

1966—University of Texas Shooting

1984—McDonald’s San Ysidro Shooting

1986—Post Office Shooting Edmond, OK

1989—Elementary School Shooting Stockton, CA

1990—General Motors Shooting Jacksonville, FL

1991—Luby’s Shooting Killeen, TX

1998—Jonesboro Middle School Shooting

1999—Columbine High School Shooting

2003—Record High School Shooting

2007—Virginia Tech Shooting

2009—Geneva County Massacre

2009—Pine Lake Nursing Home Shooting

2009—Binghamton Shootings, NY

2009—Fort Hood Shooting

2012—Dark Night Theater Shooting

2012—Sandy Hook Shooting

2013—Navy Yard Shooting

2015—Emanuel Church Shooting

2015—Navy Reserve Center Shooting

2015—Umpqua Community College Shooting

2015—San Bernardino Shootings

2016—Pulse Nightclub Shooting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

parson hall school shooting

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a Continuing Series

This I recall from Readers Digest, decades ago.

Yoeman Brown, was gathering the admiral’s papers after his retirement. Brown was sure he had everything from the admiral’s office, but then he checked a small drawer in the desk. He opened the drawer and found a sheet of paper. On the paper was a short sentence.

Port is on the left, starboard is on the right.

Quid Pro Quo

Closing it Down, Number 3 in a Series

This has come to be like drinking from a fire hose. The enlightenment from Trump supporters makes for impressive reading. Here are two:

Donald Trump Jr. <contact@victory.donaldtrump.com>

To: jf_blanton@yahoo.comNov 29 at 10:38 AM

John,

Democrats are trying to destroy this country.

Instead of working with President Trump to kill terrorists, Build the Wall, and create new American jobs, liberals are STILL trying to overturn the 2016 election and silence the voices of TENS OF MILLIONS of Americans.

Corrupt Democrats like Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi would rather see America FAIL than succeed under President Trump’s leadership. These Impeachment Hearings have exposed Democrats for the liars and FRAUDS that they are.

No matter how many LIES Democrats and their good friends in the FAKE NEWS throw at him, my father will NEVER stop fighting for YOU.

And presumed son proceeds to ask for money. This next.

Steve Scalise <info@nrccred.org>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.com

Nov 29 at 8:37 AM

Fellow Conservative,

I am reaching out to remind you that our fight to win in 2020 will not be easy.

Democrats have proven time and time again that they will do just about anything to get their way. . . Impeachment Plots. Witch Hunts. Blatant Lies.

They will use every dirty trick in the book and spend whatever amount it takes to win.

So, a double whammy. Of course there are more of these. I will hold them for later. gratuitous joy must be a sin in a book somewhere. Examination is in order.

How about those plots, witch hunts, blatant lies, dirty tricks, impeachment plots? And especially how about those corrupt politicians, such as Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi?

First of all, Congressman Scalise, I regret profoundly you got shot, and I hope the person who did this spends the rest of his sorry life in jail. I will further state those corrupt Democrats ought to be ashamed of themselves. What are they thinking? Let’s take time to examine some of their misdeeds.

Oops! Shot at the sleazy Democrats and missed. Yeah, let’s allow those Democrats cool for a while. In the meantime, Don Jr. needs to concentrate on staying out of jail.

Houston, we have a problem.

Number 15 of a series

I must apologize profusely for my obsession with Texas Senator John Cornyn. The fact is he will run for re-election next year, and he is beginning to feel the heat for his continued defense of President Trump. Does that explain the volume of email I receive from the Cornyn campaign? You decide. Here is something recent.

John Cornyn <info@johncornyn.com>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.com26 at 5:03 PM

John,

Open borders, early release of violent criminals and rampant drug problems. That’s what Nancy Pelosi and her liberal cronies want for the Lone Star state.

But this is Texas, not San Francisco. You earn your living.

In Texas, we want working folks to keep their hard-earned money, not have it taxed away to give free healthcare to illegal immigrants.

I can’t fight Pelosi’s cronies alone.  That’s why I’m asking you for your help.

Got my name right again. That’s a good start.

:Open borders, early release of violent criminals and rampant drug problems.” Senator, look around. These appear to be the same problems facing your home state. And this is Texas, and, yes, this is not San Francisco. I’ve been to San Francisco, and this is definitely San Antonio. And your point being? We are left to guess.

