Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Lee Strobel interviews Brian Auten (Apologetics 315) on the state of apologetics

Brian Auten of Apologetics 315

Brian Auten of Apologetics 315

From Bible Gateway, an interview by Lee Strobel featuring Brian Auten, webmaster of Apologetics 315.

Intro:

As creator of the best website for resources to defend Christianity, Brian Auten offers a unique perspective on the current apologetics scene—the good, the bad, and the hopeful.

Apologetics 315 features a terrific compilation of material for Christians to equip themselves to better define and defend the faith. It’s full of links to resources dealing with every imaginable area of apologetics. As a regular reader of the site, I became curious what its creator, Brian Auten, thinks about the current state of apologetics around the world—and he was willing to share his insights by answering a few questions.

Excerpt:

• What trends do you see in apologetics?

Consider books like The DaVinci Code, writings by agnostic professor Bart Ehrman, or the various publications of the so-called New Atheists. All these attacks on Christianity have generated a lot of buzz. However, each of these attacks has been met with a strong counter-response from scholars, theologians, and apologists. Christianity hasn’t been defeated. Instead, it has weathered storm after storm. In the meantime, the resources available that answer these challenges have increased dramatically. Over and over again, what has been intended to bring Christianity down has only served to strengthen it.

But the tendency is this: too many times Christians are only responding to the challenges. That seems to be the trend. Why are we not running to the battle? Instead of just reacting to the next challenge, I long for the day when more and more Christians would equip themselves with this vast armory of resources and use it to take the battle to the enemy’s camp, so to speak. Apologetic-savvy educators, scientists, public officials, businessmen, actors, novelists, movie-makers—all people with a heart of evangelism who are able to defend and contend for the faith in the public square could have an immense impact for the Gospel.

And more:

• You’re passionate about churches starting apologetics ministries. Are you seeing more of them doing this?

I want to see churches start their own apologetics ministries because it is our scriptural mandate to “always be prepared to give an answer.” Yet there often is very little preparation going on! When challenges to faith come, people struggle to find substantive answers. This may cause some believers to resort to a sort of “believe it anyway” mentality; for others it causes them to abandon the faith altogether.

Research by the Barna Group has shown that a majority of young people walk away from the faith around the time they go to college or university. They simply have not been equipped to deal with the secular challenges that come against their faith when they go to college. But what if they had been properly equipped to understand and answer these sorts of challenges? They would not only be able to stand up under the attacks, but they would also be able to share Christ with more confidence, knowing that they have good reasons undergirding their faith.

So I think it’s so crucial that our churches become training grounds where believers learn why they believe what they believe. Apologetics ministries and small group studies provide a venue for discipleship where people can work through the tough questions that they constantly face from the secular world. And what’s more, our faith is enriched to even deeper levels when we experience the joy of loving God with our minds.

Thankfully, I think we are seeing a rise in the number of churches that both see this need and are beginning to equip their congregations through apologetic teaching, small groups, conferences, and resources.

Read the whole thing. Tweet it, share it. Think about it!

There’s a great list of scholars and ministries in there as well. If you guys want to know what you should be reading to prepare your defense of theism and Christianity, leave a comment with your intended audience, and I will suggest some resources. I may even BUY YOU the resource, if you are a budding apologist who is conservative on economics and politics and foreign policy. Yes, I do that a lot on this blog – mailed out a dozen books this month already to people. Get to know me, I can help you to defend your faith.

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Science Daily reports on genetic convergence in bats and whales

We have to start this post with the definition of convergence in biology.

In evolutionary biology, convergent evolution is the process whereby organisms not closely related (not monophyletic), independently evolve similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar environments or ecological niches.

It is the opposite of divergent evolution, where related species evolve different traits.

On a molecular level, this can happen due to random mutation unrelated to adaptive changes; see long branch attraction. In cultural evolution, convergent evolution is the development of similar cultural adaptations to similar environmental conditions by different peoples with different ancestral cultures. An example of convergent evolution is the similar nature of the flight/wings of insects, birds, pterosaurs, and bats.

All four serve the same function and are similar in structure, but each evolved independently.

