Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Why didn’t the media cover the new CDC study on HIV transmission?

Here’s the Center for Disease Control press release.

Excerpt:

A data analysis released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention underscores the disproportionate impact of HIV and syphilis among gay and bisexual men in the United States.

The data, presented at CDC’s 2010 National STD Prevention Conference, finds that the rate of new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) is more than 44 times that of other men and more than 40 times that of women.

The range was 522-989 cases of new HIV diagnoses per 100,000 MSM vs. 12 per 100,000 other men and 13 per 100,000 women.

The rate of primary and secondary syphilis among MSM is more than 46 times that of other men and more than 71 times that of women, the analysis says. The range was 91-173 cases per 100,000 MSM vs. 2 per 100,000 other men and 1 per 100,000 women.

While CDC data have shown for several years that gay and bisexual men make up the majority of new HIV and new syphilis infections, CDC has estimated the rates of these diseases for the first time based on new estimates of the size of the U.S. population of MSM. Because disease rates account for differences in the size of populations being compared, rates provide a reliable method for assessing health disparities between populations.

I noticed an analysis by Marcia Segelstein of why these numbers are not communicated more widely here. (H/T RuthBlog)

She writes:

In an effort to look at these figures from a purely scientific and public health perspective, let’s substitute smoking and cancer for homosexual sex and HIV.  If the CDC released information which made a direct correlation between smoking and extremely high rates of getting cancer, people would take notice.  The media would write about it.  Public health organizations would make sure the news was spread.  Campaigns would be launched to save lives by discouraging smoking.  Public funds would be spent to deter people from engaging in such dangerous behavior.  Schools would teach children about the dangers of smoking.

Of course, as we all know, that scenario is real.  Because of the now-known dangers of smoking, a warning from the Surgeon General appears on every pack of cigarettes.  Public service ads saturated the airwaves over a period of years discouraging smoking.  The dangers of smoking are a standard part of most health classes in schools.

I really recommend that everyone who is concerned about this issue read Jeffrey Satinover’s “Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth“, which talks about the health risks of certain behaviors. Dr. Jeffrey Satinover has practiced psychoanalysis and psychiatry for more than nineteen years. He is a former Fellow in Psychiatry and Child Psychiatry at Yale University and a past president of the C. G. Jung Foundations. He holds degrees from MIT, the University of Texas, the Harvard University. If you want to change your mind – and your will – on a topic, you study that topic by looking at the evidence from the experts in the field. Dr. Satinover’s book is compassionate and measured. It is a great place to start learning.

No one is trying to make anyone else feel bad by telling them the truth. On the contrary – by telling people the truth and by setting appropriate boundaries, we can protect others from harm. And that’s why everyone needs to be told the truth. We aren’t helping people by hiding numbers like these from them. Speak the truth in love, and let people decide for themselves.

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Report on Licona-Patterson debate on the resurrection

This after action report was sent in by commenter Aaron as a comment to another post about the debate on the resurrection that was held last night. I apologize for the formatting!


LICONA-PATTERSON DEBATE: A BRIEF REPORT AND ANALYSIS
HELD ON 3/31/2010

A few hours ago my wife and I attended a debate on Jesus’ Resurrection between Mike Licona and Stephen Patterson (a Jesus Seminar scholar) at FSU in Tallahassee, FL. What follows is a brief report and analysis of the debate.

******A BRIEF REPORT

I. Opening

A. Licona presents 5 facts (taken solely from Paul’s undisputed writings) and 4 criteria (method) for concluding that Jesus was physically raised from the dead.

5 Facts
1. Paul was an eyewitness (hostile).
2. Paul knew Jesus’ disciples.
3. Paul taught what the disciples taught.
4. They taught appearances to individuals and groups, to friend and foe alike.
5. They and Paul taught Jesus was physically raised.

4 Criteria
1. Explanatory Scope
2. Explanatory Power
3. Less Ad Hoc
4. Plausibility

The Resurrection hypothesis passes numbers 1, 2, and 3 with flying colors; and it neither passes nor fails number 4 (plausibility).

B. Patterson claims he believes in Jesus’ resurrection, but he does not believe that God raised Jesus physically. For Patterson the bottom line of the debate is whether or not the dead Jesus got resuscitated.

-When Paul uses “according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4), he meant God cares for his people according to Hebrew Scriptures. In Jewish terms, resurrection meant “vindication.”