Actually, I am retired, so I am not one of those hard-working Texans, but I appreciate all those hard-working Texans, one of which I was previously one. And, no. I do not oppose providing health care for aliens, legal or otherwise. People need to be kept alive, and they need health care, because they are people and not animals. And health care is not free, and we all pay for it. Apparently you have a problem with this reality, or else you think I should. How about you do some growing up.

Senator Cornyn pleads he cannot fight Pepsi’s cronies alone. Really? Then, Senator, you are so screwed, because I plan to write a significant check to the campaign of whoever runs against you next year. Your continued wrong-headed positions on matters you describe and your continued support for the criminality of the Trump administration make you a liability for the state of Texas. We hope to see the last of you in the United States Senate in the near future.

Your Friend The Handgun

Number 192, no surprise

It’s so nice to have a gun around the house. That’s because you need a gun to defend your home. For examle:

Two juveniles killed outside Union City elementary school

PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 

UNION CITY — Two juveniles were fatally shot while sitting in a van outside a Union City elementary school early Saturday morning, authorities said.

Callers to 911 reported hearing gunfire in the area of Sherman Drive and Colgate Drive at 1:26 a.m. When officers arrived, authorities said, they found two boys, ages 11 and 14, shot in the parking lot of Searles Elementary School. The older boy died at the scene, and the younger child died en route to a trauma center.

Union City police have not released the names of the children.

I don’t know about you folks, but I’m feeling safer already. Don’t leave home without it.

Houston, we have a problem.

Number 14 of a series

If there is anything that would make me believe in God, it’s letters like the ones I receive from supporters of Donald Trump. There can be no other explanation other than a God in Heaven created people like Senator John Cornyn to almost daily entertain me. For example:

John Cornyn <info@johncornyn.com>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.comNov 27 at 10:51 AM

John,

As I write this email to you, I’m looking at the calendar and noticing something big…

Once we get through the next few days, we will have just one major fundraising deadline remaining in 2019.

That makes November’s End of Month goal so important, John… We will only have one more shot at making sure we’re ready for 2020.  If we fall short in this second-to-last month, there’s no way we’ll be able to catch up in December.

And John, who knows what the next few months could bring…

  • Our president could very well be impeached by Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi

  • Beto O’Rourke could file paperwork to run against me for Senate (this could happen any day now, according to my team’s analysis)

  • And God knows what else!

First notice he got my name right again. That builds trust. It goes down hill from there.

He wants me to contribute money. That’s not going to happen. Next he warns Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi could impeach President Trump. Really? You think? Isn’t what they are paid to do? Isn’t that why there was such a big loss for Republicans in the elections last year? It was all those Democrats elected to the House last year that made it possible for the opening of the impeachment investigation into President Trump’s crimes. You perhaps thought the American voters were prepared to let him get away with this stuff? Where have you been?

Beto O’Rourke could file to run against your sorry self? Yes, he well could, and, yes, I will write him a big campaign check if he does. Senator, I have watched news of your actions in office for the past few years, and there are a number of things you did that were expected as an honorable member of the United States government. However, your continued support for this sorry sack now residing in the White House is beyond redemption. At this point there is nothing you can do that will get me to ease off and to not work tirelessly to see you out of office. Rest easy tonight.

God knows what else? You are kidding me, right?

And thanks for the email. I was getting bored stiff sitting around waiting for something to come and brighten my day.

Abusing Science

Number 46 of a series

Abuse of science is not limited to the unwashed, and political abuse is not a modern invention. In 1897 a proposed Indiana bill would have set the value for π (pi) to three (3). Presumably that would make engineering computations easier in those days without hand-held calculators. It would likely, if put to use, have also resulted in a number of engineering disasters. But we don’t do that crazy shit anymore.

Wrong, Daddy-o:

The Ohio state House of Representatives has passed the Student Religious Liberties Act, which prevents teachers from penalizing students for giving incorrect answers on tests or other schoolwork if those facts would conflict with their religious beliefs.

The relevant section reads “No school district board of education (…) shall prohibit a student from engaging in religious expression in the completion of homework, artwork, or other written or oral assignments. Assignment grades and scores shall be calculated using ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance, including any legitimate pedagogical concerns, and shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work.”

