Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore testifies to Congress about global warming

Investors Business Daily has a story to go with the 5-minute testimony.

Excerpt:

A Greenpeace co-founder testified in Congress on Tuesday about global warming. What he said is hardly what anyone would expect.

Patrick Moore came off as a raving denier.

“There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years,” said Moore, who was testifying before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight.

“If there were such a proof, it would be written down for all to see. No actual proof, as it is understood in science, exists.”

Moore is somewhat famous for leaving Greenpeace, a large environmentalist organization that grew from a small activist group he belonged to in 1971 while earning his doctorate in ecology. He quit in 1986 because it had become too political and strayed away from the science he believed was its institutional strength.

Moore didn’t hold back in his Senate appearance. He quickly zeroed in on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and strongly scolded it for claiming there is a “95-100% probability” that man “has been the dominant cause of” global warming. Those numbers, he said, have been invented.

He also characterized the IPCC’s reliance on computer models as futile; told senators that history “fundamentally contradicts the certainty that human-caused CO2 emissions are the main cause of global warming”; and noted that “during the Greenhouse Ages,” a period that precedes our fossil-fuel burning civilization, “there was no ice on either pole and all the land was tropical and subtropical from pole to pole.”

Moore further crossed the line of accepted climate change discourse when he insisted “that a warmer temperature than today’s would be far better than a cooler one” and reminded lawmakers “that we are not capable, with our limited knowledge, of predicting which way” temperatures “will go next.”

To with that testimony, here’s an article from Forbes magazine (Feb 2013) about the real scientific consensus on global warming.

Excerpt:

Don’t look now, but maybe a scientific consensus exists concerning global warming after all. Only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, according to a survey reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies. By contrast, a strong majority of the 1,077 respondents believe that nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or that future global warming will not be a very serious problem.

The survey results show geoscientists (also known as earth scientists) and engineers hold similar views as meteorologists. Two recent surveys of meteorologists (summarized here and here) revealed similar skepticism of alarmist global warming claims.

According to the newly published survey of geoscientists and engineers, merely 36 percent of respondents fit the “Comply with Kyoto” model. The scientists in this group “express the strong belief that climate change is happening, that it is not a normal cycle of nature, and humans are the main or central cause.”

I have been listening to Hugh Hewitt’s radio show a lot in the evenings to keep up with Russian troop movements near Ukraine, because I frankly think that the dictator Putin has been eyeing our defense cuts and licking his chops at our diplomatic weakness. When Putin hears our Secretary of State go out there and declare that a major threat to national security is global warming, that doesn’t exactly discourage him from aggression. 

It’s junk science. It conflicts with observations. It’s pushed by scientists to get more grant money. It’s pushed by socialists to get more control. Period.

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Advice for atheists who want to appear to value reason

Tom Gilson writes about how an atheist professor committed the straw man fallacy, and what it means.

Excerpt:

We need to turn to his PSU talk, wherein he speaks (after about 29:00) of “three core reasons for why one believes one’s faith tradition is true…. Reason number one: Miracles. We’re going to examine a few miracles.”

Let me pause and ask you to consider which faith-truth-convincing miracles he might want to examine and debunk. The resurrection? Healings? Visions? No, none of these. Ladies and gentlemen, for the safety of your clothing, lower your drinks. The miracles he chooses to debunk, and thereby to destroy the faith-enhancing credibility of miracles, are:

    1. Transubstantiation: the substantial change of the Eucharist elements into the body and blood of Jesus, according to Catholic doctrine…. and
    2. Tongues, or glossolalia.

So this atheist philosophy professor thinks that Christians argue for God’s existence using transubstantiation and tongues.

Have you ever seen any Christian scholar talk about that in a debate? I haven’t even seen it in blog posts, much less books or papers.

Now if I were going to give arguments for God’s existence, I would offer arguments like these:

  • origin of the universe
  • cosmic fine-tuning
  • origin of life’s building blocks
  • origin of biological information
  • convergence
  • epigenetics
  • molecular machines, like the ribosome
  • limits on mutation-driven change
  • Cambrian explosion
  • galactic habitability
  • stellar habitability
  • the effectiveness/applicability of mathematics to nature
  • consciousness
  • free will
  • rationality
  • objective moral values and duties
  • the minimal facts case for the resurrection

Dear atheists: those are the kinds of arguments that you see in actual debates and read in actual apologetics books. And those are the arguments that need a response. But before responding to those arguments, they have to be understood properly by reading the primary sources where those arguments are laid out in a rigorous way, e.g. – The Design Inference. And when you respond to them, you should cite the original texts, with page numbers, to show that you understand them.