Jonathan Wells explains the problem that convergence poses for naturalistic evolution:

Human designers reuse designs that work well. Life forms also reuse certain structures (the camera eye, for example, appears in humans and octopuses). How well does this evidence support Darwinian evolution? Does it support intelligent design more strongly?

Evolutionary biologists attribute similar biological structures to either common descent or convergence. Structures are said to result from convergence if they evolved independently from distinct lines of organisms. Darwinian explanations of convergence strain credulity because they must account for how trial-and-error tinkering (natural selection acting on random variations) could produce strikingly similar structures in widely different organisms and environments. It’s one thing for evolution to explain similarity by common descent—the same structure is then just carried along in different lineages. It’s another to explain it as the result of blind tinkering that happened to hit on the same structure multiple times. Design proponents attribute such similar structures to common design (just as an engineer may use the same parts in different machines). If human designers frequently reuse successful designs, the designer of nature can surely do the same.

I’m a software engineer, and we re-use components all the time for different programs that have no “common ancestor”. E.g. – I can dump develop my String function library and use it in my web application and my Eclipse IDE plug-in, and those two Java programs have nothing in common. So you find the same bits in two different programs because I am the developer of both programs. But the two programs don’t extend from a common program that was used for some other purpose – they have no “common ancestor” program.

Now with that in mind, take a look at this post from Evolution News.

Excerpt:

Earlier this year I wrote about how convergent genetic evolution is highly unlikely under neo-Darwinism, but makes perfect sense if you allow common design. An article in ScienceDaily titled “In Bats and Whales, Convergence in Echolocation Ability Runs Deep,” points to evidence that, in my opinion, might be best explained by common design.

According to the standard mammalian phylogeny, the common ancestor of bats and whales was not capable of echolocation. Thus, the ability to echolocate must have evolved independently, and bat and whale echolocation is often cited by evolutionists as a textbook example of convergent evolution. However, the ScienceDaily article reports that these similarities are not just phenotypic but extend down into the level of the gene sequences:

two new studies in the January 26th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, show that bats’ and whales’ remarkable ability and the high-frequency hearing it depends on are shared at a much deeper level than anyone would have anticipated — all the way down to the molecular level

Just as I noted that convergent genetic evolution was said to be “surprising” under neo-Darwinian thinking, this article reports, “The discovery represents an unprecedented example of adaptive sequence convergence between two highly divergent groups and suggests that such convergence at the sequence level might be more common than scientists had suspected.”

The typical Darwinist tack is to call similar structures “superficially similar”. I.e. – the appearance (phenotypes) are similar, but at the genotype (code) level, there is nothing in common. They have to say that because there is no common ancestor who shares the structure, so the biological information CANNOT be similar. A naturalistic theory can’t accommodate similarities at the genetic level unless there is a shared common ancestor who has those instructions. But guess what? When you actually take a closer look at the evidence… the biological information IS similar between bats and whales – AND THEY DON’T SHARE A COMMON ANCESTOR. So it exactly like the software design scenario, where the designer has put the same bits into two programs that were developed independently and don’t extend from a common program.

The Science Daily article explains more:

“The natural world is full of examples of species that have evolved similar characteristics independently, such as the tusks of elephants and walruses,” said Stephen Rossiter of the University of London, an author on one of the studies. “However, it is generally assumed that most of these so-called convergent traits have arisen by different genes or different mutations. Our study shows that a complex trait — echolocation — has in fact evolved by identical genetic changes in bats and dolphins.”

[...]“We were surprised by the strength of support for convergence between these two groups of mammals and, related to this, by the sheer number of convergent changes in the coding DNA that we found,” Rossiter said.

Read the whole thing at Evolution News. This is quality work by Casey Luskin.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

MUST-READ: Rex Murphy explains Sarah Palin’s popularity to Canadians

Sarah Palin

A Canadian perspective on Sarah Palin from the National Post. (H/T Derek)

Excerpt:

She’s been a presence in American national politics for only about two years. She is a cheerful human being, with a large family, an apparently easy-going and normal husband. She has a personality that would sell corn flakes — if not grow them. What career she had in Alaska, she earned. She’s at home indoors and out, radiates human warmth, seems to have some balance about herself, and has displayed over the last year or so a considerable fortitude under an avalanche of mockery and hatred. For the final stroke of this cameo I should note she is smart — smarter than 90% of the people who make a point of how rock-stupid they know she is.