Ordinarily I would have confronted such inanity head-on and screamed my objections from the roof-tops. But then I had a second thought. This would have come in handy 55 years ago when I was taking a course in differential equations. Disregard that I aced DE, this stuff absolutely ruined my life for several miserable weeks. What if…

What if the Texas legislature, just down the street, had been aware of my misery and decided to come to my aid? I still recall Professor Walston reminding us: “Sometimes a differential equation is solved by staring at it until a solution comes to mind.” Yeah, I would liked to have been able to say, “Professor, you can take this differential equation and put it where the sun don’t shine, because my personal god, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, says the answer is always y = 5x + 3.”

You can see there are times a friendly bit of legislation can be a life saver. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

The Years of Living Stupidly

Number 13 in a series

Oh, Jesus. First creationist Ben Stein.

Now top officials in American government. The stupidcy is getting so thick you can walk on it.

And it’s not just former Texas governor Rick Perry.

Nikki Haley: God Placed Trump in Power for ‘Lessons’ and ‘Change

David Brody@DavidBrodyCBN

JUST RELEASED: @NikkiHaley on whether God put @realDonaldTrump in place as president for such a time as this? She Says, “everything happens for a reason… I think God sometimes places people for lessons and sometimes places people for change.” Her @700club story Tuesday! @POTUS

Monday in a preview clip, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley commented on God and President Donald Trump during an interview with the “700 Club.”

Reporter David Brody asked, “What is you view kind of spiritually on the sovereignty of God and what he is doing exactly by putting Donald Trump as president of the United States?”

Haley replied, “Well, I think it goes to show that everything happens for a reason. And the way I see it is, look at the results of Donald Trump as president. Look at we have more friends and family with jobs than we have ever had before. We have the economy moving in a direction it hasn’t been in a long time but is doing great. We are acknowledging real truths with the president that had the courage to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And there has been a lot of courage that has come from this president to change what was the status quo and to do it in a way the American people wanted to see it. They did want a disruptor-in-chief. They did want someone who was going to go against the grain and get us out of our comfort zone.”

I’m not pondering whether these two parked their intellect at the door when they accepted positions in the Trump administration. I’m asking whether they ever had such a thing. The years of living stupidly accumulate growth rings.

Quiz Question

Number 232 of a series

A machine produces parts that are either good (90%), slightly defective (2%), or obviously defective (8%). Produced parts get passed through an automatic inspection machine, which is able to detect any part that is obviously defective and discard it. What is the quality of the parts that make it through the inspection machine and get shipped?

In other words, what is the fraction of good parts in a shipment?

Post your answer in the comments section below.

Quid Pro Quo

Closing it Down, Number 2 in a Series

“These are times that try men’s souls.” No, they are not. These are times when the joy approaches a level of shamelessness. Never was schadenfreude rendered so starkly. These are the moments I have lived 79 years for. Yesterday I received this.

Official Trump Polling <contact@victory.donaldtrump.com>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.com

Nov 23 at 10:58 AM

John,

The Impeachment Witch Hunt is now OVER.

There was NO QUID PRO QUO.

There was NO BRIBERY.

President Trump did NOTHING WRONG.

It’s so obvious that these baseless hearings were a botched attempt by the Democrats to take down the Republican Party and your President. They wasted your time and your hard-earned taxpayer dollars on a 3-year Witch Hunt only to FAIL. How pathetic.

President Trump knows the Do Nothing Democrats and Fake News media won’t ever tell the facts about him and his Administration, and that’s why he wants to know what a few respected Republican leaders, like YOU, think.

They may have gotten my name right, but I will reserve judgement until I investigate further. Not much else can lay claim to truth. However, watching a corrupt enterprise squirm in this manner is a pleasure beyond compare.

And may Jesus have mercy on my soul.

Breathtaking Inanity

Number 28 of a continuing series

That’s Congressman Devin Nunes, representing California District 22. He is on the House Intelligence Committee, and he is seen here in clips from The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. He is commenting on the scheme by the Ukrainian government to work against Donald Trump’s campaign for president in 2016 and to support campaign rival Hillary Clinton. We see him making such remarks multiple times.

The problem is this is the definition of breathtaking inanity. The notions Congressman Nunes continued to push during the committee session are completely at odds with known facts.

Yeah, Ukraine was not the country working to tip the scales in 2016. It was mother Russia, which fact Mr. Nunes and multiple Republican officials in the government choose to ignore. Was ever our breath so taken away.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a Continuing Series

I get complaints. Not really, but suppose I got complaints. Some of the jokes are actually funny. I can fix that. I asked Google to point me toward some stupid boss jokes. Even that didn’t go well. Here is one of the hits, without attribution.