What I really find disturbing about this Boghossian fellow is how the audience reacts:

His performance in both these lectures amounts to a parade of fallacies.

Yet if you watch these two lectures through to the end, you’ll find that the audiences eat it up; or many of the people do, at any rate. They’re being taught by a distinguished looking university professor. They like what they’re hearing. It agrees with their prejudices. And — in the role of an educator, mind you — he’s leading them on with obviously fallacious thinking. There’s something seriously wrong about that tactic.

I’m really not sure why anyone would applaud someone like Boghossian who is clearly more interested in ridicule than debate. What does this say about atheism? I mean – these people are applauding something that could be corrected by reading a short, introductory book like Lee Strobel’s “Case for a Creator”. Yet they don’t appear to be educated enough to even do that. Worse, the atheist professor is actually encouraging them to persist in their ignorance. Either the professor hasn’t read introductory books on apologetics or he just finds pleasure in hearing the sneers and jeers of the mob, as he feeds them lies and propaganda.

Here’s my suspicion about atheism. I don’t think that most rank and file atheists really are interested in truth at all. They are more interested puffing themselves up and in putting other people down. This Boghossian episode is not an isolated case. You can see this in action with the 1-star reviews of books like Darwin’s Doubt. The negative reviewers don’t reference page numbers or cite passages, because the reviewers haven’t actually read the book. And they don’t feel that they need to read it in order to insult it. In their view, proper atheism is about mocking – not about informed reasoning. For them, the less that is known about what the opposition really believes, the better. Should we take this forced ignorance to be a central tenet of the atheist worldview, then? What is a good name for this predilection they have for preferring stand-up comedy to rational thought?

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Reza Aslan’s new book on the historical Jesus gets celebrated by left-wing media

Fox News reports. (H/T Melissa P.M.)

Excerpt

Reza Aslan, author of the new book, “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” has been interviewed on a host of media outlets in the last week. Riding a publicity wave, the book has surged to #2 on Amazon’s list.

Media reports have introduced Aslan as a “religion scholar” but have failed to mention that he is a devout Muslim.

His book is not a historian’s report on Jesus. It is an educated Muslim’s opinion about Jesus — yet the book is being peddled as objective history on national TV and radio.

Aslan is not a trained historian. Like tens of thousands of us he has been formally educated in theology and New Testament Greek.

He is a bright man with every right to hold his own opinion about Jesus—and to proselytize his opinion.

As a sincere man, Aslan’s Muslim beliefs affect his entire life, including his conclusions about Jesus. But this is not being disclosed. “Zealot” is being presented as objective and scholarly history, not as it actually is—an educated Muslim’s opinions about Jesus and the ancient Near East.

“Zealot” is a fast-paced demolition of the core beliefs that Christianity has taught about Jesus for 2,000 years. Its conclusions are long-held Islamic claims—namely, that Jesus was a zealous prophet type who didn’t claim to be God, that Christians have misunderstood him, and that the Christian Gospels are not the actual words or life of Jesus but “myth.”

These claims are not new or unique. They are hundreds of years old among Muslims. Sadly, readers who have listened to interviews on NPR, “The Daily Show,” Huffington Post or MSNBC may pick up the book expecting an unbiased and historic report on Jesus and first century Jewish culture. (I will let my Jewish friends address Aslan’s statement on MSNBC that, “there were certainly a lot of Jewish terrorists in first century Palestine.”)

I took a look at the  author’s CV and I don’t see a single degree in ancient history on it. He is a professor of creative writing, though. Studying “religion” is not the same thing as studying ancient history, by the way.

Here is his faculty page at UC Riverside:

Professor Aslan joins UCR from the Center of Public Diplomacy at University of Southern California. He has Degrees in Religions from Harvard University, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Iowa, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction. He is currently working on his Ph.D. at University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of the New York Times Bestseller, No god but God: The origins, Evolution, and the future of Islam which has been translated into half a dozen languages, short-listed for the Guardian (UK) First Book Award, and nominated for a PEN USA award for research Non-Fiction.