-Patterson asks, “How did Jesus appear to Paul?” and quotes Gal. 1:16, stating that God reveals His Son “in me” (Greek: en emoi), not “to me.”

-“Flesh and blood cannot enter God’s kingdom” (1 Cor. 15:50) contradicts “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39) of Jesus’ getting back to God’s kingdom. Therefore, it follows that Paul did not believe in physical resurrection of Jesus.

-The ancient may believe a person comes back to life and then goes to heaven, but we—the modern man—no longer believe this because our worldview does not allow it.

II. First Rebuttal

A. Licona reviews his facts/method and points out that Patterson disagrees with his number 5 fact, namely, Paul taught that Jesus was physically raised. Licona says:

-Patterson’s appeal to Jewish meaning of resurrection to be “vindication” is irrelevant. In fact, Patterson himself says—Licona quoting him here—that 1 Cor. 15 should be the basis for knowing the earliest Christian traditions.

-Patterson’s translation of soma psuchikon—as “physical” body—(1 Cor. 15:44) is untenable, because there is zero basis for this. “Natural body” is more like it.

-“Flesh and blood” means “mortality” not “physicality.”

-Patterson’s translation of en emoi –as “in me”–(Gal. 1:16) is not strictly “in me.” Gal. 1:24 says, “And they praised God because of me [en emoi].” 1 Cor. 14:11c says, “he is a foreigner to me [en emoi].” The en emoi cannot always legitimately be translated “in me.”

B. Patterson abandons his en emoi=“to me” argument and resorts to saying that Paul’s relation with Jesus was a matter of “spiritual envelopment.”

Patterson tries to resuscitate his soma psuchikon=“physical body” argument, but he could not get it back to life.

Patterson admits that the whole debate is all about worldview. Making a reference to Licona’s fourth criteria, he finds Jesus’ physical resurrection to be implausible because he believes dead people do not come to life. Jesus’ coming to life cannot be an exception, and neither is it necessary.

III. Second Rebuttal

A. Licona reminds the audience of the two major building blocks for the resurrection: facts and method.

-Licona reiterates his points on “to me” versus “in me” and the issue on the use on some psuchikon (natural body) and soma pnematikon (spiritual body).

-Licona says Patterson’s is a worldview problem—a metaphysical bias, not a historically based argument.

B. Patterson is reduced to asking if Paul believed the way the apostles believed, since early Christian proclamation (found in the gospels) was ambiguous.

IV. Closing
A. Licona answers Patterson’s question

B. Patterson’s main conclusion was that if Licona’s view of Jesus’ physical resurrection makes you a better person (e.g., treating your fellow with love, etc.), then stay with it and ignore Patterson’s view.

V. Q and A Session

Only the first question, addressed to Paterson, will be mentioned here:
“Given that this is a worldview issue to you, what is your philosophical justification—since you have no historical justification—for [sic] believing that a dead person does not become alive?” Patterson answers, “Mine is a biological—not a philosophical—justification.” The questioner follows up, “What is your philosophical justification for your biological justification that people will not become alive in the future?” Patterson answered, “I think it’s a good guess.”

*******A DEBATE ANALYSIS

No doubt, Mike Licona killed Stephen Patterson here—it was embarrassing. This is perhaps Licona’s biggest win. The case for Jesus’ resurrection obtains—big time!

There were moments one could tell that Patterson was greatly rattled, and he seemed to be merely going in circles, as though at a loss as to what he was trying to say. Also, there were a few times that he sounded like he was conceding a number of points that Licona had used to demolish his arguments. Frankly, I felt bad for Patterson because he was such a very nice guy and had exercised lots of grace, despite the fiasco.

Basically, having abandoned all his initial arguments (including criticizing the gospels—straw man attack), Patterson was reduced, literally, to making a baseless assumption that “a dead person does not become alive.”

After the debate I personally spoke to Patterson and asked him, “Since you have no historical justification for believing that a dead person does not come to life, you really cannot say—as a historian—that Jesus’ resurrection is implausible.” He responded something to this effect: “Well, we have to use biology and gravity, and historians draw from these.” I said, “So then, you would be using historical justification, not merely biological justification.” His answer seemed rather incoherent, and then he said, “Well, that [biology] is all we have to work with.”

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