Casey M
What’s a pirates favorite letter?
(insert: you saying “R”)
You’d think it’d be the “R” but it’s the “C.”

Jasmine E
A bear walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’ll have a………… pint of beer please.”
The bartender asks, “Why the big pause?”
The bear replies, “Well, I’ve always had em!”

Kat J
Why did the can crusher quit his job?
Because it was soda pressing.

See what I mean?

Nobel Nobel

Eye on the Prize, Number 10

A reminder, the President of the United States is a deal maker:

North Korea snubs Trump, saying he hasn’t earned a new summit to ‘brag about’

November 18, 2019 at 4:25 p.m. CST

President Trump’s transactional approach to foreign policy assumes that everything has a price. The problem for him in his nuclear gamble with North Korea is that Kim Jong Un may not be buying.

In a blunt put-down Monday, North Korea rejected what a senior adviser to Kim called another “fruitless” one-on-one with Trump. It was the latest reminder that Trump’s open-door policy for bargaining with authoritarians means those leaders can slam the door in his face.

“We are no longer interested in such talks that bring nothing to us,” said Kim Kye Gwan, a veteran diplomat and Foreign Ministry adviser. “As we have got nothing in return, we will no longer gift the U.S. president with something he can brag about.”

Now aren’t you glad you didn’t vote for that Hillary woman?

Quid Pro Quo

The Drama Comes to a Close

A certain phrase has been kicking around for several weeks, and it now seems the entire country has learned to speak Latin. The phrase is quid pro quo, meaning “this for this” or “this for that.” Something offered for something received. If you are purchasing a corn dog it means money for a corn dog. It another situation it has legal implications, meaning bribery. That is what the President of the United States stands accused of. There is much denial by President Trump and his Republican Party supporters. I see denial, too, from people posting comments on social media. No, it did not happen. No, this is normal and does not amount to bribery, much less impeachment.

There is another Latin phrase: res ipsa loquitur. It means literally “the thing, itself, speaks.” We often interpret it as “the thing speaks for itself.” It pertains to a circumstance that is so obvious it does not need to be argued. As a historical record, its current usage in law stems from an 1863 tort case in England.

All that aside, this week quid pro quo morphed into res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself. It is over.

Your Friend The Handgun

Number 191, no surprise

It’s the American dream. Few if any countries have it. The freedom to gather and to exchange pleasantries and meet new people. And the guaranteed means to settle disputes with prejudice:

Airbnb bans ‘party houses’ after California shooting kills 5

Five people died after a Thursday night shooting that sent some 100 terrified partygoers running for their lives in the San Francisco suburb of Orinda.

The four-bedroom home had been rented on Airbnb by a woman who told the owner her dozen family members had asthma and needed to escape smoke from a wildfire, the person with knowledge of the transaction told The Associated Press. A fire burning in Sonoma County about 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of Orinda earlier in the week fouled the air over a wide area.

The owner was suspicious of a one-night rental on Halloween and before agreeing reminded the renter that no parties were allowed, said the person with knowledge of the transaction, who was not authorized to publicly disclose the information and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The owner, Michael Wang, said his wife reached out to the renter Thursday night after neighbors contacted them about the party. The renter said there were only a dozen people at the home but Wang said he could see more people on video from his doorbell camera.

“We called the police. They were on the way to go there to stop them, but before we got there the neighbor already sent us a message saying there was a shooting,” he told the Chronicle.

I’m guessing there is an unspoken factor on display here. An unauthorized party? That’s no good. Police did not arrive in time to prevent five people from getting killed? Most unfortunate. I’m thinking this is not what the framers had in mind when they drafted “T]he right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” I’m sure the lawmakers from 1791 did not have in mind handing over to every jakeleg who could plunk down a week’s wages the ability to engineer such a lopsided encounter. Is it possible we can have an interpretation that goes like “You are going to need a serious kind of license, issued by an unsympathetic authority, before you are allowed to lay hands on a weapon that can mow down a slew of people within a matter of seconds?”

For the record: AirBNB now bans party houses and has agreed to fund funeral expenses for those killed. The National Rifle Association has not responded to the request for a similar token pledge, nor has such a pledge been requested.