He has a PhD in sociology of religions. SOCIOLOGY. Not history.

A search of publications on Google Scholar turns up no academic articles on the historical Jesus.

Here are his recent non-academic publications from his web site – see if you see any in academic history journals:

The Devastating Consequences of the anti-Morsi Revolution
Vocative, July 2, 2013

Bahrain’s Fake Sectarian War
Foreign Affairs, June 30, 2013

Missing Mahmoud
Foreign Policy, June 12, 2013

The impact of the Arab Spring on the Palestinian Authority’s foreign policy.
Council on Foreign Relations, April 24, 2013

Israel risks its place in America’s affections by its tone-deaf policy
The National, February 4, 2013

Divided by the Same Father
Tony Blair Faith Foundation, November 30, 2012

Rejected by Religions, but Not by Believers
New York Times, October 4, 2012

Political Islam in the Middle East
Council on Foreign Relations, December 7, 2012

Grand Ayatollah or Grand Old Party?
Foreign Policy, February 29, 2012

Fire This Time
Los Angeles Review of Books, September 11, 2011

Ibn Battuta: World Wanderer
Time Magazine, July 21, 2011

Backward Glances: Islamic Erotica, Then and Now
Playboy Magazine, January 2011

Now, I do think it’s possible for someone without formal training to write a book on the historical Jesus. But I would regard such books with skepticism. Especially when he dates the Gospel of Mark to later than 70 A.D. – definitely not a mainstream view. The atheist scholar James Crossley dates Mark to the late 30s to early 40s, for example. But a plausible case can be made (by an actual historian) that the Gospel of Mark is dated sometime in the mid-50s.

The real story here though is media bias. Why is the liberal media so interested in promoting a book about the historical Jesus which questions the orthodox view of Jesus, whereas they were not doing anything to promote Darwin’s Doubt, which questioned the orthodox view of Darwinism? I think there is a double standard here. Meyer did his PhD work on these issues and has the relevant academic publications in science journals. (Here is one that was published in a peer-reviewed journal) And Meyer has actually debated his thesis with his opponents.

My previous post on media bias explains a bit more about what the left-wing media is really like.

UPDATE: Mathetes posted a link to this article on First Things.

Excerpt:

Aslan does have four degrees… a 1995 B.A. in religion from Santa Clara University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa and wrote his senior thesis on “The Messianic Secret in the Gospel of Mark”; a 1999 Master of Theological Studies from Harvard; a 2002 Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from the University of Iowa; and a 2009 Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

None of these degrees is in history, so Aslan’s repeated claims that he has “a Ph.D. in the history of religions” and that he is “a historian” are false.  Nor is “professor of religions” what he does “for a living.” He is an associate professor in the Creative Writing program at the University of California, Riverside, where his terminal MFA in fiction from Iowa is his relevant academic credential. It appears he has taught some courses on Islam in the past, and he may do so now, moonlighting from his creative writing duties at Riverside. Aslan has been a busy popular writer, and he is certainly a tireless self-promoter, but he is nowhere known in the academic world as a scholar of the history of religion. And a scholarly historian of early Christianity? Nope.

What about that Ph.D.? As already noted, it was in sociology. I have his dissertation in front of me. It is a 140-page work titled “Global Jihadism as a Transnational Social Movement: A Theoretical Framework.” If Aslan’s Ph.D. is the basis of a claim to scholarly credentials, he could plausibly claim to be an expert on social movements in twentieth-century Islam. He cannot plausibly claim, as he did to Lauren Green, that he is a “historian,” or is a “professor of religions” “for a living.”

Well that settles it. His PhD has nothing to do with the historical Jesus. He’s unqualified.

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Report: Los Angeles students being trained by schools to promote Obamacare

Investors Business Daily reports on it.

Excerpt:

With great excitement, the Los Angeles Unified School District has designed a nearly $1 million program to train teenagers to promote the glories of ObamaCare to parents, relatives and friends at home.

The state’s health insurance exchange, Covered California, is handing $990,000 to LA schools, along with federal grants totaling 36-million more U.S. taxpayer dollars to districts around the most populous state.