She, by rights, should be queen of the feminists. All that self-reliance, her takeover of Alaska politics, the rocket ride to a Vice-Presidential ticket, a public career she blends with her family life– these seem gold-standard credentials for a real feminist. But official feminism derides herewith an unspeakable intensity. Her early critics were not beyond the inane claim that she was somehow not really a woman.

I side with those who venture that the nerves Palin hits have more to do with class — where she’s from, how she speaks, where she was educated, what she likes (the moose-hunting), than her politics or her gender. She’s rural, she came into national politics from (ugh) Alaska. She and her husband have the unerasable stigmata of the modern working class. She would not be embarrassed to be seen walking into Wal-Mart.

[...]But America’s professional public class, and the commentariat who still have some (though declining) power to police it, like to view Lincoln’s common man, or woman, as an object in the distance, as an object of their supercilious care and concern, but not as a player in the game. Palin is simply not supposed to be a player. She’s not only from the wrong side of the tracks, she’s so far over on the wrong side she can’t see the railway station.

But there she is, in all her roughness and candour, and her spiky wit and ability to irritate her self-nominated betters. She also happens to be the most naturally charismatic politician at the moment in the United States. She is the one major figure who can claim authenticity without morally choking on the word. That makes her the populist rallying point of a nascent rejection of the fervid partisanship and Washington insiderism that is eroding the consent on which American politics is founded.

This is probably one of the best columns I have read all year. I recommend reading the whole thing. It’s always good for men to admire women, and it helps when you have women like Sarah Palin to admire. Of course, you all know that Michele Bachmann is my favorite, but still. Not everyone can be perfect.

Canada doesn’t have a Sarah Palin. The closest person they have is Danielle Smith of the Wildrose Alliance Party in Alberta, I think.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , ,

India launches nuclear-powered submarine!

And it’s a boomer! 12 ballistic missiles!

Congratulations to India! First massive tax cuts, now peace through strength! You’re on a roll!

Story here from the Russian newspaper RIA Novosti.

Excerpt:

MOSCOW, July 26 (RIA Novosti) – India launched its first nuclear-powered submarine on Sunday for sea trials, national media reported.

The launch ceremony of the 6,000-ton INS Arihant (Destroyer of Enemies) was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur, the Times of India said.

The submarine completes India’s nuclear triad, making it the sixth country after the U.S., Russia, China, France and the U.K. to have land, air and sea-based nuclear strike capability.

The submarine will be armed with torpedoes and missiles, including 12 ballistic missiles, and can also be armed with cruise missiles, the paper said. It is powered by an 85-MW reactor, and can reach a submerged speed of 44 km/h (24 knots). It will carry 95 crewmembers.

The long-running project to build the submarine, completed with Russian help, is part of a $2.9-billion plan to build five submarines.

The design was based on a Charlie 1 submarine that India leased from the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. Sea trials and weapons tests will take place in the Bay of Bengal, and the submarine is expected to enter service in two or three years.

Did you miss the earlier story about Canada’s new free trade deal with Panama, and their tracking of 2 Russian Akula-class nuclear submarines off the east coast?

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Wintery Knight teaches capitalism… using short video clips!

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from IMAO.us! Thanks for the link Harvey!

Have you ever heard an  American-Idol-watching Dummocrat approve of Obama plans to tax the rich? Watch this video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity (H/T Hot Air) and learn the facts you’ll need to defeat them in a debate.

Here are a few more videos from America’s golden age when everyone could explain why the country was founded, and why our free market capitalist economy was the envy of the world. (I stole these from IMAO.us)

The importance of economic growth:

Civics: Part 1 of a 2 part set:

Civics: Part 2 of a 2 part set:

A mouse’s perspective on America’s greatness:

Have fun learning!

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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