Abusing Science

Number 45 of a series

Abuse of science is also manifests in arguments for religion as a way of knowing. An instance of this is an item from the Magis Center:

Physics, Philosophy, and Free Will

by  | Aug 2, 2019

“But today it is very hard for a scientific man to say where the supernatural ends and the natural begins, or what name should be given to either.”  -G. K. Chesterton, “The New Jerusalem”

Well, no. G.K. Chesterton notwithstanding, it is in no way difficult. For those not acquainted, Chesterton was an excellent writer, penning the Father Brown series and also The Man Who Knew Too Much, which title was the inspiration for [the title of] two Alfred Hitchcock films. Chesterton was wrong, and Maggie Ciskanik is wrong. She further writes:

We are standing at the edge of physics, the cliffside dwelling of quantum mechanics. From this height it appears that science gives us a limitless view and understanding of the natural world. For many, the amazing achievements of science mean there is no mystery, no “supernatural” realm, nothing beyond what we can see and measure.

There is no God. There is no one but us.

Regardless of what Ciskanik says, science does not purport to give us limitless views. Some more from Ciskanik:

But this limitless quality of science is also the source of its limitedness.

Current scientific theories reflect only what we know about matter in the universe at this time. Really, there are no “final” or complete physical theories. This opinion was expressed recently by Templeton prize winning physicist Marcelo Gleiser, but it was obvious after the astounding revelations of the 20th century concerning time and space.

If you are not familiar with the Templeton Foundation, you might want to read up on its founder, John Templeton. The foundation awards grants to credible scientists who work to reconcile science and religion. For example:

Some organizations funded by the Foundation in the 1990s gave book-writing grants to Guillermo Gonzalez and to William Dembski, proponents of intelligent design who later joined the Discovery Institute. The Foundation also gave money directly to the Discovery Institute which in turn passed it through to Baylor University, which used the funds to support Dembski’s salary at its short-lived Michael Polanyi Center. The Foundation funded projects by Bruce L. Gordon, associate director of the center, after the center was dissolved. Some media outlets described the Foundation as a supporter of intelligent design during the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District litigation in the mid-2000s, a charge which the Foundation denied. The Foundation “explicitly warns intelligent-design researchers not to bother submitting proposals: they will not be considered.”

There is a quote from Martin Heisenberg. Martin is the son of Werner Heisenberg, who first made us aware that physics operates absent determinism at the base level.

“Although we do not credit animals with anything like the consciousness in humans, researchers have found that animal behaviour is not as involuntary as it may appear. The idea that animals act only in response to external stimuli has long been abandoned, and it is well established that they initiate behaviour on the basis of their internal states, as we do.” –Martin Heisenberg (Nature, vol. 459, 2009, p.164)

She makes a number of valid observations on the value of philosophy but begins to wrap up with this odd reference.

We might do well to keep in mind William Henry Bragg’s observation“From religion comes a man’s purpose; from science, his power to achieve it.”

No, again. We do not get purpose from religion. Religion is an outgrowth of aspects of human purpose. To obtain purpose from religion the religion much have existed prior to the purpose. Observation and rigorous analysis indicates the purpose is there, and people contrive a religious basis to justify the purpose.

Getting back to the initial point of this discussion, there is a clear demarcation between the natural (the domain of science) and the supernatural. If something can be studied by science, then it is no longer among the supernatural. From all appearances and experience, the supernatural exists only in the thinking of people—a human invention.

The Magis Center piece provides some background on the writer, giving a hint at her underlying thinking:

Armed with a B.A. in Philosophy and a minor in science, Ciskanik landed in a graduate nursing program. With the support of her enthusiastic husband, an interesting career unfolded while the family grew: a seven year stint mostly as a neurology nurse, 15 years as a homeschooling mom of six, and a six year sojourn as curriculum developer and HS science teacher (which included teaching students with cognitive differences). These experiences added fuel to her lifelong interest in all things related to God’s creation and the flourishing of the human spirit—which has found a new home on the Magis.

[Emphasis added]

Houston, we have a problem.

Number 13 of a series

In case you are wondering, the “Houston” reference is inspired by having a Texas senator, Ted Cruz, residing in Houston. Senator John Cornyn is actually from Houston, so the reference is well-suited. Now this:

Senator John Cornyn <info@johncornyn.com>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.comNov 18 at 11:14 AM

I don’t know if you’ve heard yet, but I needed to bring you up to speed on this, John.