The goal is to train millions of student messengers statewide to sell the idea of government-subsidized health insurance to parents and relatives at home and to get more people enrolled in ObamaCare.

Taxpayer-paid public school staff will also be used to phone students’ homes urging enrollment under Obama’s Affordable Care Act. And they will be used to consume precious class instructional time to teach the students all about the healthcare program that the Democrat Congress did not read before passing in 2010.

[…]A spokeswoman for the LA school district proudly said the student ObamaCare scheme was actually a pilot program to see how well teenagers serve as messengers of government-sponsored information.

The goal, she said, is to determine “whether young people can be trained as messengers to deliver” a broad array of school and government-sponsored messages to family and friends. Now, there’s a student indoctrination idea that sounds like some country other than the United States.

If they prove proficient at influencing their own families to believe material sent home from schools, she said, the teens will be used to deliver numerous other official messages to adults in their home and neighborhoods.

One thing that the Los Angeles schools could do is tell everyone how well the British “public option” health care system works.

Here’s an article from the UK Daily Mail that the schools could use to make the case for Obamacare. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

As many as 1,165 people starved to death in NHS hospitals over the past four years fuelling claims nurses are too busy to feed their patients.

The Department of Health branded the figures ‘unacceptable’ and said the number ofunannounced inspections by the care watchdog will increase.

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics following a Freedom of Information request, for every patient who dies from malnutrition, four more have dehydration mentioned on their death certificate.

Critics say nurses are too busy to feed patients and often food and drink are placed out of reach of vulnerable people.

In 2011, 43 patients starved to death and 291 died in a state of severe malnutrition, while the number of patients discharged from hospitalsuffering from malnutrition doubled to 5,558.

See? It works! Just think of it as post-birth abortion.

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Hollywood selects leftist propaganda movie “Argo” for “Best Picture” Oscar

As USA Today reports, the truth is that the Canadians did almost all of the work of the rescue mission.

Excerpt:

The former Canadian ambassador to Iran who protected Americans at great personal risk during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis says it will reflect poorly on Ben Affleck if he doesn’t say a few words about Canada’s role should the director’s film “Argo” win the Oscar for best picture Sunday.

But Ken Taylor — who said he feels slighted by the movie because it makes Canada look like a meek observer to CIA heroics in the rescue of six U.S. Embassy staff members caught in the crisis — is not expecting it.

“I would hope he would. If he doesn’t then it’s a further reflection,” Taylor told The Associated Press. But the 78-year-old Taylor added that given what’s happened in the last few months, “I’m not necessarily anticipating anything.”

Taylor kept the Americans hidden at his residence and the home of his deputy, John Sheardown, in Tehran and facilitated their escape by arranging plane tickets and persuading the Ottawa government to issue fake passports. He also agreed to go along with the CIA’s film production cover story to get the Americans out of Iran.

Taylor became a hero in Canada and the United States afterward. He felt the role that he and other Canadians played in helping the Americans to freedom was minimized in the film.

“In general it makes it seem like the Canadians were just along for the ride. The Canadians were brave. Period,” Taylor said.

[…][Former U.S. President Jimmy] Carter appeared on CNN on Thursday night and said “90 percent of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian,” but the film “gives almost full credit to the American CIA.”

Carter also called “Argo” a complete distortion of what happened when he accepted an honorary degree from Queen’s University in Canada in November.

“I saw the movie Argo recently and I was taken aback by its distortion of what happened because almost everything that was heroic, or courageous or innovative was done by Canada and not the United States,” Carter said.

Taylor said there would be no movie without the Canadians.

“We took the six in without being asked so it starts there,” Taylor said. “And the fact that we got them out with some help from the CIA then that’s where the story loses itself. I think Jimmy Carter has it about right, it was 90 percent Canada, 10 percent the CIA.”

He said CIA agent Tony Mendez, played by Affleck in the film, was only in Iran for a day and a half.

So, naturally, it gets the Oscar for Best Picture. It’s a fake movie, and that’s what we expect from uneducated artists who play make-believe for a living. The real Best Picture of 2012 was Dinesh D’Souza’s “2016”, but they’ll never pick that, because it told the truth. It was not even included as a nominee for Best Documentary, although it made more money than all the 15 nominees for Best Documentary, combined.

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