This past week, during the awful impeachment hearings of President Donald Trump, a new Republican star emerged – Rep. Elise Stefanik.

She acted as a staunch defender of the truth – stopping at nothing to expose the lunacy at the center of the Democrats’ case against our president…

But you know what happens to those you and I hail as heroes for truth, John… the left makes them public enemy number one.

It couldn’t be more true. Since Rep. Stefanik stepped up in defense of President Trump, liberal elites from coast to coast have turned all attention to her small district in New York, pouring in MILLIONS to fund her radical opponent’s campaign.

From Hollywood liberals to socialist-supporting mega-donors, the left is ALL-IN trying to destroy her… all because she had the audacity to stick up for a president we all know did nothing wrong!

Now, John, as freedom-loving conservatives, we must stand strong with Rep. Stefanik!

I regret to report, Senator, your gear seems to have slipped a cog. Elise Stefanik? We need to be sure we are talking about the same person. You said this: “She acted as a staunch defender of the truth – stopping at nothing to expose the lunacy at the center of the Democrats’ case against our president… ” Really! Which Elise Stefanik testimony did you watch, Senator? Likely not the segment I saw. A bit I did see has Stefanik using her five minutes to cite promises made by Democrats (especially committee chairman Adam Schiff) to have the infamous whistleblower come forward. Obviously no such appearance has been manifest, but a salient question is, “Significance?” The government employee who blew the whistle on malfeasance is not specifically a witness to any crime. The person in question merely reported suspicious activity reported to him by others. As it turns out, the concerns were justified, as evidenced by the testimony of multiple witnesses to date. So, Senator Cornyn, Congresswoman Stefanik, where’s the rub?

Perhaps the senator refers to additional statements by Stefanik. Following her reading of multiple quotes, she launches into a string of accusations. Apparently Chairman Schiff refused to allow here comments to be read into the record by unanimous consent. The pertinent text from the hearing transcript is posted on Snopes:

Nunes: I know Ms. Stefanik you had a few quick questions for the ambassador. I yield to you Ms. Stefanik.

Stefanik: Thank you, Mr. Nunes. Ambassador Yovanovitch …

Schiff: The gentlewoman will suspend. The gentlewoman will suspend.

Stefanik: What is the interruption for this time? It is our time.

Schiff: The gentlewoman will suspend, you’re not recognized. Mr. Nunes …

Nunes: I just recognized Ms. Stefanik.

Schiff: Under the House Res. 660 you are not allowed to yield time except to minority counsel.

Stefanik: The ranking member yielded time to another member of Congress.

Schiff: Nope, nope. That is not accurate.

Nunes: You’re gagging the gentlewoman from New York?

Stefanik: Ambassador Yovanovitch, I want to thank you for being here today …

Schiff: The gentlewoman will suspend, you’re not recognized.

Stefanik: This is the fifth time that you have interrupted elected members of Congress, duly-elected members of Congress …

Schiff: The gentlewoman will suspend.

Nunes: Mr. Chair, we control the time and customary to this committee, whoever controls the time can yield to whoever they wish. If we have members of Congress that have a few questions, it seems appropriate that we would be able to let Ms. Stefanik ask her questions.

Schiff: Mr. Nunes, you or minority counsel are recognized.

Senator Cornyn, is this the heart of your complaint? If so, then you have retreated to fabricating bases. Unfortunately, in the email sent out by your office, there is insufficient elaboration to determine how much is being fabricated here.

The senator may be close to the truth in the following: “From Hollywood liberals to socialist-supporting mega-donors, the left is ALL-IN trying to destroy her… all because she had the audacity to stick up for a president we all know did nothing wrong!” Well, not all that close. Liberals do see Stefanik as a lightning rod who attracts enough attention and makes herself a target, drawing in campaign contributions to defeat Republican candidates. One of those candidates would be Congresswoman Stefanik, herself.

Woefully, the senator is seriously clueless if he considers President Trump “we all know did nothing wrong.” The truth, if you desire to seek it, is coming to light at every fresh bit of testimony by people who observed the situation on the ground. Lest the senator think I am having a flight of fancy, he only needs to remind himself of all the ways President Trump has stymied attempts to compel witnesses to come forward. It daily becomes apparent who is doing this hiding of the truth.

And, yes, we definitely have a problem.